JL's Bibliomania

Bibliomaniac. Daughter of a Bookaholic. Wife of a Bibliovore.  Mother of 2 Bibliophiles.

 

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

 

Also occassionally on GoodReads as J L's Bibliomania:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8830421-j-l-s-bibliomania

and Litsy @jlsbibliomania

 

 

 

 

 

Basement wide-angle
Basement wide-angle

For all of you expressing envy of the bookcases in the basement.  It was a VERY carefully curated shot.  Here's a wide angle of the whole basement in it's true glory.

#47 Follow Friday with book bloggers: JL's Bibliomania

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

Hello Friday! Hello Follow Friday with book bloggers! Today let's meet Julia. You need to keep on reading to see those shelfies! :D

 

Follow JL's Bibliomania on BookLikes: http://jlsbibliomania.booklikes.com/

 

 

What are you reading right now? How do you like it?

 

 

I’m reading three things as I write these responses:

 

Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach, which is the concluding volume of a lighthearted romp of a Space Opera featuring a girl and her big gun.

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which is the story of how Marie- Laure, a blind French Girl, and Werner, a German Orphan, converge in the French town of San-Malo near the end of the 2nd World War.  Slower moving, especially as an audiobook.

 

The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee, which is the current selection for the Flat Book Society.  OK so far, but recently I’ve been struggling with sustained attention to non-fiction.

 

Heaven's Queen - Rachel BachAll the Light We Cannot See: A Novel - Anthony Doerr, Zach AppelmanThe Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions - Thomas McNamee

 

READ & JOIN THE BOOK CLUB ->

 

However, I expect that by the time this is published, I will have finished Heaven’s Queen and moved on to another piece of fiction

 

 

When have you discovered you’re a book lover?

 

If this question is asking when did I (first) discover I was a book lover the answer is: When books were replacing my non-existent friends in Elementary and Middle School and I was devouring a book an afternoon.

 

 

Why reading is important to you?

 

Because I like how reading fills the spaces in my head. Because I crave the escape it offers.

 

Follow jlsbibliomania.booklikes.com

 

 

Which books are you most excited recommending to your followers?

 

I’m currently excited about The Hate U Give, which is getting a lot of buzz, and does a great job personalizing the questions behind the Black Lives Matter (Movie due to release in October)

 

I discovered Maggie Stiefvater relatively recently and loved The Raven Boys and the sequels as an audiobook.  

 

I read them a long time ago and the details have faded, but I think Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay is essential reading.  

 

I also love CJ Cherryh’s work.While a bit older, I particularly like how the Faded Sun Trilogy and Forty Thousand in Gehenna wrestle with the idea of being the “Other” and of becoming the bridge between human and alien.

 

The Hate U Give - Angie ThomasThe Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater,Will PattonTigana - Guy Gavriel Kay

The Faded Sun Trilogy - C.J. CherryhForty Thousand in Gehenna - C.J. Cherryh

 

 

In your bio you write: “Daughter of a Bookaholic. Wife of a Bibliovore.  Mother of 2 Bibliophiles” Did your family had an influence on your reading passion, and how do you encourage your kids to keep on reading?

 

My parents really didn’t watch television much and were always reading, particularly my Dad who always has a book or 3 going, typically Space Opera or military SF.  My parents definitely had an influence on my reading passion by always having books around, and nurtured my love of SF by handing me Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong when I was in Jr. High and complaining that I was bored and out of things to read.

 

This is going to sound trite (or like stock advice), but when my kids were little my husband and I read to our sons, always had a rotating stock of library books around that were age and reading-level appropriate geared towards their passion of the moment, and modeled reading because we often had a book of our own with us. We were lucky. My older son dove into Richard Scarry partway through kindergarten, my younger son got lost in the Warriors series in 3rd grade and we really haven’t had to do much to encouraging since.  

 

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? - Richard ScarryWarriors #1: Into the Wild - Erin Hunter

 

 

Do you read one book or several at a time?

 

As you can see by the answer to question 1, I typically read several books at a time.

- 1 fiction in print or ebook,

- 1 audiobook for the car,

- and sometimes a non-fiction. 

 

But the print book and the audiobook have to be different genres for me to keep track, which is fine because I like to mix things up.

 

BookLikes Shelf

 

 

Do you review all books you read? How does your review process look like?

 

I don’t review everything I read.  I write when I have something to say and when time permits (and as you can see by the fewer and shorter reviews recently, time has recently been in short supply so I haven’t been as active). 

 

I’m more of a book diarist than a book reviewer.  I started tracking on Goodreads and blogging about books to help myself remember what I’ve read.  I consider what I write to be book reactions rather than truly reviews, which is why many of my entries are a short paragraph or less, and I almost never include a synopsis of the plot. I try not to look at too many reviews before I read a book, but often look at the book page here and at other book-review sites after I finish.  I typically dash off a draft over the weekend, ask my husband to copy edit it, then post the following day.  

 

 

Your Shelf presents many audiobooks. Do you experience the book differently while listening to it instead of reading?

 

I do experience stories differently when I listen to them. Listening to an audiobook forces you to move at the narrator’s pace, which means that you can’t read too fast and miss details.  Sometimes that’s an advantage, and sometimes that leads to tedium.

 

I’m also not one who easily builds a concrete picture of what the characters look like, or imagines what they sound like.  The audiobook narrator often fills in that gap for me, especially the recent productions that turn books almost into audio plays by using multiple readers.

 

The experience of reading an audiobook is also different for me because I mostly listen to them in the car, while I’m driving. A story is different when experienced in 15-30 minute chunks, and with distractions.

 

2018 Reading Challenge Page

 

 

A library or a bookstore?

Definitely a library!

 

While my husband and I spent many pleasant hours in used book stores as a teen and young adult (hence the collection in the basement), we almost entirely stopped buying books as part of the financial adjustment after buying our first house. We are lucky to live in an area with good libraries and I get more than 90% of what I read from the local county library consortium. 

 

 

Your favorite genres are fantasy and sci-fi. Why are they so special?

 

 

SF and fantasy were initially appealing to me because of the escapism. If you’re not happy in mundane reality, SF and fantasy provide ample opportunities to imagine being a heroine elsewhere. 

 

Now I find that SF and fantasy are special in the way that they pose questions about what makes us human.

 

 

What are your three favorite book covers?

 

I'll admit that I hate the share 3 book-covers question since doing most of my book “shopping” in the online library catalog, the cover isn't really something I pay much attention to. However, there’s a strong tradition of SF-related artwork. So instead of book covers I’d like to share 3 of the signed, numbered SF-related prints that I’ve bought at conventions over the years. 

 

Menolly by Robin Wood, originally included in The People of Pern http://www.robinwood.com/Catalog/Prints/PrintPages/Menolly.html

 

 

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Virginia Poyser.  Victoria is currently working under her married name of Virginia Lisi and no longer focusing on SF-related art.  I couldn’t find a good copy of this picture online, but her website is https://victoria-lisi.pixels.com/

 

 

A Stitch in Time by David Cherry (brother of  CJ Cherryh)

https://davidcherryart.com/prints/a-stitch-in-time/  I don’t believe this piece is connected to a specific book, but it appealed to me as someone who occasionally stitches.

 

 

 

A paper book or an e-book?

 

When I’m home, I’m a traditionalist and prefer paper.  When I’m travelling, or when the library only has the ebook, I’ll happily reach for the e-reader for novels. I dislike non-fiction and graphic novels as e-books. 

 

 

Three titles for a holiday break?

 

 

Did I say that I hate giving recommendations?

 

Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach  and the sequels (though it looks like others who tried it here on BL haven’t liked it much)

 

When Dimple Met Rishi – light realistic fiction YA – definitely recommend the audiobook.

 

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. Suggested in honor of the Summer of Spies.

 

 

Favorite quote?

 

My absolutely favorite quote is

Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.

(Often misremembered as – Life is short, Eat dessert first)

And when I was in college I spent several years doing just that.

 

Despite coming late to canine ownership, my favorite bookish quote is

Outside of a book, a dog is man’s best friend

Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read

 

Shelfie time! Please share your home library photos :)

 

The first two pictures are of the two bookcases in the living-room, which contain cookbooks, religion reference works and library books. Life has been so much easier, with many fewer desperate searches for the overdue or missing books since we cleared off shelves a shelf for me and a shelf for my sons to keep our library book in the right hand case.

 

 

The last picture is of a few of the 13 bookcases in the basement library.  We’re in the middle of re-sorting/re-shelving/trimming the collection as we recently decided to store all fiction alphabetically by author and to stop trying to sort by genre.  And while the basement is mostly fiction, there are 2 ceiling high cases full of my husband’s history references.

 

 

 

 

Thank you! 

 

*

 

Have you missed previous Follow Friday talks? Use ffwithbookbloggers tag or click the interviews catch up links below: 

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A Meeting at Corvallis

A Meeting at Corvallis - S.M. Stirling

I am done with this series.  

 

A Meeting at Corvallis, the third book in first Emberverse trilogy, unfortunately didn't return to the magic of the 1st in this series.  Too much battle info-dumping, not enough people behaving believably.

 

That said, I did cry

 

at the death of Mike Havel

(show spoiler)

 

 

But I'm just done.  If I want the minutia of military campaigns and what people ate, I'll go read some L.E. Modesitt Jr. At least his villains aren't such caricatures. 

Fortune's Pawn

Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach

Just the light romp I was in the mood for.  Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

Silent Days, Silent Dreams

Silent Days, Silent Dreams - Allen Say

In addition to the well known Caldecott and Newbery Metals, the American Library Association gives a number of other awards, including the Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

 

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say won the young reader (0-8 years old) category this year. In Silent Days, Silent Dreams, Allen Say provides a capsule biography of folk artist James Castle.  Like most, I had not heard about Jimmy Castle before. Castle is described as deaf, mute, autistic, and probably dyslexic, yet he was a self-taught artist, who left thousands of drawings and other folk-art objects. 

 

All of the art in Silent Days, Silent Dreams was created by Allen Say, either in the style of James Castle or slightly modified copies of drawings Castle did himself.  While I think that Allen Say did a good job, I wish that the book had included Castle’s original art instead of just new drawings and objects created in Castle’s style. 

 

If you want to let James Castle “speak” for himself, some of his art is available at http://jamescastle.com/

2018 Caldecott Award

A Different Pond - Bao Phi, Thi Bui

I often use the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon as an excuse to catch up on the Caldecott Award and Honor Books, and while I borrowed several picture books from the library, I’m only now getting to them (something about them being due back to the library on Monday finally bringing them to the top of my list).

 

My favorite of this crop of picture books was A Different Pond by Bao Phi illustrated by Thi Bui, which was a Caldecott Medal Honor book .  A young boy and his father, a Vietnamese immigrant, head out fishing long before dawn.  Over the course of the gorgeously illustrated pages, you discover that they are fishing not for pleasure, but to put food on the table.  With the current attention on immigrants and also on economic disparities, A Different Pond is a very timely story and a fine way to introduce young readers to multicultural protagonists. (4 stars)

 

Wolf in the Snow - Matthew Cordell 

 

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell is the winner of the 2018 Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children.  This almost wordless book tells the story of a young girl and a wolf cub lost in the snow and how they eventually both made it to safety.  While nicely done, Wolf in the Snow just didn’t hold much for an adult reader without children to share read-alouds with. (3 stars)

 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut - Derrick Barnes,Gordon C. James 

 

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut  by Derrick Barnes and Illustrated by Gordon C. James follows a young African American boy as he gets a haircut.  I loved the concept and the prose of this Caldecott Honor book, but the accompanying paintings just didn’t speak to me. (3 stars)

 

There are 2 other Caldecott Honor's books this year:  Big Cat, little cat,” illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper and “Grand Canyon,” illustrated and written by Jason Chin.  I'm planning to give Big Cat, little cat a pass, but have Grand Canyon on reserve at the library

 

Dark Triumph (My Fair Assassin #2)

Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers

It's been a number of years since I read Grave Mercy, the first book in the My Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers.  I didn't take the time to write a review, but I rated it a 4 star book. I do remember enjoying the coming-of-age story regarding assassin nuns in a fictionalized Brittany where supernatural gods/saints interact with the real world.   

 

The second book in the trilogy Dark Triumph just didn't hold my interest. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down, on the other I found myself speed-reading/skimming just to find out what happened.  I know I missed a lot of details, but I have no interest in going back to pick up what I missed.

 

I don't know how much of my opinion is due to the specific book and how much of that is due to changes in reading taste (after a number of YA heavy years I seem to be reading more traditional SF). I do think I will eventually give the last book in the trilogy a try.

Incredibles 2 Strobe Effect Warning

Thank you @veron4ica and @exigetspersonal (Tumblr) for getting the word out about the strobe effects in Incredibles 2.

 

The swift response from a major movie production house and major theater chains is  heartening.

 

 

Space Opera

Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Eurovision!!!  Cool concept, right?  

 

I agree that it's a cool concept, but I can't say that I found Space Opera quite as amazeballs as some of the other reviews I've seen here at BookLikes.  Like most Saturday Night Live skits, I felt like Space Opera had one good joke that it tried to milk for just too long,

 

Perhaps the trouble is partly that I read Space Opera as an audiobook, and as such found the asides on the asides on the asides just a bit hard to follow. Or perhaps it's just that Catherynne M. Valente put a lot of energy into a writing style that I don't enjoy much (I'd previously looked at The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making  but it didn't grab my interest and Six-Gun Snow White didn't quite work for me either).

 

 

Before the Fall

Before the Fall - Noah Hawley

Several colleagues and I started an IRL book club at work four months ago.  We met at lunchtime on Thursday to discuss Before the Fall.  Marketed as a thriller with the hook “On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are the painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.” The book follows Scott in the days immediately following the crash with flashbacks to the lives of the now-deceased passengers and crew.

 

Surprisingly, our opinion of the book was unanimous.  Pretty much everybody was intrigued by the concept of the book and hated the execution. The general feeling was that Before the Fall wasn’t suspenseful enough for the thriller designation and that the story stopped living up to the promise of the opening sequence as soon as Scott left the hospital.

 

As one of my colleagues said, this book is awash in red herrings, but rather than them being fat meaty fish that we could believe in, there’s this swarm of pink minnows darting around pallid characters. 

 

While you can’t really say anything about how the book ends, or “whodunit” without spoilers, we were dissatisfied with how the book ended and had some significant questions about the timing of certain things.

 

As an aside, while the consensus is that we are unlikely to read anything else by Mr. Hawley, we wish that Gil the security guard had survived the crash so that he could be the protagonist of his own book.

Reblogged from Lora's Rants and Reviews :

For the Tolkien fans.

May Musings

Still haven’t been feeling the urge to review as much, so here’s another quick month-end summary. I read 4 pieces of fiction and parts of 3 non-fiction books during May.

 

Fiction:

 

A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton 

 

A is for Alibi is the first book in the long-running “Alphabet Mysteries" series. While the novel was originally contemporary, it now reads as a period piece from the days before cell-phones.  While there were some wobbles, I’ve been looking for a new mystery series and I’m curious to see what kind of writer Sue Grafton matures into.  Ms. Grafton, unfortunately, died at the end of 2017.

 

Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee 

 

Ninefox Gambit was the winner of the 2016 Locus Award as wells as being nominated for the 2017 Hugo, Nebula And Arthur C. Clarke Awards. I read Mr. Lee's first full-length novel because the sequel was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award.  The start of Ninefox Gambit was very confusing start as you are thrown headlong into a very inventive world.  But I very much enjoyed the story once all the players were in motion. I’m likely to re-read this since I feel like I missed a lot of the nuance.

  •  
  • All Systems Red - Martha Wells 

 

I’ve been seeing  glowing reviews of All Systems Red  on my feed for a while, and was able to download the ebook for free from Tor.com in April.  The story won the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella. I'm glad I spent the time with Murderbot and I hope that my local library makes the sequels available.

 

The Protector's War - S.M. Stirling 

  

Meh.  See stand-alone review of the The Protector's War  

 

 

Non-Fiction:

 

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot  A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup  

 

I finally finished I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, which was the March selection from the Flat Book Society. The story of the microbiome was interesting, but for whatever reason, I found it hard to maintain the attention needed to follow Ed Yong’s well-researched summary.  I love that, while I Contain Multitudes was clearly written for a general audience, the back 20% of the book was still footnotes and citations of primary documents.

 

My IRL book-club read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for our mid-May meeting.  I’d read it several years ago as an audiobook.  I didn’t start until a week before the meeting and had finished about the first 1/3 by our discussion.  After the meeting, I just didn’t feel like taking the time to finish, so moved on to other things.

 

I read a few chapters in A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie  by Kathryn Harkup, which was the Flat Book Society selection for May.  As a non-Christie reader, I didn't find it all that compelling and chose not to finish.

 

Happy Reading!

Another SF Loss

Gardiner Dozios has died.  I never met him personally, but he helped create the SF that caught my teenage fancy. 

The Protector's War

The Protector's War - S.M. Stirling

While flawed, Dies the Fire (Emberverse Book 1), is one of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels.  The same cannot be said for the the sequel.

 

The Protector's War (Emberverse Book 2) is set 8 or 9 years after The Change re-worked the laws of nature and plunged the earth back to a semi-agrarian existence.  While it was nice to spend time with Clan MacKenzie and the Bearkiller Outfit, and I like the new characters from England, the way S.M. Stirling skips back and forth through time as he bounces between the various parties is infuriating.  The individual glorious moments that are the strength of this series was outweighed by how hard the story is to follow.

 

The Protector's War ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and I'll probably read A Meeting at Corvallis (Emberverse #3), which finishes the original arc about the early survivors and their nemesis The Protector of Portland, but I don't expect that I'll go much further into the 14+ books in this series any time soon.

 

 

Space Opera reading progress update: I've listened 200 out of 580 minutes.

Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

We haven't quite made it off planet, but the same thing keeps running through my mind:

 

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets EUROVISION!?!

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all, especially those who find today a struggle.

 

 

Artwork by Mari Andrew

Currently reading

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Progress: 160/320pages
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright
Progress: 66/268pages