Books read in October, 2012

Matt and I trade off chapters when we read aloud, usually a chapter of my book and an equal number of pages in his.  My book was the 512-page novel the Art of Fielding.  That meant we burned through a lot of his books this month because graphic novel pages blow by much more quickly than novel pages.

Vision Quest
Terry Davis
I absolutely adored this book when I read it in high school, so much so that it was one of the “books of my growing up” that I stored away in a trunk as I packed up my childhood after high school graduation.  There is also a horrendous movie version, which I don’t recommend.

I didn’t love it as much this time through, but could see why I liked it at an earlier age.  The book took place 20 years before my high school experience and the main character’s life was so much freer than mine was.  His parents were happily divorced, he had a girlfriend who was older, she lived with him, which was absolutely  no big deal, they had a lot of sex which was also no big deal.  The two of them did things totally alien to me like spending the night in the car with the heater running so they could watch the deer come by.  It was a completely different world and I couldn’t figure out why my life didn’t look more like that.

My criticism of this book at my current age (20 years out from when I read it, 40 years out from the book’s setting) is that there is absolutely no conflict.  The main character is great, the girlfriend is great, the dad is great, the wrestling buddies are great, the coaches are great, the wrestling opponents are great, and so on.  That said, I’m guessing this book developed out of a series of essays, because there are some great “living in Spokane, Washington” vignettes which are quite delightful.  It’s also fun to read about the wrestling practices, matches and preparations   I checked to see if Terry Davis had written anything else because I think he’s a good writer, and there are a few that I may check out.

Hey Buddy
Peter Bagge
Matt and I read aloud.
The art in this book was interesting, but I didn’t particularly like, well, anyone and thus was happy when it was over.  Nice slice of life of early 90s Seattle, though, if you are interested.

The  Order of the Stick Coloring Book
Rich Burlew
Matt and I read aloud
Matt insists I review this coloring book.  So here is my review.
Thank goodness Matt had the foresight to give to the Kickstarter campaign which paid handsomely in many ways that I heard about for a good two months, including this remarkable coloring book.  Some people may scoff (as I did, when Matt reviewed this volume) at including a simple coloring book on Goodreads, but clearly those people have not experienced the depth, drama and pathos that Rich Burlew brings to every one of the 32 pages.  My life was changed by the word find, the maze and the other activities included.  My only hope is that there are more coloring books forthcoming from Mr. Burlew in the future as his clear sense of talent shines through.

What’s Michael
Makoto Kobayashi
Matt and I read aloud.
Excellent depiction of cats in graphic novel form.  I don’t like people teasing cats, even in graphic novel form, so I was not a fan of a few of the stories (scaring Michael by wearing a Godzilla mask, for instance) but Kobayashi manages to capture the essence of cat wonderfully.

The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbauch
Matt and I read aloud.
I loved this book so much when I read it earlier this year that I blew through it in a matter of days.  How could I enjoy it even more?  By reading it aloud with my boyfriend.  It was a very long read aloud, but nearly all 512 pages of the book are delightful and this time I was forced to move slowly through the book, savoring each chapter.   My one complaint is that I always read the odd numbered chapters and in this book many of the odd numbered chapters are quite short in comparison to the even numbered ones.  Although, I did get the payoff at the end of the book, getting to read all 20 pages of the chapter with the big game, so I was pretty happy in the end.  I will repeat my hearty recommendation of this book.  You need to read it, even if you don’t like baseball.

Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein
Read for Mock Printz
I’m kind of done with WWII fiction, but I had to read this because it was on the Mock Printz list so read it I did.  And I am so glad!  While most WWII fiction is weighty and depressing (yes, I know, it’s not really a cheery topic) this book starts with a firecracker of a main character narrating in the first person.  She’s been captured in Vichy France and is being tortured for information.  Grim, right?  But her headstrong spirit blasts by the treatment by her captors and she overwhelms you with the narrative.

She’s so compelling a character, you might be tempted to read more quickly to find out what happens, but I urge you to pay attention because you are going to need the information she is telling you later in the book.  This novel is intricately plotted, has two young women as the main characters and you get a glimpse into women serving in the British military during the war.  I’m giving this book a rare five star review because it was the perfect book.  Highly Recommended.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chboski
I saw the movie first and felt so-so about it, but the book was a much better medium for this story.  It’s a brief book–perhaps designed for teenagers’ famously short attention spans?–and written entirely in letter form which didn’t come though the movie process so well but worked nicely on the page.  Not surprisingly.  It’s a nice slice of life from a time period that is familiar to me, so I enjoyed it.

The Drowned Cities
Paolo Bacigalupi
Read for Mock Printz
I found this a bit of a slog, due to the brutality of the conditions the characters lived in, but the characters themselves were interesting and it was fun to imagine a swampy Washington DC overrun by warlords.

Tiger Lily
Jodi Lynna Anderson
Read for Mock Printz
Not just a quality female retelling of a traditionally male-centered classic (Peter Pan) but also incredibly well-written, and perfectly captures first love.  I really loved this book in a “skip reading the newspaper so I can read more of the book” sort of way.  That doesn’t happen often.

Started and did not finish
I Hunt Killers
Barry Lyga
This was on a preliminary Mock Printz list so I got a head start on my reading by diving in to this book. But it turned out that it didn’t make the final list.  I was glad, because I wasn’t enjoying the topic: teenage son of a famous serial killer investigates what appears to be a new serial killer on the loose in his town.  There is some good identity formation stuff here, but I’m not a fan of the torture of women, even if it is mostly alluded to, rather than described.

Favorite found photos from Scrap

When we bought collage material for the Art Party, Matt grabbed a bunch of photos.  I donated nearly all of them back to Scrap, but I held on to these two.

If you can’t tell what this is from the front, check the back.

I love that someone was so excited (or perhaps angry, though I think not) that they took a picture of something happening on TV.  Matt said they took several pictures, but he just brought home the one.  This was the first election I was able to vote in and the presidential candidate I voted for won!  I don’t think I watched the swearing in, but I remember waiting up on election night for the results.
And I love this photo, not only because it affirms that my awful clothing choices in the late 80s were not really my fault, but fashionable, but also because I love the interaction between the women.  And that woman’s wedding dress is gorgeous (though sadly not in fashion right now)

A jeans skirt at a wedding?  What were we collectively thinking?

Halloween in Kenton Walk

I had to return a movie and pick up some yarn, so I took a walk in the pouring rain. Here are some of my neighborhood’s Halloween decorations.
I love walking through alleys.

I found it interesting that my neighborhood, Kenton had many decorations for Halloween.  When I crossed over into Arbor Lodge, Kenton’s fancier neighbor, there was nothing.  Except these pumpkins.

Three sentence movie reviews: Son of No One

I’ve discovered that one thing Channing Tatum can’t do is grow decent facial hair as the mustache he wore through this movie was just incredibly ridiculous and I’m not sure why it was even necessary.  This movie is full of good acting, but alas, the plot is awful and that nullifies anything the actors might do.  And while I am usually annoyed when female characters are not developed, to the detriment of the movie (Ahem,

Crazy Heart

) I get absolutely incensed when the female characters are whisked on and off the screen once and then to neatly tie up the plot at the end, as happened with this movie.

poster from:

Guess what national holiday it is?

I love my birthday and the birthday fairies at work are happy to oblige me in celebrating.  Not only was my desk decorated but there was a poem waiting for me on my computer AND a happy birthday email.  Three different kinds of Mac & Cheese were delivered to me through the day.  Also, given that I work in an elementary school and was wearing a “Today is my birthday sticker” I received hundreds of birthday greetings.  Kids also love birthdays and many of them wished me happy birthday multiple times.

Three sentence movie reviews: Magic Mike

This passed the vital “still good on the third viewing?” test with flying colors and Matt liked it too.  So now there are two more reasons why this movie is better than you think it is.* Sadly, the DVD is pretty much devoid of extras.**

poster from:




that will tell you it’s not the movie you think it is, either.

**I was hoping for a director’s commentary. And more dancing, as I heard each character did two individual dances for the film. But no.  Just a 6 minute feature. LAME!