Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Adulting Is Hard

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Another skipped week in my reading report, but then the last one was long and late. This one is also long but I am hoping it won't be late, which means I should catch up. Then I can look back in ten years and have some idea of what I was reading in May 2018.

There was no cooking from me. I hosted book club, and as tradition dictated served take-n-bake pizzas, to the acclaim of all. And I ordered an extra one which I munched on all weekend. The next week I had an evening meeting, so I asked the boys to cook for me. After discussing the recipe, they discarded all the vegetables and made pasta with alfredo sauce. (Originally it also had zucchini, mushrooms and peas). On the other hand, they did cook, so I guess I can't complain. And then I had to go in for a colonoscopy, so I declared myself unfit to cook. I mean, a stove is a large piece of machinery, right? The boys even brought my food upstairs so I could wallow in uninterrupted . self pity. Next week I'll venture into the kitchen again.

Somehow my currently reading is still at 31, so I guess I should finish some of them.

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 so I'll sign up there. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed at either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers. My Cybils reading keeps me eligible for that (at least for a few pages) so I'll sign in there as well..

This Fortnight I started:

New York 2140Marry in Scandal (Marriage of Convenience, #2)Parasite (Parasitology, #1)Once More With Feeling
The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3)Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen SuggestionsBeneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens
The True Story of Hansel and GretelMackenzie's Mountain (Mackenzie Family, #1)Mackenzie's Mission (Mackenzie Family, #2)The Last Mile (Amos Decker, #2)
Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1)Mackenzie's Pleasure (Macke...

New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson. For my Tuesday bookclub.

Marry in Scandal, Anne Gracie. I liked the first in this series.

Parasite, Mira Grant. For my Friday book club.

Once More With Feeling, Nora Roberts. For a book team.

The Night Masquerade (Binti 3), Nnedi Okorafor. Finishing the trilogy.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Adichie. For my Feminist Book Club.

Beneath the Sugar Sky, Seanan McGuire. For my book club. And because it was a gift from Seanan.

How We Learn, Benedict Carey. Next in my Reading My Library quest, audio edition.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, Louise Murphy. For a book team.

Mackenzie's Mountain, Linda Howard. For a book team.

Mackenzie's Mission, Linda Howard. Because I liked the mountain book.

The Last Mile, David Baldacci. Because I liked the first Amos Decker book.

Song of the Current, Sarah Tolcser. YA Cybils that I might enjoy more.

Mackenzie's Pleasure, Linda Howard. I'm on a roll.

I finished:

Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)Parasite (Parasitology, #1)Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen SuggestionsOnce More With Feeling
The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3)Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)Laughing Gas
The Mountain Between UsMackenzie's Mountain (Mackenzie Family, #1)Mackenzie's Mission (Mackenzie Family, #2)The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

Air Awakens, Elise Kova. After spending most of the book with our Heroine grappling with whether or not to accept her miraculous magical powers and accompanying rise in status along with the friendship (and perhaps romantic interest) of one, no possibly two princes, suddenly there is a wild attack and a bizarre conspiracy against her. It did not tip me over into wanting to read the sequel.

Parasite, Mira Grant. Fun science fiction about a giant corporation that convinced most of America to pay handsomely to install tapeworms in their guts, and then was shocked when things go wrong. Good balance of deeply creepy details and gross but authentic sounding science rationalizations. Also, I was impressed by how Grant made her character refuse to face the obvious conclusion but also kept me happy about that, because if I were here I'd be anchoring myself in the deepest part of the river Denial.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Adichie. I agreed with most of it, so it seemed a very wise book. And it was well written, with clear but intelligent phrasing. Some points seemed a bit optimistic for parents but in keeping with advice given to newborn guardians, especially since most of it was written before Adichie had a child of her own. Kids go their own way, despite all the lessons imparted and excellent examples displayed for them.

Once More With Feeling, Nora Roberts. Reading this after the primer for feminism was a bit of a shock, especially as I did not realize that the reprint date of 2015 masked the actual published date of 1983. We have come a long way, so that men kissing women until they admit they like it no longer seems romantic. Of course, neither does smoking. But even back then I don't think I would have liked the tantrum that the hero throws when the heroine leaves him (rushing off to her mother's deathbed and then funeral). In his defense, he was in too much of a snit to read the note she left.

The Night Masquerade (Binti 3), 
Nnedi Okorafor. This wasn't quite as powerful as the first. My interest is in how Binti navigates her cultural boundaries as they conflict with her aspirations and ambitions. The science fiction ideally reinforces this. But so much is going on from integrating the abilities from her father's clan's alien tendencies to rebirth through living space ships to discovering the banal truth about a religious icon that it just feels tiring, especially with the whole bait and switch around the family's trauma.

Beneath the Sugar Sky, Seanan McGuire. Another entry in the Wayward Children series, which gives glimpses of adolescents pushed beyond ordinary breaking points. In this case a girl was teased for her fatness into attempting suicide, then lives as a savior of a mermaid society, and then must return to earth and pick up the pieces again. She is dragged into saving the daughter of a young girl murdered at her school, and along the way makes friends and carves out a (hopefully temporary -- she wants to find the mermaids again) place for herself in this world.

Laughing Gas, P.G. Wodehouse. Silly, predictable, but still fun, although the dips into now unacceptable language sometimes killed the mood. I liked having my son in the car for the final tracks so that there was someone to laugh along as everything worked out in a ridiculous way for the happiness of all. Well, all the people we were prepared to care about, anyway.

The Mountain Between Us, Charles Martin. Somehow my son ended up with my copy of this book on the airplane, so I had to read it safely on the ground, which detracted a lot from it. I found the love story sentimental and false, having figured on the big reveal early on and not buying the doctor as a good match for love. For getting lost in the wilderness with, sure, but he was creepy once back in civilization. Of course the woman was represented mostly by lying still (the author broke her leg to make sure she didn't try to move around much) and smiling so she wasn't the deepest fish in the sea either. At least it all took place in Utah.

MacKenzie's Mountain, Linda Howard. Another old fashioned romance, but as I knew it going it I was able to relax into the expected differences. She's an old maid (pushing thirty!) who is a dedicated teacher, he's a "half-breed" (you see my modern difficulties) ostracized by the town but with a promising son she's determined to educate. Together they find happiness, after dealing with a crazed townie's campaign of rape and attempted murder.

Mackenzie's Mission, Linda Howard. The sequel, with the son all educated and a successful pilot in the Air Force, is even more fun. He's all control and seriousness, she's socially maladroit and virginal (but stylish!). She's also ruthlessly sensible, even as he accuses her of treason so she has to go confront the real villains. I think I want to read the rest of the books for this family just in hopes of Caroline careening tactlessly around in even a few paragraphs.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, Louise Murphy. Golly, that will teach me not to read the back cover. This uses the story of Hansel and Gretel to follow two Jewish children through several months in Nazi-controlled Poland. They find friend who shelture them and also evil Germans and Poles who menace them. The girl loses agency in the middle, which drops the tension a lot, but it's still a grim read.

And I didn't finish but did give up on Shadow of Victory, which is just too long for its story.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota, #1)Virtues of War (Virtues of War, #1)Wolf Who Rules (Elfhome, #2)
Black Sands (Aloha Reef, #2)A Short History of the Girl Next DoorGiant Pumpkin SuiteShadow of Doubt (Robyn Hunter, #5)
Tinker (Elfhome, #1)The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin OlympicsCold Welcome (Vatta's Peace, #1)

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Episode 51. Things seem about to explode on several fronts -- the AIs and the traders.

Too Like the Lightning, 
Ada Palmer. I'm a bit confused by the lure of the siren. Not by her lure, but at the society that thinks they have eliminated gender.

Virtues of War, Bennett Coles. Zap! Zoom! I canna hold any longer! All hands abandon ship!

Wolf Who Rules, Wen Spencer. I should sit down and reread all the un-reread parts.

Black Sands, Colleen Coble. This brother seems like bad news. And this is a very faith-based (not commandment or love centered) Christianity.

A Short History of the Girl Next Door, 
Jared Reck. This promises to be everything I dislike in a YA -- clumsily misogynist boy who messes up and the reader is supposed to sympathize because he feels bad. I very much hope I am wrong and the blurb writers were leading me astray.


Giant Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. I am inching along through the sad part.

Shadow of a Doubt, Norah McClintock. Kids today. Gotta keep 'em off the lawns.

Tinker, Wen Spencer. Still rereading in spurts.

Boys in the Boat, Daniel Brown. Again returning to books languishing in mid-read. I should work on this as I borrowed the book from my brother.

Cold Welcome, Elizabeth Moon. From my TBR stack.

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

KenilworthA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen
Sammy Keyes and the Art of DeceptionChange of Heart (Robyn Hunter, #7)Reading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. The police coil in circles.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Sammy Keyes and the Art of Deception, Wendelin Van Draanen.

Change of Heart
, Norah McClintock.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2018 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2017! 11/104-ish. Am disliking my current YA.
  2. Reading My Library: Finished Laughing Gas and started How to Learn. Working on Black Sands.
  3. Where Am I Reading 2018?: 27/51. Progress! Utah, Wyoming, Nevada! Also Poland. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Zooming Around

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I've been on the move these past two weeks. At the end of April I jetted off to Columbus with my son's chess team for Nationals. It was fun hanging out with a half dozen chess fanatics and their chess friends, especially as I have only a rudimentary understanding of the game. I still gave lots of helpful advice, of course. "Don't lose!" I'd suggest. Sometimes they even paid attention.

I use a service called Gathered Table for meal planning. They send me a suggested menu every week, I trim out what I actually want to good from their suggestions, which are about half things I put in myself and half things from their database of recipes. I like the combination of new things, old standards, and lack of effort on my part. This week I was delighted by their suggestion, which consisted of "buy some ravioli, boil them, and serve 'em with olive oil and some grated parmesan." Now that's some gourmet cooking I can get behind! Sadly it was very popular so that Paulos only gets one lunch out of it.

To keep my gourmet credentials I also made one of the suggested side dishes -- sweet and sour sautéed rainbow chard. Yum.

Somehow my currently reading is back up to 33, so I guess I should finish some of them. I did read a lot while traveling, but it was mostly book I started on the trip.

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 but I'm really late so I'll skip this week. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed at either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers. My Cybils reading keeps me eligible for that, but again, I'm late.

This Fortnight I started:

The Phantom TollboothBlack Butler, Vol. 12 (Black Butler, #12)Black Sands (Aloha Reef, #2)
Good Bones (Bones #1)We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse, #1)Cold Welcome (Vatta's Peace, #1)Buried Bones (Bones #2)
The Service of the Sword (Worlds of Honor, #4)Laughing GasThe Price of Meat
The Twisted Path: A Twenty Palaces Novella (Twenty Palaces #3.5)PashminaA Short History of the Girl Next Door

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Jester. For my elementary book club.

Black Butler Vol 12, Yana Toboso. Working my way through this series.

Black Sands, Colleen Coble. A RML book that takes place in Hawaii.

Good Bones, Kim Fielding. Cleaning out my e-reader.

We Are Legion, We Are Bob, Dennis Taylor. The Sword & Laser pick.

Cold Welcome, Elizabeth Moon. From my TBR stack.

The Mountain Between Us, Charles Martin. Chosen because I'm going on an airplane.

Buried Bones, Kim Fielding. Sequel to Good Bones.

"The Gig", Kim Fielding. Sequel to Buried Bones. Hey, I'm a completist.

The Service of the Sword, David Weber (editor). I'm in a Weber mood, and it fit a book team challenge.

Laughing Gas, P.G. Wodehouse. The next audio book for my Reading My Library Quest. After this I head into audio nonfiction.

"The Price of Meat," K.J. Charles. Another ebook purchase lurking on my reader.

The Twisted Path, Harry Connolly. I bought this Ray Lily novella as soon as it came out, because I'm a huge fan. Then it languished on my reader because of my library problem.

Pashmina, Nidhi Chanani. Cybils graphic novel.

A Short History of the Girl Next Door, Jared Reck. Cybils YA.


I finished:

The Glow of Death (Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery, #11)The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We ReadSix WakesThe Phantom Tollbooth
Black Butler, Vol. 12 (Black Butler, #12)Bruno and the Carol Singers (Bruno, Chief of Police, #5.5)Good Bones (Bones #1)We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse, #1)
Rebel (The Change, #3)Buried Bones (Bones #2)The Price of MeatThe Twisted Path: A Twenty Palaces Novella (Twenty Palaces #3.5)
FledglingThe Service of the Sword (Worlds of Honor, #4)How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War ChildPashmina

The Glow of Death, Jane K. Cleland. I jumped deep (#11) into this mystery series about a well-off antique dealer and her wealthy clients. The mysteries of the monied roll a bit differently than those of us regular folk, but the writing was crisp and the characters, both recurring and new, varied enough to be interesting.

The Secret Life of Stories, Michael Berube. This was a bit dryer and more repetitive than I wanted, but it was fun reading literary jargon again, and also to think deeply about how disability is used in literature and what this says about our society's relationship with it.

Six Wakes, 
Mur Lafferty. This was a successful book club read and we congratulated Webb on the success of his old roommate's wife's book. I liked the various ethical issues raised by cloning and while I wasn't completely sold on how the future society came to the decisions it did, I was convinced that the characters believed it. The mystery was solved as well, although I almost didn't notice.

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Jester. For my elementary book club. I really enjoyed this read through, and I think I found it less picaresque than last time. The kids heartily approved it, argued over words vs numbers a bit, and also discussed the movie, which a few of them had seen. Maybe I'll look it up.

Black Butler Vol 12, 
Yana Toboso. This volume gave me the satisfaction of usually knowing who was who; occasionally I got confused with the two grim reapers but their conversation was distinctive enough that things righted themselves quickly. The combination of zombies and luxury ship meets iceberg made for a good plot -- either alone would be silly of course. Also through a twisty and credibility-straining path I think Toboso is going to do something fun with Ciel's girlfriend.

Bruno and the Carol Singers, 
Martin Walker. Again I leaped to a short story deep into a mystery series, but everything was clear enough. French town for that exotic feel, simple dilemmas and solutions, feel-good ending for a Christmas story. I tend to frown disapprovingly when one parent unilaterally removes a child from contact with the other parent, but no one in the story felt this was at all remarkable.

Good Bones, Kim Fielding. Excellent plane reading, with fun, sweet characters in a romance (so I knew things would work out) and a hilarious take on werewolves.

We Are Legion, We Are Bob, 
Dennis Taylor. Two flights, two books. This was a light-hearted SF space romp with one main character and an interesting take on that one. I did wish for more women, but even the alien races concentrated attention on the men. I shared it with Paulos, who also seems to be enjoying it.

Rebel, Rachel Brown & Sherwood Smith. Good golly, I am almost as slow at reading these as they are at writing them, and I have no excuse. I knew I'd like it and I did. The adolescent characters are carefully drawn and distinctive; even the motives and actions of the villains are understandable if not forgivable. The mutant powers are fun and perk things up. I'm ready for the next one!

Buried Bones, Kim Fielding. Sequel to Good Bones. Same cute boys, new and surmountable problems. The insecurities were enough to make them human but never tipped over into whiny. Another fun read while traveling.

"The Gig", Kim Fielding. The short story that mixes together characters from two series. Fan service, but I'm a fan.

"The Price of Meat," K.J. Charles. I had forgotten that this was a short story instead of a novel, so was surprised when I glanced at the page count while reading. It does a lot of world building in a tiny space, so I hope that means Charles plans to go back there.

The Twisted Path, Harry Connolly. I did know this was a novella, and it gave me the heroic and obnoxious Ray Lily that I know and love, along with more depth on the Twenty Palaces and a deep wish for even more. Great plane read during a lot of turbulence.

Fledgling, Octavia Butler. It's interesting that I'm seeing a lot of stuff on social media about censoring fanfiction that deals with rough subjects like underage sex when this book centers around a person who looks like a ten year old girl who enters into a polyamorous sexual relationship with several men and women. Butler does a great job of examining many racial and societal taboos and assumptions in this vampire story about revenge and redemption.

The Service of the Sword, David Weber (editor). Fun tales of daring-do in space, some set behind enemy lines and some set on battleships. A nice change of pace was the one set on a disfunctional ship manned by graduates of the Peter Principal of incompetence. Honor Harrington makes an appearance, but most of the stories are set among the nooks and crannies for various authors to explore.

How Dare the Sun Rise, Sandra Uwiringiyimana. Cybils nonfiction. This autobiography of a child raised in a precarious but loving home, traumatized by an ethnically inspired massacre at a refugee camp and then settled with her family in Rochester New York helps put a face on all the refugees monolithically condemned by Republicans. She and her writer do a great job in showing her resilience and pain and humanity. It also covers a lot of her struggles in America, from dealing with racism in overt and subtle ways to finding a gulf between her new culture and her family's expectations.

Pashmina, Nidhi Chanani. Cybils graphic novel. Fantasy of a lovely spirit guide to India is mixed with a middle school (? -- the ages were very confusing to me) story of fitting in and family jealousy. Both parts worked, although the fantasy stuff wasn't resolved to my satisfaction -- it didn't really end up blending with the family drama which worked much better as old histories were explored and resonances with the modern day found.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)Giant Pumpkin Suite
Shadow of Doubt (Robyn Hunter, #5)Wolf Who Rules (Elfhome, #2)Tinker (Elfhome, #1)
Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota, #1)Virtues of War (Virtues of War, #1)The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Episode 49-50. Practical jokes on a trader with PTSD may be hazardous to your health. I say "may." Also, fiction may not be the best predictor of reality so AIs need to be careful in their studying.

Air Awakens, Elise Kova. Sadly I am not in the mood for adolescent goofiness, even in a fantasy setting. Our heroine whines about how horrible having magic is, sulks when her friends express a fraction of the same feeling, refuses to pay any attention to the cautions showered upon her by experts, completely disregards all romantic warning signs, also ignores all political danger, and then wonders why her life is hard. Her life didn't seem hard to me even before she was invited in the world of magical luxury. Luckily everyone likes her. A lot.

Giant Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. I am inching along through the sad part.

Shadow of a Doubt, Norah McClintock. Oops, I peeked at the end. Now it's duller watching them follow the red herrings.

Wolf Who Rules, Wen Spencer. I should sit down and reread all the un-reread parts.

Tinker, Wen Spencer. Same.

Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer. I get the feeling that reading this a few pages at a time will be bad for my comprehension. The author wants me to take it seriously; she seems to respect the reader. Oops.

Virtues of War, Bennett Coles. More space battles on my reader, which I was enjoying getting back to until the power went out on my flight.

Boys in the Boat, Daniel Brown. Again returning to books languishing in mid-read. I should work on this as I borrowed the book from my brother.

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

KenilworthA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen
Sammy Keyes and the Art of DeceptionChange of Heart (Robyn Hunter, #7)Reading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Sammy Keyes and the Art of Deception, Wendelin Van Draanen.

Change of Heart
, Norah McClintock. Kids can be foolish.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2018 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2017! 11/104-ish. Finished How Dare the Sun Rise,  and started the next book.
  2. Reading My Library: Finished the audio Bruno and the Carol Singers and started the last fiction audio Laughing Gas. Also finished The Glow of Death and started Black Sands.
  3. Where Am I Reading 2018?: 27/51. Nothing new. More New Hampshire, Washington, Oregon, California and New York. I forget where the American parts of Pashmina happen, hmm.