Books read in June 2016

I feel like I’m in some sort of reading slump.  I read.  I find the book to be okay. Repeat.  I hope this slump ends soon.  I want to be excited about what I’m reading.  There will not be many recommendations this month.

recommendedYoung Adult:  Summer Days and Summer Nights
Young Nonfiction:  Woosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

picture booksI am Pan
Mordicai Gerstein
Read for librarian book group
Pan’s kind of a stinker and so was this book in places.  Some pages I couldn’t follow the narrative set before me.  The art was frenetic in a way that I didn’t much care for, but fit well with the subject matter.  I think part of my tepid response stems from my resistance to Greek and Roman mythology in general and thus is no fault of the book itself.  If I had children who needed introduction to this world, I would indeed choose this book.

The Airport Book
Lisa Brown
Read for librarian book group
Good information about how the whole airport thing goes. Includes some fun side stories via picture.

There is a Tribe of Kids
Lane Smith
Read for librarian book group
My “exact words” nature spent a lot of time wondering at the word choices.  Most children would not be so picky and would just roll with it.  The illustrations were divine.

middle grade

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel
Firoozah Duman
Read for librarian book group
There were a lot of good and interesting details about being a late-70s temporary resident to the USA and then even more good and interesting details about being a temporary resident from Iran living in the USA during Khomeini’s takeover and the hostage crisis.  Those details kept me reading.  It wasn’t terribly plot-driven, and thus I wasn’t super compelled to keep reading, but I enjoyed the reading while it was happening.

young adultSummer Days and Summer Nights
Edited by Stephanie Perkins
The first and the last stories were my favorite. In “Head, Scales Tongue, Tail” Leigh Bardugo takes a pretty normal summer romance story and switches things up at the end.  Lev Grossman uses the concept made famous in the movie Groundhog Day–living the same day repeatedly–and pushes it in a different direction in “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.”  I also greatly enjoyed the powerful voice of Francesca Lia Block’s confessional-style memory of the summer before she and her friends left for college in “Sick Pleasure.”  There was one clinker in the bunch, but there always must be in such a collection.  As was the previous collection of stories edited by Ms. Perkins, (My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories) this is a seasonal delight that can be read year round.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Sarah Okler
There were some glaring errors in this set-in-Oregon novel, the worst being the mention of sales tax.  Oregon does not have a sales tax.  While these regular errors detracted from a full enjoyment of the story, it was otherwise a goodly tale of the loss of voice (an actual, not metaphorical loss due to damage to vocal chords) and of finding a new way.  Plus, you know, some romance.  I also appreciate there was a tastefully-written female masturbation scene, as those are incredibly rare.  The bad characters were not super complex, but the family dynamics were.  Overall, a so-so experience, but one that kept me reading.

The Steep & Thorny Way
Cat Winters
The tale of Hamlet, retold.  Set in 1920s Washington County, Oregon, this Hamlet is the daughter of an African American father and a white mother.  Winters manages to expertly recreate the 1920’s setting, weave in dueling stories of discrimination (Hannalee’s mixed race, Joe Adder’s homosexuality) and the workings of the Klu Klux Klan in a town that accepts and welcomes their efforts.  (“They’re mostly a fundraising organization” seems to be the belief of the majority of the county.)

I have a great appreciate not only for Winter’s complex storytelling, but also the way she can combine historical fact so well with the appearance of ghosts.

The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton
My re-reading of this ended in sad feelings, but they were different than the sad feelings of my teenage years.  My adult self found this book to be terribly clunky in its narrative, so much so that I feel for the swaths of school children who now read this as a required text.  Sorry kids.  My generation really liked it, but it hasn’t held up so well.  I’m going to do my best to forget this reading and return to the squishy feelings of joy when thinking of Ponyboy and Sodapop and all of the other greasers.

Young nonficitonYou Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen
Carole Boston Weatherford and Jeffrey Boston Weatherford
Read for librarian book group
The tale of the Tuskegee Airmen via verse, rather than prose.  Poems were solid, illustrations fit the bill.  Nicely done.

Woosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
Read for librarian book group
The story of the guy who invented the Super Soaker water gun told via good text and illustrations.  It also encourages kids to take things apart and tinker with them.

Adult fictionRuby
Francesca Lia Block & Carmen Stanton
I enjoyed Francesca Lia Block’s short story in Summer Days and Summer Nights and went searching for another of her books.  This was the result.  It’s fragmented it its telling, its prose is dense–yet short, and by the time I got to the end enough clues had been set out that I found the reveal cliche rather than amazing.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.

Top movies of June 2016

14 movies watched.
(6 watched during vacation)

Maggie’s Plan
Funny!  And complex, while also being sweet.maggies_plan

Hail Caesar!
For anyone who loves movies.hail_caesar_ver4

Old Joy
Mostly silent movie about a friendship that has run its course.old_joy

Love & Friendship
Devious and delightful. love_and_friendship

The Fits
Captures an incredible amount of coming-of-age stuff with minimal dialogue.fits_ver3

It’s good to have a grandma to go to bat for you.grandma

Girls Season 4
I can’t help but love these flawed specimens.  Girls4

Three sentence movie reviews: Girls Season 4


Man, oh man do I love this show, despite not wanting to spend any moment in real life with any of these characters.*  I felt that this season was more logical in its character progressions and I particularly enjoyed the introduction of Mimi-Rose Howard into the Girls stew.  There were some awesome lines that I neglected to write down and some incredibly good scenes.**

Cost:  Free from library (after a long wait because I missed the appearance in the catalog by a week or so.)
Where watched:  at home. One episode per night at first and then probably the last four in one sitting.

*Even Shosh, my favorite and the most normal in her quasi-spectrum way, would massively annoy me after about 30 minutes.
**Just three: Ray telling off Dezi; someone trying to explain to Hannah about boundaries; the Mimi-Rose/Adam/Ace/Jess awkward dinner

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Three sentence movie reviews: Grandma


An excellent episodic film with solid performances by all.  I enjoyed Lily Tomlin’s Grandma to be something more complex than a kindly older lady.*  There was great reflection of life choices by women (and a few men) of all ages, which was interesting.

Cost: $2.75 from Videorama
Where watched: at home

*For most of the movie, she was the opposite of kindly.

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Three sentence movie reviews: Charlie Bartlett


This was first in my post-mortem Yelchin catch-up viewing and I’m surprised I hadn’t ever gotten around to watching it given that I was a fan of Downey Jr, Davis and Dennings when the movie debuted.  I found that though the actors went all-in with their acting stuff, this movie did not really hang together.  For this I blame the script, which was random and sometimes dumb.

Cost: $2.00 from Videorama
Where watched:  At home.

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Three sentence movie reviews: Central Intelligence


Being a fan of both of the gentlemen on the poster, I was also a fan of this movie which I found amusing, even though some of the plot made no sense whatsoever.  I was quite surprised at the Rock’s portrayal of Bob Stone as a nerd in recovery, still shell-shocked from his high school experience.* There were some very good lines in this film.

Cost: $5.00
Where watched:  McMenamins St. John’s Pub with one other person who didn’t ever laugh, making me the crazy lady laughing alone in the room for a second day in a row.

*Like, he was acting.  Which I hadn’t realized he could do.

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Song of the month June 2016

It was another dry month in the music realm.  I think I have’t been listening to music very much and it seems like when I do, the radio keeps playing the same old same old.  I don’t even have a decent “Songs of Summer 2016” list started.

So I went with this.  Mostly because it gets played a lot on the radio and I’m not sick of it and also because it’s got dude backup singers.  I’m a fan of the backup singer.

Further, I appreciate how the lead singer manages to shove so many syllables in a small bit of music:  How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

Here’s to next month having something new and exciting.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Fits


An excellent coming of age allegory with the incredible and aptly named Royalty Hightower as Toni, a girl who has put in her time training as a boxer.  But the dance/drill team calls to her, even after some of the older girls start having unexplained fits.  There’s not a lot of dialogue and not a lot of action, but there is a lot of of coming-of-age stuff I don’t usually see on film, and I could not get enough of this movie, or Hightower’s performance.

Cost: $5.00
Where watched:  Living Room Theater with Matt

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Three sentence movie review: Neighbors 2 Sorority Rising


I found the original movie hilarious and this one was funny too. It had the added bonus of quasi-female empowerment (quasi- because it was written by five guys–nary a woman in sight).  It was ridiculous in its ridiculousness and I had a very good time watching it.

Cost: $5.00
Where watched: Jubitz Cinema.  All alone in the theater, laughing like a crazy person.

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Heidi & Kevin’s Post-Sunday Parkways BBQ

It’s another year and another Sunday and another Sunday of Sunday Parkways. As this is the North Portland Sunday Parkways, Heidi and Kevin hosted their annual post-ride party.

Kevin grills!  Bella hides from the sun!IMG_5614

New to the party this year was Cornhole.  Matt turned out to be a ringer, winning all of his games.IMG_5615 IMG_5616


Figs and umbrellaIMG_5619

This was the party at which Matt’s birthday cake was consumed, today being Matt’s birthday.  Happy birthday!IMG_5622

Thanks Heidi & Kevin for yet another good party!