Thursday, June 21, 2018

Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

It started out well. He was kind, solicitous, emotional, affectionate. He seemed to love her like nobody else ever had. There were things about him that concerned her, like the way he let a friend behave around her, but nothing to indicate he would ever do her harm. She was pregnant and he was happy about it. So, they married.

And, then the abuse began. It began with something that sounds harmless enough. He threw a shoebox at her. A shoebox, empty, doesn't weigh much and can't do much damage, right? But, abuse escalates. The longer they stayed married, the worse the abuse became -- until she had to wear long sleeves to cover the bruises on her arms and couldn't explain the bruising on her face and the cut lip.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a memoir that begins with the moment Kelly Sundberg realized she had to get out of her abusive marriage to save herself and her son. It starts with a harrowing scene in which she managed to escape their apartment inside a college dormitory where they worked as the resident parents. Only the people who worked in the dorm were present, but it was the first time she'd thought only of saving herself long enough to give away the fact that she was being abused.

Sundberg returns to the beginning of her story to tell about how they met, the times when his behavior may have been a warning that she missed, how they married after she discovered she was pregnant and he became abusive shortly after their marriage, the abuse slowly escalating, the injuries becoming worse.

Recommended - Goodbye, Sweet Girl is a rough read but an important one because the author does a terrific job of showing how abuse can start out seeming like nothing at all. Throwing a shoebox? It sounds perfectly harmless, right? But, there's a pattern to abuse. It becomes more dangerous, harder to run away, more likely to end in death. That's exactly what happened to the author; it slowly escalated until the dorm incident (which got them thrown out of their apartment). Even as she was in the process of divorce, her father was skeptical and her employer tried to fire her. Why is it that women are punished for being abused? Fortunately, she stood up for herself and managed to keep from being fired while her husband remained employed.

Goodbye, Sweet Girl is very well written, incidentally. It's been a long time since I've read a memoir about domestic abuse but I don't recall the writing itself ever really standing out. Kelly Sundberg is an excellent writer.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

May Reads in Review, 2018


54. Mad Boy by Nick Arvin - Against the backdrop of the War of 1812, young Henry Phipps resolves to fulfill his mother's last wish: burial by the sea, near her family home. A wild adventure, beautifully written, and one of my favorites of 2018, so far.

55. The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan - The follow-up to The Café by the Sea continues the story of residents on a small Scottish Isle. I haven't read the first book and The Endless Beach stands alone fine, but I recommend reading the two in order. Has the feel of a soap opera - I felt very involved in the lives of the characters.

56. Obscura by Joe Hart - A scientist who has lost her husband to a new disease and whose daughter has also acquired it agrees to go to a space station to research the symptoms of astronauts. The trip may be her last hope to save her daughter.  But, when people start dying, she's accused of murder. An action-packed, often violent, near-future sci-fi. I particularly enjoyed the ending.

57. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - A family's house has burned and the fire chief says it was an arson. There were little fires everywhere, not a single source. The author takes you back to events leading up to the fire: the arrival of a photographer and her daughter who changed family dynamics of their landlord, the legal case over an adoption, and an unexpected pregnancy offer views of motherhood from a number of different angles. An absorbing read.

58. Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages - A middle grade book about a young girl who loves to play baseball and is an excellent pitcher but is rejected by Little League because it's for boys only. Determined to change the minds of those in charge, she researches women in baseball and discovers a rich history. Set in the 1950s. A terrific read and a great learning experience.

59. Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi - An Israeli citizen born and raised in the US describes his Jewish beliefs and why he believes a two-state solution is the best option for resolving the conflict. Lovely writing and fascinating reading but if you don't understand the Israel/Palestine history, I recommend reading up, first.

60. The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold - After he attends a party and then goes to hang out with the son of a scientist, after, Noah finds that almost everything in his life has changed. To figure out what happened, he examines the things that haven't been altered. A bit of a head trip. I liked how this story was resolved but had a little trouble getting through it.

61. The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino - When a dying writer arrives at a retirement home in a converted mansion, he is inspired to write again by a woman whose face is damaged and she is, in turn, inspired by him. Two other authors join in, helping to write this final novel while the writer's muse slowly begins to develop the courage to show herself to the world, again. Not a favorite but I liked it.

May was a low-quantity reading month, obviously, but I liked or loved everything I read. Favorites were Mad Boy, Little Fires Everywhere, Out of Left Field, and Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, all for vastly different reasons. Out of Left Field was the most educational and Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor was the one book that led me on a new learning pursuit. I've been slumpish, so I haven't gotten anywhere at all on Israel/Palestine -- one of the books I bought to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, which were extensive -- but I know I'll return to it and I've already learned a great deal, so I'm grateful to Letters for the nudge to learn more about the world.

I really enjoyed Obscura and The Endless Beach, also, although I felt like I was missing a little something in not having read the first of Jenny Colgan's books set on the Scottish island of Mure, The Café by the Sea. Actually, The Endless Beach should probably be in the first paragraph because I was completely swept away by the storytelling. I've been a fan of Jenny Colgan since her Chick Lit days in the 90s and she hasn't disappointed me, yet.

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik and The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) were both good reads that I liked but Strange Fascinations was all over the place (it was as psychedelic as its cover) and I had trouble keeping the various strands in my head. Eventually, it all came together and I liked it but I didn't love it. Bar Harbor was also a book that I liked but didn't love, primarily because there was a great deal of lust and sex, but very little in the way of real relationship development. It has a story within a story and, as is often the case, I found that I was enjoying one over the other. I don't regret reading either of those books, though. I'm quick to ditch a book I really dislike.

So, overall, it was a good month in spite of apparently leading into my summer slump. If I had to choose one book to recommend, it would be Mad Boy. It is a marvelous and very unusual read, both cleverly plotted and brilliantly written, in my humble opinion. Next in line would be Little Fires Everywhere. Those two alone made May a worthy month.

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • As You Wish by Cary Elwes 
  • Blitzkrieg by Len Deighton

Both of these were purchases. I ordered As You Wish after seeing Cary Elwes on an old episode of Psych. He played an art thief and he was every bit the charming rogue with a twinkle in his eye as Westley in The Princess Bride. I've wanted to read the book since it came out and the Psych episode motivated me to purchase it. Blitzkrieg is a book I saw recommended on a WWII site and I love Len Deighton. In the 80s and 90s, I read tons of his spy novels and then stupidly gave them away. I'd love to reread them, someday. I've never read any nonfiction by Deighton so Blitzkrieg should be interesting.

Books finished since last week's Tuesday Twaddle:

  • Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour

Yep, just one book, again. I'm in a summer slump. I just haven't felt like reading. I had a terrible time getting into Nadya Skylung, in fact, even though it's an adventurous tale with a strong young heroine -- one of my favorite types of book. Fortunately, I enjoyed it; I just had trouble getting through it because I wasn't in a reading mood.

Currently reading:

  • As You Wish by Cary Elwes
  • Siracusa by Delia Ephron
  • High Season by Judy Blundell
  • Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty

I was not really getting into anything at all (although I think I've read about 80 pages of Siracusa, this week's F2F discussion book) then As You Wish showed up. I sat down and opened it on Saturday and 65 pages later I came up for air. It's a fun read. I probably would have finished it last night, had I not found out that a friend died yesterday morning. Back to not feeling like reading.

Last week's posts:

In other news:

This is the friend who died, Enver Antonio Ávila, from Stockholm by way of Peru. He was a talented musician who taught music and math, spoke at least 5 languages (I'm pretty sure he was up to 7), wrote poetry and music, and took beautiful photographs. He was a health nut so it was more than a little surprising when he found out he had Stage 4 stomach cancer. We were internet friends only. He followed me on Twitter and then we became Facebook friends; I don't even remember when this happened, it's been so long ago. He was a voracious reader, particularly of poetry, and loved to travel. Tomas Tranströmer was his favorite poet. I don't know who took the photo; we never met in person so I snagged it from his Facebook page and hope the photographer won't mind. He will be missed.

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Fiona Friday - Somebody's watching

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

At the beginning of Little Fires Everywhere, the Richardson family watches as their house burns, everyone assuming the younger daughter, Izzy, is responsible. Then the author takes the story back in time to the arrival of Mia Warren, a photographer/artist who has lived a bit of a vagabond life with her daughter, seldom settling anywhere for longer than a matter of months. Mia has promised her daughter Pearl that they're finally going to stay in one place and they've moved into the Richardsons' rental. Is Mia running from something or is she simply moving for the sake of her art? What led Mia and Pearl to slide their key into the Richardsons' mailbox and head out of town just before the fire broke out?

I read Little Fires Everywhere for group discussion and I pretty much loved everything about it. It's one of those books in which the characters are so vividly described that you feel like they could step right out of the pages. And, while I have forgotten what I may have thought the theme to be, at the time I finished I felt like I had an understanding of what the author was trying to say when I closed the book.

Other than that, I had little to say about the book and was mostly silent during my book club's meeting. In fact, I was asked why I was so quiet, for once, and I said I liked the book a lot but I just didn't feel like I had anything to say about it -- other than the fact that I particularly loved reading about Mia's photography. One of our members noted that Little Fires Everwhere is mostly about the women: Mia, Mrs. Richardson, Pearl, and the two Richardson girls are the characters you follow most closely. There's a lot of food for thought.

Maybe I was just having an off night because I recall the dilemma about who should end up with a child, the adopted mother or the biological mother who gave her up during a time of stress, as the most interesting thing about the book. I felt torn because I could see both sides of the legal argument and how each of the mothers might feel. But, we didn't really talk about that for long, other than to acknowledge that the book seemed to be a story of motherhood in which the author described a number of different mothers, their desire to have a child, how they reacted when they became pregnant or didn't, what it's like to be a person who gives up a child or who chooses to abort one. Little Fires Everywhere definitely offers a number of perspectives on motherhood.

Highly recommended - When I finished the book, I looked up reviews by friends at Goodreads and found that at least one of my friends felt the opposite to how I felt -- she hated the photography details and didn't find the characterization went deep enough. Huh. I really thought the characterization was amazing, myself. At any rate, Little Fires Everywhere was a 5-star read for me and I haven't read Celest Ng's first book, so I'm looking forward to eventually reading it.

Note on the cover: I've posted the cover of the book I purchased, which was bought from Book Depository and is similar to American paperback covers.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi

However differently we express it, . . . faith shares an essential worldview: that the unseen is ultimately more real than the material, that this world is not a random construct but an expression, however veiled, of a purposeful creation. That we are not primarily bodies but souls, rooted in oneness. For me, the only notion more ludicrous than the existence of a Divine being that created and sustains us is the notion that this miracle of life, of consciousness, is coincidence.  

~ p. 8

I requested an ARC of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi, in part because I was hoping that it would shed some light on the Israel/Palestine situation. The book is a set of letters addressed generically to the people living near him, any Palestinian who may care to read one Israeli's thoughts on their territorial dispute, his beliefs and those of his people, what he proposes the most workable solution may be and why. It is absolutely not a primer in the history of the area and it is naturally a bit biased toward the Jewish point-of-view, although Halevi does his best to stay open-minded. If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that I did some online research and purchased a couple other books when I realized I just didn't know enough to fully understand this book.

My online research was enough to get a basic understanding and the two books: Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty (which is very deliberately unbiased) and Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martydom by Norman G. Finkelstein (which may possibly be biased toward the Palestinian side but I won't know till I read it) should fill in the gaps. The only thing I lack, at this point, is maps. I really could use a nice atlas -- online maps just don't cut it. Unfortunately, I haven't owned an atlas for quite a while, so I just had to make do with what I could find online when Halevi mentioned particular locations.

I found Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor thoughtful and carefully written. The author's story alone is quite interesting. Halevi is American by birth, but he's deeply religious and knew by the time he was about 13 years old that he would want to return to Israel (where he had recently traveled) permanently, someday. As a Jew, he would be granted citizenship. He eventually made that move and has been an Israeli citizen for over 30 years. From his home on a hill, he can see his Palestinian neighbors. Halevi believes in a two-state solution, but I think it's best if I share a few quotes from the book that I think do a good job of expressing his thoughts and/or personal beliefs.

The notion of a people chosen by God wasn't intended to bestow privilege but responsibility. Jewish history attests that this role carries more burden than glory. The classical way Jews understood their own history was as the story of a people failing to live in the intensity of God's presence. This is the story told by the Hebrew Bible -- a national epic astonishing in its relentless criticism of the people it is supposedly intended to celebrate. 

~ p. 60

Even as we seek a two-state solution, we will likely remain with a two-narrative problem. But that historical divide must not prevent a political compromise. I honor history--up to the point where it no longer inspires but imprisons. Accommodating both our narratives, learning to live with two contradictory stories, is the only way to deny the past a veto over the future. 

~ p. 88

We are trapped, you and I, in a seemingly hopeless cycle. Not a "cycle of violence" -- a lazy formulation that tells us nothing about why our conflict exists, let alone how to end it. Instead, we're trapped in what may be called a "cycle of denial." Your side denies my people's legitimacy, my right to self-determination, and my side prevents your people from achieving national sovereignty. The cycle of denial defines our shared existence, an impossible intimacy of violence, suppression, rage, despair. 

That is the cycle we can only break together. 

~ pp. 115-116

"Justice, justice, shall you pursue," commands the Torah. The rabbis ask: Why the repetition of the word "justice"? My answer has been shaped by our conflict: Sometimes the pursuit of justice means fulfilling two claims to justice, even when they clash. 

~ p. 124

With the notable exception of Jordan, which granted Palestinian refugees citizenship, the Arab world has kept Palestinians as refugees, stateless and in camps, politicizing their misery as permanent evidence against Israel. 

Meanwhile, other humanitarian emergencies demand attention. There are, at last count, some sixty million refugees around the world, many of them from new crises in the Middle East. The special status for Palestinian refugees is unsustainable. And given the certain opposition of any Israeli government to right of return to Israel proper, the issue has become one of the main obstacles to your hopes for national sovereignty.

~ pp. 132-133

The biblical prophecy is that, in the end of days, the nations will gather in pilgrimage to the Mount, and God's House will be "a House of Prayer for all people." I don't know how that will happen. Nor is it my religious obligation as a Jew to plan that moment. There is a wise rabbinic parable about how the future Temple will appear: in a cloud of fire, descending from Heaven. The parable is a warning, especially to Jews today who once again conrol Jerusalem: Rebuilding the Temple is not in your hands. Leave the Mount to God. 

~ p. 141

Recommended especially to those who have a working understanding of the Israel/Palestine situation - I went into the reading of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor knowing essentially nothing about Israel/Palestine. I had a lot of questions. I didn't understand the history, why many of my Christian friends blindly side with Israel, or what the potential options for solving this unique land dispute might be. I'd just started reading the book when the new American embassy was opened in Jerusalem and violence broke out, leading to the deaths of a substantial number of Palestinians. Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor reflects the opinions of one person, but it's a book that anyone knowledgeable about the situation can learn from.

If you're as unknowledgeable as I was (things are improving), I highly recommend reading up on the Israel/Palestine situation before diving into Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. What you'll get from the book is a particularly pointed understanding of the Israeli side. The book is not meant to be neutral but he does his best to describe his beliefs with empathy. The whole idea is to share his side and to explain that he believes a solution is feasible. Read it with an open mind and heart. I think Christians can learn a great deal from this book, as well. The final quote, above, particularly resonated with me. I'm really glad I read this book because it has led me to dive into a new learning experience that I'm enjoying.

Note: I'm in the market for an atlas, now. Suggestions are welcome.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday Twaddle

Happy Tuesday! Forgive the absence of a Monday Malarkey post. I was a mess, yesterday, thanks to a change in air pressure (migraine) and the after-effects of migraine med (sucky).

Recent arrivals:

  • Unicorn Food by Kat Odell - from Workman Publishing, and
  • Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech - from Harper - both for review via Shelf Awareness

I was kind of stunned to see Saving Winslow, a Sharon Creech book, offered via Shelf Awareness. She's a many-times-published Newbery Award winner and I've read quite a few of her books. I think I was even more surprised to receive a copy, since you don't always get the titles available for request. I would happily read it right this moment but it's a September release, so it's probably best if I wait. We'll see if I can contain myself. 

Unicorn Food's subtitle is "Beautiful Plant-Based Recipes to Nurture Your Inner Magical Beast" and it looks like a fun cookbook. The only problem I could see in flipping through the book was a big one, though: I have a feeling many of the ingredients will be difficult for us to acquire. I'll write a list, though, and see what I can come up with. It's an August release, so I have a couple months to see what we can gather to play with in the kitchen. 

Books finished since last malarkey:

  • Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

Yes, just a single book finished and it was a difficult one, the true story of escalating domestic abuse and the author's eventual escape. I'd hoped to finish up my middle reader, Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, this morning, but I couldn't find it after waking up from a particularly vivid nightmare (I'd already been killed once and was trying to escape to avoid being killed a second time, in the same way, on a separate timeline -- huh, sounds like it would make an interesting book). It was in a perfectly obvious place. Oh, well. Already up and at 'em when I located it, so no early-morning reading for me, but hopefully I'll finish that one tonight.

Currently reading:

  • Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour
  • High Season by Judy Blundell
  • Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty

Nadya Skylung is a middle grade fantasy adventure that takes place in a world in which people travel in the clouds because it's safer than travel by land or sea. The crew of the Cloudship Orion has been invaded by pirates and the children, who hid while the adults were taken captive, must go on a rescue. 

High Season is the beachy book I said I was going to start, last week. I've read about 1/4. It's a summer story about a woman who lives on the North Fork of Long Island and is forced to rent out her home during the summer months to stay afloat, the North Fork being the laid-back, less snobby end of Long Island (as opposed to the Hamptons). 

I didn't read much of Israel/Palestine, this week -- maybe 10 pages, at best. But, I'm finding that the information sticks just fine and hopefully I'll find the time and energy to read at least a few chapters, this week. I have quite a pile I want to read in June and not a lot of time left to fit them all in. Wish me luck. 

Last week's posts:

In other news:

I watched Small Island, the 2-part series based on Andrea Levy's book, this weekend. I've yet to read the book, but I can see my copy from my desk. I just looked it up and found out Small Island (the series) was released in 2009, which means the book must be at least a couple years older. That just goes to show how long I hold onto some books without getting around to reading them. I would never have guessed I'd had Small Island on my shelf for a decade.

And, we've just finished the 3rd season of Foyle's War. Also, my lunchtime obsession is back on. I was watching Psych on a small device that decided to go on the fritz but I figured out how to correct the issue and I'm back to watching an episode of Psych with lunch, when I can fit it in.

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

Friday, June 08, 2018

Fiona Friday - Pay attention to me

Isabel has things to say (and very dark lipstick).

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

Thursday, June 07, 2018

It's my bloggiversary!

Technically, yesterday was my bloggiversary but I was too tired to go buy the cake and candles, so I'm celebrating, today.

In case your math is fuzzy, I began blogging on June 6, 2006. I've been blogging for a dozen years! True, I took a couple breaks during which I thought I'd given up for good but they ended up not lasting all that long.

I had a bit of a snafu during the photography process:

It turns out Fiona likes frosting. Yes, she licked the cake. I wiped the frosting off, shooed her away and gave her some dental treats. It was nice of her to try to help, though.

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

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino

In The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino, a dying writer moves into a retirement home for writers, a converted mansion casually known as "The Pen". When the writer meets a young orderly named Cecibel, he's inspired to write one last story and joined in the project by two other writers who reside at the home.

Half of Cecibel's face is badly damaged from an accident. She hides the "monster" side from view and keeps to herself. But, when she meets Alphonse and becomes his muse, he inspires her, as well. Slowly, Cecibel's courage and willingness to expose her scars grows as Alphonse is writing his final words and taking his last breaths. Will Cecibel finally learn to face the world and take a chance on love?

Interspersed with the main story about the authors in the retirement home are the chapters of the book being written, a story of star-crossed young lovers living in the post-WWII era. She is the daughter of a powerful man, her marriage pre-arranged at the age of 12. He is one of two survivors of a terrible accident, separated from the only family he knows. They promise to love each other forever; but, when he joins the military and tragedy forces him to cut off communication, will she wait for him or marry the man to whom she's promised?

Recommended but not a favorite - I liked Cecibel's story and growth and there were times I was so completely swept into the story within the story (the one being written by Alphonse, et al.) that I would forget it was a second story within the book and then find it jarring when the tale of the retirement home resumed. One of the main things I disliked about both stories was the fact that there was a lot of lust and sex, little genuine affection and love. That bothered me because I like reading about relationships that begin with mutual attraction but grow into something deeper. Even Cecibel's story, which is the loveliest part, by far, felt like it was missing a little something, although it was definitely the most satisfying and I thought the ending was slightly far-fetched, yet gratifying.

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

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Hollywood Beach Beauties: Sea Sirens, Sun Goddesses, and Summer Style 1930-1970 by David Wills

Hollywood Beach Beauties by David Wills is a book of photographs, advertisements, and movie posters from the Thirties to early Seventies. Its subtitle does a good job of zoning in on the topics described in the text of the book (which was minimal, the book is mostly images and is divided by decade): "Sea Sirens, Sun Goddesses, and Summer Style, 1930-1970".  I'll admit up front to ignoring the subtitle because I was mostly in it for the vintage photography. I was curious about how the photography was done. For example: the changing poses and settings over the years. So, let's talk about the photography, first.

There were some really interesting things to note about the photography, but there were three things that really jumped out at me:

1. Poses have changed but not all that much - There are some photos, like the cover image, that look ridiculously posed and unnatural. And, I don't recall seeing models posing in bathing suits with high heels, before. But, there were also casual poses that have become more common in our era: the joyful beach photos in which models (the vast majority were also actors, not just models) jump in the air or splash in the water, for example, but there was a mix of happy and sexed-up photos. Note: from a fashion standpoint, it's extremely fun to see shoes of the various time periods.

2. Huge change in the body styles of models - While models in all 4 decades described were slender and beautiful, they were also curvy in earlier days, particularly in the 50s. And, quite a few of the early starlets who modeled bathing costumes were short. So, a good portion of them would be considered overweight by today's ridiculous modeling standards. It's notable that they looked every bit as terrific. You can't help but quickly note tricks to extend the length of legs, like the high heels, standing on tiptoes, toes pointed. I also noticed that the models tended to hunch their shoulders and clearly were pulling in their stomachs in many of the photos.

3. Almost no touch-ups - While some of the movie posters and advertisements were clearly manipulated (and many of the advertisements were artistic renditions rather than photographs), the vast majority appear unretouched. Some of the color photos, in fact, show that the models had skin that was burned in places. Poor Grace Kelly looked burned to a crisp in a beach photo from To Catch a Thief. A couple images also showed tan lines.

There's something deeply satisfying in the realization that women can still look utterly fabulous when nobody has gone in and removed the little pooches of skin that pucker above a bathing suit, thinned their thighs or made skin flawless with a computer program. I didn't expect to notice such details; as I mentioned, I was more interested in the changing photography than the human form or style. But, everything about the images ended up fascinating me.

Less interesting was the text, which I thought was a hot mess. While mostly about the crossover between modeling and acting and the changing styles of bathing suits, the author had a tendency to bombard the reader with names of actors who modeled, photographers, artists, and bathing suit designers . . . but then most of the photographs didn't show the specific suits or images described. At first, I went looking for particular images. One of the first models mentioned was not, in fact, shown at all. So, that baffled me. Then, I realized the author had chosen photos that matched the particular styles described without choosing the exact images that he had decided to highlight. I didn't care for that at all and I found the text really clunky and frustrating. But, at the same time I managed to learn a bit about changing styles, which was more interesting than I anticipated. I had no idea that early one-piece bathing suits of the type we wear today were knit and therefore very heavy when waterlogged. Nor did I realize that the early versions of stretchy bathing-suit material were quick to lose their shape. You couldn't just buy a swimsuit for the season, wear it for your daily dip in the pool, and expect it to last all summer.

Recommended to a specific audience - If you're interested in the photography alone, you might find this book a bit disappointing. But, I still enjoyed it. I just found that it held my interest for different reasons than I anticipated. It's more fascinating for the view of cultural and fashion changes than for the photography (my chief interest). So, I'd particularly recommend Hollywood Beach Beauties to people who are interested in fashion, with focus on bathing suits (although there is one photo of Audrey Hepburn in shorts -- totally out of place, I thought). It's also of interest for how women in movies were the models of most of the time period covered. And, if you have a fascination for old movie posters, you might enjoy how the beach images were incorporated into movie posters.

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

Monday, June 04, 2018

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • I Felt a Funeral in My Brain by Will Walton - purchased
  • 1968: Radical Protest and Its Enemies by Richard Vinen - from HarperCollins for review

I Felt a Funeral in My Brain was a pre-order that I'd forgotten about. I kind of love those. Sometimes I change my mind about a pre-order and cancel it but most are exciting surprises. I Felt a Funeral in My Brain was recommended by YA author Andrew Smith, whose recommendations have so far been impeccable. 

1968 is a year I've been reading about in other books, lately, so I jumped at the chance to read more when 1968: Radical Protest and Its Enemies became available for request. I'm looking forward to reading more about the year. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  • Hollywood Beach Beauties by David Wills

I finished Don Quixote!!! Yippee!! As Tina said, now I can return to regularly scheduled programming. More importantly, I've finally made it through a chunkster classic that I've been trying to conquer for decades. Woot!

Currently reading:

  • Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty
  • Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg

Except, I haven't touched either book in almost a week. So, that should say, "currently have bookmarks between their covers". I'm planning to start a beachy read, tonight, also. Jenny mentioned that my reads have been awfully heavy for summer (good point - the latter book is a memoir of domestic violence) and I decided she was definitely right about that. So, I hope to lighten up the reading a bit by adding a beachy read and maybe a middle reader that's on the stacks.

Last week's posts:

So glad I was able to pre-post two reviews. That really helped allow me to relax and focus on finishing up Don Quixote. At the moment, 5 unreviewed books remain (all of which I've just gotten started, in some way, even if only to open a new post and add the cover image). I may double up on reviews to get those out of the way, this week, because I love the sensation of being all caught up. 

In other news:

I'm still watching episodes of Psych, now and then (now on Season 3) but Huzzybuns and I have also begun watching Foyle's War from the beginning. I've always liked Foyle's War but felt like I was missing something and, sure enough, it's much better in context -- watching the series in order really makes a difference. Now, I've seen Sam arrive, heard why Foyle needed a driver and why his driver is not a police officer, seen his son Andrew go off for training and nearly get framed for something his superior officer did. I know that Foyle didn't want to stay in Hastings (in fact, I don't know if he remains in Hastings -- if so, I never realized that's where the series was set). And, we're seeing the events of the war unfold in order. It makes so much more sense when you watch this series from the beginning.

Psych is still fun as ever. I watch an episode when I'm in the mood for an upper. Foyle's War episodes are much longer and more of a time investment, so we have to plan the viewing rather than just turn it on randomly.

I haven't watched any Dr. Who in weeks. That's mostly because the last episode I watched was particularly boring -- so boring that it totally drove me away. Maybe I need to just go back and skip past that episode. I'm really looking forward to getting to the Tom Baker years. Tom Baker was my introduction to Dr. Who and he will always be my favorite.

What are you reading and watching?

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

Friday, June 01, 2018

Fiona Friday - How to relax

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages

Out of Left Field is about a girl named Katy Gordon. Katy loves baseball and she's an excellent pitcher, the best in her neighborhood. The boys all know it and they're happy to have her pitch in their local sandlot ball games. But, when a man comes to one of the ball games and mistakes Katy for a boy, she doesn't correct him. He observes her skill and invites her to try out for Little League. Katy is excited until she gets to the tryouts and is turned down flat. It's 1957 and the rules are clear: Little League is for boys only, no girls allowed.

Katy's parents are divorced and her all-female family is accustomed to discrimination against females. Her mother and one of her sisters work in male-dominated fields. So, when her mother suggests researching women in baseball to try to sway the minds of those in charge of Little League, she's excited. And, she's stunned to find that women's baseball leagues and women playing baseball with men were a lot more common in the past. But, will her research be enough to get Katy into Little League?

There were several things I absolutely loved about Out of Left Field. One is that it becomes clear up front that Katy is not going to succeed and she pretty much understands that. But, she learns to take joy from the research itself and her mother, a scientist, is very helpful and supportive. I particularly liked this quote by her mother:

"Good research skills are a secret weapon that will come in handy down the road."

I also loved the fact that while Out of Left Field describes a discriminatory practice, it also shows that when you're really good at something, those around you will notice. You may run up against institutional discrimination but you'll also find people who appreciate your skill (the neighborhood boys, in this case). That's a decent lesson, since girls/women still experience the frustration of being treated differently because of their sex.

And, I loved the extra material at the end of the book. There's a nice section with mini-bios of women who were well-known baseball players. Some didn't get very far, some had careers that lasted as long as a couple decades. And then there were the all-women's baseball teams that were created to keep baseball leagues earning money during wartime, like the women in the movie A League of Their Own. The history of women in baseball was fascinating and describing it through the fictional eyes of young Katy made the learning fun.

Highly recommended - A fun story and also a very informative middle-grade novel about the surprising history of women in baseball and how the history was almost entirely erased, women's ability to join baseball teams quashed. While the book is mostly about Katy's choice to research, the author kept it interesting. I loved learning about women in baseball. Apart from watching A League of Their Own, I had never read or heard anything about women in baseball. Only one of the women described was familiar to me: Babe Didrikson Zaharias. And, that was because of yet another movie. I also thought the author did a marvelous job of describing the historical setting, a time when the Soviets were winning the early space race. I'd heard of the Sputnik satellites but hadn't heard of the Vanguard satellite failures, so I ended up watching a video of the failed first launch on YouTube. The 50s setting was nicely described; I really enjoyed that.

The book includes a glossary of terms used in the book and a list of additional reading materials.

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

A note up front: The Endless Beach is apparently a follow-up book to The Café by the Sea (I couldn't tell if there was only one previous book or more from the author's intro, but I suspect that it's the second book that takes place with the same characters). While the author did a good job of catching up readers who missed the first book, I think it would have been more enjoyable to read The Café by the Sea, first.

Flora is the proprietor of the small Café by the Sea, a little shop that caters to the needs of islanders on the Scottish island of Mure. Flora has been in a relationship with her former boss, Joel, since he followed her to Mure and she gave up her London job. Now, Joel is working for a fabulously wealthy man who has fallen in love with Flora's brother and is planning to open a hotel on the island. The job is taking Joel away to New York City for long stretches and Flora is beginning to have doubts. Is he really the man for her?

Meanwhile, the café is beginning to struggle. After Flora caters a wedding, she has difficulty getting the bride to pay up. And, her low prices are starting to hit the bottom line hard. At the same time, whales have been seen off the coast of Mure. They're considered a bad omen and Flora is feeling uneasy.

What will become of Flora's relationship with Joel? What is his fabulously wealthy boss's crushing secret? And, will Flora be able to save the café?

There are other things going on in The Endless Beach. It has a bit of a soap opera feel (which I love), like you're a part of this little community and become invested in everyone's life. The local doctor, for example, left a wife and two children behind in Syria and a teacher and friend of Flora's has fallen for him. But, when he hears news about his family from a social worker, his world is turned upside-down and the teacher is left torn.

Highly recommended - I suggest reading The Café by the Sea, first, because I had a little difficulty understanding where the characters were coming from, in spite of the fact that the author catches you up nicely on events that occurred in the previous book. If you can't get your mitts on the first book you'll be fine; reading the first will just acquaint you with the characters and the background of the second book better. I love that feeling that you're swept into the happenings of the island and get a feel for the community, not just the main characters. And, I love Jenny Colgan's writing, in general. It leans "cheerful", even when the characters are facing challenges.

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

Monday, May 28, 2018

Monday Malarkey

A few words, in case you missed last week's update. I'm going to dedicate this week to finishing off Don Quixote, primarily to avoid being institutionalized. However, I pre-posted two reviews and will stop by Facebook and Twitter to add links to them when they publish. I'll also post a Fiona Friday pic because that's easy peasy. So, the only difference between this week and any other week is that I'll be off the Internet, except when I need to post links to the reviews that have been pre-scheduled. Otherwise, I plan to avoid social media to encourage the reading.

Recent arrivals:

  • My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan - purchased
  • Mad Boy by Nick Arvin - from Europa Editions

I requested My Oxford Year for review but didn't get a copy and since it was one of my most anticipated books (I've been to Oxford and love England, in general, as a setting), I decided to go ahead and order a copy. Mad Boy is a finished copy that was kindly sent by Europa Editions. I'd already reviewed the book, by the time it arrived, and I will proudly add this one to the good shelves. It is one of the most memorable, clever, unique books I've read in 2018. Grab a copy. You won't regret it.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold
  • The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino

If nothing else, it was definitely my week for reading books with lengthy titles. I struggled a little with both of these. Sometimes I felt like I knew where Noah Hypnotik was going and I would love it for a while and then I'd feel lost. Bar Harbor was similarly frustrating in that I would get completely immersed in certain passages and those characters would begin to feel like I could touch them. And, then some poorly-written sentence would throw me out of their world. So, neither was a brilliant read but I don't regret the reading of either of them.

Currently reading:

  • Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty
  • Don Quixote by Cervantes

I didn't read a page of either of these till last night, when I closed The Bar Harbor Retirement Home, etc. Then, I read a bit of Israel/Palestine. I'll probably begin my DON QUIXOTE OR BUST reading week, tomorrow (when family members are back at work) because I can just visualize myself picking up my chunkster and getting interrupted. Better to wait till quiet descends. I will keep reading it till I'm done. If I haven't finished by next Monday, expect a pool of blood instead of a Monday Malarkey post and a headline, "Woman Driven to Madness by Inability to Finish Don Quixote." Film at 11.

Last week's posts:

Oops, I just noticed I neglected to write the author's name in the subject line of my Noah Hypnotik post, so I've corrected and republished that.

In other news:

It's so stinking hot and humid that I'm trying to think up cold places to fly. Youngest son was in a cold climate, last week, scouting out a site to build a well (I think?) in Ecuador with Engineers Without Borders. "Ecuador," he said, "is very photogenic." True. I'm particularly fond of the photo he took of an alpaca with volcanoes in the background and another (in a national park) of a caldera, now a lake. Gorgeous. So envious of his week in the cold. It looks like the first named tropical storm of the season has landed far to the East of us, so we get a break from thunderstorms during the daylight hours, although we've been having afternoon and nightly pop-up storms almost daily. I miss winter. Winter in the South is so pleasant.

Also, just FYI, another one of my cats has melted.

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

Friday, May 25, 2018

Fiona Friday - Another Izzy close-up

Note: I have pre-posted a couple reviews for next week and will plan to go ahead and do a Monday Malarkey post and probably a Fiona Friday. So, while I may be a bit slower to respond to comments and post links to Facebook and Twitter, there will be posts while I'm away reading Don Quixote, next week.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

Mr. Tuttle instructed us to open our Steinbeck tomes, and our laughs were replaced with visions of dust and booze and haggard tires on the road West, where the busty, analogous milky white breasts of rural America patiently awaited our arrival. 

~from p. 38 of ARC, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is the story of Noah Oakman, a high school student with two extremely close friends, siblings named Alan and Val. Toward the beginning of the book, Val pressures Noah into going to a party. Noah has been a little off since he faked a swimming injury and his parents have been nudging him to make a decision about the college scholarship he's been offered. He doesn't want to go to a party. He doesn't want to go anywhere. And, he really doesn't want to swim in college. But, he and the Rosa-Haas siblings are close so he reluctantly agrees to go to the party with them.

At the party, Noah does something he doesn't usually do: he drinks. Heavily. And, then he says something regrettable to Alan and goes to hang out with a guy named Circuit. What happens after he leaves Circuit's house is as psychedelic as the cover of the book. Suddenly, things around him have changed. His weird little dog has become normal, his mother has a scar he's never seen, and his best friends are no longer planning to attend colleges that are close to home. What's happened? Circuit's father was an inventor and Circuit is equally geeky. Did Circuit do something to Noah's brain? To find out, Noah zones in on the few things that haven't changed: his sister and his Strange Fascinations among them. By researching these things, maybe he can figure out what's happened to the world -- or to his mind.

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is told in first person, so you're in Noah's mind while he's trying to figure these things out and it's sometimes merely disorienting, sometimes confusing. As I mentioned earlier, the first part of the book befuddled me so much that I stopped at page 66 and started all over again. After that, I began to feel like I understood what was happening -- something had happened to Noah and he was on a quest to solve the mystery of why things had changed -- but I still often felt unbalanced during the reading and occasionally wondered if I would have set the book aside entirely, if not for the fact that I was obligated to write a tour post.

Having said that, I eventually began to embrace the hallucinogenic aspect of the book, even if I didn't always thoroughly understand what was happening. Throughout the book, it continued to feel a bit like the author was herding cats, or trying to and failing. But, the last 50 pages or so is where the cats all end up piled on top of each other on the same warm blanket; meaning, the ending is satisfying and pulls everything together.

Recommended - While this book felt, at times, like a rambling mess, it all comes together in the end and it's worth sticking it out through the insanity. At least, that's how I felt upon closing the book. I would suggest saving this book for when you're in the mood for something truly weird but clever. The writing is, in fact, almost too wise to believe it could be the thoughts of a 16-year-old, at times, although perhaps I'm too far removed from 16 to have any idea how a teenager thinks. What I liked best about the book was the relationship between the three friends. The author did a great job of emphasizing how rare and beautiful that kind of deep friendship is and why it should be treasured.

Side note: One of Noah's obsessions (or "Strange Fascinations", as he refers to them) is a book by a fictional author named Mila Henry. Her oddities are so believable that I ended up looking online to see if there really was a famous author named Mila Henry that I'd never heard about. Well, no. She's fictional, all right. Oddly, there is a Mila Henry who pops up when you do a general search -- a New York based pianist, coach, and music director. Music plays a heavy role in the book, as well (David Bowie's music) so I thought that was an interesting coincidence.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mad Boy by Nick Arvin

Mad Boy: An Account of Henry Phipps in the War of 1812 is the story of a boy who decides he must fulfill his mother's wish to bury her by the sea. Clocking in at a mere 236 pages, it is quite a tale of adventure. At the beginning of Mad Boy, Henry's mother is still alive. His father is in debtor's prison and Henry has just been told his older brother has been shot for going AWOL. The family has been in decline for several generations and has switched places with a former tenant, going from landlord to tenant, big house to dilapidated cabin. Henry's older brother has been in a relationship with the landlord's daughter but went off to war to earn soldier's pay when his father's drinking and gambling pushed them too far into debt.

So, everything is already falling apart when Henry's mother is tragically killed, leaving Henry to deal with figuring out how to get her body to Baltimore to be buried near her family and the sea, her first love. Meanwhile, there are Redcoats roaming the area, pillaging and causing all manner of trouble. And, Henry's path to the sea is not direct, to say the least.

I'm not going to say any more because it's so much fun to read the unfolding story, although I think it's of particular interest that Henry's mother is apparently bipolar. He describes her as talking non-stop and working herself to the bone when she's well, refusing to leave her bed and facing the wall when she's not. Henry continues to hear her chattering after she's killed, one of the most entertaining and endearing aspects of the book.

Highly recommended - I absolutely loved this book. It's both beautifully written and somewhat nuts, a young boy trying to haul his mother's body to the sea while war is going on around him and his mother's ghost occasionally tells him what to do. Toward the beginning of the book there are some graphic scenes that are a bit stomach-turning, but then the story becomes less gruesome and more adventurous. Henry is an interesting character and the family dynamics, the surprising things that happen (note: Henry is a very smart and restless boy), the battles around him, and the denouement are all utterly captivating. Chances are good that I'm going to spring for Nick Arvin's older book, Articles of War, very soon. I love his writing.

Mad Boy is a June release. I love this book and look at that cover! Isn't it marvelous? The copy I read was an ARC received from Europa Editions. I don't think I've ever read a book set during the War of 1812, before. I really enjoyed the setting and you know I'm going to feel compelled to read more about the War of 1812. That's how it always works, right?

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

April Reads in Review, 2018

April (links lead to reviews):

38. Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie - Mini bios of various real-life princesses who plotted, schemed, stole power, made questionable choices, partied, were known for their sexual exploits, were crazy or acted like it, or who fought their own battles. An interesting book that led to a bit of further exploration on my part. I had favorites amongst the princesses.

39. The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody by Matthew Landis - When a Civil War buff and reenactor in middle school is given a disappointing assignment and an unexpected partner, he's bemused. But, then he makes some interesting discoveries; boring soldiers can have interesting stories and scruffy girls can turn out to be smart and appealing, after all. So. Much. Fun. Loved this book.

40. Look for Her by Emily Winslow - A long-missing student, a stained skirt, and two women who both are obsessed with the missing girl lead two investigators on a surprising path. The fourth book in a series, very good but not a personal favorite. I hadn't read the first three but the author does a fantastic job of catching you up without giving anything away.

41. Rocket Men by Robert Kurson - The true story of Apollo 8, the first mission to circle the moon in preparation for the moon landing and how it was rushed into completion in order to beat the Soviets in the space race. The author chose to highlight the personal stories of the astronauts and their wives as all three astronauts are still married (and alive) -- unusual for such an all-consuming and high-pressure job.

42. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson - A retelling of Romeo and Juliet for the YA crowd, in which a young couple literally bump into each other and meet eyes over the fallen books. Instant attraction becomes love that leads to tragedy. But, there's a softer, kinder ending with hope.

43. Sleep Train by Jonathan London and Lauren Eldridge - Inside a train traveling across the countryside, a little boy in the sleeping car reads the book he's in, counting the cars on the train instead of sheep and slowly falling to sleep. A gorgeous book.

44. But the Bear Came Back by Tammi Sauer and Dan Taylor - A very persistent bear keeps showing up at a little boy's house and he tells the bear to go away, repeatedly and without success. Till, one day, the boy shouts and the bear leaves. Then, the boy realizes just how much he misses the bear, who has become his friend. Charming.

45. Albie Newton by Josh Funk and Ester Garay - A boy genius moves to a new school in the middle of the year and decides to build something for his classmates, unaware that his single-minded focus is causing chaos in the classroom. Cute story and I love what Albie builds.

46. How to Forget a Duke by Vivienne Lorret - One of three sisters running a marriage agency goes to snoop on a duke in order to find out what he's hiding and find him a perfect matchmate. But, when she's injured and loses her memory, the duke must shelter her at his ancestral home while she recovers. Slow burn romance. I loved this book and a friend I loaned it to was also impressed.

47. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders - A variety of voices tell the story of Willie Lincoln's death in the White House and how his father's love holds poor Willie's soul back instead of allowing him to move on. A little scattered for my taste but I loved the ending and Saunders' writing just blows me away.

48. Isosceles' Day by Kevin Meehan - Isosceles is a black labrador and the book is supposed to show a day in his life but I found it rather baffling and poorly written so I opted not to review it. If you can tolerate overly-rhyming text, the illustrations are beautiful.

49. Tin Man by Sarah Winman - After a tragic loss, a widower is working the night shift to avoid tossing and turning through the night. Then, a young co-worker cuts straight to the heart of his pain and helps him begin to heal. An immensely moving and tender story.

50. Warren the 13th and The Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle - When disaster strikes Warren the 13th's hotel, he must venture out to find what he needs to get the hotel up and running. But, there are many dangers in the forest and a mimic takes over his hotel. A wonderful second entry in this delightful series. I love Warren.

51. The Reckless Rescue (The Explorers #2) by Adrienne Kress - A map memorized by a boy with a photographic memory leads to the boy being kidnapped. His best friend promises to rescue him. Action and adventure ensue as the two characters attempt to elude the dangerous men in search of the same map pieces as the children. Another fun entry but not as memorable as the first in the series. Love the humor in this series.

52. Daddies Do by Lezlie Evans and Elisa Ferro - A colorful book about the things daddies do with their children, with illustrations showing animal daddies and their furkids. Love the brightly-colored illustrations and the sweetness of daddies playing with, reading to their children, etc.

53. Boots on the Ground by Elizabeth Partridge - Biographies of people who served in Vietnam (and one who escaped during the fall of Saigon) interspersed with chapters about what was happening in politics and the American peace movement at the time. Concludes with the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial and how it helped those who served. The ending is particularly moving.

Wow, what a month! I liked or loved almost everything I read. Favorites were The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody, Rocket Men, How to Forget a Duke, If You Come Softly, Tin Man, Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods, and Boots on the Ground.

Boots on the Ground was particularly meaningful and, almost coincidentally, 700 bikers (motorcyclists) traveled through our area, this weekend, on the Trail of Honor -- the annual trek to the Vietnam Memorial. I saw the helicopters flying above them and wondered what was happening. The sheer size of that group just goes to show how important the memorial was and is to the healing of those who served in Vietnam. I loved the way author Elizabeth Partridge described the memorial's creation and its importance in Boots on the Ground.

I liked everything else, with the single exception that I left unreviewed. It was a great month. Lots of children's books, a mystery, a romance, a nonfiction about a space mission, another about princesses, and a third about people who experienced the Vietnam War, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet for the YA crowd, and a couple literary titles. It was definitely an interesting month and a good one!

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday Malarkey

Happy Monday! I hope you had a good weekend.

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • The Muse by Jessie Burton
  • Siracusa by Delia Ephron
  • Fire and Forget (short stories), ed. by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher
  • Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty
  • Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom by Norman G. Finkelstein

All were purchased. The Muse and Siracusa were bought for F2F discussion but then our calendar showed up and The Muse wasn't on it, so I may have jumped the gun. I thought it was a definite. It sounds good, though, so I won't consider that a bad purchase if it doesn't end up being a discussion book. Fire and Forget has a story each by two authors I've enjoyed: Siobhan Fallon and David Abrams (and I love war stories), so that was a bit of an impulse purchase after David Abrams mentioned it on Facebook. And, I bought Israel/Palestine and Gaza to try to fill out my understanding of the history of the region. Gaza's subtitle indicates that it might be a bit biased but Israel/Palestine is written with a neutral tone and I just finished a book by someone writing from the Jewish perspective, so it should all balance out.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages
  • Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi

Not a big reading week but both books were excellent.

Currently reading:

  • Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty
  • The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold
  • Don Quixote by Cervantes

Quite a hodgepodge, there. I took a day to study up on the Israel/Palestine region and the conflict (the slash is to show that the area currently occupied by Israelis is also claimed by Palestinians, in order to remain neutral, in the title of the book I bought) to help me put Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor into perspective because I knew basically nothing. The reading is timely, since our embassy has just been moved to Jerusalem and I had no understanding at all of why that would cause conflict and/or why people I know tend to take a particular side. Israel/Palestine is written for people like myself, who know little to nothing and it's very educational. I'm learning a lot!

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a YA tour book.  I was struggling with this one, finding it directionless. So, last night I started over from the beginning, rereading the first 60-something pages. That helped. It's finally starting to coelesce around its subject, now, at 100 pages. The tour is scheduled for Thursday and I'm relieved that rereading it helped me make sense of where it was headed. The narrator rambles a bit, so the first of the book felt like gathering helium-filled balloons that had floated to separate corners and now the author is tying their strings together.

And, I've decided I'm going to go ahead and take off next week from blogging and other books to finish up Don Quixote. I can't stand to have that book hanging over my head any longer and I'm eager to move on to my second chunkster-classic, Gone With the Wind. If I find enough time to pre-post reviews, though, I'll go ahead and get some posts written for next week. I'll update on Friday to let you know whether or not there will be any posts, next week.

Last week's posts: 

I had a great blogging week! All of those books are children's (picture books to middle readers). I'm really loving the children's books, this year. 

In other news:

I finally finished reviewing my April reads, so I'm working on my monthly "Reads in Brief" post for April. It was quite a substantial stack. This month won't be so great quantity-wise but that's not a bad thing. I need to catch up with myself a bit.

After a bit of reflection, I've decided to make that week off from blogging and reading books other than Don Quixote an internet break because staying off the internet will help me finish faster. Again, I'll let you know if I get around to pre-posting. It won't hurt to at least get on to post links on Facebook and Twitter, even if I'm taking off otherwise from the Internet.

We tried a broccoli salad recipe from the B.T.C. Cookbook, this weekend, and it's so good I want to make it a regular staple. In case you're not familiar with the cookbook, it's recipes from someone who runs a restaurant and grocery store in Taylor, Mississippi. We've bought various casseroles and other pre-made items from B.T.C. Grocery for years, so we were really excited when they came out with a cookbook. So far, we've loved absolutely everything we've cooked from that book. It's Southern recipes, so it leans high-fat, but also high-flavor.

Happy reading!

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fiona Friday - Fiona doing a melt

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