Friday, September 08, 2017

autumn has arrived.

Rain two days in a row: fall comes once again to the North Olympic Peninsula.  Dust off your wellies.

Love and capes: Wake up where you are and Love and capes: What to expect by Thomas Zahler.  I'd like more like these, please.

The library at the edge of the world by Felicity Hayes-McCoy.  I nearly put this down multiple times.  I cannot say it is a good book.  The main character is not exactly likable for the majority of the book, nor is she particularly sympathetic.  Several of the other important characters are difficult to like; the author may have been going for "realistically flawed" but missed the mark-- we get all their snark and sass and not enough of their vulnerability, which makes the difficult bits understandable and relatable.  There were far more errors than I expect in an ARC, which makes me dubious about the final product.

Victoria and Abdul by Shrabani Basu.  This is more interesting than I anticipated, but I have a lot on my plate right now and this is the least compelling.

The author does a good job of making all the detail understandable, but I did do a bit of skimming, especially in sections listing all the Indian provinces or government ministers-- names tend to be included with little to no introductory information.  Terms are dropped in with no explanations.  Best for readers already somewhat familiar with both English government history and Indian geography.

Monday, September 04, 2017

sci-fi and TV

The Martian with Matt Damon.  I've read this book before (once for myself, and once to refresh before leading a book club discussion) any my husband finally read it this summer.  We really enjoyed the experience of watching the movie and comparing it to the book's story.  I'm glad we watched it at home instead of in the theater; we paused it constantly to discuss.  With that said, however,  I'm not sure why anyone would think this is a good movie.

What was really lacking were all the disasters that show who Watney is.  There's only so much disaster you can cram into a movie, but all those times when Mark found something new to kill him, that's when we learned about his personality, through his reactions and planning, and his abilities and fortitude, as he figured each thing out.  Without having to face all those problems, the viewer didn't get to really know Watney.  And if you don't know the character, you can't care about him.  Also without all those disasters everywhere, it made it seem like he wasn't really in that much danger.  Yeah, a couple bad things happened, but he remained in contact with NASA-- who seem a lot better able to effect change on his behalf-- and he didn't seem as likely to die.  Yeah, he got hungry, but his main enemy was loneliness.  The audience completely missed seeing him as a death-defying, intrepid problem solver.

Other complaints: (1)  Although they mention it a few times, the delay in radio contact seemed like nothing.  Being in constant contact completely changes the story.  (2)  In the book, it's very clear how Watney deals with the lesser gravity on Mars.  The movie completely ignored this.  (3)  I'm so angry about how Lewis was written.  I don't think the actress could have done anything better with what she was given.  Here's a space movie, set in the near future, with a culture we recognize, and we have a female captain.  And she turns out to be a whining, emotional disaster, constantly second-guessing and blaming herself.  We need new Janeway and we were given someone with the self-confidence of a depressed high-schooler.

I did really like the ending-- it fixed one of the main problems with the book.  All the visuals were also really great-- the detail in the space suits, the Martian landscapes.  It was very pretty.

2/5, would not recommend.

Children of time by Adrian Tchaikovsky.  I'm not sure what review I read to make me put a hold on this, as it turned out to be pretty different from my usual science-fiction fare.  I'm guessing the review leaned more heavily on the humanity's-survival part of the story, and less on the non-human, space-opera stuff.

The writing's a little space-opera genre-y but not over the top.  There are a lot of characters to keep track of, so many of them are a bit thin.  What the author did with the characters on the terraformed world, using the same names for characters down through time, following their maternal lines, was a good idea and really helped.  Not a book for every reader, or even for every sci-fi reader, but a pretty good example of a big space story-- generational ship transport, thousands of years of cryo-sleep, required questions about the status of humanity and "human" beings.

Shetland, seasons 1 and 2, with Douglas Henshall.  A friend recommended this for me to watch during my recovery (update: foot still broken).  I can see why some viewers may enjoy it, but it's not for me.  It's kind of dark and really slow.  If you like shows where each interpersonal scene is bookended by sweeping shots of forsaken coastline, this is the show for you; if you prefer shows where, ya know, stuff happens a bit more speedily, move along.  Another difficulty I had is that all the accents are so thick, I had to not only watch with subtitles on, but usually read them word for word.  I was therefore unable to knit while watching, which probably contributed to my feeling of how slow and boring the show is.  Also, all the story lines are two-parters-- two episodes per mystery.  If the format doesn't fit the content, why not do a miniseries or something? 

The islands are really beautiful; it was funny to watch my friend's face, though, as she reconsidered it as a travel destination when I pointed out that, in the middle of the afternoon in the episode set in late June, everyone was wandering around with double-layered jackets.  No wonder everyone is shown constantly drinking whiskey.

Farmer in the sky by Robert Heinlein.  When I first started stumbling around the public library, checking out random books with the sci-fi/fantasy genre stickers on their spines, there's a lot that I missed.  Although I've always been a fan, I never had anyone to introduce me to the genre in a formulaic way.  As I've come across authors who, I later learn, are founders in the genre, it's really interesting to look at what they wrote and when and see how they fit together.

The first half/two-thirds of this book is really great.  The writing's a little funny, both the not-quite-genuine-sounding speech and narration and also the physics lectures shoe-horned in, but not weird enough to stop anyone.  The main character waffles a lot on what he wants to do, which is a bit annoying but does make sense.  The situation on earth is not described hardly at all, but the trip, the colony, and the homestead are all very clear.

But then the book starts to get weird, really for no reason.  (Some spoilers, but the book's from 1950, so it's not like you haven't had time to read it.) The main character's step-sister dies, for no real reason except to move the plot along.  It's pretty out of the blue because, although she had been sick, it was downplayed and she was even getting better... until one day she died.  Then, on a survey mission, two teenager stumble across the *remains of an alien culture* which is cool, but completely out of the blue (oh, the author forgot to mention before, but shoves in here that there are also aliens who live near the human colonies on Mars AND Venus) and also, this discovery has no bearing on the remainder of the story.  It's weird, it doesn't fit, and it has no impact-- it should have been left out, or made into its own book.

Love and capes: Going to the chapel by Thomas F. Zahler.  This is volume 2 in the GN series.  I (still) like how this series is about Abby and Mark, and Mark just happens to have a secret identity as a super hero.  There are some super escapades involved in this volume's story line, but it's because that is part of Mark and Abby wants to understand it, not because it necessarily gets in the way of their relationship.  More "sci-fi" that's not really sci-fi at all.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

all from NetGalley.

Trials of the earth: The true story of a pioneer woman by Mary Mann Hamilton.  This is a good readalike for people who liked Letters of a woman homesteader (still one of my favorite audiobooks).  Most people would be surprised at the timeline for settlement in many out-of-the-way places-- in this book, it's the rural South, but the situation is very similar to settlement in the couple counties out here: stump farming and homesteading a la Little house on the prairie lasted into the 1900s and WWI happened before electricity.

The writing isn't superb, and the memoirist contradicts herself a couple times, but we're reading it for her life experience, not necessarily the literary quality.  Not a required purchase, but suggested.  3.5 stars.

Turtle island: The story of North America's first people by Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger.  It's clear from the variety of fonts in the eBook that this will have sort of a text-book-y layout.  It does work as a read-it-cover-to-cover book, but my guess is more students will use it for a chapter or two, for a citation/assignment.  It covers a very wide geographic area and time frame and doesn't go into very much depth.  Maybe it's intended as sort of a starter book; it's a very general introduction to the history, with not very much detail.  I've been trying to guess the age of the intended audience, but I recognize my impression of what's typical for any age group is colored.  Maybe 2nd-6th grades?  Not really recommended.

Surviving the Angel of Death: The true story of a Mengele twin in Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri.  This is not a great book.  The author relates a sequence of events but it's not very compelling.  Most young readers will probably be bored.  The coauthor could have really stepped up.  The author mentioned she has several other books and articles, so I'm not sure if her writing just doesn't translate well to trying to write for a younger audience, or if they're all like this.  Not recommended.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

still from the couch

Artemis by Andy Weir.  I finished this over a week ago, so I've had plenty of time to reflect.  I was concerned that my initial impressions were too colored by my expectations but upon reflection, 1) my opinions are valid, and 2) it is reasonable to compare an author's work to previous work by the same author.

This is not as good as The Martian, but it is still a good book.  The main thing I didn't super love was the main character / 's voice.  The attitude and snarkiness are too similar to Watney's.  My guess is that this character was made female to try to add differences between the two characters, but that didn't change the character in any meaningful way.  A more unique character would have made a better read.

Although samey, the character did come off as mostly authentic, except in one part: what some kind beta reader should have told Weir is that women don't call each other "bitch."  It's too fraught with mansplaining and sexism.  I checked in with a coworker, and neither of us knows of any other women who throw this around in conversation.  It made her less realistic.  But maybe we're a weird subset of professional women.

Still a fun and exciting read; looking forward to more from this author.  4 stars.

Royal pains, seasons 1-8, with Mark Feuerstein, among others.  I've had this on my Netflix list for a long time and ended up binge-watching the whole run while my foot was propped up.  (Stupid metatarsal.)  Eight years is a long run for anything and I was worried about the later seasons.  As anticipated, season five pretty well jumped the shark and most of the interpersonal stories in the following seasons were pretty strained.  Fortunately, it sounds like the run is over.

The two brothers were well-cast.  The story lines are pretty good, although the writing is a bit canned.  I truly loved how the characters interacted with and supported the socially-atypical character... until season [7 or 8] when someone tried to give a name to his "condition."  Not everyone needs a diagnosis.  And why do so many TV shows do a musical episode?  Do other people actually like them?  It's horrifying.

Most appropriate for viewers not captured by anything else and looking to kill time.

The Paris spy by Susan Elia MacNeal.  I feel like each of these books has a different feel.  The tone and style seems to bounce around.  I never know what to expect.  That seems like a pretty big failing in the writing.  Pick a style and own it.

This one was pretty good, but any spy that makes the kind of errors these various characters make probably won't last long.  I'd really like to stop reading this series, but this entry did end on a pretty big cliff-hanger.
Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies by Jared Diamond.  Ugh, I've been trying to read this since April.  The content is really interesting but the writing is so... bleh.  Not really dry, not overly academic, just... plain boring.  This book made such an impact on nonfiction readership that I thought the failing must be mine, but another coworker admitted she's picked up and put it back down a few times. 

Bitch planet, book two, by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine de Landro.  It would probably be best to wait until all the volumes are out, then read them back to back, or at least within a shorter, finite period.  There are a lot of world details and characters the reader should be pretty fresh on before jumping in here.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

my foot is up.

Since a few days after my last post, I've been laid up with a stress fracture.  Stupid metatarsal.  I'm getting pretty tired of the couch.

The hollow men by Rob McCarthy.  I seem to be experimenting more with suspense/thriller.  This was enjoyable-- enough space for getting to know the character, not all action that doesn't actually result in much change or growth.  There is a series heading in the bib record, but you could just read this one and be done.  I'm not even totally clear on what direction future series installments would take.

Rocket science for babies, General relativity for babies, and Newtonian physics for babies by Chris Ferrie.  I picked up these picture book ARCs for my expected nephew while at Digipalooza.  The illustrations are very simple with tons of white space, and very short, bold sentences, one per page.  The design is very good.  I like that these might help parents think about using more science terminology with young children.  Why is the sky blue?  Physics.

Blackout by Marc Elsberg.  I was pretty excited about this title when I read a review a couple weeks ago, but this will only appeal to a small number of readers.  The story is told by following the situation in (at least) four European locations.  There are way too many people to track.  It reminded me of the set-up in a number of Harry Turtledove stories, with all the different people to follow.  Not a good way to tell a story.  I guess I still don't understand why a reader would care about the story or about any character(s) if we don't get a chance to understand and identify with them.

The hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan.  I don't feel compelled to continue this series.   The plot structure for each book is pretty formulaic, but since the intended audience isn't the most discerning, I can't really complain.  It looks like book three is going to tie in more cross-over characters from two of this author's other series, but having read all of those isn't a requirement.

One thing that has me thinking, though, are the pop culture references.  First, there are tons of off-handed comments about Game of Thrones or pop singers, etc., that will probably make the books age quicker than they would have normally.  In a few years, it'll still be a good story, but the frequent references to 15-minute-famous internet sensations will bore future readers.  The second thought I have is to the older pop culture references.  Many chapter titles, and also a few places in text, are references to cultural events I wouldn't expect the target reader to recognize-- The princess bride, Prince songs, and other stuff from the 1970s and '80s that is barely on my radar.  If my young reader gets to these, I'll have to remember to ask his opinion.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

media-heavy weekend

The boys left for the leeward side on Friday, to go to the Clan Gathering.  Having to work, I ended up with several afternoons and evenings so quietly by my lonesome.  I sat down!  I watched movies!  I did what I wanted to do!  I started a knitting project-- I haven't knit since we *learned* we had to move: March!  It is such a nice weekend.  I might hike tomorrow, or I might nap in the sun.

Badlands by

Saturday, July 22, 2017

transcribed reviews

I typed these up last year and they've just been hanging out as a draft all this time.  These books were read between 2001 and 2006.

Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen.  This was a pretty lousy book, according to my experience, and I've read some pretty bad ones.  The story ideas itself weren't that bad, although neither was it amazing.  The language left much to be desired but was at least not riddled with typos.  I never felt properly introduced to many of the characters.  I will not read this book again, nor would I tell anyone else to.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett.  As always, you've got to read Pratchett strictly for its entertainment value, but this is one of the books that has more insights than most.  It's a fun book, and I think it would be a good spring board for discussion.

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.  For all the opportunities it had to do so, this book just never brought me to the edge of my seat.  There was a bit of scientific yaddayaddah, which wasn't difficult to understand.
The main character (the narrator) was a real weenie-- no spirit of adventure, whined the whole trip, and fainted dead away at the slightest provocation.  I was not impressed.  He doesn't get to go camping with us.

Justice Hall by Laurie R. King.  Although I have greatly enjoyed this author, I must say that the first few books in the series were better.  I cannot exactly say why.  The danger in this story was greater; the villains, more maniacal; Holmes, truer; Russel, more innocent; and the slightest sexual tension inherent, but not in the way of the story.
This book was particularly frustrating in that it took two characters who had appeared in two previous books, who were exciting and well-loved, and bungled their uncomplicated relationships with each other, England, and their families.  For the duration of the book, they are not their normal selves. When they are restored, they go off and we do not see them, on adventures without us.  Unsatisfying.

The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder.  This book was amazing, in that it made history really come alive.  It put a different spin on the Norman invasion and William the Conqueror than we usually see.  The story moved along nicely.  It may be aimed a little younger than high school readers, but I still enjoyed it.

Kit's Wilderness by David Almond.  The story features a group of 13-year-olds, but the story could easily be relevant to an older age group.  It examines darkness: physical, personal, and a greater darkness.  Is darkness necessarily, inherently, perhaps, evil?  Is it wrong to seek darkness?  Darkness is a refuge, as well as a journey or a destination. Great potential to be very deep when used properly.

Knight Errant by R. Garcia Y Robertson.  Rather like the Outlander series in some ways-- time travel, love story, and history lesson rolled together.  This concerns the War of the Roses, around 1490.

I found the plot well-presented, but the author has no grasp of the true purpose of punctuation, using dashes and colons as decoration for the fragment.  With correct punctuation, the sentences would, by and large, be fine; the author just insists on breaking the sentences up with unnecessary periods.  The author also has a few pet phrases I find annoying that are used at every turn.  Eh.  I don't know if I'd necessarily recommend this one-- it isn't exactly great reading-- but I'm learning my history.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

one review

a lonely review to post so I can get it onto NetGalley. 

Parent deleted: A mother's fight for her right to parent by Michelle Darne.  Fully a third of the way through the book, what we hear about the most is the author's work history and work life.  I guess she's trying to show the kind of person she is?  It's hard to believe there will be a meaningful message; I mean, we hear more about her assistant than we do about her spouse.  It also seems like this is for a certain audience, for people who share more life experiences with the author.  I'm a 30-something professional woman, but I live in a town of less than 20,000 and work 37.5 hours per week.  I'm not in the same place as a 30-something professional woman who lives in New York City and works 16-hour days.  I'm married and have a child, but I'm not very brown, I've never been divorced, and I'm not a lesbian.  The author doesn't do anything to help people understand where she's coming from; she doesn't help the reader empathize much either, talking mainly about the actions she undertook to move her career forward.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

not many stars

Noble destiny  by Katie MacAlister.  Ugh.  This quickly became unbearably silly.  What a ninny.  2 stars, and that's only because the author can actually construct a full sentence and properly use commas.  Standards are low.

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The true story of New York City's greatest female detective and the 1917 missing girl case that captivated a nation by Brad Ricca.  The style doesn't work for me.  In the first few chapters, we jump around a wide span of years, visiting causes and effects.  It also feels highly novelized-- who said what and how everyone was feeling, largely made up out of whole cloth.  Maybe for true-crime fans?  I'm not one.

Deja who by MaryJanice Davidson.  This book is not for everyone.  First, the setting isn't really explored.  Is it a parallel earth; a near, enlightened future; an alternate reality?  This leaves the reader a little unmoored.  Secondly, this book would only make sense to readers familiar with the author's previous works.  I'm having a hard time quite describing this: the author makes some jumps that will be only followed or only easily followed by people who, through experience, know how this author develops her stories.  Finally, there are some legitimate concerns to how the paranormal-reincarnation world rules were set up that were ignored in the story.  That feels lazy.

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen.  I like that the author tried something different-- not a huge difference in setting, but a different-feeling storyline and different types of characters.  Unfortunately, she didn't quite make the jump.  The love triangle felt ham-handed from the beginning, and the spy story was equally clumsy, with thin characters popping up as obvious herrings right and left.  A tighter story with fewer characters would have allowed for more examination of motivations and been more satisfying than having the bad guy pop up Jack-in-the-box style in the last half-dozen pages. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stuff I actually read

Flashmob by Christopher Farnsworth.  If you liked the first one, the second is just as good; if you didn't like it, there's nothing new here.

The end of the world running club by Adrian J. Walker.  This was a good book.  As I was describing the sequence of events to my spouse, he commented that it seemed pretty predictable, and he's kind of right.  There are only so many ways an end-of-the-world story can go and if you've read more than a few, there is going to be some kind of repetition.  His comment did make me notice just how often a chapter ends on a cliff-hanger, which seems pretty unnecessary: the reader isn't in this book for the action; we're in it because the main character is a lousy but redeemable guy.  He's not terrible because he's heartless, it's because he's lazy.  We can understand him.

Maybe it's silly, but the most unbelievable thing isn't that all the international space programs miss the asteroids, or that society collapses, or that a middle-aged paragon of flab manages to un marathons daily, or that there is a new illness of unknown origin medicine can't treat; it's how patient the wife is.  She doesn't have much on-screen time, but we hear from the main character how patient she is, a stay-at-home mom of a toddler and a baby, she does all the housework and doesn't say anything to her tubby, uninvolved, frequently-drunk husband.  Doesn't give him a hard time, rarely makes demands, is organized and clear-headed in emergencies, and is unquestionably in love with him, even when he has spent years trying to escape the life he has made for himself.  She stands out as thinly-painted and poorly-planned.

The sword of summer by Rick Riordan.  My kid has run through the original "Percy Jackson" series, and is finishing up the various sub-series ("Heroes of Olympus" and "Trials of Apollo") and is getting ready to start the "Kane Chronicles."  It's no longer possible for me to pre-read everything he picks up (and does it count as a parental pre-read if my first run-through was before he was born? I certainly wasn't looking at these as a parent-- looking out for boy-girl stuff; the boy informs me there is more swearing than I remember).

Although the character is 16, this is more appropriate for younger readers-- I'd estimate average readership would be about 12, but really whoever finds the language accessible.  No kissing, no super-bad language, nice incorporation of a new mythology (fascinating for the detail-oriented reader) and a tiny tie-in to the original and sub-series-- in this book, it only requires that the reader have a passing understanding that the original series exists; it doesn't require the reader to have read and remember all of them.

Noble intentions by Katie Macalister. I downloaded this from OverDrive to my Nook, which took me directly to the last page.  At least my device thought it memorable, even if I didn't.  I'm guessing I read this in the last 6-12 months?  As I paged ("paged") through it, I remembered most of the details, so it can't have been too long ago that I first read it, but OverDrive doesn't have anything helpful on the public page like when it was added to the collection or anything.  I'll have to use my powers for evil.

Hmm, my powers used for evil only tell me that this title has checked out 194 times since purchase-- 2 of those to me, obviously.  That doesn't really help.  Well, I'll blog it here and count it for this year.

For a romance novel, this is pretty good.  It is rather silly and tends to strain-- or ignore-- credulity.  I think I'd rather have romance that tends toward silliness than relies on ridiculous melodrama.  The characters' tensions come primarily from the guy's tragic past and a current outside source, rather than from baseless assumptions and cross-talk.Only recommended for people looking for light romance; in that case, highly recommended.  Since I was looking for just such a thing to take on a long weekend upcoming, I'll be downloading the loosely-connected "second" in the series.  (I read the description *very* carefully; I definitely haven't read the book yet.)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Books & Libations

Selected titles, attached wines, and with the notes I made to myself.  Here's the program.

The valley of the moon by Melanie Gideon, as colorful as the Rugosa Rosé.  I found the language well- and carefully-crafted, perhaps the most elegant of the books in this list.  The multiple narrators and multiple time periods will make this appealing to a wider range of readers.  While dealing with some difficult life issues, the book reads as delicate, the characters as alive, so I matched it with the versatile, light Rosé.  I have added this title to my own To-Read list.

The last bookaneer by Matthew Pearl, to read while drinking Sangiovese.  The language in this historical fiction has a pleasant period feel, and readers will like learning a bit about this historical footnote.  The Sangiovese is both savory and sunny so is a good match for this title, described as balanced.

Second life by Paul Griner, dark like the Cabernet Sauvignon.  I was stuck by this book’s lack of quotation marks—usually a flat-out book-slamming no-go for me, but it is amazingly combined with very wide margins to create a narrow, tight text column which hurries the eye down the page.  A unique reading experience!  Described as a “deliciously dark” read, it’s an obvious match for the darkest, savory red.

A borrowed man by Gene Wolfe, matched with the Tempranillo.  The wine’s notes include bright, flashy, and balanced; my notes for the book are elegant, lively, multilayered, and deceptively simple.  I have added this title to my own To-Read list.  I like, and think others will be interested in, how the story/world seem light but suspenseful.  I chose this as the “sci-fi that’s not a sci-fi”—yes, it’s set in a future time period where people have technology we don’t have today, but the book is about a person and a mystery and issues of legal identity—things everyone can understand.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell, to enjoy with Dolcetto.  This wine is light and easy-drinking, perfect for the “zippy, fun, fresh” New Adult-ish book which was described as being like listening to your best friend.  I’ve flipped through several Rainbow Rowell books and would personally like something with a little more elegance and a little more depth, but her fans are legion.

I had originally included Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart, to pour over when Malbec is poured.  My original note: I have read this before.  I matched this book based largely on the wine’s description as “not too polished” which I thought a perfect complement to the dark, rough pencil-y sketches that make up this graphic novel.  Another reviewer described this book as raw, efficient, direct, and unmanipulated (this is from my second-hand note, I don’t have that review handy), which seemed both accurate for the book and comparable to the wine.

However, my reader requested a substitution.  Although she personally enjoyed the book, she didn't feel able to promote it to a large group of readers.  So we substituted with Dinner with Edward: The story of a remarkable friendship by Isabel Vincent, a memoir that reads a bit like A man called Ove

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Q-2 recount

Boxes checked off this quarter:

A difficult topic: Boy
Author born in an African Country: Wife of the gods
Author born in Asia: A rising man
Author born in China: Little white duck [Was it cheap of me to use graphic novels and children's material to check off some of my boxes?  No, I don't think so.]
By or about a person who has a disability: Wrinkles [main character has Alzheimer's]
That's been on your TBR list too long: Crosstalk  [I requested this on NetGalley well in advance of its fall 2016 pub date, making it on my list for more than a year.]
Fiction set during wartime: Eagle and empire [no one said it had to be a historically-accurate war story]
Children's book aloud: Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer [I was worried I would have to set up a contrived situation to check off this box, but this locally-written picture book came through on a rare occasion I was on check-in.  Another staffer shouted "read it to us!"  Couldn't have planned it better if I tried.]
Contemporary collection of poetry: You don't have to say you love me: A memoir [this has quite a bit of prose, too, but NetGalley filed it under poetry.  It's as close as I'm likely to get... and there really are a lot of poems.]
Book by a female author that deals with a serious topic: In our backyard: Human trafficking in America and what we can do to stop it
Murder mystery written by a man: The late show
Bestseller from a genre you don't normally read: If not for you [read this late in the first quarter, pre-pub.  It took a few months for the title to hit the NYT best sellers list.  Although I do read romance, I don't voluntarily read much contemporary, gentle, non-paranormal.  This (sub)genre is outside more normal choices.]

13th child, Across the Great Barrier, and The far west
Eggs, beans, and crumpets
Landscape with invisible hand  [I debated about including this as the "sci-fi written by a man" entry, since most reviewers would lump it in with sci-fi.  I stand firm, however.  Same applies to Killfile: if you look closely, it's more paranormal than sci-fi.]
A most extraordinary pursuit
A murder in time and A twist in time
On Her Majesty's frightfully secret service
Poison or protect 
Sex criminals vol.3
The wages of sin

57.1% complete!-- 40 down, 30 to go.  Some of them I just haven't gotten to (I'm pretty intrigued by the list of subgenres I wasn't familiar with) but some I'm a little nervous about (the books I like don't get made into movies, and I've read all the classics I care to: it's funny what you have access to when you work in libraries).  Taking suggestions for books on current events, (auto)biographies, and Japanese philosophy.

Still to read:
Non-Western history
An Indigenous culture
Japanese philosophy
Current events
Your favorite hobby
Written by a woman under 25
Author born in Australia/Oceania
Author born in South America
Read a book before you see the movie
A book that's mentioned in another book
From a genre/subgenre you've never heard of
Recommended by an author you love
From a nonhuman perspective
Classic literature written by a man
Classic literature written by a woman
Memoir by someone who identifies as LGBTQIA
Book by a modernist woman writer
Collection of comics
Science fiction book written by a man
Classic you have always wanted to read
Book written over a century ago, then read a retelling of the book
Graphic novel that's a retelling of a classic book
Book that was adapted to film.  Watch the film, then compare and contract it with the book.
Auto/biography of a man, written by a man
Auto/biography of a woman, written by a woman
Bestseller from 2016
Reread your favorite book from your childhood.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Q2 stragglers

A rising man by Abir Mukherjee.  This is nice; a mystery, but not cozy.  It has some darkness, but it's not suspense/thriller.  It has an international setting but doesn't rely on the reader have a comprehensive knowledge of the area or time period.  There is room to grow the character in the upcoming series installments, but reading further isn't necessary-- the story is nicely tied up here.
Finished on Friday, did not report on time because of camping and no wi-fi.

The edge of the empire: A journey from the heart of Rome to Hadrian's Wall by Bronwen Riley.  I made it to page 32.  I was excited about this because I was kind of fascinated with Roman Britain many years ago, but I obviously didn't make it very far: the book constantly references different places (cities and regions) around Europe and in England.  I'm not familiar with those place names and they aren't marked on the (very general) map in the front, so none of the discussion meant much to me.  Reserve for readers who know their European geography.
Picked up and then dropped on Friday, did not report on time because see above.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

more tags than titles

Wrinkles by Paco Roca.  I read this previously, but I reread it recently for another work purpose related to a program, the details for which have not yet been publicly disclosed.  Shh.  Highly recommended.

Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer by Hannah Elisabeth Lowe.  The author is a patron at my library (not a secret-- she did an author signing!).  Maybe it's a local thing?-- my kid also made a book when he was in second grade.  (His story is full of some kind of robot bug things?  It's still here on the shelf somewhere.)  The public school kids get one copy printed; I assume Hannah's publication is similar.  There isn't much to say about this book-- it's really only of interest to her family and to other children in her age group interested in making a picture book.

I'm including it here because a) I read it, and it's a book, so it counts, and b) I did read it out loud, which is one of the check-boxes on my list, so hurrah.

Boy by ; full cast performance by Sarah Drew, John Getz, Travis Johns, Amy Pietz, Bobby Steggert.  This was way shorter than I anticipated.  It isn't necessarily inappropriate for teens (it's part of the summer Sync downloads program) but I think it mostly would make sense to people peripherally aware of the original book/story it's originally based on.  The dramatization is a little light on background details.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


The un-discovered islands: An archipelago of myths and mysteries, phantoms and fakes by Malachy Tallack.  I was very interested in this NetGalley grab but the file has some serious flaws that make it unreadable.  The few sentences I can make out seem well-written, easy to follow, and have nice sentence style and vocabulary variety.  However, the paragraphs and even parts of sentences are all jumbled up.  The first couple pages seemed ok, something I could skip back and forth and figure out, but then: "wheN MAOri peOple first passengers in those canoes were the ancestors of began to communicate with Europeans today's Ma_ori. in the eighteenth century, they insisted that New The problem with this story is that it wasn't Zealand was not their original home."  This seems like a pretty major error.  Whereas before I would have read the description and probably purchased the book, I'm not leery of whatever might be going on with this publisher and whatever else they might put out.  (OK, so Macmillan is a pretty big name, but what's this Picador imprint and why can't they get their smeg together?)

Also, the author tosses off locations (seas, islands, etc.) without mentioning where they are-- I'm looking for [sea], [hundred] miles north of [more widely known landmark] sort of thing.

The beachhead by Christopher Mari.  If you're writing a post-apocalyptic novel, great; market it as such.  If you're writing a Post Apocalyptic novel, also good, there are plenty of readers interested in that.  But a word of advice: if you're writing a Post Apocalyptic novel, don't market it as a post-apocalyptic novel.  That's two completely different camps of readers.  I'm sure there are readers who are going to be into this.  I'm not one of them, and now I'm mad that the author tried to swindle me.  Boo.

Bad feminist: essays by Roxane Gay.  I saw this author's TED talk and then later came across this collection by the same title.  I found the essays to be interesting, but terribly engaging; more of them are about Scrabble (r) and her students than about identity and feminism.  Didn't make it quite halfway through, cannot motivate myself to complete.