Books read in September 2015

There was a little bit of everything this month.


Picture Books: Swan: the life and dance of Anna Pavolva
Middle Grade: Goodbye Stranger
Young Adult: Everything Everything, Out of Darkness
Adult Fiction: Order of the Stick: Blood Runs in the family
Young Nonfiction:  Drowned City, Terrible Typhoid Mary
Grownup Nonfiction: The Tao of Vegetable Gardening

picture books

Swan: the Life and Dance of Anna Pavolva
Laurel Snyder J. Morstead
Read for Librarian Book Group
Beautifully illustrated and well-written tale of an important woman.

8. An Animal Alphabet
Elisha Cooper
Read for Librarian Book Group
An “animal” alphabet that includes many creatures who are not actually animals.  This brought out my most annoying “exact words” Marsha Brady-style nitpicking.  I also wanted the drawings to be a slight bit more precise. That said, I enjoyed the variety of different “animals’ for each letter as well as the finding/counting element.  I swear sometimes someone invented X and put it near the end of the alphabet just to raise the tension level in these situations.  “What are they going to have for X?”, “There can’t be that many animals that begin with X, can there?”

The Moon is Going to Addy’s House
Ida Pearl
Read for Librarian Book Group
I found the story to be fine, but if I were a person with a picture book collection, I would include this simply for the incredibly stunning cut-paper illustrations.

Tea Party in the Woods
Akiko Miyakoshi
Read for Librarian Book Group
A perfectly serviceable tale.

middle grade

Goodbye Stranger
Rebecca Stead
Read for Librarian Book Group
Man oh man, did this check off a lot of “publishable” boxes.  Diverse characters? Check!  Insight into another culture? Check!  Important Issue-du-Jour?  Check!  Multiple viewpoints?  Check!  Major and minor story arcs?  Check!  Wacky writing thing to make it unique? Check!

While reading, I noticed all of the above while simultaneously enjoying all of the above as the story.  It was very well done.

I was not into the title, however, as it didn’t jump out at me as a reasonable title and also had the unfortunate effect of repeatedly planting the Supertramp song (Goodbye stranger it’s been nice/Hope you find your paradise) in my head every time I picked it up. Happily, the main demographic for this book will escape my fate as the vast majority of them probably have no idea this song even exists.

Alex Gino
Read for Librarian Book Group
Very illuminating story about a transgender girl named George.  Her struggle is heart-felt and the supporting cast is well developed.  I found it most interesting how words of comfort were exactly the opposite thing she needed to hear.


young adult

The Accident Season
Read for Librarian Book Group
This  name-dropped We Were Liars on the cover and it really wanted to be something like that book: an engrossing event read with lots to talk about.  Unfortunately for me, it was the opposite.  But I had ample time to ponder what made this so unsuccessful.  I think everything was murky for too long.  What was this accident season?  What’s up with the stepbrother/stepsister relationship? What’s up with this girl in all the pictures? What’s up with the sister?  Whereas in We Were Liars I got a very clear picture that became murkier as I turned the pages until everything snapped into horrifying focus, in this book it was unclear from the beginning and things became clear so slowly that I just wasn’t interested.

However, I loved the author bio in the back.  More of that would be great.

Rainbow Rowell
Read aloud
Upon re-reading I can report that all the Simon Snow parts are still not interesting to me and could have been cut down substantially.  Also, who is the editor who let Ms. Rowell get away with using so many ellipses?  Most all of them could be eliminated.  Or should I say, Most…all of them…could…be…eliminated.

Anyway, other than that, this was still a very good story that was fun to read aloud.  Plus, I discovered that boyfriend Matt thinks the kissing parts are boring.  No really, he does.

This Lullaby
Sarah Dessen
Man, does this book ever epitomize lackluster writing.  The main love interest is in a band, for gods sake and he might as well have been selling insurance.  Plus, the teenagers act like they are well-adjusted middle-aged people.  Perfectly mediocre.

Everything Everything
Nicola Yoon
Read for Librarian Book Group
Travels the well-worn YA path of a teenager finding her place in the world.  The complication for this particular teenager is that she is unable to go outside due to severe allergies to everything.  Also includes bonus first love story that is super fun.

Out of Darkness
Ashley Hope Perez
Read for Librarian Book Group
Excellent multiple point of view narrators illustrate the less-than-ideal situations that had me angry and frustrated for the entirety of the book.  As a teenager I would have loved that feeling and loved this book. As an adult, I found it hard to keep reading.  Worth reading, but with a brutal ending.


Adult fiction

Order of the Stick: Blood Runs in the Family
Rich Berlew
We rejoin our stick-figure team of D&D-style fighters bent on saving everyone from the potential end of the world.  Complications ensue, puns fly, and there is much humor and drama, including some worrisome parts.  I look forward to more of Mr. Berlew’s creations as the story continues.

Young nonficiton

Drowned City
Dan Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group
This book probably has fewer than 3000 words and it took two weeks for me to read.  I had to keep putting it down, because it turns out just reporting the facts of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is enough to cause me to weep.  The pictures that accompany the sparse dialogue really drive home the point of how much this country failed to help the survivors.

Terrible Typhoid Mary
Read for Librarian Book Group
While I grimaced that it was longer than a picture book (I’m so lazy when it comes to nonfiction) I ultimately found this to be a quick and interesting read.  I appreciate the care Bartoletti took when pointing out other people who were carriers of Typhoid, but were not treated as Mary was.


Grownup Nonfiction

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening
Carol Deppe
I bought this book because I enjoy Deppe’s conversational educational style and also because there was something in the press about eat-all greens.  The eat-all greens section was great and I’m going to focus on that next gardening season.  And there was a ton of other advice packed into these pages.  You will never look at your hoe the same way again.

Image from:

Top movies of September 2015

10 total movies watched

mistress_americaMistress America
Zany in all the right ways. Excellent acting.

straight_outta_compton_ver8Straight Outta Compton
Intense and long in the best ways

no_strings_attachedNo Strings Attached
Surprisingly funny and populated with good actors.

sleeping_with_other_peopleSleeping With Other People
Hilarious and worth watching more than once.

A story we don’t get to see in movie form.

Three sentence movie reviews: Unexpected


The thing that got me about this movie?  The fact that as common as it is for women to become mothers, I think this is the first movie I’ve seen that examines the feelings of a woman becoming a mother.  Great performances by Smulders and Bean and I look forward to exploring more of director Kris Swanberg’s work.

Cost: free from library via Hoopla
Where watched: at home, on my computer screen.

poster from IMP awards (and it’s very bad.  Very.)

Improvised window treatment


No blind for the door in the live-work unit?  Fine, I’ll make one myself, said the renter.  (Update from the future: matching blinds have now been added to the doors of all the live-work units.)


Here’s something I’ve not seen in my eight years of living in Kenton:  people parking on this stretch of sidewalk.  When it was an empty lot, no one needed to park there.  But now that there are multiple units with not much parking, this has morphed into prime territory.  Especially for those live-work units.

Mostly I don’t have to deal with this stuff


I watch most of my movies at home, but I would guess I see movies in theaters more often than the average person.  But not nearly as often as movie critics do.  Mostly my screenings are filled with well-behaved audiences.  Let’s go point-by-point.

  1. Mostly people don’t talk.  Occasionally there will be a couple who talks now and then.  Writing from the future, I can report that the older couple at the end of the row during my screening of Bridge of Spies talked intermittently, but I found it kind of cute.  And then there was the guy during my screening of Wild who kept leaning over to his wife and telling her the names of the landmarks.  That was super cute.  If it’s intermittent and mostly quiet, I’m mostly okay.
  2. I haven’t had texting, but every once in a while someone is looking something up on their phone.  Sometimes they are on IMDB. Apparently they can’t wait until the end of the movie to figure out who that person is.  They always shield the top of the phone, as if that will make any difference (it doesn’t).  I’ve always just informed them that I find their phone distracting and they’ve always put their phone away.
  3. Nope.  Doesn’t happen to me.
  4. Seriously?  People do this?
  5. It’s been a while, but man do I hate it when people do this.  I don’t even like it when people bring their kids to a too-old-for-their-age-group kids movies.
  6. I never put my feet up when people are sitting in front of me. I often do when they are not.  I’ve not had a problem with people doing it to me.
  7. Also has never happened to me.
  8. Jeff Baker seems to have a problem with popcorn.  Sometimes I smuggle carrot sticks into the theater and feel guilty I’m crunching so loudly.  Sorry Jeff Baker.  I hope you aren’t sitting near me when I do this.
  9. Yes!  Just this weekend there was a couple who was taking their seats during the previews.  As far as I’m concerned, the show has started.  Find your seat and sit down quickly.  These two were standing and getting things adjusted, digging in pockets etc.  Although, again, when I yelled, “Would you please sit down?”  they did.  Portland people are so polite.  I also followed up my request with a “thank you!”
  10. Again, rarely happens.  But I can remember going to a midnight movie at the 5 Mile Plaza during my teenage years and watching in astonishment at the couple a few rows in front of me making out for most of the movie. And there was the time I saw Notting Hill with the couple with the intellectual disability sitting next to me totally sucking face.  I was NOT enchanted with their shenanigans.

So, overall, I have few problems in Portland theaters.

Three sentence movie reviews: Sleeping With Other People


This movie was hilarious, taking up the same subject that Two Night Stand did, but with older people. *  As usual Alison Brie got the job done the way she always does,** and Jason Sudeikis had a half Jimmy Stewart, half talk-y Vince Vaughn thing going on.  Overall, a grand way to spend an afternoon.***

Cost: $7.00
Where watched: Regal Fox Tower w/Christi

*Note that you would probably have to enjoy frank discussions of sex to find this movie hilarious.
**Trudy Campbell!
***Because I liked this movie so much, I am completely letting slide the very troublesome-from-a-feminist-perspective aspects of this movie namely: Jason Sudeikis’s character sleeps with a ton of women, whereas Alison Brie sleeps with two.  Also,  Sudeikis’s character explains to Brie how to masturbate?  In 2015?  Really?

poster from IMP Awards