Sunday, October 21, 2018

Books to Read Aloud

I've recently finished two really good books with the kids - one with each of them. It is hard to find good read aloud bedtime stories. My kids don't like things that are too scary as bedtime stories. They say it makes it hard to settle and go to sleep. I can see their point: my book club is reading Slade House, by David Mitchell, this month and I doubt I'll finish it because I've discovered I can't read it right before bed or I'll have weird, creepy dreams. It is a beautifully written book, but it has a way of worming its way into my subconscious that just doesn't work for bedtime reading.

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for good bedtime books for the kids, and these two are good enough I want to share!

The kids and I went to see Greg Van Eekhout, the author of The Voyage of the Dogs, give a reading  at our local bookstore. It is set in a future in which humans and dogs can understand each other, and there are dog astronauts - barkonauts. The story is about what happens when a crew of barkonauts awakens from stasis to find the human crew on their ship gone. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book, so I was glad when Petunia decided we should read it together at bedtime. The author told us at the reading that all the dogs survive, so Petunia didn't mind the tense bits. (And knowing this in no way detracts from the book, so if you have a kid who would worry about that, too, go ahead and tell them.) The characters are wonderfully drawn. The dogs are dogs, not humans in dogs form, if you know what I mean. And I loved their problem-solving. This is such a fun book - I recommend it highly, even if you don't have a kid to read it to.

Finding bedtime stories for Pumpkin is getting harder and harder. She reads Harry Potter and other high-tension books to herself, but wants gentler stories for bedtime. The Anne of Green Gables books were perfect, although she asked to stop Rilla of Ingleside because the build up to WWI was too much for her. On a whim, I picked up a book my in-laws gave me years ago, that has been sitting on my "to read" pile. The 10 p.m. Question, by Kate Di Goldi, is a wonderful story of a 12 year old boy finding his way in the world. His family is a little odd, and what exactly is going on with his family is part of what you discover while you read. Frankie, the main character, has a lot of anxiety, and I really liked how the author made that just one of the things about a really interesting and likeable boy. I think this is a fine story for an 11 year old, and maybe even a little younger, but be aware that there are some adult themes. Nothing really detailed, but I did have to tell Pumpkin what a prostitute is or one small section of the story wouldn't have made as much sense. But I think I could have just breezed past that part and it wouldn't have mattered: It isn't central to the story.

In writing about these two books, it occurs to me that one of the reasons I liked them so much is they both have really great endings. The authors both do a great job of bringing their stories to a close while also leaving enough of an opening for you to think about what might come next for the characters. I really like it when a book does that!

Do you have any good bedtime story suggestions? Put them in the comments!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Weekend Reading: Another Short Edition

This post is going to be short: I have one of my best friends visiting from out of town, and spent the evening catching up with her.

Also, earlier today, my grandfather died. He was 99, and had been missing my grandmother, who died in March. They had been married 75 years and I think he didn't really want to be here without her. He was ready to go, but we will miss him dearly. I think we are all still processing the fact that he is gone. He had been getting more frail, but we had no advance warning that he was leaving so soon. Adjö, Grandpa. We miss you already.

So, I don't have much to say about my links today, but I do have some links.

I found this interview with two researchers about the Dutch biking culture really interesting.

The Texas Tribune did a deep dive on a town near the border with Mexico, and it is really worth your time.

Searches for voter registration info are at presidential election year levels. We don't know what the electorate will be like this year. So I am ignoring the polls and continuing to support as many races as I can with money and/or postcards.

I have a new podcast for recommended listening this week! Why Is This Happening, with Chris L. Hayes. I listened to the episode about social infrastructure, with Eric Klinenberg, and it really made me think.

Can we crowdsource to make this happen?




I liked this:




Bunnies!


Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Realization about My Current Time Use

I took the kids to get their flu shots today (and also got mine). Pumpkin didn't faint this year, and Petunia only freaked out a little bit... so it was a good year, I guess.

While we waited to make sure Pumpkin wouldn't pass out, Pumpkin read, Petunia watched a show I'd downloaded onto my tablet, and I thought about all the things I need/want to do.

I was feeling a little bit down about how slow I'm going with Adjusted Latitudes, and also wondering if I could say yes to a really interesting book project an author just pitched to me, but that I'm not sure I have the bandwidth to do.

I was thinking that maybe I can't keep the side projects going at the level I thought I could, despite what my time-tracking data had told me when I was deciding whether or not to go back to a "regular job."

And then I realized that I have a new "hobby" that I'm sinking a lot of time into: writing postcards and researching races to donate money to.

I don't plan to stop writing postcards after the midterms, but I do plan to scale back a bit. I had been aiming for at least 10 postcards per week (sometimes I'd do 15 or 20 if I had the time). In September, I bumped that up a notch, and I'm currently writing 5 postcards every day. That's not a huge time sink... but I think it explains why I don't feel like I have as much time to write travel posts or promote books, particularly when I add in the time I've been spending figuring out where I should send money to help in this campaign season.

So I don't feel so bad now about the glacial pace on getting Adjusted Latitudes going, and I think I'll reserve judgement about that book project until after the midterms.

Maybe some other night I'll write about my mixed feelings about the level of political involvement I feel I need to have right now. On one hand, I have realized I was too complacent about the problems in this country and I don't want to go back to that. On the other hand, think of all the other things we could all be doing with our time right now instead of fighting so hard for these midterms.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Weekend Reading: Hello From the Sick House Edition

I have been working from home for the past two days because Petunia has a cold. I am going a bit stir crazy. Also, I am sad I couldn't go rollerblading today. 

But on the bright side, I've gotten some quality Petunia-cuddles during breaks, and she's feeling a lot better now. So far, Pumpkin hasn't gotten sick, so I think we may finally be almost done with this cold.

Let's get to the links. First, the happy ones:

As I mentioned in my post on Wednesday... The Inconvenient God, a fantasy novelette by Francesca Forrest is now out! If you haven't grabbed a copy yet - get one. I think you'll love this story. Also, I'm running a release month promo for this book, so if you send me a picture of the book on your ereader (or in your hands, if you get the paperback) I'll send you a promo code to get Vanessa Fogg's The Lilies of Dawn for just $0.99.

Speaking of Vanessa Fogg... she posted about some much deserved recognition her stories are getting. Check it out, and then check out the stories, because they are wonderful. 

And now, for the less happy links:

If you only have time for one link this week, read Peter Beinart on the limits of civility.



I don't have any other links. I've been spending more time writing postcards and less time reading the news. I know that it is looking less likely that we'll flip the Senate. I know that is depressing to some people, but remember that flipping the Senate was always a long shot. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that we get one house of Congress, so that we can get subpoena power in the hands of people who actually care what happened in the 2016 election, care about whether Donald Trump's personal finances are influencing our foreign policy, and will provide some actual oversight on the Trump administration for things like the horrible policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. The House has always looked like the chamber we had the best chance of flipping, and so I have focused more on the House than the Senate in my donations and in my postcard writing. 

If you want to join me in writing postcards, there's still time to do so! You can get addresses from Postcards to Voters or Postcards4VA. One of my unexpectedly favorite things about writing postcards is that so many of them go to small towns and rural areas. The addresses are all for registered Democrats. It is a good reminder that we are not fully "sorted" despite our talk of Red and Blue states. In truth, there are plenty of Republicans in California - even in urban areas! - and there are plenty of Democrats in so-called Red states - even in rural areas. One of the things that the people who run Postcards4VA found after their first round of postcard writing (in the 2017 state house campaigns) was that the postcards helped increase rural turnout. My theory is that this is because the postcards remind rural Democrats that they are not isolated points of Blue in a sea of Red - they are part of the great Purple mix of America.


Other ways to get involved if you are not near to a race that needs in person canvassing (or if that's not your thing - it is not mine!) include phone banking and text banking. Both of these can be done remotely. You can pick a campaign and sign up there. The Cook Political Report's house ratings can help you find a campaign that could use your help. Or, you can read about @Pinboard's "great slate" of candidates he thinks have a chance to flip some unexpected districts. Or you can go to Swing Left and find some ideas there.

Whatever you pick, if you're worried about the health of our democracy under Trump, I encourage you to pick something to do to try to change the situation. We still have time to step back from the brink. And I can tell you that I always feel better after I write some postcards. Will it be enough? I don't know. But I feel better for trying.

Moving on.

In recommended listening:

Rebecca Traister has a new book about women's anger out, and she's been on several podcasts lately. I think her interview with Ezra Klein is the best of the ones I've heard.

Bunny!


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Release Day, Day Off... Not Quite to Plan

I've been feeling a little burned out, so I decided to plan a day off. Then I looked at my work calendar and decided the best I could manage right now was a half day. So I scheduled that for today. I figured that would work out well, since today is also the release day for The Inconvenient God - I planned to call in to some meetings in the morning, have a nice lunch, then do some release day promo, then head out for a walk on the beach.

But then I came down with a cold last Friday. I'm better (mostly - still a little stuffed up, but no longer clearly sick). My husband got sick two days ago. And Petunia got sick this morning. So far, Pumpkin is healthy. We'll see if that lasts.

So, I have both Mr. Snarky and Petunia home with me today. I attended my meetings, but had to work a little longer than I anticipated because my other time was interrupted tending to Petunia. I guess the bright side of having Mr. Snarky home, too, is that he can stay here with Petunia and I can still take my walk on the beach. But this is not the peaceful "mental health day" I imagined.

Oh well... at least it is looking like a good release day for The Inconvenient God! There are several reviews on the GoodReads page, and quite a few sales so far. If you want to add to the sales total, you can get the ebook for $2.99 at the usual places:



And the paperback for $7.99 at Amazon and BN.com. It will be available at IndieBound soon, and librarians - it will be in Overdrive and Baker & Taylor soon, too!

Here are a couple of early reviews:

Also, don't forget I'm running a release month promo for this book - send me proof of purchase (which can just be a picture of the book on your ereader) and I'll send you a promo code to get Vanessa Fogg's equally wonderful novelette The Lilies of Dawn for just $0.99.

International readers - if you're in a location for which the exchange rate makes this book a ridiculous price for a novelette, but you want to read it, please get in touch! I'll work something out with you. 

Hooray for release days! And boo on sick days. I'm going to get my walk on the beach, though, and that's not nothing. 

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