Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reading My Library -- Approaching the End of Part III

Image of RentonAnother step in my Reading My Library Quest is almost complete! I've finished Picture Books, Series Books, and have the last few shelves of J Fiction waiting to read. After I finish W-Z I'll be on to J NF, which is mostly picture books. That will be fast! And just before I finish those, they will close the library for renovation and I'll have to start all over again. I'm looking forward it it.

Listen!, Stephanie Tolan. Dog books attract tragedy like fleas, but at least in this one all the sad stuff happens before the book opens -- the mom dies, the dog is abused. I liked the slow growth of trust between the girl and her pet, and how caring for the dog obviously helps Charley deal with her grief but this isn't belabored heavily. The insights into her mother's photography were powerful, as there was a real reason for sudden images to really mean something to Charley. The weakest part was the psychic link or whatever that gave Charley the ability to sense where the dog was; in a work that had built up their relationship with solid realism that magic just drained the suspense and power from the page. Lucky it was only a small part of the story.

BreadcrumbsThe Shadow Thieves, Anne Ursu. Wow. This one was a lot of fun. It looks like a lightweight children's fantasy adventure, and it's a good one, but the characterization is spot-on, the humor is masterful, and the prose is delicious. The cover is dull, but I think that's been addressed in later editions. I've just put all of Ursu's backlist on my TBR list, and I really wish this wasn't due on Thursday because I bet my kid would love it. I think I'll give it to him anyway; he can easily finish it in a day.

Navigating Early, Clare Vanderpool. Two grieving boys in Maine go on a river journey to learn about themselves with the aid of amazing coincidences. I liked the independence of the boys, and how hard the narrator had to work to become loyal. I was suspicious of the "boy on the spectrum" thing, but Vanderpool does a good job portraying a kid who is a bit different than his peers expect. 

photo-paperboy-coverThe Paperboy, Vince Vawter. Vawter does an excellent job showing how it feels to stutter and how it affects communication and self-esteem in non-obvious ways -- the boy nicknames his friends based on words he finds easier to say and plans out his conversations to avoid known land mines (I liked how he skipped collecting payments at one house because it moved the amount from a series of impossible syllables to a more manageable phrase). Simultaneously Vawter presents a view of segregation era Memphis, where black and white roles are rigidly set but nannies can sometimes move between the groups (a nanny with her white charge might be sitting anywhere on a bus).
Coyote AutumnCoyote Autumn, Bill Wallace. Set in Oklahoma, which jumped it up the queue. This turned out to be a coyote book rather than a dog book, although it had dogs too. (I thought it would be about a dog called Coyote.) I liked the family dynamics, which started out as cardboard antagonists but then developed more depth and emotional clarity.

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, Ellis Weiner. I chose this because I knew my younger son enjoyed it. I see why. Actually, I had thought he had refused to read it but apparently he just reads faster than I realized, and when he saw me reading it he laughed again. I appreciate the summary questions at the end of each chapter, and I'm getting the sequel for my son. Too bad I can't read it until April. (See Triple Dog Dare)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kidlit Tuesday Picture Books

While browsing at the library and moaning at the self-imposed restrictions of the TBR Triple Dog Dare (no new books! The horror) I pulled down some of the pictures books from the library display shelves. This are sometimes new and sometimes just staff favorites.

Boy, Bird, and DogFossilFossil, Bill Thomson. The pictures are vibrant and alive, just as in his earlier book Chalk, but my science soul was scandalized by the destruction of the fossils. Yes, I know he had to save the dog, but still!

Boy, Bird, and Dog, David McPhail.  I was disappointed that this was an easy-reader instead of a picture book, since the simplistic vocabulary pulled me out of the story and art. The pictures were much gentler (and frankly, almost dull) compared to what I expected from the author of Edward and the Pirates.

Vote for Me!, Ben Clanton. The adult snickering behind the childish elephant and donkey candidates somehow didn't tickle my funny bone, and the story didn't really stand up without the secret humor. Also, it left me wondering about the metaphor when the mouse stole the election; the ending felt like a bit of a cop-out.

It's Duffy Time!Boy + BotBoy + Bot, Anne Dyckman. This would be fun to read with a preschooler, as the boy tries to heal the turn-off robot and then the robot tries to repair the sleeping boy. The pictures are fresh but uncomplicated and the story funny without being pointed.

Sammy in the SkyIt's Duffy Time, Audrey Wood. Few works of literature remind us of the importance of the Before Breakfast Nap, although the After Breakfast Nap is more known. Duffy stresses the importance of both. A very relaxing book, recommended especially to nap lovers. Also kids might like it.

Sammy In the Sky, Barbara Walsh. I was prepared to resent this book, since I have a strong resistance to obvious bibliotherapy texts. But the intimate pictures of the girl with her dog and family won me over -- it's a story about how a child deals with loss, not an instruction manual on handling emotions raised by a pet's death. I was also impressed that the dog died at home, in this age of vet-handled mercy euthanasia. I guess I should have noticed it was written by a Pulitzer-prize journalist and illustrated by Jamie Wyeth and had more faith.

Happy, Mies van Hout. The picture promised beautiful and odd art, but the delivery left me wonder who the audience was for this emotional dictionary. The one word / one picture format implies tiny children, but they would be confused by the fish expressions, which are sometimes hilariously obvious but sometimes rather obscure. The delicate, sometimes grotesque paint lines extend even to the font of the words, making it sometimes harder to read the emotion than to recognize it on the picture. This would also detract from the fun of a read aloud. I think my kids would appreciate it now more than a decade ago, but they had already fled the library so I couldn't try it on them.

Monday, January 27, 2014

In Media Res

  We seem to have another three day weekend. Well, the middle school has Monday off and the high school has next Friday off, which is what comes when you jump districts between one school and the next.

There's not much to talk about this week -- I read into the middle of several books but didn't really get to the end of any of them. But I'm enjoying all of them, so it's more a case of dawdling and smelling the flowers along the way than of avoiding the pages and wishing it were all over. Even my audio book is not quite as distasteful as it was for a while, which is odd because the thing that perked my interest back up was the kid actually getting to rob some graves. Ew.

I'll sign in at Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts since I want to see what everyone else is reading this month. I managed to finish two whole books, plus a few picture books.

This week I've managed to finish:
  • The Forbidden Rose, Joanna Bourne. Fun historical romance with French people talking in cute French syntax and spying and competence. Also fondly associated with reading the other books in the series during my New Zealand vacation.
  • The Shadow Thieves, Anne Ursu. Where has Ursu been hiding herself? I assumed she was new when I fell in love with Breadcrumbs last year, but she's got a backlist. And now I've got a longer TBR list. This finishes off a batch of Reading My Library books, so I'm glad I've got their replacements ready.
I also read some picture books:
  • The Fossil, Bill Thomson. Beautiful but scientifically frightening.
  • Boy, Bird, and Dog, David McPhail. More of an early reader than a book for sharing.
  • Vote For Me!, Ben Clanton. Pick a candidate -- the elephant or the donkey. Get it?
What am I currently reading? Five books in my bag.
  • Magic Rises, Ilona Andrews. This is a lot of fun.
  • Untold, Sarah Rees Brennan. YA. Wow, I can't believe I am making myself savor this. I'm only reading a section a day. Sadly, it still won't last me until the third book comes out.
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins. YA. OK, Katniss, things are getting grim!
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemison. I'm only a few pages in. Book club is on Tuesday.
  • Fierce Reads Anthology. NOOK. Short stories aren't giving me a sense of urgency.
  • Rotters, Daniel Kraus. Audio. The family that grave-robs together... I have no idea how to finish that sentence.
  • Developing Standards-Based Report Cards, Thomas R. Guskey & Jane M. Bailey. Time to finish this for real.
Reading intermittedly, and deliberately slowly:
  • Radio Fifth Grade, Gordon Korman. Is it cheating to do your homework (a trivia quiz) by running a trivia quiz on the radio?
  • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. The son is home, and is only 14. I was picturing him college aged.
  • Keep Me Forever, Rosemary Laurey. Men are condescending.
  • A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis. The chemistry of despair.
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. I should get over my dislike of Pickwick and relax and enjoy all the other bits.
  • How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, Orson Scott Card. Since I read a page or so whenever I finish something, this has been gathering dust.
What's up next? This is pretty much the same list as last week, since I didn't finish much this week. I'm still concentrating on my home library, so maybe next week I'll get to The Second Spy, a Books of Elsewhere sequel. From my dusty shelves I'm thinking something skinny.  If I finish Magic Rises I'll go on to The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. And my friendly book club is doing Tarzan of the Apes. 

2014 Challenges:
  1. TBR Triple Dog Dare: 4. Another ancient book read.
  2. Cybils: 8/77. I've ordered up some nonfiction picture books.
  3. Where Am I Reading? 7/51. I used the location of the Biggest Mall to pinpoint this one.
  4. What's In a Name?: 0/6. 
  5. Book Bingo: Five Squares.
  6. Reading My Library:  Finished Ursu's The Shadow Thieves.
  7. Best of the Best 2012: 48/25.  Dragging through Rotters. Looking forward to Lover's Dictionary.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Sorting -- The Lines Between Kidlit and YA and Adult

I like to read books about kids. That's probably because I like kids, and also because I find some adult issues boring even though they are the main interest of many authors -- adultery, male identity crisis, where to find gorgeous shoes -- these are all things that modern books love to explore but leave me bored out of my gourd. That's probably why I also like genre books -- science fiction, romance, mystery, all these "genres" tend to have something interesting going on, even if they occasionally also throw in worries about who to sleep with, why does no one respect my (male) authority, and shopping.

Sometimes I separate my personal library by kidlit/adult books. (Every five or ten years I like to do a huge overhaul of my books. Doesn't everyone? Don't answer that if you don't at least alphabetize.) And if the protagonist spends most of the time as a child, I sort the book into kidlit because I would have liked it as a child and the author doesn't get a vote. (The Power of One, I'm looking at you.) And I get to decide where YA goes because they are my books. But I'm glad I'm not a public library, because then things get a bit stickier.
Alabama Moon and Awards
I finished Alabama Moon by Watt Key this month, and I'd like to thank past me for putting it on my TBR list; I think it's my favorite book by Key so far. It's the story of the transition into society of the boy Moon, who has been literally raised in the wilderness by his survivalist father. It throws in some crowd-pleasers like the stupid & evil cop (sort of a malicious Roscoe P.) but mainly follows Moon as he struggles to fit in a completely alien society with unknown rules and connections.  Moon is eleven or twelve, and the themes are about connecting to family and trusting in friends, so I'd have no hesitation putting this on my kidlit shelves, but the library has it in YA. Is that because of the guns? The ideas of fearing the government? I have no idea.  I think the publisher is a bit confused as well -- the reading level is ages 9-12 or grades 6-8. Those don't match up, but the complete range (age 9-14) seems right.

In Zanesville: A NovelI also completed In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard and while that managed to miss the spot for me I think that was more my problem than the author's. It recreates the adolescent world of a girl in the late seventies/early eighties with fine precision, but it's a world that was alien to me at the time and so I didn't enjoy revisiting it. I wasn't into boys and clothes as a teen, and I found the girls who were dull and sometimes antagonistic, so spending pages in the head of one of them was uncomfortable. It's also a book that seems written to remind people of their youth rather than to resonate with someone living their youth, which is why I guess the library puts it in adult fiction rather than YA despite the teen-age protagonist. On my shelves it would have gone straight in with the kid books, since I would have approached it with a science-fiction style of entering into an alternate reality, but when I was a kid I wouldn't yet have the memory baggage that made it an uncomfortable journey.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Quests Are Golden

Image of Renton This is Week Four of the Triple Dog Dare, a time for resisting all new books. My cold hearted children left me to wander the halls of my beautiful local library by myself, resisting the siren calls of all the beautiful books.

Of course, it's also time to grab the next stack of Reading My Library Quest books, which I declared to be off-dare, so my misery was slightly mitigated. And a long-awaited hold book turned up. Really, someone who didn't know me would not have known I was on a dare as I checked out six new books... Oh, I forgot to mention that I snuck into the library late last week and grabbed a book of the hold shelf even though it wasn't officially Library Day. Don't tell anyone!

HordeBlack DuckLove, Ruby Lavender
Horde, Ann Aguirre.  I've had this on hold for months now; my son will steal it for a week or so and then I'll get to finish Aguirre's post-apocalyptic story. She's on my automatic-read list now.

Black Duck, Janet Taylor Lisle.  This is from my online TBR list, and I have no memory of how it got there. At some point I thought it was a book I'd like to read, so I'll trust past-me's knowledge of my preferences.

Love, Ruby Lavender, Deborah Wiles. From the W shelf in the last corner of my library's J fiction section. I think this is the same illustrator as for the Clementine books, which I love. Also, it takes place in Mississippi. I have my eye on my geography challenge here.
100 CupboardsThe Unseen Guest
100 Cupboards, Nathan Wilson. This books sounds very familiar to me; I'm pretty sure I've heard it recommended somewhere. Also, I like cupboards.

The Unseen Guest (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place), Mary Rose Wood. I quite liked the first book in this series (of which there were five copies on the shelf), and I'm a bit sad that there were no copies of the 2nd book. I hope I like this 3rd book!
When Molly Was A Harvey GirlThe Floating Circus

When Molly Was a Harvey Girl, Frances M. Wood. I'm not sure why this was on the next library shelf, since it's alphabetically before Maryrose Wood, but I liked the cover, I'm interested in the time period, and I think it takes place in New Mexico. Win win win!

The Floating Circus, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Another historical fiction, although I'm not sure exactly where it takes places. This book is from the absolutely last shelf of Juvenile Fiction -- after this I'm on to J nonfiction, which I think is mostly picture books. Progress!
badge-4This means I now have 38 things out on my library cards, including ebooks. That's pretty good, since it includes CDs and books for my kids as well as my stuff.   I'll go share my Library Loot at the event co-hosted by Claire from the Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief where all the library addicts compare their treasures.

Book credits banked: Four (Usually I reward myself by buying a book if my library total is less than my age, but since I can't actually buy anything right now I'm counting up these credits.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dream Day

  Go Hawks! That is what we Seattle football fans say when our team has reached the Superbowl, which I believe is a Thing. Do that sport thing with the ball that results in victory, Seahawks! I hope my terminology isn't too technical for my readers.

This is a good reading week for me, in that I finished several books I was dragging my eyeballs on, and am currently reading books that I like to read, as opposed to want to have read. I also treated myself to some picture books at the library, since I'm not browsing for books during my TBR TRIPLE DOG DARE.

I'll sign in at Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts since I want to see what everyone else is reading this month. I managed to finish five whole books, plus a few picture books.

This week I've managed to finish:
  • In Zanesville, Jo Ann Beard. This is an Alex Award winner, or a book marketed for adults that librarians think teens would like.
  • Conspiracy, Lindsay Buroker. NOOK. Fun adventure story in fantasy world setting.
  • Alabama Moon, Watt Key. Kidlit. Or maybe YA. Young boy comes out of the wilderness to clash with civilization in the form of social services.
  • Unspoken, Sarah Rees Brennan. YA. I reread this so I can read Untold. This one went slow not because I didn't like reading it, but because I enjoy Brennan's prose so much that I like to savor it.
  • The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, Ellis Weiner. Kidlit. A Reading-my-library pick that I chose because I know my younger son enjoyed it. I see why.
I also read some picture books (Benjamin Chaud, the library has your Cybils finalist book on order):
  • Boy and Bot, Anne Dyckman. I liked the misunderstandings when they turned themselves off.
  • It's Duffy Time, Audrey Wood. Any book that properly understands the importance of napping is good by me. I recommend this book to Angela in Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken.
  • Sammy In the Sky, Barbara Walsh. Intimate pictures show how a girl reacts to the loss of her pet.
  • Happy, Mies van Hout. This didn't resonate with me -- the painted words were hard to decipher which would put me off reading the book with a child. Also, fish expressions are odd.
What am I currently reading? Five books in my bag.
  • Magic Rises, Ilona Andrews. Latest in the Kate Daniels series, so I'm expecting lots of combat, sexy were-lion mates, and maybe some vampires.
  • Untold, Sarah Rees Brennan. YA. I'm finally getting to start this! Hooray!
  • The Forbidden Rose, Joanna Bourne. Spymaster series romance about Doyle and young Hawk. Oh, and Maggie.
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemison. Book club book for online group. I have this on my NOOK for travel.
  • Fierce Reads Anthology. NOOK. Short stories from, mostly YA.
  • Rotters, Daniel Kraus. Audio. Time for a father-son discussion of mysterious trips and spying on your old man.
  • Developing Standards-Based Report Cards, Thomas R. Guskey & Jane M. Bailey. I found it! And the meeting changed topics anyway, so my homework was ignored.
  • Radio Fifth Grade, Gordon Korman. The new teacher does not respect the radio.
  • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. The borrowed pickup truck has the engine of a Jaguar.
  • Keep Me Forever, Rosemary Laurey. I like the progress of the rich gardener.
  • A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis. How brain chemistry maps to emotions, especially affectionate ones.
  • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. The legend of Bath.
  • How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, Orson Scott Card. The importance of consistency when using crazy stuff.
What's up next? I'm still concentrating on my home library, so I hope to get to The Second Spy, a Books of Elsewhere sequel.  I also have Catching Fire out, since I want to read it before the movie disappears.   If I finish Magic Rises I'll go on to The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. And my friendly book club is doing Tarzan of the Apes. 

2014 Challenges:
  1. TBR Triple Dog Dare: 3. Polished off two books on my NOOK. Well, one I have on both NOOK and paper, but still.
  2. Cybils: 8/77. No change, but I did get two more kids to read the picture books.
  3. Where Am I Reading? 6/51. I'm on track for this year, assuming I need 5 states a month.
  4. What's In a Name?: 0/6. 
  5. Reading My Library:  Finished Weiner's The Templeton Twins Have an Idea.
  6. Best of the Best 2012: 48/25.  Dragging through Rotters. Looking forward to Lover's Dictionary.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Reading On the Inside

The ArrangementI firmly believe that my internal world affects my external responses. If I practice meanness or self-doubt or generosity in my head, I are more likely to act that way towards other people and situations in the real world. This is why I stopped playing Age of Empires on my computers when my kids were young; somehow I found myself reaching for a head-lopping sword when dealing with toddler squabbles.

ParadiseThis matters with my reading as well. Sometimes I worry about the choices of the characters I'm reading; after all, since I read immersively, I'm spending time practicing whatever morality the author gives their characters; in the case of dark book or antiheroes that can teach me bad habits. This isn't really a worry, though, since I tend to engage and argue with characters as I read. But at a deeper level, the tone of a book affects my mood; reading a bunch of nihilistic literature at once depresses me.

This is one reason I like romance and mystery. Both are almost universally optimistic -- goodness will triumph, evil will fail. Mary Balogh's romance The Arrangement features a penniless woman and a blind gentleman, but I knew from the first page that they'd end up Happy Ever After. And from fairly early I figured out that this book belongs on the same shelf as Nora Roberts' Bride books -- there is almost no conflict. Occasionally the characters attempt to angst over a possible misunderstanding, but even they know that they are both decent people and cannot convince themselves to worry much, even if conventional books demand suspense. Instead it's a chance to spend relaxing time with two characters learning how to build their lives together, giving and receiving support as they establish their adult lives. Not the sort of thing I want to read all the time, but definitely a good choice when I want to reassure my subconscious that life can be good and people should be trusted.

On the other hand, reading Toni Morrison's Paradise is scarier; the women represented are strong, vibrant people, but the atmosphere is darker; things will not turn out well for almost everyone. Trust is not helpful. I think Morrison's book digs deeper into the reality of people; her viewpoint women convey much more complexity as they respond to big and small disasters and successes, but overall the weight of the sky waits to crush everything. I want to live my life as if I can trust the sky, so I think I'll make sure to sandwich each Paradise with several Arrangements. I like to stretch my mind and soul with books like Paradise, but I want to keep my instincts benevolent with books like The Arrangement.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What's In a Name?

Licensed under the GFDL by the author; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.The Seventh Annual What's In a Name? Challenge is hosted by The Worm Hole this year, in time-honored blogging pass-the-baton style. She gets to pick 5 or six categories, and then you try to match a book to each category during the year.

Charlie only put five books in the challenge this year, so I've taken it upon myself to impose my own sixth category. Charlie has kindly offered up a sixth category due to popular demand, so I have added it below. I'll still keep my extra category as a bonus-bonus. If I were more timely, she could impose this on everyone and then have a good source of inspiration for next year. Anyway, after you find a book, you add your review to the appropriate page.

My policy is to ignore the challenge until December and hope I get everything accidentally. Wish me luck!
  1. A Reference to Time
    1. Keep Me Forever, Marlene Darcy (3/14/14)
    2. Goddess of Spring, P.C. Cast (3/20/14)
    3. A Kiss at Midnight, Eloisa James (4/14/14)
    4. One Week Girlfriend, Monica Murphy (4/1/14)
    5. Old Men at Midnight, Chaim Potok (4/26/14)
    6. Midnight Riots, Ben Aaronovitch (5/1/14)
    7. Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris (8/18/14)
  2. A position of Royalty
    1. The King's Name, Jo Walton (2/2/14)
    2. Lord of Mountains, S.M. Stirlings (2/26/14)
    3. Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh, R.L. Lafevers (7/29/14)
  3. A number written in letters
    1. The Second Spy, Jacqueline West (2/13/14)
    2. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisin (2/21/14)
    3. Who Stole Grandma's Million-Dollar Pumpkin Pie?, Martha Freeman (2/28/14)
    4. Thousand Pieces of Gold, Ruthanne Lum McCunn 3/7/14
  4. A forename or names
    1. Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs (2/13/14)
    2. Love, Ruby Lavender, Deborah Wiles (2/25/14)
    3. The Dragon and the George, Gordon R. Dickson (3/13/14)
    4. Georges, Alexandre Dumas (3/14/14)
    5. Nory Ryan's Song, Patricia Reilly Giff (3/14/14)
    6. The Gilda Stories, Jewelle Gomez (7/9/14)
  5. A type or element of weather
    1. Archangel's Storm, Nalini Singh (8/2/14)
    2. Skin Heat, Ava Gray (8/3/14)
  6. A School Subject (Bonus Category)
    1. Radio Fifth Grade, Gordon Korman 
    2. The Human Division, John Scalzi 6/29/14

  • (Personal Choice): A shape (Circle of Friends, Cricket in Times Square)

    1. Balanced on the Blade's Edge, Lindsay Buroker
    2. Poems to Learn By Heart, ed. Caroline Kennedy
    3. Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou 6/8/14
    4. Heart of Steel, Meljean Brooks 6/8/14
    5. Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle, Dorothy Gilman

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    Hard Times At the Library

    Image of Renton This is Week Three of the Triple Dog Dare, a time for resisting all new books, and I have only just begun to wail, gnash my teeth, and cry out to the heavens for relief. Of course, I still visit my library every week so I can rub fresh salt into my self-inflicted wounds (and so I can pick up the few holds still trickling in). I went in, I picked up my paltry hold choices, forced my put-upon younger son to bring me two CDs for car noise, and then gazed upon all the new books before reading a few picture books and leaving the building with a lightweight bag.

    On the plus side, I'm actually managing to read and turn in more than I check out, which is a pleasant and unusual sensation for me.

    HawkeyeHawkeye 1: My Life As a Weapon, Matt Fraction. My library is so awesome. Just last week I worried that I wouldn't get this in time since I accidentally got the 2nd one first, but then my heroes delivered this to me. They are also the heroes of my older son, who found the second book a bit confusing without this context.

    I technically also checked out a second book, but it was the last Steven Brust Vlad Taltos book and it's not for me but for older son. Also Pratchett's Dodgers on my e-reader, which is for younger son. That one is especially hard since I do want to read it, but I'm not even going to put it on my personal NOOK. Because discipline.

    So that was it. Next week doesn't really look much better. But that's good! This is the plan! I'm excited to be a part of this plan! If I use a few more exclamation marks I might even convince myself!!! Curse you TBR Dare!
    badge-4This means I now have 45 things out on my library cards, including ebooks. That's pretty good, considering how many really belong to my ungrateful children, don't you think?  I'll go share my Library Loot at the event co-hosted by Claire from the Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief where all the library addicts compare their treasures.

    Book credits banked: THREE (Usually I reward myself by buying a book if my library total is less than my age, but since I can't actually buy anything right now I'm counting up these credits.)

    Thursday, January 16, 2014

    Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Emperor

    A while ago my book club read Lindsey Buroker's Emperor's Edge book, a self-published little fantasy that was a lot of fun and managed to twist a few conventions along the way. Although not the kind of thing that endures a lot of plot scrutinizing, it does a good job of assembling distinctive people and throwing them into interesting situations, accompanied by snappy dialogue and clever ideas.

    So I've slowly kept reading along, buying first the anthology of the first three books and then the fourth book, Conspiracy, where many of the plot strands start to weave back together. Sadly, my constant barrage of library books distracted me from Buroker's book; since I had paid for it I knew it wasn't going to vanish from my NOOK. But the TBR Triple Dog Dare has me reading the stuff I own, which is nice because I wouldn't have bought it if I didn't want to read it! And I'm glad I did, because this one may be my favorite of all. It has flying ships, a train hijacking, real character growth, a confrontation with the Emperor, and enough laugh-out-loud moments (mostly dialogue, but a few situational) that my older son finally demanded that I put the first books on his NOOK as well.

    Which led to us noticing that he's misplaced the thing, but that's another story. Anyway, anyone looking for a fun fantasy series, with assassins, emperors, great female characters, and a little bit of magic, you might try these books. The first one's even free. As soon as my no-new-books season is over I'm going back for book five. Lately I've been reading a lot that I want to HAVE read rather than want to read; this book is definitely one where I enjoy the journey and hate to reach the last page.

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Kidlit Tuesday: Pictures Books and Book Club

    I brought cookies to my local elementary school for book club yesterday, and we had a fun half hour talking about Eva Ibbotson's Dial-A-Ghost. It was hugely popular, and I tried to talk the girls (we were all girls this month) into checking out some of her other books as well. I'm a big fan of Ibbotson's kidlit, YA, and adult books, so I always like hooking new readers. The book was so well liked it was almost hard to get a discussion going, since we all agreed about everything -- it was funny, the scary ghosts were nasty but not disturbing (although we decided that you should be careful if you read it aloud to a first grader or younger), and we all liked the balance of danger and resolution. I stuck in the idea of the definition of a main character -- who was the book about? And I also talked a little about plot structure, especially books with many little pieces that all come back at the end.

    Sadly, that was the only kidlit I read last week.

    While browsing at the library last Thursday and moaning at the self-imposed restrictions of the TBR Triple Dog Dare (no new books! The horror) I pulled down some of the pictures books from the library display shelves. This are sometimes new and sometimes just staff favorites.

    Paul Meets Bernadette
    Paul Meets Bernadette,  Rosy Lamb. A fish-eyed optimist populates the world for her gullible friend. My kids would have been utterly appalled at their confident errors, and I was left wondering if Paul was better off being delusionally happy with Bernadette or sane but lonely. If I see it next time I'm in there I will get the boys to read it. The pictures capture the world view and possibilities of the fish-eyed world delightfully.

    What Is Part This, Part That?, Harriet Ziefert. This would be a great read-aloud with young children -- I can imagine my kids enjoying the riddle-like structure, especially with the participation of lifting flaps. I guess it's aimed at the talkative toddler/early preschooler.

    Hide and Snake
    Hide and Snake, Keith Baker. Actually, this looked very familiar. I bet I did read this with my kids during their tiny days. I'm a huge fan of Keith Baker -- his Who Is the Beast is one of my go-to baby gifts for new parents or family birthday parties. This book skipped the profound philosophical statement but kept beauty and simplicity that rewards careful observation and return visits.

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Power Ranger Weekend

      This week I've been avoiding all the books I'm reading, with the result that I've read almost nothing! I sure got a lot of sudoko played, though. And I sorted some of my pictures -- my kids were awful cute when they were babies. I mean, they are still cute now that they are teenagers, but it's a different kind of cute.

    I did kick-start my Cybils reading by getting 6 of the picture books and sharing them with my resident elementary school friend, who then selected the best of the bunch. So that was book-oriented fun. In between reading, we watched twenty or so episodes of Power Rangers: Jungle Fury, which is hitting a good blend of silly for me and action-packed for him. Also, it's filmed in New Zealand, so that's cosy for me.

    I'll sign in at Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts since I want to see what everyone else is reading this month. I managed to finish one adult book and one kid book, plus a lot of picture books.

    This week I've managed to finish:
    • Dial-a-Ghost, Eva Ibbotson. This is for my elementary school book club.
    • Paradise, Toni Morrison. This is the book I avoided so hard; I knew from the start it would end badly so I dragged my eyelids for the last sections. And then it was much more upbeat than I expected! It did go much faster after I found it in the shoe caddy, where it temporarily vacationed.
    I also read some picture books (Benjamin Chaud, the library has your Cybils finalist book on order):
    • Count the Monkeys, Mac Barnett. Colorful, energetic Cybils finalist.
    • If You Want to See a Whale, Julie Fogliano. Thoughtful, quiet Cybils finalist.
    • Journey, Aaron Becker. Imaginative, surprising Cybils finalist.
    • Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown. THERE WAS NUDITY. It was hilarious how appalled my test reader was. I did point out that my cats were almost as naked. Cybils finalist.
    • Open This Little Book, Jesse Klausmeier. I reread, since I grab any book-related picture book. Cybils finalist.
    • Sophie's Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller. What a delightful child Sophie was. Cybils finalist.
    • Paul Meets Bernadette,  Rosy Lamb. On my library's temptations shelf. I did not think Bernadette was a good influence on Paul.
    • What Is Part This, Part That?, Harriet Ziefert. This would have been fun to read with kids.
    • Hide and Snake, Keith Baker. Another book I would have delighted to read with my youngest.
    What am I currently reading?  In my book bag is In Janesville, staring at me trying to guilt me into finishing it, my NOOK which will I hope will hold its charge for two days, Unspoken, which will break my heart probably by Wednesday, and The Forbidden Rose because I can count on a romance to have a happy ending. 
    • Unspoken, Sarah Rees Brennan. OK, as I read this I remember the heartbreak at the end. I'm now at the happy middle, right before things start going to pieces in a wheelbarrow. So I'm avoiding it too!
    • In Janesville, Jo Ann Beard. Still not liking it much -- the parts that ring true are the parts of my childhood I don't really want to revisit, and the rest is just kids being unpleasant. My kids are not that nasty -- did I just get lucky?
    • Conspiracy, Lindsay Burokers. NOOK. I'm enjoying this, but my NOOK's power is getting flaky.
    • Revenant Eve, Sherwood Smith. I found it (under my bed), but then the library called it home. This is very sad. My son says rechecking it out would not violate the no-new-books rule, since it's not a new book. Hmm. I think he just wants a cookie, but it's a persuasive argument. So maybe I'm reading it?
    • Rotters, Daniel Kraus. Audio. Still not enthusiastic. The grave-digging will apparently not be a fun bonding thing to do with his dad.
    • Developing Standards-Based Report Cards, Thomas R. Guskey & Jane M. Bailey. I've lost this book. This is getting to be a trend. And a pity, since I have to be an expert on it by Thursday.
    • Radio Fifth Grade, Gordon Korman. The new teacher does not respect the radio.
    • Out to Canaan, Jan Karon. The borrowed pickup truck has the engine of a Jaguar.
    • Keep Me Forever, Rosemary Laurey. I like the progress of the rich gardener.
    • A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis. Some false notes about autism.
    • The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. Pickwick is defiant, and goes to Bath. I snore.
    • How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, Orson Scott Card. I like his definitions of science fiction.
    What's up next? I'm trying to concentrate on my physical TBR pile, especially since I've started the Triple Dog Dare. I'm really looking forward to Sarah Rees Brennan's Untold, but first I have to get up the courage to reread the ending of Unspoken.  I've got Alabama Moon next in my library pile, and then Magic Rises. I picked The Forbidden Rose out of my unread bookcase to ensure I have a paperback to carry around.

    My elementary school book club is reading Eva Ibbotson's Dial a Ghost, and then in February my adult book club is reading Tarzan of the Apes. This month Vaginal Fantasy is doing The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, and I'd like to read along.
    2014 Challenges
    1. TBR Triple Dog Dare: 1. I finished a book! Also, I bought some books from the school book fair, but I left them in the car because it's not fair to the library fund that their fundraiser falls during my challenge. So it didn't count.
    2. Cybils: 8/77. I've got 6/7 of the fiction picture books, but I'll pause there to inflict them on all available children.
    3. Where Am I Reading? 4/51. See -- no problem!
    4. Reading My Library:  Pause. I still have two waiting for me.
    5. Best of the Best 2012: 46/25.  Continued In Zanesville but still not enjoying it. Also dragging through Rotters. 

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

    Where Am I Reading 2014

    4 This is my fourth year for BookJourney's Where Are You Reading? challenge, and it's probably my favorite challenge. I like the way I end up reading all sorts of crazy things, unlike challenges where I just gloat over all the things I'd read anyway (although those are fun too). And I even like my tradition of panicking at New Years and locking myself up in my room for the frantic final books.

    This year I'll again add foreign books to the end of the list, and use the maps from World 66 to visually track my progress.

    Alabama: Alabama Moon, Skin Heat
    Alaska: Son of Neptune
    Arizona: Thorn Fall
    Arkansas: The Duggars: 20 and Counting!
    California: Constellation Games, One Week Girlfriend, World After, Into the Forest
    Colorado: The Education of Madeline, Affliction
    Connecticut: Drink, Slay, Love
    Delaware: Hawkes Harbor
    Florida: Final Sail
    Georgia: Life of Ty: Penguin Problems

    Hawaii: Early Sunday Morning
    Idaho: Thousand Pieces of Gold
    Illinois: In Zanesville
    Indiana: Fault In Our Stars
    Iowa: Rotters
    Kansas: 100 Cupboards, Skin Dive
    Kentucky: The Sharing Knife: Horizon, Blood Sport
    Louisiana: True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
    Maine: Navigating Early, The Water Castle, Mrs Pollifax Pursued, Touch Blue
    Maryland: After I'm Gone

    Massachusetts: Unsung Hero, Derik's Bane
    Michigan: Autumn Bones
    Minnesota: The Shadow Thieves, Undead and Unwed, War for the Oaks, Breadcrumbs
    Mississippi: Love, Ruby Lavender, The Missing, 
    Montana: Those Who Wish Me Dead
    Nebraska: Fangirl
    Nevada: Skin Game
    New Hampshire: The Gilda Stories
    New Jersey: Dr Bird's Advice for Sad Poets

    New Mexico: When Molly Was a Harvey Girl
    New York: The Lover's Dictionary, Mirror Mirror, The New Kids, Welcome to the Ark, Hawkeye Comics, Old Men At Midnight, Archangel's Legion, Thankless in Death, The World Outside, Wood Sprites, Angel's Blood,  Concealed in Death, Gregor the Overlander
    North Carolina: Crow, Out to Canaan
    North Dakota: 
    Ohio: The Floating Circus, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library
    Oklahoma: Paradise, The Goddess of Spring, The Gateway to Foo
    Oregon: The Lord of Mountains, Indigo Springs
    Pennsylvania: Who Stole Grandma's Million Dollar Pumpkin Pie?, The Summer of May, Love Stargirl, 
    Rhode Island: Blood Oranges, Black Duck, Death's Daughter
    South Carolina: The Summer Girls

    South Dakota:
    Tennessee: Paperboy, March (Book 1), Girls of Atomic City
    Texas: Midnight Crossroad, Clean Sweep, "The President Has Been Shot!"
    Vermont: A Part of the Sky
    Virginia: The Raven Boys, Skin Tight, Dream Thieves, The Rithmatist
    Washington: The Ghost's Grave, Night Broken, Demon Eyes
    West Virginia:
    Wyoming: Almost a Bride

    Washington, D.C.:


    North America (non US): 2
    Canada (Vancouver): Attitude, Ultra
    Canada (Quebec): Horde
    Canada: (New Brunswick) Midnight Tunnel
    Haiti: Serafina's Promise

    South America: 1
    Peru: In Pursuit of Flight
    Brazil: The Summer Prince

    Europe: 10
    Great Britain: The Arrangement, Dial-a-Ghost, Unspoken, The King's Name (sorta), Untold, Keep Me Forever, Monster on the Hill, The Unseen Guest, Broken Homes, A Kiss at Midnight, Rose, Midnight Riot, Rose and the Lost Princess, Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus, Mistress of the Art of Death, Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase, Black Butler 1 & 2, The Blue Remembered Hills, My Real Children, Bad Machinery, Golden Leopard
    France: Forbidden Rose, Templar, Dark Triumph
    Georgia: Magic Rises
    Czech Republic: A Girl's Guide to Vampires
    Ireland: The Prize in the Game, Nory Ryan's Song
    Italy: The Great and Terrible Quest, Mrs Pollifax and the Second Thief
    Greece: The Darkest Kiss
    Germany: The Boy Who Dared
    Poland: Prisoner B-3087
    Spain: The Lions of al-Rassan

    Asia: 7
    China: Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station, Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha, Boxers & Saints
    Hong Kong: Mrs Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha
    Tibet: We Are Not Eaten By Yaks
    Thailand: Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle
    Japan: Ouran High School Host Club 1
    India: Archangel's Storm, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
    Turkey: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
    Middle East (Qatar-ish): Alif the Unseen

    New continent: Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

    Africa: 7
    Angola: Tarzan of the Apes
    Egypt: Anubis Speaks, Heart of a Woman, Theodosia & the Last Pharaoh
    Zambia: Mrs. Pollifax on Safari
    Mauritius: Georges
    Morocco:Garment of Shadows, Mrs Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish
    Uganda: War Brothers: the Graphic Novel, Sharon McKay
    South Africa: Cathedral of the Wild

    Antarctica: 0

    Outer Space: Defender (Kris Longknife 11), The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield, The Human Division, Perdition, The Martian, Cryoburn, Games of Command, Return of Zita the Spacegirl

    Fantasy World: Conspiracy, Catching Fire, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Shadows, Robe of Skulls, Rump, The Dragon and the George, The Case of the Toxic Mutants, Balanced on the Blade's Edge, Crown of Renewal

    I'm putting states I'm currently reading but haven't reviewed yet in italics, which will matter during the end game when I'm frantically searching for the last few.

    P.S.  World 66 has a nifty map that tracks where you've been.  I'm tracking where my books have been:
    create your own personalized map of the USA or write about it on the open travel guide

    And globally they offer three choices: Been There,  Liked To Go, and Lived There. I mark the USA as Lived There (deep red), because that's where I live, and any country I've read a book in since I started tracking gets marked Liked To Go (grey). Books I read this year get ticked Been There (bright red). So I try to read books from all over, but now I can track which places I'm revisiting a lot (New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Japan, for a few).

    create your own visited country map or write about it on the open travel guide

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Library Loot

    Image of Renton
    This is the second week of the Triple Dog Challenge of refusing all new books. I'm still standing, despite my slacker son refusing to come into the library to police me. Something about wanting to sit in the car and read, I dunno. Anyway, I heroically resisted all the new books (well, I did peek at a few picture books, but I didn't check any out).

    Luckily the hold shelf was full of some leftovers from last year, a book club selection, and the picture book Cybils finalists. So I left with a happily full book bag. Happily for my final checked-out count, my older son had returned a few pounds of books that he checked out on my card a few weeks ago (he has now caught up to Steven Brust in the Vlad Taltos world and is eagerly awaiting Hawk).

    Sophie's SquashOpen This Little BookMr. Tiger Goes Wild

    • Sophie's Squash, Pat Miller. A vegetative hero -- tasty!
    • Open This Little Book, Jessie Klausmeier. I've actually read this already -- I'm a sucker for any picture book about books or reading, but I thought it would be more fair to read it again.
    • Mr Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown. From the cover, tiger must be planning on a colored cumber-bun or something.
    JourneyIf You Want to See A WhaleCount the Monkeys
    HawkeyeThe Hundred Thousand KingdomsThe Lover's Dictionary
    • Hawkeye 2: Little Hits, Matt Fraction. This was a bit of a miscalculation. I'm number 4 in line for the first in the series. I hope I get that before this has to go back!
    • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin. For my online book club. I actually have this out three times -- ebook, paper copy, and failed audio (can't get onto my mac).
    • The Lover's Dictionary, David Levithan. My next Best of the Best selection.
    badge-4This means I now have 42 things out on my library cards, including ebooks. That's pretty good, considering the duplication, don't you think? By my rules, I qualify to buy a book, but of course, NO DICE because of the challenge. I'll save it up for when I need it. I'll go share my Library Loot at the event co-hosted by Claire from the Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief where all the library addicts compare their treasures.

    Book credits banked: TWO