Friday, July 19, 2019

Fiona Friday - My heart

Please forgive the dirt. I'm using this tablecloth as a dropcloth for painting.


©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mini reviews - Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami and The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Both of these are books from my personal shelves. As I was writing these two reviews (and planning a third), I realized they were ending up much longer-winded than I expected so I deleted a third cover image and I'll review that final book separately.

If not kept in check, nighttime thoughts are prone to amplification. 

~ p. 131

Confession: The cover seduced me, although a vaguely positive review added to the temptation to buy this book. There isn't anyone flying in Strange Weather in Tokyo, and it's not a book about magical realism. It's just a cool cover.

Strange Weather in Tokyo is about a young woman named Tsukiko who happens across her former teacher when they're both drinking in a bar. He is older, a widower, and recognizes her from his Japanese class, many years ago. She calls him "Sensei" (teacher) rather than his name, throughout the book. They keep bumping into each other at the bar and eventually Sensei invites Tsukiko to his home, where they continue drinking and he shows off his quirky collections of train teapots and used batteries. Occasionally, they go places together but then there will be a vague falling-out or they won't see each other for a few months. And, yet, she's always thinking about Sensei and wonders if he's thinking of her.

I like this part of the cover description: "Their relationship develops from a perfunctory acknowledgment of each other to a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love."

Admittedly, it takes a very long time for the "love" part to arrive. It's clear that there's an attraction between the two, and yet Sensei occasionally chides Tsukiko and treats her like she's still his student. Meanwhile, she sometimes drifts away, almost chained by her loneliness, as if she doesn't feel it's possible to break free from it long enough to encourage affection. It's a slow, thoughtful book but I wasn't sure why I found Strange Weather in Tokyo compelling, when I thought back on it. Very little happens, and yet I liked every little moment in which you caught another spark between them. In flipping through the book, I found myself rereading passages beyond the quotes I'd marked. The ending is moving and lovely. If I were to Marie Kondo the room I'm sitting in, I would definitely say Strange Weather in Tokyo sparks joy when I hold it in my hands. I think I'll be looking for more by this author.

Recommended but not a favorite - A quiet book about a couple who are a study in contrasts and yet somehow find themselves drawn to each other and filling a hole in each other's lives. Lovely writing. An oddly simple yet magnetic story.

In The Confusion of Languages, Cassie Hugo is a military wife who has lived in Jordan for a while. She's a rule follower, a little paranoid and stiff, determined not to offend the Jordanians while she lives amongst them. Margaret Brickshaw is the opposite. When Cassie is tasked with welcoming Margaret and her husband, she at first sees Margaret as a wisp of a woman, tiny and timid. But, Margaret is American to the core and unwilling to bend to the rules. Instead of covering her skin, she wears what she wants. She smiles and chats up the embassy guards and her help around the apartment, looking them boldly in the eye, even when told such behavior is dangerous.

As the book opens, Margaret has been involved in a traffic accident while driving with Cassie in the car. It's no big deal to Cassie. Americans are always found at fault; she just needs to follow the embassy guards and pay the fine. But, instead, Margaret insists on going home and asks Cassie to watch her toddler while she returns alone. When hours pass and Margaret doesn't return home or answer her phone, Cassie becomes anxious. Looking through Margaret's possessions for clues, she finds a diary and begins to read about the past few months.

The Confusion of Languages is told entirely in past tense, jumping back and forth from diary entries to the time ticking away while Cassie awaits Margaret's return.

What does the ominous final entry in Margaret's diary mean? Why is Margaret not returning Cassie's calls? Did she really go to the police station to pay her fine or somewhere else? As Cassie reads Margaret's diary, she will find out what was really in Margaret's heart and mind and the secrets she kept during the months of their friendship.

Recommended - The Confusion of Languages is fascinating for its peek into life as a military wife living in the Middle East, a subject the author knows well as she has lived in Jordan and Abu Dhabi. I learned, for example, that when you live in embassy housing you have a panic room and strict instructions how to stock it and that the embassy of a foreign nation in which an American lives keeps the military residents up-to-date on happenings that may endanger their safety (protests nearby, political upheaval). I knew none of that. The story itself is a melancholy one. As Margaret's story slowly unfolds, there's always that lingering question about where she's gone and why. But, the underlying theme seems to be that there is a time and a place to conform. "When in Rome" and all that. The book also addresses infertility and fertility and the tensions both can cause in a marriage as one of the women has no children and wants them; the other was hastily married after becoming pregnant.

If I'd read these two books one after the other I would have been dying for a thriller, afterwards. Read them when you're in the mood for a slower, more character-driven novel.


©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mini reviews - If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O'Brien, Extreme Ownership by Willink and Babin, and Cat Poems by a variety of poets

Hard to believe, but I'm caught up on reviewing books I've read that were sent by publishers, so I have a couple days to write about the books I've read from my own shelves or borrowed. Then, hopefully I will have finished another ARC by the time I'm done catching up on personal reads.

After I read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, I put a number of his books on my wish list at Paperback Swap and managed to acquire 2 or 3 of them before relinquishing my membership. If I Die In a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home was one of them. I acquired every title I could get my mitts on without bothering to even read what they were about; that's how impressed I was with The Things They Carried.

If I Die in a Combat Zone is O'Brien's memoir. I didn't realize that till I opened the book and started reading. I read it specifically for Memorial Day. It was my little way to keep those who died for our country in my head and heart over the holiday weekend.

O'Brien tells about his life and his plans prior to being drafted, how he waffled about whether to show up for duty or run to another country and made actual plans to escape but then decided to report, his experiences with training and throughout his year in Vietnam, how he managed to go from dangerous jungle duty to a clerical job toward the end of his deployment, and his return home.

I had mixed feelings about If I Die in a Combat Zone. It's every bit as beautifully written as The Things They Carried, but the feeling I got from it was deeply sad and painfully honest. He was witness to some horrible atrocities, watched people die because of stupid decisions by his superiors with inflated egos, and lived with the knowledge that at any minute he could be amongst the maimed or dead. The only real light in the proverbial tunnel of O'Brien's war seemed to be the friendship he had with another man who was well-educated in literature. But, even then, the two of them occasionally got in trouble for having the nerve to sit around talking about poetry. It was a dark experience, overall, and it's hard to read. When he got that clerical job and then climbed on the plane and returned to Minnesota, I felt utterly relieved to have his combat days in the past. I love O'Brien's writing, though, and I still gave it 4 stars. Recommended but will rip out a piece of your heart.
Contains graphic violence.

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is a business book but because it's written by two Navy SEALs, it can be surprisingly gripping as they relate tales of their experiences in training and on deployment in Iraq. My husband has read Extreme Ownership at least twice and wanted me to read it but I'm not exactly sure why. I opened it up when he handed it to me and was surprised at the intensity. It begins with a story of a SEAL mission in which a potential terrorist ran from the building they'd surrounded. Willink pursued him and then realized, when he captured the man, that he had chased the man down without informing anyone where he was going. He had to make a critical decision about how to handle the prisoner and return without getting them both killed. He then applied that decision-making process to a particular business problem. It was fascinating and I was hooked.

The theme of the book, "extreme ownership" is about taking responsibility when things go wrong, the idea being that solid leadership and well-coordinated teamwork are the best ways to solve problems in business, but it's important for leaders to take responsibility when something goes wrong in order to lead well. "There are no bad teams, just bad leaders," is one of the quotes I highlighted after reading what I considered one of the most fascinating illustrations of leadership in the book. I don't recall which author told this story, but one of the men described a particular part of SEAL training in which the soldiers were divided into teams. Each team carried a heavy boat and raced it. He described how one team was consistently winning and another repeatedly came in last or next to last. The leader of the losing team thought he'd just ended up with a bad bunch of teammates. But, then the leaders were told to switch boats and the team that had been coming in last won. The team that had previously won still did well. I would have loved to see an actual film of the leaders of those teams in action.

Highly recommended - I've tried to apply the leadership principles to marriage by explaining to my husband how it benefits him to listen to my housekeeping leadership. Unfortunately, it's not working. I hope the principles do better for him at work than they have for me at home. I'd like to know what Jocko and Leif have to say about stubborn men who just don't get why socks need to be placed in the laundry right-side-out.


Cat Poems does not list an editor but it's an anthology of poems about cats, obviously. I got a copy of Cat Poems for Mother's Day from Kiddo and his fiancée.

The problem with an anthology about a particular chosen subject is that editors don't always go into the selection with the people who appreciate that subject in mind. I read a book of poems for and about children, a few years ago, in which some of them were actually quite dark — about the loss of a child or the horror of abuse, for example. They covered all the bases but it wasn't always pleasant. The same is true of Cat Poems. Some of them are funny or sweet, about the things a cat lover adores. Others are frankly awful, either because they're negative about cats, cruel, or sad.

My favorite was a poem by Muriel Spark, "Bluebell Among the Sables." The poem is about a visit from a friend wearing expensive sables. Muriel was bored by her social obligation to entertain the friend. Then, Bluebell began to attack the tails of the sables on the woman's coat and it diverted her. It's a cute story but short enough to relate through poetry. It was those poems in which the cat is recognized and appreciated that I obviously liked best, being a cat lover.  No surprise there. I'm iffy about recommending Cat Poems because I found some of the poetry downright upsetting, but I will definitely reread my favorites.

©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

The Unspeakable Mind by Shaili Jain, M.D.


UPDATED: I pre-posted my review of The Unspeakable Mind last night and when I reread my review, this morning, I didn't like it. So, I've updated my review to try to clarify a couple things I think I muddled in the original description. 


PTSD rates skyrocket in children who endure traumatic events that ravage their communities. How parents respond to the trauma and how close (geographically) the child is to the epicenter play a crucial role in determining outcome. Parents and caregivers who are able to be emotionally supportive and are not traumatized themselves exert a protective effect that reduces the odds that a child will develop PTSD. 

~fr. p. 114 of The Unspeakable Mind, Advance Reader Copy (some changes may have been made to the final print version)


When a woman has a traumatic birth, there was something subjective about the birth that was distressing. This does not have to be life-threatening or medically traumatic. We are thinking of the psychological impact of that birth experience on the mother. 

Birth Trauma definitions include "a negative and disempowering physiological and emotional response to a birth." Common themes include feeling unheard or not listened to, a lack of compassion from medical professionals, and feeling out of control or helpless. 

~fr. p. 168 of The Unspeakable Mind, ARC


I'm going to mention the things that bothered me about The Unspeakable Mind, up front, and then work my way into why I highly recommend the book, anyway. First, something I've mentioned in previous posts is that I often have difficulty with psychology books because they don't give you the full story. They'll describe a case but not tell you how it concluded. Did the patient improve? How is his illness being managed? Is it likely he'll relapse? Often, you'll only hear about what led up to the psychologist's involvement and some of the treatment without any form of resolution, whatsoever. In The Unspeakable Mind, there was an additional problem: one particular treatment method was referenced repeatedly but never fully described. There's a glossary, but even in the glossary it made little sense, at least to me. But, in general, the writing was clear enough that a few minor issues weren't enough to lessen its readability overall, nor its importance.

It wasn't till I'd set aside the book in frustration and given it time to sit before I was ready to deal with what I saw as its challenges. Then, after finishing The Unspeakable Mind I found out it's not even actual cases that are being described but composites — a made-up patient is described with a particular inciting incident that brought them in for treatment. For example, a former soldier who was traumatized during his deployment found that drinking helped him cope with social situations, which made him particularly uncomfortable. He showed up already drunk to a family barbecue and the smoke from grilling meat triggered his PTSD, making him think he was under attack. Without realizing what was happening, he flew into self-defense mode and started attacking his own family. The author describes these events as if they really happened and then what would have happened to him after he sat down with her. But, he's a composite of several patients, not a real person, and you don't ever find out whether he recovered because . . . well, you can't, since he's not real, although occasionally there may be a satisfactory conclusion to one of the stories. It's still false, but at least it gives you the sense of completion.

It wasn't till after I finished The Unspeakable Mind and had some time to let it roll around in my head that I really understood the need for the conceptual nature of the illustrations: to protect individuals — clearly, it's hard enough to keep anything private in today's electronic world. It's not necessary to describe actual cases in order to explain the concepts: how or why certain events can be traumatic, how people may react (burying the memory, having nightmares, becoming violent or depressed) and what the treatment options are, whether or not they've been shown to work, what new treatments are being tried, etc. In other words, The Unspeakable Mind gives you a well-rounded overview of trauma and its treatment. You really don't need to know about any actual individual's experience; it's only necessary to illustrate how trauma could have occurred and treatment may been handled. I'd prefer that the author mentioned that up front, though. I put the book down because of frustration with the lack of conclusions, not because of the writing, which is solid. Understanding the reason they might not have a conclusion might have helped a bit.

At the beginning of the book, PTSD is described as a trauma brought about by an experience that threatens either one's life or the life of one they care for. If you see your daughter being held at gunpoint, in other words, you're just as likely to get PTSD as the daughter with the gun pressed to her side. But, later on in the book, other traumas like the Birth Trauma that's mentioned above are described. So, you don't always have to have a near-death experience to be traumatized and, in fact, even unborn children can be damaged by the trauma experienced by a pregnant mother.

The contents include a description of how and why the author decided to study and treat traumatic stress, the history of how trauma has been described and treated, mistakes in diagnosis ("overdiagnosis and underrecognition"), what happens to a traumatized brain, how trauma can be passed on through generations, the meaning of dissociation, physical effects of PTSD (addiction, cardiac disease), danger to those around the traumatized, types of trauma experienced specifically by women, suicide prevention, treatments, and preventing trauma itself (by immediately treating those who have been through known traumatic incidents), and more.

Highly recommended - I learned a great deal from The Unspeakable Mind. Throughout the book, the author shares the story of her father's trauma, which occurred during the Partition of India in 1947. I particularly enjoyed that personal touch. I also appreciated the writing for the broad overview of different ways in which people can be traumatized, how they've been treated in the past and what new treatments are being used, what exactly is considered traumatic enough to fall under the category of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and what helps or hinders treatment that may actually lead to a cure.

The bottom line seemed to be that the most important factors in prevention and recovery are acceptance that a person has been traumatized (by friends, parents, and police in the case of rape, for example) and a good social support network to help them through the aftermath. I lead kind of a sheltered life but still know several people who could have been featured within the pages of this book, so that speaks to me of how easily one can be traumatized and the fact that all of us are probably related to or friends with at least one person who has PTSD. For that reason, I recommend it to everyone because it may help readers learn the importance of being in someone's support network.

A side note: I deliberately included the first excerpt because it describes the danger of separating children from their parents and then mistreating them. Not only does the separation enable the development of PTSD by removing the supportive network that anyone needs in a traumatic situation, the book also describes the physical damage done to a child's brain when traumatized. This seems an important and timely subject in America.

I received a copy of The Unspeakable Mind from HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks!

©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Monday Malarkey



Recent arrivals:


  • Swim That Rock by John Rocco and Jay Primiano - purchased


Yep, that's the only arrival. And, it was one of those, "Oh, I'm here anyway (at the evil online megastore, sorry), I might as well just toss this in the cart," things. I read an Instagram review that described Swim That Rock as a marvelous adventure. I love adventure! Action! Excitement! Should have bought it when it was discounted, though. Do you realize that if you put something in your cart at Amazon and don't immediately buy it, the price will go up? And, then if you take it out of the cart but save it for later, the price still won't go down? However, if you leave it for months, there's a possibility the price will drop. It's not likely, but sometimes it happens. Usually, when the price goes up on something after I return, I abandon it forever because jacking the price up ticks me off. Amazon might want to rethink that practice.


Books finished since last Malarkey:


  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
  • The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris


All three books were solid reads. I started typing this up on Friday because we were expecting Tropical Storm (then Hurricane, Tropical Storm again, and finally Tropical Depression) Barry to menace us, over the weekend, but it turned out that it was just rainy, not stormy, so I'm back to work on it on Sunday. Saturday was brilliant. If you're in just the outer bands of a hurricane or tropical storm, often what you'll get is light rain and cool temperatures. And, that's exactly what happened. The temperature dropped 25° — from 101° to 76° — in two days. We were excited to have an unexpected opportunity to sit outside. Today, though (Sunday), the rain has been heavy and occasionally blown in sideways so that the covered patio is too wet to enjoy, although we tried once and were driven in by a gust that got us good and wet. Ah, well. The cats and I have been happily reading indoors.


Currently reading:


  • Nothing. 


I'm in between books. But, I plan to read a little of The Mueller Report, today, and then I'll decide on a fiction title to start, next. I thought I had a book tour, this week, but the publicist never contacted me and a book did not arrive, so my week is clear of any specific reading obligations. I'm happy about that, hoping that will give me the opportunity to focus on finishing The Mueller Report. I'd like my next fiction read to be one that can tolerate being a side read till I'm done with Mueller. At this moment, I'm waffling between starting Searching for Sylvie Lee or Rosie Colored Glasses. Or, maybe Never Have I Ever. We'll see what grabs me.


Posts since last Malarkey:




In other news:

Since we've finished the last available season of The Heart Guy aka Doctor Doctor, we're back to watching Season 3 of The Royal. And, I've begun to watch Tutankhamun, which I primarily began watching because Sam Neill is in the cast. He plays Lord Carnarvon, the man who financed Howard Carter's search for Tut's tomb. I would describe Tutankhamun as "bland, but watchable," and I confess I just like seeing events that I've read about brought to life, so I'm willing to put up with a little bit of "Yeah, sure." Plus, Sam Neill. He isn't always in the picture but I like him.

I also still occasionally watch an episode from Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 1. I'll be watching the original series, off and on, for a long time. I've maybe managed to watch 11 or 12 episodes out of the full 79, so far.

We passed the danger zone for Fiona kitty and she is back to her energetic self. It took her a couple of days to get her energy back. And, it took about 2 1/2 days before Isabel stopped hissing at her, 3 days before Izzy began to tentatively approach Fi and give her a sniff and a little head bump, 4 days before Isabel was begging Fi for a cuddle and Fiona started brushing her away. To Fi's credit, when Isabel was hissing at her she remained totally passive and once even rolled over on the rug where she was sleeping, turning her back on Izzy. That was kind of a funny moment. Isabel just stood there looking at her like, "Wait, what? I'm hissing at you! Aren't you going to react?" Cats are like comedians wrapped in fur. So entertaining.

©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Fiona Friday

This picture cracks me up. Izzy followed me into the room and then immediately wanted back out, the second I closed the door. She stuck her paws under the door to try to dig her way out but then she rolled over onto her back and kept it up. I have a whole series of pictures but this one, when she stopped to look away from the gap under the door for a second, is my favorite. Funny girl.


©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman



"That was luck. I've seen you play a hundred times, and that was the first time I've seen you beaten." He paused. "Well, apart from the semifinal last year."

"Oh, you saw that?"

He blushed deeper. "Yeah. We got knocked out in the semis, too. By the Spanish In-quiz-ition." He grinned. "Nobody expected it."

~p. 142


In The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman, many readers will find a kindred spirit. Nina is the only child of a single, traveling photographer. Mostly raised by a nanny, she's introverted, organized, a lover of books and trivia, and a bookstore clerk who takes great joy in the many bookish activities that she hosts. She's on a trivia team, in a book group, and happy with her quiet life alone.

Then, Nina's well-organized life becomes crowded with new people when she falls for one of the members of an opposing trivia team and finds out she has a large, extended family by way of a lawyer who informs her that her father has passed away. Can Nina fit all the new people into her carefully ordered life? And, what will happen to her when the landlord of the bookstore in which she works decides that he's got no choice but to find a new tenant?

Highly recommended - Ohmygoodnessgracious, I loved this book. Nina is the kind of people a bookish person can't help but love to read about. She reads avidly, loves storing up facts, has a cat, makes frequent references to books, characters, and movies, and has serious anxiety issues. Mostly with people. People are really scary. The only complaint I have about the book is that just about everyone Nina interacts with is equally witty. She may not think she's a people person but she has quite a rapport with just about everyone. But, at the same time, that makes the book a light-hearted, smart, amusing, and engaging read. I adored the witty banter. It made me happy. Totally a five-star read.

I received a copy of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill from Berkley Books in exchange for an unbiased review and it's going on that favorites list I mentioned yesterday. Wow, two 5-star books read in less than two weeks! How often does that happen? I'm going to want to press this one into the hands of a lot of people.


©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper


Andrew rubbed his eyes and yawned. "All I want is to live in a converted train station on top of a mountain with sea views and Wif-Fi and easy access to central London, is that so much to ask?"

"Have another cookie," Peggy said, patting him on the top of the head. 

~ from p. 314 of How Not to Die Alone


Andrew's job is a strange one. He's tasked with finding relatives or friends of those who die alone in London. He digs through their possessions, searching for clues to where he might find someone who knew the deceased and any financial accounts the deceased may own. Barring the discovery of both, the public health will pay for what amounts to a pauper's funeral, of sorts, which Andrew feels obligated to attend so that nobody is buried without at least one person present.

But, Andrew has a tricky problem. When he applied for the job, he wasn't actually listening to his future boss when he was asked a particular question. Andrew played along, giving a couple of vague answers before realizing he'd just claimed he had a wife and two children. Andrew lives alone. He has a sister but no other relatives and is probably destined to die alone, just like the people whose funerals he attends. Instead of confessing to his mistake, Andrew has drawn up an elaborate spreadsheet to help him keep all his lies straight. And, 6 years have passed since he was hired. It's really too late to tell the truth, isn't it?

Then, things grow even worse. The boss, in his eternal quest to stir up camaraderie amongst the employees, has decided that all the employees should take turns hosting a dinner at their homes, so that everyone can get to know each other better and meet each other's families. Andrew, of course, has no family. He has a pretend wife who makes loads of money and two fake children, but in reality he lives in a flat that he hasn't kept up well and he's got a train running through his home. He spends his off time hanging out in a chat room with a few other people who are even more obsessive than he is about trains.

When a new employee named Peggy shows up, Andrew's world is lightened by her presence. She's a cheery and delightful companion when digging for clues in the homes of the deceased and not afraid to sneak a coffee or a little personal time in the middle of office hours. Suddenly, Andrew feels like he's living, again. But, Peggy is married and Andrew has a fake wife and a looming date to serve dinner to his fellow employees. Will Andrew be able to confess to the complicated web of lies he's created? When he realizes his job is on the line, is there any way at all out of the disastrous corner he's painted himself into?

Highly recommended - OK, the bad up front. There are some descriptions of yucky smells and sights in the homes of the deceased. Some may find that off-putting. To be honest, it didn't bother me at all, but as I was reading I was aware that it might be a problem to some readers. It's really just setting, though. The characters, the dialogue, and the story are funny and charming and awful (some of the characters are the kind you love to hate) and How Not to Die Alone is going on my favorites list for 2019. Andrew is clearly a wounded soul but why? What happened to make him retreat from the world, in general? What will Andrew do about his lies and his growing affection for Peggy? There are so many questions that kept the pages turning. And, I absolutely loved how they were resolved. I haven't given it all away, I promise. How Not to Die Alone is a delightful story of grief, loneliness, and the healing power of friendship. Very British in setting and humor although I noticed the Americanization of some words and spellings in this printing.

I told my physical therapist about the book and he said, "Ooooh. That needs to be a movie." I agree. I think it would be easily adaptable to the screen. Peggy and Andrew visit a bookstore, at one point, and I looked it up. It's real and it sounds marvelous. I've added that bookstore to my wish list of places to go. Book lovers will appreciate the bookstore scenes for the setting alone.

I received a copy of How Not to Die Alone from G. P. Putnam's Sons (unsolicited, I think, but it might have been requested via Shelf Awareness; either way, I was excited to get it). Many thanks!

©2019 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 bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.