May Day, Star Wars Day, Cinco de Mayo, all holidays that involve not that much work but are fun anyway. It's a good way to start spring, which Seattle did in the past few weeks. Which sadly means my lawn is growing. I should just pave the whole thing and paint it green.
I joined another reading team, so I have an excuse to rack up lots of pages. I'll see if anything changes in my reading habits. Also, I forgot to do this status check last week, so I'm putting two weeks worth out now.
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 four kidlit books and 10 picture books, I'll check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.
My completed books for this fortnight:
Written in Red, Anne Bishop. The alt Vaginal Fantasy book. I ended up liking this one (I abandoned the main pick), enough that I wouldn't mind reading the next few. I'm still a bit squeamish about the setting in North America after removing all Native Americans and instead sticking a lot of American Indian imagery into the Others, but I liked the strengths of the main character and her ability to handle the puppy/boy she babysat. (This was the only book I finished last week. It was not a very productive week.)
The Span of Empire, Eric Flint and Dave Carrico. I never really got into this third entry to the series, and I suspect the change in authors had something to do with it. The new aliens were a bit dull, and the expanded look into the Big Bad aliens bored me. I also somehow had the feeling that Crowning Moments of Awesome were reserved for the guys, which was probably unfair but still how I felt.
The Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. Installment 48 finished off this audio books. I enjoy the radio-serial nature of the audio books included in the Baen podcast. My son and I enjoyed this Master & Commander in space book (I'd previously read it and some others in the series) but I don't think he'll go out hunting for more. There's a lot of repetition in the characterization of Mundy and Daniel, which slows down the action a bit too much. Even the narrator seemed a bit bored a few times.
* Heretic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I read this for a library book club that is aimed at promoting discussions "across the aisle" to get people to talk to people they disagree with. We didn't actually get any Muslims at the meeting, but we managed to disagree on the definition of Islam, the need for reform, and a few other things, all while sharing apple juice and cookies.
* Dressed to Steal, Carolyn Keene. The first book I read for my reading team. It was interesting to see a modern Nancy Drew, who apparently has no qualms breaking laws right and left (breaking and entering is a daily habit). She also can't remember to put gas in her car, and Bess is now chosen as a runway model, which hints she may not have that pudgy figure she used to have. George is still athletic, though, and Ned is still devoted.
Shadowed Souls, ed. Jim Butcher & Kerrie Hughes. Lots of short stories pulled from various author's standing series, so a good sampler for people looking for more urban fantasy. I had to reread the first story to count this for my reading team, so I could appreciate the Butcher story even more. Nothing clunked, and I liked seeing some old favorites (Tanya Huff's Vickie) and even enjoying some authors I had tried but failed to click with earlier (Anton Stout).
* Break and Enter, Norah McClintock. I like this author, and I'm slowly digging through her backlist. This is #5 in a series I haven't tried yet, involving a smart teen age girl with a cop for a stepfather who has to deal with jealous rivals framing her with the too-credible help of a suspicious teacher. Gripping but not too silly.
Raven's Shadow, Patricia Briggs. I found the shape of the story a bit unwieldy, starting with two youngish people, then lurching twenty or so years into their marriage, and then dawdling again. But I found myself moving faster through the last half, finding the politics of the empire interesting and the complexities of three or four factions at the final scene worth the path to get there. I'll definitely read the second book this year (famous last words).
* My Life Before Me, Norah McClintock. After reminding myself that I like this author, I picked up another of her works on my TBR bookcase. This is the start of a series about seven orphans, with different authors going their own way with each one. I like the journalism angle of this one, with the protagonist clearly having a very personal stake in the history she chooses to investigate but she manages to keep a fairly objective head despite her youth. I'm not sure I'll try any of the linked stories in this series, but I won't avoid them either.
* Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George. My last elementary book club pick of the year. I had completely forgotten the attempted rape scene, oops. We'll see how the kids take it. I hope they are like me and just look at the wolves and the competency fun.
I started but didn't finish:
Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo. (Cybils audio) The quirky Florida characters have the emotional sharpness associated with DiCamillo; I especially like Raymie tracing the size of her soul within her. The adults are blurry, but the interior life of children feels authentic.
Palimpsest, Catherynne Valente. This looks like it will have a similar feel to her planet book, with strange, vivid images coming together in a mosaic to show a complete novel. I'll trust her even though the first sections haven't gripped me much. I think this is a book club pick for somewhere; maybe my local Vaginal Fantasy? The official pick isn't a library option.
Blood, Bullets, Bones, Bridget Heos. A Cybils NF finalist. We try to keep our choices diverse in my Tuesday book club, so we went with a nonfiction book. We're lazy, so we opted for a YA one from my Cybils list, since they've been good to us in the past. I'm not supposed to finish this, as we need time to pick another book. But it gives us a lot of scope in picking the accompanying movie -- anything with murders or death or bullets.
Bookmarks moved in several books:
Boy, Snow, Bird Helen Oyeyemi. My reading-my-library audio. I have lost all sympathy for Boy with the start of Part 2, and so far Bird is not winning a popularity contest with me. I'm also distracted by having to listen to a Cybils book as well, so this has slowed to a crawl. 5/8 discs.
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett. The bad guys are ambitious, there are betrayals and forged betrayals and the emergence of hidden players -- the last few chapters are exciting.
Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo. This is for Friday's book club. It involves a lot of adventurous teenagers who accept torture as a normal working condition, but I worry about them. It's hard reading YA as a mother of young adults; it makes me sensitive.
These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.
The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox. Popular science book about quantum effects. Good thing I've been discussing math with my high schoolers, as I managed the trigeometry-optional chapter with ease.
Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott. I think this is the least favorite Scott I've read, because so much of it hinges on the girl being stupid. Even Ivanhoe's Rowena had more on the ball.
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen.
Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.
Picture Books (read in the library while waiting for an appointment):
When the Wind Stops, Charlotte Zolotow. Lovely. I liked the story and the theme of renewal, which stayed gentle enough for a bedtime story. This would be fun to read to children.
The Matchbox Diary, Paul Fleischman. Great pictures, good story, emotionally real frame. This is a book that would reward rereading, and which also can spark discussions about history, family, or literacy.
Lala Salama, Patricia MacLachlan. Simple and sweet. The words and pictures complement each other. A simple bedtime story for a quiet child (or one you would like to become quiet).
Little Tree, Lauren Long. This is a charming illustrated story of a tree who refuses to change and loses the chance to grow. It ends happily, although the cynic in me thinks the tree would have been doomed once it was under the canopy. Nature, unlike children's books, doesn't always give second chances.
Interstellar Cinderella, Deborah Underwood. Fun. I liked that it ended with her declining marriage and becoming a mechanic, rhymes with panic. The verse and the pictures were unexpected enough to entertain.
Bug on a Bike, Chris Monroe. Cute but random. The story seemed driven mostly by the need to make the next rhyme, which might charm small children but I wanted more. And the party at the end didn't seem like a balanced payoff.
Pakkun the Wolf and His Dinosaur Friends, Yasuko Kimura. I didn't much like the art, and there were too many boys. I'm starting to really notice the unbalanced ratio in picture books, and the slightly repulsive art only gave me an extra reason to speculate. I didn't emphasize with any of the characters. Kids probably would like it fine, but I was annoyed when the mother chicken called on a small boy instead of dealing with her lost egg by herself.
You Are Here For a Reason, Nancy Tillman. I found the message pressuring rather than validating, probably because of the personality of my kids. I think this would work very well for some kids -- the pictures are warm and the text simple, but I'd have trouble reading it aloud with the correct emphasis (just as I can't read Rainbow Fish without revealing that I think of it as a tale of horror and body-dismemberment in a failed hope for acceptance).
Help! A Story of Friendship, Holly Keller. Too many boys. I worry for the continuation of the species in all kids books. This book was unfortunate enough to be the upteenth boy club book in rapid succession, so its rating suffered. Also, and this is even sillier, some snakes do eat mice so it was not a ridiculous worry. The pictures were nice.
Charlie and the New Baby, Ree Drummond. Cute but not much drive. The pictures are sweet but not very memorable, and Charlie doesn't even bond with the new calf -- he just wakes up and it's off his blanket so he goes back to eating.
2017 Challenge Progress:
- Cybils 2015: 81 out of 82. Need to finish these up. I own the last one, so it keeps getting pushed behind due library books. Focus! (No change from last week)
- Cybils 2016! 3 / a lot. Mostly through the second audio. Started two YAs -- a fantasy and a nonfiction.
- Reading My Library: Now on disc 5 of Boy Snow Bird. Picked up a book from the next shelf.
- Where Am I Reading?: 18/51. The elementary school book club book was set in Alaska, the Canadian author's book was in Indiana, and I read a review that placed Written in Red in Ohio, so I'm claiming that as well.