Monday, August 29, 2016

Ask Me About My Walrus Friends

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I got to meet a walrus! Her name is Joan, and she likes fish, swimming, making fart noises and squirting things. Also napping. We clearly have much in common. A friend invited me along to a zoo experience at the Point Defiance Zoo and so I can now check "shake hands/flippers with a walrus" off my bucket list.

She has very impressive upper body strength, shown whenever she lifted herself from the pool, much more gracefully than I could manage. And she could probably suck a golf ball through a straw and had no trouble slurping a dead fish from my hand.

The movie goal is progressing -- we've gotten the next one in the mail, although we haven't picked a day to watch it yet. Maybe Wednesday.

The Book Date does a weekly roundup of what people are reading, want to read, have read each week called It's Monday! What Are You Reading and I'm going to sign up. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed, and as that is a particular interest of mine, I check in with either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers for their version.

My pile of books for this week:
Galactic DerelictChanges (Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, #3)Flash Gold (Flash Gold Chronicles #1)Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)Lights Out!: A heist thriller involving the MafiaThe Grand Tour: or The Purloined Coronation Regalia (Cecilia and Kate, #2)The Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After (Cecelia and Kate, #3)
Moonshiner's SonFirewing (Silverwing, #3)World of PtaavsA Queer Trade (Rag and Bone, #0.5)

Galactic Derelict, Andre Norton. The sequel to Time Trader gives us a more sympathetic narrator -- a competent Navaho with a bit of a chip on his shoulder who joins the time traveling corps without that pesky training sequence since he's obviously competent at getting around. They find an abandoned space ship back in prehistory, drag it to the present and accidentally set off on a tour of the galaxy,  It's a bit episodic, and the men rarely have a chance to take the initiative, but it's an interesting look at how some guys would handle the isolation and uncertainty of the voyage.

Changes, Mercedes Lackey. The next Reading My Library audio. I'm glad I've read other books set in this world, because otherwise this would be a confusing introduction. My poor son, who only heard scattered bits, is intrigued but a bit confused. I'm glad to come in at the end of this trilogy, when Mags is old enough and settled enough to concentrate on his abilities and his relationships, instead of fretting about where he belongs. I do think the magical horses are a bit over the top, but Mags takes his for granted and works hard on developing his own gifts, both magical and practical.

Flash Gold, Lindsay Buroker. This is a steam punk set in a sort-of gold-rush America, with sled dogs and special gold that can power robots, especially the ones our hero builds. She invents stuff to keep herself safe and well fed, and this book involves setting her up with the fighting man that will form her team. I'd like to find the next books in this series.

Sorcery and Cecelia, Patrica Wrede & Caroline Stevemeyer. Another cherished reread. I appreciated the afterwords, where the authors explained that they never cheated on the plot -- both sent letters back and forth but didn't give other hints, but did occasionally discuss timing so that both stories wrapped up at the same time.  It's a fun Regency story with a good dose of magic and interesting characters who aren't refugees from a different century.

Lights Out!, Donald Bain. A Reading My Library book, chosen mostly for its Argentina/Toronto setting, but not a very pleasant read. A resentful man having a midlife crisis decides to finance his mistress by hooking up with the mafia to commit a crime, but things don't go well. There is nobody to root for -- the wife is unpleasant, but so is he. Even the mafia guy is distasteful. I think this is supposed to make it better when nobody gets a happy ending, but it just left me feeling dirty.

The Grand Tour, Patrica Wrede & Caroline Stevemeyer. The second installment of Kate & Cecelia is not quite up to the first; our heroines are traveling together and the writing conceit is a deposition/diary that doesn't have the same freshness as the correspondence. But the two are still fun to hang with as they negotiate married life, love, and the continuing protectiveness of their menfolk that has to be carefully navigated around. I like the treatment of magic -- girls aren't trained as well as men, and not even they expect it, but the power is definitely there.

The Mislaid Magician, Patrica Wrede & Caroline Stevemeyer.  The final book in the Kate and Cecelia correspondence returns to the preferred letter writing mode, with additional plot points added in the terser notes exchanged by their husbands. They have both launched into parenthood, but a simple sort that comes with servants and nurses to handle the more unpleasant tasks associated with child rearing. This keeps the tone YA and gives the sprouts a chance to be mostly animated plot advancers. I would have named this one The Magician's Lost Dog or something with a bit more punch, and I thought the plot held up to even less scrutiny than usual, but I did enjoy the firm friendship between our protagonists, and the example of the partnerships each had with their spouse.

Moonshiner's Son, Carolyn Reeder. I expected a didactic historical novel about the evils of drink, but found a much more nuanced picture of life in the Virginia Mountains during the start of prohibition. The moonshiner dad was a respected member of the community, but one who faced increasing pressure from both the law and from the bootleggers using prohibition to get rich. The minister who came in ranting about the demon rum proved naive but willing to learn, and mutual respect was eventual found. I enjoyed it.

Firewing, Kenneth Oppel. Oppel seems to have carved out a niche as a middle grade author who likes flying things (and science), and he does quite well in it. This is an animal fantasy with bats, complete with treaties with owls and mystical experiences, and a young bat worried about living up to his father's legendary status. When a mistake has tragic consequences, young Griffen has to face up to some shattering truths. I found even the father to be sympathetically young, and I appreciated that despite this being a children's book, some choices have sad and final consequences. (Hint, a bat dies.)

World of Ptavvs, Larry Niven. This is old fashioned SF, with men smoking and women wearing high heels. I almost say hard SF, but I don't trust the orbital mechanics and there's a lot of telepathy, which I consider magic. The alien is well done, and the time shifts well thought out. I especially enjoyed the description of the alien inhabiting a human body, shocked at the double eyelids when he was used to a single. Some bits didn't work (he worries about his two mistresses meeting, but later reveals that women aren't sentient), but it was short enough that I didn't spend time quibbling.

A Queer Trade, K.J. Charles. Another book in the world of Steven Crane, except it's more of a short story than a book. There's men comfortable in their gayness even though the society around them has outlawed it. It's clear that wanting to kiss the wrong people is not on the top of their worries, what with the fear of the magic police and the discovery that one characters has apprenticed himself not to a kindly scholar but to a deadly blood-sorcery using villain. Oops.

I started and am still reading more books:

Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1)How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard WorkEureka: Discovering Your Inner ScientistEidolon (Wraith Kings, #2)

Dark Witch, Nora Roberts. This is an alt pick for Vaginal Fantasy.  I'm falling behind on these.

How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work, Jeff Bredenberg. I have to admit that I'm not really the target audience; the book is written for gardeners who enjoy growing things but would rather not work too hard. I just want the home owner's association to stay off my back. So I'm a little interested in his description of easy ways to grow flowers and vegetables, but probably not enough to actually make beds for them, and I'm already doing the right stuff for my lawn. Well, I should probably get it mown a little more often, but not by much.

Eureka!, Chad Orzel. I bought this for my kid when it came out, and now I've borrowed it back to have a chance at reading it myself.

Eidolon, Grace Draven. I enjoyed the first book of this series enough to recommend it to my main book club, and I wanted to read the second even though I'm not sure it will help my Team Tapirs. Which is a huge compliment, as I think this is the only book I picked up not designated for my team.

Bookmarks moved in several books:

Honor Girl: A Graphic MemoirThe Flowers of AdonisThe Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)Flight BehaviorThe Sea Without a Shore (Lt. Leary, #10)

Honor Girl
, Maggie Thrash. Cybils YA Graphic Novel. Still creeping along, because it looks like the protagonist is in for some rough emotional waters. And the pictures are still lovely, and I don't want to fall into her pain, although I bet it's beautifully drawn.

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff. When a man's luck runs out, even his friends face difficulties. That's when his true friends reveal themselves.

The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu. The guy playing Bad Cop seems to be very good at his job, which the silly professor will not understand.

The Aeronaut's Windlass, Jim Butcher. This did not win the Hugo, but I want to finally finish it anyway. Here comes the cat to save the day!

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver. My Reading My Library Audio. I got this back from the library. I'm really enjoying it; my podcasts are languishing because I want to stay with the story. I'm on disc 10/14 now.

Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. We're still enjoying the audio serialization of this, although without the ride to school it's hard to keep up. After next week that won't be a problem, though. Sniff.

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 ReadThe Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen

A Traitor To Memory, Elizabeth George.
Emerald Atlas, John Stephens.
Kenilworth, Walter Scott.
Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen, Wendelin Van Draanen.
The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw.
Reading and Learning To Read, Jo Vacca.

2016 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2015: 37 out of 82. No change. I'm neglecting my graphic novels as they don't count for my team. 
  2. Reading My Library:  Finished Mercedes Lackey's Changes and made good progress on Kingsolver's Flight Behavior (10/14). Finished Lights Out!  from the paper shelves but have dawdled on starting the next one.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 38/51. No change. I need 40 to be on track! On the lookout for Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii and Idaho.
  4. Full House Challenge:  25/25!
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 165.  Why, the money I save practically paid for my cruise! 
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: 12/12. 11/12. Poetry is the tricky one. I'm looking at religion this month -- it's mostly generic Protestant, mostly ignored by the characters. There have been a few devout Catholics or evangelical Christians, and some pagans of various intensity.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  39.  Team Tapir keeps me raiding my shelves.
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 19/20.  Still need a Pulitzer.
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 12/12! Hour of the Bees was a very credibly 2016 debut.
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  Keep almost reading Positively.
  11. Flash Bingo: I need a book about books, and an Australian book.
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 12/12. Now I'll work on the 36 challenge -- 32/36

1 comment:

kmitcham said...

Flash Gold, Lindsay Buroker sounds interesting. Is that library or your own? After I finish the book club book I might be interested.