We moved here when my oldest was in first grade, and I'm still surprised how long into June the school year runs. I'm missing what might be the last family reunion on my mother's side because it's on the East Coast and they figure school is over around Memorial Day. Anyway, it's the start of the end of the school year, but we're not quite there yet.
One fun end up is my traditional end of the year party for the elementary school book club. I bring extra cookies, not just the traditional chocolate chips, juice, and all the extra middle grade books I've accumulated over the year. This year, thanks to the Cybils freebies, we had enough for everyone to take home a book! I ask the kids to bring me a book recommendation, and I try to read through the list during the summer. I'll try to put this years list up on the blog sometime this week.
I planned two healthy meals and then never went shopping. Instead we celebrated the summer job my college boy found at my favorite Mexican place (Durango). Then, on Sunday, most people begged off dinner so I planned to take my BIL out for sushi, a rare treat for us. I figured with the two of us eating it wouldn't cost much more than making a meal at home for the whole crowd. Then suddenly Alexander joined us. No problem, he's a vegetarian, so not much. And then my niece found out my meal plan and jumped back into my dinner! Humph. But in revenge I got her to try octopus and eel, a revenge that I fear may have backfired on me...
On the weekend I (re)joined local a book that discusses the Sword and Laser pick to celebrate finally catching up (I read The Martian last month), and I hope to make it there again next month. It's a bit of a long drive but my sedan gets so much better gas mileage than my minivan did that it doesn't feel so extravagant.
My currently reading is back down to 21. And I have a few books poised to be finished for this summer's challenge.
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 so I'll sign up there. There's also a version that is kidlit focussed at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers so I'll sign up over there.
The Test, Sylvain Neuvel. For my friendly monthly bookclub.
A Prince on Paper, Alyssa Cole. Finishing a series.
The Way Into Darkness, Harry Connolly. End of a trilogy by a favorite author. Sadly, since I always buy his books, sometimes it takes a while to read them because library books have due dates.
The Agony House, Cherie Priest. Time to start reading the works of next year's Foolscap GoH.
The Way Into Magic, Harry Connolly. Now that I know the very wide parameters of what Connolly is doing, I'm enjoying it even more. One character is definitely a hero, and the other wishes she were a hero but isn't there yet, and the bad guys come in many flavors, and aren't always bad. It's a expansive world with a lot going on, and I'm really enjoying watching these people deal with it.
The Skavenger's Hunt, Mike Rich. Spoilers! It took a few chapters for the writing to draw me in, but then I started to appreciate the story of a timid modern boy forced to stretch himself during his accidental time travel adventure. I did find the budding romance with the girl annoying -- let the girl be a person first, then your girlfriend! -- but then when she drowned I started to take the book more seriously. Would Rich really go there? Are there real stakes? Turns out, no he would not, and no, there are not. In an emotion-draining final resolution we learn that everything turns out OK. Humph.
Mort Ziff Is Not Dead, Cary Fagan. And old fashioned kind of kidlit, I guess historical since it's set in my childhood, with a simple plot of a family vacation and the friends and small adventures the kids have in the hotel. Life is gently exaggerated but firmly set in reality, and the perspective is all skillfully set from the children's point of view. I liked it a lot.
How to Set the World on Fire, T.K. Riggins. I liked this first book more than the second, which I guess reflects the difficulty in starting a trilogy in the middle. This one had a complete story (I think the last two books are supposed to be read together). A few times people did nonsensical things purely to advance the plot, but the interesting challenges in their contest kept things moving along quickly enough that it didn't slow things down. As an adult, I'd occasionally marvel at the dimness of the main characters; they'd solve complicated puzzles but never did figure out that walking briskly in a race (instead of leisurely strolling) might improve your time and therefore your score.
The Other Lady Vanishes, Amanda Quick. For my local library summer reading club. The romance part seemed a bit perfunctory -- I didn't get a sense of attraction between them so much as plot-driven inevitability. But that was fine because I was mostly there for the period feel -- Hollywood, before the war, with movie stars and scandals and discreet insane asylums and stuff. Even the mystery took a back seat to that.
The Test, Sylvain Neuvel. Nifty concept that goes very dark at the end. It leaves a grim feeling for the society the family is left in, and maybe the dark changes that the protagonist is left with is what they need to fit in. Although in my family the whole final conflict over that agonizing choice would be moot. Nobody has any doubt what the choice would be between killing a parent or a child. Parents protect their kids. Decision over. Even the kids know this. No guilt, no fear of sharing that. It took me a while to understand what was bothering the man at the end.
Bookmarks Moved In:
Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia. 46/? Baen's podcast serial. The good guy has to re-establish himself as an anti-hero with some posturing, rudeness, and violence.
Cyteen, C.J. Cherryh. Reread. I can't watch Justin do the thing to Grant. Poor boys.
Metal Wolf, Lauren Esker. Kindle read. Dad is home, laughing at his daughter's romantic decisions. As we do.
Becoming, Michelle Obama. On the campaign trail. The patriotism flap. It seems different now that I think my country is full of deplorables.
Autonomous, Annalee Newitz. I'm caught up. My brother summed up this book on Tuesday by asking "Are there any characters we are supposed to like?" Because at 80% I don't have any. Interesting thoughts about society and capitalism and slavery and gender identity and humanity, though.
Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion. Audio Reading My Library. I find the depiction of grief and mourning very powerful. I peeked at a few reviews and some people complained about name dropping, but I think that really is just the life she lives. Other people complained she didn't scream enough, but it's a style of grief that resonates deeply with me.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt. I don't read many pages when kids remind me of my awkward younger self.
Envy of Angels, Matt Wallace. Broke chefs do fun things with knives.
Picture Books and Short Stories:
"No Moon and Flat Calm," Elizabeth Bear (Slate.com). Short story showing the limits of but necessity of preparedness, linking system engineers with the Titanic. Brief but engrossing and suspenseful.
Not Every Princess, Jeffrey Bone. Very earnest book about acceptance and inclusiveness. But when I imagine reading it with my kids I think we'd've concentrated on philosophical questions such as why couldn't a mermaid swim? Is there a level of clumsiness beyond which someone really isn't a ballerina? Where does description become identity? (Although the kids probably wouldn't formulate that last one.)
When Penny Met POTUS, Rachel Ruiz. Well, the good news is that no one calls ICE on the girl who apparently never paid attention to her mom's job. The president in this book is classier, and she is all set to surprise the girl by being a woman. Penny was expecting a space alien and is harder to impress.
The Mermaid and the Shoe, K.G. Campbell. An appealing art style and enjoyable story of a girl asking good questions and solving a mystery, despite grouchy sisters. The sea shell pasties on the girls' chests were a bit creepy though.
The Truth About Dinosaurs, Guido Van Genechten. It was fun how it hit the high points of dinosaurs evolving into birds through the gimmick of a chicken's family album of fun dino pictures.
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad, James Rumford. Lovely collage illustrations back up the beautiful description of a boy's love for calligraphy and writing in a sometimes dangerous world.
From Far Away, Robert Munsch. New edition with new illustrations but retaining Munsch's casual commitment to seeing the real diversity in the world. It captures the feel of a child entering a new school in a new country and making scared assumptions.
Ana and the Sea Star, R. Lynne Rolfs. Fun little book about a girl who learns about a sea star instead of killing it, with an extra dollop of the joys of the imagination as she and her dad tell stories to share the experience.
I'm Trying to Love Spiders, Bethany Barten. Since this book expertly captures my own emotional journey around arachnids, I would have loved to read it aloud with my boys. It even has invitations for page slapping interaction. I found it informative and enjoyable.
These books I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.
A Traitor to Memory, Elizabeth George. Bad cops, bad witnesses.
Sammy Keyes and the Art of Deception, Wendelin Van Draanen.
Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Alan Burgess.
The Educated Child, William Bennett.
Cookie, Jacqueline Wilson. Difficult family life for our Cookie.
Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Sharing journaling with teachers, with peers, with anyone you can reach.
- Cybils 2017. No progress
- Cybils 2018. Have a nonfiction on deck.
- Reading My Library. 3/4 through the audio. Haven't started the next print book.
- KCLS Ten to Try. Still need to read a poetry book and the librarian recommend.
- The Hunt Is On! In the first week, I used 5 books. One for five categories, one for 2, and three for one each. That's 32 points. I'm hoping to go down to three books for the second week.