Friday, January 29, 2016

Library Loot

badge-4I wanted to start the Cybils finalist list promptly, because I like to finish it by the autumn and because it's fun to read as many books as I can before they announce the winners. But it appears that either they are picking more popular titles or other people are also using it for their reading list. Humph! So there were long wait lines for holds on several of the books.

And they all took about four weeks to come through, so now instead of scrambling to find any Cybils to read, I have a bag full. Oops.

The hold shelf gave me:
Libriomancer100 Best Books for ChildrenA Bride's StoryDragons Beware!Every Last WordGive Me WingsI Will Always Write BackMost Dangerous

Libriomancer, Jim Hines. For my Tuesday book club. Actually, this wasn't on the hold shelf, as my library had it without me even asking.

100 Best Books For Children, Anita Silvey. I put this on my hold list back in October. I love books about books.

Bride's Story 6, Kaoru Mori. Still enjoying these.

Dragon's Beware, Jorge Aguirre. A Children's graphic Cybils finalist. Also our next family book club pick.

Every Last Word, Tamara Ireland Stone. A YA fiction Cybils finalist.

Give Me Wings, Kathy Lowinger. A YA nonfiction Cybils finalist.

I Will always Write Back, Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda w/ Liz Welch. A YA nonfiction Cybils finalist.

Most Dangerous, Steve Sheinkin. A YA nonfiction Cybils finalist.

I also got an ebook:
Mortal Heart
Mortal Heart, LaFevers. The next Cybils book. Well, not the next, because other people are in line ahead of me for that, but the next one that was available instantly. I got this on Monday, before the deluge on Thursday.

I've currently got 42 things out from the library, including ebooks, books for me, and books for the kids. That's the same as last week, but I hope it will trend downward as the hold avalanche slows.

I'll go sign in to Library Loot which is at The Captive Reader this week to see what everyone else is getting.  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. 

I'm continuing my Library Quest.  I'm still in the Large Print Fiction section, so everything feels thick and important.

The Miracle at Speedy MotorsThe Miracle at Speedy Motors, Alexander McCall Smith.  I like the small, personal stakes for these books, much the way I like the Aunt Dimity books, only with kinder protagonists.  Because our lives are made of such small matters, and these lives matter. I like how the characters are decent, although some are kinder than others; all see it worthwhile to get along. Sometimes it's easier to hope that other change instead of exerting yourself, but the basic goal is the same.

Between PlanetsBetween Planets, Robert Heinlein: Full Cast Audio. I rushed through and finished this because the boys were enjoying the 1950's version of Future Science (information encoded on thin microwires -- a whole book the size of a ring!) and I wanted to clear the library decks a bit. I'll definitely consider the other Full Cast Audio versions of these books for future road trips.

I'm still listening to Hild by Nicola Griffith, which is a deeper story on many levels. The pace of a audio bugs me more with these, because I can't go faster if I'm anxious to find out what happens.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Diversity Challenge 2016

As part of reading more mindfully, I want to read books outside my usual path. Also, I want to look for books that I've been ignoring because of barriers I don't even see, extra walls that marginalized authors have to climb over, because of their color, gender, nationality, or whatever. So I'm looking for more diverse books.

I found two Diversity Challenges (well, they are linked, one is kidlit and one is adult) so I'll try them both. For some reason the buttons don't seem to like my blog, so I found some open source icons to give me some color.

The Unconventional Librarian's 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge has 12 books:

2016 Diversity Reading Challenge Checklist (Kidlit):
  1. A book written by or about a person of Hispanic Origin. Becoming Naomi Leon, Pam Munoz Ryan 3/1/16
  2. A book in which a character suffers from mental illness: Every Last Word, Tamara Ireland Stone 2/19/16
  3. A book written by or about someone with Spectrum Disorder The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida 7/10/16
  4. A book with an African American young woman as a main character (think Jacqueline Woodson, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker): Everything Everything, Nicola Yoon 3/1/16
  5. A book containing an Asian main character. The Truth Commission, Susan Juby 1/8/16
  6. A book with an illustrator of color (think Kadir Nelson):  Twin Spica 5, Kou Yaginuma 2/26/16
  7. A book with a LGBT main character. Bayard Rustin: Invisible Activist, Jacqueline Houtman 3/4/16
  8. A graphic novel (Raina Telgemeier or Jennifer Holm). A Bride's Story 6, Kaoru Mori 2/21/16
  9. A book with a Muslim girl on the cover (I Am Malala, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Persepolis): A Bride's Story 5, Kaoru Mori 1/21/16
  10. A book written by or for African American young men (Richard Wright, Walter Dean Myers, Ta-Nehisi Coates):The Spies of Mississippi, Rick Bowers 3/12/16
  11. A book in which the author, main character, or strong secondary character has a physical disability.  Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo 2/3/16
  12. The Diary of Anne Frank or Night by Elie Wiesel. (Since I've read both of these already, I'll substitute any Holocaust book).  Courage and Defiance, Deborah Hopkinson 3/31/16.  Symphony for the City of the Dead, M.T. Anderson 4/12/16 also almost qualifies, although it has Russian atrocities followed by the starving of Leningrad.  Both are not the standard Holocaust book I was thinking of, but both show aspects of the horrible consequences of the ideologies of WWII. Paper Hearts, Meg Wiviott 6/20/16 is set among the horrors of Auschwitz and qualifies perfectly.

There's a twitter #ReadDiverseLit and chats at on 4th Thursdays at 9pm

The adult partner is From Left to Write 2016 Diversity Reading Challenge and her twelve steps are:

2016 Diversity Reading Challenge Checklist (Adults):
  1. Contemporary book with a person of color on the cover (set in present day)  The Year of Living Dangerously, C.J. Koch 5/5/16; Crux, Namez Raam 6/2/16
  2. Historical fiction about marginalized group (due to race, ethnicity, gender, mental ability, physical ability): The Book Thief, Markus Zusak  3/1/16
  3. Graphic novel featuring protagonists of colorSkim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki 6/4/16, Saga Vol 1, Brian Vaughan 8/5/16
  4. Book written by or about someone with spectrum disorder: The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida 7/10/16
  5. Romance novel with main character of color: Prisoner, Lia Silver 1/18/16. 
  6. Book of poetry by LGBT writer
  7. Science fiction or fantasy with female main character of color (Republic? large cast though) Fire Touched, Patricia Briggs 4/1/16
  8. Memoir or biography by or about a diverse authorMarch, Book Two, John Lewis 8/11/16
  9. Book with a main character who is mixed race, The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemison, 4/23/16
  10. Novel with an LGBT main character: An Apprentice to Elves, Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Bear 1/19/16
  11. Book in which character suffers from mental illness Laura's Wolf, Lia Silver 1/8/16
  12. Book in which a main character has a physical disability: Dick Francis's Refusal, Felix Francis 1/10/16; Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand (Hooker) 2/1/16

diversekidlit-logo-200px 11/12. I wouldn't mind getting another #9, since my current book was set on a non-Earth planet.

I also want to concentrate each month on a different type of diversity, where I track what my reading is about that month.  If I'm really on the ball, I'll update the image down here for this:
  1. January: Location: US, Canada, Chile, Japan, U.K. (England and Ireland), Norse, Indonesia, Gabon, Iran, Botswana, Outer Space
  2. February: Race: European-American, European, African American, African, Asian, Hispanic, biracial (African-American/Asian), American Indian.
  3. March: Gender: Main Character (half points for doubles): Female: 10, Male 9; Authors: Female 10, Male 9; (I'm guessing based on picture and/or name, unless stated in author's notes, so it will be hard to know any non-binary identities here)
  4. April: Sexuality: Main Character: Straight: 20, Gay/Lesbian: 0. Bi: 1. Author (this I won't usually know, so these numbers will be smaller. If they mention a spouse I can guess, but that still won't catch a lot of orientations): Straight: 4. Gay/Lesbian: 1. 
  5. May: Class (economic): Lower Class: 7, Middle Class: 9, Upper Class: 9. I won't even try to gauge authors this month.
  6. June: Mental Health: Typical: 24 (main character), Autism spectrum or equivalent: 0 (main character), 1 (relevant side character), Mental Disorder: 4 (main character), 5 (side character).
  7. July: Physical shape (able/disability): Normal: 32 (main character), Other -- specify: 0 (main character),  1 quadriplegic, 1 Deaf (side characters), 1 (Ancillary stub), 1 (burn victim), 2 (crutches), 2 (amputee)
  8. August: Religion: characters: Evangelical Christian: 2, Roman Catholic: 3, generic Protestant: 13, Jewish: 2,  Super Pagan: 4, None: 16; author: 1 Mormon, generic Protestant: 1, Bhuddist: 1
  9. September: Integration (race): Single Culture: 9, Single Culture with Visitors: 5, Majority With Minority Population: 5, Minority in Majority Culture: 2, Mixed Cultures: 5, I Just Didn't Notice: 6
  10. Native Americans: Present: 5;  Present and identified by tribe: 3. (I'm counting Hawaiians here.)
  11. Family Type: Hetero couple/no kids: 2, Married hetero family, blended kids: 7, Gay couple no kids: 2, Gang of Friends: 4, Married hetero family with kids: 5, Divorced parents with kids: 1, Single Adults Romancing (hetero): 4, Polygyny: 1
  12. (forgot to switch until mid-December): Age: Protagonist: Under 11: 1, Middle aged: 2, Teen: 1

Monday, January 25, 2016

Setting a Rhythm

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I seem to have fallen into a rhythm with my book picks. Of course I don't have the attention span to just read a book until it's done -- I pick things up and put them down, then wander about and pick up something else.  I start of the day with library triage -- are there books that MUST go back soon that I really really want to read? I work on those first (Apprentice to Elves, Bride's Story, Zero to Five). Then I make sure I'm working on my book club selections, with online groups less important than real life ones (Tarzan Alive, Nory Ryan's Song, The Veil). When I tire of that, I move onto a challenge -- Cybils, mostly Infandous, All the Rage). And then I work on my Library Quest book (The Miracle at Speedy Motors). And if I still have reading time after that, I'll read whatever is next on my TBR shelf.

I try to read at least fifty pages in each book before giving myself permission to pick up the next, but if something excruciating happens I can run away.

I'm still rocking the Triple Dog Dare, and I added a Library Appreciation Challenge, although I'm a library addict so it's not really much of a challenge. I think I read two non-library books this week. I also somehow managed to finish a pile of books; I'm not quite sure how that happened.

The Book Date is collecting the roundups of what everyone is reading and talking about this week. I'll also look in with Teach Mentor Texts which does the same thing for kidlit.

This week I finished twelve books:
InfandousAn Apprentice to ElvesNory Ryan's Song (Nory Ryan, #1)Waiting for the PartyA Bride's Story, Vol. 5 (A Bride's Story, #5)All the RageZero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science (and What I've Learned So Far)The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #9)Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse

Tarzan Alive,
Philip Jose Farmer. This was for my Tuesday book club. I think only my brother and I enjoyed it, but I know I had a lot of fun reading this straight-faced exploration of the "truth" of the Tarzan literature. Part of the fun was remembering reading it as a teen, and noticing which parts I was too naive to understand back then. I have to remember to show it to my teen, although I don't believe he's read the entire Tarzan series so he doesn't have all the backstory.

Elana K. Arnold. A Cybils YA finalist. I spent the first chapters of this waiting for the inevitable rape flashback, but Arnold surprised me with a different although also traumatic past trauma, and one that the fairy tale format prepared me for. I found the conversation about class and value and families very interesting, as well as the insight into teenage sexuality and how it is abused by society.

An Apprentice to Elves, Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear. Monette and Bear are excellent world builders and character writers, and their collaboration kicks things up another notch. I liked how they incorporated women and aliens into their story while keeping in ground in a gritty Norse culture. And wolf companions are always cool.

* Nory Ryan's Song, Patricia Reilly Giff. This was our Family Book club pick, and I admit it was not a favorite of the boys. Apparently they are not into grim historical fiction, even when sweetened by fine writing. Also, we all thought that the heroine was a dork for dropping the rent money down a wishing well (by "accident"). We had a good discussion, occasionally derailed into a Star Wars review, covering the history, responsibility, and the dangers of a mono culture.

Waiting For the Party, Ann Thwaite. This biography of Francis Hodgson Burnett taught me a lot about the author; I hadn't realized that she wrote so many books, or that so many of them were aimed at the adult audience. I thought I had plumbed her depths by finding The Lost Prince, but she also wrote dozens of adult novels. Unfortunately most of her life was rather dull; she had frequent illnesses, unpleasant marriages, and a lot of squabbles over trivial matters.

The Veil, Chloe Neill. This was Vaginal Fantasy's hiatus book, which I have finally read. Their next book is due to be discussed this week, so clearly I'm behind. It's an easy read, with a likable protagonist who finds herself with unexpected magic powers in a post-magic war New Orleans that has rule any magic illegal. With the help of the cute guy who shows up she must master her magic, come to terms with the lies her beloved father told her, and save the world.

The Prisoner, Lia Silver. Another werewolf marine love story, this time with added evil government scientists and doomed cloned warriors. Once again Silver treats her characters as intelligent adults able to form sentences and notice misconceptions. Although this is the second in the series, reading the first gave away a lot of the ending; I wish I had read them in reverse order. It's also much more the start of a series, so I'm looking forward to getting the next book as soon as this pesky Dare is over.

* A Bride's Story Vol. 5, 
Kaoru Mori. This covers the wedding of the excitable twins (good luck to their grooms!) and then returns to Amir and her young husband.  The artwork is still beautiful, although my face blindness meant it took me a while to figure out when we skipped back to Amir. I eventually noticed there was only one of her. I'm enjoying this historical tale.

All the Rage, Courtney Summers. A Cybils YA finalist. I was afraid Infandous was going to be an abused girl book; this one really was. The characterization was brutally honest, showing the damage that rape, and then a community's denial of that rape, does, not only to the girls who survive, but to all women and people. The plot didn't really convince me, though. My son was very frustrated by how "stupidly" everyone behaved, although he admitted they were coming from some bad places so it was understandable. He prefers justice.

* Zero to Five, Tracy Cutchlow. Somewhere I saw a review for this parenting advice book, describing it's slogan as science for moms. I hoped it would give actual research, but it's more of a cosy "everything will be fine, relax and be a good mom" kind of book. Which is fun for parents of young kids, but I was more interested in the science -- it's too late for my brood, hulking teenagers that they are.

The Miracle at Speedy Motors, Alexander McCall Smith. Library Quest Book!

* Dead But Not Forgotten
, ed. by Charlaine Harris. Short stories by various authors set in Harris's world. Basically Sookie Stackhouse fanfiction. Most of the stories were fun peeks into minor characters, following hints Harris dropped but never got around to filling out. I liked the ones based out of Bon Temps the most.

* Books I started this week. Most books tend last for weeks on my lists, because I have this habit of reading dozens of things at once. But occasionally I keep focus for several days on end.

Since I had no books on hold, and my adherence to the Dare kept me from browsing for more stuff, I looked over some picture books:

As Fast as Words Could FlyBatman's Dark Secret

As Fast As Words Could Fly, Pamela Tuck. Realistic art and paragraphs per page make this a solid historical story, following a young boy's drive to learn to type in order to help the civil rights workers in their endeavors. He faces discrimination at school and at work, but works and perseveres, little knowing that his manual typewriter will seem as bizarre as the dodo to modern readers.

Batman's Dark Secret, Kelley Puckett. Batman remembers his youth as an orphan, afraid of the dark that reminds him of the alley where his parents died. But then he falls into a cave and fights a giant bat, which somehow makes him grow up to be BATMAN. Well, except that the bat is clearly the villain and the symbol of evil, so why does this dumb kid want to emulate that? And the bat is probably just protecting its young -- it's the dumb kid who is stomping around in their lair. And the artwork made Bruce seem like a whiny kid. Maybe it was too much of a whiplash from Tuck's book.

And I started six new books:

Mercenary Instinct (Mandrake Company, #1)Between PlanetsTime and Again (Time, #1)Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible, #1)Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris, #1)

Mercenary Instinct, Ruby Lionsdrake. Lindsay Buroker tried to hide from me by using a Kindle-only pseudonym, but I cannot be defeated so easily.

Between Planets, Robert Heinlein. This is a less intense audio book for when I need more attention on where I'm going. It's from the next shelf in the library.

Time and Again, Jack Finney. This was the Sword and Laser pick for last month. Or maybe the month before that.

Mortal Heart, Robin LaFevers. Another Cybils Finalist. I had to jump all the way down to YA SF to find something the library had on its e-shelves.

Kat, Incorrigible, Stephanie Burgis. This was a LibraryThing Secret Santa pick for me, except the English title was different so they thought it wasn't available. Of course I tracked it down and am reading it first. Also, the library wants it back.

Libriomancer, Jim Hines. I'm rereading this along with my Tuesday book club. We actually wanted to read the Goblin books, where Smudge starts his life, but our libraries failed us. Well, I have the first and my library has the next two, but New Hampshire is not as well stocked. Also, goodreads should hurry up and figure out how to handle rereads. "Read" and "Currently Reading" are not exclusive categories!

Bookmarks moved in four books:

Under a Graveyard Sky (Blac...

Republic, Lindsay Buroker. I have moved this into my bathroom, so I can at least read while brushing my teeth. The president may be under magical attack, Sespian and Sicarus may be under actual attack, and the gang is back together!

Under a Graveyard Sky, John Ringo. Maybe the coast guard can get the navy to talk to them. Also, I'm starting to really enjoy the scenes where Faith is a bad ass.

Crux, Ramaz Naam. I should probably read more than a few pages a week to get a good sense of the action.

Hild, Nicola Griffith. My next audio book in the Library Quest; I choose it because I have a paper copy on my TBR stack. I move the bookmark along to track my progress. It's too interesting -- I've driven to the wrong destination several times because I'm listening to the story and driving on auto pilot -- oh, I'm going up the hill so I must be going home...

The next few books I'm not really reading, just dipping into between the books I'm trying to finish so that I can pretend that I'm going to read the books on my bookcases.

Rob Roy  A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)Midnight Crossroad (Midnigh...Reading and Learning to Read

Rob Roy, Walter Scott. Apparently Rob Roy is to be executed. So much for plot.
A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George. Are the police corrupt?
Awakening to the Sacred, Lama Surya Das. If you feel it, it is true. Let things go. Let them go!
Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris. Bobo is from the Bard books. I see a Sookie vampire too.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca. The use and misuse of sight words.
2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015: Five out of 82. Finished Infandous and All the Rage. Mortal Heart is on my NOOK. Well, no, my NOOK is BROKEN but I borrowed my son's.
  2. Reading My Library: I'm still on the audio of Hild  and I started the audio of Between Planets as well. Finished The Miracle at Speedy Motors so I'm well into the M's.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 8/50.  Added Louisiana. Twice.
  4. TBR Triple Dog Dare. My totals are 16 library books, 3 personal library, 2 e-book.
  5. Full House Challenge: 18/25. I'm leaping out of the gate! But I think the next categories will be harder.
  6. Library Challenge: I'm at 19 already -- Middle Grades. This is not counting picture books because I don't usually take those out of the library.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Triple Dog Dare Barks For Me

My library bag was rather light as I came home today, because only a few exceptions to my No New Books slipped through. On the other hand, I've almost managed to fit the books I've checked out from the library onto two shelves in my TBR bookcase, so that's progress! Ideally I will get that down to half a shelf, and then force myself to maintain that.

Both new books were for my Friday book club, one for the February book and one that I think is scheduled for March but we keep pushing it back. John Green has a reputation for depressing books, and my club is firmly against downer reading. Station Eleven was a bit grim for us. We are a book club dedicated to good times, and we aren't ashamed to own that.

The hold shelf gave me:
The Wednesday WarsPaper Towns
The Wednesday Wars, Gary Schmidt. I've read this before and liked it, but I can't find my copy. Probably I read it from the library.

Paper Towns, John Green. Someone already read this and said that he doesn't kill off any of the kids in this one, so maybe I'll like it. I hope the kids don't smoke. I'm a parent; they shouldn't let me see that.

I also got some ebooks:
Radiance, Grace Draven. This is the Vaginal Fantasy pick for this month. I just finished last month's pick, so I'm a little behind.

I've currently got 44 things out from the library, including ebooks, books for me, and books for the kids. The TBR Triple Dare is already working! That's one less than last week! And the ebooks will keep falling off; I've read all but two of them but I haven't mastered returning things early.

I'll go sign in to Library Loot which is at Silly Little Mischief this week to see what everyone else is getting.  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. 

I'm continuing my Library Quest.  I'm still in the Large Print Fiction section, so everything feels thick and important. Currently I'm reading The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith and listening to Hild by Nicola Griffith. Hild is sometimes too interesting (I read while driving), so I also put Between Planets by Robert Heinlein in the car so I can listen while getting where I plan to go, instead of where I usually go, which has happened a few times with Hild. If I want to go where I usually go, then it is safe to listen to an engrossing story.