Monday, July 18, 2022

Temperature Says Summer Is Here

July has started! It was pretty quiet for me. I'm not really in the mood to celebrate my country, especially since I think the recent supreme court decisions pretty much repudiate what I thought our country was about. So no sparklers for me. 

My sister's family went to Jamaica, so I walked over to feed their cats and texted to hear about their adventures and let them know about any excitements over here, like my getting some of the sprinkler heads to line up correctly. I'm sure that was as much fun as all the beaches and luminescent water and historical tours they were doing. 

I escaped the heat a few times by seeing some movies -- Elvis was interesting but also really long, and Thor: Love and Thunder was fun but bogged down a few times. My mom had a doctor's appointment that went well, and I went to a small cookout with friends who haven't seen each other in a few years, because of the pandemic. And, oh yeah, my mom got COVID on Sunday. She's currently dealing with a really bad sore throat, so tomorrow I'm going to see if I can get her anything for it. 

I am still second on my list of all the Cybils finalists. But I'm still working on the categories -- I'm working on poetry right now. Look out, Shaye! I only need like thirty thirty-five forty thirty more books to catch up! (Shaye has made the strategic error of finishing all the books -- she can't increase her lead anymore!)

I'm also working my way through the Hugo finalists for this year; I've got two more novels to go.

I'm currently reading about 39 books, which is at least not 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 think I'm in time this week! Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers.


The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It MattersHunt the Stars (Starlight's Shadow, #1)Starship Down #1
Ascendance of a Bookworm (Manga) Part 1 Volume 4Dragon's Breath (The Tales of the Frog Princess, #2)Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron: A Graphic Novel
Sinister Magic (Death Before Dragons, #1)Huda F Are You?The Last Train to Key WestA Place to Hang the Moon
Ascendance of a Bookworm (Manga) Volume 5You Can Write Children's BooksImmersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent  Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet's LifeThe Zen Path Through Depression
Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Cottage (Aunt Dimity #25)黒執事 XXII [Kuroshitsuji XXII]Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi (Novel) Vol. 2The Grief of Stones  (The Cemeteries of Amalo, #2)
You Don't Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming ThemselvesEverywhere BlueSpear

The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker. Recommended for the staff at the small convention I help with.

Hunt the Stars, Jessie Mihalik. Sword & Laser's July pick.

Starship Down #1, Justin Giampaoli. Comic recommended by Seattle Public librarian.

Ascendance of a Bookworm (manga), Part 1 Vol 4, Suzuka. Catching up with the manga.

Dragon's Breath, E.D. Baker. Another book for my palate cleansers.

Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, Julia Quinn. Belated arrival for romance graphic novel discussion.

Sinister Magic, Lindsay Buroker. Audio for while I do my chores.

Huda F Are You?, Huda Famy. I like her autobiographical comics. 

The Last Train to Key West, Chanel Cleeton. My local library's in-person book club is back! Yay!

A Place to Hang the Moon, Kate Albus. Cybils finalist. 

Ascendance of a Bookworm (manga), Part 1 Vol 5, Miya Kazuki. Chugging along!

You Can Write Children's Books, Tracey E. Dils. Another palate cleanser.

Immersed in Verse, Allan Wolf. Cybils finalist. 

The Zen Path Through Depression, Philip Martin. Part of a read-my-shelves challenge.

Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Castle, Nancy Atherton. Reading along in this series. 

Black Butler 22, Yana Toboso. Chugging through the manga.

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation Vol 2, Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù. I am now ahead of my television viewing, although the TV show timeline is different so it isn't all that clear.

Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison. I love these books. 

You Don't Have to Be Everything, Diana Whitney (editor). Cybils finalist. 

Everything Blue, Joanne Rossmassler Fritz. Cybils finalist. 

Spear, Nicola Griffith. For Foolscap book club.


The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms, #1)LongshotStarship Down #1
Hunt the Stars (Starlight's Shadow, #1)Ascendance of a Bookworm (Manga) Part 1 Volume 4Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron: A Graphic NovelHuda F Are You?
Violets Are BlueThe Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It MattersFreedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus BoycottAscendance of a Bookworm (Manga) Volume 5
Vampire Trinity (Vampire Queen, #6)The Last Train to Key WestPhoenix ExtravagantAunt Dimity and the Enchanted Cottage (Aunt Dimity #25)
黒執事 XXII [Kuroshitsuji XXII]A Place to Hang the MoonThe Grief of Stones  (The Cemeteries of Amalo, #2)You Don't Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves

The Jasmine Throne, Tasha Suri. Cloudy book club. Actually I finished this in June but didn't noticed because my Kindle app helpfully moves things off my currently-reading list when I finish a library ebook, which means I often forget to review them. Anyway, I liked it but didn't love it; there was a lot of great sweeping empire bits, and lots of different goals from different characters, but the love story seemed mostly tedious to me and it took a lot of pages. We all finished it but don't want to rush on to the rest of the series. 

Longshot, Dick Francis. Friday night book club pick. This was a fun read, both for those of us who have read every Francis and those who like him but have only read a few. This had a fun protagonist, made him the one new to racing so it was easier to explain stuff to us novices, and gave him a good range of people to meet and be threatened by. It was also fun to compare it with the Clive Cussler we read a few months ago (Francis has aged better, although this is not as old). 

Starship Down #1, Justin Giampaoli. Long long ago, during the pandemic (remember the pandemic?) Seattle library gave me this as part of a SF bundle, but marked it NO DUE DATE. Um, I sort my library books by due date, so it languished at the far end of the shelf for over a year. I finally noticed this and read the comic. I found the art engaging, although I (of course) had some struggles with telling people apart, especially when the priest renounced his vestments. Theologically I find the premise a bit confusing, but I enjoyed the main character and her ambitions. I don't think I'll seek out the next in the series though. 

Hunt the Stars, Jessie Mihalik. Sword & Laser's July pick. This was something that exactly hit my summer reading mood. It's a light hearted SF romance that plays with a lot of SF tropes -- there's a ship with a found family, all buddies from a previous war, and then they are hired to help some of their old enemies (the money is good) and both groups find out what their respective governments have been lying about while they have to do some serious rescue work. Oh, and they fall in love. I mostly skimmed the sex bits because I was enjoying the Empire swashbuckling and the human skills letting them compete with the alien psionic powers, and it was all great fun. 

Ascendance of a Bookworm (manga), Part 1 Vol 4, Suzuka. (I don't know why goodreads says the author changed??). Reading the manga after the light novels does make things easier, but I think I'm going to try to catch up and do it the other way, because I prefer the pleasure of "oh, THAT's what is happening" to the quiet complete comprehension. Myne and Lutz are working hard and making mistakes, and I really like all the detail in the illustations. 

Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, Julia Quinn. This was crazy. I mean, I had fun and it was short, but I was a bit confused about which bits to take seriously. The panel with the girl and her broken legs after the tragedy with the pirana birds should have been a clue. I have no idea who the audience is, or with what other works of literature it is in conversation with. 

Huda F Are You?, Huda Famy. This time Famy looks at her identity crisis as teen, where she struggled with self esteem and instead tried to match the interests or expectations of anyone around her. And of course, deal with some anti-Muslim prejudice along the way. I enjoyed and related to her stories of figuring all this out in high school with high family expectations but low personal understanding.

The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker. This gave me a lot to think about, both personally and professionally. It reinforces some ideas about ritual and formality and ways they work both positively and negatively in different environments, and how to make a space work for you or to know when an event is over, and the responsibilities of the host in everything from a dinner party to a formal wedding to a science fiction convention.

Freedom Walkers, Russell Freedman. 2006 Cybils Middle Grade and YA Nonfiction finalist. This was a good overview of the bus boycott complete with an impression selection of black and white photos. I learned a few details but also noticed good coverage of Rosa Parks and Claudette Corvin and other details I know from other books. So when it covered stuff I knew it was accurate and I trusted it for the stuff that was new to me. 

Violets Are Blue, Barbara Dee. 2021 Cybils Middle Grade fiction finalist. There's a lot to like here -- I was fascinated with Ren's interest in extreme make-up, and I sympathized with her efforts to find a social balance in middle school, finding friends without sacrificing who she wanted to be. It felt a bit problem-novel-y to me; I spotted her mom's problem early and just watched the end collapsing in, but it's a good example of a problem-novel with relatable people and complexity in their lives.

Ascendance of a Bookworm (manga), Part 1 Vol 5, Miya Kazuki. This is the one where we get lots of details about the merchant guild, and also learn with Myne that there is more magic in the world than she thought. I, being clever, and also probably because I've read the light novels for this bit, have also spotted that with the odd vegetables that she keeps getting in trouble with. 

Vampire Trinity, Joey Hill. Well, I made it through. Some of the world building was interesting, but I didn't the relationship dynamics that interesting, or that hot. So I would say this series isn't for me. 

The Last Train to Key West, Chanel Cleeton. Oops. I misread my calendar -- the re-start of the local library in-person bookclub is NEXT Wednesday, not the past Wednesday. So I hope I remember enough of this book about three women staring down the guns of matrimony in depression-era Florida in the 1930s. Turns out they are also staring in to the eye of an enormous historic hurricane that is going to dramatically affect each of their relationships! I liked how the book had the women barely interact, so I as the reader could connect them, but what really bound them together was the theme -- what makes a marriage? why enter into one? when to leave one? what kind of relationship do I want? or can I accept? They all have different situations and have to work with limitations and expectations that both help and hinder. 

Phoenix Extravagant, Yoon Ha Lee. OK, I admire Lee's versatility, because the setting and tone is so drastically different from his other books (that I've read). I really liked how Jebu is really ethical -- they don't like killing, they do think even sapient automatons deserve respect, they are willing to risk themselves for these beliefs. It was interesting to me how this revealed confusions I have over nonbinary characters; like when they had to pee in the woods I had no idea of how awkward this was, when they had sex with a woman I had no idea why they weren't worried about pregnancy, when they were a couple I had no idea what the societal implications were. OK, that last one wasn't really about their gender, more about how because I'd already tripped over the other questions I realized that I wasn't comfortable filling in the background idea from my life, or even from my vague guess of what fantasy societies such as these do, but really had no idea what this particular place was doing. 

Aunt Dimity and the Enchanted Castle, Nancy Atherton. These are short, low stakes cosy mysteries. In fact, I mostly read these now to see how low the stakes can go. The mystery this time is why the new guy in town is sad. Several people ask him, and he finally tells one of them. The end! Oh, also a toddler likes ducks. But meanwhile Lori continues having a perfect life with perfect children and endlessly kind and accommodating friends, relatives, and neighbors. It's a vacation of a series.

Black Butler 22, Yana Toboso. The final stage of wrapping up the werewolves/secret chemical weapon subplot is presenting Ceri's new friend to the Queen! So we get to go to dress shops and have etiquette lessons. This is entirely the content that I have signed up to this manga for, so I was very happy.

A Place to Hang the Moon, Kate Albus. 2021 Cybils Middle Grade fiction finalist. Since I was old enough to read I've devoured books about kids in World War II, so this book about British evacuees was made for me. It also stars a librarian and the three siblings are all bibliophiles. On an emotional level, I liked how they were struggling to be a family and hoping to find an adult to parent them, and what that meant to them. I can't really judge how other people would like it because the author was apparently mostly writing the things I like best and I loved it.

Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison. I knew I'd like it because just the chance to hang out in the Elven kingdom with elves and goblins was going to be great. And then Addison managed to up the emotional stakes a lot and I realized how much I liked the protagonist and how he was rebuilding his life and I ended up really loving this book. 

You Don't Have to Be Everything, Diana Whitney (editor). 2021 Cybils Poetry finalist. I just couldn't gel with this collection, probably because they were selected for teenages, especially teen aged girls, and I am old. There were a few poems that I liked, but most of them I knew before this book. I think it does what it wants to do very well, but it's not doing it for me.

-----------------Book From Blogging Hiatus -----------------
I think this is long enough already, don't you?

Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:

Ok, I'm only going to put a book in here when I actually try to read it. Or at least actually pick it up and think about reading it. This week I made some progress in:

Many Points of MeThe Wine-Dark Sea (Aubrey & Maturin #16)Ethan of Athos (Vorkosigan Saga, #3)Sweep of the Heart (Innkeeper Chronicles, #5)
Forging a NightmareCobra (Cobra, #1)She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1)A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, #2)
Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear CatastropheThe Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games

Many Points of Me, Caroline Gertler. Cybils finalist. I'm avoiding this one because I'm afraid of grief.

The Wine-Dark Sea, Patrick O'Brian. I was supposed to read this with my Tuesday book club last year. 

Ethan of Athos, Lois McMaster Bujold. I drive my son to work in exchange for him doing Wordle/Quordle with me. If we finish early, I have provided him with this audio to prevent me from starting interesting conversations like "so what do you plan to do with your life?". I think he's enjoying it; it's definitely better than those conversations! (I'm loving it. We're in the fast-penta scene with the Cetagandans.)

Sweep of the Heart, Ilona Andrews. More political intrigue! Friends and new acquaintances are in cahoots.  

Forging a Nightmare, Patricia A. Jackson. Lots of progress, but then I got made at the main character.

Cobra, Timothy Zahn. The Baen Free Radio Podcast serial. The close-to-graduation screw up part!

She Who Became the Sun, Shelley Parker-Chan. Hugo novel finalist.

A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine. Hugo finalist.

Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy. 

The Dark Fantastic, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. I lost this! But now I've found it.

Ship Without Sails, Sherwood Smith. Sadly she is sending these faster than I read them, because I don't always read on my ipad.

Picture Books / Short Stories:

Pokko and the DrumSterling, Best Dog EverLittle Mouse's Big SecretIt's Duffy Time!
The Best Worst Poet EverBear's Big BreakfastHarvey Potter's Balloon FarmIn Our Mothers' House
The Buddy BenchPete the Cat and the Bedtime BluesTen on the SledThe Remember Balloons

Pokko and the Drum, Matthew Forsythe. Reading-my-library Picture Book - ANIMALS. As a parent, I completely understood the introductory words to the effect that giving Pokko that drum may have been a mistake. But it's clearly a mistake these frog parents are committed to making. I also liked the frog mother's dedication to her book.

Sterling, Best Dog Ever, Aidan Cassie. Reading-my-library Picture Book - ANIMALS. The amusing illustrations and clever idea of Sterling, the dog who thought he had to be a fork, made the lesson about being loved for yourself go down very easily. 

Little Mouse's Big Secret, Eric Battut. Reading-my-library Picture Book - ANIMALS. Hee hee, a mouse tries to be selfish and is accidentally awesome. 

It's Duffy Time, Audrey Wood. Reading-my-library Picture Book - ANIMALS. Although normally I'm a bit put off by Wood's illustrations, the uncanny valley is not as strong for me with dogs as with people. I almost missed the sneaky face clocks all over. 

The Best Worst Poet Ever, Lauren Stohler. Reading-my-library Picture Book - ANIMALS. This was a lot of fun -- the cat poet with a quill and the pug dog with a manual typewriter, and their reconciliation when the pug takes being compared with a lot of gross food as a compliment. 

Bear's Big Breakfast, Lynn Rowe Reed. Reading-my-library Picture Book - ANIMALS. This was a fun celebration of the letter B, a letter we should all appreciate.

Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm, Jerdine Nolan. Reading-my-library Picture Book - ANIMALS. I loved this. I liked the illustrations, I liked the story and the voice, and I liked the concept. 

In My Mother's House, Patricia Poloccio. Reading-my-library Picture Book - LIFE ISSUES. Two moms and their three kids, as told as a memory by one of the kids. It's a history of a block in Berkeley and of a family, and it's joyful and caring.

The Buddy Bench, Patty Bronzo. Reading-my-library Picture Book - LIFE ISSUES. This didn't work well as a story book -- the rhymes were forced and the rhythms cramped. As an explanation of what a buddy bench is and why it's a good addition to a school playground it does better. 

Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues, Kimberly Dean. Reading-my-library Picture Book - BEDTIME. I continue to be a bit creeped out by Pete the Cat, so I would have snuck this back into the library bag as quick as possible back in the day.

Ten on the Sled, Kim Norman. Reading-my-library Picture Book - CONCEPTS. A fun counting book as you watch the animals depart the sled, with twists around which ones will go next and also when they will appear again. Fun enough.

The Remember Balloons, Jessie Oliveros. A lovely picture book exploring how grandparents or other people can lose memories (the balloons) and how that feels and what it looks like. The conceit of memories as balloons is well illustrated, with the younger siblings having fewer but increasing balloons and the parents and grandparents ginormous clouds. Watching the balloons slip away was emotionally wrenching for me. 

Palate Cleansers

These books I'm barely reading; lately I use them as bribes to get me to deal with the mail. I've been ignoring my mail.

Dates from HellStingerYEAR OF WONDER: Classical Music for Every Day

Dates From Hell, Kim Harrison & others. This one is fun -- the failed date with the baddie, and now hanging out with the guy who looks like the goodie. 

50 Great Poets, ed. Milton Crane (no picture).

Stinger, Nancy Kress. High stakes. 

Year of Wonder, Clemency Burton-Hill. I'm mostly keeping up with the present July selections. 

Reading Challenges
  1. Cybils 2021: Finished two middle grade fictions and a poetry book. 
  2. Early Cybils: Finished Freedom Walkers and started Immersed in Verse.
  3. Reading My Library. Have the next one waiting. Continued with the picture books from Renton Highlands -- I found some lost ones for CONCEPTS and LIFE ISSUES and read BEDTIME and worked on ANIMALS (by far the biggest category).
  4. Where Am I Reading 2022. Picked up Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. 25/51. I've got 13 countries. 
  5. Libraries: 44/55 for the Tacoma Extreme Challenge: Picked up 10-Fiction from 2022, 20-Refugee, 
    Finished Ancestral Night for KCLS 10 to Try.

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: Forging a Nightmare Next: Desolation Called Peace
  • Library Book: Out of Darkness Next: Never Tell
  • Ebook I own: Your Perfect Year  Next: Wine-Dark Sea
  • Library Ebook:  Darkness Outside Us  Next: On the Corner of Hope and Main
  • Book Club Book: Out of Darkness
  • Tuesday Book Club Book: Wine-Dark Sea
  • Hugo Book: Desolation Called Peace
  • Review Book: Back Home  Next: 
  • Rereading: Heidi. 
  • Meal Companion: Never Tell
  • Audio:  Sinister Magic


Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

I know I felt similarly to you about July 4th, Beth, and I've seen a few other bloggers who have as well. But I'm glad the start of July is going reasonably smoothly, even if fixing your sprinklers doesn't compare to your sister's trip in Jamaica! (At least you can say you're being productive!) As for books, I really need to read Huda F Are You?, which has been on my shelf for a while and which I keep almost reading but then not for some reason. I've heard good things about Violets Are Blue and A Place to Hang the Moon, and Many Points of Me is also one I keep avoiding, even though it is blurbed by Rebecca Stead and therefore I very much want to get to it at some point. Thanks so much for the wonderful post, Beth!

Cheriee Weichel said...

It sounds like you had a fabulous reading week!LIke Max, Huda F Are You? is on my list and I hope to get to it sometime this year.