Monday, September 19, 2016

Dreaded Book Slump

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
After weeks of casually finishing seven to ten books, I hit a slump. Everything I picked up seemed oppressive, full of unhappy people being miserable and I didn't want to join them. I found books, read until any conflict appeared, and then abandoned them.

Meanwhile I couldn't complete anything in real life either. I wasn't sending emails; I have a 95% installed dryer that blocked my laundry routine, and I couldn't even seem to execute my meal plan (sandwiches for dinner anyone?). Luckily my sister dragged me out for a short hike in the woods, and I came home and actually finished a book. And now I'm listening to the dulcet sounds of clothes tumbling themselves dry, and I've even emailed about half of the people I need to get in touch with. So there is hope.

The Book Date does a weekly roundup of what people are reading, want to read, or 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:

The Flowers of AdonisThe Proposal (The Survivors' Club #1)Project Elfhome (Elfhome, #4.5)Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

The Flowers of Adonis, Rosemary Sutcliff.  The hero of Athens dies by treachery, and the glory of Athens will never shine as bright. That's what Sutcliff is all about. Should definitely give this to my classics studying son, who might know some of the history.

* The Proposal, Mary Balogh. This is the first in the Survivor's Club series, and the last one that I read. So the ending was even more certain (not that there is doubt about where a HEA Romance is heading), but I enjoyed seeing two adults work out their relationship. When he shows up proposing marriage and mentioning that it would be handy because he needs someone to escort his sister to a party, she doesn't assume (MISUNDERSTANDING) that is the extent of his feelings, but does suggest a courtship might be better than an engagement since they've barely met. This was a good book to pull me out of my reading slump, because it was engaging but not stressful -- I knew the ending but didn't know the route.

* Project Elfhome, Wen Spencer. I knew I'd like this collection of short stories, because Wen Spencer has a great sense of plot and invents wonderfully vivid characters, but I thought it'd be fairly lightweight. Well, it wasn't soul-searingly intense, but it did a great job of building up the world she writes for her Tinker books, and also gave me a much clearer sense of the different forces acting on that world. The sense of place is rock solid, and the various families are authentic in their differences.

* Farm City, Novella Carpenter. A pure Tapir book. I needed a book that started with the word "Farm." This is the memoir of several years of urban farming in Oakland, when a couple (mostly her) start growing things in the empty lot next door. She adds in first chickens, then turkeys, ducks and geese, and finally rabbits and pigs to her efforts, escalating the work involved and the ooky bodies that she has to dismember. She manages to spend a month eating only what she produces, although she loses a lot of weight doing it, and has a lot of fun when the chef who catches her raiding her dumpster for his pigs offers to help her turn the meat into gourmet food once she slaughters it.

* Books I started this week.

I started and am still reading more books:

Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)PegeenThe Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3)Water: Tales of Elemental SpiritsThe Buried Pyramid

Romancing the Duke, Tessa Dare. A Vaginal Fantasy book, although the in-person group I'm in will be discussing a different book, one that I didn't read yet. This one has laugh-out-loud silly moments, but it's got too many pages for its premise, and the sex is also a bit tedious. I've had fun explaining what is going on when my almost-adult son asks me why I'm giggling.

Pegeen, Hilda Van Stockum. I started this to try to cure my book slump, and it worked for a while. But then I saw a tough situation coming (and by tough, I mean a child would feel bad for a few pages) so I ran off to read something else. This was when I knew my slump was serious. I'll get back to it in a few days, I'm sure. Van Stockum doesn't not let her children end the book unhappy.

The Countess Conspiracy, Courtney Milan. The other book for Vaginal Fantasy, although again not the one I'm actually supposed to discuss with actual people. I see a pattern developing here, and perhaps I should read some books on the hazards of social isolation. Anyway, Milan is another trusted author, and this story of a female evolutionary scientist in Victorian times has a lot going for it.

Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits. Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson. Another slump-buster, this one more successful. The short stories of these two beloved authors are short enough to handle, but interesting enough to entertain. But once I got my reading mojo working again, I detoured back to things that I had to read for my book team or my library due date pressure.

The Buried Pyramid, Jane Lindskold. I've joined a new book team, so that my reading obsession can go through the end of the year. They need a book with a mummy in it, so here goes. I'm only in the first chapter, and they are in Egypt, so I'm hoping for some mummy action.

I started and abandoned a few books. They were mainly picks for my Reading My Library, and with my reading slump and imminent due dates looming I snuck off to their respective shelves and found replacements. No titles because I feel the fault was much more mine than theirs.

Bookmarks moved in several books:

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)The Sea Without a Shore (Lt. Leary, #10)City of Stairs (The Divine Cities, #1)Falling in LoveOnce a Soldier (Rogues Redeemed, #1)Dark Specter

The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu. Yay, we have left the boring game, which our viewpoint character didn't even win, and returned to the real world, where he finds someone to talk to.

Sea Without a Shore, David Drake. Time for a brawl in a bar! This is what science fiction is all about.

City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett. I am now reading new material! Unfortunately it's a flashback, so I'm not making forward progress with the plot, but you can't have everything.

Falling in Love, Donna Leon. My Reading My Library audio. The plot is rather scattered, and the police detectives aren't very good at finding things, but who cares because the narrative is willing to go all out with his Italian accent, so I keep hoping they'll cross the street so I can hear the name of the intersection.

Once a Soldier, Mary Jo Putney. Everyone is busily rebuilding things and getting their friends to come and help, particular since the soldiers have vague feelings of foreboding about the bandit situation. I see a battle in our future.

Dark Specter, Michael Dibdin. The annoying first person viewpoint has announced that he's about to fall in love. I only hope that he means with a view, because I really don't want to sit through his emotional washing. Also, I expect more people to die.

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. I admit I haven't made much progress with all the Tapir reading I've been doing.

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: 40 out of 82. Stalled completely.
  2. Reading My Library: I'm enjoing Falling in Love (6/7) and have abandoned When the Devil Doesn't Show.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 38/51. I am officially behind! I need 40 to be on track, 45 by the end of the month.  This week did not help at all.
  4. Full House Challenge:  25/25!
  5. Library Challenge: I'm at 181.  Glad to see this one is still moving.
  6. Diversity Challenge 2016: 12/12. 11/12. Poetry is the tricky one. In September I'm taking a closer look at the racial diversity in the books -- is it set in a multiracial society? It seems a read a variety here, from books with a single culture to books with a diverse cast.
  7. Shelf Love Challenge 2016:  41.  Time to make my shelves my BFF. I did buy a new book, but then I read it.
  8. Grown-Up Reading Challenge 2016: 19/20.  Still need a Pulitzer.
  9. Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016: 12/12!
  10. Surprise Me Challenge:  I keep almost reading Positively. I've picked out but not picked up the September book.
  11. Flash Bingo: I still need need a book about books, and an Australian book.
  12. Literary Exploration Challenge: 12/12. Now I'll work on the 36 challenge -- 33/36

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