Well, to celebrate the new school year my house is falling apart. The dishwasher seems to occasionally stop before finishing, but only when you don't expect it. The dryer started making strange clanking noises and then marking up the clothes. I'm a bit worried about the water heater, and my phone does not appear robust.
Also, I think I'm overdue for the dentist. Clearly it is time to retreat into a world of books! Luckily I have more weeks of my Team Tapirs's reading club, so I have an excuse.
The Book Date does a weekly roundup of what people are reading, want to read, or 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:
Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver. Reading My Library audio. I loved the voice and characters of this story of the meeting of rural and scientific America, where red and blue clash or come together over the problems of the monarch butterfly. The main character's insights and foibles seemed utterly authentic, and the problems of her marriage, her family, and her ambitions rang true. Some of the side characters were more wooden, and although the ending worked wonderfully thematically, as her life and that of the butterflies paralleled each other, I wish I could have seen what happened to them in the next few weeks. And the weeks after that if I had gotten my wish.
* She Said / She Saw, Norah McClintock. I read this for my Team Tapirs. Two unpleasant sisters, Irish twins like my sister and me only meaner, tell the story of the aftermath of a murder witnessed by the older one. Everyone thinks the older sister is keeping the details of the murderer secret because of cowardice, which seems rather naive in the case of the police, and she is shunned by her peers and the families of the slain boys. Even her mother is angry because of the details of casual drug use that come out during the investigation. One sister writes as an angsty screenplay; the other complains in journal type entries. Despite their whiny natures I felt concerned about both girls, and I like how McClintock made the ending work and I hope it spells out good things for their future.
Twin Spica 10, Kou Yaginuma. I've been neglecting my manga series, since graphic novels don't count for my Team Tapirs. But I finally got to the next chapter in these space school stories, which had them attempting a competition with robots, vacationing one last time back on the coast at home, and deciding to keep meeting there even after they all leave school. This seems unlikely due to the events in the last chapter. I've ordered up the next one and hope not to leave it so long.
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson. Cybils YA Graphic Novel. Another winner. Well, I haven't finished the category yet, but this is the second time I've thought I've read the winner. It start out fun, made some turns, and ended up fun and moving.
* Giants Beware, Jorge Aguirre. This is a Cybils book from several years ago that I suggested to my Tuesday book club as a good palate cleanser between two rather grim death-oriented books. It's not quite as good as Ursula Vernon's work, but then what is? Everyone agreed that it was a fun read and then we watched Ex Machina, which also had an unknown quantity at the center of the plot.
Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear. Reading my library pick. I enjoyed this cyber-western set in a faux-Seattle (it's an amalgam, but I think it's mostly Seattle) during the Alaskan gold rush. There are mechanical sewing machines capable of taking out small buildings, prostitutes with hearts of gold, fearless lawmen, true love, and dirigibles. Sometimes it's all a bit much, but in general it's fun to go along for the ride.
* Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism, Dawn Prince-Hughes. Another Tapir book, this is a memoir I picked up ages ago because I'm interested in autism stories; my family runs that way. Prince-Hughes describes the troubles she had as an adolescent and young adult, when she found herself unable to hold steady employment or even an educational course. She feels lucky that her love of nature led her to the Woodland Zoo (which I'm familiar with) and to the gorillas that helped her understand social cues. She applied her knowledge to humans, allowing her to fit in enough to get a job and then an education working with gorillas. Now she's a married author and scientist raising a son, so she's found a way to work with the world instead of crashing against it.
* Delancey, Molly Wizenberg. What happens when a husband follows through on a dream for the first time in their life, and his wife surprised herself by supporting him anyway. Well, mostly. A good description of how to start a restaurant, and how to do it with grace. The success is probably a lot of luck, but the grace helped the luck by encouraging good friends to help.
No Normal (Ms Marvel Vol 1), G. Willow Wilson. Cybils YA Graphic Novel. Very fun comic book compilation. Khamela Khan wrestles with overprotective parents, high school bullies, and developing superpowers. Oh, and she's acquired her first nemesis, but he seems to be mainly a gateway to a more dangerous foe. It's a sign of how strong this category is that I don't pick this as my winner, but it doesn't rise to the emotional heights of Nimona or Honor Girl.
Think of England, K.J. Charles. An injured Boer War veteran finds more than he expected during a clumsy attempt to spy out if sabotage was involved in the equipment failure that maimed him and killed many of his friends. Not only does he unearth a wide-ranging dastardly plot, he finally figures out what he wants in love, and it doesn't involve people in dresses.
* Books I started this week.
I started and am still reading more books:
Falling in Love, Donna Leon. My new Reading My Library audio, this is the 20-somethingth story of an Italian detective. It involves an opera singer he's known in earlier books that I haven't read. I like the narrator's deep voice and his willingness to go full Italian for the place names. It's got the earnest characters typical of the author, as well as the adult, intelligent, responsible approach to relationships and a fine ability to keep a story moving between action and romance and setting.
Once a Soldier, Mary Jo Putney. Putney has gathered up some outliers from her misfit schoolchums collection and started a new series with them. This one involves a soldier ready to start living again as the Napoleon war ends, and an independent woman who hadn't planned on getting married, especially not as she rebuilds an (imaginary) pocket-sized Iberian country.
Dark Specter, Michael Dibdin. So far there have been various hideous murders, including one of an infant. I think we've also met the detective who will solve the case, and a rather unsympathetic guy who knows the responsible party. The guy is the only first person character, and it would be pleasanter if his parts were also in third.
Bookmarks moved in several books:
The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. The final chapter is starting. I expect not many characters will live through it.
The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu. We have detoured into a description of a very dull MMRPG.
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. Still setting up for departure.
Kushiel's Dart, Jacqueline Carey. This is for an October book club, but it's long enough that I'll need a head start. I also need to start reading more than a page a week.
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett. I haven't caught up to where I stopped before, but I'm falling back into the rhythm and I remember I like the detective character.
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.
The Aeronaut's Windlass, Jim Butcher. In the battle, our two main groups of protagonists have met. Luckily, they are on the same side. Now only a few viewpoints are wandering about on the outskirts.
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: 40 out of 82. Moving through the graphic novel, and have the last middle grade fiction on the stack.
- Reading My Library: I finished Flight Behavior on audio and Karen Memory in print. Started Falling in Love (3/7) and have When the Devil Doesn't Show on my bedside table.
- Where Am I Reading?: 38/51. I am officially behind! I need 40 to be on track, 45 by the end of the month.
- Full House Challenge: 25/25!
- Library Challenge: I'm at 179. 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? A bit of a variety now -- the biggest one is "didn't notice" because the setting was imaginary and either the author doesn't mention appearance or background or I forgot it.
- 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