Monday, May 29, 2017

Long Hot Sleepy Weekends

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So far I've mostly kept up with my ridiculously easy walking pledge, except for the day Thick as Thieves came out. It wasn't quite nice enough to walk around a track while reading, so I abandoned all forms of motion and lay around reading it all day. And then rereading the best bits.

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 I finished some kidlit books and a few picture books, I'll check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.

My completed books for this week:
Wanted, A GentlemanThe Hate U GiveThe Door at the CrossroadsBoy, Snow, BirdGhost of a Potion (A Magic Potion Mystery, #3)Dead Silence (Mike & Riel, #5)The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)National Geographic Traveler: Dominican Republic, 3rd Edition

* Wanted: A Gentleman, K J Charles. Another fun M/M romance set in historical England. Charles moves away from the lords and ladies, this time giving us a struggling middle-class writer and a black merchant who has mixed loyalties to the family that owned him as a child. And interesting look at history I didn't know much about mixed with an unconventional relationship and then (of course) sex.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas. This is a strong YA book told in first person by a teenaged African American who feels split between her swank high school (mostly white) and her "ghetto" home life. When her childhood friend is shot by a racist cop who mistook a hair brush for a gun, she finds these conflicts almost overwhelming. It did seem to make an effort to tick off as many current affair boxes as possible -- her uncle is a cop, her father is an ex-con, her best friend is absorbed in her white privilege, her boyfriend is a well meaning white guy who wonders why black kids have funny names, etc. But the voice is strong and true throughout.

The Door at the Crossroads, Zetta Elliott. A Cybils finalist. I liked the way that in the time it took Genna to figure out how to get back to the past with Judah, he had moved on. These kids are 16 and 17 -- a bit young for long distance relationships. I didn't like how all the boys blamed their problems on anyone (preferably a female anyone). For example, Philip gets dragged back into the past because he insists on beating Genna up (for her own good). Uh, Genna, don't apologize for that. I did feel some of the changes were incompletely documented -- I bought Judah growing away from Genna, but not that he then blamed her for everything. That seemed unsupported and contrived. Maybe it would have made more sense if I had read the first book.

Boy, Snow, Bird,  Helen Oyeyemi. My reading-my-library audio. At this point the bizarre things that happen to this family have overwhelmed the character development. I could almost buy two grown women have a make-up slug fest in the kitchen (almost). But the final twist with Bird's dad being transgender and her friend coping with her childlessness by investigating this was completely unbelievable. The mix of magic realism (ghost blankets) and realism (rape and transgendering) just didn't work.

* Ghost of a Potion, Heather Blake. My next Reading-My-Library book. I jumped into the middle of a cozy mystery set in a small Alabama town, with easy-going race relations and lots of southern belle antics. The mystery involved an improbable will, convoluted family trees, and bad health care. And pushy ghosts as seen by our paranormal protagonist. Fluffy but fun enough.

Dead Silent(Mike & Riel #5),  Norah McClintock. This was not one of my favorites from McClintock, which is a shame because in looking up details of this book I discovered that she died earlier this year. She was only 64. But Mike in this book is dumb in a way that annoys me (useless, unearned guilt) and the final bad guy didn't have much to do in the story before he shows up to be unveiled.

* The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne Valente. My Tuesday book club chose this one because adult Valente books were deemed too weird for our taste. We assumed her children's books would be more accessible, but we were wrong; her children's books just have less sex in them. I found the baroque details and conceits too rich, possibly because I had just finished Valente's Palimpsest, so it was a case of over-indulging in over-rich text.

* National Geographic Traveler: Dominican Republic, 3rd Edition, Christopher Baker. I got this book by asking a librarian to recommend a book as per the Ten To Try program. She was planning a trip this summer so came up with this title. It was fun in an armchair-traveler kind of way, although I was left with no inclination to visit the DR (too many bugs; too much poverty), but I think I'll use it in the new genre category so I need to go back and get another library recommendation. If I did want to go to Hispaniola, this book would help me arrange that trip.

* Books I started and completed this week

Picture Books (most read in the library while waiting for my kids to rendezvous):

Shawn Loves SharksMiss Lina's BallerinasI Want to Eat Your Books

Shawn Loves Sharks, Curtis Manley. Fun. I liked Shawn's use of the library and books to fuel his obsessions, and the respect the kids have for school, but the plot twist to teach people to be kind was a bit too much moral. Also Shawn spells his name wrong -- it should be Sean.

Miss Lina's Ballerinas, Grace Maccarone.No conflict but cute. Echoes of Madeline but without individual personalities. The dust jacket made me think the story was about a class learning to accept change as a new students joins, but it was really about the chance to draw delicately vibrant pictures of little girls dancing. Which was fine and well done, but I was distracted by looking for the emotional conflict which wasn't really there; the girls take two pages to adjust from dancing four by two to dancing three by three and then seamlessly return to dancing all over town. It was more about math than about conflict.

I Want to Eat Your Books, Karin Lafranc. Fun but doesn't do much with the conceit. The words rhyme, the colors are bright and cheerful, but there were no big surprises or insights.

I started but didn't finish:

The Golden MeanThe Best Man

The Golden Mean, Annabel Lyon. A friend picked this from my to-read pile, and so far I'm enjoying this story of Aristotle at King Philip's court. I'm going to trust that Lyon knows her stuff, because I didn't know that Aristotle and Philip were boys together.

The Best Man, Richard Peck. Cybils audio finalist. Looks like a growing-up story of a boy in elementary school. I'm a bit put off by his casual misogyny, which is a staple of children's literature but not my experience with kids in elementary school, but also attracted by the setting in Illinois, which is a state I need this year.

Bookmarks moved in several books:

Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches, #1)Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)The Innocent (Will Robie, #1)

Maplecroft, Cherie Priest. Events are coming together -- the investigator, the doctor, the sisters, the lover, and the insane professor are all coming to the sisters' door.

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Part 2-3. I am very annoyed at the teacher's dismissal of Padi's combat stance, and how no one even discusses things with her. Her giant burly teacher is apparently appalled that she does not intend to get in tight situations with attackers -- her plan to escape if possible, but react decisively and even lethally if necessary is treated with contempt even though it saved her and her younger siblings a few books ago. An acknowledgement of her potential to overreact and the reasons she might be prone to that would seem a basic common sense first step, but all the super wise elders are too busy condescending to her.

The Innocent, David Baldacci. The two story lines have already intersected, and we aren't even at 20 chapters yet (very short chapters). And they ran off the bus, so maybe they'll settle down somewhere. I didn't notice where they exited; I hope they are in Delaware.

These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenKenilworthSammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)Reading and Learning to Read

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015: 81 out of 82. (No change from last week)
  2. Cybils 2016! 6 / a lot. Finish Door at the Crossroads. Started new audio The Best Man.
  3. Reading My Library: Finished Boy Snow Bird. Waiting to finish Cybils audios before I continue. Finished Ghost of a Potion by Blake and will get the next one on Thursday.
  4. Where Am I Reading?: 20/51. Picked up Alabama and Nebraska. 

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