It was a good week! The weather was either pleasant or rainy, both of which I appreciated (my lawn needs water). I haven't yet made daily walks a habit, but it's getting better.
There were several (zoom) book clubs for me -- the library's Romance Reading Series met, and we discussed non-American romances, why we read them, and what makes good ones. The library had made a list of possibles, and people had read many different books, which gave us some good examples to explore. I picked up a few more for my reading list.
And Foolscap has a monthly book club, where in the first half of the month we discuss a subgenre, and in the second half we read an example of that. This month was the SF version of cosy mysteries, and we read Curiosity Thrilled the Cat, where a librarian in a small Minnesota town solves crimes with the aid of her two cats, who have magical powers and a keen interest in sleuthing.
Saturday was notable for being my younger son's birthday (he was at school, but answered my happy birthday call). I managed to make and send him cookies, and I went ahead and sent them to the other college kids as well. It was also the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. I'm too old to go for the full 24 hours, but I enjoyed an excuse to sit and read most of the day.
Sunday I met up with the birdwatchers again and saw an American Bushtit, and nesting Anna's Hummingbird, three kinds of swallows, and many herons moving sticks about. I call that a success!
For dinner I made Falafel with homemade pitas, which were pleasingly puffed but also stiff and kinda tasteless. I see I have more refinements to make to my baking. My other cooking night I made a Thai-based pasta with spicy peanut sauce, which my BIL and I enjoyed while my sister smiled politely before enjoying some cookies.
Alexander and I finished off Falcon and Winter Soldier. I really liked the Sam parts, I think Bucky is cool, and that Sharon's plan worked but wasn't really that clever. It's just that evil politicians will manage to be bad even when they are trying to be chagrined.
My currently reading is inching back up -- 26. As usually I made up for finishing some books during the pandemic by starting a lot more!
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.
The Stonekeeper's Curse, Kazu Kibuishi. Cybils finalist.
Stars Beyond, S.K. Dunstall. To read while eating solitary meals.
The Courageous Princess: Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms, Rod Espinosa. Cybils finalist.
Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold. Continuing my audio reread of the Five Gods world.
Two Rogues Make a Right, Cat Sebastian. My excuse is that my Romance Reading Series is doing non-American romances.
House on the Cerulean Sea, T.J. Kline. Sword and Laser pick for April.
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. Rereading before the sequel drops.
Playing With Fire, April Henry. Recommended by Rachel Manija Brown.
Switchback, Melissa F. Olson. Book two in a series.
Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare. Weekly read-aloud play.
Not So Normal Norbert, James Patterson & Joey Green. For elementary school book club. I forgot this one last week! The book club approved it, and we had a nice discussion. The librarian (who has to attend, since we meet over zoom and I'm not a school employee -- it's funny how I'm allowed to be alone with kids in person but not on zoom) talked about how she found the dystopian society hard to reconcile with the lighthearted tone of the book, but the kids and I appreciated the humor. We also laughed at how the pledge jokes went over the kids' heads because they don't recite it every morning -- I was the only one able to give the real version. I think they were interested when I went all literary on them and pointed out that the book was written in present tense -- they compared it to how they would tell a story and found it different. We talked a little about how that made the book feel. It was a fun book club!
Tempest, Beverly Jenkins. While Jenkins is good enough to make any book interesting, this felt a bit divided between being historical and being a romance, rather than being a unified historical romance. The action plot mostly involved showing off various bits of Wyoming history (massacre of Chinese railroad workers, women's suffrage, discrimination against African-American testimony at trials) and it didn't really track with the romance plot of the two characters moving from a marriage of convenience to a marriage based on love and passion. But I found the history interesting and the love story was fun, so they worked fine as two books taking turns on the page.
The Stonekeeper's Curse, Kazu Kibuishi. 2009 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novel finalist. The illustrations are cosy and a bit slick, and the characters are so different that even I can tell them apart! I'm not a huge fan of the reluctant superhero trope, but eventually the girl realizes that she can either hero up or the world can die, and she was hoping to live in that world. And the Elf son is very interesting in a Zuko kind of way, so I hope to see more of him.
The Unspoken Name, A.K. Larkwood. For my Tuesday bookclub. I liked the mix of high fantasy descriptions with modern slang from the protagonist, which I guess was also a thing in Gideon the Ninth but I thought it worked better here. It's a very romantic book, with most of the plot driven by the love of Tal for his boss and the love of Csorwe for the cute magician she met while on the job. From lusty young love to the fall of empires! Several people in my book club felt that the last chapter was crammed a bit too tightly, but it mostly worked for me. I'm also not looking for a direct sequel; this is a good spot to say goodbye although there's more that could be happening in this world, and with these characters. I did feel that the author expected me to have more sympathy for Tal than I did; he has excellent reasons for being a real jerk, but I still don't appreciate jerks.
The Vanished Seas, Catherine Asaro. This is a Bhaaj story, a woman who came out of the underclass to make a career in the army and now wants to make it easier for her community to educate itself as it wishes, but without having to sacrifice their culture for it. She does this while working as an investigator for an aristocratic family, and maintaining her relationship with the owner of the biggest speakeasy in the city. The society has a lot of depth, since Asaro has been writing it for decades now, and I enjoy the flipped gender assumptions -- men and women are equal, but men are assumed to be a bit less competent and a bit more in need of help. And Asaro likes to work various physics concepts into her plot, and that's always fun to unravel.
Two Rogues Make a Right, Cat Sebastian. This was charming and easy, and a good book to read just before my Romance Club met to discuss non-American romances. It's about a third brother and I skipped the second one, so I didn't know as much as I think the author suspected, but it was easy to pick up what I needed. The title is a bit of a misnomer; neither of these dudes is a rogue, but they had a good mix of young love and young stubbornness, and the problems facing them were real. A cosy afternoon reading.
Reckless, Selena Montgomery. For my Cloudy book club. I wanted to like this one, but I disliked the guy too much. Contemporary romances are always hard for me as the problems keeping the romance from working are often very contrived. In this case, the problem seems to be the contempt the guy has for the woman, and the bizarre expectations he has. She's a lawyer, and he seems to think a good proof of her love for him (a cop, and not overburdened with scruples) would be for her to tell him all about her case and what her client has been been saying. The meet cute involved him writing her a ticket for something we hear him thinking that she didn't do (he remembers her sliding under the yellow light as he writes the ticket for her running a red light). I think it's just a tough time to enjoy a cop romance with these issues.
House on the Cerulean Sea, T.J. Kline. Sword and Laser pick for April. This is a very sweet book about a man realizing he can expand his horizons and do good in the world, both generally and very specifically with the children he meets by the cerulean sea. It also has a romance that doesn't work nearly as well; the adult relationship seems very naive about many things. But although the book sadly ended with the romance, most of the story is about the children, which is where the book shines, as Linus learns to make himself vulnerable and earns the trust of the kids.
Superman Smashes the Clan, Gene Luen Yang. 2020 Cybils Young Adult Graphic Novel finalist. I have no idea why this is Young Adult when Go With the Flow is middle grade, but luckily I don't have to make those decisions. I really liked how Superman's issues with understanding his powers and their source match up with Roberta's issue with fitting in as an Asian in a mostly-white neighborhood. And I appreciate how this revision of the original radio series let the girls have parts too. The afterward really helped put the story and its history in context, both with America and with the author's own personal history. Good book.
The Courageous Princess: Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms, Rod Espinosa. 2007 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novel finalist. I like the distance this book travels. We see the growth of the princess from her parent's longing to her awkward adolescence as a slightly ugly, rambunctious girl who is not like the other girls, to her slight difficulty with the evil dragon, to the many friends she makes during her escape who all unite in loyalty to her, which is earned by her kindness and common sense. The map needed some hints for me, since it was hard to find the places, but then I mostly ignored it anyway.
Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare. This guy wrote some good plays! I like listening to a group reading them aloud on Discord, and having a chat window to ask questions, admire lines, or smirk at a risque allusion. There's no rehearsal, and some people read easily and others in a dramatic fashion, but it works. The woman doing the fool managed to bring into songs for the songs, which was awesome. I found the instant-emotions a bit silly but the play itself full of great lines and scenes.
Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:
Uncompromising Honor 63/??, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial. People planning.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James. Ancient Sword and Laser pick. Nothing.
The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendelson. Hugo finalist. Nothing.
The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. Didn't touch it.
The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum. Didn't touch it.
The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O'Brien. Progress
An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole. Progress.
Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. I told it to try again later.
High Cotton, Robin Kristie Johnson. A LibraryThing EarlyReaders book. Progress!
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen. Read-aloud.
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien. Read-aloud.
Temporary, Hilary Leichter. Progress!
Sharks in the Time of Saviors, Kawai Strong Washburn. For the KCLS new author's program. I didn't finish before the talk with the author, but I'm liking it (and I liked the author) enough to buy a copy, which should arrive soon.
Picture Books / Short Stories:
These books I'm barely reading; lately I use them bribes to get me to deal with the mail. Hmm. I should get back to that.
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.
- Cybils 2020. One graphic novel.
- Early Cybils: Two graphic novels.
- KCLS 10 To Try: 8/10. I did get a recommendation from a librarian, but I'll probably read that with a book club this summer. Epistolary will be hard.
- Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge. 29/55. Stalled!
- Reading My Library. Nothing. Well, my library is closed. I can sorta count the grab-bags, so Temporary and Tempest almost count. Well, Tempest is from the wrong library.
- Where Am I Reading 2021: 16/51 states. 10 Countries. Added Wyoming!
Future PlansI'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: Not sure. Next:
- Library Book: Temporary. Next: Playing With Fire. or Switchback
- Ebook I own: Extraordinary Union Up Next: Paladin's Strength
- Library Ebook: Luminaries. Up Next: a cat mystery
- Book Club Book: Medical Apartheid Up Next: Cloudy pick.
- Tuesday Book Club Book: The Consuming Fire. Next: I need to finish The Wind Dark Sea
- Review Book: High Cotton. Next: Back Home
- Hugo Book: The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein. Next: Joanna Russ.
- Rereading: Goblin Emperor
- Meal Companion: Stars Beyond
- Audio: Curse of Chalion