Books Read in June 2021

Picture Books

We Wait for the Sun
Dovey Johnson Roundtree, Katie McCabe, Raissa Figueroa
Read for Librarian Book Group

A moment from Dovey Johnson Roundtree’s childhood beautifully illustrated by Raissa Figueroa

The One Thing You’d Save
Linda Sue Park & Rober Sae-Heng
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A collection of poems written in Sijo—a Korean style—about a class assignment of the one thing students would save from a fire.

I often struggled to follow who was speaking.

Mornings with Monet
Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré
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Learn how Monet painted a series of paintings of the Seine in this very interesting picture book that also gives the flavor of a Monet painting.

Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!
Lorna Scobie
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An only-child rabbit gets a bevy of new siblings an must adjust. It took a turn at the end that I wasn’t expecting.

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued
Peter Sis
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Yet another story of the Holocaust. It’s interesting, but gets swallowed up by odd page layouts.

The Lost Package
Richard Ho & Jessica Lanan
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The kind of picture book I adore. Spare words, and tons of details to go back and find. The author’s note tells of his personal appreciation of USPS.

Hello, Rain
Maclear, Chris Turnham
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A lot of great description of rain paired with whimsical illustrations.

We Become Jaguars
Eggars, White
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A boy and his grandmother become jaguars and explore the land around them. Packed with visual delights. Also this sentence: “She laughed like great thunder and I laughed like lesser thunder and we jaguared on.”

Jump at the Sun
Alicia D. Williams and Jacqueline Alcántara
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Picture book biography of Zora Neale Hurston. Great leaping illustrations complement the text.

Middle Grade

The Sea in Winter
Christine Day
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The stakes were low, but middle grade readers who are separated from the thing they love due to injury might feel differently about this story of a girl nursing a knee injury that is keeping her from dancing. It’s also a good chronicle of taking things out on your family.

This book was at the bottom of the to-read pile for a long time because the cover was conveying that this story was set in perhaps Norway, and there would be fairies and ogres and many magical things. Imagine my surprise when I started to read and found out it was a contemporary middle grade set in Seattle and Olympic National Park.

Reem Faruqi
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In this novel in verse, a Pakistani girl comes to the US with her family and finds her new life is improved by swimming.

Pity Party
Kathleen Lane
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This book is chock full-o-fun! Quizzes, short (some very short) stories, ads. All very tongue-in-cheek and aimed at middle school kids feeling awkward.

Young Adult

Last Night at the Telegraph Club
Malinda Lo
Read for Librarian Book Group

The core of the book, Lily’s story of finding the Telegraph Club and falling in love, is strong and rich with period details.

There’s some backstory that felt like it bogged down the narrative, which is too bad because this is otherwise a solid historical fiction.

That Summer
Sarah Dessen

This is a little clunky, pacing-wise, but does a great job at really drilling into those teenage feelings that happen when everything goes wrong and you are the cause of a large portion of it.

Some things are grounded in the 90s, when this book was written, and best left there. I winced at a description of a minor character: he was as whipped as any man can be.

The Seventh Raven
David Elliott
Read for Librarian Book Group

Here’s the deal. For about 80% of novels in verse, I think the story would be better served if the author undid their free verse, made them into sentences, added additional sentences to make paragraphs, and then had themselves a novel.

But a small portion of novels in verse I can appreciate, like this one. Elliott uses poetic forms which gave me something to chew on as I read this story of a family of boys transformed into ravens to save their newborn sister.

What We Left Behind
Robin Talley

The fate of happy high school couples as they head off to college is well-known. Usually it’s not a happy ending for the couple. But this sad outcome does provide a lot of plot.

This happy couple also has complicating factors due to genderqueer processing. The book does a great job of exploring the many wedges that are driven between a couple as they head off to college, plus it might be handy to read for older people who are curious about these young people and their discussions of pronouns and gender exploration. It’s also from 2016, so some things might be out of date.

Note that this has a lot of one-star reviews on Goodreads written by people who have problems with how the genderqueer identity was explored.

Lies We Tell Ourselves
Robin Talley

Alternating perspectives of two girls. One is integrating a high school and one is the daughter of the publisher of the town paper who is anti-integration. I had some interesting feelings re: whose story this was to tell. It also got me thinking about some assumptions I have about people who did integrate all-white high schools.

We Are Inevitable
Gayle Forman

I like that Forman has built a YA career with a bunch of books that tell the stories of young people who have graduated high school.

And so it goes with this story of a guy who is going down with the particular sinking ship of a local bookstore run by his family.

The Lady Rogue
Jenn Bennett

Jen Bennett’s excellent skilz of romance-telling take a back seat for a story set in Romania in the 1930s and a particular cursed ring.

It was very fun to see Bennet flex her historical fiction muscles. I haven’t seen them in play since she switched over to YA. Also, I’ve visited the region, so I enjoyed the travel.

Someone Like You
Sarah Dessen

I read this after reading Dessen’s That Summer because the two books were adapted into a movie. Because of that, when I started reading this book, I was supremely confused because nothing about the two books overlapped. Once I let go of my expectations, I found a story that summed up the emotional highs and lows of one of my own high school relationships. Well done!

The movie, by the way, picks parts from each book and combines them. By doing so, a lot of the feelings are lost and we’re left with a middling teen movie.

Grownup Fiction

The Ex Talk
Rachel Lynn Soloman

Well this is fun! Why are there not more romances set at public radio stations?

Shay (to be honest, not my favorite name) is stuck in a stuck-in-life-phase and new reporter Dominic rubs her the wrong way. But when she has a chance to host a local call-in show, she grabs it, even if it means partnering up with Dominic.

Matt’s Birthday: Heat and Spanakopita

We are in for some craziness the next few days. Even in the very hot summers of my Boise years, the temperature never got very far above 105 degrees. But Matt’s birthday forecast is 107 and the two days after are in temperature ranges I’ve never seen, ever.

Matt wanted spanakopita for his birthday celebration and so I got the recipe from my Aunt Pat.

Here is my spinach.

And here is the finished product. It wasn’t a winner. There was way too much moisture coming off of the pieces.

The diagnosis: don’t cook it in a 9×13 inch pan with sides (what I think of as a 9×13 inch pan) but use a flat cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. My aunt uses a nice round sheet.

SKS Postcard: Two from Black Oak Coffee Roasters

This is postcard 1 of 3 of the coffee trilogy, which means I’m missing one. Happily, I have received 1 and 2 in the lineup, so can read two-thirds of the message.

Sara reports that they are home from Napa (see previous postcard) and stopped at this coffee roaster because finding good coffee or tea is a challenge in their area, but this is a good place.

Sara also reports she potentially has jury duty this week. We shall see if she gets called.

Overly Cautious Pharmacy

Sentinel’s medicine comes from a compounding pharmacy in Wilsonville. This hits the trifecta of things I’m not overly thrilled about: 1) Having to use a special pharmacy to keep my elderly cat in somewhat good shape 2) Not being able to use a pharmacy in the neighborhood and 3) The amount of energy it takes to transport a tiny vial of pills to me (they do this via courier.) (It does seem to provide a steady job for the courier, who is the same one every time and a very nice man, so that’s a plus.)

Usually the pills come in a floppy plastic envelope (another thing I don’t like). Today, with record-breaking heat forecast, the pills came in this.

Which unpacked to this:

I was initially very confused by the packaging as I don’t refrigerate this medication, but I see that they were worried about it not being able to maintain room temperature.

After removing the pills and the paper, I put the ice packs and the Styrofoam container out with a free sign and it was snapped up by someone who presumably needed it.

Corningware Displays for the Win

The Blythe Cricket in Joseph served us some delicious food. But even better, they had this tremendous display of colorful bakeware. It then became a conversation topic, as in, which of these items did you/do you have? I grew up with the blue cornflower square dish, and had one of those oblong tan dishes for a time. It was a gift from a woman who cleaned out her kitchen and gave me a bunch of her stuff when I moved into my first studio apartment.

I love the red, pink and green too. We also looked up when some of them were manufactured. The green in the 60s and 70s, of course. The pink and red in the 50s.

In an upper nook was all the brown corningware.

This was a fun trip down memory lane.

Dinner at 6 Ranch

Mom and I made the drive out to Enterprise to visit 6 Ranch and eat a delicious dinner.

Here’s the family homestead. Note the cattle dog sitting in the shade.

Here’s another house in Liza Jane’s family. This one is not currently occupied.

Liza Jane’s son tells us about the work they have done to improve the river and the watershed.

Liza Jane herself.

And now we journey to Liza Jane’s watermelon house for a wagon ride and a dinner.

We had a fun ride through the pasture.

Liza Jane’s son-in-law and grandson came to hang out.

Our dinner menu, featuring 6 Ranch beef.

Our dining area.

The dinner was amazing, and I had fun chatting with the other attendees.