Friday, April 29, 2011

Fiona Friday - Lovin' Daddy's Shoes

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

True Courage by Steve Farrar (thoughts; not a full review)

True Courage: Emboldened by God in a Disheartening World
By Steve Farrar
Copyright 2011
David C. Cook
234 pages, incl. bibliography

I have mixed feelings about True Courage. I'm currently on page 151, so I haven't finished the book but I feel like I've read enough to talk about it. Some of the reading has already been a struggle and I'm considering just setting it aside. I almost didn't bother reading past the introduction, which I found extraordinarily negative. The comment that stopped me in my tracks:

Things will not get better and better.
They will get worse and worse.
And then the Lord Jesus will return and set it all straight forever.

--from the introduction to True Courage

I believe Jesus will return, but I don't hold a lot of stock with people who believe they can say for certain that we are living in the "end times". A lot of civilizations have fallen, world wars and ecological disasters have devastated the planet, and yet humanity has still soldiered on. We are definitely living in a time period that is turbulent. Does that mean it's the beginning of the end? Only God can say, in my humble opinion.

However, I decided that 21 pages of introduction was simply not enough to stop reading the book. I needed to give it a better chance. So, after a few days of pondering, I picked True Courage up, again. It never did make it into my sidebar and even if I finish I don't think I'll say anything more. I've read enough to know about the author's style and what he has to say to form my own reaction. You can read the first chapter of True Courage, here, to get an idea of Farrar's writing style and theme.

What I like about True Courage:

The author is good at telling stories about his own challenges, how prayer has often led to surprising results that some may even refer to as "miracles" and how he learned from them. He also shares plenty of stories about other people. I particularly liked reading about a time when Winston Churchill was so desperate to talk to evangelist Billy Graham about hope that he made the Duke of Windsor (the former King of England) wait while he spoke to Graham. In at least two cases, stories quoted from other books have been so interesting that I marked books in the bibliography for future reference. A good portion of the book refers to Daniel and his life in Babylon. I absolutely love the book of Daniel, so I've enjoyed those references.

True Courage is also fairly light reading. Steve Farrar apparently ministers mostly to men in the same way Beth Moore has a women's ministry, but you don't have to be male to enjoy his writing.

What I dislike about True Courage:

Too many catch phrases have gotten on my nerves. This is the main reason I've found the book frustrating. I have a tendency to set repetitive books aside and this author has repeated the words "acts and facts" and "flummoxed and flabbergasted" so many times I've begun to grind my teeth when I see them. Okay, not literally, but the repetition is annoying and the most common reason I tend to ditch instructional non-fiction books is heavy repetition.


Having said what I like and dislike about True Courage, I've just talked myself into finishing the book. I neglected to say what it's about, although the title pretty much speaks for itself. In general, I'd say it's less about courage than faith. Daniel's faith was so strong as to be courageous, though, and Daniel's story provides the framework for the book.

The bottom line:

I would not tell anyone to avoid True Courage. While I don't agree with everything the author has to say (occasionally, in fact, there will be a statement that actually makes me a little angry) and it seems as if the author is spending a lot of time saying the same thing over and over, again, it has some solid scriptural grounding. Be forewarned that the book is very repetitive and the author does not specifically say so, but he is apparently of the camp that believes we're living in the final years of the last stage of civilization before Jesus returns.

A side note:

Given the earthquakes, tsunami, volcano, massive destruction from tornadoes and historic flooding in progress on the Mississippi River (the worst is, at this point, nowhere near us but flooding has already begun in Vicksburg) . . . well, who knows? Combine that with political upheaval and economic disaster and you do have quite a volatile mix.

In other news:

This has been quite a week in the South. I am grateful that in our area there were only downed trees and power outages -- no hits from tornadoes. My heart goes out to all of the people affected by the massive storms that spawned devastating, killer tornadoes.

Personally speaking:

We've had a sick kitty and a between various appointments, errands and little sleep from the noisy storms, it's been a pretty tiring week. Miss Fiona had half of her shots on Monday. They always hit her hard, so it's not unexpected that she's been hiding and eating very little. It's still distressing, though, to see her so sluggish. On the plus side, she's been very cuddly. During yesterday's early round of noisy storms, Fi was completely freaked out. Her response was to knock things off the bedside table. After she'd climbed across me to knock things down, several times, I picked her up and plunked her on my tummy. She immediately sank down and relaxed as I rubbed her ears and neck. Since she's not a lap cat, that was a real thrill for me.

Tomorrow's Fiona Friday pic will be from last week. I haven't taken a single picture of either cat. When she hasn't been hiding and we haven't been cast into darkness by storms, I've been out of the house. Hopefully, I'll be able to squeeze in a review or two before my Fiona Friday post.

What I'm reading:

Having unplugged for a couple of days because of the weather (I checked messages from my iPad, Petunia), I have also not updated my sidebar. In addition to The Lightkeeper's Ball, which I actually set aside for a few days, and True Courage, I've just read the intro to Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems, ed. by Harold Bloom.

This is not as ominous as it sounds -- not death-bed poetry but sometimes simply a poem that marked the final effort of a poet before he abandoned poetry or poems which, "were intended to mark the end, though the poet survived a while longer and continued to work." The editor says, ". . . knowledge, not pathos, is my purpose in gathering this anthology," and, "everything in this volume is here because of its artistic excellence." Regardless, I'm looking forward to digging in and hope to find a poem to share by Saturday.

I'm also reading the mental_floss Genius Instruction Manual for pure fun. The cover says, "Disguise Yourself as a Genius!" I don't think I'm going to be able to do that after reading the book, but maybe if I reread it a few times I'll be able to fake genius. Probably not. I live with a guy who has 3 degrees and occasionally have had to hang out in a room full of professors. I find it's best for me to just shut up, smile and nod a lot. At any rate, the mental_floss Genius Instruction Manual is good for plenty of laughs.

It's about time for a kitty fix:

Here's a picture of Isabel that makes me smile . . .

Last bit of silliness:

A thought from the husband, whose plane was diverted, yesterday, due to 30+ knot winds that caused a forced landing in August, Georgia and who is carefully watching the flood news through his workplace: "Maybe they were right about 2012 and we should lay odds the world will end." My response, "Yeah, but who exactly would be around to collect on that?"

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In Grandma's Attic and More Stories from Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson

In Grandma's Attic and More Stories from Grandma's Attic
by Arleta Richardson
Copyrights 1974 and 1979
David C. Cook
Ages 9-12
Both 144 pages in length

I requested In Grandma's Attic (not realizing--because I skimmed the information sent to me--that I was getting two books) for a FirstWild review on a bit of a whim. I love children's books for all ages; they tend to be pleasant, relaxing reads or adventurous, magical, whimsical. In Grandma's Attic and More Stories from Grandma's Attic consist of very clean, short, relaxing and humorous tales. Each story begins with an introduction that leads into "Grandma" telling about something that happened during her childhood.

If you read the free chapter from In Grandma's Attic , you'll see what I mean -- and I highly recommend that you do. Arleta Richardson grew up with her grandmother and Grandma was a storyteller, so the stories are fictionalized versions of the tales her grandma told. Since the books were copyrighted in the Seventies and Richardson is now deceased, her grandmother's childhood on a farm in Michigan happened quite some time ago. To be honest, they read a bit like short episodes of Little House on the Prairie -- very homey, with lots of praying and talking about what God would want a troublesome child to do. There's always a moral lesson.

As I was reading these two books, I found myself smiling a lot, laughing occasionally and wishing I lived in a simpler time. My mother read to me from a book called Little Visits with God, when I was young -- one story, each night, unless she was feeling particularly generous. I think the Grandma's Attic books lend themselves well to nightly reading with a prayer (although there are no prayers written in the book, unlike Little Visits with God). Although the age range is stated as 9-12, I'm sure they'd work for reading to a younger child -- as young as 4-6, depending on how long they're able to sit still and listen -- if you don't have a child ready for middle readers. Both books are the same in style and length.

The bottom line:

Highly recommended. I love the cozy atmosphere, crazy antics and moral lessons in the Grandma's Attic books, but I'm particularly fond of the farm setting reminiscent of Laura Ingalls-Wilder's Little House on the Prairie and "Grandma" Mabel's loving family. Sweet, clean fun for many ages.

A note on my copy of More Stories from Grandma's Attic (Book Two):

There is a major printing error in my copy of the second book, so if you buy Book Two, check Chapter 15. Pages 128 and 130 are switched. The wrong text was printed, although the page numbers are not out of order -- meaning, they simply printed the text from page 130 on page 128. You can flip ahead to 130 and then back to 128 to read the entire story, if you're willing, but for an older child who reads on his or her own, that error may be confusing.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Best American Poetry: 2009 - ed. by David Wagoner

The Best American Poetry: 2009
Ed. by David Wagoner
Series Editor, David Lehman
Copyright 2009
Scribner Poetry
207 pp, incl. author bios

I have at least two other poetry books I hoped to tackle for National Poetry month, but so far The Best American Poetry: 2009 is the only poetry book I've managed to read (I still have a week). And, it's a surprisingly palatable "best of" anthology.

First the disclaimer:

I know jack about poetry. Seriously . . . I can write limericks, but I have never studied poetry, do not recognize imagery when it's staring me in the face and can't tell good poetry from doggerel. I only know what I like. Sometimes it's the cadence, sometimes a rambling quality that makes some sort of sense to me, often simply the interplay of words. Regardless, I'm no longer afraid of poetry in spite of my ignorance. And, now that I've read this particular book, I think I'm going to study up a bit because it seems pretty ridiculous to have made it this far into my life without knowing a thing about what makes a poem a poem.

What I loved about this book:

Besides the poetry itself, some of which I loved, some of which perplexed me, the best thing about this book is that there's a section of author bios in the back. After each bio, the author talks about his or her selected poem. Some describe how they came to write the poem that was selected for inclusion in Best American Poetry: 2009 or, even better, what it means. I learned quite a bit from simply reading the information shared by this particular variety of poets. For example, one of the poems is simply a collection of movie titles. Others often started with a thought but then other random threads were added. Some really did have deep meaning.

What surprised me the most was the fact that they didn't all have some grand theme. I had no idea that poetry could be as abstract and random as painting or sculpture. Of course, we're talking randomness within some sort of structure, but still . . . I learned something new and I'm happy about that. I wish all poetry books had translations for the unstudied. Perhaps poetry would be more widely read if individual poems, their inspiration, their meanings and/or origins were explained and, thus, became less intimidating to more readers.

What I disliked about this book:

Nothing. That doesn't mean I loved every single poem, though. And, there was one author's explanation that I found frankly disturbing. His poem was partly based on his "real loathing for so-called Christians". As I read that, I thought, "That kind of hurts." It's very odd to be randomly loathed by someone who has never met you. I think that's the closest I've ever felt to understanding what it must have been like to have been a European Jew around the time of Hitler. Personally, I don't loathe anyone, including that poet. He might be really personable; I can't say. The whole Jesus thing is, to me, wrapped around the concept of love -- including the words, "Love your enemies as yourself." So, smooches to you, James Cummins. You can deflect them with your shield of loathing but I still love you because I believe in Christ.

I've got a lot to accomplish, today, but I'll try to squeeze in at least one more poetry post before the end of the month. For now . . . the treadmill and washing machine are calling (among other things).

Happy Monday!

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

March Reads in Review, 2011

If you look real hard, you can see why I used a firetruck for my March Reads in Review post. Unfortunately, the print is tinier than expected. For those who can't see the itty-bitty print, I took the sign at the bottom of the truck that says "STAY BACK 500 FT." and changed it to "LOOK BACK 1 MONTH". I didn't want to use another cat or rear-view mirror photo, you see. I know . . . silly. But, fun. I never have managed to outgrow my love of firetrucks.

My March Reads (with links to my reviews):

March was a super month! While I only read a dozen books, I liked or loved every single one of them. This is my goal in 2011 -- to at least like every book I read and love the rest. I've had several Did Not Finish books (recently, not just in March) that I'll describe in another post.

My absolute favorite read in March was Home to Woefield. An ebullient, likable heroine combined with an uplifting theme and a bunch of wacky characters, a compelling storyline, lots of laughs . . . an all-around terrific combination, in my opinion, made the book an easy favorite. I absolutely loved Home to Woefield.

Staying at Daisy's and It Happened One Bite were also delightful, happy reads, as is the children's book, The Butt Book. Christian the Lion was also full of smiles, a tender story about the lion of YouTube fame for the middle-reader crowd.

Besides Christian, The Mental Floss History of the United States was my only other nonfiction read. Massively entertaining and easily digestible, I enjoyed it so much that I spaced the reading out over about 3 months before deciding I probably ought to wrap it up.

I enjoyed the companion YA titles If I Stay and Where She Went. I'd heard If I Stay is "tragic" but I was pleased that it had an uplifting ending and liked the fact that it wasn't intended to spawn a second book so it was nicely wrapped up. Where She Went is similarly emotional and uplifting.

Between Shades of Gray is even more heart-rending, a YA about Lithuanians who were transported to Siberia by Stalin. Harsh as it is, the book is a great addition to WWII fiction and I especially loved the strength and grace of the young heroine's mother. Another very emotional read is The Mountains Bow Down, a mystery set on a cruise ship to Alaska. I'm not a big fan of mysteries, but I love this particular series for its very human heroine and endings that I have not yet come even vaguely close to figuring out before I get to them.

My two most surprising reads of the month were Strangers and Cutting for Stone. I avoided Cutting for Stone for quite some time and was stunned how much I enjoyed it and how engrossing it was. Strangers was fascinating because I've never read an Asian ghost story and was surprised by the cultural difference between Asian and Western tales about apparitions.

Since April is in its final week, I need to crank out a few reviews, this week, and try to get myself caught up. So far, I think I've tied March at a dozen reads, but I'm on the verge of finishing The Winter Ghosts and I'm sure I'll squeeze something else in before the month ends. How is your reading going, this month?

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

To all my readers . . .

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fiona Friday - From the Freaky Big-Eyed Cat File

"There are wonderful smells calling to me from outside." -- Fiona
"You may smell them through the open window, but you're not going out there. I like you too much to let the dogs eat you or a car smush your little pretty fur self." -- Fiona's slave
"Don't be surprised if I keep sneaking out to munch on monkey grass." -- Fiona
"Sigh." -- Fiona's slave

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Sunday Discordancies" by Jim Harrison

Sunday Discordancies

by Jim Harrison

This morning I seem to hear the nearly inaudible
whining grind of creation similar to the harmonics
of pine trees in the wind. My outrageously lovely
hollyhocks are now collapsing of their own weight,
clearly too big for their britches. I'm making notes
for a novel called "The End of Man, and Not Incidentally,
Women and Children," a fable for our low-living time.
Quite early after walking the dogs, who are frightened
of the Sandhill Cranes in the pasture, I fried some ham
with a fresh peach, a touch of brown sugar and clove.
Pretty good but I was wondering at how the dogs
often pretend the Sandhill Cranes don't exist despite
their mighty squawks, like we can't hear
the crying of coal miners and our wounded in Iraq.
A friend on his deathbed cried and said it felt good.
He was crying because he couldn't eat, a lifelong habit.
My little grandson Silas cried painfully until he was fed
macaroni and cheese and then he was merry indeed.
I'm not up to crying this morning over that pretty girl
in the row boat fifty-five years ago. I heard on the radio
that we creatures have about a billion and a half
heartbeats to use. Voles and birds use theirs fast
as do meth heads and stockbrokers, while whales
and elephants are slower. This morning I'm thinking
of recounting mine to see exactly where I am.
I warn the hummingbirds out front, "just slow down,"
as they chase me away from the falling hollyhocks.

--from The Best American Poetry: 2009
for National Poetry Month

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Maggie's Watch by Ann Wertz Garvin

On Maggie's Watch
by Ann Wertz Garvin
Copyright 2010
Berkley - General fiction
296 pages, incl. discussion questions

The houses were dark and tricycles rested quietly on front lawns, worn out after a hard day's play as police cars, motorcycles, and ice cream trucks. She took a deep breath of freedom and exhaled the tightness that often gathered in her sternum. Her mother would call this kind of activity "working the kinks out." Maggie silently agreed. Tyson was a kink all right. A kink in her tidy life of husband, home, and homilies. But after an evening of biking and harassment, she knew she would sleep a dreamless, restful sleep.

--pp. 113-114, On Maggie's Watch

Maggie is very pregnant and extremely nervous. After suffering a tragic loss, she has fallen back on her standby method to keep from thinking: staying busy. With thoughts of her unborn child's safety occupying her mind, Maggie decides to set up a Neighborhood Watch Program. But, in the process of doing so, she discovers a registered sex offender lives very, very nearby. Angry that such a person is allowed to live anonymously in a perfectly nice subdivision, she sets out to drive him away, going on middle-of-the-night bike rides in her pajamas without even considering who might be doing surveillance on her.

Meanwhile, Maggie's best friend Julia has problems of her own, the neighborhood busybody is driving Maggie and her husband nuts and Maggie's mother is no help at all. While Maggie's husband is consumed with work, she finds she has just a little bit of a crush on a neighbor who has offered to help out with some minor fix-it jobs around the house. What is Maggie getting herself into?

My review: I was completely stunned by On Maggie's Watch. When I opened it up, I had an inkling that it was going to be simplistic and silly. I was so wrong. Maggie is really a very fun character but she's a bit of disaster. A rough childhood and a terrible loss have left her justifiably nervous, but as the book progresses she gradually loses control. And, yet, she is such a delightful character that you can't help but root for her, even when she's losing it. Best friend Julia is a funny, overburdened mother with a potty mouth and a life that's insane for completely different reasons. On Maggie's Watch begins with a bit of overwrought dialogue but ends up a heart-warming, funny, poignant, meaningful read about love and loss, delusion and reality, temptation and self-control.

The bottom line: Highly recommended but be patient with the lightweight beginning. An entertaining, humorous, upbeat read that started out slowly and quickly became engrossing. I smiled a lot, gasped a little, occasionally wiped away tears. On Maggie's Watch is a surprising, hopeful read. Don't expect deep writing; this book is light but lively.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Quiet Bunny's Many Colors by Lisa McCue

Quiet Bunny's Many Colors by Lisa McCue
Copyright 2011
Sterling - Ages 4-8
32 pages

Quiet Bunny loves springtime in the forest.

He loves the warm sun on his soft little nose.
He loves the tickly new grass between his toes.

Most of all, he loves the beautiful colors.

Quiet Bunny is a character created by author and illustrator Lisa McCue, who just happens to be a favorite illustrator of ours. We still occasionally recite the entire text of Kiddo's childhood favorite board book by McCue, "Raccoon's Hide and Seek," a book that was in tattered shreds by the time Kiddo exited the board book stage. So, I'm always thrilled to read anything at all by Lisa McCue and Quiet Bunny's Many Colors is another wonderful book by McCue.

As Quiet Bunny explores his world, he ends up going from one double-page spread to another, each full of flowers, animals, insects and other sights in a particular color. Here's yellow:

Sorry about the awkwardly-posed book. I wore out the cats with a game of laser chase, so I propped the book on my computer keyboard to snap a photo. In this page spread, Quiet Bunny realizes he's, "the color of winter. White like the snow and brown like the trees." He wants to be yellow. So, he spreads sticky honey on his fur and covers himself in yellow flowers.

Unfortunately, then he falls into the water, but that's okay because the whole point of the book is to teach children about colors, isn't it? The story continues in like manner, with glorious two-page spreads of beautifully detailed spring colors, Quiet Bunny's attempts to turn himself yet another color and then a bit of slapstick that lands him back at Square One, till he looks down in the water and sees a reflection of himself and an owl.

At this point, a flap opens up to a shockingly beautiful 3-page spread of life in and around the pond. And, the final note:

"We are all different colors, and we are all beautiful!"

My review: Highly recommended. Quiet Bunny's Many Colors is simply breathtaking, the kind of book that I shamelessly bought for my children because I liked ogling the illustrations, myself. The story is cute and upbeat, each color described is dominant enough within the illustrations to make the differentiation of color plain to small children. And, of course, the illustrations are marvelous. Because there's a flap, you'll want to make sure not to let smaller children open that last page or it's bound to tear but with a little help it should stay in fine shape. A lovely book to buy as an Easter gift (although it does not have an Easter theme, anything with a bunny is fodder for Easter giving, in my mind) or a spring birthday for little ones learning their colors . . . or, for just about any other excuse you can come up with.

So, I said, "I'll be back tomorrow". . . two days ago

Funny how the best-laid plans always end up ganging aft agley. Well, I'll get to the next review when I get to it. I should know better than to say I'll be back to post on a particular day, by now, shouldn't I?

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Orig. Published 1852 as
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys -
Myths rewritten for children
My edition contains no copyright date

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, as Wonder Book was originally known (and still is -- I have no idea why the publisher of this particular edition altered the title) is a book of myths rewritten for children.

Before each myth, there's an introduction in which the children of Tanglewood -- a large estate in Massachusettes in which Hawthorne lived for a time -- gather around their teenage cousin Eustace Bright to hear him tell a story. Each time he tells a story, the children have moved to another location. In one, they're stuck indoors watching a blizzard, in another they're happily playing by the river while golden leaves fall around them.

And, then Eustace gathers the children, who are humorously given the names of flowers and tells them a tale. The first is "The Gorgon's Head," which led to an interesting conversation with Kiddo that I alluded to, a couple weeks ago.

While reading the story, I asked Kiddo if he was familiar with the tale of the Gorgon's head. Kiddo, you must know, is a mythology enthusiast. He has read and reread every book we have on mythology and studied them so thoroughly that when he took a mythology class in high school, the teacher told him he might as well teach the class because he seemed to know more than she did.

In response to my question, Kiddo said, "You mean the Medusa Gorgon? Because there are three Gorgons."

"Yes, yes," I said. "I just wondered because I'm reading about the fellow who has to bring back the Gorgon's head to the king to get his mother freed and he just pulled the head out of the bag and turned everyone to stone."

Kiddo looked exasperated. "That's Perseus."

"Right, Perseus. You know I'm not very big on mythology."

"Mom, everyone's heard of the Medusa Gorgon."

Back to the book: I enjoyed it as much for the 19th-century language as for the tales, themselves, many of which were actually familiar to me (but obviously not all). Hawthorne occasionally calls key characters by different names. Mercury, for example, is called Quicksilver. But, then the children correct Eustace -- who is the one allegedly embellishing the myths -- and a professor chides him a bit. All in all, a very fun little read.

I've just looked up A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys at Wikipedia because I had to question whether or not my edition was complete, since the title was changed a bit; and it is, in fact, complete. There are only 6 stories. I have my favorites, of course, but in general I thought it was fun reading and a great change of pace. Kiddo has informed me that I am required to keep our copy because he thinks "old" equals "valuable". I've tried to explain to him that it's obviously a book printed on acid paper because the pages tear at the even the merest hint of a touch, but he's insistent so I guess I'll toss it into the file cabinet and hope he forgets it.

Obviously, I've decided to keep this review informal and chatty. I have to rush to the library to return books, so I'll try to squeeze in one more review, later, if I can. If not, there's always tomorrow, but I do want to get caught up a little, as soon as possible. This is my second review for today; both The Goose Girl and Wonder Book are books I purchased.

Happy Monday!

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale
Copyright 2003
Bloomsbury Books - YA
400 pages

The Goose Girl is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale of the same name. When Crown Princess Ani is young, her unique ability to speak to animals becomes apparent. This special talent frightens the queen and those of her kingdom and, although Ani is kept closely guarded to prevent worsening the trouble that her ability has already caused, the queen eventually decides to send Ani to the neighboring kingdom of Bayern to marry the eldest prince as part of a peace treaty.

But, her own people betray her and Ani is left alone and defenseless. Eventually, she makes her way to Bayern, where she finds that the traitors have taken her place in the palace and are still are seeking her. With no way back to her home country, Ani finds a job as a lowly goose girl. As she spends her time with the geese, she begins to learn their language. Will Ani remain a goose girl all her life, forced to hide the physical features that identify her as a foreigner and which leave her vulnerable to the traitors who still want her dead? Or, will she find a way home or a chance to convince the king of her true identity?

My review: I began reading an e-book version of The Goose Girl on a stormy day and found it so enchanting that by the time the power came back on (the reason I switched from paper to e-book was the darkness in a powerless hallway), I was so engrossed that I couldn't bear to put it down. I love Shannon Hale's writing. She has a lovely way of putting together unexpected word combinations and the story, itself, is complex and adventurous but with moments of quiet scenes that help build the story and move it toward action. An absolutely beautiful retelling of a fairytale.

The bottom line: Gorgeous, lyrical writing with magical touches that feel as if they lie within the realm of possibility, a very likable heroine with tremendous challenges to overcome, fantastic plot and imaginative world-building make The Goose Girl a truly unique and wondrous book. A charming tale of courage and betrayal, tolerance and patience, love and loss. I went into the story without having read a cover blurb, since my book opened directly to the first page and I think that was a good thing. Each plot development was a surprise. I really never knew what was going to happen next and I liked that, so I've tried to keep my own review rather general to avoid spoiling the story for anyone, but I can at least tell you it's another favorite. If I had to rate it, I would give The Goose Girl a perfect score.

Cover thoughts: The cover above is the thumbnail cover of the e-book I purchased but I do have a paper copy with the image at left on its cover. I like both. The cover with a blonde-haired girl is fairly accurate to the description of the heroine, Princess Ani, with slightly darker blonde hair than described (close enough), geese flying in the background and an ivy-covered arch that one can imagine might lead into the castle grounds. The cover at left is cartoon-like but also lovely and fitting. Bright colors, geese and a castle draw you in. The awkward image of the princess is the only thing I dislike about it. She's a little too wacky-looking, but it has the look of "fairy tale" and I think it works.

There is a single review at Amazon warning that the book is "very mature". It's not. There's some slightly scary action and the bodies of criminals are hung on the city walls but no sex, no bad language, nothing that will harm a young reader. It's very clean and even a little romantic without any physical love beyond a kiss.

I'm going to try to hammer out a few more short reviews, if possible, today. I've fallen far enough behind that it's time to do a little catch-up. Remember, it's not necessary to read or comment on everything, even if you're a frequent visitor who likes to do so. Read what interests you, comment if you like, skip the rest. I'm just glad you feel like dropping by.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fiona Friday - Sniffing Einstein

"Hmm. Smells . . . intelligent."

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt

Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt
Copyright 2010
Algonquin - General Fiction
335 pages, incl. author notes and discussion questions

When he got to the turnoff road, he was sweating, and when he made the turn, he felt as if someone had stapled his heart.

--p. 170

He used to work with a sheetrock guy whose wife and child had died in a plane crash. The man never got over it, and it used to irritate Charlie the way Hank would say, "I dreamed about Jean and Suzie last night," and everyone would look sort of stricken, wondering, Why doesn't he get over it already? But that was the secret, wasn't it? You never got over what you lost. You always carried it with you, stitched to you like Peter Pan's shadow. And you never wanted to get over it, because who wanted to forget a time that had been so important? No, the truth was, you wanted to remember it always.

--p. 243

Book description:

Isabelle and April are both running away from their husbands when they hit a fog bank and their cars collide. One woman survives; the other dies instantly. Although the accident occurs miles from their homes, both are running away from marriages and life in the same town. The surviving woman is bound to cross paths with the husband and child of the woman who died. I'm going to copy last sentence of the book cover blurb because I like it. "As these three lives intersect, the book asks, how well do we really know those we love and how do we open our hearts to forgive the unforgivable?"

My review:

I shouldn't have looked at the back cover of the book because I like to write reviews in my own words, but I love the adjectives Chris Bohjalian used to describe Pictures of You: riveting, poignant, deeply moving, beautiful, hypnotic. I'm not even certain why Pictures of You pulled me in so fiercely, but I'm guessing it has to do with the fact that I was able to easily empathize with the characters, having been through unexpected loss. The second quote, above, particularly touched me. And, I loved the author's writing style. I found her characters were believably human and emotional. There were a few times I felt pulled out of the writing for a minute, but then she sucked me right back in.

Pictures of You has an open-ended conclusion, which the author talks about a bit in the additional material (I have the paperback edition and can't say if the extra material is available in the hardback copy). The author, Caroline Leavitt, mentions that she doesn't like perfectly wrapped-up endings, so her own endings are deliberately left open to the reader's imagination. Some people will probably be upset about that, but I don't mind that kind of an ending at times; it really just depends upon the book. In this case, I was okay with it. I didn't necessarily love what happened to the characters but it had the ring of truth and in the end, I really thought the book was deeply meaningful and what happened may not have fit my expectations but it was more realistic than the happily-ever-after ending I tend to favor.

The bottom line:

Pictures of You is a page-turner and very emotional, but there are plenty of upbeat moments mixed in. Lovely writing, an unbeatable dilemma, well-rounded characters and great dialogue make it a winner. If you like your endings wrapped up in a pretty bow, this may not be the book for you. I didn't love the way the book ended but I thought it made sense, given the storyline.

If I were to rate the book numerically (which I don't do, but I want to clarify how much I liked it), I would give it a 4.5/5. I'm going to write a review on Amazon -- something I don't usually do -- to help offset some of the lower ratings that I don't think it deserved. I do think it's probably a love/hate type of book because of the ending and the fact that not everyone can necessarily relate to the kind of grief the characters experience, but I'm in the "love" category. In fact, I stayed up late reading it because I couldn't put it down and after I finished I thought, "I'd really like to reread this," because there were a few things I thought I'd like to revisit after finding out some of the little plot twists that caught me off-guard toward the end.

Many thanks to Algonquin Books for my copy, which was sent unsolicited after I'd added it to my wish list. Ha! What luck!

Cover thoughts:

I like the cover. It's intriguing and eye-catching, in spite of fairly dull colors. One of the characters is a photographer and the wings are meant to represent an angel, although I think if I were to tell you why, it would be a spoiler. Point being, the cover fits the story.

Coming up:

Fiona Friday will be a pretty crappy picture, but it's cute and it's a photo of Isabel -- Fiona's been Little Miss Contrary, lately, skittering away when I get out the camera. I'll post that later on, tonight.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Home to Woefield by Susan Juby

Home to Woefield by Susan Juby
Copyright 2011
Harper - General Fiction
306 pages

"Prudence asked you to talk to me?"

He frowned. "No. I saw you, drew my own conclusions. This has nothing to do with Prudence. I just thought I'd put it out there for you. Someone did the same for me."

This bastard was in a self-help program? For what? Square-jawed, cleft-chin sufferers? Handsome Bastards Anonymous?

--p. 239 of Home to Woefield - ARC; Some changes may have been made to final print version


Prudence is very much into saving the world in her own little way and does the best she can to grow her own organic food in her tiny apartment. When her boyfriend decides to leave and she inherits a farm on Vancouver Island from her uncle, Prudence is excited about the changes in her life. She can become a productive farmer!

But, even optimistic Prudence quickly realizes she has a lot more to deal with than she'd anticipated. Her uncle was in debt, the land is not fertile and she's vastly inexperienced. Still, nothing will stop Prudence. With her uncle's only worker at hand - a 70-year-old who entertained her uncle by playing his banjo and joining him for TV nights - she gets started. Then, a young alcoholic who has been hiding from the world, blogging about celebrities since high school, shows up and starts working for room and board. Finally, 11-year-old Sara Spratt's mother asks Prudence to let Sara house her chickens on Woefield property (because the neighbors are complaining).

Four wacky personalities, some surprisingly fascinating chickens and a half-sheared sheep are the main characters in Home to Woefield. The four are thrown together as a farming cooperative and while learning how to work together, they become a family.

My review:

I love the kind of book in which a bunch of oddballs are thrown together and eventually become a family unit, but I must say Susan Juby has created her little family with a skillful balance of hilarity and realism. Prudence is a delight. From the moment she shows up on her farm, you know her can-do attitude and effervescent personality are going to win the day. I absolutely loved everything about this book -- the characters, the storyline, the little touch of romance, the writing, everything.

The bottom line:

Highly recommended. Well-developed, likable characters, perfect plotting, fantastic pace and a wonderful, upbeat ending make the pages fly. I really hated to leave Woefield, when I got to the ending. Home to Woefield is a feel-good novel and, at this point, my top read of the year. And, I've read a lot of great books, this year!!

One warning: There's quite a bit of bad language (as shown in the quote above) but it's just a part of who those characters are and they wouldn't be the same without it. I say, "they," although I don't actually remember whether it was one character or two that swore a lot. I think a part of what the author was trying to say is that working hard, feeling productive and finding friends who are willing to accept you as you are can help restore a wounded soul.

Stylistically speaking: Each chapter in Home to Woefield is written from the point of view of one of the 4 characters and they're labeled as such. But Prudence, Seth, Earl and Sara all have such distinctive voices that it would be easy to identify the narrator of each chapter, even without the heading. We're talking pretty sharp writing.

Cover thoughts: I love the cover because it fits the setting and shows just a touch of a face that I like to think of as belonging to Prudence -- little enough to keep from overriding the reader's imagination, though.

My thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy of Home to Woefield.

And, many thanks to those who left a comment on my Going Unplugged post. I'm still not reading all that much, although I finished The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (which I'll review for a tour, the first week of May) and am currently reading Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis. I'm going to stay semi-unplugged for a while -- meaning, if I can get myself to go ahead and write a review I will, but I'm not going to be very good about visiting blogs. Between my new exercise regime and all the other things happening in my life, I think blogging is probably just going to be hit and miss till the end of summer.

Posts forthcoming:

I think I have 6 more book reviews to go, at this point. I also need to write about a few DNFs and summarize my March Reads in Review. Since I'm so pressed for time, I'm going to do my utter best to keep those posts brief. How many of you are laughing because you've heard this a dozen times, already? Yes, yes, I suck at brevity.

Good note upon which to close, I think. Happy Wednesday!

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Going unplugged for a few days

I can't seem to get interested in either reading or writing, at the moment, so I'm going to take a brief blogging break. I have about 5 books and a DNF to write about, so I don't plan to stay away for long -- just till my motivation has shut down and rebooted. Hopefully, that'll only be a few days, at most. See you soon!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Fiona Friday - The Princesses at Rest

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Strangers by Taichi Yamada

Strangers by Taichi Yamada
Copyright 2003 - Faber & Faber
First published 1987
203 pages

That evening, a violent thunderstorm passed over the city. I watched the driving rain and lightning from a bar on the top floor of a high-rise hotel. The rain dashed against the glass in torrents, making the window a blur. It turned the jagged bolts of lightning stabbing at the earth into nothing more than diffuse flickers, which irritated me a little. I ached to smash the massive pane and see the lightning bolts descend in all their piercing brilliance. I longed to distance myself from anything ambiguous, anything non-transparent, anything belonging to darkness. I wanted to be in a world where all was bright and clean and in sharp focus. Precisely for that reason, I had steered clear of basement and ground-level establishments to seek out brighter environs, high in the sky, but thanks to thunderclouds, abetted by the gathering dusk, the realm of darkness had encroached moment by moment upon my world even here.

--p. 84, Strangers


Middle-aged Harada has only been divorced a short time and now lives in the apartment he formerly used as his office. On a whim, Harada returns to Akasuka, the district of Tokyo in which he grew up. In a theater, he sees a man who looks exactly like his father and follows him home, only to find himself led to an apartment where his mother and father, who died when he was 12, both appear to be living . . . and they haven't aged at all. Are his parents alive or ghosts? Or, is Harada losing his mind?

When the apartment building's only other resident, Kei, befriends him, he finds that he's enjoying her company but he continues to be drawn back to the alternate reality in Akasuka. Then, Kei notices something strange is happening to Harada and he realizes that, much as he loves hanging out in this other world, he may not survive if he continues.

My review:

Strangers is quite a creepy book, a ghost story but Japanese and therefore very different from ghost stories in the Western tradition. I think it would be a spoiler to tell exactly how the book is different so I'm just going to attempt to keep this short and tell you about the writing, the characters, etc. Writing-wise, the book is a translation but very well done. It's haunting and lyrical. The translation of the book from Japanese to English was obviously handled well.

Harada, the protagonist, is fairly successful as a screenwriter but emotionally he's a mess. Much as he'd like to think he moved on, he has apparently never moved past the grief of his parents' death, instead going on with his life and suppressing his distress and pain. His divorce has brought emotion to the surface; for the first time in his life, he really has to face the hurt and loneliness that followed tragic loss.

There really aren't that many characters, actually. Kei is another lost soul who has been badly burned in more ways than one (she hides a horrible burn scar) and is somewhat mysterious. There's a man Harada works for, who is interested in Harada's ex-wife and Harada speaks to his bitter ex by phone, briefly. Harada's parents are obviously ghosts but do they know they're ghosts? You don't find the answer to that question for quite some time. They're really quite lively and light-hearted, which gives you an idea of how Harada came to be such a disaster. He was not a wealthy boy, but he was happy when he lost his family.

Slow but steady plotting (not to be confused with the word "boring); Strangers is what I call a "quiet" book, although it's a book that throws up so many questions that you can't help but rabidly keep turning the pages and you're rewarded in the end. The transition from quiet, introspective ghost story to a heart-pounding ending is really amazing.

The bottom line:

An eerie, well-written Japanese ghost story that is startling in its simplicity and impact. Definitely recommended, particularly to those who love a good, creepy read. This would make a fantastic read for the annual RIP Challenge (creepy, atmospheric reading challenge held in the fall, for those who might not be informed).

In other news:

A book arrived, yesterday, and I'm sure I'll promptly forget it so I'll just tell you now. It's The Salem Witch Trials by Marilynne K. Roach. I've read several fictional works set in Salem, beginning around 2 years ago, and a friend told me she thought this author's nonfiction work has a particular depth lacking in many other accounts. I'm pretty sure it was on my Paperback Swap wish list from the time I read the first of those fictional accounts, so I'm really excited to finally acquire a copy.

Whoops! Another book just arrived, literally seconds ago: An ARC of The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham. Wahoo! Another ghost story!! I love ghost stories! Many thanks to Ballantine Books for the review copy. It's a July release.

I can't think of any other news. Huh. Well, I guess we'll just stop here. I did finish The Goose Girl, last night. I think it should be particularly encouraging to unpublished writers to find that one editor who rejected The Goose Girl said she found Shannon Hale's writing "stiff, self-conscious and cliche." My opinion? I think her writing is magical, engaging, poetic and enchanting. I couldn't put that sucker down, in other words. I've got a copy of Enna Burning (I think it's the next in the series, although I'm not positive; it just happens to be on my personal challenge shelf) and hope to get to that, soon. I'm grateful to Monday's horrid storm for nudging me to finally read The Goose Girl.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, April 04, 2011

My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones (DNF)

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park
by Cindy Jones
Copyright 2011
HarperCollins - General Fiction
324 pages
Did Not Finish

Tiptoeing carefully over uneven stone to a dark wooden pew, I sat, breathing the musty air deeply through my nose, exhaling through my mouth, a visitor in a quiet tomb. A narrow shelf built into the pew before me held the diminutive Book of Common Prayer, the English version, smaller than those back home. The regular size hymnal hung over the shelf's edge, too big to fit. A needlepoint cushion hung from a hook below. Near the front of the church, stone effigies, perhaps the First Baron of Weston and his wife, slept in a bed of marble, their hands clasped in prayer these many years.

--from My Jane Austen Summer, p. 52 of Advanced Review Copy (some changes may have been made to the final print version)

Description: Lily Berry is in a bind. After the death of her mother, she buried her grief by escaping into the world of Jane Austen, reading all six of Austen's novels and imagining herself in Jane's world. Her boyfriend, who didn't understand her, has moved on and found someone else. Her sister has suggested she needs therapy. Her father has found a new woman, already. And, reading during working hours has led to the loss of her job. Suddenly, a sly suggestion by a bookseller seems her only hope. She'll travel to England to re-enact Austen's Mansfield Park at the annual Literary Live festival hosted by bookseller Vera and her husband, Nigel. But, Lily's imagination goes places the world is not ready to take her.

My review:

I feel kind of bad not finishing My Jane Austen Summer, but I believe I've given it a fair shake and it's simply not for me, at least at this moment. The writing is lovely, yet there's something that doesn't sit well with me and I absolutely cannot seem to put a finger on it. Maybe it's the tone? Lily is really a lost soul and her grief hits a little too close to home, at times; of that much I'm certain.

I started reading My Jane Austen Summer just after I finished reading Home to Woefield and that alone is unfair. I haven't reviewed Home to Woefield (it's two reviews away -- hang in there) but it was by far the most fun I've had all year. I knew it it was going to be very, very difficult finding a book that resonated after leaving Woefield. After the first 50 pages of My Jane Austen Summer, I knew it wasn't the book to follow up with. In fact, I thought I'd never make it through the book at all but I still had that lingering sense that I wasn't giving it a reasonable chance. So, after 50 pages I fished around and found another book that did grab me, spent a couple of sleepless nights reading obsessively, took a day off to finish my final Bible study lessons and then returned to My Jane Austen Summer.

Did I skim the first time? Or was it not that memorable? I'm not sure, but when I reopened the book some 5 days later, I could hardly remember a thing. So, I started all the way back at page 1. This time around, I found that there were moments of humor that I loved and the book is really written with intelligence. There is still something that I don't like about it but I sense it may just be the sad vibe, the fact that Lily is stinging from her losses and there are too many nasty people out to get her.

One thing I dislike in My Jane Austen Summer is the way people don't seem to communicate effectively. They don't answer each other's questions or they don't make sense and she has to keep chasing around trying to figure out what they mean. That was also true in the book I read over the weekend, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, but for some reason Pictures of You worked for me in a way that My Jane Austen Summer refuses to do.

The bottom line:

I think it's just me, but I just don't know. If I'd finished this book, I might have eventually started to like it more. There are some lovely passages, bits of humor (brief but definitely fun moments) and the writing is at times erudite. But, at the same time, there were moments that I was confused -- when Lily reflected on some moment in the past and I couldn't tell where present segued to past or when a particularly nasty character bothered me so much that there wasn't enough positive happening to offset the unsettled, negative feeling that character gave me.

I stopped at page 125 the second time I attempted to read My Jane Austen Summer at the encouragement of my husband, who happened to come into the bedroom as I was preparing to dive back into it after an hours-long power outage. The fact that I'd not bothered to seek out a flashlight before the squall line hit -- casting both indoors and out into startling darkness -- forced me to read an e-book, instead. I must have made a fussy noise. "Do you want to read it?" he asked. I said, "Not really," and he replied, "Then don't."

Still, I think a lot of people will really enjoy My Jane Austen Summer and I would not say, "Avoid this book." I think it's a little bit bad timing, a little bit too close to home, a little bit of discomfort with the author's voice that kept me from loving it. Maybe if I hadn't lost a mother within the last few years it would have worked for me. Maybe not. There are hints that there may be romance at some point and the possibility that things are about to start working for Lily is beginning to peek out of the pages. I suggest flipping through the book or reading a sample, if you're interested. See if the writing pulls you in.

My thanks to TLC Tours and William Morrow for the ARC of this book and the chance to read it!

In other news: Boy, that was one heck of a storm. I know we're not the only folks who were forced to shelter in hallways, today. It's completely quiet outside, now, a marked contrast to the gusty, pouring, banging, roof-shifting noises of the afternoon. The cats were distressed. Kiddo, meanwhile, turned out the hallway light shortly before the power went out (if he was going to be stuck in a hallway, he figured he might as well nap), so I had to risk life and limb to grab my reader, Petunia, to find something to read.

I wouldn't have had much afternoon time to work on My Jane Austen Summer, anyway, since it didn't take all that long for the electricity to flicker off. I know because I left the microwave plugged in and it peeped several times (power off, power on, power off, power on) before finally descending into silence. Kiddo tested the lights to see if it was out for good. I might have uttered a little expression of frustration. By the time the power was finally restored, though, I didn't want to stop reading The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Another point against poor Lily.

Totally useless anecdotal aside:

I'm really enjoying re-entering the real world, such as it is, after several years of deliberately being a hermit. During the last 3 minute song at Zumba on Thursday, my thighs screamed, "Enough!" and I laughed myself through the entire thing. If my legs start to protest (and they do -- I've been pretty sedentary for quite a while), I just adapt the moves so that I can continue to move and not get in the way of others. Just keep moving for the full hour; that's my goal.

But those last 3 minutes . . . ohmygosh. There was a step-hop-step, step back, step forward, step-hop-step, pivot, step-hop-step thing that I couldn't do because I could no longer hop or pivot, the poor leg muscles were so tapped out. And I could not figure out how to alter the steps and get the heck out of the way but still end up facing the right direction. I felt like a fish flopping on the shore in the midst of a delightfully orchestrated crab dance. I didn't care. I love being there, sweating, knowing I'm doing something good for myself and hanging out with people I like.


It feels like my reading has been slow, this year. But, I read 12 books in March (update forthcoming, about 4 posts hence -- have to write the reviews to link back to, first) and I'm pretty sure the page count was about 3,800, which is fantastic for me. So, maybe I'm just delusional. It's possible. I do think my determination not to finish books that I don't really like or love is working well for me. I liked absolutely everything I read in March and many of them were, in my opinion, outstanding.

New arrivals:

Just one: The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble. What? You think I was sucked in by the Red Dress Effect? Moi? Gosh, yes. There is just something about those long, gorgeous red dresses that makes you yearn to snatch up a book and press it to your chest, isn't there? I can admit it when I've been lured by a red dress. Fingers crossed that I fall in love with the story.

Apparently, it's the third in a series but that often doesn't faze me (some series books stand alone well -- we'll see about this one). The Lightkeeper's Ball is about Olivia, a socialite whose family has lost its wealth. Now, there is pressure for her to marry well. Olivia travels to California to attempt to snatch up her deceased sister Eleanor's wealthy husband-to-be. But, it turns out Eleanor's death may have been no accident. Doesn't that sound intriguing?

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.