Friday, July 22, 2016

Joining Up: #24in48 Readathon

Because of houseguests and cleaning and yardwork and ice cream making and such, I feel I haven't had the lazy reading summer I wanted so I've decided to join the 24 in 48 Readathon for the first time!


It's a pretty simple premise -- try to read for 24 hours during the 48 hours that are this Saturday and Sunday. The good news for me is that it starts at midnight eastern on Saturday which is 9pm here on Friday night (tonight!), prime reading time! So really, I'll probably read for 4-6 hours on Friday night and then go until 9pm on Sunday night. I don't know if I'll get a full 24 hours of reading in but I really just want to have fun and escape into a few good books for a while.


Here are the books I grabbed for my readathon stack. They all seem like fun, escapist reads so I'm not sure how I'll choose! I think I'll keep the extras out as my choices for the rest of the summer.

I'll be posting my updates on Twitter and Instagram. If you're also participating, come find me!

Reading for the weekend,
K

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Books That I've Read Lately But Haven't Reviewed Because They Were Weird

My stack of books to review has been sitting here a while and I keep picking up books from it and then setting them back down and I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized ... it's because they're weird.


I got Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia from the library because Jenny raved about it. This book about high school musicians at a statewide event at a big old hotel (The Bellweather) who get snowed in was full of ups and downs. There was a suicide mystery and that was totally not the main point of the book at all. The point was all of the strange people that it skipped between -- the aged concierge, the twins (chorus and bassoon), the Scottish conductor that is missing fingers,and the music teacher/chaperone who is severely damaged because of the harridan mother/musician/teacher. All of the people were interesting but they were also just all so ... crazy. I had lots of feelings during the book but I can't figure out what exactly to say about them. Was the book good? Yes-ish. It was weird.


Mendoza in Hollywood is the third in Kage Baker's Company series. Mendoza is sent to the hills of what will eventually be Hollywood in a time before Los Angeles even exists. She stays in a roadside inn with a few other immortal cyborgs, one of whom is obsessed with early cinema. So, this story is really just a lot of California history and some very long passages where the group sits and watches a classic silent film and the reader gets a scene by scene walkthrough of it. Very little actually happens except for a weird time glitch that is pushed off to be explained at a later time. I did however love the California history as I am actually a 5th generation Californian and my great-great-grandfather was a main figure in making Los Angeles habitable. So, it was the history of a region that is literally in my blood. But there was the lack of actual story and the really LONG film parts, so this wasn't my favorite Company novel but I still liked it quite a bit. But, well, it was weird too.


Elijah's Mermaid by Essie Fox has probably been sitting on my review pile the longest. I really liked Fox's first book The Somnambulist but this one didn't really work for me. It's got artists and prostitutes and families but they are all broken and creepy. But if you liked The Crimson Petal and the White (which I didn't) you will probably like this one. I felt the same about both, that some parts were just too gratuitous for my tastes. And, well, some things in this book were just weird.


And finally there is Penny Dora and the Wishing Box, a graphic novel for tweens. Penny finds a mysterious Christmas present left on her front porch and it turns out to be a box that grants wishes. Penny makes the mistake of showing it to her best friend and that horrid friend "borrows" it and goes all megalomaniac with it, eventually making Penny her servant. The friend was seriously awful, the art was sometimes, well, not good, and this story was not the magical tale I was expecting. It was super weird and negative.

Is there a book sitting on your review stack that you just aren't sure how to review?

Clearing the weird,
K

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Eight Years of Blogging Here


Eek! I have managed to miss my actual blogiversary again. On July 8, 2008 I started this little blog, planning to keep it going for about half this time, maybe three or four years. But then I became a part of one of the brightest, most supportive communities out there. Now when I think about quitting, I feel preemptively sad about missing out on my favorite community events and I worry about losing the connections I've forged with some of my favorite people on Earth.

When I started this blog, it was a month before the Beijing Olympics and we were still four months away from electing President Obama to his first term. I had a four year old kid and I was looking for people to talk to about something other than parenting. I had finally found the time to start reading again after Z started preschool a year earlier and I felt confident that I could contribute something to the (then fairly small) book blogging world. Little did I know how much blogging would become a part of my life. I read as much as I want now because I can justify it by writing a blog post afterward. I host DWJ March/March Magics annually to celebrate two beloved authors and it is the highlight of my year. Close on its heels in my heart are the annual R.I.P. event and the two 24-Hour Readathons. I base my reading year off of them, tucking aside books that I think would be perfect to give me the creeps or to keep me awake at 2 am. But most of all it's the people. I chat with many of you on Twitter regularly and follow your lives on Instagram. I even get to meet some of you in the physical world and it's always a treat! I have yet to be disappointed by a single one of you and am happy to call many of you friends.

Anyway, thank you for supporting me for eight years, for commenting and participating and suggesting books. I couldn't have done it without you.

Grateful and a bit emotional,
K

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Apothecary Series

After hours of walking around my neighborhood (not all at once!), I've finally just finished listening to the third book in the Apothecary trilogy by Maile Meloy. Since I walked through all of these books in just a couple of months, I can talk about them together today!


First of all, I highly recommend the audiobooks, narrated by Cristin Milioti. She is so good at doing the various voices that sometimes I would forget that it wasn't an ensemble performance. The Apothecary follows Janie Scott, a young American in 1952 whose family has fled to London after her Hollywood writer parents become targets of the McCarthy-era Communist witch hunt. She meets a boy at school, Benjamin, who happens to be the son of the kind apothecary near her new home. What Janie doesn't know is that Benjamin's father isn't a regular shopkeeper and that she and Benjamin are about to become tangled up in a race against time and the threat of nuclear war. Luckily, they have the weapons of science and nature to fight the poison the Russians are preparing to unleash on the world.


The first two books in the series fit together perfectly, with The Apprentices continuing the fight against those who are attempting to escalate the Cold War toward a nuclear end. In this book, however, Janie and Benjamin have been separated and are trying to find each other again. Janie is fighting against her need to prove herself and Benjamin is simply focused on reuniting with her.


And finally, in The After-Room, the teens have to deal with the consequences of their actions in this dark tale of loss. But, whereas the first two stories are based on the idea that there is a secret association of apothecaries/scientists/herbalists who understand the power of science and nature in such a way that it seems that they can do magic, the third part all of a sudden brings in real magic with no explanation. It was a very strange direction for the story to take and I didn't enjoy it as much as the original premise. However, I still highly recommend this trilogy, although for a slightly older reader than the middle grade audience it's marketed toward. Some parts are very dark and violent and there's a lot of relationship stuff that I'm not sure 10 year olds need to be reading about.

Believing in the magic of nature,
K

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Manga Classics: Great Expectations


I read this Manga Classics version of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations back at the beginning of May but, because it reads from the back, it ended up on my review stack without the spine showing and I completely forgot about it!

I was super curious about this one when I was offered a review copy and luckily it didn't disappoint. I'm not sure that it would be a good starting point for readers completely unfamiliar with the story because it cuts a bunch out and skips around but, for fans of the original, I think this is a great companion book. It takes some of the most interesting parts of the classic tale and gives them life. If you would like to see a preview of the art and story, visit the catalog website. I particularly liked revisiting the relationship between Pip and Joe Gargery and I loved the way that Miss Havisham was drawn, beautiful but broken.

Some of the other Manga Classics titles are Pride and Prejudice, Sense and SensibilityLes Misérables, and the one I think I will look for next, Jane Eyre. I would also love to see them tackle Wilkie Collins at some point!

Enjoying a different view,
K

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks - June


June turned out to be another slow reading month. First I was busy getting Z (and myself!) through the end of the school year and then I was catching up on all of the sleep I have lost over the last ten months. It is amazing how different you feel after a full night's sleep from which you wake up naturally. I have been making the most of the extra energy I have with lots of house and yard work and a rekindled interest in making ice cream!

A photo posted by @klpm on

(Cherry chocolate chip w/cream cheese and roasted apricot sorbet)

For this challenge, my goal is 80 books for the year from my own shelves, whether they're new books from the TBR or rereads.

June

Among Others by Jo Walton
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
Mendoza in Hollywood by Kage Baker
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (reread)
Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede

Monthly Total: 5
Yearly Total: 40

My favorite of these books was probably Among Others but I really loved my reread of Ready Player One as well. I originally listened to it and a lot of the details had already faded away so it was almost like a fresh read. Among Others was amazing though in its world building and emotional weight. I grabbed a copy of Tooth and Claw as my next Jo Walton read. She's quickly becoming a favorite!

So, even after a couple of slow months, I am still in a good position to reach my 80 book goal. July might be a bit slow as well because I am going to have two extra kids for a week (nieces!) but then the dog days of summer will follow and I'm sure I will fill many of them with lazy reading days.

What was your favorite book of June?

Eating ice cream (naturally),
K

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Road Ahead

Come along, then! We must run a little faster to catch up with our boy. We must chase him down through second and third and fourth grade, past fifth and sixth, all the quick years of primary school, which do not obey the usual rules of time and space, as any mother could tell you. School-time runs separately from usual time, like a certain country on the other side of the Equator, or the other side of a dream. School-time spins up and sputters and whirlwinds, all hopped up and in a hurry. Only once Summer comes round again, with its bindle full of adventures and bendings of rules and unwatched, unfettered, unending days in the sun does time return to its favorite pace, slow and golden and warm.
These were the words that I read in Catherynne Valente's The Boy Who Lost Fairyland just as my own boy finished his run through primary school. I'll admit that I was the parent who cried the hardest at that final assembly. All of that time that rushed by caught up with me and, though I thought I had prepared, I still wasn't quite ready for it. When some of his caretakers and friends gave me hugs, I fondly remembered how they were there for him through all the years. And when they showed his baby picture in the end of year slideshow, I couldn't help but miss that tiny boy that I haven't seen in so long. But I was also immensely proud of my Z and his ability to overcome so many obstacles to become a bright and thoughtful and funny young man.

Now we have what I hope will be a glorious summer ahead of us. I am looking forward to adventures and bendings of rules (bedtime for the kiddo has already gone out the window) and a slow and golden and warm pace.

Looking forward into the sun,
K

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gone Livin'


I was going to participate in Andi's Week-Long Reviewathon this week but am opting instead to spend my time offline, to be fully present as Z completes his last week of 6th grade and elementary school. I can catch up on reviews later but I can't ever have this week back with him.

Z's mid-preschool graduation
Cherishing time,
K