Books read in July 2019

July was a month of YA reading, and came with some excellent book-reading experiences. All hail summer reading!


Young Adult: Internment, With the Fire on High, Birthday, We are the Perfect Girl, Like a Love Story

Young Adult

Samira Ahmed
Read for Librarian Book Group

An alternate-present distopia where all the Muslims in the US are moved to concentration camps just like the Japanese were during WWII. I found this to be a highly discusssable book, with high stakes that I gobbled up.

I correctly predicted the fate of one of the characters very early on, and I would have liked more of a wrap up, but overall, it was a great read.

Within These Lines
Stephanie Morrill

Hot on the heels of Internment, I read this book about a young couple separated by the forced relocation of people of Japanese descent during World War II. The book excelled in depicting the conditions in the internment camp.

It was also one of those historical fiction books where the characters seem to have been transported from 2019 to the early 1940’s. And there weren’t nearly enough siblings. Both the main characters were only children, somewhat of an anomaly during that time.

With the Fire on High
Elizabeth Acevdo
Read for Librarian Book Group

Man, oh man, do I love this book. I can’t recall the last YA novel I read where the main character is also a mom. And what a good mom she was!

Emoni is also a talented cook and the descriptions of her meal preparation felt like descriptions of how art is made. Ultimately, I think she was a little too perfect, but Acevdo’s writing was so good that I didn’t mind.

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc
David Elliott
Read for Librarian Book Group

The story of Joan of Arc told in different forms of verse.

I loathed all of the verse. I didn’t like how it was written, I despised the poems arranged in shapes, and I thought the guide that explained the different types of poetry within the book should have been at the beginning, not the end.

That said, it’s a short book, so the torture didn’t go on for an overly long period of time.

Meredith Russo

It took me a bit to realize this was the same sort of set up as David Nicholl’s One Day. (Which is, of course, the same set up as Same Time Next Year, which probably has the same set up as something in Ovid I don’t know about.)

Anyway! In this case we have two best friends who share a birthday and we meet them on their 13th birthday. Morgan wants to tell his best friend Eric a secret, because if he can tell Eric, then he can tell his father, and after that maybe he can start telling the world.

The stakes are high in this novel. There is no inclusive culture in the small town where the boys live. Life is hard, and both of them are dealing with challenges–poverty, loss of parents, authoritarian parents.

Meredith Russo writes the brutal reality of kids without a support network. This is a hard book, but a good one.

We are the Perfect Girl
Ariel Kaplan

It’s been quite some time since I read such a funny book. Just like in the movies, comedy doesn’t get the same respect as tragedy. It also had very gentle stakes, (no one was going to die, or be killed!) but still packed a punch.

There’s great body image stuff that will probably feel universal for most girls and women, and Kaplan expertly captures pining for a certain someone to love you, while also being convinced they never will love you.

Like a Love Story
Abdi Nazemian

AIDS. It was killing a lot of people during my formative years. And I feel like we’re in a phase of not talking about it.

Enter this book, the story of three kids in New York City. Art is out, Judy is is best friend, and Reza is the new guy at school, lately from Toronto, originally from Iran.

Through their stories, we get the horror and magic that was 1989, the danger of coming out, and the worry and hope of falling in love.

Interspersed with their stories are Art’s note cards written by Judy’s Uncle Stephen as a primer to gay life. I would have liked more of these note cards, but it was a pretty long book, already.

Young Nonfiction

Planting Stories
Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar
Read for Librarian Book Group

A beautifully illustrated story of the life of Pura Belpre, librarian, storyteller, puppeteer, and namesake of the award for outstanding works of literature by Lantinx authors and illustrators.

The illustrations are gorgeous. The text had some gaps. For instance: How long did she give up her storytelling to follow her husband around the world?

Song of the month July 2019: I Hear the Bells

Thanks to the Hulu series season 4, and my rewatch of seasons 1-3, July is the Veronica Mars month, so why not look up the song playing just as this conversation is happening:

I thought our story was epic, you know, you and me.

Epic how?

Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed. Epic. But summer’s almost here, and we won’t see each other at all. And then you leave town… and then it’s over.


I’m sorry about last summer. You know, if I could do it over…

Come on. Ruined lives? Bloodshed? You really think a relationship should be that hard?

No one writes songs about the ones that come easy.

Harry Potter Celebration at the Kennedy School

For Harry Potter’s birthday, the Kennedy School had a celebration. We attended in the afternoon, which was good as there weren’t many people around.

We pose with our houses.

And then someone else took our picture.

Here was another photo backdrop.

They had merchants in Diagon’s Alley and a photo scavenger hunt, plus a bunch of riddles posted. There was a prize for the photo hunt. By the time we were done they had given out all 1000 prizes. Which was fine by me and a good testament to what a successful event it had been.

While Matt thought about riddles, I busied myself looking at this photo taken on the steps of the Kennedy school.

I particularly liked this scowling girl, and her cheery companion with the white bow.

The Hollywood Theatre is Always Classy

Friend Kelly asked if I wanted to see Quentin Tarantino’s new film at the Hollywood Theatre. The answer was: sort of? I’m not much of a fan of Mr. Tarantino’s movies. But this did have Leonardo DiCaprio in it. And Brad Pitt wasn’t looking too shabby either.

The Hollywood provided us with these cool tri-fold brochures to commemorate the night.

I didn’t love the movie (review here) but I did enjoy the setting.

SKS Postcard: Wall Drug

SKS is on the move! At Wall Drug, she and Shawn bought iced cake donuts and a few postcards. She sent me this postcard because they enjoyed seeing the signs on the way.

I like its pinked edges. Very unusual in a postcard.

I’ve not been to Wall Drug. My parents and brother went after they dropped me off at college, but I missed out.

Someday, I’m going to do some exploring along the northern border. It can be part of my Laura Ingalls Wilder tour.

Another house in Kenton is headed for the wrecking ball

This little blue house has always been one of my favorites on this street. But it will soon not be a house any longer.

The house at 1350 N. Watts was built in 1925, has 730 square feet, plus an unfinished basement and a 500 square foot detached garage.

The assessor detail on PortlandMaps tells me that it sold in April for $330,000. It’s prior sale was in 2003 and was for $142,000. (O! If only I could have bought when I first got to Portland!) It sold for $79,900 in 1997 and $26,000 in 1994.

Goodbye little blue house, with the unfortunately pruned apple tree in the front yard. I will miss you.

SKS Postcards from Minneapolis and the Women’s March

Hark! It’s a three-series of SKS postcards that all arrived on the same day. The. Same. Day. A miracle!

The back of this postcard is pre-printed with “I’m part of the #WomensMarch movement. I’m from… and I’m concerned about,”

Sara has written in ALL THE DAMN THINGS!

This caused me to chuckle.

The next postcard is from the restaurant I ate at when visiting in May for Sara’s dissertation. Sara reports that it’s a major moving prep day.

She also comments that Twilight-inspired academic texts really amuse her.

Me too, Sara.