Books read in January 2015

13 books read in a month that included the tail end of winter break and two snow days.  Will my reading fall off tremendously with the coming of the new job?  Stay tuned.

recommendedPicture Books: Supertruck
Middle Grade: The Thing About Jellyfish
Young Adult: First and Then
Young Nonfiction: Sex is a Funny World
Grownup Nonfiction: Not Funny, Ha Ha

picture booksSupertruck
Stephen Savage
Read for Librarian book group.
Who was that truck? It was Supertruck!

middle gradeThe Thing About Jellyfish
Ali Benjamin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Really enjoyable story about getting over a friend’s death when you are in middle school and have even fewer skills than the average middle schooler.  Not quite as  moving as Rain Reign, but close.

I enjoyed it despite the fact that I read it through Multnomah County Library’s 3M app on my tablet, due to too many holds on the book copies. The app gave me HUGE TEXT that I couldn’t figure out how shrink.  I shall have to ask an MCL employee for assistance.

Adventures with Waffles
Maria Parr
Read for Librarian Book Group.
Trille’s best friend Lena is a Norweigen offshoot of Pippi Longstocking and the two have many fun advetures in this episodic book.

young adultDoing It
Melvin Burgess
I found it odd that the chapters jumped from first person to third person with no consistent rhythm.  Sometimes the switch would come mid-chapter.  Maybe if there had only been one person’s point of view, this would have worked, but with three characters–plus some other people weighing in  now and then–I kept being jolted.

This feels like a fairly realistic book about what it is to be male and adolescent, which I ultimately found depressing because, dude, adolescent guys can be uber creeps.  There was a long section where one main character liked a girl, but didn’t want to say he did because she was fat.

I guess there’s such a thing as being too realistic.  Also, I totally felt for Ben, the kid trapped in a (n illeagal) relationship with his teacher.

The Promise of Amazing
Robin Constantine
Um.  What was this book about?  (It’s been a week.)
Ah yes.  This was engaging when I was reading it.  I enjoy a good story of a middle-of-the-road person.  I liked the bad boy/good girl dynamic.

Apparently, though, it was fairly forgettable.

The Last Little Blue Envelope
Maureen Johnson
One of the things I think YA gets wrong is the feeling of completion when a couple gets together.  They have found each other!  They will love each other forever!  Whereas in real life, we don’t tend to stay with the people we fall in love with in high school.

Maureen Johnson takes Ginny back to Europe, back to that guy she likes.  But all is not the same.  And there’s this problem with this other guy, who has all her envelopes.

Truly, Madly, Famously
Rebecca Serle
Let’s get the Portland details out of the way first.  For most of the book I was thinking, “Thank god, the main character hasn’t been back to Portland, so there are no Portland details to get wrong.”  But then, on 227, one teenager says to another: “We were going to do Nob Hill.”

And yes, I know what she’s talking about. But no Portlander talks about Nob Hill, we would say “Twenty-third Avenue.”  Then, on the next page, “You have a protest in the Pearl in forty-five minutes…that community garden is not going to save itself.”

The protest in the Pearl wouldn’t be about a community garden!  It would be about affordable housing!  Seriously!  Ms. Serle.  Send me your drafts and I will fix these things for you.  Or stop being so Portland specific if you aren’t going to get the details right.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, oh my god I loved this book.  It’s not a Great Book, but it does what it does so well.  Love triangle!  Super awesome!  I get grumpy in YA books when characters who would in real life be having sex, totally don’t. But there is no sex in this book and it seems totally reasonable.  The kissing scenes are hot, the character arcs work and all is good.

I was thinking that there would be three books, one for each movie, but this book was feeling very finished with this book.  So maybe we are done?  [brief internet research interlude] Ah-ha!  Goodeads has an untitled #3 book in its list.  In the meantime, I’ll check out the author’s other titles.

First & Then
Emma Mills
I loved this book so much.  There were weird characters, but they seemed like any normal weird character you might encounter in high school.  I loved that Devon, the female lead, has a crush on her best (male) friend Cas and doesn’t know what to do with that. I love that she’s got this cousin living with her, and she’s having trouble not being an only child.

Devon loves Jane Austin and there are many Jane references sprinkled hither and yon.  Probably more than I caught, because I mostly experience Ms. Austin through celluloid, not print.

Devon also has a friend Jordan, and I loved their friendship, which was that of opposite-sex peers who really like each other.  In another universe, they’d probably be a scorching couple.*  But in this one, they are admiring friends.  I think this kind of relationship happens a lot in high school, but I don’t often see it in books set in high school.

Also, this book is funny, sometimes snortingly, sometimes in a way that makes you sound kind of crazy, because your laughter is echoing through an empty house.

This is my first favorite book of 2016

*Two points for anyone who caught the Cameron Crowe reference.

When you were mine
Rebecca Serle
Here’s the Romeo & Juliet story, but from the point of view of Rosalind.  This was one of those books where I could tell who the ultimate hero was the minute he stepped on the page.  I found the present-day setting okay, but the distribution of names odd.  Rosalind, Rosalind, and Juliet was Juliet.  But then Romeo was Rob?  Overall, engaging story about wealthy teenagers.

A School for Brides
Patrice Kindl
I totally made fun of this for the tagline, but luckily my friendly librarian steered me toward this title. I read most of it while constantly referring to the list of characters in the front–there are a ton.  This was an enjoyable frolic.

The Porcupine of Truth
Bill Konigsberg
Read for Librarian book group.
Let’s get my quibble out of the way from the get-go. Very near the end, there’s a scene in a dog park where a dog is in not the best situation.  The dog exists briefly, and to make a larger point in the story, but as the poor creature walked off the page, I found myself worrying about him, probably to the point where I will think of this book as “that one with the poor dog.” I recognize this is not fair, but it was my reaction.

Poor dog aside, I really liked this story of a boy stuck in Billings for the summer with his estranged dying father.  It’s a story of friendship and discovery and choices people make and choices that are made for them.  It’s got a fabulous secondary character, too.  Nicely done, Mr. Konigsberg.  That makes two in a row.

Young nonficitonSex is a funny word
Read for Librarian Book Group.
Learn about sex in comic book form.  I loved the use of four different characters to explain things.  I also really liked the careful choice of words.  It is explained that some people have breasts, not that women have breasts.  A nice intro of many things, without any identity baggage.

Grownup NonfictionNot Funny Ha-Ha
Leah Hayes
A graphic novel about what happens when a woman has an abortion.  It covers both surgical and prescription. To tell us the story it follows two different women who have chosen to end their pregnancies.   It talks about the procedures, but also discusses the feelings, physical and mental, that might be encountered.

Very well done and fills a niche that has more-or-less gone unfilled. (Though if you know of any similar titles, do tell.)

Three sentence movie reviews: Frank

frank_ver2I avoided this movie, due to not wanting to look at that big head for two hours.* However, I’m happy to report that this was one of those movies that combined funny and drama quite well.  And the music cracked me up.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home.  Toes are red now.

*Much like Lars and the Real Girl, this was a movie with a weird element that was actually kind of cool, once I got over my resistance.

poster from:

Postcard from Belarus. And also Belarus.

This is from Alla and Vadim who write from the resort city of Rogachev. They write of the beauty of the two rivers the Dnieper and the Drut.  Their quote is “happiness is waiting happiness”.  I like this card.IMG_4994

Of all the postcrossing postcards in the world, I also received a second postcard from Belarus today!  This is from Alisa who is a student at medical university. Her favorite movie is Lord of the Rings and she dreams someday of visiting Ireland.IMG_4995

Our McMenamins Passport day in Washington

Laurie made the plan.  The plan was to get all of our Washington stamps for our McMenamins Passport.  We were game, so Laurie and Burt picked us up early on Saturday morning.


These two pages will be done by the end of the day.  Plus one more.


Whilst on the road we found a McMenamins friend.  The back of the truck advertises the Passport.


There’s this part of I-5 where the vista opens up and all of Seattle is before you. And if you miss that shot, you end up with something like this one.


We drove on past Seattle to our first stop, the Mill Creek Pub.  As you can see, Matt and Laurie are letting us know which stop it is.  The customer in the window and the waitress waved so they could be in the picture, but by the time I took the picture, they had gone back to ordering.


Our first stamps of the day.  We were apparently the fourth group to come through today. And it was just after 11.


Remember our truck friend?  We found him again at Anderson School!


The newest property was our second location.


Because the hotel opened after we bought our passports, we had to have a grid stamped and then we made our way around the property collecting our stamps.  Along the way we saw:

Fun groupings of light fixturesIMG_4977

This might be the answer to the photo scavenger hunt (Don’t worry, the question changes weekly.  By the time the post goes up, this won’t be the answer.)IMG_4978

A Tiki-themed restaurant.IMG_4980

The very pretty pool, which we couldn’t have swum in if we tried.IMG_4981

Stamps collected, we got our swag. I got the bag, Matt got the lunchbox.IMG_4982

Our third location.  Seattle’s Six Arms.IMG_4983

Commentary about the state of the Seattle Times.IMG_4984

Queen Anne Pub meant we completed our page and we stopped to collect our prize:  a free burger!IMG_4985

What’s that mysterious object peeking through the trees?IMG_4987

The usual McMenamins table detritus.IMG_4986

Our fifth location of the day was the Spar Cafe in Olympia.IMG_4988

I really liked the interior of this location.  That’s a copper-topped bar!IMG_4989

Here we are at our final location:  the Olympic Club.  Which is not in Olympia, but Centralia.  Regular readers of The Orange Door might remember our trip to this property in 2012. IMG_4990

And here’s our swag:  a t-shirt. I got the official shirt (in blue).  Burt, Matt and Laurie opted for different shirts. I think it’s fun we all ended up with different ones.


Here is our completed Anderson School passport page.IMG_4993

Here are our completed pages 24 and 25.IMG_4992Eagle eyes will note that page 24 isn’t really done, because I don’t have the stamp for McMenamins on the Columbia.  But fear not, we popped in right before we crossed the river, so Matt and I could officially complete our pages.

We’re just over halfway through.  Watch for the next big day of McMenamins driving with Laurie and Burt, where we achieve Roseburg, Corvallis, Eugene and Salem all in one day!

Song of the month: January 2015

Nothing has popped out this month as a song I’m crazy about (except for Jan’s song*) so I’m going to play catch up.

This song will always remind me of two things:  my 40th birthday and the resignation of Oregon’s governor.  This was the song I wanted to sing at my big karaoke blowout, but Voicebox didn’t have it. I discovered this after I’d been practicing for a week, so that was a bummer.

This is a very loud song, and I love it for that.  The back-beat that plays through most of it has a rhythm that is kind of claustrophobic, in a depressed sort of way.  They lyrics are good too.

*But she already wrote a blog post.  I’m totally going to buy that song though… And I just did.

Requiem: Doc Martin Wingtips

Sometime in the late 90’s, possibly even in the year 2000, I bought a pair of Doc Martins wingtips from Newberry Comics in Boston.  It was a big deal–my first pair of Docs!


These are not those shoes.  These are the shoes I bought in 2005 that were just like the first pair, which had worn out.  I bought these on Ebay and they were somewhere in the $20.00 range.  They were brand new, and I remember I had trouble getting the seller to send them to me. I may have rated her service very low.  They’ve been spruced up several times over the years, but have finally reached the end of their usable life.

Sadly, I checked at the Doc Martins store and they did not have wingtips that were as small as my size.  So my association with wingtips has come to an end. For now.