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JL's Bibliomania

Also on GoodReads as J L's Bibliomania:


and Litsy @jlsbibliomania


While my first love was SF, I read widely in YA, urban fantasy, police procedurals,  middle-grade, and non-fiction. 




Dewey’s Readathon April 29, 2017 Preview

6 days from now I expect to be ensconced on my couch eyeball deep in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon!!!  And while there’s no way that I can do without sleep and read for 24 hours straight, I think (crosses her toes) I have cleared my calendar enough have a good shot at meeting my personal goal of 12 hours of reading. 


I’m not sure what mood will strike me, but I’ve got a whole house full of books to choose from!  


Jeweled Fire - Sharon Shinn  Etched in Bone - Anne Bishop  And All Between - Zilpha Keatley Snyder  Salt to the Sea - Ruta Sepetys  


Fiction on hand that I’ve been itching to read

  • Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn
  • Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop
  • And All Between by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (reread)
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys


I am hoping that I can make one of the books I read fit into Booklikes-opoly.


Many people use graphic novels as a change of pace/mood.  I’ve made it a tradition to use the Readathon as an excuse to indulge in picture books, since my sons are well past that age.  I will be getting this year’s Caldecott Medal Winner Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe and a number of other Caldecott Honor and Cybils picture book award winners out of the library this week in preparation.


Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat - Javaka Steptoe 


Signup link is: http://www.24hourreadathon.com/?p=6993


I won’t be on Twitter, but plan to check in periodically both here and on the Dewey’s Readathon Goodreads group. If you let me know that you’re also participating or use the Readathon tag, I’ll drop by to cheer you on!


Hear ye, Hear ye: Booklikes-opoly Rules Change!

I am re-running this post this morning, to make sure I get maximum coverage! If you're playing Booklikes-opoly, note the rules change!




I've entertained a request from a player to reconsider the "odd days are roll days" rule, and I think that JL makes a good point. The purpose of the rule is to slow down speed readers from rolling every day. However, if it takes a slower reader 3 days to finish a book, they aren't able to roll until day 4, which sort of defeats the purpose of the rule.


In light of this, I am making a rules change as follows:


Players can roll no more frequently than every other day.


Example: player rolls on Monday, but doesn't finish her book until Thursday - player can roll on Thursday, because Tuesday and Wednesday are non-roll days for the individual player. If player finishes the book she starts Thursday on Friday, she still can't roll until Saturday, because Friday is a non-roll day for the player.


In other words, players are now responsible for keeping track of their own roll days!

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly

Wonderful serendipity with my 1st roll.


I got a Which landed me on Electric Company: Read a book where a main character is in STEM, or where the author's first and last name contain all of the letters in "Tesla".


I started reading Hidden Figures a few days ago!  <sarcasm>I think that qualifies as STEM </sarcasm> Since I read more slowly and/or have many fewer hours per day to read, than many of you, by plan is to finish Hidden Figures and count it for my 1st Bookopoly square.



Binti - Nnedi Okorafor Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

The novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor won the 2015 Nebula and 2016 Hugo Awards for Best Novella.  These honors are well deserved.  Binti is a wonderful story that in a few short pages uses the conventions of SF to explore race, cultural appropriation, and all without preaching.  I was blown away by Binti.  5 Stars


I wasn't nearly as impressed by the sequel Binti: Home.  I can't really pin my finger on why, but the attempt to explain the backstory of the magical "edan" from the first installment just fell a little flat for me.  In particular, I was deeply dissatisfied with the ending

Running off half-trained because her friends were in trouble a la Luke Skywalker

(show spoiler)

3.5 stars

Below the Root (Green Sky #1)

Below the Root - Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Rereading a beloved childhood favorite as an adult is always risky.


I read Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and its sequels over and over and over again as a voracious young SF lover in the early 80’s (and surprisingly was oblivious to the computer game based on the same world).  At the time, I was fascinated by the ability of Raamo to read minds, or at least emotions, and swept along by the idea of gliding through the treetops.  I was totally immersed in the immediate events and not too concerned by the larger moralizing of the story.  


Re-reading as an adult, I keep being struck by the parallels to The Giver.

  • The attempt to create a utopia free of violence and pain
  • A small group of privileged elites who know the secret
  • That these elites commit violence to maintain the innocence of the masses
  • The protagonist being chosen to join the elite

Now these items are very common in utopia/dystopia stories, but the similarity is easy to find.  


When reading as a child, the many made up words used to create the foreign world of Green Sky, pense instead of telepathy, nid for home-place bower, Ol-zhaan for the priest class, just were accepted without thought. Reading as an adult, the way the wonderfully detailed world is described feels a bit dated and I wasn’t sure that the made-up words added value.  Reading as a child, I was also oblivious to certain other details that just jumped out at me this time around, such as the specifics of the special medicine taken the youth halls and what exactly was alluded to by people sharing “close communion.”


Reading today, the minimal character development is grating to my adult eyes.  It’s hard to decide if it is intentional because Ms. Snyder was writing for a younger audience or if the much shorter book length in 1975 just didn’t allow the space for the complex internal dialog that we have become accustomed to. But despite the flaws that my adult eyes see, I wish that Below the Root is better known and more widely read.

My memory is that I always preferred the middle book in the trilogy And All Between best.  I do intend to continue re-reading to see if that holds, since I was able to pick up all 3 volumes as free ebooks during a big “sale” last year.  

March Wrap-up

Binti - Nnedi Okorafor Inheritor - C.J. Cherryh Dead Reckoning - Charlaine Harris

I haven’t been energized to review for the last couple of weeks, so here’s a quick wrap-up of what I’ve been reading in March:



Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris – Finished March 9, 2017 – 2017 Library Challenge


On The Oceans of Eternity (Nantucket #3) – S.M. Stirling – about halfway through this 29.5 hour commitment and enjoying it during my drive-times


Short Fiction

Binti - Nnedi Okorafor – Read March 19th


March Book 3 – John Lewis & company – got about 2/3 of the way through and then had to return it to the library.  I just got it back tonight.



Inheritor (Foreigner #3) – C.J. Cherryh – Finished March 12, 2017 – 2017 Reread Challenge


Ancillary Justice (Imperial  Radch #1) – Ann Leckie – reread in progress.  Not picking up as many new insights as I’d hoped.  I was rereading in part because Ancillary Justice was one of the books for the  Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club Group Bookshelf Challenge, but there didn’t seem to be many active conversations.  I’m likely to abandon the reread in favor of starting Ancillary Sword, which is one of the April selections for Group Bookshelf Challenge.


I don’t know how actively I’ll be blogging for the first 3 weeks in April because


I’m eagerly awaiting Dewey’s Readathon on April 29th and am hoping to clear my schedule for once!  See you then!


*If you are of the protesting bent, you may also want to check out the Tax March on April 15th or the Climate March on April 29th



Reading progress update: I've listened 290 out of 1770 minutes.

On the Oceans of Eternity - S.M. Stirling

I think this 29 1/2 hour audiobook will keep me busy for a while.  Though I got a good start during today's long car ride today for a work meeting several states away (7+ hours total).


Sabriel - Garth Nix






My younger son reads a lot of SF & Fantasy.  Ever since he polished off the Ranger’s Apprentice series in 3rd grade, we’ve had multiple librarians recommend Sabriel by Garth Nix as something he might like.  But despite multiple exposures, he’s never been interested and it never quite made it to the top of my reading priority list. 


This month, the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club selected Sabriel as one of their group reads.  I decided to try to be more social about my reading in 2017, so finally took the time to read Sabriel.


Like many of the others reading along, I think I would have loved Sabriel if I had first read it as a tween or young teen.  I liked the world/magic system, but as an adult found the writing just adequate with a few too many Deus Ex Machina Moments.  I wish the audiobook had been available, because I think it would have enjoyed it even more as an audiobook.


Lirael - Garth Nix  Abhorsen - Garth Nix  


The edition I got from the library was an omnibus with Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. And while I typically find my enjoyment diminishes if I read multiple books in the same series sequentially (or too many books in exactly the same genre in a row), I was hooked enough that I decided to just continue on once I finished Sabriel. I would definitely recommend making sure you have access to Abhorsen (the 3rd in the trilogy) before starting Lirael because the two almost seem to be parts of the same whole separated by a cliff-hanger and arbitrary volume length constraints. The continuously escalating action keeps the pages turning, the Disreputable Dog is charming, but the writing is still choppier than I prefer. 

Sunday Soup & Family Simchas

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted!  But I’ve been busy.   I’m out of my post-election reading slump and have polished off 15 books since January 1, thanks in part to some page-turning YA fantasy novels and a few re-reads.  But I haven’t really had the time or inclination to review much, since most of my energy was going towards final preparations for my son’s Bar Mitzvah.  (Here’s a couple of pictures from our dress rehearsal - that are posting sideways for some reason)








Well, last weekend, younger son made us very proud!  I loved working with him to get ready for the service, but HATED the preparations for the rest of the weekend. Thankfully, the party afterwards came together at the end.  I didn’t have much time to sit and enjoy as hostess, but our family and friends enjoyed a low-key afternoon of board games and pizza facilitated by the owners of a local board-game store.  I can’t wait until we get the proofs from our photographer, because I didn’t take the time to snap pictures of my own.



In the tradition of Sunday Soup, I thought I’d leave you with a slightly blurry picture of my lunch for tomorrow: chili and biscuits. We’re trying to get our sons more comfortable in the kitchen, and younger son’s current project is learning to make biscuits.

Akata Witch

Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

Just not grabbing me.  Throwing back onto the "Maybe I'll give it another try later" pile.


I do plan to pick up Binti, the 2016 Hugo and Nebula award winning novella, sometime soon.

Black Disabled Woman Syllabus




The people I've been listening to say that one of the most important things us able-bodied white folks can do is to signal boost.  So I thought I'd share the list of books and resources that Vilissa Thompson compiled about being black, disabled, and a woman.




Most of what I see coming across my BookLikes feed is fiction, but perhaps someone who is looking for something to read in response to the current US upheaval or for Black History Month will now hear Vilissa and the others she mentions.



Tamora Pierce

My resolution to re-read more is getting off to a strong start.


Alanna: The First Adventure - Tamora Pierce  In the Hand of the Goddess - Tamora Pierce 

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man - Tamora Pierce  Lioness Rampant - Tamora Pierce    


After my son and I listened to Wild Magic during our long car ride during the winter holidays, he asked to go back to the beginning and read the classic YA quartet Alanna, In The Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant.  I came down with a cold last weekend, and while I was recuperating, I binge-read them myself.


In many ways, Alanna and sequels form a stereotypical YA coming of age arc.

  1. Young girl disguises herself as a boy to follow her dream of becoming a knight.
  2. Adolescent girl battles and defeats sorcerous opponent.
  3. Teen goes on a journey, and is adopted by a nomadic, tribal people.   
  4. Young woman fulfills a quest to find a powerful magic artifact. She makes it home just in time to give the artifact to the king-to-be, fight the sorcerous opponent who is back from the dead, and save the kingdom. 


Along the way, the girl trains and grows, becomes confident in herself, (and once she is 17 or 18ish even finds some discrete off-camera loving). I didn’t excerpt specific quotes, but Tamora Pierce recounts it all clearly with some wonderful, humorous moments.


If written today, Alanna likely wouldn’t even be noticed among all the similar books.  But it was first published in 1983.  It even predates Talia and the Mercedes Lackey Arrows of the Queen, which I keep conflating with it, by a few years. 


Digression - after re-reading the Alanna quartet, I’ve come to the conclusion that Tamora Pierce is in many ways a better writer than Mercedes Lackey.  My son potentially agrees with me about the absolute quality of the writing, but prefers the world of Valdemar to the Kingdom of Tortall.


Thank you Tamora Pierce (and Mercedes Lackey) for creating a compelling story of youngsters growing into themselves that both can hold the interest of readers of many ages and holds up to revisiting.



Beggars in Spain

Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress uses speculative fiction to explore two fundamental questions – What happens if you genetically engineer a group of people  so that they are radically different from the rest of the humans – in this case by eliminating the need to sleep in a group of children (potentially accompanied by other intelligence enhancing modifications)?   What do the strong/wealthy/more intelligent owe to those they deem lesser? 


I don’t remember if I read the Hugo and Nebula winning novella that forms the first section of the book, but I did read Beggars in Spain in print when it was new.  Somehow I missed that Ms. Kress had written two sequels.  So I picked up the audiobook of Beggars in Spain 23 years after the original publication of the full length novel.  Some books hold up to time and to re-reading and others quickly become dated. Beggars in Spain belongs in the first category. 


I enjoyed my reread, though it’s been a bit surreal reading this story of xenophobia with its extended musings on what society owes to those deemed non-productive at this specific moment in US History. 


Calamity (The Reckoners) - Brandon Sanderson

I shouldn't have waited so long to get to the 3rd and final book in Brandon Sanderson's Reckoner's Trilogy.  It was a fun superhero romp through a post-apocalyptic US.  Definitely start with the first book. 


24in48 Late Start


24 in 48 Readathon Opening Survey


Where in the world are you reading from this weekend?


I'm reading from South Jersey within public transit distance from Philadelphia


Have you done the 24in48 readathon before?


Yes - this is the 3rd time I've participated with no expectation of getting anywhere near 24 hours.  My personal goal, considering my other family responsibilities, is 8 hours of reading.


Where did you hear about the readathon, if it is your first?

I've become a bit of a Readathon Junkie and have been making a point of hanging out with both the Deweys and the 24in48 hours folks.


What book are you most excited about reading this weekend?

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch


Tell us something about yourself.

I'm getting a late start to 24in48 because I spent the afternoon at the  Rally associated with the Women's March on Philadelphia


Remind us where to find you online this weekend.


My primary home is JLsBibliomania.booklikes,com  but I might also spend a few minutes on Litsy  where I am also @JLsBibliomania


PodCastle 421: Hatyasin

I was having trouble with Hoopla, so needed something else to listen to on my drive to work today. So I turned to a speculative fiction short story Hatyasin by Ratri Mehrotra that I downloaded from PodCastle over  the summer.


Originally published in Abyss & Apex, Issue 52: 4th Quarter 2014,  Hatyasin is the story of what happens to a certain young woman with the mark of the Old Ones on her forehead and magic in her blood when the Hunters come to the city of Chandipur, her home. Rated R for violence, Hatyasin was an enjoyable 40 minutes or so of a revenge story. 


Rati Mehrota's story Piety, Prayer, Peacekeeper, Apocalypse was published by PodCastle on January 3, 2017.