Monday, December 2, 2019

TTT: Wintery Stories

 TTT is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: holiday reads. I've already shared my list of my favorite books I read to my kids during the Christmas season, so today I've pulled together two lists of books that feature cold, snow, and general North Pole vibes. The first list is books I've read in the past few years that have very wintery, snowy settings, and the second list is books that I've read earlier in my life with titles that literally say "snow" or a related word.

The Last Policeman series 
By Ben WINTERS, get it?!?

A Goblin King/Persephone retelling

Snow and Rose
Complete with hyggeligt illustrations

A tense story set north of the Arctic Circle

Orbiting Jupiter
The below freezing weather sets the scene for ice skating, snowballs, and death.

Night of Cake and Puppets
Wintery Prague is the most romantic Prague.

We Are Okay
Wintery Vermont college campuses, however, are a bit grim.

City of Thieves
A Russian adventure.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963
That scene where the brother gets his lips stuck to the cold mirror beats A Christmas Story.

The Left Hand of Darkness
Not a new book, but I couldn't resist adding this classic set on the planet of Winter

Snow Falling on Cedars
Regret and racism in the San Juan islands

Song of Ice and Fire
Winter is coming.

I always sneak this one in--Gary Paulsen's memoir of dog racing.

Arctic Dreams
I still have my dad's copy of this 1980s classic.

Smilla's Sense of Snow
Another one I use a lot--my first Nordic Noir.

In Cold Blood
Cold! Get it?!? I just read this true crime classic this year and was very impressed.

Cold Sassy Tree
I barely remember this, but I know I enjoyed it.

Cold Mountain
A best-seller I never hear about any more. Civil War and True Love.

Cold Comfort Farm
I saw the movie first, and find both formats hilarious.

Marcus Sedgewick again--a time traveling story of eternal connections

I can never choose a favorite from the Lunar Chronicles, but I do love Winter.

In the Bleak Midwinter
I am concerned that this author has stopped writing these excellent, character driven mysteries.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

November in Review

My Reading

# of books read: 12

Best(s) In which I tell you all my favorite reads and make up categories so they each win something.
Best series finale: The Toll
Best interconnected sci fi short stories: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful
Best middle grade novel: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Best adult novel by an amazing YA author: Ninth House
Best super weird illustrated sci fi book translated from the Swedish: The Electric State

Bookish Events and Happenings

I went to the first meeting of the title selection committee for next year's Battle of the Books, grades 9-12 division. I carpooled with a coworker who's on the 6-8 division, so it was a nice day's outing. The committee seems very fun and of course it's a delight to talk books with people who are SUPER into YA books too. 

I also hosted my second Read-In. I had it the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which is an entire week off for my district, so I wasn't sure what my turn-out would be. I had about 8 kids, mostly Latina girls, which was especially nice since my OBOB team is super white. They read and giggled and shared snacks and did crafts and drank cocoa. I definitely want to do this again. I'm not sure if I want to try to build it into a bigger event, so more kids can enjoy it, or allow it to be small, which is much more relaxing for me.

I also seem to have caused Justina Ireland to give away some Death Divide ARCs, but I didn't win one myself. This is one of those exchanges that start from the bottom and go up.

On the Blog

I slowly came back from the dead AGAIN towards the end of the month. I blogged about not wanting to rate on Goodreads anymore, but then find myself doing so out of habit anyway. I also shared some nonfiction favorites and weighed in on Paste's "30 Best YA Books of the Decade" list. It inspired me to start some of my own listmaking, and late this month I'll share my favorite YA Spec Fic, YA contemporary, historical fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, and adult fiction of the decade. 


I started the month with a three day mindfulness retreat at the coast, so that was lovely. My kid went to Anaheim for her first Synchro Skate competition. I'm really proud of how hard she works at ice skating and how much progress she's made despite her very un-Dance Moms parents. Thanksgiving is always pleasant, as is getting time off for it. I'm working on a bit of knitting, but dove into two different projects with no plan or pattern, and am having to re-start both of them. I also spend too much time on Twitter, and on sites that collate funny tweets. 

December is upon us, with all its delights and distractions. I hope yours goes well, and you stay warm and dry. 

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction, along with many other terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole usually puts together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

TTT: Nonfiction November

 TTT is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Thankfulness Freebie.

But I'm going to be a curmudgeon and contrarian, and instead give you a list of ten wonderful nonfiction books. I wasn't focused enough on blogging to participate in Nonfiction November, but I've loved reading Deb's posts on ReaderBuzz, so here's a list of nonfiction books that have made me happy. (Truncated) summaries are from Goodreads.

1. Lab Girl Wonderfully weird and endlessly interesting.
Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more.

Lab Girl

2. Born a Crime Well worth listening to the audiobook, narrated by Mr. Noah himself.
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

3. The 57 Bus: Respectful, surprising, and engaging.

One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives

4. The Year of Living Biblically Funny and irreverent without being judgmental.

From the bestselling author of "The Know-It-All" comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible.Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

5. Traveling Mercies You don't have to be a believer to love "St. Anne's" storytelling and searching.

Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like beloved characters in a favorite series for her readers: Her friend Pammy; her son, Sam; and the many funny and wise folks who attend her church are all familiar. And Traveling Mercies is a welcome return to those lives, as well as an introduction to new companions Lamott treats with the same candor, insight, and tenderness.

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

6. Dancing at the Edge of the World Ursula K. Le Guin is the best. That is all.

“I have decided that the trouble with print is, it never changes its mind,” writes Ursula Le Guin in her introduction to Dancing at the Edge of the World. But she has, and here is the record of that change in the decade since the publication of her last nonfiction collection, The Language of the Night. And what a mind — strong, supple, disciplined, playful, ranging over the whole field of its concerns, from modern literature to menopause, from utopian thought to rodeos, with an eloquence, wit, and precision that makes for exhilarating reading.

Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places

7. Grand Theft Horse This true story graphic novel is unlike anything I've read before.

Gail Ruffu was a rookie trainer known for her unconventional methods and ability to handle dangerous horses. When she became part owner of an untamed thoroughbred named Urgent Envoy, everything changed. After Urgent Envoy showed real promise, her co-owners forced Gail to speed up training and race him too early, causing the horse to develop a hairline fracture. Refusing to drug the horse to keep it running, Gail lost Urgent Envoy to her partners, who pushed the horse even harder. One more race would kill him. When nobody heeded her warnings, Gail had to act.

Grand Theft Horse

8. Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folk-Songs A bit niche, I'll admit, but I found it surprisingly interesting. The author went on to become a much-loved president of Latvia too.

Created in honour of the sesquicentennial of the birth of Kristian Barons, the original compiler, classifier, and publisher of close to 182,000 Latvian folk song texts, Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folksongs provides an overview of recent research on the dainas and will be of interest to students of comparative literature and semioticians, as well as to specialists in oral literature.

Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folksongs

9. King of the Mild Frontier Chris Crutcher is funny and blunt, and so is his memoir.

Do you know:

A good reason to be phobic about oysters and olives?

How shutting your mouth can help you avoid brain surgery?

How to survive in the winter wilderness with only a fishing pole and a sausage?

King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography

10. The Library Book Multi faceted book about a great American library

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

The Library Book