Books read August 2017

Hello August! The month in which I discovered Mr. Money Mustache.  Between that and my class, there wasn’t much reading this month.  If I hadn’t had vacation, I would have only finished five books this month.  Eeek!

Young Adult: Midnight at the Electric
Grownup Nonfiction: No Impact Man

Maze Runner
James Dasher
Read for Teen Book Council
The idea is a good one: waking up in an elevator that deposits you in a giant field which contains a bunch of other adolescent boys, their living and farming areas, plus a very large maze that changes every night.

After that, everything goes downhill.  The writing is clunky, a lot of the plot isn’t logical and inspired befuddled follow-up questions that remained unanswered.  The fact that there were only boys was annoying. It was the kind of book that while reading, inspired the thought: “I can’t wait to finish this, so I can read the wikipedia summaries of the other books in the series.”

And so I did. Based on what I read of the summaries, I can’t say the plot improves any.

However!  This was part of the After Hours Book-to-Movie Night that the Teen Council put on at the Hollywood Library.  The teens created a maze throughout the library using standard library items (chairs, carts, string, streamers, LEGO) and then an epic game of Sharks & Minnows was played after the movie was over.

Witnessing one enthusiastic teen yelling “I’m a griever and I am going to KILL YOU ALL!” while chasing a herd of stampeding, screaming teens made reading this book totally worth it.

The One Memory of Flora Banks
Emily Barr
Flora doesn’t have short-term memory, but she does have her journal and her friends and family.  After kissing her best friend’s boyfriend Drake, she then follows him to the Arctic Circle.

As Flora travels, she comes across pieces of her story which lets those of us reading piece some things together.  Though her journey was fairly anxiety-provoking for this particular reader, this was an interesting and engaging book.

Midnight at the Electric
Jodi Lynn Anderson
It takes place in the future (2065) and also tells additional stories through letters (1920s England) and diary entries (1930s Kansas dust bowl). Tying everything together is a turtle named Galapagos.

As stories told through diaries or letters is perhaps my favorite way to tell a story, this was a big winner.  But I also loved hearing stories of young women trying to find their place in this world (or in one case, out of this world).

As with Tiger Lily, the writing is very beautiful and the characters are memorable.

Once & For All
Sarah Dessen
Book 1-of-2-in-a-row where the mother figure is a wedding planner and the friend character’s family runs a food truck.  This was a nicely-plotted romance that has an interesting take on the ex-boyfriend issue.  The insight into the wedding planning business was fun.  It was the type of book that normally I would like just fine, but the coming together of it’s run-of-the-mill parts elevated it.

Ashley PostonBook
Book 2-of-2-in-a-row where the mother figure is a wedding planner and the friend character’s family runs a food truck. In this case, we have an updated retelling of the Cinderella story, with the ball being a cosplay convention based on a beloved sci-fi show.

While the characters of Cinderella (Ella)  and Prince Charming (teen actor Darian Freeman) were well-rounded, fully developed characters, I found that the stepmother and stepsister characters were one dimensional and entirely too evil.  This distracted from the overall goodness in the story in an unfortunate way, which was too bad, because this was a great update.

All About Mia
Lisa Williamson
I’m a sucker for books with three sisters told from the point of view of the middle child. This one had me from the beginning.

Mia makes some pretty terrible choices, and you can see the consequences coming a mile away.  Thanks to some deft writing, I understood where she was coming from and was rooting for her to find a better place for herself.  All three sisters were nicely developed.

No Impact Man
Colin Beavan
A man (and his wife and child) spend a year trying to reduce their impact on the world, and discovering how much better their life is when they do.

I think it’s pretty easy to judge authors like this, as opportunists looking to further their careers.  Mr. Beavan seemed sincere in his efforts and enjoyed following him along on his journey.

Early Retirement Extreme
Jacob Lund Fisker
A detailed primer on how to build up a skill set to allow you to live on less and save massive amounts of money.   Jacub Lund Fisker doesn’t give us a step-by-step guide to early retirement, but instead lays out the principles of how one would craft a path to early retirement for themselves.

We sample the Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar & Grill and also eat a good donut.

When I last visited Pike Schemes in 2015, we visited the 5-8 Club for their Juicy Lucy. Thus it followed that on this visit, we should go to Matt’s Bar & Grill to have their Jucy Lucy. 

Aside from a different spelling, Matt’s Bar is not one for a lot of choices.  You get your Jucy Lucy with American Cheese.  You can get some fries and beer too.  It’s cash only.  There aren’t plates, though the fries come in a basket.

And you know what?  It’s my winner in the Juicy/Jucy Lucy rivalry. That is one good burger.

After our dinner, Sara and I visited Glam Doll Donuts, where I got a donut with cookie dough, and Sara got that fluffy confection sitting next to the milk.  I found my donut to be a bit too much, even for double-dessert me.  I still ate it, though. Sara enjoyed her concoction.

Minneapolis bound!

Having completed Vacation Phase I: Seaside, I’m now ready for Vacation Phase II: Minneapolis and the Minnesota State Fair.

But first I must go to the airport to transport me to the location of Vacation Phase II.  And once again lament that I never have a six hour layover in our lovely airport.

The food is delicious, and the same price as it would be outside of the airport (they check).  There are musicians playing music.  And now, you can even go to the movies.

I got to the airport early enough to watch a music video, and the short “The Bee Hunter” which was very good.

Three sentence movie reviews: Florence Foster Jenkins

I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting myself into with this movie: delightfully terrible singing by Meryl Streep, nice main plot where presumably something possibly slightly boring happens.  But darn it if there wasn’t a plot element of Florence Foster Jenkins’ life that didn’t make this whole story a much more emotional journey than I had predicted.   Overall, this was an unexpectedly  very good movie, which is always a nice development.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home while painting toes pearly white.

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Saying goodbye to Seaside

Here’s the other half of the front room of our rental.  I’m standing in the kitchen to take this picture.  It was a delightful little spot, perfect for exactly what we needed. The bedroom was classy-looking, the bathroom was charmingly tiny and we enjoyed being able to lower that table and stretch the couch out to watch a movie.

Our house was in a long line of maybe ten similarly-sized beach houses (There was a 518 square foot studio for sale for $105,000) and its front door overlooked a parking area, and then another line of apartments, so this wasn’t a view property.  Still, it was very close to the beach and to downtown Seaside and we mostly walked everywhere, so it was prefect for us.

Yay for Seaside vacations!

Seaside Day III

Hey!  Look at this postcard, that I wrote yesterday.

And then look at what happened to the building that the postcard came from.  It’s a clever postcard, inserting photos of Seaside into a picture of a mural of a postcard. It’s just too bad the building hasn’t fared so well.  From the outside, it looked like construction had started and then been stopped for a long time.

We took a hike at (you guessed it) Tillamook Head.  It was fun to take a timer photo, for once.

This tree lived a long time. Then it fell over. Then we came along and Matt posed next to it.

Back in Seaside, we took a walk to the Lewis & Clark Salt Works, which was a historic site I believe I visited with my friends on the Post-Graduation Trip, back in 1993.  I took no pictures.  But I did get a picture of this friendly little yard decor.

The Treasure Quest.  The Visitor’s Bureau presented this fun little contest for us to occupy our time.  Using the clues, we walked around Seaside and found five of the six pictures yesterday.  But picture E eluded us, so we walked over to the Visitor’s Bureau for a clue.  

Our clue was that it was off the beaten path, also that, unfortunately, it wasn’t always visible.  Matt was fine with not getting this last clue, but I was up for one last push. 

I looked up every seafood place in Seaside and took a nice long walk, examining all the windows closely for that industrial shelving I could see in the background. Nada.  You will notice I had 10 stops.  None of them worked.  I headed back to the cabin and Matt and I decided to go to the one place I hadn’t been: Bell Buoy Seafood.  We drove.

And that was it!  It seems that that cute little sign is how they tell the UPS driver if they have packages that need picked up. That’s why it isn’t always in the window.  Success!  Plus I got hostess gifts for vacation part II.  We assembled our entry form while sitting on the same Orange Chair we sat in the previous day when getting our clue.

And then we collected our fabulous prize! Thanks to the Seaside Visitor’s Bureau for providing us with some vacation fun.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Driftless Area

“What the hell is going on?” Matt asked, five minutes into the movie.  We remained befuddled off and on throughout this film, which I kind of enjoyed.*  My favorite part, though, was watching the DVD extra and listening to the cast try and describe what kind of movie it is, and what is the plot.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at our cute beach rental, in Seaside Oregon, with Matt.

*It was a strangely bizarre movie, kind of slow in a mesmerizing–and also boring–way.  “Why is everyone talking so slowly?” I asked Matt at one point.

“Maybe they are trying to bump us?” Matt responded and I laughed long and hard.  It is most likely that you haven’t seen this movie, so you haven’t heard Aubrey Plaza explain that she bumps customers (gets them to rent a more expensive car) by talking really slowly.  But I had heard her say that, so this was a profoundly funny comment made by Matt.

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Seaside Day II

We started our day with a walk and then took in some indoor mini-golf.  Matt won.  (As he always does when we play mini-golf)

We spent part of the day walking around looking for scavenger hunt clues.  More about that tomorrow.  Along the promenade, we found this self-service flower shop.

Sitting on the big chair outside the Seaside Visitor’s Bureau.

Let’s talk about the super awesome, probably original cabinetry in our beach house.  I love it so much!  And there is even a built-in strange object that I finally determined was a dish-towel holder.  You can see it on the lower cabinet on the right, between the first and second cabinets. It had a marble inside it, and that was the thing that would grab onto your dish towel.

We took a sunset walk along the beach.

Our sunset self-portrait. (Minus the sun.)

As you can see, we were in good company with the photo-taking.  This was the trip where I was astounded at the number of people staring at their phones while at the beach.  We’ve crossed some hurdle where the potential for ruin via sand/seawater is not enough to change people’s normal cell-phone-all-the-time-behavior.

After the sun went down, we walked up to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard.  The store was open until 11, but the employees made it very clear they would rather not be.  The only lights on were in the employee area, they had one seating section closed and the Blizzard they made me was sub-standard.  But that’s what I get for spending my money in a place where the employees didn’t want to take my money.