Books Read in July 2021

Picture Books

Fox at Night
Corey R. Tabor
Read for Librarian Book Group

Fox finds a lot of things scary. In the meantime, readers get to guess what things are are scaring Fox.

Tag Team
Raúl the Third, Elaine Bly
Read for Librarian Book Group

El Toro and La Oink Oink get (as my father would say: you don’t have to, you get to!) to clean up the Caliseo after their big match. This is all thanks to Mal Burro and Peeky Pequeño who have skipped out on their obligations. This book was mostly written in English, with Spanish written in purple. Sometimes the English or Spanish was repeated, sometimes phrases were used alone.

I was mostly annoyed that El Toro and La Oink Oink cleaned the Caliseo.

Training Day
Raúl the Third, Elaine Bly
Read for Librarian Book Group

El Toro isn’t up for training until Kooky Dooky finds a way to motivate him.

Middle Grade

Finding Junie Kim
Ellen Oh
Read for Librarian Book Group

I had a goodly amount of whiplash as the book flipped back and forth between Junie’s story of a depressive episode and her grandparents’ time in Korea during the Korean war. But ultimately enjoyed details of all the stories.

Korean War books are few. Authors need to get on that, STAT!

Young Adult

The Box in the Woods
Maureen Johnson

We reunite with Stevie and it’s the summer after she’s solved the Ellingham mystery. She’s back at home and experiencing the comedown that is normal life. (I felt her deli-ham-slicing pain.) Luckily, she is whisked off to a summer camp where she is supposed to solve a 1978 murder of four teenagers.

Props to Maureen Johnson for the fun tech bro details and the many period details about the mystery.

I really love this series.

E.K. Johnston

The versatile Johnston tackles sci-fi with the story of Pendt, who grows up on her family’s space cruiser. She’s the runt of her family and her life is shaped because of that.

Johnston is great at writing books that stick with me.

This is Not a Love Scene
S.C. Megale

Maeve is a powerhouse who knows how to get things done—including the student film she’s directing. This is an interesting and engaging #OwnVoices story about being a teenager. And also living with muscular dystrophy.

Our Year of Maybe
Rachel Lynn Soloman

Best friends Sophie and Peter have been close since they were children. But when Sophie gives Peter one of her kidneys, his world opens up and their friendship changes.

An excellent exploration of how relationships are formed and the personal growth that comes when they flex.

Goodbye Perfect
Sara Barnard

What happens when your best friend runs off with her boyfriend? Sara Barnard plumbs the emotions of friendship. I’m excited to read more from her.

Along for the Ride
Sarah Dessen

Auden is saddled with terrible parents (they are currently winning the 2021 award for worst fictional parents who are not physically or psychologically abusive) and keeps to her studies and herself. When she flees to her father’s house, she spends the summer meeting her new sister, learning that people are complex, and that bicycles are freedom.

This is Sarah Dessen at her best.

The Truth Is
NoNieqa Ramos

There was a dark cloud over this book. That dark cloud was instantly recognizable when I finished reading and realized Ramos also wrote the Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary. Enjoyable and hard, that book was.

In this book, Verdad has boxed herself off and is lonely after her friend dies. But when she meets Danny her relationship with her mother goes south and her friendship world opens up. So many uncomfortable feelings!

Destination Anywhere
Sara Barnard

Payton takes a desperation flight from her home in Great Britain to Canada because it’s the only way she can think of to escape her parents’ insistence she attend school. Her attempts at travel are guided by a bunch of tourists she meets. As she gains confidence, we learn more about her lonely life and what happened the previous year.

Barnard goes hard into heavy feelings, and just as hard into the joys and miseries of of travel and forming friendships.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Sara Barnard

The U.S. of A. doesn’t tend to turn out a lot of selective mute children (we trend toward the depressed or the ADHD diagnosis) but Steffi (a Brit, not an American) has been working to overcome her selective mute diagnosis for years. When she’s paired up with Rhys because he uses British Sign Language and she has some passable BSL skills, her world changes.

I was interested in the way BSL was depicted in bold in the novel and wondered how someone fluent in BSL would feel about that. I think the author did it to show Steffi’s progress mastering the language, but I’m curious how others felt.

Young Nonfiction

The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art
Cynthia Levinson, Evan Turk
Read for Librarian Book Group

I think the art was supposed to make a point about the subject’s style, but I found it messy and off-putting.

Sunrise Summer
Swason and Behr
Read for Librarian Book Group

Spend the summer in Alaska, fishing for salmon on a small, family-owned piece of land. There were many interesting details and great back matter.

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Jeff Gottesfeld and Matt Tavares
Read for Librarian Book Group

Who are the people who guard the tomb of the unknown solider and why do they serve? There are a lot of great close-up details and expansive views in this picture book.

Grownup Nonfiction

The Anthropocene Reviewed
John Green

I’m a bit of a John Green completionist (Vlogbrothers, Dear Hank & John, novels, the Anthropocene Reviewed podcast) so I’d heard Green reading versions of many of these essays on his podcasts. I appreciate the podcast version more, but the essays are fine in print form.

By the way, I’m writing this review while listening to a YouTube livestream from February where Green was autographing one part of the 250,000 first printing pages. I preordered, so I got a signed copy. It was a green signature, and the pen was clearly on the downslope. I gave my John Green autograph 2 stars.

Grownup Fiction

The Duke and I
Julia Quinn

A day at the beach and I had finished my book. What to do, what to do? Instead of downloading another ebook, I wandered into Seaside’s Beach Books and found a perfect beach companion.

Lady Whistledown—an excellent device for delivering backstory! And who doesn’t love a big family, romance between wealthy people, and the Regency period? Well, maybe not you, but I’m a fan.

I’m excited to see if I can beat the next season of Bridgerton and finish all eight of this series.

Kindling the Moon
Jenn Bennett

Bennett’s debut novel featured pacing that didn’t quite crackle along, but this urban fantasy had all the sexy romance markers.

Actual Evidence That We’ve Grown at Least One Potato

It’s been a rough growing season. I usually let the rain do the watering in the spring. By the time the rain tapers off, that’s when we should stop watering the potatoes. But the rain in the spring didn’t come as it should and I had to do supplemental watering. So I wasn’t sure how the potatoes were faring. Happily, there was at least one.

SKS: You Go Grill

I enjoy this for two reasons. I like puns, so this is very fun. And it reminds me of my college friend who said, “you go, girl” enough that her mother thought it would be a fun surprise to get a personalized license plate that said that.

Sara reports that she is thrilled to hear of my Seaside trip and that she is trying to add summer fun to her remaining summer weekends.

Fun Times at the Hospital

My mom had to go to the emergency room at the hospital Thursday night, and I went to. Happily, it was at that point before the Delta surge, and I was allowed to stay with my mom. When she got a room, it had this lovely view.

I also enjoyed this delicious sandwich, chips and chocolate.

After a few days, my mom was discharged and was on the mend after that.

Day Trip to Seaside

Heads up. This will be a bunch of photos that are not well taken. I’m not in peak form for photo composition.

I decided to take the bus to Seaside for the day as a summer activity. There was some confusion where to load onto the bus. My ticket very clearly instructed me it was NOT loading at the train station, so I spent 45 minutes waiting at the Greyhound stop outside the train station, only to eventually hear an announcement that my bus was loading at the train station. So there was that.

Once I got on the bus, though, I hit transportation eavesdropping gold. Four college students who had internships at Intel, Nike, and Adidas, but were from the same college in Texas, chatted all about their Portland adventures. Plus they gossiped about people they knew. I find listening to gossip about people I don’t know to be one of life’s more sublime things.

The bus stops at Camp 18 to switch drivers. I think one driver does the coast part and the other does the Portland-to-Camp-18 part.

The bus stops first in Canon Beach, then in Seaside before going to Astoria. In Seaside, the drop off point was the youth hostel. I thought I knew where that was located, but I did not. It’s closer to the cineplex than downtown Seaside, so I had a bit more of a walk than I thought.

I had fish and chips at the place I like to have fish and chips and then headed to the promenade. It was overcast.

I did some beach sitting and reading and people watching, and eventually got tired of sitting. So I did some walking.

I’m not quite sure what happened with this picture. Maybe the blurriness came from how fast I was taking the photo? Anyway, I loved how these teens were dressed alike.

I was happy to see that this building had been rescued from its decrepit state, but do miss the postcard that was painted on the side.

It turned out the overcast morning was a blessing. Because once the sun came out, there wasn’t much escaping it, especially since I’d already eaten. And I had forgotten sunscreen, so I needed to get out of the sun.

And that’s when I discovered the most amazing thing.

Back when I worked at DHM, my coworker had said in passing, “I just love playing Fascination when I’m in Seaside.” Then she mimed a grabbing something and slowly flinging it away.

I had no idea what she was talking about. I think she mentioned the arcade. That conversation got filed in my brain. But walking past the arcade, I stopped and looked in. Then hovered inside the door. Because this was Fascination.

Here’s how it works. You take a seat and put a quarter down. Or, if you are going to play more than one game, you put down a dollar. A bell rings and you roll a ball and try to get it in one of the open spaces. When you do, one of the circles on the mirror facing you lights up. If you get five in a row, you are the winner. A bell rings again and the game shuts down for everyone else. Mostly though, you aren’t a winner and are one of the people groaning that you didn’t win. But it’s still fun, even if you don’t win.

Here’s the winning breakdown.

The combo of working toward something on your own while competing in a group is incredibly fun. Apparently, Fascination used to be a regular thing at amusement parks and boardwalks, but it’s fairly high maintenance. It’s built on telephone technology (rotary telephone technology!) and so parts aren’t made anymore. Plus, it’s fairly labor intensive, as someone has to go around and collected the quarters and make change. So it’s on its way out. But for as much fun as it is, I’m glad I finally discovered it. Here’s the Wikipedia summary that lists all the remaining locations.

The bus ride home provided an equal opportunity for eavesdropping gold. Three tourists (one solo traveler, one mother-daughter combo) chatted about what they’d been up to. They were putting a good face on their trip, but I could tell Portland was kind of bringing all three of them down. I made a list of things they might like to do and handed it off as I was exiting. I hope their trip got better.

Goodbye to 2205 N. Winchell Street

This one hurts. Even more than usual.

From this angle, you can’t see much, except the above sign. But we will get closer.

I love a good midcentury house. But I have a particular weakness for midcentury houses that use cinderblocks for their construction. Something about the modern living aesthetic combined with the utilitarian nature of the cinderblock really gets me. There aren’t a ton of these houses, which is why I’ve always liked this one.

Look at those long prairie-style lines! Look at how the garage is almost as big as the house part!

And oh my goodness that chimney. Plus the window and the built-in planter box.

And even, yes! Deco glass blocks?

The house sits on the corner and takes up half of the block, so it had a pretty big backyard too.

Also, there was this bit of interest.

Here are some stats from Portland Maps.

  • Built in 1948
  • 1,140 square feet with one full bath
  • Sold on 6/16/21 for $453,000

I can’t find previous sale data anymore. Very sad to not have that information.

I will miss seeing this midcentury marvel in my rambles around the neighborhood.