Monday, March 18, 2019

Wearing Of the Green

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
My reading this week is small, but that's partly because it's only half a week, so I decided not to delay when ending my blog hiatus. But I like the community of Monday posting, so I'm back!

Spring is finally arriving here in western Washington -- after snow continuing into March, which is awful and frightening and inconvenient, the sun has returned and I can now drive around without seeing snow banks and having panic attacks. The middle of March has a nice run of minor holidays -- my birthday, pie day (pizza and cake for me, thanks!) Ides of March, and St Patrick's Day.

I wore a green shirt and nagged my son to do the same, and then we met up with a friend and my brother to see Captain Marvel which was a fun if not very ambitious movie. Goose was our favorite; she was a very pretty kitty. And then my sister served up an Irish feast for family dinner, which we all enjoyed.

My currently reading has stayed at 22. Not unreasonable for me, especially since this week I only really looked at nine or so books.

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.

Completed:

With the Lightnings (Lt. Leary, #1)Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1)


With the Lightnings
, David Drake. This one rolled along happily to the end, with a kind of reverse O. Henry twist where the two protagonists thought they gave up something they wanted to give the other person a gift, and they both ended up with what they wanted without giving up their dreams. And we get a second henchman so they can both have a left hand to complement their strong rights. It was fun to go back to the start of this series because it's a bit hazy now and I'm still reading them as I trip across them. Tuesday book club seems happy.

Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee. The Sword and Laser pick I think in January; this time around I managed to make it through! I was not impressed with the conceit of mathematical calendars causing magical effects because it involved a lot of handwavium and also gave the characters unpredictable powers -- I never knew how much trouble anyone was in because maybe the handwavium calculations would solve something? The bits at the end where we see Jadeo's plan and could start deciding whether to root for it was a lot better but again, it was at the end.

Bookmarks Moved In:

Son of the Black Sword (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, #1)The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in BritainCyteen (Cyteen, #1-3)
Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. ButlerVirtues of War (Virtues of War, #1)Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)


Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia. 35/? Baen's podcast serial. The society has rather dull gender politics, but at least occasionally a girl gets to do something within those rules.

The Road to Little Dribbling, Bill Bryson. My current Reading-My-Library audio. Bryson would be an annoying companion although he's good for a car audio book. I heartily approve of his long-suffering coterie grabbing his elbow and leading him away from innocent contacts. I especially smiled at his description of the mental patient who would yell insults at new acquaintances, since a lot of Bryson's schtick seems to involve replicating this.

Cyteen, C.J. Cherryh. OK, I made it from adolescence to the end. Now deciding whether to jump back to her toddlerhood or to where she meets her personal azi...

Luminscent Threads, ed. Alexandra Pierce. I'm enjoying reading a few of the essays at a time, with an added thrill when I recognize the contributors. On my Kindle App.

Virtues of War, Bennett R. Coles. The unpleasant woman's distaste for suicide missions has endeared her to me. On the NOOK app.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Leigh Bardugo. It's interesting to read this as the plot of the movie screens in the back of my mind and the contrasts and similarities throw shadows across each other. I like the way Diana meets some cute guys but no one expects them to warp her life for decades. Unless she gets killed by one, I guess -- I haven't finished it yet.


Palate Cleansers

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

A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)Sammy Keyes and the Art of DeceptionChange of Heart (Robyn Hunter, #7)The Inn of the Sixth HappinessReading and Learning to Read

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. I continue to find the violinist's interaction with his annoying neighbor trying.

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

Change of Heart, Norah McClintock.

Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Alan Burgess.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What Am I Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Well, I fell so far behind while doing all my Cybils reading that I gave up on blogging. And then I was so far behind that I was discouraged. But I like looking back to see what I was reading and when, so I'm declaring a book amnesty and just starting again with what I'm reading now.

This is a good time for resolutions, since I just had a birthday. I'm 51, which is a nicely symmetric age for our binary birthday candles: 110011. No worries about whether the cake is upside down. I had a lovely day -- lunch with my SIL, dinner out with my family, and calls from my mom and my college son. Oh, and cake! There are still specks of snow to be seen in crannies around the neighborhood, so I feel all rugged.

My currently reading is hovering around 23. I'll eventually finish a few of them. Or admit that I'm not reading them -- a few are back in the public library waiting to be requested again.

Completed:

The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #6)Spinning SilverBeggars and Choosers (Sleepless, #2)

Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin. I was supposed to read this for Tuesday book club but I fell behind. Too bad, because I like it and I always remember different bits. I had forgotten most of the friendship the travelers build although I remembered their epic trip. I remembered the confusion of kemmer and how perverted the permanently male (and sexually available) spaceman looked but I forgot how his perceptions shifted when the locals suddenly struck him as womanly instead of male (his default for important people).

Spinning Silver, Naomi Novak. Lovely and intricate. Novak has a knack for making me care deeply about all of her characters so sometimes I would put the book down because their needs seemed so wildly opposed, or just their perceptions so that it was hard to care so much for all of them. But the ending was lovely and powerful and I liked the moneylending girl most of all.

Beggars and Choosers, Nancy Kress. This is only available in audio, and then it took me ages because I didn't drive much in February. I'm enjoying the wreck society is making of itself, and how the "smartest" people do the dumbest things. Of course, the dumb people also do dumb things; that may be Kress's theme -- people rarely do the "right" thing.

Bookmarks Moved In:

Son of the Black Sword (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, #1)The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in BritainCyteen (Cyteen, #1-3)Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1)
Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. ButlerVirtues of War (Virtues of War, #1)With the Lightnings (Lt. Leary, #1)Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)


Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia. 35/? Baen's podcast serial. All the characters come from stock images, but they run around in entertaining ways.

The Road to Little Dribbling, Bill Bryson. My current Reading-My-Library audio. Bryson would be an annoying companion although he's good for a car audio book.

Cyteen, C.J. Cherryh. I'm re-reading this, starting with the end. I'll probably go backward by chucks, although I'm not sure I'll finish the beginning because it doesn't get fun until Ari II gets interesting.

Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee. The Sword and Laser pick I think in January; I didn't get traction on it back then but I have a week left before the library calls it home so I'm trying again.

Luminscent Threads, ed. Alexandra Pierce. This collection of essays about Octavia Butler's works makes me want to read them all over again. On my Kindle App.

Virtues of War, Bennett R. Coles. There's a bit too much of the horrors of war for me to really enjoy this. I'm a wimp. On the NOOK app.

With the Lightnings, David Drake. This has a lighter touch so I can happily read over all the carnage. It's our Tuesday book club pick.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Leigh Bardugo. Apparently this is not a novelization of the movie, although it is a Cybils pick from last year. I need to finish last year so I can start this year's list!


Palate Cleansers

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

A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)Sammy Keyes and the Art of DeceptionChange of Heart (Robyn Hunter, #7)The Inn of the Sixth HappinessReading and Learning to Read

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. I find the violinist's interaction with his annoying neighbor trying.

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

Change of Heart, Norah McClintock.

Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Alan Burgess.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Cybils Reading Part VI



Most of my reading is from the Cybils nominated books.

My category is Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Thank goodness I belong to two spectacular library systems, King County (kcls) and Seattle, so I can get a lot of the books.




 I Read:

Esme's Wish (Esme Series #1)Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1)Connect the Scotts (The Dead Kid Detective Agency, #4)The Second Story (Magic Misfits, #2)Money Jane
The Storm Runner (The Storm Runner #1)Dactyl Hill SquadThe Darkness in Lee's Closet and the Others Waiting ThereA Dastardly Plot (A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem #1)The Snow Witch


Esme's Wish, Elizabeth Foster. This was a great portal world fantasy. At first Esme's resistance to her father's marriage seemed childish, but her new in-laws soon proved her right. Luckily she could escape to her mother's workplace, where caring friends taught her to trust and accept trust. Oh, and to defeat an evil magician who planned to destroy the world. That.

Aru Shah and the End of Time, Roshani Chokshi. Although Aru didn't appeal to me at first (her main ambition is to join the bully group at school, instead of getting bullied by her), her adventures and her friendship with her soul-sister helped me appreciate her while I had fun watching her think and wriggle her way out of various adventures. This does a good job of catching the Percy Jackson spirit of myth-based adventures and snarky kid protagonists.

Connect the Scotts, Evan Munday. This was a fun mystery, but I found myself groping for information obviously contained in the first books (even the author wonders why I'd be here for the first time). It also relies on incredibly stupid cops with a distain for evidence. The dead kids each get their own book, so I didn't mind that most of them blurred into the background, and October's independence was a great boon.

The Second Story, Neil Patrick Harris. I read the wrong one! This is the current and eligible one. I like the five kids and enjoyed seeing more of the escape artist and a new member of her dad's old troop. The villains are farcical enough that I don't worry about anyone's safety and the tricks are good fun.

Money Jane, T. K. Riggins. Having missed the first book, I was a little fuzzy on some of the details -- are the kids in magical high school or magical college? How much was I supposed to know? Kes was a strong character, and I enjoyed watching him manage various problems with grace and gravitas, from the teasing of his fellow students to his hopeless crush to his feats of strength. I'm a bit grumpy that the book ended right before the results of the big contest were announced.

The Storm Runner, J.C. Cervantes. Sarcastic kid rounds up some buddies and battles the gods! This is a genre now, I guess. Another fun read, and I liked the boy's family and the nebulous position of his companion, whose loyalty is doubted for quite a while. It started with some tropes that annoy me -- mom announces the end of a great homeschooling year with a surprise and immediate start at a school full of bullies (and then joins the school in yelling at the boy for being bullied) but luckily he heads off to California to save the world and we move on quickly.

Dactyl Hill Squad, Daniel Jose Older. Civil War history -- with dinosaurs! Our hero discovers she is a dino-whisperer, which helps when her New York orphanage is burned down during anti-Black riots and evil conspirators kidnap many of her friends to sell as slaves. Our only concern is what giant dinosaur is left to reveal in the rest of the books?

The Darkness in Lee's Closet and the Other's Waiting There, Roy Schwartz. A mix of allegory and adventure as a girl searches for her dead father in the land she discovers while grieving him. Her new friends help her discover her own strengths and the nature of death and loss while also defeating armies and evil conformist cities.

The Dastardly Plot, Christopher Healy. In a slightly steampunk past set around an imaginary 1880's New York Worlds Fair a girl must deal with the misogyny of Edison, Bell, and other inventors as well as the evil plan of a spurned scientist. Luckily she has her mom, a new friend, and maybe some robots to help. It's got great pacing and a good sense of timing, including callbacks and repeated jokes.

The Snow Witch, Rosie Boyes. A boy and his sister find a lost relative just in time to get caught up in a 100 year old curse that may circle around to grab them as well. The narrative switches back between the original curse and the modern kids. I liked a lot of the language although the author tends to tell me how the kdis are feeling right after they have shown me.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Cybils Reading Part V



Most of my reading is from the Cybils nominated books.

My category is Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Thank goodness I belong to two spectacular library systems, King County (kcls) and Seattle, so I can get a lot of the books.




 I Read:


The Creature of the Pines (The Unicorn Rescue Society, #1)Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her MonsterThe Adventures of a Girl Called BicycleBob

The Magic of Melwick Orchard

Creature of the Pines, Adam Gidwitz. This is on the younger side, but fun and nicely set specifically in New Jersey. A shy new boy meets up with an adventuresome girl on a field trip where they accidentally adopt a mythical creature and find out about the bad guy industrialist collector and the good guys protective services. It's a bit top-heavy with the series set up but a quick and good read.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, Jonathan Auxier. A lovely AU that mixes magic and realism in a subtle way, grounded in the lack of distinction a young girl makes between the two. As a young child she accepts that her father is capable of miracles; looking back as a preadolescent she can see the starker reality but still accepts the magic in his final gift. The side characters would be improbably as mains (the boy especially) but they work as adjuncts to her story as the monster grows.

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle, Christina Uss. I listened to the audio version of this, and it was great! Once I accepted the idea of a kid traveling across America on her own, a plot that was made easier to swallow once she acquired a ghost riding along and haunting her bicycle, I just relaxed and enjoyed her adventures and friendships. I liked how the situations were allowed to be super quirky but the characters were more grounded so I could emotionally connect without letting my common sense stress me out.

Bob, Wendy Mass. A girl returns to her grandmother's house after five years and has to figure out what her five year old self had been up to on her forgotten previous visit. Of course the reader figures it out much quicker, but it was fun seeing the comparison between the wise ten year old and the younger self seen only through her actions and Bob's memories.

The Magic of Melwick Orchard, Rebecca Caprara. A child discovers a magical artifact in her garden. This traditional trope is done very well, with the girl learning about and bonding with the magical tree that grants wishes, enlisting a new friend to help. Meanwhile outside life is particularly dire, as is traditional in modern stories -- her little sister has cancer and as this is America treatment is bankrupting the family and may force them to sell the land out from under the magic.