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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. 




Currently reading

March: Book Three
Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Lewis Gaddis
On the Oceans of Eternity
S.M. Stirling
Progress: 780/1770 minutes
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie

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. 


JL's Bibliomania Reading Habits

Thank you to Spooky’s House of Books for bringing these questions to the community, and to BookLikes for spreading the word so we can all play along!  


  1. Do you have a certain place in your home for reading?


The living room couch is the most frequent place where I and others in my household read, though bed is a close second. (Although I’m surprised to see so few responses regarding reading in the loo).


  1. Bookmark or random piece of paper?


Home-made bookmarks. We have been getting a lot of junk mail made from heavy cardstock.  I take them into work and slice them into bookmark sized pieces. 


When I’m not near a bookmark, anything from clean tissues to random receipts will do in a pinch - though since I often like to back up a bit from where I stopped I don’t worry too much about marking my exact place.


  1. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop reading after a chapter / certain number of pages?


Unless I’m interrupted, I end up stopping 2 chapters after I said I was going to stop.  


  1. Do you eat or drink while you read?


This question is backwards.  I don’t eat and drink while I read, I sneak in reading when the need to eat gives me a break in my other obligations. 


During serious reading binges, I typically have a cup of tea. 


  1. Multitasking: music or TV while reading?


I used to be able to do this, but not anymore.  I can have music without lyrics in a language I understand in the background, but I can’t process two language streams at the same time.


  1. One book at a time or several at once?


I typically have 2-3 books going at any time:

1 fiction in print (or occasionally ebook)

1 audiobook in a different genre than my print book

And often 1 non-fiction that I am nibbling on very slowly


The key for me is to keep the genres different


  1. Reading at home or everywhere?


Everywhere. Audiobooks while driving have saved  me quite a bit of boredom.


  1. Reading out loud or silently in your head?


I read silently.   


  1. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?


I often find myself skimming ahead a chapter or two and then going back to savor it a second time around and pick up the details.


  1. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?


I try to be nice, but usually end up creasing though not breaking the spine.  Then again, since 90% or more of what I read comes from the public library I have little control of the condition.


  1. Do you write in your books?


I almost never write in books because they belong to the library.  Even when studying, I prefer to take notes on a separate piece of paper or a post-it rather than writing in the book itself.

The Right Kind of Crazy

The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation - Adam Steltzner, William Patrick

Mr. Steltzner has an interesting job: he led the team of engineers and scientist that designed the Entry, Decent and Landing systems for the Mars Science Laboratory (aka the Curiosity Rover).  He has written a memoir with the help of co-writer William Patrick titled The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation



The book jacket proclaims that the book will provide a first person account of innovation that will describe


  • How his team learned to switch from fear-based to curiosity based decision making
  • How to escape the “Dark Room” the creative block caused by fear, uncertainty and the lack of a clear path forward
  • How to tell when we are too in love with our own ideas to be objective about them – and conversely, when to fight for them
  • How to foster mutual respect within teams while still bashing bad ideas.


I started The Right Kind of Crazy in November as part of the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season.  I can’t quite articulate why, but didn’t quite live up to the hype of the book jacket and couldn’t hold my interest.  The parts where Mr. Stelzner was philosophizing on management theory and saying his mia culpas were a particularly slow slog.  The Right Kind of Crazy has spent a lot of the last two months sitting on my (physical) library shelf with me looking at it and asking “am I going to DNF? Nah, I’ll get back to it later.”  The factual story regarding the development of the rover landing system (and the projects that trained Mr. Steltzner for that role) was compelling enough that I did eventually decide to power through and finish before the book ran out of renewals.


Counting towards 2016 and not counting for the 2017 Library Love Challenge since the majority of the reading happened in 2016.

Unfinished Series?

During the recent BL slow-down I returned to frequenting a couple of the discussion groups on GoodReads.  The question came  up on the Fantasy and SF group:


How many series you were in the middle of at the same time? How many of these are you “up to date” waiting for the next book to be published and how many are you working through in binges.


I realized that just as I’ve mostly fallen out of the habit of re-reading, I’ve got quite a passel of series and partially finished trilogies that I’m in the middle of.  Since I was procrastinating bedtime last night, I started a list. 



Series Name



# in Series

Gallagher Girls

Ally Carter



Sirantha Jax

Ann Aguire



The Others

Anne Bishop


#5 expected 2017

Peter Grant (Rivers of London)

Ben Aaronovich



Sookie Stackhouse

Charlaine Harris




CJ Cherryh

9 or 10


Tillerman Cycle

Cynthia Voigt



Gabriel Allon

Daniel Silva



Sean King & Michelle Maxwell

David Baldacci


 6 (undecided)

Allie Beckstrom (Magic to the Bone)

Devon Monk



Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus

Faye Kellerman



Kate Daniel

Ilona Andrews


9 (maybe)


Jack McDevitt



The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Jim Butcher


#2 is expected ???

The Dresden Files

Jim Butcher



Temperance Brennan

Kathy Reichs



Imager Portfolio

L.E. Modessit




L.E. Modessit



The Queen’s Thief

Meghan Whelan Turner


4 (#5 expected 2017)


Mercedes Lackey



Elemental Masters

Mercedes Lackey




Naomi Novik



Mercy Thompson

Patricia Briggs



Weather Warden

Rachel Caine



His Fair Assassin

Robin LaFevers


3 (#4 expected 2018)

Emberverse & Nantucket

S.M. Stirling



Throne of Glass

Sarah J Maas




Scott Westerfeld




Seanan McGuire



Liaden Universe

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller



Elemental Blessings

Sharon Shinn



Charlie Hood

T. Jefferson Parker




Trilogies & Duologies

Series Name



# in Series

These Broken Stars (Starbound)

Amie Kaufman



Ancillary Trilogy

Ann Leckie




Brandon Sanderson


3 finished 1/20/2017

The Checquy Files (The Rook)

Daniel O’Malley




Jennifer Roberson



Siobhan Quinn

Kathleen Tierney



The Craft Sequence

Max Gladstone




Nancy Kress



Fifth Season

NK Jemisin



Paradox (Fortune’s Pawn)

Rachel Bach




Scott Westerfeld




I should probably make more of an effort to finish some of these up, but there are so many pretty new books to distract me! 


P.S.  I stopped keeping a TBR list, since I never seemed to look at it, so I'm curious if I'll even bother to look at this again later.

A Storm Too Soon

A Storm Too Soon: A Remarkable True Survival Story in 80 Foot Seas is the Middle Grade adaptation of Michael Tougias's book A Storm Too Soon: A True Story of Disaster, Survival and an Incredible Rescue.


My older son, who prefers non-fiction to fiction and who likes stories of resilience, picked up A Storm Too Soon: A Remarkable True Survival Story in 80 Foot Seas during a recent library trip and has been obsessively reading and re-reading it. The book was a quick read for an adult, and clearly though dryly recounts the events of the unexpected storm and subsequent rescue. I think my son liked the book in part because the introduction made it clear that all of the principals in the story survived. So while there was tension in the moment, the level of suspense was low.


Though the book wasn't entirely bloodless as it mentions that one of the other boats in distress from the same storm was never found.

(show spoiler)

Unfortunately my library system doesn't have the adult version, or else I'd hand it to him to try.

Wild Magic

Wild Magic - Tamora Pierce

I had a long car-ride with my younger son over the winter holidays and was looking for something for us to listen to while I drove.  I'd liked how the Full-Cast Audio recordings had worked for the stories that Tamora Pierce had written to be released on audiobook first, so jumped at the chance to reread Wild Magic.


Using a different actor for each character works wonderfully during Wild Magic and I highly recommend the audiobook experience.




Book Award Season!


The Nerdy Book Club just announced their picks for this year's Nerdies!


The Cybils just announced which books made it to Round 2!



The Newbury Awards will be announced the end of January! 


I love book award season!  So many worthy YA and Middle Grade possibilities for my overflowing TBR stack and the next Readathon.