Monday, September 27, 2021

Texas, O Texas

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Well, I went to Texas and fell off the internet. So here is a huge post of everything I read or meant to read for the past month. Maybe next week I'll mention what I did, if I still remember.

I also ASCENDED to Category Chair for High School Nonfiction for this year's Cybils, and promptly appointment myself to Round 1. So I'll be reading a lot of nonfiction for the next few months.

I am currently reading 25 books, since if I hit a tough bit on a book I'm reading I pick up the next one. I do not anticipate a cascade of completions soon.  I'm did manage to complete my summer of #bookaday, and then after Labor Day I think I didn't finish anything for a week. I'm not even going to try to format the book pictures -- each line is a week, and some weeks had two books started and some had nine. 

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 Ruthless Lady's Guide to WizardryNeogenesis (Liaden Universe, #21)Future Home of the Living GodRing ShoutLush Money (Filthy Rich #1)Forever Strong (True Heroes, #6)
Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy, #1)The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut Universe, #3)Fires of the Faithful (Eliana's Song, #1)American Fairytale (Dreamers, #2)
The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)Year of Wonders
Upright Women WantedRaven Black (Shetland Island, #1)Finna (LitenVerse #1)The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle, #1)For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is EnufThe Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer EspionagePuckerDeal with the Devil (Mercenary Librarians, #1)The Beautiful Struggle

The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, C.M. Waggoner. Sword & Laser pick.

Neogenesis, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. I like this series. 

Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich. From my shelves. I think I bought this at the start of the pandemic. I'm kinda glad I didn't read it then...

Ring Shout, P Djeli Clark. Hugo novella finalist. I apologize for not knowing how to put the accents over the vowels in the author's name.

Lush Money, Angelina Lopez. I started this from the list of Hispanic Romances for our library romance series, but I ended up not finishing it. It felt like the old fashioned romances that I didn't like in my youth, and it didn't really seem to fit the series theme.

Forever Strong, Piper J. Drake. A book from my library's shelves! I have restarted my Library Quest to read a book from every shelf. 

Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys. From my (digital) shelves.

The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal. Hugo novel finalist.

Fires of the Faithful, Naomi Kritzer. Because I like this author. 

American Fairytale, Adriana Herrera. Another try at this author. 

The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman. For my Tuesday reading club.

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks. From my mom's shelves.

Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey. Hugo novella finalist.

Raven Black, Ann Cleeves. For my Tuesday book club.

Finna, Nino Cipri. Hugo novella finalist.

Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo. Hugo novella finalist. 

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, Ntozake Shange. Play I wanted to read. 

The Cuckoo's Egg, Clifford Stoll. From my shelves. I've had this book since before I got married, let alone had kids!

Pucker, Melanie Gideon. Cybils finalist. 

Deal With the Devil, Kit Rocha. Cloudy book club pick. 

The Beautiful Struggle (Young Readers Edition), Ta-Nehisi Coates. Feeling out a high school nonfiction book.


A Wish in the DarkVictories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1)Under the Eye of the StormCome Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. HeinleinThe Ruthless Lady's Guide to WizardryForever Strong (True Heroes, #6)
Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)Future Home of the Living GodFires of the Faithful (Eliana's Song, #1)
American Fairytale (Dreamers, #2)The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)
Ring ShoutYear of Wonders
Upright Women WantedRaven Black (Shetland Island, #1)Finna (LitenVerse #1)For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is EnufThe Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage

A Wish in the Dark, Christina Soontornvat. 2020 Cybils Middle Grade NF. Strong entry, with a fun prison escape followed by magical wishes, misguided and/or evil bureaucracy, a righteous kid forced to confront hard realities, and a great chewy moral dilemma involving what people owe to themselves, to their friends, and to their societies. Just what kids like to munch on.

Victories Greater than Death, Charlie Jane Anders. Tuesday book club pick. Woke teens in SPPAAAACE. This did what it said on the tin, but I felt the kids were based on the author hearing about teens rather than knowing them. 

Under the Eye of the Storm, John Hersey. I felt Hersey worked really hard to get all the sailing bits right, and I have no idea how he did because first of all I have no idea how sailing works, and second of all, I skipped over most of the details, like I would for technobabble in an SF book. This felt a bit like an SF book anyway, because the relationships and expectations between men and women, and couples to couples, was so very alien to me. I believe Hersey was meticulously portraying actual people that he knew, but I don't know any people like that and would find their way of moving through the world bizarre. So it was a fascinating read but I am definitely not the expected audience.

Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire. 2021 Hugo novella finalist. This is definitely a part of a series; I felt like I missed some resonances because my aged memory is too feeble to hold all the details of the interactions in the previous entrees about these two sisters. But I really liked a lot of the images, and also the dichotomy between the whimsical nature of the kids from chaotic realms and how those kids are also often the ones to make the tough decisions. Still a bit too far on the horror side for my wimpy self, though.

The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendelson. 2020 Hugo Related Works finalist. Ha! You thought I was just kidding myself! But I finished it! It definitely worked more as a collection of essays for me, due to the glacial pace at which I read it, but I enjoyed seeing the different perspectives, and I think I got some new insights as to what Heinlein was trying to do with some of his female characters, particularly Podkayne and Friday.

The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, C.M. Waggoner. Sword & Laser pick. I ended up enjoying this a lot, after being a bit dubious in the first chapters. I liked how it would flirt with a genre convention and then suddenly grin and jump sideways. I liked the transition of the romance from a fake to a real thing, and I also liked discovering the world through the adventures of the ruthless ladies.

Forever Strong, Piper J. Drake. A Library Quest book! This was a modern romance set on Hawaii, so I was immediately happy. And I liked the competence of both characters, and the dog was really cute. 

Gardens of the Moon, Steven EriksonTuesday book club pick. I never really warmed to it, and I'll probably not push on to the rest of the series, but I'm glad I finished. I can appreciate the worldbuilding, but I found most of the characters either dull or repelling or sometimes both. I had a "plague on all your houses" feeling towards all the various factions, so it was hard to care which one would manage to kill off the other one. There was a love story, and it left me utterly baffled -- it was like the author noticed that he had two women around who weren't asexual, so he matched them up with people. In one the woman was a viewpoint character, and I still had no idea why anyone thought this was a good idea; in the other she was mostly just a prop for a guy to cast shadows on, which was not a better prospect. There were lots of magicians, and they could do whatever the plot required, and lots of evil overlords plotting, and I was tired.

Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich. From my shelves. I think I bought this at the start of the pandemic. I'm kinda glad I didn't read it then... It's interesting to see how it differs from an SF book, even while it plays with some of the same elements. But especially at the end I can see why it is shelved where it is. It's an interesting look at family dynamics and how pregnancies affects connections with parents, lovers, biological family, and society. And how Native Americans approach their relationship with the world and political America. An interesting read, although it left me unsettled. 

Fires of the Faithful, Naomi Kritzer. I enjoy fantasy and SF where religion is important to the characters and the world, and this is a good example! It uses a fantasy version of Christianity, where magic is involved and lots of things are changed (like how Dune borrows from Islam), and has the main character be rather oblivious to many things. This worked well for me, especially since she was also oblivious to why she had such strong feelings for the new student at the musical academy where the story started. Since teen romance often exhausts me in YA books, I appreciated how clueless the main character was. It was a bit funny how quickly the other characters came to rely on her, but I was willing to swallow that to make the story work. In return, I got interesting and complex characters and situations. I think I want to read the next book in this series (I think there are two).

American Fairytale, Adriana Herrera. OK, for some reason this author and I just don't mesh. Despite being full of the things that I want (interesting backgrounds for characters, reasonable issues standing in the way of True Love), I don't like how they come together. The slang and word patterns of the characters doesn't ring true to me (which probably means it's completely authentic!), and the way their problems are illustrated annoyed me. If the problem is that the rich guy uses his money to override the other guy's agency, maybe don't illustrated that by the rich guy helping someone else in a way the other guy disapproves -- it should revolve around his own agency, not him dictating how someone else should set boundaries!. Points for someone actually using Tango Makes Three in the way conservatives clutch their pearls about -- to normalize gay relationships.  

The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman. For my Tuesday reading club. Fun and slight read, about old people who move from investigating cold cases to an active murder, with their changing understanding of their current capabilities, which keep shifting as they age. I tried to get my mom (whom I'm convincing to move to a senior community) interested, but she wouldn't bite. 

Ring Shout, P Djeli Clark. 2021 Hugo novella finalist. This was a great mix of history and fantasy, with the hate fed by the movie The Birth of a Nation made explicit through aliens using it to infiltrate America. The battles and fights were vivid and a bit much for wimpy me and the relationships between the characters done quickly but successfully. I was a bit bothered by how little agency the main character had; she mostly seemed to be reacting either to the bad guys or to her allies telling her where to go and what to do.

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks. I had a good time reading this story of a community struck by disease, with social distancing and scofflaws and people pursuing crankpot ideas, some of which accidentally work. The main character was fun to read but I probably wouldn't have been friends with her; she was very smug about herself. As I read it, I was trying to remember which other Brooks book I had read; the story was new but the style was very familiar. When I recorded it on LibraryThing I found out -- it was this one! I had read it in 2011. I'm officially too old to remember books anymore.

Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey. 2021 Hugo novella finalist. Young kid runs away from home, scared because she has "unnatural" inclinations (she's not attracted to men). Really she should have been worried about the murderous authorities but she's not really the brightest. Luckily she's a good cook, so she's adopted by the clearly queer librarians and soon falls in love with one of them. More adventures happen along the way! It's a fun YA story but as a jaded old person I found all that youthful angst rather tiring. The kid was more interested in her possible romantic/sexual partners than in the dystopian society around her, but I had the opposite curiosity so found her attentions constantly pointed in the wrong direction. 

Raven Black, Ann Cleeves. For my Tuesday book club. I'm ahead again! I enjoyed the structure of the story, with four viewpoint characters giving different looks into the small Scottish village. I found the deliberate omission of relevant facts a bit annoying; somehow they never thought about tiny things like committing murders when looking at the subsequent murder investigation. So I don't think the book would work well on a second read, but it's probably a good way to do a TV show.

Finna, Nino Cipri. 2021 Hugo novella finalist. This is a fun exercise in writing the feeling of being lost in a strange dimension when wandering around in IKEA -- what if that confusing really did create portals? And what if the store had a policy throwing the lowest seniority workers in after any lost customers? And Cipri adds some personal complications, with the two "volunteers" dealing with a fresh break up and differing life goals. I see that this is marked as book one of a series, and it does have a feel of setting up a situation rather than really nailing this story.

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, Ntozake Shange. I think I need to see a recording of this rather than read it; my limited skill in reading plays meant I found many of the poems lifeless. Sometimes I could see the emotion behind them, but I think I would have been better off reading it as a book of poetry rather than a play, as the stage directions kept distracting me. But I still managed to get some glimpses into the lives Shange was celebrating, and the pain and joys they find in the intersections of their lives and racist society.

The Cuckoo's Egg, Clifford Stoll. This was an entertaining history of learning how to track a hacker down in the start of the interent era, where most people had no idea what computers were and "dial-up" was a thing. I think I enjoyed it more for the nostalgia -- I was in college and then working in Silicon Valley right after these times, and I recognize the different machine systems and the excitement of connecting from one place to another. It was fun to revisit. 

Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Black Leopard, Red WolfThe LuminariesThe Bourne Supremacy (Jason Bourne, #2)The Wine-Dark Sea (Aubrey & Maturin #16)
The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters, #1)Sharks in the Time of SaviorsLast Night at the Telegraph Club
Vampire Trinity (Vampire Queen, #6)Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2)The Conductors (Murder and ...You Should See Me in a Crown

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James. Ancient Sword and Laser pick. Didn't touch it. 

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. Finished a chapter!

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

The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O'Brien. Made it a few pages ahead.

Seven Sisters, Lucinda Riley. The library brought it back, but I pushed for another week.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors, Kawai Strong Washburn. Didn't touch it. 

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Malinda Lo. Didn't touch it.

Vampire Trinity, Joey W. Hill. Trinities are complex, especially with mythical vamire powers.

Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir. Hugo novel finalist. I had to leave it behind while in Texas, but now I'm reading it again.

Conductors, Nicole Glover. My eating companion. I made a bit of progress, but really watching Voyager took over most of my eating time.

You Should See Me In a Crown, Leah Johnson. Cybils finalist. Prom shenanigans!

Picture Books / Short Stories:

How Goes The World? (The Will Darling Adventures, #3.5; England World, #2.5)The Station of the Twelfth

"How Goes the World", K.J. Charles. As a treat for her readers, Charles wrote this story to show where the characters are a little after the end of the real books. It's not a stand-alone story; it's only to check in with our favorites, but as one of the people who really enjoyed those favorites, I was delighted to see what Kim & Will, and also Archie & Daniel, and a few of their friends were up to.

"The Station of the Twelfth", Chaz Brenchley. This does a great job of setting a mood and giving me the sense of knowing a whole bunch of Martian history that goes into creating that mood. 

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)
Dates from HellReading and Learning to Read

The Educated Child, William Bennett. More parent involvement in schools. 

Wool, Hugh Howey. 

Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho. Girls just want to stop murders. Especially of a prospective boyfriend.
Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others. I see where this story is going, and I'm enjoying the ride.

Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Moving into the appendixes! 

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2020. Started and then ignored You Should See Me In a Crown.
  2. Early Cybils: Started Pucker.
  3. Hugos 2021: Finished all but one novella. Made minimal progress on last two novels. Finished the podcasts, but now I should do the youtube stuff, which is much harder.  
  4. KCLS 10 To Try: 10/10. Complete!
  5. Tacoma Extreme Reading Challenge. 51/55. Counted again, and I must have missed some. I think I will have to actively go after the remainder.
  6. Reading My Library. Read one! 
  7. Where Am I Reading 2021: 31/51 states. Hawaii! I'm currently reading books in Indiana, Maryland and Rhode Island. 19 Countries. Gave myself the magical China and Thailand.

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: Deal With the Devil Next: Vampire Trinity
  • Library Book: Pucker.  Next: 
  • Ebook I own:   Luminaries. Next:   
  • Library Ebook: Beautiful Struggle Next:
  • Book Club Book:  Deal With the Devil  Up Next: Terra Nullus
  • Tuesday Book Club Book: . Next: I need to finish that sailing book.
  • Review Book: The Queer Principles of Kit Webb  Next: Back Home
  • Hugo Book: Ruthless Moon. Next: Harrow the Ninth.
  • Rereading: Steerswoman
  • Meal Companion: Conductors
  • Audio: None  Next: I have a book on CD I'll start listening to if I ever catch up on my podcasts.