Friday, May 28, 2021

  Franklin Endicott and the Third Key: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume Six

What is this book: A chapter book for new readers or an quick read-aloud with loved ones, with illustrations accompanying each page but not inserting themselves into the plot.  

Who would read this book? Second grade or younger kids who can read on their own, even if only with recent mastery. The balance of humor and tension was great, with gentle humor at the absurdity of Franklin's worries but without a sense of meanness or disdain, as well as quick glimpses into a wider world. I recognized some references to previous books -- his sister Stella's friend Horace, the accordion music that Eugenia plays, but although they were fun reminders they weren't necessary for enjoyment; new readers would do fine, although the appearance of an enormous pig might surprise them. It's a warm and loving story about children secure in their world and in the love of the adults around them.

Who would I give it to? I'd offer it to a young reader in elementary school, or a teacher for those kids. 

How did I get it? I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Welcome Home (Part II)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
I'm enjoying my Nature Journaling class, where each Monday I grab a journal and go out to make terrible art and bad writing with friendly people who know a lot about nature. Then I leave intending to do more writing during the week, but I always forget until the next Monday. 

I had two book clubs this week -- the younger elementary school kids, where we talked about all the Pigeon books by Mo Willems (conclusion: they are great!), and then my oldest book club, the one with friends. We've definitely dived deep into comfort books during the Pandemic, and this month we read Louisiana Longshot and then checked in over Skype on how we were doing, how far along our vaccinations were, and whether we would ever meet again. We are cautiously optimistic that we will have an in person meeting this summer, although we might go outside for the first once because we are all old. 

Krispy Kreme offered free donuts to all seniors, so Nicky and I braved the line to claim his reward. And I spent Saturday driving to Pullman to get my younger son, who loaded up the car in about fifteen minutes and then I drove us home. It's nice to have both boys home with me again. It means there is a lot more laundry, so I should have more TV to report on soon. So far I am working my way through Voyager 2.25, where Janeway and Chakotay are stranded on a lonely planet together. 

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. 


Land of the CranesCat Trick (A Magical Cats Mystery 4)From the Desk of Zoe Washington
The Assassins of Thasalon (Penric and Desdemona, #10)Curses for SaleLouisiana Longshot (Miss Fortune Mystery, #1)
Outbreak (Nightshades, #3)The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax, #1)Styx and Stones (Daisy Dalrymple, #7)The Manson Family Murders

Land of the Cranes, Aida Salazar. Cybils finalist.

Cat Trick, Sofie Kelly. Part of a fun series.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington, Jenae Marks. Cybils finalist. 

The Assassins of Thasalon, Lois McMaster Bujold. A new Penric!

Curses for Sale!, Steve Brezenoff. Library grab bag book.

Louisiana Longshot, Jana DeLeon. For my Friday book club.

Outbreak, Melissa F. Olson. Finishing a series.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman. Audio for a care ride.

Styx and Stones, Carola Dunn. Audio for a car ride. 

The Manson Family Murders, Tom Streissguth. 2020 Cybils nonfiction nominee.


Land of the CranesCat Trick (A Magical Cats Mystery 4)An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
The Assassins of Thasalon (Penric and Desdemona, #10)Louisiana Longshot (Miss Fortune Mystery, #1)The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax, #1)Stars Beyond (Stars Uncharted, #2)

Land of the Cranes, Aida Salazar. 2020 Cybils Middle Grade fiction finalist. Obviously I have no soul. I found the poetry annoying and how to trudge through it. Perhaps I shouldn't have read this just after Efren Divided, since it also deals with a family caught up in the gruesome and horrific American immigration system, but since I did it compared poorly. The kid felt unrealistic, moving up and down the maturity scale as the book demanded, which meant that I kept forgetting it was a book and read it instead as a critique of the horrific system. Which means that alongside the chillingly realistic portrayals of torture and child abuse and the results of that, it also had people who did actually seem to belong in a (humane and well run) immigration system -- people who had "accidentally" left the country while under refugee restrictions that barred that. Why inject that muddled policy question into the clear cut depiction of the effects of concentration camps on children? Also, I'm still a very tough sell on verse novels.

Cat Trick, Sofie Kelly. Part of a fun series: Magical Cats. I like the set-up, and I liked the characters. It's very cosy, in that the murder is someone we barely know and don't like, so we aren't distracted with the grimness of violent death but instead can enjoy watching the cats walk through walls and find clues and stuff. The main character spends a lot of time at the library and cooking, which are both enjoyable to see vicariously. I was thrown off by the final pages, where the love interest is an absolute jerk, and even worse, our heroine responds by desperately trying to apologize and trying to think of ways to get him back, vowing to change. Since the reason he was mad is that she was behaving like an adult woman instead of a small child under his authority, this was really distasteful and the last image that promised their relationship was back on track was repugnant rather than romantic. I've read later books, so I know he just vented while under stress; that's fine, but her reaction was really skeevy and made me think she needs a lot of work on herself before going into a relationship. And all this is way too dark for what this series wants to be! I wish I hadn't read the last pages. I'm going to forget them and pretend they never happened. Maybe I should put off reading book five for a while. 

An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir. For Cloudy. I'm finishing it a few weeks late. Hmm. I think this is a good book but perhaps not for me. It has a lot of good worldbuilding and complex characters, but we get two first person stories from very intense young adults with a lot of angst and torture in their lives. Obviously these two are destined for each other, but the book throws some other people in front of them to pretend this isn't set on rails. I found the whole Helene plot very creepy and flat in regards to her secret romance, but then this book is very deep on the idea that people do a lot for romance. The girl's brother is a huge McGuffin, and the girl seems willing do do anything to save her brother except think, which got frustrating. I think the real problem is that these characters are the age of my children, so I'm both more sensitive to their torture and more impatient with their mistakes. So I should wait a few years before expecting to enjoy this series. (I've had this problem for most of their lives. At least I can enjoy more kidlit again now that they are grown!)

The Assassins of Thasalon, Lois McMaster Bujold. A new Penric! And we get to see old characters again! This one is longer, but it felt a bit stretched; I wanted more of the relationship between Boshe, Tanar and Aris, but of course, this is a Penric book so he only sees a bit of it. I enjoyed watching him coach the new sorceress, especially as she looks forward to her career shift away from working with the assassins. And I like seeing how Penric can work undercover or directly, and how much more adult he is now. Finally, I enjoy seeing how many threesomes Bujold describes in her fiction, and how well she shows different attitudes towards gender and sexuality in people from different cultures. 

Louisiana Longshot, Jana DeLeon. For my Friday book club. The start of another light hearted series. I enjoyed the stuff that I expect to continue while tripping over a lot of the starter-specific stuff, so I gave this particular book only three stars but intend to go back for more. (My peeves: our heroine littered, the cop who will obviously turn out to be a love interest abuses his power, and the heroine's gun safety instincts are horrendous.) I laughed out loud several times and really enjoyed the major roles placed by the little old ladies of the town. Now that I'm a little old lady myself I do like to see that representation. I'm enjoying the deep dive our book club has taken into comfort reads (The Blue Castle is our next pick) and I'm very excited that we are discussing moving back to an in-person meeting over the summer, as we and our households all manage to get vaccinated. 

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman. Audio for a care ride. This was a great choice. The drive across Washington the long way zipped passed, and when I drove up to my son's door I was reluctant to leave Mrs. Pollifax and her friends in their dire straits. But I heroically switched to a different audio as we started the drive home, since it was a terrible place to jump in. I like how Gilman pauses to give scenery or other descriptions as we race about being spies, and that Mrs. Pollifax remains firmly from New Jersey throughout her adventures. She's smart, she's tough, and she's lucky, and all three are important in her second career. 

Stars Beyond, S.K. Dunstall. This is an enjoyable space book, with some cool technology (modders who can adjust bodies, and there are special elements that make this even better) and fun space ships, and of course the found-family crew that are loyal to each other because of their mis-matched nature. As they attempt to solve their problems they are opposed by bad guys like the evil Corporate Evil Dude who crunches puppies for breakfast, and the evil Mercenary Captain whose crew are slaves and he never lets any escape, not even the one currently working on our heroes' ship. More interestingly, they clash with the naive by well intentioned inspectors inside the Justice Department, the guys who want to save lives and hope that by their principled service they can make their department live up to its name, despite the culture and institutional norms fighting against that. This is the second book but the author managed to give me everything I needed to start from here. I enjoyed eating my meals with this as my companion.

Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington, #14)Black Leopard, Red WolfThe Pleasant Profession of Robert A. HeinleinThe Luminaries
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)
High CottonSharks in the Time of SaviorsPlaying with FireThe Secret Country (The Secret Country, #1)
Something That May Shock and Discredit YouThe Lost OrphanThe Consuming Fire (The Interdependency, #2)All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

Uncompromising Honor 66/??, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial. This could take years. 

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. Didn't touch it.

An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole. Progress! 

Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. Didn't touch it.

High Cotton, Robin Kristie Johnson. A LibraryThing EarlyReaders book. Didn't tough it. 

Sharks in the Time of Saviors, Kawai Strong Washburn. For the KCLS new author's program. Carried it around a bit. 

Playing With Fire, April Henry. Didn't touch it. 

The Secret Country, Pamela Dean. Listening to a read-aloud.

Something That May Shock and Discredit You, Daniel Mallory Ortbert. Another read-aloud.

The Lost Orphan, Stacey Halls. A group read with a reading group.

The Consuming Fire, John Scalzi. For my Tuesday book club. I read Part I. 

Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells. I think I'll listen to the audios. So far I've heard the first four, and I'm waiting on the fifth. 

Picture Books / Short Stories:

A Guide For Working BreedsMercy Watson Goes for a RideSecrets of the Sea: The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (Pigeon series)The Pigeon Has to Go to School

"A Guide For Working Breeds," Vina Jie-Min Prasad. 2020 Hugo Short Story finalist. Cute dogs, killer robots. Fun for the whole family! I enjoyed the quick world building but wasn't emotionally convinced that their friendship grew that quickly and that strong. 

Mercy Watson Goes For a Ride, Kate DiCamillo. This one was silly enough that it was easier for me to ignore  my "But that is irresponsible Pet Ownership" reaction. So I could enjoy Mercy's antics, since the author clearly wasn't going to let anyone die. My sympathy is entirely with the grumpy neighbor, though.

Secrets of the Sea, Evan Griffith. A biography of Jeanne Power that does a great job focussing on her work and achievements but also puts that in the context of the burden of sexism at the time -- how she had to spend significant time taking her work back from men trying to claim it or providing twice the evidence for her findings because people wanted to discount evidence for a woman. It also has a lot of pictures of octopus and their tentacles, so that is always a plus.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, The Duckling Gets a Cookie, The Pigeon Has to Go to School, La Paloma Necesito Un BaƱo, Mo Willems. These were all for my 2/3rd grade book club. Not many kids are showing up, but apparently lots of kids are checking out the books, so I guess that's good? The ones who showed up were enthusiastic -- we all picked our favorites, talked about the importance of expression, and showed each other the best bits. I asked whether they identified with the Pigeon or the reader, but I'm not sure that made much of an impression. 

Palate Cleansers

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: 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. Man's inherent weakness echoed in the fatal flaw in the keel of the boat.

Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others. 

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. 

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2020. Finished Land of the Cranes, started Zoe Washington. Also a few more 2020 nominees.
  2. Early Cybils: Nothing. 
  3. 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.
  4. Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge. 37/55. And I'm behind on marking completed books.
  5. Reading My Library. Finished Stars Beyond.
  6. Where Am I Reading 2021: 18/51 states -- picked up Minnesota. 11 Countries. 

Future Plans

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: High Cotton. Next: Catfishing
  • Library Book: Playing With Fire. Next: Lost Orphan
  • Ebook I own: Extraordinary Union  Up Next: Paladin's Strength
  • Library Ebook: Luminaries. Up Next: Sinful series book
  • Book Club Book: Wonder. Up Next: 
  • 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:  Briggs?
  • Meal Companion: Stowed Away
  • Audio: Daisy Dalrymple  Next: Paladin of Souls