Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Readathon Fun!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Last week I somehow amassed awesome powers over the weather. Whenever I thought about putting my toe out the door for a walk the clouds would rush over and stare threatenly at me. Sometimes they would drip stuff. So not much fresh air for me, since I am a delicate flower that would probably melt in the rain.  Luckily towards the weekend my powers began to dissipate so I made a few laps around my neighborhood, maintaining social distance from everyone I saw.

Meals were a bit more appreciated. On Wednesday I made gyros in my crockpot, mainly as an excuse to have more tzatziki. I also learned that I've been doing pitas wrong. Then Friday was Paulos's birthday (19!) so Alexander made fresh pasta and I made a sausage tomato cream sauce (and a separate veggie version for Xan) and also I baked a cake and made hard sauce for the inner frosting and Xan made buttercream for the outside and Paulos was very pleased. Except I forgot the candles (which I think pleased Paulos). Since this would have been his first birthday off at college I guess I should see this as a silver lining. Also, cake.

We Zoomed with my mom and siblings for Sunday dinner again, although my niece boycotted because she doesn't like the giant group for dinner. It's hard to please everyone. I'll try to find something we can all be happy with.

Saturday was the spring Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon which I rather belatedly signed up for. I didn't want to mess my sleep schedule up so I didn't go for the full 24 hours, but it was a nice excuse to skip all my chores and just read. Usually I plow through a lot of easy books, but this year I made progress on some deeper or grimmer stories, so my page count wasn't that high (under 900 pages) but I felt I got some good reading in. And my kids were very kind and brought me food and water periodically.

My currently reading has slid back up to 21. I was below 20 but then late Saturday night I got sick of the grim adult books and started some fun stuff.

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. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers. My Cybils reading and my picture books qualify me this week.

Started: 

Killing Gravity (The Voidwitch Saga, #1)Last Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #1)Hey, Kiddo
Winter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)Funny, You Don't Look Autistic: A Comedian's Guide to Life on the SpectrumShockwave (Star Kingdom #1)

Killing Gravity, Corey J. White. For my Tuesdays book club.

Last Day on Mars, Kevin Emerson. A Cybils 2017 middle grade SF finalist.

Hey Kiddo, Jarrett J Krosoczka. A Cybils 2018 YA graphic finalist.

Winter Sisters, Robin Oliveira. For my Renton River Runs Under It bookclub (March meeting).

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic, Michael McCreary. This was one of the "everyone can read it" books on Overdrive so I grabbed it. And I desperately needed lighter fare.

Shockwave, Lindsay Buroker. This is a fun author.

Completed:

The Gathering Edge (Liaden Universe, #20)The Countdown ConspiracyKilling Gravity (The Voidwitch Saga, #1)
Grand Theft HorseGideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)Last Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #1)

Gathering Edge, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. By the end I was thoroughly enjoying this. I always enjoy watching clever crews outwit shady bureaucracies, especially when the bureaucrats are smug about it. And I liked the interaction between the rather intimidating rescuees and the nervous Liaden, and Theo's reluctance to get back to her brother. I'll go find the next one now.

The Countdown Conspiracy, Katie Slivensky. A 2017 Cybils middle grade SF finalist. I had a lot of fun with this one. The core characters are six twelve year olds (or so) chosen from all over the world to be trained as astronauts, so they are super competent. Our protagonist hears a rumor that she was chosen for political reasons and struggles with feelings of inadequacy. Meanwhile there's an external threat of assassination. And they go into space! So a great mix of emotional and action problems, dealt with in super competent (action) ways and with appropriate fumbling (emotional) ways. The science seemed very iffy; I wish there had been less description of orbital mechanics because it sounded very bizarre to me. But the author talked to rocket scientists, so I expect that was a translation problem, possibly on my end.

Killing Gravity, Corey J. White. For my Tuesdays book club. I showed up to find that everyone else had read past the assigned stopping point and finished the book, which was a novella so far enough. So I had to hurry up and finish it to catch up. I liked the combination of fantasy psi-powers in a SF space setting, and the grim snarkiness of the main character and how she is reluctantly pulled into the space ship family by the captain, so she has to look out for them.

Grand Theft Horse, G. Neri. A 2018 Cybils YA graphic finalist. This was a gripping story of a woman (my age!) who spent ten years banned from her job as a trainer in order to save the life of a horse she partially owned. It's clearly one-sided (the woman is Neri's cousin) but I'm willing to buy her side of things. It was suspenseful and sometimes you wanted to shake the protagonist. On a practical level, sometimes the print was hard for me to read and my face blindness in print occasionally had me unsure who was who, but those are unlikely to be problems for young readers. The horse subject should make it a good pick even for kids who think fifty year old people are OLD.

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir. Whew, I made it through to the end, which was the best part. I never fell in love with the characters, which was the most common reaction of my friends, so I found the beginning and about half of the middle a bit of a slog. Gideon was a thick skulled fighter type, but awfully loyal, so with her as the viewpoint character everyone else kept pulling miraculous insights seemingly out of the air, but it's believable that Griddle would have missed all signs of them. I still found the pointless antagonism between the two Ninth house girls dull, and didn't really buy their sudden devotion to each other (which apparently most people see as romantic? I didn't get that vibe at all -- they were both clearly into women in general, but I didn't think they were into each other). I ended up not regretting the time spent reading it, but it didn't click as well for me as for most readers. Hooray for the Readathon which gave me the push to finish this!

Last Day on Mars, Kevin Emerson. A Cybils 2017 middle grade SF finalist. It was a little unfair to read this other SF book back to back with the first, since this time my problems with the orbital mechanics grated even more although I tried to shush myself (you don't aim directly at a planet it orbit to catch it! HUSH self again).  I liked the setup of a diaspora group of people on Mars as they finish humanity's escape from the solar system, and the close family relationship of Liam, his sister and their parents. There was less inner conflict but that was balanced by the several layers of problems Liam faced -- first the planet tried to kill them, then the saboteurs, who are aliens, and then the time-lord aliens, who apparently want to kill everyone. Poor Liam was just a regular kid, not a superstar, but at least he has the trusty family robot on hand to do the orbital math for him. This is clearly the first book in the series, as Liam hasn't even figured out some of the problems the author showed us readers -- the Phase One disaster and his best friend's secret. Another Readathon finish!


Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Tender MorselsThe Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #2)Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellUncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington, #14)
Rediscover CatholicismThe Great AloneWolfsbane (Sianim, #4; Aralorn, #2)


Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. 5/10 discs. Didn't get far -- even less driving than before, except for the ride with my son. It seemed a bit unfair to start him off on disc 5.

Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan. The library called this home. I will try to get it back after I finish Jonathan Strange. They are a bit too close together to read simultaneously.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke. Mr Segundus is back! I'm wondering if I should move from the audio to reading my book again for a while. The library is calling it home again. I've been listening while doing some chores, but I think I prefer podcasts for that. I made progress during the readathon though, since I had it playing whenever I had to get up to do anything.

Uncompromising Honor, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial. Listened to 7 & 8. I'm ready to get back to Honor now.

Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelly. I'm reading this slowly and carefully and enjoying it more than I expected. Kelly's devotion comes through clearly even if I don't always appreciate his basketball analogies. It's giving me a new appreciation of the community of the Catholic Church, but I'm still unconvinced of the belief structure or many of the bureaucratic elements. I like the idea of working towards the-best-version-of-ourselves, but I think there are multiple paths there. I can see how the structure of a Church could help, though, especially with the rhythms and checkpoints (confession, for example). I read this during the readathon, but it didn't help my page count because I kept stopping to ponder sections.

The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah. Ok, I alternate between loving this and being so frustrated with it. The prose is engrossing and lovely, and actually managed to make me feel the character's love for Alaska (I hate cold). It was hard reading about the abuse from the dad, but Hannah made the twisted relationship between the wife and the husband emotionally real so that I could emphasize with them both even as I deplored their choices. But then after several more twists the main character was suddenly too stupid to live and I had to put it down for a while because it seemed like just an excuse to wring more drama and angst from the situation but unbelievable that she would do this. Another readathon book.

Wolfsbane, Patricia Briggs. This book was the one I was most looking forward to reading in the readathon. But I had foolishly decided to pick the books I'd concentrate on by rolling a die, and the stupid thing never chose it. So I'm not nearly as far along as I wanted to be. Humph.

Picture Books / Short Stories:

I am continuing to celebrate my completion of Duolingo Greek by reading the children's books I have left over from my marriage. Since my ex left when the kids were three and one, they don't go very high in difficulty. This week I pulled out some of the oldest, which endearingly have some signs of the affection my son (probably the oldest; he was a chewer) had for them:




On the left,  a Dorling Kindersley book. (Doggies) I am pretty sure I misunderstood several of the adjectives back when I was reading this the first time. This time I looked them all up if I wasn't sure. Who knew puppy noses were silky?

On the right, Chuck Murphy's translated opus. (Time for Food) With one word per page there isn't much room for error, although I think there is a subtle difference between "ice cream on a stick" and "popsicle."

Palate Cleansers

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

The Educated Child: A Parents Guide from Preschool Through Eighth GradeCookieGive All to Love (Sanguinet Saga, #11)Tell the Wolves I'm HomeReading and Learning to Read


The Educated Child, William Bennett.

Cookie, Jacqueline Wilson. Have they found a safe harbor?

Give All to Love, Patricia Veryan.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home, Carol Rifka Brunt. The kids are alright. Too bad some of the characters aren't kids.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Examples of teachers anticipating their specific students' needs and how they met them with targeted uses of basil readers.

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils TBR Challenge: #CybilsReaddown: Up to 5. 
  2. Cybils 2017. Finished The Countdown Conspiracy and Last Day on Mars. 
  3. Cybils 2018. Finished Grand Theft Horse. Started Hey Kiddo. 
  4. Cybils 2019. Nothing. I should probably get on this. 
  5. Reading My Library. Nothing. It's patiently waiting on my shelf. But it's near the top of the pile!
  6. Ten to Try. At 8/10. 
  7. Where Am I Reading: 13/51 states. 13 Countries. (Countdown Conspiracy takes place mostly in Antarctica.)
  8. Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. 17/24. Six left:  #2 (retelling by PoC author), 6 (play by PoC or queer author), 13 (food book about a new to me cuisine), 15 (climate change), 17 (sci-fi novella), 23 (literary magazine), and 24 (Indigenous author). I think the Hugos and Book Riot define novella differently, since I've read several but they were all between 121-150 pages, not under 120 pages. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

24 Hour Readathon 2020!

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Hooray -- it's time for the Dewey 24 Hour Readathon! A great excuse for a lot of reading, and this year no worries about having to go someplace in the middle. Sadly two days later I must drive for a whole day, so I'm not going to try for the full 24 but we'll see what I can do.

I got a bingo card, I've got a roomful of books, I've declared myself exempt from all chores, and I'm ready to go! My mail goal is to finish some book that have been lurking half-read on my bedside table, and then read some more.

Start is in the wee hours my time, but I don't want to mess up my sleep schedule. We'll see what happens.

5:00 Start:

Z┼╝zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

7:30. Wake up, reach for some books.

8:00 Check the blog.

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Memories of past Readathons:

* I remember the 5:00 AM start time from both directions; a few years I woke up in time to start, reading in the dark in my pyjamas for hours before venturing downstairs for breakfast, reading late into the night as my concentrates wanes and I start looking for simplers stories or maybe graphic novels (digital ones let me enlarge the print for my weary eyes).

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10:00

I forgot to do the opening survey!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Renton, Washington, USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Popcorn! 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I was just getting used to my empty nest when my sons returned from college for the pandemic. But they are lovely people so I'm delighted to have them here.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I've done them before; I'm going to avoid getting sleep deprived because I'm doing a ten hour drive on Monday and I'm old. But I miss the days of trying for  all 24 hours (I didn't often make it, but it's fun to try).

11:00

Hey, I should keep track of what I'm reading:

Winter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)Last Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #1)The Great AloneGideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

13:00

I did the noon sprint, so a skipped a round of cheering and updating. I've finished two books (that I started earlier this week):

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)Last Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #1)

and I've read farther in:

Winter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)The Great AloneAll Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

17:00

Got my reading muscles stretched out now. Added one more book to the rotation:

Winter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)The Great AloneAll Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellRediscover Catholicism


19:00

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)I finished the first Murderbot book and really want to go straight into the next. Hmm... It's also time for the middle survey:

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? Mostly Winter Sisters
2. How many books have you read so far? I've touched seven different books.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Sometimes people come to talk to me. I put my book down and listen. They know I am in a readathon, so if they show up I assume they need to talk to me. 
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How much I enjoy being a cat pillow.


23:30

Still reading, but not for much longer. My eyes are heavy and my bedtime approaches. I have moved from the heavy themed books (two books with abuse! Ack!) to more gentle reads.

Winter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)The Great AloneRediscover CatholicismFunny, You Don't Look Autistic: A Comedian's Guide to Life on the SpectrumShockwave (Star Kingdom #1)Wolfsbane (Sianim, #4; Aralorn, #2)

Final Page Count:


Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)Last Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star, #1)All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)Winter Sisters (Mary Sutter, #2)The Great AloneJonathan Strange & Mr NorrellRediscover CatholicismFunny, You Don't Look Autistic: A Comedian's Guide to Life on the SpectrumShockwave (Star Kingdom #1)Wolfsbane (Sianim, #4; Aralorn, #2)

Gideon the Ninth: 422->448 = 26 pages (finished)
Last Day on Mars: 72%->99% : 27% of 336 = 91 pages (finished)
All Systems Red: 0-> 144= 144 pages (finished)
Winter Sisters: 11-208 = 197
The Great Alone: 325 - 506 = 181
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: 681-722: 41
Rediscover Catholicism:  154 - 193 = 39
Funny You Don't Look Autistic: 0->29% = 29% of 166 = 49 pages
Shockwave: 30 pages
Wolfsbane: 73-84: 11 pages

26+91+144+49+30+41+197+181+39+11 = 809

That's a low page count for me, but I was reading several books that encouraged slow savoring -- the Catholic book I'm trying to consider so I tend to pause a lot to think about if the text means something in my life. And two books involved a lot of abuse and pain both emotional and physical, as well as a character being dumb as a rock. Those make me stop a lot as well. Most years as soon as I switched to the lighter books I'd make up some pages; if I had stayed up past midnight I would have finished the Funny book and probably the Briggs and Buroker and then moved on to some graphic novels. But I was responsible and went to sleep for the last five hours instead so that I would be alert in the daylight hours on Monday.