Books Read in November 2020

Picture Books

Evelyn Del Ray is Moving Away
Sonia Sanchez & Meg Medina
Read for Librarian Book Group

Aside from the best picture book title of 2020, this book brings all the feels. Good for a person of any age with a friend that is moving away.

Middle Grade

The Girl and the Ghost
Hanna Alkaf
Read for Librarian Book Group

Supposedly prologues are not in fashion, but I’m glad Hanna Alkaf included one in this story because it was top notch at grabbing my attention.

What do you know about pelesits? They’re a type of ghost and one of them is bound to Suraya, a girl in Malaysa. This book is full of great details and great writing. And then it all fell apart at the end, darn it.

Young Adult

Again Again
E. Lockheart

Another disappointing eBook experience. The ebook page seemed to have a layout that would have worked better with print, but alas, global pandemic.

Even given that, this multiverse story seemed to be lacking something, though I did enjoy the mourning of a lost relationship. There was also a great depiction of a sibling relationship needing to be rebuilt.

Kelly Young

Duel narrator perspective of two girls attending a private southern California high school: Dani, a scholarship student and debate star; Claire, a wealthy “parachute,” a Chinese teenagers sent to attend school in the US.

This book provides insight into a cultural phenomenon I hadn’t heard of and also highlights the unstable footing many young women are on due to all varieties of sexual harassment.

Punching the Air
Ibi Zoboi and Yosef Salaam
Read for Librarian Book Group

Novel in verse about a young man in prison. A solid entry to the genre and written by someone with experience who we all should listen to.

We Are Not Free
Tracy Chee
Read for Librarian Book Group

There are a lot of details about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Unfortunately, there are also 14 characters which made it really hard to connect to any of them.

P.S. The fact that the title rhymes with the author’s last name warms the cockles of my heart.

Every Body Looking
Candice Iloh
Read for Librarian Book Group

The back-and-forth narrative of this novel in verse had the effect of me never latching on to either time period.

Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf
Hayley Krischer

Hoo boy! So many levels of not-cool rape culture stuff going on in this duel narrator book. This made it difficult to read, but was ultimately worth it. A great look at some different responses to different kinds of sexual assualt and a good author’s note at the end.

Chasing Lucky
Jenn Bennett

Bennett leaves the California coastline for the Rhode Island coastline. We join a family where the women are cursed with doomed love lives. Or maybe they’re just bad at communicating?

This is a solid boy-next-door and long-lost-love story set in a small town and includes residents with very long memories.

The Fashion Committee
Susan Juby

One of the reasons I don’t love duel-narrator novels is that most of them don’t have distinctly different voices. Not so here, where we have exuberant fashion lover Charlie Dean and reluctant fashion participant John Thomas-Smith.

This amusing novel about a scholarship contest was a delight at every turn. If only the title reflected the novel’s brilliance. But also: there are illustrations! I’d love to enter a period we we get illustrations in books again. They’d be good for both YA and grownup novels.

Mind the Gap Dash and Lily
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Three for three in delightful Dash and Lily adventures. This one takes us to London.

Apple: Skin to the Core
Eric Gansworth
Read for Librarian Book Group

A memoir in verse about Gansworth’s life and his family. The poetry was really engrossing and it also came with Gansworth’s illustrations. This will especially resonate with readers familiar with the Beatles and their albums.

Grownup Fiction

Curtis Sittenfeld

I think what made Sittenfeld’s American Wife work was that we were reading about Alice and Charlie Blackwell and not Laura and George W. Bush. Whereas here, we’re reading an imagined alternative history about a woman who has had intense media scrutiny since 1992. Laura Bush was much more of a blank slate.

Also: too soon! Reading about the 2016 election in Rodham on the real-life eve of the election taking place four years after Hillary Rodham Clinton lost the 2016 election was hard. I couldn’t sink into the fiction.

Is this a well written book? Yes, because Curtis Sittenfeld is a wizard with words and feelings and characters. Did I enjoy the alternate timeline? For sure! (You’ll love finding out who was elected president in 1996.) Other than that? This whole book felt weird. It’s very discussable though.

Young Nonfiction

You Call This Democracy?
Elizabeth Rusch
Read for Librarian Book Group

Outlines the many ways in which the current US setup of government falls short of democratic principles (and standards that we’ve encouraged other countries to adopt.) More importantly, it has ways for you (YOU!) to advocate for change.

This is a book that is written for teenagers, but which citizens of every age should read.

The 2020 Thanksgiving Pickup

Times being what they are, we can’t gather for Thanksgiving like we usually do. So we each made a food item and brought enough to share.

Linda and Matt demonstrate the physical distancing. Matt isn’t usually in Portland for Thanksgiving, so this was a treat.

More distancing.

Mom brought mashed potatoes and gravy. (I think.)

Chris made Spanish Rice to go with Matt’s enchiladas.

Aunt Carol made soup.

Linda made squash.

I made rolls, and burned some of them, alas.

Aunt Pat made turkey, pumpkin pie, and whipped cream.

Prepping for Thanksgiving 2020

The pandemic has meant we have to get creative for Thanksgiving this year. We’ll still meet up, but outside, and just to exchange food. Matt is prepping chicken enchiladas for his contribution.

And here is his final product.

I made rolls and they are done, but I also made a German Chocolate Roll for the feast at the Orange Door.

Little Dear Floral Bouquet Sampler Finished

Et voila! This was fun. New to me were the whipped wheel (needs some work) the feather stitch, the buttonhole wheel, button knots, and couching. I used the Little Dear summer colors again, though I needed to add extra colors. I chose orange, to no one’s surprise. Also some purple.

I pricked my finger (that needle is sharp!) and so there was a bit of blood on the embroidery. You can see it by the purple satin stitched flower and on the green stem below it.

So I added a bit of stitching to cover it up.

I really enjoyed the button knots. For something that looks a bit like vermin, they did pretty up into a flower-like substance.

And I enjoyed couching so much that I carried on into the whipped stem stitch without even noticing.

Another great embroidery from Little Dear!

The Thing I’ve Been Looking at on My Phone

Me on the morning after the election: Come on, Nevada! Let’s do it!

Me roughly seven times per day on all the days between the election and today: Come on, Nevada! And wait, what’s going on in Georgia?

Today I got up, fed the cats, listened to hear if the election had been called. It hadn’t, so I went back to sleep on the couch until Matt padded into the living room and told me that they had called it.

And I could finally, FINALLY, take the screen shot I had been hoping to take.

And Nevada still wasn’t done counting! Come on, Nevada!

Calming My Election Jitters

I broke down and bought one of those all-plastic (the main reason I was avoiding them) thread organizers. Then I treated myself to several palettes from my new favorite website Stitch Palette, where those of us who are not good at picking out colors that pop can find help.

I also included a cheat sheet in case I need to find the palette again. Plus there’s a list of colors at the bottom of each section.

I did all the thread winding and labeling while listening to election returns on NPR. But there was no news at bedtime, so I went to bed. Days later, I’m still waiting.

Hot tip for NPR. When you plan the coverage of the 2024 election, consider basing people on the West Coast, rather than the East Coast. I could do without, “It’s getting very late,” said at 8:10 p.m. While it was 11:10 p.m. in Washington D.C., on the other coast it’s nowhere close to late for anyone over the age of ten. And not everyone lives in the Eastern time zone.

Little Dear Embroidery Now Coasters

I sewed my Little Dear mandala embroidery pieces into coasters. I enjoy how they turned out, but next time when I’m feeling too lazy to get out the sewing machine (or even if I do) I will trace a circle before I start sewing the layers together. A freehand, hand-sewn circle is not a skillset I have, at this moment.

I also used my grandfather’s overalls as backing. My plan was to have the worn side show so the bits of paint would be visible. You can see that I was successful one out of two times at this task. It’s because you have to put the outsides on the inside and I tend to get confused at that point.

I’m excited I found a use for my hard work.