Vader Cat

vader cat

Vader Cat finds your lack of reading disturbing.

How to Spend a Saturday

We are finally getting some nice weather in Wisconsin, and the cat took full advantage of it.

Book Banter: Henry and the Chalk Dragon

chalk dragonTitle: Henry and the Chalk Dragon

Author: Jennifer Trafton

Genre: juvenile fiction

Length: 229 pages

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Henry drew the best chalk dragon on his door… but it escapes. With his creativity running wild, Henry and his school friends Oscar and Jade. are going to have to learn bravery and how to let their imaginations run free to recapture the creature.

Banter Points: At Hutchmoot 2016, I got to hear Trafton read a chapter aloud and she had the audience of grown-ups laughing along. I promptly told my coworker who is the juvenile book selector about it and she ordered a few copies for our Library for when the book released in April.

This book is delightful. I’ve already told several people about it and I highly suspect it will make my top 10 for the year. Yes, it’s a kids books, but it powerfully talks about the differences of creativity and conformity and how to stand up for both people in trouble and your work. It’s just as poignant for adults… maybe even more so.

Bummer Points: I wish this book had existed when I was a 3rd-grader like Henry. It would have been good for me in those years.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Read it for yourself or get it for the kids in your life, especially if they are artsy types who might be inclined to give that up in the face of conforming to popularity.

Distinction

I was in San Francisco for the past few days for the Association of Fundraising Professionals annual conference.

As I was planning to go, I checked the weather and the forecast for the time I was there was perfect — mid 70s, sunshine. Suddenly, I was wondering how many sessions were too many to skip (I was a good kid, I promise) and what I could manage to get to while there.

Here is the conversation that went through my head:

Me: I wonder if I can get to Golden Gate park and hike around.

Me: No, you can’t do that. That got blown up.

Me: <pause>

Me: Wait. No. That was in a book. That was fictional.

Me: This is a new low.

So — a shout out to Chris Holm and the beginning of “Red Right Hand” for writing a scene so vivid that a year later or so, I was convinced for a minute that it really had gotten blown up. (Technically, he blew up the bridge itself… )

It’s good to know it’s still there.

golden gate

Color Study: Blue

I’ve been been coloring a bit since my exam studying days are past. I’ve got several books that I want to dive into but I keep going back to my stand by — Angie Grace. I love the repetition of the pictures as I can focus on the colors from a blending and depth perspective. I get lost in the layering I can achieve with Blick Studio Pencils. The play aspect of coloring, and evoking emotions is the area something I’m starting to figure out.

As a medium, pencils work for me. I’m excited to share my latest with you.

Book Banter: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder, Book 1 of The Lunar Chroniclescinder.jpg
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 550 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library
Plot Basics:  Cinder, a cyborg inventor, helps rehab a favored droid of Prince Kai’s, and is pulled into intergalactic struggles that a poor girl from the slums is ill equipped to handle…even one with cyborg parts.
Banter Points: This title first caught my eye closer to the original publication date. The cover art is gorgeous. Unfortunately, this also was an reading era of gorgeous covers and bad content, especially in the YA market (for me, at least.) I would see this one, and wonder, but wasn’t willing to commit to reading it until a friend verified that it would be worth while.

I appreciated some of the twists of this Cinderella retelling. For example, the setting of China tickled me. There’s a theory that Cinderella stories with the unique and exacting shoe fit is related to the practice of foot binding. Setting the story here, with Linh Cinder’s cyborg foot, was a delightful way to open the story, especially as Linh Cinder is putting on a new foot when the Prince walks into her shop.

The idea of a cyborg being a society reject rather than a coveted option was interesting too. Often, in the fantasy books I read, this sort of hybrid human is envied, rather than scorned. The enhancements lead Cinder to hid parts of herself so that Kai will continue to like her. Being a cyborg also contributes to her success as an inventor, which impacts the plot as well. Having a few different threads of this nature kept me entertained during this reading.

Bummer Points: This was a fun, but not fabulous, read. I’ve got book two — Scarlet — on reserve, however I’m hoping it doesn’t suffer from the sophomore slump that can happen with the second installation of a series. The unique elements were not enough to carry a predictable plot. This was a standard set-up for bigger, better intrigues. It could be, also, that YA romances are only minimally entertaining for me.
Stacie’s Recommendation: Mostly entertaining, worth checking out for improvements in number two. Love the cover art.

Q1 2017 Reading Stats

Reading seems to be right on track this year. I’m well-ahead on my goal to read 52 books for the year, but it’s still nice to not have a pressing goal, like I did last year.

Q1 Stats:

19 books

4248 pages

44 hours of audio

Interestingly, I’m right on track with where I was last year. In 2015, I was at 21 books in Q1 and in 2014, I was at 29 books. I read 11 of those in January 2014, including LOTR: Return of the King. Truth, I hadn’t quite yet met my now-husband in those days, so that accounts for a lot, along with the fact that I was in a groove then of reading graphic novels.

Since I began keeping this list 15 years ago now, the running total for number of books read is 1,288.

Book Banter: Moon over Soho

sohoTitle: Moon over Soho (Peter Grant #2)

Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Length: 375 pages

Genre: urban fantasy/police procedural

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL digital collection

Plot Basics: When a jazz musician suddenly drops dead, Peter Grant doesn’t seem to think it’s case that falls into his specialized (aka, magical) territory. But when the coroner realizes it’s the latest in a string of jazz musicians falling dead, Peter is on the case, while still trying to learn both policing and magic.

Banter Points: Sometimes, series suffer from the sophomore slump, but “Moon over Soho” is maybe even better than “Midnight Riot.” Peter is still learning what it means to be a magical wizard cop and dealing with the aftermath of what happened to Leslie and Nightingale in the first outing.

Because of the links to jazz, Peter turns to his dad, the famous “Lord Grant” and former jazzman to understand the players — and how they are being played — and it gives a nice insight into Peter’s background. The books is peppered with brilliant one-liners from Peter that are soaked in British thought. They might some of the best parts of the book.

Also — Aaronovitch clearly has a sense of how magic works in the book and while the reader gets small lessons it’s not overwhelming. The lack of long explanations helps to make it, well, magical.

Bummer Points: Because I’m discovering him for the first time, Peter is still possibly edging Harry Dresden off his perch.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Loving this series. If you are looking for a great read, this is it. The magic is subtle enough that if you’re mostly a mystery book reader, you can still like these. If you’re more of an urban fantasy person, these are great crime books with a solid police procedural core.