Thursday, February 19, 2015

Another Challenge For Me!

Full House Reading Challenge 2015
This challenge is clearly designed for me. I quote from The Book Date's creed for challenges:

the way I play it, I read the book and then see if there is a square I am able to mark off.  I love to do reading challenges, but I make it a priority to read what I like mostly, so my challenges serve my reading, not the other way round.

So that's how I'm going to do the Full House Reading Challenge, starting now.Full House Reading Challenge 2015


Library Book: On Immunity, Eula Biss 2/28/15
My Top Book of 2015: Honor's Knight Rachel Back 4/12/15
Heard About Online: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, Roz Chatz 3/2/15
Set in Southern Hemisphere: While We Run, Karen Healey 3/18/15
Published in 2015: Dead Heat, Patricia Briggs 4/2/15
Novella: Jason, Laurell K Hamilton 4/10/15
Setting I Want To Visit: The Greenglass House, Kate Milford 5/2/15
Award Winner: Life After Life, Kate Atkinson 4/15/15
First of Series: The Stranger, Rachel Brown & Sherwood Smith 3/8/15
Keeper: Day Shift, Charlaine Harris 5/12/15
Author Outside My Country: Flying Finish, Dick Francis 4/8/15
Favorite Author: Tinker, Wen Spencer 3/31/15
FREE CHOICE: Burn For Me, Ilona Andrews 4/18/15
Published 2000-2013: Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything In It, Sundee T. Frazier 3/11/15
Outstanding Hero/ine: Fortune's Pawn, Rachel Bach 3/16/15
Won or Borrowed: Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins 3/21/15
Set in Northern Hemisphere: Blood of Tyrants, Naomi Novik 3/3/15
Debut Novel: Salvage, Alexandra Duncan 4/3/15
Pre-2000: Weeping Willow, Ruth White 3/4/15
New (to me) Author: Death Sworn, Leah Cypress 3/28/15
2nd + Book in Series: Shadows & Dreams, Alexis Hall 2/27/15
TBR Pile: What the Dormouse Said, Amy Gash 3/28/15
Published in 2014: Archangel's Shadows, Nalini Singh 2/24/15
Rare Type For Me: The Jury, Stephen J Adler 3/28/15
I Love the Cover: I'll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson 4/17/15

Done! OK, Time to Start Over:

Monday, February 16, 2015

How To Take a Vacation

Say you decided to take advantage of a school hiatus and retire with your family to an indoor water park for a few days. How many books would you bring with you?

I brought twenty six, plus my NOOK. And my phone. And the audio in the car. OBVIOUSLY I wasn't planning to read them all, but it's nice to have a selection, right? Right? And there was a lovely wide windowsill to serve as my library shelf.

My family seems to think I'm crazy, but I was hoping the internet would understand.

I'm still reading far too many books (24) but I still  have hopes to bring this down by April. (I didn't bring all the books with bookmarks in them, and I wasn't currently reading all the books I brought.)  I'm almost done catching up with my library books, and then I can read down the others and be human normal  sensible again.

So, what did I spend my time on this week?

Monday: Hawk (completed), The Jury, Reading and Learning to Read, Blood and Betrayal
Tuesday: The Jury, The American Heiress, Blood and Betrayal, Rob Roy, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, Ella Enchanted
Wednesday: Ella Enchanted (completed), The Danger, Spear of Summer Grass (abandoned), The American Heiress (abandoned),
Thursday: The DangerThe Edge - audio (started), Girls Like Us (started), Blood of Tyrants (started), Rob Roy, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age
Friday: The Edge, Girls Like Us (completed), Blood and Betrayal (completed), NERDS, Reading and Learning to Read, 
Saturday: Reading and Learning to ReadNERDS, Possession, Shadows and Dreams (started), Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, Blood of Tyrants
Sunday: Blood of TyrantsThe DangerSlow Reading in a Hurried Age, Possession, Tell the Wolves I'm Home

So I finished four books, and started another five.  Except that two of those were the same, so really I finished two books from my reading bag and replaced them, and added an audio book.  Also, I abandoned two books because I was only reading them for a book club and I skipped the meeting. One had not hooked me in the first hundred pages, and one only got about ten pages before I decided to bail.

Blood and Betrayal (The Emperor's Edge, #5)HawkThere were three fantasy books, although with extremely different takes on fantasy. Brust's books are witty, dark, and densely imaginative, with the feel of a real society solidly built around the characters. Buroker's books are lighter, with more laugh out loud moments but still with a solidly drawn setting and society around the rebel band we care about. I'm reading my way through both of these series, although I have a few books to go for Buroker and I've caught up with Brust. And finally, the juvenile Ella Enchanted gives a new take on the Cinderella tale, and one that my elementary school book club enjoyed and discussed energetically over cookies and lunch.

Ella EnchantedI like books that the kids are excited about -- although there wasn't a lot of disagreement, the kids had fun thinking about ways around the curse, or about what it meant to have a happy ending. It's true that this world didn't seem as three dimensional as the adult fare, but no one seemed to mind.

Girls Like UsI also finished another Cybils book, Girls Like Us, which was good but I didn't think was great. Maybe because I'm involved with special education kids I'm not the best audience? There wasn't a lot I learned about what being in special education means to kids, and the horrific revelations and plot developments seemed scripted and telegraphed far in advance. I'll put it on my high schooler's shelf, so maybe I can get his opinion as well.

The DangerThe EdgeMy car rides have been enriched by the audio version of Dick Francis's The Edge, which is my next friendly book club pick. Since I've read it before, I can relax into the British accent of the narrative. To confuse myself, I'm also rereading The Danger (optional book club extra: read all of Dick Francis's books), so I have to remember which protagonist is the rich spy for the horse racing world and which is the anti-terrorist expert helping a ransom victim.

Possession (Fallen Angels, #5)Slow Reading in a Hurried AgeI'm slowly reading through Slow Reading in a Hurried Age (appropriately) but I can't go too slowly because the library wants it back soon. But it's a good reminder of the human rewards of reading, and how it can refresh your soul and mind. And then in a spirit of rebellion I pick up Possession, which honestly doesn't benefit from any introspection or deeper thought at all.

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeBlood of Tyrants (Temeraire, #8)But I suspect Tell the Wolves I'm Home will. I'm hoping the next dragons-in-Napoleon-wars book will start grabbing me, but so far I keep putting it down. And the lesbian private eye with vampires book is disappointing shallow. Perhaps it's just as well I brought twenty spare books along, since I may be putting things down as quickly as I pick them up.

Shadows & Dreams (Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator, #2)

I'm off to sign up to see what everyone else is reading lately at bookjourney's and Teach Mentor Texts lists.

2015 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2014: 3/81. Need to get some new ones from the library.
  2. Where Am I Reading?: 11/51. Girls Like Us gave me Texas.
  3. Award Winning Book Challenge: Can I count this page as a review? If so I have three.
  4. Alphabetically Inclined:  I J X Y Z still missing. Ella Enchanted gave me an E.
  5. TBR Challenge: 5 books, 17 library books.
  6. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  I am stalled.
  7. Reading My Library: Library temporarily closed, so on hiatus.

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2013: 76/77.  One more to go! I'm still on it: Out of the Easy. Josie is about to do some dumb stuff so I've been avoiding her.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Social Butterfly Me

I went to another convention this weekend -- Potlatch 2015. Another gathering of interesting people who like to read and talk about SF books. I admit that the presence of Ursula Le Guin's name on the membership list brought me in, and even though she wasn't actually there I had a good time.

Too bad it may have been the last Potlatch, at least for a while. I'm sorry I broke it!

I told several people about my book fast (no new books until April) and they sympathized but laughed at me anyway. I also mentioned marrying my brother, which is always fun. (I married him TO someone else, get your minds out of the interbreeding!)

I'm still reading far too many books (currently I have bookmarks in 23) but I have hopes to bring this down by April. That number is again trending in a lower direction. Also, the number of books out from the library is holding at twenty six, and that includes the ones I've finished and the ones I got for my kids to read. And the ones I recently got for various book clubs, of course, that being the only exemption to my NoNewBooks policy. Besides my Cybils exemption, of course. And any other exemption I find under my pillow.

So, what did I spend my time on this week? Again I kept a diary, and noted when I started or finished something.

Monday: Gabi: A Girl in Pieces, The October Country, Shiver, Out of the Easy
Tuesday: Gabi: A Girl in Pieces (completed), The October Country, Reading and Learning to Read,  Out of the Easy, Shiver
Wednesday: Shiver (completed)Out of the Easy, The October Country, Reading and Learning to Read, The Jury
Thursday: The Shadow ThroneDecider (started, completed)
Friday: The Shadow Throne (completed)Out of the EasyThe Jury, The Danger (started)Reading and Learning to Read, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age
Saturday: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, The Danger, The Escape (completed), Hawk
Sunday: Hawk, The Danger, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, Out of the Easy, The Jury

So I finished five books, and started two.  My reading tower moved in the correct direction! It also pleased me that several of the books I finished are ones that have been lurking in my reading bag for quite a while, and I enjoyed actually finishing them. Also, I noticed that when going to conventions, I do look at what my book will say about me, and then shrug and bring along the romance anyway, partly because it's great for reading in short bursts.

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)Gabi, a Girl in PiecesOut of the EasyI had three young adult books in the bag this week, and their relationship with sex was a huge differentiator. Gabi worried about it, her mom raged against it, her culture tried to use it as a measure of a girl's worth, and it was a huge sign of her growing maturity that she managed to treat it as a normal part of life, something she could make choices about but that didn't summarize her. In Shiver, the boy worried about being menacing, but the girl never once thought of sex as something that defined her morally. It was a way to express feelings, not a way to measure her status in society. And in Out of the Easy, Josie is so traumatized by her hooker mother that it will take a lot to get her to experiment in any way; her best friend/possible boy friend is also clearly gay so he won't be pushing her too hard to start. At least she has her motorcycle friend waiting for her to figure stuff out. It's hard to see how things will work out well for Josie, so I'm reading that one very slowly.

The DangerThe Escape (The Survivors' Club #3) The books I pick up in quiet moments while waiting for a panel to start or the shopping line to move were The Escape, a relaxing romance about a member of a seemingly anachronistic PTSD support group who each manage to find love after the Napoleonic wars. That description sounds condescending, but I'm enjoying Balogh's stories in this series; the characters are interesting, face unusual challenges (I like the blind man whose wife builds him a race course) and treat their lovers with respect and intelligence. This are no tragic misunderstandings, no real tensions, but a gentle ride as the characters manage to sort out their often complicated lives. After that one finished, I picked up Hawk, the latest Steven Brust, both because it was more likely to start conversations at an SF convention and because I really need to return it to my brother. HawkIt amused me by wrapping up a plot line I was getting tired of (or did it...) and also with Brust's usual character and plot-related arabesques.  And finally, in preparation of March's book club, I've started reading through my Dick Francis books. Sadly I seem to have misplaced the actual club pick, but I'm enjoying the others as I wait for it to turn up.

Reading and Learning to ReadSlow Reading in a Hurried AgeTwo books about reading are dovetailing neatly -- Slow Reading in a Hurried Age is a love song to contemplative relationships with books, looking at how to engage your reading in a true discussion that enriches you and brings out the best in the book. It's how to read like a grown up, although it amuses me when Mikics assumes that the internet is what distracts me from reading; more commonly it's other books. At the same time I'm slowly inching through Reading and Learning to Read, a teacher's textbook about bringing children to literacy. I'm slowly being converted from my phonics ways, because it turns out that most of the whole language stuff involves things that I consider crucial to a happy childhood anyway, and the idea that learning to read is more akin to learning a language makes sense on many levels. The two books are approaching the pleasures of literacy from opposite directions, but affirming the same values.

Finally, I finished The Shadow Throne, but it left me a bit cold. I never figured out an age for the new King -- his voice seems very young, but that makes all the romance (not to mention the torture) deeply creepy.

I'm off to sign up to see what everyone else is reading lately at bookjourney's and Teach Mentor Texts lists.

2015 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2014: 2/81. Finished and really recommend Gabi.
  2. Where Am I Reading?: 10/51. No change. 
  3. Award Winning Book Challenge: Still got nothing.
  4. Alphabetically Inclined: E I J X Y Z still missing. And since library books don't count, this isn't moving much.
  5. TBR Challenge: 4 books, 17 library books.
  6. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  I am stalled.
  7. Reading My Library: Library temporarily closed, so on hiatus.

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2013: 76/77.  One more to go! I'm still on it: Out of the Easy

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

Another challenge that I'm joining but not planning to really put effort into is Book Riots' #ReadHarder Challenge. They came up with a list of twenty four different kinds of books (two a month is I think the intention) with the idea that you read a bit outside your comfort zone. Since I'm all about challenges that get me to read interesting stuff, I'm in. I'm also hoping that I just accidentally read everything without having to think about it.

Book Riot seems to be involved with a social media internet thing called Twitter, into which I have barely dipped my toes. But if you are into that, they are tracking their challenge with the hashtag #ReadHarder. "Share your books, share your challenge plan, share your recommendations."

I will be tracking my challenge with the innovated method of moving items from the top list to the bottom as I complete them. Also, if I notice as I finish a book that it fits any of the categories, I shall scandalize my children by shouting HASHTAG and then making that cryptic sign with my hands. It's always funny.


  1. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own: Zero Day, David Baldacci 1/25/15
  2. YA novel: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero 2/3/15
  3. sci-fi novel: Across the Universe, Beth Revis 1/30/15
  4. A book published before 1850: The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens, 1/15/15
  5. romance novel: Escape, Mary Balogh 2/7/15
  6. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.): Ella Enchanted, Gail Levine 2/11/15
  7. self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”): Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, Mickos, 2/16/15
  8. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQShadows and Dreams, Alexis Hall 2/27/15
  9. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?) Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant Roz Chatz 3/2/15
  10. A book that takes place in AsiaBlood of Tyrants, Naomi Novik 3/3/15
  11. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) Possession, J.R. Ward 3/28/15
  12. A book that someone else has recommended to you: Tinker, Wen Spencer 3/31/15
  13. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans,Aboriginals, etc.): Dead Heat, Patricia Briggs 4/2/15
  14. A collection of poetry Forget-Me-Nots, Hoberman 4/28/15
  15. National Book AwardMan Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade: All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, 5/1/15
  16. A book published this year Day Shift, Charlaine Harris 5/12/15
  17. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65  Voices From the March on Washington, J. Patrick Lewis & George Ella Lyon 5/21/15
  18. microhistory: Gulp, Mary Roach6/21/15
  19. An audiobook: Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett 6/24/15
  20. A book published by an indie press (does self published count?): Bone 1: Out From Boneville Jeff Smith 7/5/15
  21. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25PopularVintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, Maya Van Wagenen 7/12/15
  22. A book that was originally published in another languageA Bride's Story, Vol 2, Kaoru Mori 8/4/15
  23. collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood 10/8/15
  24. A book by an author from Africa:  The Miracle at Speedy Motors, Alexander McCall Smith 1/22/16

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday! What Have I Been Reading?

I went to a favorite convention this weekend -- Foolscap 2015. It's a place for lovers of books and art, and I've converted my children into fans, so it's a family event now. I've acquired a new list of things I should be reading and I got to meet Ursula Vernon, author of many things, including the Dragonbreath series and several addictive podcasts.

I'm still reading far too many books (currently I have bookmarks in 27) but I have hopes to bring this down by April.

As usual at this time of year, I'm concentrating my reading on my library pile, choosing what to read by the due dates involved. This explains why I started some new things rather than continue to work down the books I'm already in the middle of. I've managed to avoid checking out new books though; I'm distracting myself by getting some CDs to listen to while folding laundry instead. This way I don't notice that I only have 26 books out from my library, and probably at least six of them are for the kids, not for me.

So, what did I spend my time on this week? Again I kept a diary, and noted when I started or finished something.

Monday: Reading and Learning to Read,  Across the Universe (started), NERDS, Out of the Easy, Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series (started)
Tuesday: Ardeur (completed),  NERDS, 
Wednesday: Reading and Learning to ReadAcross the UniverseLost Enchantment
Thursday: Across the Universe (complete), The October Country, Reading and Learning to Read
Friday: Escape (started),
Saturday: Escape, Out of the Easy, Gabi: A Girl in Pieces (started)
Sunday: Gabi: A Girl in Pieces, Escape

So I started four books, and finished two.  My reading tower grew higher. Oops.

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)Most of what I read this week was coming of age stories. The YA books make this explicit; in Across the Universe there is a little awakening as well as various unfolding of truths to mark the two teenagers' growth in maturity. They are forced to more their viewpoint outward, to encompass their entire world, small as is. Cloning and suppressing drugs also focus attention on identity, a key value for emerging adolescents.

Out of the EasyGabi, a Girl in PiecesMy first Cybils of the year, Gabi: A Girl in Pieces also traces the last year of Gabi's high school career, in America formally the last year of adolescence before adulthood is granted (albeit provisionally if you move on to the grey space college). Although the book avoids a sense of checking issues of a list, Gabi gets to confront many of the burning issues of modern times -- drug addiction, teen pregnancy, coming out, date rape, first dates, slut shaming, birth control and abortion (Gabi doesn't personally run through this check list, but her friends and family provide a wider range of experiences for her). I am hoping my kids' senior year is less eventful. The last Cybils of last year also shows a girl trying for college, although the situation of Out of the Easy's protagonist seems even more constrained and hopeless.

The Escape (The Survivors' Club #3)Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter SeriesMy more cheerful reads were Escape, a romance that I am confident will end in a HEA, and Ardeur, a collection of 14 essays on Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books with introductions by her. I always enjoy literary essays on pop culture (maybe I should become a high school English teacher!) and I enjoy Mary Balogh's characters and setting as I relax into that genre's guarantee of everything working out for my favorite people.

I'm off to sign up to see what everyone else is reading lately at bookjourney's and Teach Mentor Texts lists.

2015 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2014: 1/81. Got two from the library, but they aren't due yet. Only a few pages left of Gabi
  2. Where Am I Reading?: 10/51. So far so good!
  3. Award Winning Book Challenge: I got nothing.
  4. Alphabetically Inclined: E I J X Y Z still missing. And since library books don't count, this isn't moving much.
  5. TBR Challenge: 2 books, 14 library books.
  6. Best of the Best 2012: 52/25.  I am stalled.
  7. Reading My Library: Library temporarily closed, so on hiatus.

2014 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2013: 76/77.  One more to go! I'm on it: Out of the Easy