Books read in November 2016

November was a good reading month and brought me the most excellent Some Writer! which I recommend to anyone who has read anything by E.B. White.  Not only is it an impeccable nonfiction book, it’s also beautiful.  The future me can tell you she’s disappointed it did not take home a ton of awards in the still-in-the-future awards ceremony.

Picture Books: Leave Me Alone!
Middle Grade: Ghost
YA: Still Life with Tornado
Young Nonfiction: Some Writer!


Leave Me Alone
Vera Brosgol
Read for Librarian Book Group
Were I one to collect picture books, this would go on my shelf, mostly due to the annoyed expression on the Grandmother’s face.  It made me laugh every time.

The Music in George Gershwin’s Head
Read for Librarian Book Group
I found this to be perfectly fine.


Orbiting Jupiter
Gary D. Schmidt
Read for Family Book Group
On the re-read the shortcomings of this book were more apparent.  However, the crisp prose overcomes those shortcomings and I still love this book.  In Family Book Group the kids gave this a 9.098 rating.  The adults weighed in at 7.95 for an overall average of 8.472.

Jason Reynolds
Read for Librarian Book Group
Jason Reynolds wrote this story with a plot arc!  Hooray!  As usual, his characters and setting are great. I enjoyed spending time with Ghost as he made some good and not-so-good choices and I look forward to the rest of the series.

When the Sea Turned to Sliver
Grace Lin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Read for Mock Printz
I’ve returned the book to the library, so I don’t have the exact quote, but it goes something like: when you are in prison with a storyteller, you aren’t really in prison at all.

This book is about a storyteller, her granddaughter and what happens when the storyteller is kidnapped by the Emperor.  It’s filled with adventures, stories (of course) and many fine illustrations.

Greenglass House
Kate Milford
Read for Family Book Group
The second read through was fun, as I knew the “thing” and could watch out for how it worked.


Kody Keplinger
Read for Librarian Book Group
Resistance was high at the beginning.  Before I settled in, my inner English Teacher spent the first few of Bo’s chapters correcting her grammar.  The tense switch was distracting.  However, the book grew on me.  The story was adequate and I enjoyed reading about the details of Agnes’s sight, or lack thereof.

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily
Cohen & Levithan
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is my go-to December reading recommendation.  I was interested to read the sequel and to see where life has taken the two.

I must congratulate Cohen and Levithan for not falling into a common romance sequel trap: everything is great! (and the story is kind of boring).  Things are not going so well for Dash and Lily, due to a variety of circumstances life has thrown at them.  I spent the first part of the book worried that things might not actually work out.  This made for an interesting and enjoyable read.

Trouble Makes a Comeback
Stephanie Tromley
Book two reminded me how much I enjoyed the easy, breezy style of Tromley’s writing.  Digby’s back in town and his reappearance complicates Zoe’s relationship and her new friendships.  Plus there’s something weird going on.

Still Life With Tornado
A.S. King
Read for Mock Printz
It’s a given that A.S. King’s books are weird.  From “slightly off” to “somewhat incoherent” you can expect that the pages will have elements of strangeness.  But what A.S. King is amazing at is pacing.  While making your way through her unusual worlds, she knows to drop information in just the right steady drip to keep you reading.

Sarah’s art teacher tells her one day that nothing is original.  This comment sends her on downward spiral.  She avoids school, and during her truant ramblings around Pittsburgh, runs into her 22-year-old self.  As the story progresses, she meets other versions of herself, and the picture of why a single comment by one teacher would have such an effect is filled out and shaded in.  An interesting portrayal of how [a thing I can’t tell you, because it’s the reveal] ripples through the family.

When the Moon was Ours
Anna-Marie McLemore
Read for Librarian Book Group
Gorgeous, vivid prose and interesting magical realism.  Both of which came together in a narrative that I had to slowly wade through.  It took a lot of prodding to finish this book.  It had to go back to the library, be requested and retrieved again, and I finished 15 other books while reading this one.  Contains issues of transgender teenagers, first love, bullying, small-town life and folk tales.

Blood Red Snow White
Marcus Sedgwick
Read for Mock Printz
Midway through this book, I started showing people the cover and asking what they thought it was about. Not a single person guessed that it was a fictional story of a real-life Englishman who travels to Russia to collect folk tales and gets caught up in the events of the Russian Revolution.

So aside from the cover leading us down the incorrect path that it’s yet another mash-up retelling of some fairy tales and the title not clarifying things either, this was an interesting read. Sedgwick uses Russian folk tales to illustrate the coming of the Russian Revolution and we meet the big players in the early stages. Overall this story is muddled. Is this a love story, or a picture of a society in revolt, or a man making important life-or-death choices about where his loyalties lie? At times Sedgwick almost seems to remember it’s been a while since he’s pulled in elements of one of the plots and so we are treated to descriptive paragraphs of, say, how the mansions were filled with trash once the people took them over. It’s also one of those books where a man completely abandons his wife and child to go tripping off on an adventure and suffers no consequences for it, la-la. I have less and less patience for characters who take these actions and the ripple effects go unexamined.


I Dissent
Read for Librarian Book Group
The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s childhood and her path to the Supreme Court.  The text highlights the various discrimination Ginsberg herself faced over the years. I also learned an interesting detail about the lace collar she wears when decisions are read.

Some Writer
Melissa Sweet
Read for Librarian Book Group
Melissa Sweet did an excellent job of balancing the presentation of the facts of E.B. White’s life and really amazing illustrations.  Every page was both interesting and beautiful.





Top Movies November 2016

8 movies watched

Things we Lost in the Fire
So incredibly human.

Me Before You
When the movie surprises, it’s that much closer to being a winner.

Monsoon Wedding
So much pain, so much happiness

Hysterical Blindness
Two actresses doing something different, plus Gina Rowlands.

Moments of magic.

Multiple small examples of why we should be able to love who we love.

Song of the Month November 2016

Shortly after the election, I concluded that it might be best for my psyche to take a break from the news, and also social media.  I stopped checking Facebook, put the newspaper in the recycle bin the moment I took out out of its plastic bag and I turned the radio from NPR to KINK, one of our local radio stations.

It wasn’t peaceful exactly, but it was less anxiety producing than staying informed.

No news meant more music and thus, this month we have a lot of selections for Song of the month.

Also!  New rule!  If I like a song by a woman, from now on, I’m buying the entire album.  Women don’t get much support in the music world and I’d like to do the tiniest bit to offset that.

Wish I knew you–The Revivalists
My notes for this song say “groove.”  And that is why I like it.  I’m not much of a get-up-and-dance person, but this song makes me want to do that.  I also think this band that was coming through town, so KINK played this song a lot.

Found it in the drawer–Band of Horses
This song was on the radio a lot, and it got stuck it my head.  But in a pleasing way, not a way of torture.  The video is good too.  Nicely done, Band of Horses.

Margaret Glaspy–Emotions & Math

One morning KINK played a song by a woman.  The song ended and I had the good luck of the DJ telling me the name of the singer and the song title. I only caught part of each, but I figured the magic of the internet could help me find the song.  Sadly, both the bits of song title and the person’s name were common enough that I could not locate the song.  In the process, though, I found this song, thus proving the existence of serendipity.  I love her voice, and this song is just cool.  Also, while I’m usually happy for Matt to go out of town, (introvert) I have noticed that my systems start breaking down after a few days.  It’s always nice to have him come back.

Fight Song
Rachel Platten

I’m not buying this song, because I suspect I will soon tire of it, but it’s on the radio a lot and I always sing along.  I like how Platten’s voice is wispy and small at the beginning and end and the song powers up in other parts.  Overall, I think it’s not a fabulous song.  The whole chorus drags in a way that makes me want to be more talented at music than I am so I could do a different arrangement.  The lyrics could use a rewrite, especially the verses.  It’s kind of plod-dy for an anthem.  Though I’m quite happy for Ms. Platten to find strength in her song.

Silver Falls Hike

One of the things I love about the digital photo area is that you can take photos of the map to refer to later in the hike.

We chose to do the big hike, seeing the maximum number of waterfalls.

Matt poses before a graphic warning sign.

Here we are at Upper North Falls. 65 feet.

A “twin” falls.

The view from behind the falls.

Lots of rain means lots of white water.

Matt consults the map.

That mass of white behind us is a waterfall.  It was powerful stuff.

Another view of the water.  We’ve done this hike in the summer and it’s fun, but it was a totally different experience in the winter.

Drake Falls says hello.  All 27 feet of it.

A double layer of falls.  Also: look at all that moss!

Matt looks at the sign for Lower North Falls.

This is a pretty one.

There was a very large amount of stairs near the end.

This was the first hike with my trekking poles and I was pleased with how well they worked for me.

Three sentence movie reviews: Loving


This film does more with close-ups, facial expressions, and small gestures than it does with dialogue or action.  It could have been slow, but this was beautiful to watch.  Includes many small moments of joy.

Cost: $8.00
Where watched: Living Room Theaters

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Three sentence movie reviews: The Peacemaker


What Matt remembered about watching it in 1997: eh, it was fine.  My review: eh, it was fine.  It’s one of those action films that maximized their location budget, so there is a lot of  good lookin’ international scenery.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home

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Three sentence movie reviews: Somewhere


Stephen Dorff’s blankness combined with Elle Fanning’s kind precision was magical.  On the one hand, he’s a guy who seems to shuffle from place to place as he’s told; on the other he’s a man spectacularly lacking in substance.  As he floats through life, the movie things are quite meditative and pretty, and I really liked this film.

Cost: free from library. (This was one of those movies I’ve probably borrowed five times before I finally watched it.  But it was good when I did.)
Where watched: at home.

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I picked this version because it was the DVD cover, but with words in English.

Three sentence movie reviews: Hysterical Blindness


Manages to pull of a miracle of movie making: Juliette Lewis as a character who doesn’t bug the crap out of me.  Aside from an excellent performance by Uma Thurman as a needy woman just looking for love, this also featured a romance between older people (Gina Rowlands and Ben Gazzara, both excellent).  This is one of those movies that I kept thinking about after.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home.

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