Books Read in December 2022

Early Readers

I Did It!
Michael Emberly
Read for Librarian Book Group

It’s the idiom of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” but with a cute little poppet and some friends. Achievement unlocked: riding a bicycle.

Middle Grade

Invisible: A Graphic Novel
Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein
Read for Librarian Book Group

A group of middle school students are called to the principal’s office and we learn both why they were summoned and more about their lives. The story provides a very good setup and payoff.

Young Adult

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
Theodora Goss

This brings together the daughters of many famous literary scientists: Jekyll, Moreau, Frankenstein, and others. It adds in a dash of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. There is a mystery to solve, and the daughters regularly interrupt the narrative with their own commentary. These things together make for an engaging read.

Man Made Monsters
Andrea L. Rogers
Read for Librarian Book Group

Beautifully written short stories that are vaguely connected. The family tree at the beginning of the book implies more connection then there actually is. Plus, there’s another family tree that we never get into. That distracted me. The stories themselves covered a wide variety of monsters and used the Cherokee language.

Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things
Maya Prasad

What a great title and a great Orcas Island setting. Unfortunately, this was probably the most boring book I’ve read in 2022. I think it’s a great example of low stakes making things not very interesting. And because there are four sisters and the book covers each of the sisters’ romances one at a time, nothing felt integrated. Once a character gets together with their intended, we hear almost nothing about them again. It felt very boringly repetitive.

Scattered Showers
Rainbow Rowell

New and republished short stories show off Rowell’s talent at summing broad concepts in a well-written sentence, and her skill with sparking dialogue. It was fun to catch up with some characters of yore. I found the premise of the story “In Waiting” to be very smart and fun.

Hell Followed Us
Andrew Joseph White
Read for Librarian Book Group

In both world building and plot machinations this did not feel like a first novel. It was also a very good story with a trans main character. I never fully hooked into it, but I look forward from reading more from this author.

Abuela, Don’t Forge Me
Rex Ogle
Read for Librarian Book Group

I found Ogle’s Free Lunch to be a cudgel of misery with writing that didn’t elevate past the terrible growing up years he described. This is a novel in verse and the shorter form is better suited for Ogle’s unfortunate upbringing. The spotlight on his grandmother is a welcome one and shows how much her love supported him.

Young Nonfiction

If You’re a Kid Like Gavin.
Gavin Grimm, Kyle Lukoff, and J Yang
Read for Librarian Book Group

Picture book story of Gavin Grimm, a trans boy who became a trans activist when his high school wouldn’t let him use the boys’ bathroom.

Concrete From the Ground Up
Larissa Theule, Steve Light
Read for Librarian Book Group

A history of a most reliable building material. The drawings were great, but the text placement was confusing.

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement
Angela Joy and Janelle Washington
Read for Librarian Book Group

After covering the growing up and having a child part, this focuses on how Mamie Till-Mobley spent the rest of her life after Emmett Till’s death. I enjoyed the paper cut illustrations when it came to buildings and landscape. I found them less successful with faces.

Seen and Unseen: What Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams’s Photographs Reveal About the Japanese American Incarceration
Elizabeth Partridge and Lauren Tamaki
Read for Librarian Book Group

Partridge uses photos from three different photographers, and Tamarki fleshes things out with illustrations to show what photographers were allowed to capture and what they were not. There were also primary source documents. This was an incredibly beautiful book about a shameful event we’re just starting to really talk about.

Grownup Nonfiction

The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind
Richard Restak

A blessedly brief book packed with information and strategies for strengthening your memory.

The Top and Bottom 2022 Movies

Since 3SMReviews is in a quiet state, I’ll post some pictures of my most favorite and least favorite movies this year. There will be more movies added to this list as the rest of the 2022 movies appear in Portland, Oregon theaters. (It annoys me that we don’t get some of them until 2023—and well into 2023 at that.) But here’s the list as of December 31.

And here is the bottom of the list. Netflix really didn’t come through me this year as nos. 41, 43, 44, 46, and 47 are all Netflix films. (Though I watched White Noise at the Hollywood Theatre, not at home on Netflix.)

(And to be fair, I just don’t like Christmas Movies a la Hallmark, so Falling for Christmas wasn’t terrible, it was just a standard Hallmark-esque Christmas movie.)

What movies did you like and not like this year?

Reopened in Time for the New Year

The Astro near our house has been closed for quite a long time. They needed to replace their big tanks. They also put in a new digital sign.

Matt was away, and I took the picture to show him it was finally open. But I am posting the picture to capture that I walked by when they were removing one of the gasoline tanks and it was huge. It was taller than me, easily and probably the length of two cars.

I had no idea such big infrastructure existed.

Monkey Puzzle Tree Has Fallen

Once upon a time (say, last week) the house at 1516 N. Winchell Street had two monkey puzzle trees framing its entrance. Now there is just one. And a big mess.

This was such a big tree, I’m actually surprised I didn’t hear it fall.

Aside from blocking the road, it also did some major damage to this car.

While some monkey puzzle trees in Portland are from the Lewis & Clark Exposition, this house was built in 1927, long after the exposition closed. But I bet the trees were planted around the time the house was built.

Sara and Shawn Swing By

Sara and Shawn arrived in Portland last night, and we had a good dinner at Swift and Union. (We were perhaps going to have a fancy dinner elsewhere, but the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a bad time for fancy restaurants. A lot of them were closed for the week.)

The next day Shawn dropped Sara off at our place and drove home. We both worked until lunch, and then had a good lunch at Broder and I drove her to the airport.

It was a fun quick trip!

SKS: Lots of Eureka Things

There’s a lot going on on this postcard! It’s a map from a mural to a store (or vice versa). It’s a picture of the mural at the end of the walking tour. It’s pictures of iconic Eureka buildings.

Sara reports that it’s a wonderful walk and that she saw the artist paint parts of the mural.

Sara also is excited about her upcoming visit to Portland made possible by flights to Coeur d’Alene being cheaper from Portland than from Arcata.