Saturday, September 4, 2021

Be a Judge!

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THE  CYBILS ARE COMING! The Cybils are coming! It's almost time to nominate childrens books (from board books to young adult) for the Cybils! I hope we've all been keeping our best-of lists up to date, or at least throwing them onto to the Cybils Idea Boards...

But this year I'm going deep. I'm the High School Nonfiction Chair, so I get to help with all the judging! And honestly people, if I can do it, so can you. If you are someone who reads books for kids and then talks about them somewhere on the internet, whether on your blog (Hey, I'm old school!) or on Amazon or on Instagram or Goodreads or Twitter or wherever you find your bookish home, consider throwing your hat in to be a Cybils Judge

Perhaps you think that only librarians and teachers can be judges. And it is true that they often make amazing judges, because those are professions where people who love to read and think about books often end up. But if you have ever bought a book as a gift for a non-adult (and that includes if you ever bought a book for yourself before you left your teens) then you have performed the same work that Cybils judges do -- you found a book that you found valuable, and that you thought a kid would enjoy. 

As an early Cybils Judge put it in a quote I have stolen from the About the Cybils Awards Page "between the brussels sprouts of literary merit and the gummy bears of popularity contests, we are the organic chicken nuggets--both yummy and nutritious!" And while I quibble with the details (obviously they have never tried my brother-in-laws roasted brussel sprouts, or seen those gummy vitamins in Costco), the sentiment is clear. There are books that feel solid, that stay with you after you close the pages, that maybe you look forward to rereading, that fill you with the joy that makes reading such an addictive pleasure, or that give you a glimpse into another person's life and feelings so that you've become a richer, more complex person after you close the cover. That's the brussel sprouts. And there are books where your first instinct on finishing them is to find someone to share this with, so that you are chasing down your fifth grade son begging him to read this picture book, you are wondering if Halloween is too early to send Christmas presents to your teenage niblings, or you are celebrating the first day of spring by donating a book to an elementary teacher who had your kid ten years ago.

Hmm, no wonder there are so many librarians and teachers who love the Cybils -- this must be so much easier when you have more standard ways of gifting books to children. As a school volunteer, I'm actually discouraged from giving gifts to students. And yet, thanks to the Cybils, I am constantly searching for babies, preschoolers, elementary students, early teen and late teens to share books with. And sometimes just recommending titles doesn't seem strong enough -- I want to press the books into their hands!

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One thing that the Cybils wants, both collectively and individually (did I mention I'm the High School Nonfiction Chair this year?) is more diversity. So, if you are hesitating about applying because you don't really feel like the sort of judge we are looking for, I beg you to discard that hesitation. We would love more young judges! Ones in college or high school! See, I forgot to even mention TikTok as a social media option up above, because I do not have YOUTH.  Bring yours!

We want more people with different perspectives -- more racial diversity, more gender diversity, more sexual identity diversity. I want a diverse group of judges for my Nonfiction panels, people from all over the country, people who identify as Black, as queer, as a first generation college graduate. I would love more Tribal members. I want recent immigrants, and trans people. We'll be reading books on all sorts of topics, and the wider our judging perspective is, the better we'll be at spotting books that really encapture a voice, and also at noting which books have a glaring omission that somehow didn't shine in the majority's eyes. 

The role of the first round judges is to read everything that anyone thought was Cybils worthy. We try to get multiple eyes on every single book. And it's a team effort -- the whole team doesn't read each book, but the judges will identify their strengths and the first reader might know who the second reader should be. As a round one judge, you balance your reading among being that first reader for as many books as you can while balancing picking up books suggested by other teammates. It's a lot of reading! (Last year it was a crazy lot of reading for nonfiction, so this year will seem a doddle, actually.) But it's also fascinating -- nonfiction covers so many topics, history/biography, natural history, ecology, fashion, education, sports, spies, and butterflies, to name some of the things that I now am ready to face Jeopardy with, thanks to a habit of reading the Cybils nonfiction finalist lists for the past decade or so...

So, if you have time to read, and access to libraries, and enjoy matching (young) people to books, CLICK HERE. 

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Round 2 judges have fewer books to read, but also a very strict time scale. They get handed the finalist list fought over carefully selected by the Round 1 readers, and then read them to pick a single winner. So, more time for contemplation, but also a need for clear vision and decisiveness. 

Of course, that vision is best achieved using a panoptic viewpoint! We do have a solid core of librarians and teachers (although if you are a librarian or teacher who hasn't applied yet, we don't have YOU and we would love to have you), but it's great to have additional perspectives as well. So, high school students, 16 and up, this is a great experience that wouldn't look bad on an essay! College students, this is a great way to look up from your studies and expand a bit before the semester gets crazy (Round 2 judges run from Jan 1 through February 14). Authors, you can't judge a category you write for, but you can cross-train! Parents who find a big benefit of having children is that no one questions your interest in kidlit any more -- talk to us! Everyone who discusses books on the internet, your viewpoint is something unique and wonderful -- consider sharing it!

Obviously I'm biased towards nonfiction, but honestly, go with your passion. If you fell in love with picture books when your kids were small, and you just kept on reading them and posting what you loved on goodreads or instagram, throw your hat in the ring! If you love poetry and have been posting your favorites to TikTok (do people "post" on TikTok? Am I showing my age here? Actually, I doubt anyone under thirty reads my blog, so if you KNOW anyone who does this please pass along this message), you are perfect! If you think book people get it wrong so often and it's time some books that kids actually like get awards,  hello and welcome aboard! 


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

My Turn Approaches


It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
In a fit of energy, and celebrating the return of more typical Pacific Northwest weather, I've started my running program again. I've gone all the way back to the beginning of the 5K training program, and it's still hard. But I made it through Week 1 and I'm ready for Week 2.

Of course, my other big news is that it's my turn to go hang out with my mom in Texas. She had a big health scare this summer, so all four siblings have taken it in turn to support her. The boys took the first month, and managed to really help get her on her feet again -- she had a really bad infection in her jaw bone, and was finding it hard to eat enough to stay alive, let alone to get healthy. Now this scare has convinced her that it's time to move to be near her children, so my sister helped her do long-distance home shopping, and now I get to help her downsize and move. 

Luckily I have one kid taking a break from college so he'll stay to keep my home fires burning, and also be here to help with the actual move. I like how this all fits together!

I did another bird walk, and saw lots of cool things. One of the men on this walk is really good at spotting birds, and then another woman is really good at explaining where to look. I'm getting very good at not tripping while walking around with my head craning at the sky.

I am currently reading 24 books, since if I hit a tough bit on a book I'm reading I pick up the next one. I do not anticipate a cascade of completions soon.  I'm still hitting my #bookaday summer target, with the help of some graphic novels. This will get tough while I'm away from home, as I won't have as much opportunity to quickly grab a thin book or a kidlit choice from my shelves, so we'll see how we do. 

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 go sign up. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers

Started

The Conductors (Murder and ...Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)Mulan: Before the Sword
You Should See Me in a CrownVictories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1)A Longer Fall (Gunnie Rose, #2)
The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose #3)A Wish in the DarkBlack Butler, Vol. 19 (Black Butler, #19)Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2)




Conductors, Nicole Glover. My eating companion. It's more an adventure than a mediation on eating, but it looked fun.

Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire. 2021 Hugo novella finalist.

Mulan:Before the Sword, Grace Lin. Cybils finalist.

You Should See Me In a Crown, Leah Johnson. Cybils finalist.

Victories Greater than Death, Charlie Jane Anders. Tuesday book club pick.

A Longer Fall, Charlaine Harris. From my shelves (a reread, but I bought it new).

The Russian Cage, Charlaine Harris. From my shelves.

A Wish in the Dark, Christina Soontornvat. Cybils finalist.

Black Butler 19, Yana Toboso. Working through the series.

Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir. Hugo novel finalist. 



Completed


Riot BabyMulan: Before the SwordIn the Forest of Forgetting
A Longer Fall (Gunnie Rose, #2)The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose #3)A Good Kind of Trouble
SwitchbackBlack Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Black Butler, Vol. 19 (Black Butler, #19)


Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi. 2021 Hugo novella finalist. This was incredibly vivid and angry, showing two siblings reacting to the racism and damage inflicted on them because of their color. One explodes in a fantasy way, magically channeling the future and the past and absorbing powers. The other moves into an SF near future, dystopian and yet just a hands length from now. But it's more emotion and images than a plot, which isn't really how I like my novellas to work. I would have appreciated it more in the smaller categories. I'm shallow like that. 

Mulan:Before the Sword, Grace Lin. 2020 Cybils Middle Grade SF finalist. Lin's books are always a pleasure to read, although they have a similar feel to each other. Here again we have an engaging protagonist, this one with vigor and energy but also a lack of confidence as she doesn't fit her parent's idea of a perfect daughter. She meets a magical mentor and they go off on an adventure that is interspersed with stories and legends told by a variety of characters. Little details matter, and sometimes there's a delighted recognition as something dropped chapters earlier pays off in an unexpected way. It's aimed a little younger and I find these great for stretching young reading muscles as the chapters and stories make for good breaks or chances to switch off for shared reading.

In the Forest of Forgetting, Theodora Goss. Despite what the length of my reading time might indicate, I really enjoyed these short stories. They had a wonderful feel of a modern fairy tale, and although the tone was similar in many of them, the twists and outcomes varied -- sometimes people chose poorly, sometimes a happy ending worked, other times receiving one's heart's desire ended up in tragedy. I'm now more inclined to read more of Goss's work. And then I panicked when returning books and handed this back to the wrong library, oops. I think they eventually hand it to the correct one.

A Longer Fall, Charlaine Harris. When the third book came out, I bought all three because I like Harris's protagonists. Lizbeth here is judgemental, but she holds herself to the same standards. She is ruthless, but also compassionate. She's pragmatic but knows when to listen to her heart. And I like when characters surprise me -- Lizbeth was the one who noticed Felix's motivation, but I had the same information. I'm glad to have these on my shelves; I'll enjoy visiting this alternate history again. 

The Russian Cage, Charlaine Harris. Finally I let myself have the new one. Lizbeth has to acknowledge what she knows -- she loves Eli, and she'll rescue him. I liked how violent she gets when she's protecting what she loves. She and Felix seem to share that trait. The battle at the house was so well done that even I could follow it, and the stuff with Eli's mom was delightful. I'm glad there will be another book; I want to see how Eli is doing outside of California. And whether the tsar takes Lizbeth's advice.

A Good Kind of Trouble, Lisa Ramee. A fast middle grade book about a new junior high student (7th grade. It's a bit amazing to me how odd I find schools that divide grades differently, even though I know theoretically how varied it can be) who deals with friend troubles as her elementary companions are approaching new peer groups and boys differently, and social issues such as making friends and interpreting boys' actions, while also dealing with racial issues such as Black Lives Matter and the unthinking cruelty of the principal, who thinks the status quo is just fine and protest are inherently violent. Her family is loving but not really communicative, which helps keep our protagonist independent.

Switchback, Clair M. Poulson. This was a very earnest, sincere book, with a detective and a family of ranchers/rodeo types, and they spent a lot of time driving around in northern Utah, and they were just not very good at solving crimes. Like, it wasn't until page 250 that anyone wondered if the ex-wife, who found her freshly murdered ex-husband's body on her ranch (while they were in a bitter custody fight), might be a suspect? And the response of the cop was to wonder the clueless people who made the suggestion were guiltily trying to incriminate her, because what reason could they have for suspecting such a sweet woman? 

Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse. Foolscap pick (Native American SF), and also a 2021 Hugo novel finalist. This was incredibly vivid -- several scenes are still playing in my head. In the afterward she talks about wanting to write a big fantasy story but draw on ideas from the Americas rather than Europe or Asia, and I think it succeeds magnificently. The club was positive, and we are looking forward to more. It did lean a bit on being the start of a series -- several characters had arcs that seemed truncated, as if most of their time was spent preparing for things that will happen in the next book, but I felt like there was a good resolution of the main things this book concentrated on. There was a great variety of viewpoint characters, some more competent than others, all with different priorities and skills. There's a theme of justice vs vengeance, and what is a moral satisfying response to being harmed. It's a rich book that stays with you. 

Black Butler 19, Yana Toboso. I don't usually laugh out loud while reading these, although there's often both sly humor and slapstick. But this one surprised me. Then things got fraught again, but I'm still going on for more.


Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Black Leopard, Red WolfThe Pleasant Profession of Robert A. HeinleinThe Luminaries
The Bourne Supremacy (Jason Bourne, #2)The Wine-Dark Sea (Aubrey & Maturin #16)The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters, #1)Sharks in the Time of Saviors
Last Night at the Telegraph ClubGardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)Vampire Trinity (Vampire Queen, #6)



Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James. Ancient Sword and Laser pick. Didn't touch it.

The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendelson. Hugo finalist. Didn't touch it. 

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. A page or so. I am liking it! I need to figure out when I can go to the gym.

The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum. Didn't touch it.

The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O'Brien. Didn't touch it. 

Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. The library brought it back, but I pushed for another week.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors, Kawai Strong Washburn. Didn't touch it. 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Malinda Lo. Didn't touch it.

Gardens of the Moon, Steven EriksonTuesday book club pick. Took a week off because I really disliked it (especially against Consider Phlebas) but maybe I'll get back to it. 

Vampire Trinity, Joey W. Hill. Didn't touch it.



Picture Books / Short Stories:



Nothing.

Palate Cleansers

These books I'm barely reading; lately I use them bribes to get me to deal with the mail. Hmm. I should get back to that. 


The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool Through Eighth GradeWool (Wool, #1)Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)
Under the Eye of the StormDates from HellReading and Learning to Read


The Educated Child, William Bennett. 

Wool, Hugh Howey. 

Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho. 

Under the Eye of the Storm, John Hersey. 

Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others. She is figuring out what I already knew.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Individualizing reading instruction vs individual reading instruction.

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2020. Finished Mulan: Before the Sword and started A Wish in the Dark, so soon Middle Grade SF novels will be done complete. Good work! Also reread all the picture books for book club again. Lots of YA books on my shelf.
  2. Early Cybils: Have Pucker waiting.
  3. Hugos 2021: Finished Black Sun. Finished Riot Baby novella and started Come Tumbling Down. Working on the selected episodes of Worldbuilding for Masochists podcast, to supplement my random selections.  
  4. KCLS 10 To Try: 10/10. Complete!
  5. Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge. 50/55. Counted again, and I must have missed some. Also picked up two by reading Switchback, which shares a title with Switchback.
  6. Reading My Library. Haven't started my new book yet. 
  7. Where Am I Reading 2021: 30/51 states. Utah! 17 Countries. Hmm. Should I count Mulan as China?

Future Plans

I'm putting this at the end because I suspect it's complete fiction, but I feel I should attempt some structure.

I am reading: 
  • Book I own: Sharks in the Time of Saviors Next: Vampire Trinity
  • Library Book:   Next: 
  • Ebook I own:   Victories Greater than Death. Next: Profession of Heinlein.  
  • Library Ebook: Luminaries Next: Bourne Supremacy
  • Book Club Book:  Victories Greater Than Death Up Next: Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardy
  • Tuesday Book Club Book: Victories Greater Than Death. Next: I need to finish Gardens of the Moon
  • Review Book: The Queer Principles of Kit Webb  Next: Back Home
  • Hugo Book: Come Tumbling Down. Next: Harrow the Ninth.
  • Rereading: Steerswoman
  • Meal Companion: Conductors
  • Audio: None  Next: I have a book on CD I'll start listening to if I ever catch up on my podcasts.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Stepping Forward, Hopping Back


It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This end of the pandemic is still a crazy time -- two steps forward, then hopping back a bit with cases rising. I'm comfortable with small, vaccinated gatherings, but larger ones and anonymous ones still seem scary.

So I take my nephew to his workout, although this week he's seeing a life coach who is working with him on managing his depression and making plans for the future. She keeps involving me so I get to do some hypnosis with guided images and body stretches and stuff. 

We had our Triple Book Club (local Sword and Laser, continued local Vaginal Fantasy which we call Cloudy, and Torches and Pitchforks), and I managed to finish all the books just in time. We met in person, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, even when weather drove us inside. It was a delicious pot luck and I enjoyed the conversation for all three books, which were a good variety. I also met up with a local birding group a few times, and they helped me see some cool birds. 

Remote interactions continue -- the Foolscap convention still hosts online games on Thursday nights, and a book club twice a month, and our family still gets together weekly to chat and hang out. For even more fun, my local brother has been coming down to play games and then do the call from my house.

We managed to see two movies (Space Jam Jungle Cruise) which was a lot of fun. My son saw the first Space Jam so he pointed out some Easter Eggs, and we've all ridden the Disney ride, so we had that context. I still prefer matinee showings with fewer than ten people in the theater...

But now I'm as likely to wear my mask outside to protect from the smoke (from California or Canadian fires) as I am inside to protect myself and encourage mask wearing among the unvaccinated. 

I am currently reading 23 books, since if I hit a tough bit on a book I'm reading I pick up the next one. I do not anticipate a cascade of completions soon.  I'm still hitting my #bookaday summer target, with the help of some graphic novels. 

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 go sign up. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers. 

Started


Black Butler 18 (Kuroshitsuji, #18)You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about RacismA Bollywood Affair (Bollywood, #1)
Riot BabyThe Buried PyramidBlack Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Fighting Words

A Good Kind of TroubleAn Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1)What Fresh Hell Is This?: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and You
Echo MountainKith (The Good Neighbors, #2)SwitchbackEscape from Lucien (Amulet, #6)



Black Butler 18, Yana Toboso. Marching on through the series.

You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar. Next month Torch & Pitchfork book, and a Seattle Library Hot Pick. 

A Bollywood Affair, Sonali Dev. Cloudy book club pick. 

Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi. Hugo novella finalist.

The Buried Pyramid, Jane Lindskold. From my shelves.

Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse. Foolscap pick (Native American SF), and also a Hugo novel finalist.

Fighting Words, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Cybils finalist.

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A Good Kind of Trouble, Lisa Ramee. Dinner table companion book.

An Easy Death, Charlaine Harris. I bought the series when the new one came out, so time to reread.

What Fresh Hell Is This, Heather Corinna. Recommended book on menopause. 

Echo Mountain, Lauren Wolk. Cybils finalist. 

Kith (Good Neighbors 2), Holly Black. Continuing a series.

Switchback, Clair M. Poulson. Picked this book for several challenges, and the author's last name reminds me of my son.

Escape From Lucien (Amulet 6), Kazu Kibuishi. Continuing a series.



Completed

Black Butler 18 (Kuroshitsuji, #18)You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about RacismA Bollywood Affair (Bollywood, #1)
Consider Phlebas (Culture, #1)The City We Became (Great C...Persephone StationThe Last Dragon

Fighting WordsFrom Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding HomeThe Buried PyramidEcho Mountain
Kith (The Good Neighbors, #2)What Fresh Hell Is This?: Perimenopause, Menopause, Other Indignities, and YouAn Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1)Escape from Lucien (Amulet, #6)


Black Butler 18, Yana Toboso. This wraps up the public school arc, which I'm glad about because I had trouble telling all the boys apart, including which ones were zombies and which ones were murderers, and which ones were neigher (or both). But I enjoyed the cricket stuff and I'm enjoying the story itself, even if I'm hazy on who the side characters are. On to the next! Without uniforms, it should be easier to tell the characters apart. (Never mind that they all have different faces, haircuts and heights, it's still hard for me!)

You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar. August's  Torch & Pitchfork book, and it's also the penultimate square on my Seattle Summer Bingo. This is a conversation between two sisters about the crazy and racist stuff that happens, mostly to Lacey. It's laugh out loud funny, because the sisters are telling these stories from the power and security of a sibling conversation, but it's also horrible and terrible (and they acknowledge and remind us of this) because this racist crap is happening today and all the time. "Small" things like people not registering their presence, or repeated confusing the two Black workers in a company for each other, or assuming criminal intent and calling the police, or... wait, we've already wandered past "small," haven't we?  I think this is a great pick for this book club, and also a fun read for anyone. Fun, but with a message. 

A Bollywood Affair, Sonali Dev. Cloudy book club pick. I found this charming and refreshing. The situation was slightly ridiculous, so I could relax into the comfort on a rom-com story knowing that things would work out in the end, but the characters were invested in their goals and situations. The alternating viewpoints made me sympathetic to both characters, even when they were making mistakes -- the man kept secrets for too long, but I could understand both the selfish and the logistical reasons. And the final scenes with the family (the pregnancy story, and then the drama of the birth) worked really well for me. I remember that someone at book club was miffed that those final scenes didn't have more relationship talk, but I didn't think it was necessary. I mean, there wasn't much to say besides "I'm sorry and I shouldn't have done that" which he expressed several times; what needed to happen was her seeing his loyalty to his family in action and realizing that he wanted to start doing that for her, if she'd give him a second chance.

Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks. Sword and Laser pick. I struggled with this a bit, because it's all about the setting and the ideas, with rather unpleasant characters working their way through it. I think the final train scene would have worked better as an audio, because it was tedious turning the pages because I kept realizing how much I didn't care about the people involved. Looking back, I appreciate it more; it's a look at what people are willing to do for a cause, even when from the outside that cause is feebly defined. It's about the futility of war -- so much death, so much pain, for so little result. Maybe I'll try another Culture book if I come across one.

The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin. Hugo finalist. This is a love story to New York and the different people who make up its varied parts. I enjoyed seeing them interact with grace or irritation, and the very different people Jemisin decides to use to embody the different sections. The metaphysical attack was cool as well, although in a very different way. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Persephone Station, Stina Leicht. For Torches and Pitchforks book club. I wasn't sure what to expect, because this club usually reads things with more immediate social implications. But it was a fun science fiction story, with humans colonizing a planet and only a few people knowing about the original inhabitants who survive (there were several races, but not all died out). There's a ragtag crew doing shady but good-hearted business for an underworld boss; the real bad guys are the corporates who write the laws. This crew ends up trying to defend an indigenous settlement from the bad guys. It was kinda cool how long it took me to realize that there were no men in the crew; this wasn't done as a statement but just how things turned out, which I guess is an even bigger and more fun statement. Some club members were uncomfortable with some of the resonances with our society and its history with colonizing; why did the natives need the help of our imported crew? But I felt the distinctive culture of the people and their place of power in the arrangement made it comfortable for me; it wasn't a simple white savior trope.

The Last Dragon, Silvana de Mari. 2006 Cybils Middle Grade SF finalist. Although the structure was a bit odd (the first section seemed a bit disconnected from the back end), I really liked the characters, writing, and story. I liked how the young elf's misconceptions skewered human society, how the baddies were so extravagantly bad, how the dragon was so foolish but then we find out why, how happiness had a cost, how destiny both mattered and didn't, how there is a word for this happened "because of this" as well as "this happened at the same time as this" and that mattered. I'm quite sad that the rest of this series does not seem to be translated into English.  

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Fighting Words, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2020 Cybils Middle Grade fiction finalist. I loved this, but I'm a sucker for siblings-in-foster-care stories. I really liked how well Della's superpower of not taking **** from anybody was shown. She wasn't out to be rude, but if someone pushed her she would complain.And I like how the principal took her seriously, which reflects what I expect from my kids' elementary schools (although not what I expected from my own schooling). I liked how the sisters tried to help each other, and how they were kids and so not always good at that. I liked how the effects of bullying were shown, but not by showing the fourth grade bully as some evil being. And yet it isn't the job of his victims to help him, but the job of the adults. The tone was great, the situations strong and believable, and this would be a great addition to library shelves. 

From Scratch, Tembi Locke. A lovely memoir, with a strong focus on food (which I like in my meal companion books). I like how the author uses an emotional chronology, so moving through the three summers after her husband's death means also moving through how they met and fell in love and built a family, and how that is interwoven with the details of the summers of grief and processing. Food is central to a lot of this -- preparing food is a way of communicating in this family, and learning from each other was a big part of their marriage, and then sharing that with the daughter is a huge part of family grieving and moving on. 

The Buried Pyramid, Jane Lindskold. From my shelves. This fantasy story set during the Raj has to deal with racial and gender stereotypes in the setting as well as in the time it was written (it came out in 2004), and I think the latter jarred me more than the former. Our protagonist is from the "Wild West" and her casual mentions of the savages (her parents were apparently killed in an Indian attack) did not get much authorial attention. The lives of Egyptians got a lot more nuance as our mostly English characters moved through the country pursuing their archaeological goals. I appreciated how slowly fantasy encroached on the story, until they tipped over and had to embrace the magic or perish. This is an author that I know I will enjoy but not embrace. 

Echo Mountain, Lauren Wolk. 2020 Cybils Middle Grade fiction finalist. This was a thoughtful Great Depression in Maine story, with our protagonist learning about the difference between family and individual as her siblings and parents and her struggle to survive on their new remote mountain land after losing their home in town. There are tensions between the people learning to love their new home (her dad, her) and those who miss everything they left behind (mom, older sister). There's the tension between protecting the younger brother but encouraging him to start learning responsibility. There's the nagging worry that the father will never recover from his injury, and struggles with who is to blame and what should be done. I do think the main character is a bit too good to be true, but that gives a chance to see a young person struggling with tough questions of decency and sacrifice, and I liked that. 

Kith (Good Neighbors 2), Holly Black. Continuing a series, and also rescuing my book-a-day streak with a graphic novel. I'm enjoying the story but I can't really tell anyone apart -- there are four or five young people that I keep mistaking for each other, which makes the guy with the floofy hair my favorite. This is me, not them -- clearly these people have different faces, bodies, and hair, but I can't remember which is which. But I like the mix of good and bad choices, and how mistakes matter even if they can try to be repaired. On to the final one!

What Fresh Hell Is This, Heather Corinna. There were a slew of books like this for puberty and pregnancy, so I'm glad I'm finally finding ones for menopause. The author hit perimenopause hard, and now wants to make sure that other people at least know what might be in store for them. I liked the wide ranges of expectations, the reassurances of what is normal, what is within a few standard deviations, and what can be done to help. Questions that I might not have known to ask, options that I wouldn't have known to request, stuff like that. I liked the strong opinions of Corinna, how much support can be expected and is certainly deserved by anyone going through this because we are all people and deserve respect. I'm glad I heard of this and maybe I want some more, although I kinda wish I had read it a few years ago. 

An Easy Death, Charlaine Harris. I really liked this the first time I read it, and I enjoyed it again this time, knowing what to look for and who would make it to the end. I'm a big fan of Harris's heroines, who are decent and hard working and not afraid to make mistakes. Now I want to go on to the next, and finally read the third. I'm also spending a bit more attention to the details of her alternate history, which has been very rewarding. I like seeing how her America split up, and how that resonates with the politics of the past few years. Very well done.

Escape From Lucien (Amulet 6), Kazu Kibuishi. Another emergency graphic novel! I am very confused as to who is where and doing what, but really I don't mind, the pictures are pretty! There's the brother who is a good pilot, and the sister who has an amulet, and then people either help them or don't. Usually by the end of a page I have mostly figured out who I've been reading about. It does help that some people are robots and others have turned into animals; I'm fairly confident at telling a fox from a human.  And I just found out that the series isn't even complete yet! I feel betrayed. 


Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Black Leopard, Red WolfThe Pleasant Profession of Robert A. HeinleinThe LuminariesThe Bourne Supremacy (Jason Bourne, #2)
The Wine-Dark Sea (Aubrey & Maturin #16)The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters, #1)Sharks in the Time of Saviors
Last Night at the Telegraph ClubGardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)Vampire Trinity (Vampire Queen, #6)In the Forest of Forgetting



Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James. Ancient Sword and Laser pick. Didn't touch it.

The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendelson. Hugo finalist. Didn't touch it. 

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. A page or so. I am liking it! I need to figure out when I can go to the gym.

The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum. Didn't touch it.

The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O'Brien. Didn't touch it. 

Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. The library brought it back, but I pushed for another week.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors, Kawai Strong Washburn. Didn't touch it. 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Malinda Lo. Didn't touch it.

Gardens of the Moon, Steven EriksonTuesday book club pick. Took a week off because I really disliked it (especially against Consider Phlebas) but maybe I'll get back to it. 

Vampire Trinity, Joey W. Hill. Didn't touch it.

In the Forest of Forgetting, Theodora Goss. Argh -- this is due! I'd better finish it. 



Picture Books / Short Stories:

Burn or the Episodic Life o...


"Burn, or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super," A.T. Greenblatt. 2021 Hugo novelette finalist. This was fine, and it has some interesting thoughts of how supers would function in society, and the costs and dubious benefits of becoming one. 


Palate Cleansers

These books I'm barely reading; lately I use them bribes to get me to deal with the mail. Hmm. I should get back to that. 


The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool Through Eighth GradeWool (Wool, #1)Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)
Under the Eye of the StormDates from HellReading and Learning to Read


The Educated Child, William Bennett. 

Wool, Hugh Howey. 

Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho. 

Under the Eye of the Storm, John Hersey. 

Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others.  I know something the woman in "Chaos" doesn't know, because I know she is in a story. 

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Individualizing reading instruction vs individual reading instruction.

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2020. Finished Echo Mountain and Fighting Words, so Middle Grade novels is complete. Good work! Also reread all the picture books for book club. Lots of books on my shelf.
  2. Early Cybils: Finished The Last Dragon. Have Pucker waiting.
  3. Hugos 2021: Finished The City We Became and started on Black Sun. Started Riot Baby novella and watched some video blogs. Found the recommended podcasts so starting those.
  4. KCLS 10 To Try: 10/10. Complete!
  5. Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge. 45/55. Nothing, but I am doubling up some categories where my first book was a kidlit book.
  6. Reading My Library. Haven't started my new book yet. 
  7. Where Am I Reading 2021: 29/51 states. Picked up Nebraska and Tennessee. I think An Easy Death is Texas? 17 Countries. Egypt and Italy!

Future Plans

I'm putting this at the end because I suspect it's complete fiction, but I feel I should attempt some structure.

I am reading: 
  • Book I own: Sharks in the Time of Saviors Next: Vampire Trinity
  • Library Book: In the Forest of Forgetting  Next: 
  • Ebook I own:   Gardens of the Moon. Next: Profession of Heinlein.  
  • Library Ebook: Luminaries . Next: Bourne Supremacy
  • Book Club Book:  Victories Greater Than Death Up Next: Black Sun
  • Tuesday Book Club Book: Victories Greater Than Death. Next: I need to finish Gardens of the Moon
  • Review Book: The Queer Principles of Kit Webb  Next: Back Home
  • Hugo Book: Riot Baby. Next: Black Sun.
  • Rereading: Steerswoman
  • Meal Companion: The Good Kind of Trouble. Next: Conductors
  • Audio: None  Next: I have a book on CD I'll start listening to if I ever catch up on my podcasts.