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June 13th, 2018

Wednesday reading meme day. Right. That. Looks like it's been too long since I checked in, as this is … quite a lot of reading, actually.

Admin note: I've only intermittently mentioned works read aloud to TBD, which in the past were a large number of mostly picture books and early readers. Now that we're into more chapter books and all-ages graphic novels, I'm going to make a point of noting those genres down, at least for first reads. By way of getting credit for work I'm doing anyway.


Ivy + Bean books 1-9, Annie Barrows -- TBD listened to all of these on audiobook during car rides, and now I've been reading them aloud, which means I'm getting more than just snippets (and we're both finally getting Sophie Blackall's excellent illos). These are solid chapter books, of a length that shades into middle-grade, about two second-graders who never meant to be friends but were so perfectly complementary they become true besties. Bean is the active, social one who cannot sit still, while Ivy is the quiet, bookish weirdo who's training herself to become a witch. Solid writing, deft characterization, and no book is a rehash of a previous one. My favorites are #4 Ivy + Bean Take Care of the Babysitter, #7 Ivy + Bean: What's the Big Idea?, which is an excellent explainer on global warming that's handled with heart, and #9 Ivy + Bean Make the Rules, in which they set up Camp Flaming Arrow in the local park. One more volume to go. (Plus a new book comes out in two months, one distinctly focused on Ivy.)

It turns out that the Magic School Bus franchise includes a couple different series of chapter books (all written after the original picture books and first TV series). Read aloud two books from one of them: Butterfly Battle and Insect Invasion. Both are okay, with almost enough illustrations.

An Accidental Goddess, Linnea Sinclair, a comfort reread while sick -- Romantic science-fantasy space opera. Except for a climactic moment in which the male lead behaves stupidly out of character without selling us on it, this still works.

Casino Royale, James Bond #1, Ian Fleming -- Goes down quickly, but Bond's womanizing is of the misogynistic type and the narrative validates this.

On hold:

The Legend of Chu Qiao: Division 11’s Princess Agent (11处特工皇妃, which is basically the English subtitle; the drama adaptation goes with just Princess Agent), Xiaoxiang Dong’er (潇湘冬儿) — Pseudo-historical reincarnation webnovel, in the subgenre of a female special agent transmigrated after being killed -- yes, that's a real subgenre -- in this case, into the body of an eight-year-old slave girl about to be killed (along with several others) by decadent aristocrat teens for sport. I kinda like the author's strategy for making the grimdark setting palatable: cranking up the melodrama to the max. On hold because I caught up with the translation at chapter 39, which fortunately is after a timeskip to aging her into her teens, as there's a romantic triangle in the works.

Phoenix Destiny (天命为凰), Yun Ji (云芨) -- Now here's something I've been looking for: a xianxia* novel with a female MC. In this case, she's the oldest daughter of a man who abandoned his first family to pursue a successful career as a martial artist -- and she wants an accounting. Which she can get only if she's strong enough. Revenge plot, ahoy! Well, sort of -- as of chapter 115 (where I caught up with the translation) the story is arcing more like a bildungsroman. I'll take that. And more translation.


Heavenly Jewel Change (天珠变), Tang Jia San-shao (唐家三少, "Tang Family's Third Young Master") -- Another xuanhuan webnovel, specifically an entirely disposable fantasy adventure requiring minimal brain cells. The protagonist is a rogue worthy of a classic picaresque novel, but I wish I had noticed the "Harem" tag before starting -- and it took a long time before those elements got prominent enough to be really annoying. Gave up just before chapter 400 (out of 848).

In progress:

So for my current minimal-brainage adventure needs, I'm back to The Avalon of Five Elements by Fang Xiang -- up to chapter 260 or so.

* Oversimplifying: super-powered martial arts based on Daoist cultivation practices -- contrast with wuxia aka traditional martial arts (which includes wire-fu light-movement action) and with xuanhuan aka eastern-based high fantasy (which can include xianxia elements).


Subject quote from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, canto IV, stanza 127, The Byron.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/682838.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.