Long-distance book and bonding club

My mother-in-law texted me that she loves me and misses me.  We both love to read, so she suggested that the two of us have a book club!  We could each read the same book and discuss it once a month.  I said that it would have to incorporate drinking wine, as that is a key feature of book club.  We agreed that we will both drink (possibly the same) wine while discussing.

We’re in different time zones, but we both have MLK day and Presidents’ Day off, so those will be our first two meetings.  Yay day-drinking for the two of us lightweights!  Well, it’s five o’clock somewhere, including possibly in one of our time zones.  Time is TBA.  The first book will be The Library at Mount Char.  She recently loved it and I’ve been wanting to read it, so we’ll discuss that in mid-January.  I’ve heard only great things about it.

I’ll update and let you know how it went!  She really is the sweetest.

 

What did we read over Thanksgiving?

Earlier I read A Darker Shade of Magic by V. S. Schwab.  I enjoyed it: YA fantasy about multiple Londons existing simultaneously.

I also liked Orbital Resonance by John Barnes:  teen nerds in space.

I’m loving the Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling).  I can’t put them down and have stayed up way too late reading, also sometimes reading before work and almost being late.  Number two is The Silkworm.

Then we had a long weekend and I read a lot.

Mira Grant’s series about bloggers vs. zombies (Feed, Deadline, Blackout) are each around 600 pages in paperback.  I read the first two over Thanksgiving, along with some graphic novels.  I loved them, but they’re too violent for #2.  I still haven’t gotten to the third book in the series.

Lady Killer, continuing my trend of reading comics featuring strong women.

Lumberjanes #2, in which the girls earn their “Friendship to the Max!” badge.  Also dinosaurs.  You don’t need to have read the first volume to enjoy this one.

I really just love reading books very, very much.

#2 reread Seducing an Angel, not realizing she’d already read it even though she read the others in the series and was sure she hadn’t read the brother’s story yet when she most recently read the cousin’s story (in fairness I read the paperback ages ago not realizing/not caring it was part of a series and it looks nothing like the hardback).  It is sometimes fun to read books out of order and then you get a completely different feeling for them reading again them in chronological order when you know all of the characters.

Also, if you want a free kindle book, #2 enjoyed Daisy’s Aunt.  Yes, the plot is ridiculous (“Victorian melodrama”-lite), and if you’re looking for Mapp and Lucia you’re not going to find those levels of mean-spiritedness (even the villain is treated benevolently by the author), but E.F. Benson’s biting sense of humor definitely shows itself here and there, particularly in descriptions of the country estate.  And some of the main character’s dialogue, and some of the ridiculous minor characters.  Light and fun with little bits of devilish writing that make you take a second look and highlight with a little smirk.

What do you love doing very, very much?  Alternately, how do you approach series?

Books that foster a growth mindset in kids (and grownups)

We are totally into growth mindsets as a way to be.  In fact, we have blogged about growth mindsets at least a couple of times before.  And we’ve discussed Mindset by Carol Dweck here and there.  Here’s some additional resources for fostering growth mindsets in kids.  Some of them we’ve posted before, but some are new to us, thanks to #1’s sister who provided us with a list of resources (shoutout!)

You can learn anything: A cool video.

Here are some more books for kids of all ages, with brief commentary on the ones we’ve read:

Dream Big, Little Pig! by Kristi Yamaguchi. Companion: It’s a Big World, Little Pig!
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (we like this one, classic!)
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubunstein
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.
Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg (big recommend!  So fun!)
A Little Bit of Oomph! by Barney Saltzberg
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds (#2 finds Peter H. Reynolds to be annoyingly preachy and especially dislikes So Few of Me, which seems to be digging at the parent reading the book rather than being for the kid)
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (HUGE recommend!  Describes the engineering process perfectly through the eyes of a budding young engineer and her dog.)
Flying! by Kevin Luthardt
Someday by Eileen Spinelli
The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K G Campbell
Make Magic! Do Good! by Dallas Clayton
A Is for Awesome by Dallas Clayton
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
Lily the Unicorn by Dallas Clayton
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
I Can Be Anything! by Jerry Spinelli
Almost by Richard Torrey
Mistakes That Worked by Charlotte Jones
Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daley (the illustrations are hilarious)
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (DC1 really liked this one back when zie was a toddler)

See anything you want for the people in your life this non-denominational holiday or birthday season?  Any other suggestions for great books that promote growth mindsets?

In which we read some more

What are we reading these days?

Heresy by S. J. Parris.  First in a series of historical mysteries starring (the later-burned-as-a-heretic) Giordano Bruno.

Paper Girls #1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, & Jared K. Fletcher.  You know how paper boys deliver the morning paper on their bikes?  Some of them are girls.  And some of those girls have seen some weird, creepy, unnatural stuff around their town.  Number two is out now!

Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu (incredibly excellent ending!).  Highly recommend, yes.

First Second Press (:01) is really killing it with their publications these days, I tell you what.  I also have The Undertaking of Lily Chen out from the library.  Unfortunately I ended up not liking any of the main characters very much.

What’s #2 reading?

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett.  This one doesn’t flow as well as the general Discworld– it feels like it’s missing a final editing, which it most likely did.  Things that would, in previous volumes, be more subtle are a bit more heavy-handed and overt.  Things that would previously have been more streamlined stand out as clever short vignettes.  But I still like it very much.  The messages are good.  The commentary important.  And, importantly, I feel like it is a fitting ending for our relationship with Ankh-Morpork, as we usher it on into the next long-century saying our final good-byes to favorite characters.  Ankh-Morpork will move forward into the future, even if we are no longer watching.  If the last Tiffany Aching is as good, then I will be happy.

So we’ve got this Loretta Chase thing going, but we can’t really fully recommend her.  Like… Lord of Scoundrels was a little problematic but a huge page turner.  Mr. Impossible was entertaining and had a great pair of main characters… but… the author used every vaguely racist Empire Cliche when dealing with the people of Egypt; it’s painful to even think about listing them.  Knaves’ Wager was a disappointment– a hodgepodge of other romance novels and characters and tropes but still managing to be dull.  She relied on the tropes too much to fill in the romance without actually showing things (like the hero says, “you’re too X to be trapped in this kind of marriage” but nowhere in the book up to this point has she shown herself to be X to the hero, not once)– it was pretty weak tea and I wish I hadn’t succumbed to the $2.99 kindle fee.  Most of the rest of her work seems to rely on the hero not taking no for an answer.  Which the heroine is secretly fine with when he is rich and titled.  The only difference between the hero and the villain in one of her books is that the villain is bad with money!

Lame.

Two more quick ones from #1:  I finished Secondhand Souls from Christopher Moore.  You probably need to read the first book before you read it.  And I’m in the middle of The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, which so far is excellent.  The very best part is the official Utterances from the AI.

Read, Grumpeteers, read!  What do you have on tap?

 

Book Review: Petunia, The Girl Who Was Not a Princess

Wow, this review has been a long time coming.

We received this book free from Wandering Scientist in exchange for, um, her being awesome, I guess?  (If it was in exchange for an unbiased review, we really should have gotten this post out the door a LOT sooner.)

Petunia, The Girl Who Was Not a Princess is a fun book with great illustrations.  It’s about a girl who isn’t into the princess thing and doesn’t, to paraphrase John Green, understand princess-loving girls complexly.  A princess-lover moves in next door, and it turns out that the new girl is just as complex as Petunia is herself, as are all the other neighborhood princesses (and princes) and they are able to have a lot of fun together.

Books in this genre of girls’ books come in two flavors.  There’s the type that tries really hard to be a feminist book and completely and totally fails because they shame a subset of women (ex. princesses) or provide the message that misogyny is normal in a way that shouldn’t yet be crossing a toddler’s mind.  Petunia is the other type– the kind that doesn’t shame even the youngest of choice feminists.  Especially terrific are Holly Liminton’s illustrations, which take great care to include a diverse cast of characters doing fun things.

Of course, this book isn’t for mommy– it’s for DC2.  So what is really important is the toddler test:  Does DC2 enjoy it?  Does zie request it?  Yes and yes.  Zie also gets really excited whenever I’m looking at Wandering Scientist’s webpage and zie sees the cover on the page, “I have that book!” (Usually followed by the sound of pounding feet to get said book, and then a demand to have it read.)  That’s still true after a year of ownership.

So if you’re holiday shopping take a look at this one.  Additionally, you cannot go wrong with Nelson’s other children’s book, The Zebra said Shhh.

What are we reading?

So it turns out that our readers were 100% correct that The Suffragette Scandal is the best of the Brothers Sinister books.  The final short story is also worth reading as a nice coda.  Her Turner series is also pretty good– it was touch and go there for a little while with Unclaimed, but I should have trusted that Milan would turn the Prostitute With a Heart of Gold meme on its head.  Unraveled is excellent (and only 99 cents!).

I continue to enjoy the Lady Emily books by Tasha Alexander.  Currently on book 2.

Only a Kiss by Mary Balough was pretty disappointing.  Not up to par with the rest of the books in the survivor’s series.  Lady Imogen’s character doesn’t really seem to fit the character in the earlier novels and is only superficially explored.  The hero is kind of a jerk (and a pale imitation of a specific Heyer hero, though I’m not remembering which one off the top of my head).  Formulaic without heart or soul.  (I also tried reading 3 more of her old books but so much rapity rape and hero not taking no for an answer… at least with her more modern books she’s learned the sexiness of consent.  Thank goodness modern romance novelists no longer seem to think that “no means yes over-rule me” is acceptable.)

The memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (free on kindle).  I found out on a long plane flight recently that I *hadn’t* read all the sherlock holmes stories, I still had one book in the unread folder in my kindle.  No idea how I missed it.  Anyway, this is the book with the dog that didn’t bark.  But it’s also got a nice little story about a woman who doesn’t trust her husband that has a surprisingly good moral.  Go Arthur Conan Doyle!

if you read edenbrooke as a parody of regency romance, it is excellent and hilarious.  If you take it seriously, it is horribly written, irritating and repetitive.  (Twirling?  Really?)  She does name her heroine after the irritating sister from sense and sensibility.

Was also somewhat disappointed with Bet Me by Jessica Crusie.  The heroine is really likable but I think forcing food on someone who doesn’t want it is almost as bad as telling someone she shouldn’t eat it.  Also, no means no.  I hate it when the hero is allowed to not take no for an answer.  Whether it’s physical relations or donuts.  That’s just not cool.  Trust people to have control over their own bodies and listen to what they say about them.

Also a little disappointed in Prudence.  It’s ok, but I think I won’t actually be buying a copy after I return the library book.  :/  Also the first chapter of the library edition is just swimming in typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors, though that seems to be limited to just the first chapter.  Very odd.

Lots of long plane flights, jet-lagged reading in bed at weird times, etc.  What have I read?

#2 gave me Serpentine by Cindy Pon, which I read on the plane and now I’m waiting for the sequel.  Easy to read and page-turning.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.  This is a series of high fantasy novels, each of which is well over a thousand pages.  I can only get through them on kindle on long long trips.  Good stuff, very evocative.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.  A podcast recommended this (and #2 got it for me as a wedding gift) and I liked it!  Hot.

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig.  For fans of Richard Kadrey (which I am).

I think that’s all I read on the trip, besides several guidebooks.  Oh, and a book of short stories that was only ok.  And lots of crossword puzzles.

Other reading has included Chapelwood by Cherie Priest.  Squee!  Love this stuff.

I have a million books on deck, so exciting.  If only I didn’t keep having to go to my job!

summertime and the linking is easy

Let’s do this thing.

We very much love this Breaking Cat News (especially Elvis-kitty)

I don’t know where this storyline is going but it sure is cute (it’s getting grim as it goes on)

Let’s play Guess the Race (again)

And then we can go ARRRGH at this

and also Fcuk the po-po at this: “What’s wrong with you guys?“, indeed.  Indeed, sir.

Bonus book recommendations: Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Read ’em.

Check out these wacky old pics

Getting ready in the morning sucks.  (Key problem: morning.  Ugh.)

This cartoon really captures a part of my childhood: SPACE MUSEUM.

 

 

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