Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Struck Down

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This weekend was GeekGirlCon, a place to celebrate all things geeky and the women who enjoy and create it.  I talked my older son into coming along and we had a good time. He wanted to attend some sessions about women in D&D groups, since he runs a few and wanted to make sure they were as accessible to girls as possible. The only firm takeaway was that all-women gaming groups are often great, but that didn't really help him with his campaigns, though.

It was nice to have him along not only because he's an interesting companion, but also because he's a city boy with a casual mastery of the bus system. I'm always convinced I'm going to somehow leap on the wrong bus and find myself in Kansas. Which is obvious unlikely because few of our metro lines venture over the mountains, but irrational fears don't both about details like that.  A more realistic worry is that I'll be reading and miss my stop, but apparently that also was not a concern. X only made fun of me a little, because the bus we rode started and ended at our respective destinations, so it would have required a lot of work to do it wrong.

Then I woke up sick on Sunday so we skipped the second day. Curse these mortal bonds! He had already decided to stay home and work on college essays and homework, although when I woke up between naps to evade my symptoms I mostly heard the kids having fun. Turns out they never even noticed the lump that was me beneath the cats sleeping on top (it was their idea of a fun day -- human warming bottle stays on comfortable bed all day!)

I'm still reading more than I should because of my dedication to my reading Team Tapirs, but we've just started the final event so soon I should become responsible again.

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:

Scotsman of My Dreams (MacIain, #2)Summer Garden MurderLast SummerRomancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)Song of the SparrowOnce a Soldier (Rogues Redeemed, #1)
Law of the Desert BornRequiem for a Mezzo (Daisy Dalrymple, #3)Faro's DaughterLittle PlumTerrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War IDeath at Wentwater Court (Daisy Dalrymple #1)

Scotsman of My Dreams, Karen Ranney. Not the fault of this book, but this was the fourth one this month with a blind hero, so I felt a bit tired. It was the culmination of a solo title chain I did for my Team Tapirs that was completely built around my desire to read Murder on the Flying Scotsman. The pieces of this romance were all right -- independent woman, arrogant aristocrat brought low by injury, the mystery of the murdering brother, but they didn't all gel. Once again it was too long for its premise, a problem I often have with 300 page romances. 200-250 pages is my sweet spot.

Summer Garden Murder, Ann Ripley. (Title chain!) I spent the entire book wondering why the characters never called a lawyer. She almost has a nervous breakdown because she is so scared of being arrested when bodies keep turning up in her yard, but somehow it never occurs to her, or her high-powered government husband, or her urban-studies daughter, or anyone around her, that a lawyer would be handy. My suspension of disbelief never recovered. The mystery was solved by accident. I didn't really engage with any of the characters, main or side, so it was not a successful entry into the middle of this series.

Last Summer, Holly Chamberlain. Careful description of two families who almost lose each other over bullying. I like how no one was demonized -- the overreaction of the bullied girl's mother rings true as does the reason the best friend made the mistake of betraying her neighbor. There wasn't much tension as the story started near the end and wove details of the culminating incident through the story, so it was obviously a record of the families coming back together. It definitely made single child families look vulnerable, but I suspect any family the overprotective mom had would be fragile.

Romancing the Duke, Tessa Dare. Fun, but a bit too long for the silliness. This was the Vaginal Fantasy pick for September. It was a cracky historical romance with cosplaying 19th century English nobs roaming around the country and a reluctantly romantic heroine caught in the story. And another blind hero!  I enjoyed it but wished it had been a 100 pages shorter.

* Song of the Sparrow, Lisa Ann Spandell.  This poor book suffered tremendously by the fact that I read Nicola Griffith's Hild earlier this year. In comparison, this seemed a time-slip book about an eleven year old girl who wakes up in a teenaged body in Britain with a proto-King Arthur's army. And it's written in verse form, which I hate, and it definitely feels like "hit return a lot" rather than "speaks in poetry". About 2/3 of the way in, I arbitrarily decided that the main character was indeed 11, not 17, and then I liked her a lot more as her decisions made sense for a naive child while they would be idiotic in a near-adult.

Once a Soldier, Mary Jo Putney. The people sure do talk a lot, which is usual in Putney's books. I liked the vivid setting (the place, if not the period), and the competency of the women. Usually Putney's characters work through problems, but in this case they simply leapfrogged them  -- the heroine had legitimate worries about marriage but a sudden catastrophe made her disregard them, and then they magically disappeared. So the conflict was weak but the setting was pleasant.

* Law of the Desert Born, Louis L'Amour. Small stories about the west, which went down easily since I just watched The Magnificent Seven (both the old one and the new release). The movie's gorgeous scenery made it easier to visualize the rough country the various heroes went through. The late story about a man digging gold from a collapsing structure was really well done.

Requiem For a Mezzo, Carola Dunn. A fun early book, with Alec and Daisy dating and feeling unsure of each other. I'm still enjoying jumping around in this series, so I can see how early pieces show up in later books.  The mysteries are unobjectionable, especially since they often have a final stinger at the end.

* Faro's Daughter, Georgette Heyer.  This is a wonderful opera of a book -- grand gestures, absurd situations, vividly colored but utterly flimsy scenery. Explaining the plot to my son was a special pleasure, especially his incredulity that I considered the engagement of the main characters at the conclusion of the book to be "a happy ever after" when clearly they would be utterly miserable together. I told him that they were soap bubble people who pop when you close the covers.

* Little Plum, Rumer Godden. This children's book, older than am I, tells the story of a young girl who carelessly bullies the over-protective girl next door. I found it a realistic depiction of how self-centered children can be, being so wrapped up in their own worlds that they don't peer out to see how they are affecting other children. Once Belinda must confront her actions, she desperately wants to put things right, and Godden gives her the opportunity. I also liked the sheer competence displayed by all the children, from Belinda's acrobatics to her brother's carpentry and her cousin's dollwork.

* Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, The Assassin Who Ignited World War I. Henrik Wehr.  The last Cybils YA Graphic Novel. A very strong field this year!

* Death at Wentwater Court, Carola Dunn. The first in the series, with Daisy and Alec meeting and solving a case involving a murdered scoundrel and the family he disrupts first with his presence, and then with his absence. I liked the ending, with Daisy and Alec in opposition over her management of justice.

(* Books I started this week.)

This week I started and am still reading a few more books:

Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3)Memory Man (Amos Decker, #1)Once a Rancher (The Carsons of Mustang Creek, #1)

Iron Kissed, Patricia Briggs. I'm rereading all of the Briggs books in anticipation of meeting her next February. This is a tough one, since Mercy will get hurt very badly. This happens a lot, actually, because as she complains sometimes, she's definitely at a disadvantage hanging with werewolves and other superstrong types, but the nature of the attack in this one is very emotional.

Memory Man, David Baldacci. My second attempt at a book from this library shelf as part of my Reading My Library Quest. So far I've gotten a good bite out of the book. The memory stuff is indeed very cool.

Once a Rancher, Linda Lael Miller. I chose this next audio Reading My Library book based on its location -- Wyoming. It's a cowboy romance, and I find the names hilarious: Slater, Drake (isn't that a duck?), and Mace (the weapon? the spray?).

Bookmarks moved in several books:

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)The Sea Without a Shore (Lt. Leary, #10)City of Stairs (The Divine Cities, #1)Pegeen

The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu. The cop has ideas of how to deal with the abnormalities, and clearly they can't be worse than what the scientists are doing.

The Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. Our intrepid characters are wandering around the space port.

City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett. Murder and mayhem are good!

Pegeen, Hilda van Stockum. This is the part of the book where the little girl makes mistakes and grows from them. I hate that part, so I'm dragging my feet over it.

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 (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)KenilworthSammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)Reading and Learning to ReadThe Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen

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:
  1. Cybils 2015: 43 out of 82. I finished YA Graphic Novels. It looks like I'm way behind, but I'm really in fairly good shape since the ones left are mostly very short.
  2. Reading My Library: Working on Once a Ranger and Memory Man. 
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 38/51. I am officially way behind! I am supposed to be just about done at the end of this month. 
  4. Full House Challenge:  25/25!
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 203.  Glad to see this one is still moving.
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: 12/12. 11/12. Poetry is the tricky one. In October I'll looking at how many Native Americans appear in my books. So far, still none, but then I've been reading a lot of British detective stories.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  46.  Time to make my shelves my BFF. I did acquire a few new books, but most of them were for collection purposes.
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 19/20.  Still need a Pulitzer.
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 12/12!
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  I keep almost reading Positively. Picked the October book.
  11. Flash Bingo: I still need need a book about books, and an Australian book. It's really too late -- I should be halfway through the Autumn book.
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 12/12. Now I'll work on the 36 challenge -- 33/36

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