Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December Means Family

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Lots of book club reading this week as I had my monthly meeting with friends on Friday with a Seanan McGuire as the lead book. We have another of her books set for February as she is the Guest of Honor at my Foolscap convention and I want to have something to talk about with her. Of course, I read some of her books written as Mira Grant, but that was a while ago.

I also grabbed Paulos and ventured out to Vashon Island for Sunday dinner. since the sister who usually cooks was gallivanting around the country. We hit the local library's board game event and tried out the card game for The Oregon Trail (died once, died twice but the second time we had the destination within sight when we perished), and also a new game from Kevin involving cute pets. Then we tried Thai but it was open yet so we hit The Hardware Store, the one that was a restaurant rather than the one with the useful stuff.

It gets dark so early that it felt very late by then, so we staggered back to the ferry by 7:30. On the way home we planned out the week -- Paulos's dad has left the country on a several week family vacation, so he's with me through the holidays. And Alexander comes home on Saturday! Then we start preparing for the giant family reunion that is Christmas.

I didn't read very effectively this week, although I piled up dozens of unread Cybils books. Currently Reading is creeping back up 30 as I start all the Cybils YA but finish nothing.

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 that I'm going to sign up for. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed that I usually qualify for.  I'll go look to see what everyone else was reading at either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers.

This Week I started:

California Bones (Daniel Blackland, #1)The Last NeanderthalDeath by Silver (Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey, #1)Whose body? (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1)Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)In the Country We Love: My Family Divided

California Bones, Greg von Eekhout. The current Sword & Laser pick.

The Last Neanderthal, Claire Cameron. My next Reading My Library book.

Death By Silver, Melissa Scott. Recommended by Goodreads.

Whose Body, Dorothy Sayers. The next audio for my Reading My Library quest.

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire. For my Friday book club with friends.

In the Country We Love, Diane Guerrero. For my Reading Across the Aisles book club on Tuesday.


I finished:

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)Death by Silver (Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey, #1)

Every Heart a Doorway
, Seanan McGuire. Only about half of us read it, but the concept of a home for returned doorway worlds was a fun thing to discuss. I was the only one who has only read this one -- the others had gone on to the next, which sounds interesting. I should read it before I mean Seanan McGuire this February, since she's the GOH at my Foolscap convention.


Death By Silver
, Melissa Scott. Recommended by Goodreads. Apparently there's a genre for mystery books with gay protagonists set in a fantasy Victorian England? And so far they are all good. I liked the magic system in this one, and the attention to historical detail which somehow did not clash with the enchantments and spells. 


I only finished two books. That's a bit disappointing.

Cybils Books

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All SeasonsCityblockFresh DeliciousThe Nameless City (The Nameless City, #1)Garvey's Choice
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson ElementarySalt to the SeaTo Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner PartyWhen the Moon Was Ours

When Green Becomes Tomatoes, Julie Fogliano. Completed. Poetry book that works more like a picture book, following a little girl through the seasons. The title line is evocative, but nothing else really grabbed me. It didn't help that I don't have nostalgia for the seasons the delicate art depict because I grew up in a different climate zone. No snow, and fall never meant much.

Cityblock, Christopher Francischelli. Completed. I discovered why the library has no record of any of the board book finalists -- libraries don't catalog board books because babies destroy them so quickly. So I went hunting and found this one, which has fun pictures and a recurring cat to find on each page as you follow the family through the city. It seems a bit sophisticated for its audience; maybe it's aimed at older toddlers who are still ripping pages but are ready for more literary meat?

Fresh Delicious, Irene Latham. Completed. Another poetry book that I would have read as a picture book about the farmer's market. My boys would probably have noticed it was actually poetry and rejected it, but most kids would enjoy the colorful language and bright pictures.

The Nameless City, Faith Hicks. Completed. My final middle grade graphic novel did not make me turn the pages quickly, but by the end I had enjoyed myself. It builds slowly, centering around a rather weak boy who grows by making a friend who encourages him to work hard, and then having several pay-offs in the action-filled final chapter.

Garvey's Choice, Nikki Grimes. Completed. A novel in poems (tanka) that provide enough structure and rhythm that it gives strength to the words rather than just a lot of extra white space on the page. I found it a bit optimistic in terms of solving just about all the kid's problems, but maybe that's the power of poetry.

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Laura Shovan. In progress. I'm having problems believing in the conceit -- that these are poems written over the course of a year by kids complaining that their school is being torn down. They don't seem to be the kind of poems kids would write on their own (apparently a poem is the first entry task of the day) and also I can't see kids who are leaving at the end of the year anyway would be so torn up.

Salt to the Sea
, Ruta Sepetys. In progress. YA book. These teens are slogging through Germany at the end of WWII and apparently are all going to board a doomed ship. I don't see happy endings for anyone, so my lazy heart doesn't rush along.

To Stay Alive, Skila Brown. In progress. This is the kind of verse novel I avoid, with free verse poems that mostly just feel like sentences with a lot of extra returns typed in. The subject matter doesn't help, as the whole family is trudging towards their death; it feels a bit appropriative to put these poems in a real person's mouth.

When the Moon Was Ours, Anna-Marie McLemore. In progress. This is apparently a magic realism teen book with modern flashes.

Beast, Brie Spangler. In progress. I hope that a few of these realistic YA or middle grade fictions give me the states I need for my 50 State challenge.

(I apparently have decided to start one of the remaining Cybils books every day, although few of them are short enough to finish in one sitting.)

Picture Books

Happy Hippo, Angry DuckWhat's Wrong, Little Pookie?Newtonian Physics for Babies (Baby University)

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck, Sandra Boynton. Fun board book I found while rummaging for Cybils choices. I especially emphasize with the duck, but all the animals and their emotions were worth looking at.

What's Wrong, Little Pookie? Sandra Boynton. OK, I'm a fan. I saw the twist coming, but it still worked for me.

Newtonian Physics for Babies, Chris Ferrie. The perfect book for someone who wants to connect with an infant but hates reading baby books. This lets the adult pretend that the baby is learning. I doubt it will grow a genius, but anything that helps awkward parents connect to their kids is good.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Giant Pumpkin SuiteRebel (The Change, #3)Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Episode 27. There is hope for the damaged AI, and Tulley is cautiously optimistic.

Great Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. The power saw is moving and I cringed away from the page.

Rebel, Sherwood Smith & Rachel Manija Brown. I need to read at least far enough to know who or why there is a rebel.

Dawn, Octavia Butler. Strangely, one of the things I like most about Butler is she's willing to make her protagonists rather unlikable. Lilith does not embrace the cool aliens and their tech with the enthusiasm I would expect in an SF book; she finds their utter alienness disconcerting and repulsive. And she manages to alien all the people she is tasked with recruiting to the alien's goal of repopulating the ruined Earth (humans had almost finished destroying themselves when the aliens arrived).

These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

KenilworthA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenReading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016!  58/107-ish. Finished several poetry books. In fact, finished all the easy stuff and ordered up the rest. I seem to be starting one each day but finishing will be harder.
  2. Reading My Library: Making progress on Whose Body, but book club reading came ahead of working on the next print book.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 38/51. I would have liked to get a North Dakota and Utah book, but so far nothing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

We Need a Little Christmas

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Well, my son paid for sneaking down to me last weekend to hang with his brother by having to spend this weekend with his dad and sisters. He doesn't mind that, but I miss him. Luckily my nephew stepped up by having his wisdom teeth out and needing some supervision. We played Minecraft a lot (he loves to watch me get eaten by various monsters) and also watched some movies, including one that involved me hooking up the old VCR and showing off technology he had no memory of. Aladdin is fun to watch even on a small screen.

I also did a bit of Christmas shopping. It's officially a no-presents year, but obviously the stockings have to be filled. Maybe I should stock up on coal?

On Tuesday I hosted the elementary book club with No Talking, which the kids and I both enjoyed. It did not inspire me to clam up, though. I took the nephew and Linda out to see Coco which I liked much more than I expected, and I also discovered the joys of the movie snack pack, where for a little more money I can get far less food, which is what I actually want. Perfect!

I didn't read very effectively this week, although I'm starting to wish I had finished more Cybils books. Currently Reading is creeping back up 24, but that includes some slow moving graphic novels and poetry that I don't really count.

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 that I'm going to sign up for. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed that I usually qualify for.  I'll go look to see what everyone else was reading at either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers.

This Week I started:
No TalkingA Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #1)Salt to the SeaBright CandlesDawn (Xenogenesis, #1)Just Mercy: A Story of Just...


No Talking, Andrew Clements. This is for my elementary school book club.

A Promise of Fire, Amanda Bouchet. Another ancient Vaginal Fantasy book. The library is calling it home.

Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys. My next Cybils YA book. I have 30 days to read about 35 of them, although some are middle-grade.

Bright Candles, Nathaniel Benchley. I needed something set outside the US that was fast.

Dawn, Octavia Butler. For my Tuesday Book/Minecraft club.

Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson. A late read for my controversy book club -- I didn't finish in time.

I finished:
No TalkingBright CandlesBitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties, #1)First ImpressionsMake Me Stay (Hope, #5)

No Talking, Andrew Clements. I found the balance of tension and humor, adult and kid characters, and action vs reflection spot on, and most of the kids in the book club liked it as well. We talked about whether it was written for kids or adults, whether taking ideas from books was a good idea, and whether it would work in real life in the general and specific sense.

Bright Candles, Nathaniel Benchley. I remember liking this as a kid, and I still do. It seems to give a good sense of what the Danes were thinking and doing during the German occupation, from the ones determined to get along to the ones dedicated to fighting back. Some survive, some don't. There are a few women characters, but the focus is on the young man who narrates his involvement with the resistance.

Bitter Spirits, 
Jenn Bennett. A Vaginal Fantasy book. This was fine; I grew to enjoy the fast POVs where you see how each character viewed events, mostly colored through their various insecurities. The time period was solid, although the characters themselves seemed lightly placed in it; they could easily have slid into the modern world despite the 100 years lag. The magic seemed an odd addition mainly there to help the author over a few plot points or maybe to reach a paranormal audience; I think it might have been better off as a straight historical.

First Impressions, Nora Roberts. My audio Reading my Library Quest book. I have to say, if you find out that the person you fell in love with has a secret, and that secret is that rather than being penniless and unemployed, they are a rich owner of a business, that is not a reason to break up with them, especially if they haven't actually lied, just let you draw your own incorrect conclusions. So the last few tracks were more risible than suspenseful, but it was still a fun listen.

Make Me Stay, Jaci Burton. My current Reading My Library book stayed in Oklahoma, and gave a smooth story about two modern people who have great sex, fall in love, and adjust their careers and family expectations to marry. It was cosy enough.

I started 6 and finished 5. That's better than I thought I was doing. My currently-reading list is getting longer because I'm including some short fiction and poetry that I'm reading slowly even though they are basically picture books.

Picture Books

Mighty Jack (Mighty Jack, #1)

Mighty Jack, Ben Hatke. I'm definitely in the blurry line between picture book and book with this graphic novel, but I read it in one gulp so picture book it is. It's a Cybils middle grade graphic novel, and it's utterly delightful. Jack is struggling to live up to the responsibility of caring for his younger sister, but as unpaid bills in the background show us, his single mom is desperately trying to keep their house. The garden she plants is a bit challenging since the plants are magical, aggressive, and unexplained, but the girl down the street brings her Ren-faire swords to help out. It's funny, poignant, and I want the sequel.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Giant Pumpkin SuiteRebel (The Change, #3)

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Episode 26. Crazy AI still fears death. Also, Daav worries about the new clone bodies his deeply creepy frenemy has provided him with.

Great Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. I only read a paragraph or so at a time, so no one has felt the power saw yet.

Rebel, Sherwood Smith & Rachel Manija Brown. I need to read at least far enough to know who or why there is a rebel.

These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

KenilworthA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenReading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016!  54/107-ish. Finished Mighty Jack. Working on Salt to the Sea and several poetry books.
  2. Reading My Library: Finished First Impressions for my next audio, and set up Whose Body. Completed Make Me Stay and pulled up The Last Neanderthal.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 38/51. I think that's right. And my Oklahoma book is definitely in Oklahoma now, as opposed to just probably set there.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, aka Family Togetherness

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Happy Turkey Day! My son came home and there was much rejoicing. Actually my boys spend Thanksgiving Day itself with their dad, because despite the fact that he doesn't really celebrate it he doesn't want his sons to spend to major holidays with me, but before and after he hung out with me.

I made a pretty turkey that was moist and delicious, and my sister made a zillion side dishes that I filled up on. It's a good family group, plus a few extras to make the holiday even better. We substituted Uno for Apples to Apples for our after dinner pre-pie game, which was fun if not quite as conducive to congeniality and lazy lounging.

I didn't really read much this week, although I've got two library books coming due and a pile of Cybils reading to finish. Oh well, it is what it is. Currently Reading has wavered and wriggled and returned to 23, but that includes some slow moving graphic novels that I don't really count.

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 but I'm late so probably won't sign up.. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed. I'll go look to see what everyone else was reading at either Teach Mentor Text or UnLeashing Readers.

This Week I started:

When Breath Becomes AirBlack Butler, Vol. 10 (Black Butler, #10)Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties, #1)

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi. Many recommendations and the library had it out.

Black Butler, Vol 10, Yana Toboso. Notice the substitute butler on the cover.

Bitter Spirits, Jenn Bennett. A Vaginal Fantasy book. I am months behind on these.

I finished:

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)Black Butler, Vol. 10 (Black Butler, #10)When Breath Becomes Air

A Study in Charlotte, Brittany Cavallaro. A Cybils YA book. The drug use, while completely appropriate for a retelling of a Holmes & Watson story, made it hard for me to like this book, and the police stupidity also didn't help. In the end I liked both characters, but I wish it were possible for Watson to have a friendship with a girl without forcing a romance.

Black Butler, Vol 10, Yana Toboso. I enjoyed this one, despite still being unable to tell the rather large cast of characters apart. I knew the ones that would recur, so I just lumped the others together. And since I guessed the (well-telegraphed) twist, I felt all clever. I'll order the next one up from my library soonish.

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi.  Well, that was as well-written as I had heard, and just as sad as I expected. When his wife got pregnant I knew it was just about all over, because I knew (from the introduction? Somehow) that he was dangerously weak during his wife's labor.  A good book for realizing how much of your life has slipped away unnoticed and unused.

I started 3 and finished 3. That's better than I thought I was doing.

Bookmarks moved in:

Alliance of Equals (Liaden Universe, #19)Giant Pumpkin SuiteFirst ImpressionsMake Me Stay (Hope, #5)Rebel (The Change, #3)

Alliance of Equals, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. Episode 25. My favorite strand right now is the ones with people dealing with a new AI who is a little bit unbalanced with a tendency to react lethally in inappropriate situations.

Great Pumpkin Suite, Melanie Hill. I creep ahead towards the mutilation part.

First Impressions, Nora Roberts. 4/6. My audio Reading my Library Quest book. Maryland again! Now that Vance is getting laid he's turning out to be a nice guy. A bit bossy, but has potential.

Make Me Stay, Jaci Burton. My current Reading My Library book, it's is stuck in Oklahoma, which is good, but I'm not that invested in the relationship, which is not ideal in a romance book.

Rebel, Sherwood Smith & Rachel Manija Brown. Their beach cautionary signs need some improvement, but it's a fun way to get estranged siblings to work together.

These I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.

KenilworthA Traitor to Memory (Inspector Lynley, #11)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does HappenReading and Learning to Read

Kenilworth, Sir Walter Scott.

A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George.

The Quantum Universe, Brian Cox.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca.

2017 Challenge Progress:
  1. Cybils 2016!  53/107-ish. Working through elementary Graphic Novels and also back at the YAs. I'm not looking likely to finish by the end of the year.
  2. Reading My Library: Working on First Impressions for my next audio, and made a little progress Make Me Stay from the top of the next bookcase.
  3. Where Am I Reading?: 36/51. But I think that number is wrong -- it should be 37.