Books Read in July 2023

Middle Grade

School Trip
Jerry Craft

The gang we were introduced to in the earlier books heads to Paris. A (frankly unbelievable) prank shuffles the teacher chaperones resulting in the students’ planned chaperones not being their chaperones. This book has good conversations about race and privilege that grow organically from the situations.

When Impossible Happens
Jane De Suza

Set smack dab in the COVID lockdown, Swara has to adjust to staying in her home all the time and eventually to her grandmother’s death. But something weird is happening across the street.

Young Adult

Imogen, Obviously
Becky Albertalli

Imogen’s visit to college opens her eyes to her future life. Includes frustrating friend dynamics artfully rendered.

One Great Lie
Deb Caletti

Summer travel (Italy!) overlain with the normal problems of a young woman moving through the world. Woven through the book are chapter headings that spotlight Italian women writers of long ago, when it was even harder for women to move through the world.

Elizabeth Wein

Wein balances a ton of characters for what turns out to be a flight-contest-related murder mystery. This is packed with the usual details of Wein’s excellent historical fiction.

A Long Stretch of Bad Days
Mindy McGinnis

As always, McGinnis’s small town tale packs a punch. Is there any YA author out there better a depicting small towns while ramping up the tension? I think not. This has solid good girl/wrong side of the tracks friendship and mystery.

My Flawless Life
Yvonne Woo

A bit of a Veronica Mars flavor, but less detective and more of a person who solves people’s problems. Mix in a fall from grace, a DC setting, and a mystery to solve and you’ve got a good read with sometimes clunky transitions. Plus, the brother of the main character didn’t speak until page 175, which was weird.

Grownup Fiction

The Idea of You
Robinne Lee

A May-December romance, with the woman taking the role of May! Plus a boy band! Halfway through the novel, I got tired of the expressed worry about the daughter finding out. (It’s so inconvenient when your mother starts dating your celebrity crush.) And the ending was rather abrupt. But overall, a good escapist read, albeit one that talks a lot about designer clothing.

Year of Stitch 2023 Sampler 3

I really enjoyed this sampler, which was a showcase of chain stitches. Chain stitch is the best! I also used my new pink and purple color palette, which was quite pleasing.

From outside to inside: chain, figure eight knots, laced chain, and my new favorite, whipped double chain stitch. For the whipped double, you put two rows of chain next to each other and them whip the inside chains together. Whipping isn’t just for backstitch!

Here is the back side, for those who like backs.

We Escaped! From the Mysterious Museum

Some time ago, Matt brought home two escape room games. Exit has created at-home escape rooms, which are brilliant. For less than the cost of one person attending an escape room, one to four players can “escape” from the scenario. There’s also no having to work in teams with people you’ve never met before, a thing I don’t love about real escape rooms.

We worked through the various rooms and escaped from the museum.

At the end, you can fill out your certificate.

If you use the app, it keeps time for you, and then you can enter your information and get a star rating. We got 8 out of 10.

While card game “rooms” don’t provide some of the surprises we’ve found in physical escape rooms, this was a fun experience I would like to repeat.

SKS: Boise Nighttime Views

Sara writes from Spirit Lake and observes that there is no date indicating when the pictures on the postcard were taken, but some of the views depicted are very different.

She says that her perch at Spirit Lake includes not just a nice view, but tea and a gentle breeze.

I will note that in the space below the warning DO NOT WRITE BELOW THIS LINE, the USPS has perfectly centered the barcode. Well done!

SKS: Ladybug Press Love from Idaho

Sara reports that this postcard came from a store at Boise Towne Square while she was shopping with her mom. (We had walked around the mall when I was there and pointed at the spots where certain stores used to be.)

She also reported that the Starbucks where she was writing the postcard was playing Bananarama and other oldies from the 80s.

Matt’s Birthday Celebration

As with many things, we dropped the ball on making reservations for Matt’s birthday celebration (the just-us dinner) and so the celebration happened almost a month after his birthday.

But Arden was worth the wait. We had the four-course prix fixe menu and I would swear that there were about seven courses in that four-course dinner.

The dinner ended with a Basque-style cheesecake and for Matt a little scoop of sorbet and a birthday candle to blow out.

Arden was a delightful place to eat.