This was the last full week of our summer vacation, and we spent it doing as little as possible. That's our idea of fun -- minimize chores, maximize lounging about. We tossed around some ideas for more active fun, and found them all unappealing. So I did reading for my team, and the boys played video games. Well, they also confronted their summer homework, so kudos to them.
There were a few days of waking up early, a big shock to our summer systems. X found he was still growing (he clocked in at his doctor's appointment as 5'11.7", which does round to 6') so I told him to go ahead and get to a solid 6', because I do like to live vicariously through my children.
I spent a day and a half at their high school handing out locker assignments. X wanted a locker near his Latin room, so I grabbed one for him while handing out freshman assignments (they go in a day early to be gently eased into the high school experience). P declined a locker at first but when there were some leftovers he handpicked one in a prime location and seemed content. I like when my kids enjoy the perks of a volunteer mom, and I also like getting my volunteer hours in early. Now I can ignore the rest of the calls without a moment's concern.
We watched the movie The Magnificent Seven with my BIL's mother and enjoyed seeing famous names such as Yul Brenner in the Old West, and also seeing what echoed the Japanese version (wood chopping) and what was different (the boy gets the girl). Now we are ready for the remake to come out in a few weeks.
The Book Date does a weekly roundup of what people are reading, want to read, have read each week called It's Monday! What Are You Reading and I'm going to sign up. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and as that is a particular interest of mine, I check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.
My pile of books for this week:
Eidolon, Grace Draven. I managed to make this work for my team, as I'm sure no one is surprised to hear. It hit a lot of notes that I like -- royalty accepting that their is a price for their privilege, and being willing to pay it even at the price of personal happiness. Of course, the subplot that only the author and the reader knew about meant that the sacrifice would not be necessary, but our heroine was willing to make it anyway. The hero was not as accepting, but I cut him some slack as he already had to agree to die for his country.
Beholding Bee, Kimberly Fusco. I felt that the fantasy elements detracted from the emotional weight of the book. Bee only survived through the intervention of her ancestors, but that just made her growth implausible. She would have ended up on the streets without their aid, and none of the material advantages or the spiritual ones would have come her way. I also felt that the end of the book rounded off her emotional journey but left all the practical details unaddressed. Would the busybodies of Bee's town really let her stay in the house with her built family? It seemed very precarious. And Peck's "A Day No Pig Would Die" kept echoing in my head; I'm not sure Cordelia the pet pig's fate is as assured as Bee imagines. But it clearly fits in the "B" square for my Tapirs.
Touching My Father's Soul, Jamling Tenzing Norgay. Another powerful story centered around the awful Everest season that inspired Into Thin Air. Norgay is the son of one of the first men to summit Everest, and he sees his climb as a way to connect with his father. This emotional arc is traced in parallel with his summit attempt with the IMAX movie team, an attempt done with more humility and patience than shown by the groups Krakauer climbed with. More luck as well. The days of storm when many climbers were lost are described from the next camp down, as well as the decision whether or not to try themselves after such a disaster. Highly recommended.
Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash. Cybils YA Graphic Novel. This will be hard to beat for my top pick for this category. I found the art and story lovely separately and transcendent together. It's the story of growing up and making mistakes and making more mistakes but still continuing to be oneself. I loved it.
How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work, Jeff Bredenberg. For a while after I finished this book I was a little inspired and even wondered if I should bring back my flower beds or even make a raised garden section somewhere. Luckily it's been a few days and the urge is subsiding. I do like the ideas on how to prune so you do it less often, and when is a good idea to put out a few perennials in places where I'm disguising other flaws. And the idea of lawn paint is very persuasive for that dead corner my sprinklers seem to be avoiding.
In the Black, Sheryl Nantus. This was a Vaginal Fantasy pick and I haven't yet watched the video for it, but I was rather unimpressed. It's a murder mystery set on a space ship brothel owned by a heartless giant corporation, with lots of worrying about how they will make their quota with all the downtime spent solving the mystery. The captain is a soldier with a Dark Past, who is super qualified in combat and a tough lady all around, or she was until the final scenes required somebody to be an idiot with no situational awareness or hand-to-hand competency, at which point she became a wet noodle and let the other characters rescue her. The lawman spent most of his time making annoying sexual innuendos at her, which to her (and my) chagrin she ate up with a spoon, although she refused to make nookie until he solved the case. I prefer my detective fiction to have brighter detectives, honestly, and while I appreciated their integrity with waiting, it made for a lot of boring UST.
The Great Death, John Smelcer. This was another book plucked from my TBR list to fit the needs of the Tapirs (title contains "great") but it was something I was happy to read. Well, that's a strange description for a book about the death by disease of an entire village, except for the two sisters who must journey unprepared through hundreds of miles of wild forest to find more living souls. They have common sense but not always enough experience, and their mistakes bring them close to the line of survival many times. As a kid I would have loved this story, although as an adult I notice the sorrow more deeply.
Shifting Shadows, Patricia Briggs. I had read these short stories when they came out in 2014, but my son noticed that some characters in the latest novel first appeared here. His memory was better than mine, so I wanted to reread them to place things in perspective. Now I have an excuse to reread this years novel as well. Briggs does a good job with urban fantasy, which characters that have enough of an edge to be interesting but enough ethics to be worth rooting for.
Three on the Run, Nina Bowden. I grabbed this at the library sale table, because I like Nina Bawden and I like old English books. This one was written before I was born (printed the year I was born) and lived up to my expectations -- there were children who were independent enough to avoid adults, but childlike enough to need supervision (even though they didn't always get it). The African in the London suburb provided a touch of interest, especially when they ran to a smaller town that made him a unique representative of his continent. And the girl was young enough that there was almost an excuse for the slighter regard the boys held her in.
The Way Home Looks Now, Wendy Way-Long Shang. This book whipsawed me a few times. I was just settling into a story about a Taiwanese-American family and the stresses they faced in the turbulent early 1970s between the older son's nascent activism and the father's insistence on traditional obedience and respect, when suddenly tragedy cut through petty disagreements like a chain saw. Suddenly the stakes were much higher, and I appreciated the skill Shang used in slowly showing the strengths of the family through the narrator's return to the baseball he had loved in the time Before.
I started and am still reading more books:
Kushiel's Dart, Jacqueline Carey. This is for an October book club, but it's long enough that I'll need a head start.
Think of England, K.J. Charles. The author has skipped forward a bit and (I think) dropped the magic but I'm still expecting entertaining and likable characters and a fast moving plot in this story set in early 20th century England.
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett. I've put this one down for long enough that I restarted it. I hope I get more traction in this ancient Sword and Laser pick.
No Normal (Ms Marvel Vol 1), G. Willow Wilson. Cybils YA Graphic Novel. This looks like a lot of fun.
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson. Cybils YA Graphic Novel. This is highly recommended by my senior son.
Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear. My next Reading My Library pick. I've been meaning to read this for ages now, but I couldn't fit it into a Tapir need. Now I'm reading it anyway!
Twin Spica 10, Kou Yagimuma. The library will want this back soon, so I'd better get on it.
Bookmarks moved in several books:
The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. It makes a man feel bad when he betrays a friend, but sometimes one's career comes first.
The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu. Something very odd is going on, and reality may not be what we think it is.
Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver. My Reading My Library Audio. I officially LOL'd at a scene here, so I'm clearly enjoying this still. I hope she doesn't sleep with the scientist, though. I'm on disk 12/14 now.
Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. We're still enjoying the audio serialization of this, although without the ride to school it's hard to keep up. It looks like they'll set off on the adventure about when we start riding to school, so that will work out well.
The next few books I'm not really reading, just dipping into between the books I'm trying to finish so that I can pretend that I'm going to read the books on my bookcases. I admit I haven't made much progress with all the Tapir reading I've been doing.
A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott.
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen.
The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca.
2016 Challenge Progress:
- Cybils 2015: 38 out of 82. The library is encouraging me to pick up the graphic novels again.
- Reading My Library: I'm enjoying Flight Behavior (12/14) on audio and have started Karen Memory in print.
- Where Am I Reading?: 38/51. I am officially behind! I need 40 to be on track, 45 by the end of the month. I keep getting duplicates for states I'm usually scrambling for -- Alaska, New Mexico, etc.
- Full House Challenge: 25/25!
- Library Challenge: I'm at 172. Why, the money I save practically paid for my cruise!
- Diversity Challenge 2016: 12/12. 11/12. Poetry is the tricky one. In September I'm taking a closer look at the racial diversity in the books -- is it set in a multiracial society? So far, no.
- Shelf Love Challenge 2016: 40. Time to make my shelves my BFF.
- Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 19/20. Still need a Pulitzer.
- Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 12/12!
- Surprise Me Challenge: I keep almost reading Positively.
- Flash Bingo: I need a book about books, and an Australian book.
- Literary Exploration Challenge: 12/12. Now I'll work on the 36 challenge -- 33/36