Friday, July 20, 2018

Fiona Friday - Comfort kitty

I took this picture of Isabel on a day when I was in a terrible mood. I was cleaning house, doing laundry, tidying corners. Wherever I sat down to work, she curled up nearby and every time she settled near me I felt just a little bit better. Cats are the best.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

Pencils sharpened in their case.
Bells are ringing, let's make haste.
School's beginning, dreams to chase.
All are welcome here. 

All Are Welcome is a cute rhyming book that takes place at a school and shows the children arriving, doing their everyday schoolwork, going to lunch, playing on the playground, being read to, drawing, raising their hands to be called on, playing musical instruments, etc. Each verse ends with, "All are welcome here," and the characters portrayed show a vast diversity, as you can see from the cover image.

This is one of my favorite spreads (you should be able to click on the image to enlarge it):

The inside of the book jacket is also a poster that says "All are welcome here" and shows a diverse range of children holding hands, great for classroom use.

Recommended - A lovely story about embracing diversity with bright, cheerful illustrations that show happy children enjoying learning. I love it!

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Bi-annual reading update


1. Saving Tarboo Creek - Scott Freeman and Susan Leopold Freeman
2. Forty Autumns - Nina Willner
3. The Bones of Grace - Tahmima Anam
4. Braving the Wilderness - Brené Brown
5. The Dry - Jane Harper
6. Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur
7. If This Isn't Nice, What Is? - Kurt Vonnegut
8. A Nest for Celeste - Henry Cole
9. Another Quest for Celeste - Henry Cole
10. Bagel in Love - Natasha Wing and Helen Dardik
11. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
12. The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
13. The Radium Girls - Kate Moore
14. Nature's Lullaby Fills the Night - Dee Leone and Bali Engel
15. A Couch for Llama - Leah Gilbert
16. Artemis - Andy Weir
17. Force of Nature - Jane Harper


18. Down and Across - Arvin Ahmadi
19. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - Al Franken
20. The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
21. Being Mortal - Atul Gawande
22. Only Killers and Thieves - Paul Howarth
23. I Am the Boss of this Chair - Carolyn Crimi and Marisa Morea
24. The Statue and the Fury - Jim Dees
25. Our Native Bees - Paige Embry


26. The Brontë Sisters - Catherine Reef
27. Black Fortunes - Shomari Wills
28. Nothing Left to Burn - Heather Ezell
29. The Broken Girls - Simone St. James
30. Orphan Monster Spy - Matt Killeen
31. The Saboteur - Paul Nix
32. The Woman Next Door - Yewande Omotoso
33. Supergifted - Gordon Korman
34. Good Behavior - Blake Crouch
35. Bus! Stop! - James Yang
36. Up in the Leaves - Shira Boss and Jamey Christoph
37. Gloria's Voice - Aura Lewis


38. Princesses Behaving Badly - Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
39. The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody - Matthew Landis
40. Look for Her - Emily Winslow
41. Rocket Men - Robert Kurson
42. If You Come Softly - Jacqueline Woodson
43. Sleep Train - Jonathan London and Lauren Eldridge
44. But the Bear Came Back - Tammi Sauer and Dan Taylor
45. Albie Newton - Josh Funk and Ester Garay
46. How to Forget a Duke - Vivienne Lorret
47. Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders
48. Isosceles' Day - Kevin Meehan
49. Tin Man - Sarah Winman
50. Warren the 13th and The Whispering Woods - Tania del Rio and Will Staehle
51. The Reckless Rescue (The Explorers #2) - Adrienne Kress
52. Daddies Do - Lezlie Evans and Elisa Ferro
53. Boots on the Ground - Elizabeth Partridge


54. Mad Boy - Nick Arvin
55. The Endless Beach - Jenny Colgan
56. Obscura - Joe Hart
57. Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
58. Out of Left Field - Ellen Klages
59. Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor - Yossi Klein Halevi
60. The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik - David Arnold
61. The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) - Terri-Lynne DeFino


62. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes
63. Hollywood Beach Beauties - David Wills
64. Goodbye, Sweet Girl - Kelly Sundberg
65. Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue - Jeff Seymour
66. As You Wish - Cary Elwes and Joe Layden
67. Siracusa - Delia Ephron
68. Abridged Classics - John Atkinson
69. Wed Wabbit - Lissa Evans

I'm usually pretty awful at doing the end-of-year round-ups, these days, so I decided to do a 6-month wrap-up, instead -- and, hopefully, I'll also do this at the end of the year. As of this point in time, I've written at least a line or two about every book except Don Quixote and Wed Wabbit, so you can click on the links to see either my reviews or a short description in a monthly reads-in-review post, depending upon whether or not I reviewed them.

My goal in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2018 is 100 books so every book is a percentage point and that means I finished 69% of the books I've challenged myself to read this year, by the end of June. Admittedly, I did set the goal line deliberately low. My average tends to fall around 125 books in a year with a peak of 202 in 2009. Roger Ebert actually tweeted a link to my complete "Books Read" list when I posted the 2009 list in 2010, so it was a peak in more ways than one.

As to the first half of 2018, I think it's been pretty terrific, in general. Because I devoted several months to Don Quixote, I've only read two classics in 2018: the other is Flowers for Algernon. Both were marvelous in entirely different ways. I was both depressed and impressed by Flowers for Algernon. I was alternately entertained, horrified, bogged down and delighted by Don Quixote.

Some favorites: 

  • The Dry and Force of Nature by Jane Harper are my favorite mysteries. 
  • Forty Autumns by Nina Willner, Saving Tarboo Creek by Freeman and Freeman, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken, Our Native Bees by Paige Embry, The Saboteur by Paul Nix, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, Rocket Men by Robert Kurson, Boots on the Ground by Elizabeth Partridge (a children's book), and As You Wish by Cary Elwes are favorite nonfiction titles.
  • Nature's Lullaby Fills the Night by Leone and Engel, A Couch for Llama by Leah Gilbert, The Brontë Sisters by Catherine Reef, Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen, Bus! Stop! by James Yang, Up in the Leaves by Boss and Christoph, The Not-so-Boring Letters of Private Nobody by Matthew Landis, If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, and Wed Wabbit are favorite children's books (for a variety of ages, from preschool through YA). 
  • Some other fiction favorites (again, a variety) are Artemis by Andy Weir, The Broken Girls by Simone St. James, The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, Mad Boy by Nick Arvin, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

Of all those books, the ones I seem to think about the most are Mad Boy by Nick Arvin, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, The Saboteur by Paul Nix, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, and Al Franken, Giant of the Senate -- all for different reasons. Mad Boy was unique, made me smile and cringe, and I would say definitely is my favorite of 2018, so far. Tin Man had a character who was a little obsessed with Vincent Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" series and I keep seeing references to those paintings that take me back to the book. I learned about the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in The Saboteur and it was frequently mentioned in Foyle's WarBeing Mortal keeps coming to mind because I've been thinking about the future and how we'll handle both retirement and end-of-life decisions, one day. And, I just loved Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

A good first half of the year, I think. Onward!

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

Brace yourself for something rare. I finished a book I confess I should have abandoned. That doesn't happen often!

Bring Me Back is the story of Finn, a man whose girlfriend disappeared at a rest stop in France 12 years before the book begins. Layla was in the car when he left; when he returned she was gone and so were two of the other vehicles that were parked when they arrived at the rest stop. Was she kidnapped or did she run away? No sign of her has been found.

Now engaged to her sister, Ellen, Finn is disturbed when a former police officer who became his friend phones to say that the elderly man who lives next door to the old cottage Finn and Layla shared, which has been locked up since a short time after her disappearance, has spotted Layla. Then, small Matryoshka dolls start showing up in places that Finn and Ellen will easily find them. Finn and Ellen both know the meaning of the dolls. Finally, Finn begins to receive emails asking about his cottage in Devon and then clues about Layla after Finn realizes the emails are too much of a coincidence and questions the sender. What's going on? Is Layla alive? If so, why doesn't she just show up instead of dropping hints? Is it her kidnapper toying with Finn? Or, could the emails be the job of an ex-girlfriend of Finn's, now that he's engaged to Ellen?

Not recommended - I gave this book 3 stars and I'm rethinking that rating. Midway through the book, I considered abandoning it. It had become repetitive -- another doll found, another email, the sender is off his or her rocker. Finn theorizes, Finn walks back his theories after eliminating people from the suspect list, another doll is found, and another and another and another. I found it less compelling than exhausting. And, the ending was simply impossible to buy.

Would I read this author again? Oddly, yes, but only if the book comes highly recommended. I was quickly immersed in the story, even if I later decided it wasn't going anywhere and the ending was implausible. I've heard B. A. Paris's first book was excellent. If I do ever read it, I'll check it out from the library. I would definitely give her a second chance. But, I just don't feel like Bring Me Back was worth the time I spent on it.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman (purchased)

Only one arrival, this week. I'm on a strict budget (thanks to needing to replace our deck) and also not requesting many books, right now, so there may very well be a dearth of arrivals in the near future. If so, this is a good thing. I'm completely surrounded by books. I trip over them, my cats knock them off tables. It's ridiculous. I really need to not acquire (like that's going to happen). OK, I need to try hard not to acquire. Anyway, I gave in to temptation after Sara Ackerman made a guest visit to a Facebook book group I'm in. I was intrigued by what she had to say about her book, its setting, and her inspiration. Plus, it's WWII and you know my weakness for anything set during WWII, right?

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Who Was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti
  • Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris
  • Who Was Genghis Khan? by Nico Medina

Currently reading:

  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Both books are rereads. I'm rereading Born a Crime for F2F discussion. The Space Between Us I'm rereading to jog my memory because it's been 12 years since I read it (pre-blog); I decided I needed to reread it before moving on to the new follow-up book. My copy of The Space Between Us is one of the few ARCs from the HarperCollins First Look program that I hung onto because I loved it too much to part with it. 

New "Current Reads" policy: I will only mention the books I've read during the past week. If I've got a bookmark in other books but didn't touch them, I'll just skip mentioning them till I've actually read a few pages. It doesn't bother me a bit that some books sit idle for weeks and end up taking me a month or more to read because I set them aside for lengthy periods of time, but I do get weary of mentioning them when I haven't read a single page during the previous week. 

Last week's posts:

In other news:

We finished Foyle's War! I'm sad to be done with it, but we've found a couple other things to watch. Besides Our Girl, we started from the beginning of Doc Martin. The original two movies that inspired the series caught us a little off-guard as we had no idea there were any such movies and at first thought we were watching a pilot episode.

We watched both movies and will probably alternate between Our Girl and the Doc Martin series. Next up should be the pilot to the series, which I can't recall seeing, although Huzzybuns is certain that he's viewed it and I probably have, too. We've seen about 4 seasons of Doc Martin but not necessarily all in order because it used to be shown at an awkward hour -- something like 9PM on a Friday night.

And, this week I joined The Open Canon Book Club (click on the name to go to the site describing it), a new book club created by author Wiley Cash for the purpose of reading diverse American voices. The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson is the first selection. A number of North Carolina bookshops (and one in South Carolina) are offering a discount on the selections to members of the group -- you can find out all about it by clicking the link.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Who Was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti and Who Was Genghis Khan? by Nico Medina

First an explanation of this tour: The WhoHQ Blog Tour is a review of the books in a children's biography series, now with a companion show called The Who Was? Show on Netflix. I'll describe the books, first, and then the episodes I viewed and how they portrayed the content of the books.

I've always thought of George Washington Carver as "The peanut butter guy," because he's often falsely described as the inventor of peanut butter. Who Was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti will open your eyes to the real story of George Washington Carver, and it's a doozy. Born a slave, taken in by his owners and educated, taught to care for plants and animals and do chores like laundry and sewing, even as a child he was known as a bit of a miracle worker with plants.

He had a burning desire to learn, a sharp mind, and a willingness to work hard to get the education he desired. A scientist, inventor, business owner, and educator, George Washington Carver was an amazing man who dedicated his inventions, his writings, and business ventures to improving the lives of people.

All this and more is in Who Was George Washington Carver? At 105 pages, the book is slim but Gigliotti packed a lot of information between its covers and with a stunning clarity. I was impressed by how much I learned from this little book. Gigliotti gives you a thorough overview of Carver's life and the illustrations add an extra dimension, with images of the places he lived and worked, maps, inventions, and people who were important to him.

Who Was Genghis Khan? by Nico Medina had the same effect on me that Who Was George Washington Carver? had - mind boggled at how much I learned in such a short time. I think I'd just thought of him as some legendary conqueror who went around slaughtering people for the spoils, and that was that. Instead, I learned that by invading other Mongolian tribes on the Steppe, he not only united a people but created a decent society out of one that was formerly a bunch of tribes who invaded each other whenever they needed something.

He introduced wealth sharing and a delay in hunting so that animals had time to grow, allowed freedom of religion, created a written language and a postal service . . . all sorts of things that we might consider modern or progressive were introduced by Genghis Khan.Who Was Genghis Khan? is a single page longer than the bio of George Washington Carver, so they really cram a lot of information between their covers. I didn't know, for example, that Genghis Khan never allowed anyone to paint his portrait or represent him in any other way. So, we have no idea what he looked like; we can only guess based on how other Mongolians looked.

Both highly recommended - I received both of these books for review and I only wish they'd sent me the entire series. The Who Was? series is a great way to introduce children to a variety of important historical characters.

Netflix has a show that serves as a companion to the Who Was? book series called The Who Was? Show and I watched the episode that describes George Washington Carver and Genghis Khan. I admit, I was a little stunned to find it so goofy. I wasn't entirely sure I found it all that educational, either. So, I watched another episode (Pablo Picasso and the Wright Brothers). This time, my husband sat down and watched with me. It was a lot more palatable the second time. Young actors dress up as the characters. They dance, they sing, they tell jokes, and they act out scenes from the lives of the famous characters. Sometimes, they'll show a brief cartoon or have a cartoon character interact with the humans. Point being, I was looking at it all wrong, at first. I was watching from the perspective of an adult who had read the books and was expecting all that information to be crammed into an episode. But, it's geared to kids, of course, and once you know what to expect, it's great.

Watching an episode that was about characters whose biographies I had not read really gave me a good perspective of how much information they managed to impart. Husband also reminded me that our kids watched something similar when they were young: Beekman's World, a science show that was goofy but informative. I didn't remember the fact that it had a huge rat character; I do recall the kids loved it, though, and that's what counts.

Bottom line - I recommend the series, but I'd suggest watching an episode before you read the book, if you plan to do both. Either way, they're both informative. But, the books go into a great deal more detail, of course.

Fiona Friday was moved to Thursday, this week, due to today's book tour: Fiona Fursday

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fiona Fursday

Fiona Friday has been moved to today because I have a book tour, tomorrow. Here she is, in a lovable mood, getting neck rubbings.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.