Monday, March 29, 2021


Two weeks of update here, since I forgot to post last week: 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
My niece got COVID! She got a test because she wanted to come home and work a bit, and then the day the results were due she felt awful and got the call with a positive result as she lay in the bathroom trying to cool down but not throw up.

She felt really bad for a few days but after a week was ready to come home. She still gets tired fairly quickly, so I can't ask her to mow my lawn, which I had planned to wheedle her into doing during her visit. 

I ate in a restaurant! Inside even! It was terrifying. My cousin was in town for a week, so we picked out a lakeside restaurant and planned to eat outside. At the last minute my nephew tagged along, and there were no big tables outside, and it was freezing cold and raining so we went inside. It was great to see her; we haven't seen any of that side of the family for over a year. Afterwards we emotionally bumped elbows and hoped for a vaccination. 

No shots for me yet; I'm not eligible in Washington. Mostly. I'm on a few cancelation lists at clinics so maybe I'll get lucky. My BIL got vaccinated so now he can go hug his mom, so I'm they are doing teachers.  

I had another birding walks, but those feel less risky than eating with people since they are outside, fully masked, and we stay six feet apart. I saw a lot of birds, and recognized the Anna's hummingbird, American robins, some ducks, geese, herons and cormorants. I think I need better binoculars, and then the skill to use them. That was my main exercise; I've done a few other walks but haven't convinced myself to jog since the Pi Day run. I did manage to mow most of the lawn.

I had my elementary book club, but we didn't get many kids showing up. I hope things get better if we can ever meet in person again. The book was Walk Two Moons, which they did like but thought that the author was piling on the misery a bit at the end. 

Alexander and I are still having a weekly TV meet-up; we watched the first two Falcon and Winter Soldier series, in which Bucky is in therapy and not doing too well at dating, and Sam is trying to help his sister but not having much luck because banks don't lend to Black people. And then they fight crime, and also the new Captain America. So far I remain unconvinced that the bad guys are really the problem here; it seems just as likely to be the people who grabbed the Captain America shield. 

I also watched Voyager's "The Thaw" (2.23) which I have vague memories of. I like crazy psychological hellscapes. Now it's time for Deep Space Nine 2.23 "Crossover." Evil mustaches for everyone!

My currently reading is at 23. I still have dreams of getting it down below twenty. But I've also started listening to a daily read-aloud session with two different books, so I'm probably doomed.

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 go sign up. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers. 


Crown Duel (Crown & Court #1-2)Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of ServiceWalk Two Moons
Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
You Brought Me the OceanFrankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom (Frankie Pickle, #1)The Dragon in the Library
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat CrookFair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3)Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4...The Runaway PrincessHigh Cotton

Crown Duel, Sherwood Smith. Found the author reading it outloud on a daily basis!

Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of Service, Connie Goldsmith. 2020 Cybils nonfiction nominee. 

Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech. For my Talbot Hill 4-5 grade book club. 

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olson: Who Killed Jimmy Olson, Matt Fraction. I forget why I ordered this book from the library.

Wild Sign, Patricia Briggs. Yay! It came!

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Kim Michele Richardson. 

You Brought Me the Ocean, Alex Sanchez. 2020 Cybils finalist. 

Animals Attack: Rhinos, Gail Jarrow. I am working my through all of Jarrow's books, even the ones so old that Goodreads doesn't have a picture of them for me to use.

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom, Eric Wight. Old Cybils finalist.

The Dragon in the Library, Louie Stowell. For review. 


Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, Eleanor Davis. Old Cybils finalist.

Fair Game, Patricia Briggs. I didn't so much read this as sample the bits with the FBI agents. And the set up. And the bits around that. OK, so I ended up listening to probably about 80% of this, but that's it.

Dead Heat, Patricia Briggs. See, I'm reading all the bits with the FBI agents who showed up in Wild Sign. I went ahead and read the whole thing. 

The Murders of Tupac and Biggie, Sue Bradford Edwards. 2020 Cybils nonfiction nominee. 

The Runaway Princess, Johan Troianowski. 2020 Cybils finalist.

High Cotton, Robin Kristie Johnson. A LibraryThing EarlyReaders book.


Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of ServiceBurn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5)Walk Two MoonsElatsoe
Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)You Brought Me the OceanFrankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom (Frankie Pickle, #1)

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4...The Dragon in the LibraryA Long Time Until NowThe Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (Feminine Pursuits, #2)The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook

Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of Service, Connie Goldsmith. 2020 Cybils nonfiction nominee. This was an interesting account, from a slightly different perspective. Kiyo was a young adult at the start of World War II, and her college education was interrupted by the round-up of her family from their farm in California. She was only interned for a few months when she was released to a college in the interior of the country where Japanese citizens were allowed although not welcomed. After the war, she served as a nurse in the armed forces, and then made a career in public healthy (mostly in schools) and also in determined education about what happened to Japanese Americans and why it was wrong. 

Burn Bright, Patricia Briggs. I needed to refresh myself on what the situation was before the new book came out. I enjoyed this reread, and enjoyed the exploration of what Bran's pack was and why it functioned the way it does, especially when he is away. I like how Briggs gives us the viewpoints of different characters, and how differently they see the same event and also themselves; Bran, Leah, Charles and Anna have very different ideas on how the relationships between them work (and Brother Wolf has his own opinions). 

Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech. For my Talbot Hill 4-5 grade book club. I haven't read this in ages! I liked it as much as I did the first time, but from a completely different angle. Then I was very sensitive to the tensions inside marriages -- I remember that I didn't realize the mom was dead until the end, even though this time I noticed it was mentioned in the early pages. And I appreciated the skill with which the layers of story were dealt out, and how it came together in the end. I do agree with the book club kid (it was a small gathering) that the grandmother's fate seemed a bit much. It was a bit piling on!

I've read criticisms of the portrayal of Native Americans, and they are fair, but I don't think the book is pretending that any of the characters have a clue about them. It seems a reasonable depiction of how clueless people can be, actually. 

Elatsoe, Darcy Little Badger. 2020 Cybils finalist & Sword & Laser pick. Although it took a while for me to appreciate the style I ended up liking it. It plays a bit with tropes of YA in terms of expectations -- the kid has a loving relationship with her parents, so at moments when you expect her to go off on her own she calls her parents, and at moments when you expect the parents to forbid things they trust her to make her own judgement. She respects them as her elders, and they respect her as more powerful at her macabre talent. A lot of this is tied to their culture as Lipan Apache. It was also restful that there was no romance drama from the protagonist; it is always a relief when teens announce themselves as ace (asexual).

Wild Sign, Patricia Briggs. Anna and Charles go back out to deal with scary stuff, and they find some really scary stuff. They also find out a lot about Charles's step mom, and how trauma doesn't stop, and how much memories do and do not define us. It's interesting stuff and I think I'll be rereading this. I also liked seeing Leslie the FBI person again, which drove me off to dig up my copies of Fair Game and Dead Heat to see her introduction. I'm impressed at how well Briggs is juggling the big picture stuff with the stories about the individuals we care about. 

You Brought Me the Ocean, Alex Sanchez. 2020 Cybils finalist. Huh. I liked this as a teen novel, but I thought the fantasy parts didn't mesh well. The X-Men and other superhero comics have long worked with superpowers as a symbol of otherness, specifically queerness, and how hiding your real self is damaging but accepting yourself is powerful, and that could have worked here, but instead the two parts of the story pulled away from each other; the superpowers and their implications distracted from the issues around coming out and realizing that lying to yourself also means lying to your friends, but that coming out means risking rejection and that is terrifying; terrified teens often don't make the best decisions. That is real stuff, but if I'm off wondering what and how the supervillain is using to spy on the world it's hard to remember that our hero may have just offended both his best friend and his new boyfriend.

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom, Eric Wight. 2009 Cybils Younger Readers Graphic Novel finalist. Fun and good at switching between imagination graphic novel and mundane text with illustrations, but I felt very called out by the messy room plot. My kids had messy rooms, we didn't eat in bedrooms, and life was fine! 

Animals Attack: Rhinos, Gail Jarrow. I'm reading all Jarrow's books, but this one wasn't as cohesive as the bears. There are rhinos, they charge people, and that hurts. But I didn't get much sense of when or why. Luckily the photos were very interesting, especially after the chapter on how photographers get hurt. I wished for more information on how they were taken, especially the one showing a man much too close to a rhino captions "Foolish Man gets to close to rhino" or something. The photo looks like it was taken from a similarly foolish spot, but I'm hoping that's just a really good telephoto lense or something.

Dead Heat, Patricia Briggs. This one has Anna thinking about children, and a lot of it is about family. But I was here for the FBI, so my favorite bits were when they split up and Charles looked for evil fae with the Cantrip folks and Anna hung out with my FBI fave Leslie. And also the final battle scene is great even is Leslie wasn't there for it.

The Dragon in the Library, Louie Stowell. I was slow to warm to this book, since the main character is the one of her band of friends who doesn't like reading and thinks libraries are boring. So she's lucky she stumbled upon her precocious magical abilities (book-driven) and became an apprentice to the librarian-wizard or she would have wasted her childhood climbing trees and rolling in mud! Wait, that still sounds awesome. Anyway, when she insisted on taking the threat to the library and its associated dragons seriously she won my heart and my interest, and I enjoyed this fantasy. It would make for a good read aloud, especially for kids just adjusting to longer stories. 

A Long Time Until Now, Michael Z Williamson. Eh. I like most of his other work much better; these people were not that competent and that's what I was here for. Williamson likes to beat some drums pretty hard, but usually they are accompanied by the main characters being better at their jobs. It's too bad; it was a great premise.   

The Murders of Tupac and Biggie, Sue Bradford Edwards. 2020 Cybils nonfiction nominee. This does a good job at what it sets out to do: introduce the two rappers, describe their murders, and then cover the various theories about what happened and indicate which are improbably and which will probably never be proved. But although I enjoyed the early chapters, especially about Tupac because he shows up in a lot of children's literature, I wasn't interested enough in the conspiracies for the text to grab me. Maybe it would be good for kids already into the men and their music and murders, but it doesn't grab this casual bystander. The men were much more interesting then their deaths. 

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, Olivia Waite. For April's Romance Series. I liked a lot of the detail of the women and their lives, especially the widowed printer. I had a looser sense of the beekeeper, and never really understood her family's social position in the neighborhood. But it was cute seeing their relationship grow, and their hesitancy to admit to their feelings had a real reason -- this is set back when homosexuality was a crime. The sex scenes were rather vivid, but not very plot relevant. I liked the journey better than the conclusion; the resolution of both the external conflict and the relationship issue seemed rushed but I really enjoyed the growth and the complications when the brother and husband showed up. I also liked seeing some older people in a romance! I guess technically one character quits her job to be with her lover, which deflates my job in that representation a bit, but it was done in a character-specific way, not as a general policy.

Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, Eleanor Davis. 2009 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novel finalist. Although it has a rather slow start, with our main character lonely and ostracized for his nerdy demeanor and interests, it picks up once he is adopted by his new schools' fellow inventors. Together they create projects, and then deal with a bad grown-up making trouble after stealing some of their plans. Fun and well paced after the beginning. 

Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington, #14)Black Leopard, Red WolfThe Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein
The 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)The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters, #1)The Vanishing Half

My wall of currently-reading books is about to expand! I am incorrigible. 

Uncompromising Honor 55/??, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial. Hey -- they repeated a section. And a really dreary section at that. 

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

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. Made progress.

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. 

Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. The ebook is arriving soon! I told it to try again later.

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett. For my Torches & Pitchforks book club. Making progress.

Picture Books / Short Stories:

The Chinese Exclusion Act and Its Relevance TodayMaya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and LinesWaiting is Not Easy! (Elephant & Piggie, #22)
Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected PackageThe Negro LeaguesCalvin Spann: Daring Fighter Pilot

The Chinese Exclusion Act and Its Relevance Today, Duchess Harris & Kate Conley. 2020 Cybils nonfiction nominee. Another good entry in this series that sets out how race and racist thought evolved to fit what Americans wanted and needed from Asian workers, and how that affected the people invited to American and their descendents. I know most of this but I liked how it was presented; this would work well in elementary classrooms and libraries. (Ecopy provided by publisher.)

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines, Jeanne Walker Harvey. I enjoyed this biography and how it linked her childhood work to her later achievements, since it affirms the worth of the work new readers are doing. 

Waiting Is Not Easy!, Mo Willems. Elephant is beautiful when stressed, and the word bubbles (and Piggie's struggles underneath them) charmed me. 


Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package, Kate DiCamillo. I enjoy Eugenia a lot, but the theme of this one seemed to be that Eugenia should relax a little and have some happiness. Eugenia hates happiness! She does not need the annoying people who show up to teach her accordian to be right about anything. So I resist the premise but am glad that Eugenia has an accordian now.

The Negro Leagues, Duchess Harris & Alex Kies. A solid book about the early history of baseball, where white players and managers refused to compete against Black players and this racism led to the creation of dedicated leagues. It's an explicitly educational book with a page after each chapter challenging the reader to rewrite a passage or discuss its implications. I think these histories would be good additions to school libraries. It's clear about the dates of each league and puts those in context with social events and world happenings such as the depression, World War II, and the integration of the major leagues in the 1940s and 50s. (I received an ebook from the publisher for review.)

Calvin Spann: Daring Fighter Pilot, Duchess Harris & Samantha S. Bell. The story of Spann's work and heroism in World War II is a bit overshadowed by the racism that kept him from receiving the recognition and gratitude that should have been his due. He, like other Black military people, was insulted and hidden away by the armed forces, begrudgingly allowed to risk his life on many missions, including one where his group had to double up when a supporting flight failed to arrive so they ran their planes almost out of fuel protecting the bomber group. And then they came home to discover that there were no jobs for Black pilots with any airline, so he had to abandon his beloved career. Discrimination even made it hard to stay in the Air Force reserves since there were no plans available to let him keep making his required flight hours. This is a good book for young history -- clear and objective, clearly aimed at schools as it has the questions at the end to promote learning. (I received an ebook from the publisher for review.)

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. How to spot a bad teacher, or a bad school, and at what point to try to do something about it. Suggestions for dealing with it, from talk to action to moving. 

Wool, Hugh Howey.

Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho. I feel like the Sorcerer is getting a bad time of it. 

Under the Eye of the Storm, John Hersey. 

Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others. I waited too long to read these; the dated dates aren't interesting anymore. I have given myself permission to skip a story after I give it a good try. 

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Examples of portfolio evaluations, which are fun to read. 

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2020. I read a YA fantasy and a graphic novel. 
  2. Early Cybils: Read two young graphic novels. 
  3. KCLS 10 To Try: 8/10. Wild Sign was published this year, and Class Act is set in my birthplace, New York City. 
  4. Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge. 26/55. So far I'm just reading books and slotting them in where they fit.
  5. Reading My Library. Nothing. Well, my library is closed.
  6. Where Am I Reading 2021: 9/51 states. 7 Countries. Elatsoe is Texas, Chiggers is North Carolina, You Brought Me the Ocean is New Mexico, and I realized an old book was Georgia. I remembered that I read books in Germany (Games of Deception) and Ireland (Artemis Fowl).

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: Deadly Education Next: Someplace to Be Flying.
  • Library Book:  Next: Temporary
  • Ebook I own: Extraordinary Union  Up Next: Paladin's Strength
  • Library Ebook:  The Vanishing Half  Next: Luminaries. 
  • Book Club Book: The Vanishing Half  Next: Reckless
  • Tuesday Book Club Book: The Unspoken Name . Still haven't finished Wine Dark Sea. 
  • Review Book: High Cotton
  • Hugo Book: The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein. Next: Joanna Russ.
  • Rereading: Probably Network Effect.
  • Meal Companion: The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek.
  • Audio: Waiting on the next Penric. I think it's Orphans of Raspray.