Monday, June 27, 2016

Schoolyear is OVER

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
School finally wrapped up, although with a little more drama that usual. One of my kids had a teacher with an odd attitude towards assignments, in that he would refuse to give them to my child but continued to grade them, mostly as incompletes. It took a lot of work to actually get the rubrics from him, as well as negotiate due dates that came in advance of final grades. Apparently this teacher does not handle change well, so when my kid was transferred into his class mid-year he handled it by hiding in a locked desk drawer all the assignments that had already been started by the rest of the class because he would have had to think about how to let the newcomer do them.

Of course, my kid also has a reputation for forgetting work and losing rubrics, so it took some time for me to realize that in this case the problem was not actually originating with him. Then more time was wasted as I tried to train the kid in how to work with the teacher. Then in the final month I went full helicopter mom and stormed around, which apparently was something the teacher understood and so we got the semesters work unlocked and my kid got to try to do it all in the last few weeks of school. He's not getting the A he had last semester, but he's not flunking either.

In other news, almost all their finals went well, so the final texting before they set off for a European Vacation with their dad and the new wife and the tiny half-siblings was congenial and pleasant. Now I can concentrate on personal stuff such as this reading contest I've entered where teams compete to see who can read more books. My team isn't winning but we are all dedicated to ticking things off lists (even if finishing the list isn't the best win condition) so we are happy. But it explains the rather inflated reading log. I'm also hoping to do #BookADay this summer, which should dovetail well with this reading game.

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/UnLeashing Readers which does the same thing for kidlit, since I read picture books and Cybils books.

My pile of books for this week:

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, #8)Paper HeartsPretty Deadly, Vol. 1: The ShrikeFive Thousand Years of SlaveryUpdraft (Bone Universe, #1)The Popcorn Astronauts: And Other Biteable Rhymes
GeorgeFull Cicada MoonA Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)Here There Be Monsters (Iron Seas, #0.5)Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College TownLock In (Lock In, #1)

Magic Shifts
, Ilona Andrews. This Reading my Library Quest book got pulled up the list because I wanted something fast to read while waiting for scuba to happen. It hit the spot perfectly.

Paper Hearts
, Meg Wiviott. A Cybils poetry finalist. Powerful book about friendship during the Holocaust.

* Pretty Deadly, Kelly Sue DeConnick. The graphic novel selection for my local Vaginal Fantasy meet-up. Lovely to look at, interesting story, except for the part where my inability to remember pictures meant I couldn't tell anyone apart so everything was very confusing. Eventually I figured out how many characters there were, and who and what they were doing, but it was too late to really enjoy the story. I think normal people would not have this trouble.

* Five Thousand Years of Slavery, Marjorie Gann & Janet Willen. Vivid and stark description of slavery through the ages, avoiding glamorization and refusing to avoid unpleasant truths. Care is taken to treat slaves as people, not just victims or sad stories, and the modern information is documented as well as illustrated with actual cases. I got this book from LibraryThings Early Reviewer program, although it's not new anymore.

Updraft, Fran Wilde. The June Sword and Laser pick. I'm frustrated at not knowing the rules of the society, because our viewpoint character seems to have limited comprehension of it. She has no idea which rules are important, which are guidelines, which are matters of life or death, or which are more etiquette based. So it's hard to judge what's going on, or when she is making a mistake.

* George, Alex Gino. Cute middle grade book about a transgender girl who comes out to her family and friends. I was distracted by the choice of play (Charlotte's Web) because I don't think of Wilber and Charlotte as draped in essential gender roles, and by George's childish (well, she's a child) confusion between gender and sex. I can see why parents hesitate to let their children make irrevocable medical decisions before this understanding deepens.

* The Popcorn Astronauts, Deborah Ruddall. Cybils Poetry finalist. Cute picture book with lively illustrations and poems about food. The "Popcorn Astronauts" was a good pick for a headline.

* Full Cicada Moon, Marilyn Hilton. The last Cybils Poetry finalist! A verse novel, so it started with several strikes against it. A good novel, but not poetry gold.

* A Case of Possession, KJ Charles. The second book in the Magpie Lord series, about an English lord who returned to take up his title after a few decades fighting in the streets of Shanghai and the middle class magic enforcer who loves him. Together they do magic and fight crime.

* Here There Be Monsters, Mejlean Brook. The alt pick for June Vaginal Fantasy. I like these stories, which says good things about Brook because I'm not usually a steampunk fan, and her men are a bit alpha-maley for my taste. But the women don't find that attractive, so I can get past it. I like reading about people who are really good at what they do, and I liked the solution to the problems in their relationship.

Missoula, Jon Krakauer. A stark look at how easily many men get away with raping their friends, and how the criminal and legal system is set up to help them. It also ruined my ability to read a current book club pick because of the rampant consent issues among the romantic pairings. "Get away!" "That's how I know you love it, baby!"

* Lock In, John Scalzi. Scalzi writes fun science fiction, where the has a good idea, and then puts witty and sarcastic people into the plot to explore it. This one was fun but not all that deep, so it made for a pleasant fast read. Also, he surprised me several times with the twists, and did some fun things with narrative (for example, we never are told if the first person narrator is a man or a woman).

* 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.

I looked at a picture book while waiting for my kids at the library:

Princess in Training

Princess in Training, Tammi Sauer. This is a cute and fun story that doesn't break much new ground but should be entertaining. It features standard anti-princess stuff about girl stuff being boring and active stuff being valuable. Our heroine is bad at waving and dancing and fashion walking, but good at karate and diving and skateboarding, so when the dragon shows up she can save everyone rather than wait for a prince. I like the idea that princess can be active, but I wish the message didn't come packaged with the idea that girls traditionally like stupid stuff, and that stuff regular girls (not like us, darling) like is stupid.

I started and am still reading two more books:

Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal LoveMy Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Kiss Me Deadly, ed. Trisha Telep This is my June Surprise Me pick, which I'm reading in between Cybils categories. It's a collection of supernatural short stories.

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Amos Tutuola. The next book in the History of Black Fiction list I'm working through.

I started but do not plan to finish two books:
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ells...Flesh (Flesh, #1)

Most Dangerous, Steve Sheinkin. I read this a few months ago as it won the Cybils YA Nonfiction category, and then I recommended it to my Tuesday book club. I don't want to really reread it already, but I got it and leafed through it so I would know what happened in the part we discuss this week.

Flesh, Kylie Scott. This is the June Vaginal Fantasy pick, but the men are too creepy and uninterested in consent for me to handle so soon after reading Missoula. Also, they have terrible gun habits. DNF

Bookmarks moved in several books:

The Flowers of AdonisThe Spider's War (The Dagge...Windswept (Windswept, #1)Flight BehaviorWHISPER OF MAGICThe Sea Without a Shore (Lt. Leary, #10)

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. Treachery and mistrust stalk the Athenian fleets.

The Spider's War, Daniel Abraham. My Reading My Library book. The cracks in the final plan are splintering around them.

Windswept, Adam Rakunas. This was the book the very kind author gave me at Norwescon. It's more action that I imagined union recruitment would involve, in a good way.

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver. Reading My Library Quest. More butterfly visitors, and more confusion about what their presence means. Disc 4.

A Whisper of Magic, Patricia Rice. Still interesting, although the girl seems to have a 21st century understanding of the rules of propriety and why she should masquerade as somebody's wife while traveling around the country.

The Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. This is the current book being serialized on the Baen Free Radio hour, so every week we'll listen to a 10-30 minute audio excerpt. My kid was a bit confused on what was going on with Daniel's wife and whether she was important. Introductions are hard when you only hear 15 minutes a week of the story.

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.

A Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)KenilworthSammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)Reading and Learning to Read

A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George. I dislike Gideon's young friend.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens. Kate decides to go off on her own. The day needs saving.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott. The wife does not appreciate her clandestine status.
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen. More dead cats, and then more lies from her mother to complicate Sammy's life.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca. Wrapping up strategies for encouraging reading comprehension. I should write some down because they would work for book club next year.

2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015: 31 out of 82. Finished Poetry; after I finish the June Surprise I'll start Middle Grade Fiction.
  2. Reading My Library:  I hope to finish The Spider's War early next week. I'm on disc 4 of many of Flight Behavior.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 30/51.  On track! It gets harder...
  4. Full House Challenge:  23/25. Need memoir and family relationship.
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 115.  I think I get my money's worth.
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: 11/12. 9/12. Need autistic book. Also poetry. Still tracking the mental health of my protagonists, who are mostly undiagnosed.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  21. Starting the third level already!
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 17/20. 
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 10/12. No change. I need a debut author in 2016, and an immigrant experience book. 
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  Finish the first third of Kiss Me Deadly.
  11. Flash Bingo: Summer time! New bingo card! First Bingo!
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 12/12. Now I'll work on the 36 challenge -- 25/36

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