Books read in October 2016

Maybe it was the presidential election coverage wearing me down.  Maybe I was more nervous about my mother’s surgery than I thought I was. (It went well. She’s recovered.)  For whatever reason, the first part of October was all about the Smart Smut.  I reread, I looked for more.  I eventually decided it was a too-much-ice cream situation and made myself stop.


Picture books: none read this month
Middle grade: The Best Man
Young adult: no recommendations this month
Young nonfiction: Giant Squid.  (So awesome!)
Grownup nonfiction: Future in a Handbasket. (niche reading)
Grownup fiction:  No recommendations this month
Smart Smut:  The Tattoo Thief Series.  (Lower your expectations for book 1.)


Inquisitor’s Tale
Read for Librarian Book Group
A Canterbury Tales for the Middle-Grade set, this manages not only to include a plausibly diverse cast of main characters in 1200s France, it’s also funny.  And there are illuminated manuscript-style illustrations.  Three kids in medieval France find themselves in troubled circumstances (mostly because of their powers)  and must find their way out again.  There are adventures, and things you don’t expect to happen will happen.

The Best Man
Richard Peck
Read for Librarian Book Group
I had started and wandered away from three–count ’em, three!–required reading books when I picked this up.  This was so expertly crafted and fun I whipped through it in an afternoon.  The story is bookended with two weddings, once when Archer was quite young and once when he is in sixth grade.  In between those two, Archer learns a lot of different things.  This hits all the points–happy, sad, funny and solid. I’ve been reading Richard Peck since the 80s and he hasn’t lost his sense of craft.  Recommended.


Golden Boys
Sonya Hartnett
Read for Mock Printz
One of those YA books where I can see exactly where the story is going and I don’t really love the direction.  As a teenager I would have been less resistant to the grim ending.  The author is a master of spare description and capturing emotion as well as nuance in teenage friendships.  Expertly crafted and (for me) not at all enjoyable.

I know the author has no control over the cover, so this is a note for the people in charge of covers. The cover depicted a mountain bike, whereas the story very clearly contained a BMX bike.  This irritated me every time I picked up the book.


Giant Squid
Read for Librarian Book Group
So cool!  While I was learning about Giant Squids, I also felt like I was watching a very exciting movie.


Future in a Handbasket
Amy Dolnick
The Maud Heart Lovelace tour continues!  This book contains the letters of the family of Marion Willard.  You don’t know who she was, but Lovelace based the character of Carney Sibley on her. (And I know most of you still don’t know who she is, but if you read all of the Betsy-Tacy books, you might know what I’m talking about.)

Willard and her family were solid letter writers, and as you read along you will be privy to upper-middle class life at Vassar college in the 1910s; some WWI training stuff, various letters in the 20s and 30s; WWII letters; and post-war letters.

I’m a fan of letters in general, so I enjoyed this book.


Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin
Read Aloud with Matt
This book is really long.  Mr. R.R. Martin really likes to describe things.  A lot of stuff happens to many characters.  Reading it aloud, there was a lot of peanut gallery commentary from me.  Now that it’s all over  (reading it aloud took us years) I can still see a lot of the scenes, so that says something.

(Note: In publishing this review to Goodreads, I discovered the book is actually called A Game of Thrones.  I had no idea. The article kind of changes the meaning of the title.)

smart-smutTattoo Thief
Heidi Joy Trethaway
Thus begins the great re-read of the Tattoo Theif series.  This book is the weakest in the series.  The actions of Beryl are sometimes questionable and, were I a famous rock star, would strike me as those of a stalker.  For most of the book our two love interests communicate via email.  Overall, it’s kind of an “eh” experience.  But it’s the gateway book.  So read it thinking that.

Tyler and Stella
Heidi Joy Trethaway
Ah, Tyler and Stella, I love you for your good guy/bad girl dichotomy.  I love Tyler for, well, everything. I love Stella for her flailing.  I love how well this story tracks.

Revenge Bound
Heidi Joy Trethaway
I love Violet’s very real struggle in this book, as well as Jayce trying to find what he’s looking for.  And the sex is hot.

Say it Louder
Heidi Joy Trethaway
Having reviewed the first three books, I gave this one a reread.  Still good.  Still excited for the next one.

Willing Victim
Cara McKenna
And then it was back to this old standby.  Still hot.

Willing Victim
Cara McKenna
Hot enough to read it two times in two days.

Cara McKenna
I ventured into a different Cara McKenna story, this time about a woman who has lost nearly 100 pounds and a man who has exiled himself to the Scottish Highlands.  Find out what happens when they find each other.

Menage on 34th St.
Logan/Ryan Davis
A recommend by my favorite Amy Jo Cousins, this book is long on sex scenes and short on details.  To my surprise, I found myself missing the development of characters and story.




Three sentence movie reviews: Vanity Fair


Bound by Reese Witherspoon’s steely performance and directed with flair by Mira Nair, this was an intensly enjoyable film.  Partially because I was waiting for the female character to get the smackdown, as 19th centrury female characters who do not hew to the strictures of society usually do. But maybe Thackeray was ahead of his time or the ending was tweaked,* and either way, I enjoyed it.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home

*And now I’ve read the synopsis and I see the ending was tweaked.  But to good effect, I think.

poster from:

Song of the month October 2016: Cleopatra by the Lumineers

The Lumineers “Cleopatra”

I’m a sucker for a song that tells a story, and if it’s a thwarted love story, all the better.  With this song, I marvel at how so much story is stuffed into relatively few lines.

There’s something delightful about the way Westley Schultz spreads out the word Cleopatra.  And I like the urgency of the music, paired with the stripped down chorus.

Also, as opposed to last month’s, video, this is really well done.  One comment was something along the lines of “crying in the corner now.”

Also enjoyable this month is a song that was highlighted on Friend Jan’s blog in August. “Something More Than Free” Jason Isbell.  It tells a story, it makes me want to thank God for the work, though I actually don’t.  Jan writes good things about it, which you can read here.

Where the building exploded

A little past 9:30am on October 19, I heard a noise, which was loud enough to rattle the windows at work and cause some computer thing to beep as it reset itself.  It happened a second time and then there were many sirens.

My co-worker, always quick to find answers, found the news on the Fire Department’s twitter feed.  There had been a gas explosion in Northwest Portland.  Firefighters were on the scene and reporters were told where they should go for updates, and the best route to get there.

Though there were injuries, amazingly no one was killed.  You can see pictures and video by going here.

A week an a half later, we drove through the intersection, on the way to my Birthday dinner.  This the corner with the building that exploded, as well as the apartments next door.  

The plate glass blew out of the building across the street.

Saying goodbye to Videorama

When I moved to Kenton, Videorama took up 4/5 of this building, and the gym (also owned by the same people) was 1/5 of the building.  At some point, the two reversed themselves. 

And now, my last video store opportunity has gone.

I will miss having the opportunity to walk in, browse, rent new movies, find old movies.  I will miss the employee picks.  It was because of them I discovered All the Real Girls and other good movies.

It feels weird to realize that one of my jobs (video store clerk, Blockbuster Video) has completely disappeared. 

I cast my historic vote!

When I was 18, I cast my first vote ever in the US Presidential race for Bill Clinton and he won!  Growing up in a household of Democrats during the Reagan and Bush administrations, this was a very big deal.  I began my adulthood with a president I voted for.  I’m excited to be 42 and casting my vote for Hillary Clinton.  I never really had a guess as to when I would be able to vote for a woman for US President, because it always seemed so far away.  I’m happy to be casting this historic vote.

(I also voted for everything else too.  Running this country isn’t just about who is president.)