Tuesday, February 23, 2021


It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Well, the snow melted away. I cravenly didn't go out to shovel on Saturday or Sunday, and my sloth was rewarded by a cold drizzle on Monday that cleared all my sidewalks. The only snow left was the piles created by the minority of snow shovelers in my neighborhood. 

My sister and her family went on vacation this week (they found a house on the coast to rent so they could get a socially distant break) so I had to leave the house to cross the street and feed their cats. That was just about my only expeditions. Even when all my snow melted I found the sight of heaps of snow on the sides of the road (we do have several snow plows in my town) too much for my delicate sensibilities, so I gave myself a snow-cation. I didn't even pick up food; I just lived off my hoards. 

Finally by the weekend I actually put on real socks and went off to my second Birdwatching event -- I've signed up for a monthly series. I introduced myself as the worst birder ever, and everyone is very enthusiastic about helping me. The theme this month was year-round birds, and we saw American Robins, Song Sparrows, and most excitingly -- an Anna's Hummingbird. I think I should upgrade my binoculars.

I caught up with WandaVision -- Alexander and I watch at the same time and text comments back and forth. The evil government agencies continue to be evil, which is fun, but they are right that there is a problem. And now the problem has gotten deeper! We are in the basement now, folks. While doing laundry I finished the Deep Space Nine Maquis introduction and then skipped back to Voyager to watch Tuvok deal with human-ish kids. He finds it frustrating. 

My currently reading is still 23, which is still ridiculous but no worse than last week.

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 late but I'm going to go sign up. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers. 


A Tale Dark & Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #1)Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #1)Masquerade in Lodi (Penric & Desdemona, #9)Kat & Mouse 3: The Ice Storm (Kat & Mouse, #3)Kat & Mouse 4: The Knave Of Diamonds (Kat & Mouse, #4)Flight, Vol. 3 (Flight, #3)Penric’s Mission (Penric and Desdemona, #3)

A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz. I read this for my elementary book club, forgetting that this is their winter break!

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Carlos Hernandez. Cybils finalist.

Masquerade in Lodi, Lois McMaster Bujold. A new Penric!

Kat & Mouse 3: The Ice Storm, Alex de Campi. I like this series.

Kat and Mouse 4: The Knave of Diamonds, Alex de Campi. These two were really one double episode.

Flight 3, Kazu Kibuishi (editor). Cybils finalist.

Penric's Mission, Lois McMaster Bujold. Continuing my chronological (not written order) reread.


A Tale Dark & Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #1)Penric's Fox (Penric and Desdemona, #5)Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #1)Nightshades (Nightshades, #1)Masquerade in Lodi (Penric & Desdemona, #9)Kat & Mouse 3: The Ice Storm (Kat & Mouse, #3)Kat & Mouse 4: The Knave Of Diamonds (Kat & Mouse, #4)

A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz. I'm not sure if I've read this before; my records are confused. I've read other of his books, so the familiar tone could be from that. Anyway, I think this would be a great read-aloud -- the interjections of the narrator would work well that way, and that also makes it a bit less intrusive. The book characters see-saw back and forth between being stock fairy tale creatures and fully realized people, which makes things awkward during the transitions -- the whole book starts when the king's children resent having their heads chopped off to save the loyal henchman, even if they ended up being fine. The whole point was for the king to prove that he trusted the henchman, but the kids still resented it. So the ending brought things full circle -- they had to cut the king's head off, and they had no expectation that he would survive it. So I guess the kids are worse? The book works on a page-by-page level, but not really as a whole. But I think if my book club kids read it they will enjoy it, and I'll ask them how many of the fairy tales they knew, and whether it's fair to judge fairy tale people by real world rules.

Penric's Fox, Lois McMaster Bujold. Yum. So, this was written after Penric's Mission (which I've just started), and takes place before Masquerade in Lodi. Penric is still fairly young and hasn't hit some big disasters in his life; he's still very optimistic and eager to see everything in the world. He's meeting up again with his friends the shaman and the investigator, and they get to solve another mystery, this time with an outside subject. It's cheerful but still has some great points (and great lines -- see when Inglis is mentioned as having been involved with an earlier investigation, and Bujold slyly observes that no one is saying from which side). The way that Penric seeks the best result for everyone, and how he generously includes the fox in that group, is heartwarming. I enjoyed this audio.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Carlos Hernandez. 2019 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction finalist. I loved this. I liked how fundamentally decent Sal was -- he didn't like hurting people, and he was willing to apologize if he did. And I liked the mix of mundane worries and magical problems, and the way the world was solidly ours but then again not -- there were robots. There was Sal's ability to relax. And there was this amazing magnet middle school in Miami.  I'm really looking forward to the next book. I've read other Rick Riordan Presents books, and they are usually solidly decent reading, but this is a cut above.

Nightshades, Melissa F. Olson.  For my Friday book club. Which happened! This was a fun urban paranormal book, with an FBI guy who is heading up the new branch dealing with the existence of "Shades" -- which are clearly vampires. Except morale is low because before this guy took over everyone kept dying. One of his new ideas is to enlist one of their own kind, and she has unexpected qualities. It was a fun bit of world building, and I guess those two will become a couple? Which I didn't notice was supposed to happen but the last few chapters kinda announced that. I hope to pick up the rest of the series for some fun pandemic reading. It made for a nice book club, both for those of us who read it and those of us still on the library hold list. 

Masquerade in Lodi, Lois McMaster Bujold. A new Penric! This one takes us back to just after Penric's disastrous attempt at a medical career, and shows him putting himself back together in a new situation, without the protection of the arch-divine. He's hitting adulthood and found that it can hit back, and he's looking to find a more long term balance within himself. The night he spends searching for an ascended demon helps him see things from a better perspective. And I felt smug because I had the correct suspicious ahead of time, while Penric still wants to see the best of all possible people.

Kat & Mouse 3: The Ice Storm & Kat and Mouse 4: The Knave of Diamonds, Alex de Campi. These two were really one double episode, so I'm glad I grabbed them both to read at the same time. Same formula -- the two friends are navigating the difficult waters of a snobby rich kid private school in New Hampshire, then have to solve a mystery, and they do it with SCIENCE. (The third one has to drag in some ideas from a tutoring session to bring in the SCIENCE afterward.) Although I liked the investigation, I found the final acts of the school mystery a bit of a let-down. The motive was good but the final trick was much worse. And I'm not sure how the prank in the art museum fits in. But they were fun to read and I like the two girls and how they learned to make their way in a difficult situation.

Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington, #14)Black Leopard, Red WolfA Long Time Until Now
Children of Time (Children of Time #1)The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. HeinleinThe LuminariesSomeplace to Be Flying (Newford, #8)
The Bourne Supremacy (Jason Bourne, #2)The Wine-Dark Sea (Aubrey & Maturin #16)An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League, #1)Sucker Punch (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #27)
The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters, #1)Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5)

My wall of currently-reading books is slightly less massive!

Uncompromising Honor 50/??, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial. Still having problems with the downloads...

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James. Sword and Laser pick. Nothing.

A Long Time Until Now, Michael Z Williamson. Made some progress! 

Children of Time, Adrian Tchaikovsky. Made progress!

The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendelson. Hugo finalist. Made progress!

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. Didn't touch it.

Someplace To Be Flying, Charles de Lint. Didn't touch it.

The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum. Didn't touch it.

The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O'Brien.  Didn't touch it.

An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole. Didn't touch it.

Sucker Punch, Laurell K. Hamilton. The ending is always hard because it's all for nothing.

Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. The ebook is arriving soon!

Midnight Sun, Stephanie Meyer. Almost done!

Picture Books / Short Stories:

The Sea Serpent and MeThe ListenersMax Spaniel: Dinosaur HuntBad to the BoneKing & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code (King & Kayla, #2)

The Sea Serpent and Me, Dashka Slater. 2008 Cybils Picture Book finalist. The illustrations (water-color?) were perfect for the tone of this story about a girl who finds, loves, and rescues a sea serpent. It is perfect for an adult to share with a child, as both will enjoy the story. The child is clearly cared for but no other people appear in the pages. 

The Listeners, Gloria Whelan. 2009 Cybils Picture Book finalist. This is an amazing picture book that depicts the life of enslaved children, who are the ones to sneak up to the big house to listen for information needed by their families -- plans to sell off more people, and hints of the upcoming war. It packs a lot of understanding into the pages. 

Max Spaniel: Dinosaur Hunt, David Catrow. 2009 Cybils Easy Reader finalist. A good early-reader book with simple sentences reflected in the illustrations. Kids will enjoy the spaniels rather bumbling escapades and the final assembly of the dinosaur, although I was a bit disappointed in its final look.

Bad to the Bone, Lucy Nolan. 2009 Cybils Short Chapter Book finalist. A little more advanced -- this would be a good share read or early chapter book, with a complete and delightful commitment to the dogs-eyed view of the world and their people that will keep the pages turning. I especially liked the Whos-on-first scene at the dog obedience school.

King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code, Dori Hillestad Butler. 2017 Cybils Easy Reader winner.  I ordered up a bunch of these because they were fun. Of course, I read this one when it was a Cybils finalist, but I still liked it again. I do wish they hadn't gotten a hint for the secret code, though. (Hey, I complained about that last time! I'm consistent.) I liked how King has extra doggy senses to help him solve mysteries, but of course he can't talk so Kayla has to solve things the hard way.

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 GradeWool (Wool, #1)Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)
Under the Eye of the StormDates from HellReading and Learning to Read

The Educated Child, William Bennett. 

Wool, Hugh Howey. 

Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho. 

Under the Eye of the Storm, John Hersey. 

Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others. 

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. 

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2020. Nothing.
  2. Cybils 2019. Finished Sal and Gabi Break the World today. It was great. 
  3. Cybils 2018. None.
  4. Cybils 2017. None. I just need 3 YA books to be done. But YA is hard. 
  5. Early Cybils: Read a short chapter book and some picture books.
  6. KCLS 10 To Try: 2/10. Cog had a non-human characters. And the Penrics are beloved rereads.
  7. Reading My Library. Nothing. 
  8. Where Am I Reading 2021: 0/51 states. 1 Country. 

I'm putting this at the end because I suspect it's complete fiction, but I feel I should attempt some structure.

I am reading: 
  • Book I own: Children of Time. Next: Long Time Until Now
  • Library Book: Midnight Sun. Next: Sucker Punch
  • Ebook I own: Extraordinary Union.  Up Next: Swordheart.
  • Library Ebook:  Luminaries. Next: Bourne Factor
  • Book Club Book: The Fold.  Next: 
  • Tuesday Book Club Book:  Somewhere To Be Flying. Still haven't finished Wine Dark Sea. 
  • Review Book: None. Up Next: Swordheart
  • Hugo Book: The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein. Next: Joanna Russ.
  • Rereading: Swordheart.
  • Audio: The library seems to have all the Penrics on audio. I'm on Mira's Last Dance. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Tacoma Library Extreme Reading Challenge

I've been accumulating library cards for the past year, as a way of traveling without actually leaving my house. If I can't go to new libraries, I can at least visit them online. And that's how I found out that the city to my south does a reading challenge that I'm am probably going to fail: THE TACOMA LIBRARY EXTREME READING CHALLENGE

It's fifty books from fifty categories (well, I guess 49? or we read more than one a week?) and it ends just before the end of the year, so there's not even a chance for frantic reading from Christmas to New Year. Here's the list, and I'm trying to preserve the links to suggestions:

2021 Extreme Reader Categories 

  1. A book about climate change The Case for Climate Capitalism, Tom Rand 3/6/21
  2. A book about music or musicians The Chai Factor, Farah Heron 2/6/21
  3. A book about or involving social media use Take a Hint Dani Brown, Talia Hibbert 1/28/21
  4. A book about or with art or museums: The Plain Janes, Cecil Castellucci 1/8/21, The City We Became N.K. Jemisin 8/6/21
  5. A book about or written by a journalist One Giant Leap, Charles Fishman 2/11/21
  6. A book about or written by a woman in STEM Arcadia, Tom Stoppard 5/24/21
  7. A book about social justice Stolen Justice, Laurence Goldstone 1/25/21
  8. A book about the American Civil War Blood and Germs, Gail Jarrow 3/8/21, 
  9. A book in which a natural disaster takes place Into the Volcano, Don Wood 4/4/21, The Nine Tailors, Dorothy Sayers 7/4/11 
  10. A book of your own choosing  Storm Cursed, Patricia Briggs 1/29/21
  11. A book published in the year you were born 
  12. A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics La Perdida, Jessica Abel 2/7/21 
  13. A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent  Northanger Abbey, Jane Austin 4/30/21
  14. A book set in Ireland  
  15. A book set on a mode of transportation Stars Beyond, S.K. Dunstall 5/16/21
  16. A book that passes the Bechdel Test  Louisiana Longshot, Jana DeLeon 5/16/21
  17. A book that takes place during the 1920s : Subtle Blood, K.J. Charles 7/16/21
  18. A book that takes place during the Middle Ages  Absolution By Murder, Peter Tremayne 7/24/21
  19. A book that takes place during winter  Fake Dating the Prince, Ashlyn Kane 5/26/21
  20. A book where the characters save (or attempt to save) the world The Fold, Peter Clines 2/27/21 
  21. A book with a book on the cover The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Kim Michele Richardson 4/5/21
  22. A book with a character who is older than you Nightshades, Melissa Olson 2/20/21
  23. A book with a glyph in the title Sal & Gabi Save the Universe, Carlos Hernandez 2/20/21, Patience & Esther, Sarah Winifred Searle 7/8/21
  24. A book with a heist in it Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel, Eoin Colfer 3/4/21
  25. A book with a map Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms, Rod Espinosa 4/24/21
  26. A book with a medical professional  Shadows in Death, J.D Robb 1/16/2021
  27. A book with a metallic cover Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse 8/22/21
  28. A book with a person’s name in the title: The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman 5/15/21
  29. A book with a royal moniker in the title  Fake Dating the Prince, Ashlyn Kane 5/26/21
  30. A book with a skull on the cover Rattle His Bones, Carola Dunn 5/30/21
  31. A book with a title featuring repeating words A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky, Lynell George 6/28/21
  32. A book with an unlikely pair The House in the Cerulean Sea, T.J. Klune 4/24/2021
  33. A book with crafting or related to the Do-It-Yourself “DIY” movement The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter by Chapter Guide, Annette Whipple 3/15/21, How to Raise an Honest Rabbit, Amy Lane 7/9/21
  34. A book with military personnelSpies, Lies and Disguise, Jennifer Swanson 1/23/21, Ghost Talkers, Mary Robinette Kowal
  35. A book with one of the four elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Air) in the title Punching the Air, Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam 2/13/21
  36. A book with only words on the cover America For Americans, Erika Lee 7/2/21
  37. A book with parents or parental figures in it Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger 3/20/21
  38. A book written by a South American author 
  39. A book written by an author that uses an initial(s) in their name  A Case of Possession, K. J. Charles 2/5/21
  40. A book written by an author you’ve never read before Something That May Shock or Discredit You, Daniel Mallory Ortberg 5/18/21
  41. A book written in the first person The Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline 2/6/21 
  42. A book you finished in one day  Piranesi, Susanna Clarke 6/21/21
  43. A Goodreads Choice Awards winner Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett 4/1/21
  44. A legal thriller  Reckless, Selena Montgomery 4/25/21
  45. A magical realism book Temporary, Hilary Leichter 5/1/21
  46. A play  Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare 4/25/21
  47. A prequel or a sequel to another book or series Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells 4/30/21
  48. A Pulitzer Prize winning or finalist book from the non-fiction category 
  49. An Afro Futurism book Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, Damian Duffy & Octavia Butler 6/11/2021
  50. An alternate history book Sunshine, Robin McKinley 7/10/21
  51. An anthology book  Flight Vol 3, ed. Kazu Kibuishi 3/2/21
  52. An antiracist book What the Eagle Sees, Elder Yellowhorn, Kathy Lowinger 1/25/21,You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar 8/4/21
  53. Reread a favorite book Network Effect, Martha Wells 4/6/21
  54. Two books that share the same title (Title A) Switchback, Melissa Olson 4/29/21
  55. Two books that share the same title (Title B) Switchback, Clair M. Poulson 8/21/21