Monday, December 31, 2018

Introducing Read Like a Pirate 2019!

Inspired by some major life changes, this blog is getting a makeover and shakeup for 2019. We're kicking things up a notch with a new collaborator, additional book review content, a Facebook discussion group, and for the first time ever we'll be adding actual, active content to this blog, too!

First off, we're introducing a reading challenge list for 2019. Read Like a Pirate 2019 offers 52 prompts for you to consider in selecting reading choices.

Conveniently, we've designed a printable version to use as a checklist.

How you use the list, though, will be up to you:
  • Do you want to read a book a week this year? Great, here are 52 prompts. 
  • Does that sound like a lot and you want fewer? Decide to read 26 books this year, or 12 books this year, or 3 books this year. Then pick and choose from the prompts.
  • Do you hate goal setting but really want to stretch your reading list? Great, pick some prompts and give something new a go.
  • Use the list in order, or shuffle it at will.
One of the things Trish pondered when creating the list was its flexibility - we're not here to make rigid, shameful rules you literally MUST follow.

Instead, use this list as a tool to rekindle your enjoyment of books. Read whatever you want, and love it. Only read nonfiction? Fine - you'll find you can twist most of these prompts and they'll still fit. Have you committed to only reading YA this year? Again, you'll find you can overlay this list to your constraints and still make it work.
Also, many of the prompts are a little vague. Feel free to spin them as you wish, because nobody really cares. But as a guide (and as a reason to post regularly), beginning January 2, 2019, Trish will create a series of weekly posts. She'll explain what she was thinking (which may be worth the price of admission), and she'll also make suggestions on titles to consider for the prompt. You're under no obligation to comply, however.
Please invite your friends, and use the hashtag #readlikeapirate2019 when posting on social media and join us on the Facebook group for discussion and support!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

A truly unusual happening - the creation of a sorcerer - has set the magic and wizards of the Disc all aflutter. The youngster doesn't really understand his own power, plus, he's being controlled by a not-quite-dead wizard father in the form of a staff. Things will never be the same again.

Rincewind is once again called on, as the worst wizard in the world, to be the hero. He meets up with the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian and together they're forced with the company of a very rich, very bored seriph with literary aspirations.

There's quite a bit of bickering between the crew during their quest, which I found more annoying than smart. I was much more interested in the machinations of the Librarian trying to save the living, magic books of Unseen University. And, in the magic war reforming the Disc.

It ends with things a few things unresolved - but there are 36 more books in the series.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

An Irish Country Love Story by Patrick Taylor

When the doctor's house is damaged in an accident, politics become a big part of the Ballybucklebo story when Fingal is faced with demolition of the house he loves to make a safer roadway. It makes Kitty's desire for new curtains seem quaint.

Also in this 11th episode of the series, Barry is pining for his fiance who's teaching abroad in France. He keeps himself busy with model shipbuilding, along with looking for a cottage the pair can buy to begin their married life. We also get a new young lady doctor in the practice, but it's not smooth sailing with the new addition. And brother Lars is spending a LOT of time with the Lady Myrna.

I love this series, and I especially adore the audiobooks. This gentle, consuming community narrative came at a perfect time for me, as John Keating's lilting delivery is always a soothing, captivating experience.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle

A novel told in verse, this story bounces between multiple Los Angeles civilians during World War II who deal with shortages, soldiers, and working for the war.

Two teen girls who have dropped out of school work at the cannery during the day and dance with the soldiers in the evenings. Their younger brother acts as "chaperone" as he continues in school and seaches for his own place in the world. Their parents worry about all four of their children - the three here, plus an older son enlisted and deployed. Through their eyes, we learn about the real-life race riots between soldiers and Mexican-Americans.
It's a quick read - I read it in an evening. I'd heard good things about the book, which is why I picked it up, and I didn't realize it was poetry until it arrived. Each chapter is a different voice, and each is just a page or two. The changing viewpoints offer an interesting perspective on a complex subject - a true historical event that I didn't know about before. 
It would be a good youth discussion title. The kids in the story are younger than you'd think, dealing with very adult problems and concerns, due to the escalating tensions of wartime. And the racism they encounter would be an interesting comparison for modern discrimination.

Elevation by Stephen King

When a man starts losing weight (but not getting any smaller), he uses the strange situation to subtly affect change in his small town.

When we meet Scott, he's embroiled in a nasty disagreement with his lesbian restauranteur neighbors about their dogs pooping in his yard. He's super-busy with a big project for his website development business, but unhappily divorced and lacking human connections. He visits with a retired doctor about the weight problem, not because he thinks there's a cure but because he wants someone to confide in.

As his health problem becomes more extreme, Scott takes on "fixing" things with his neighbors as a project. A sort of quest, as you may.

I had a hard time starting this book - I actually read the first 30 pages twice, because I'd set it down for quite a while and had to begin again. But once I got into it, I was hooked. It's a modern parable about the "weight" of one person on a community. Bonus: I had no idea what would happen in the end!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

The ones you'd least suspect are the worst.

In this series of short stories, an elderly spinster moves about eliminating annoyances in her life by way of brutal murders. Of course, no one suspects the infirm, confused little old lady with the walker!

Packed into 170 pages, we learn about Maud's family pre- and post-war and how she ended up alone in the expansive, luxurious apartment. We learn about her career and her travels, and how over time she squirreled away the money to live freely through her 90s.

It's a very funny, tiny little book (about the size of my iPhone) and the perfect escapism - what could be happier than scot-free, sweeping revenge? Maud is my new literary hero.