Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman - purchased

It was not that long ago that such a thick book (nearly 1,000 pages) would have intimidated me so thoroughly that I wouldn't have even remotely considered tackling it. I think maybe Don Quixote has made me cocky — or, at least, broken the spell. At any rate, I'm looking forward to Ducks, Newburyport but I will not read it till after I've succeeded at reading Gone With the Wind. Priorities.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
  • Collage and Construction by Harvey Weiss
  • After the Flood by Kassandra Montag

The Rent Collector (link to review, below) is my F2F discussion book for September and I went ahead and reviewed it while it was fresh in my mind, rather than waiting till after the discussion. I enjoyed it and I'm sure the discussion will be a good one. Collage and Construction (an instructional art book) is an old library sale find that I've had for ages, published in 1970. I found it while looking for books to donate and since it was only 62 pages long, I decided to just give it a quick read before donating. It's ugly and water-stained but the content was fascinating! I finished After the Flood at a little after midnight, last night. It's an interesting read but it's fairly slow of pace (apart from some heart-pounding action scenes) so I was just ready to be done with it, to be honest, but don't get me wrong . . . I enjoyed it. More on that, soon.

Currently reading:

  • Summary of the Mueller Report by Thomas E. Patterson

Since I just finished After the Flood, I haven't started my next novel. I'm not far into the Summary of the Mueller Report. One nice thing about it, though, is that the author/professor who abridged the report totally eliminated all of the footnotes. Much appreciated. I think they're important, at times, but if you just want an overview not having to constantly look back and forth makes it a lot more readable. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

I watched a movie, this weekend! It was an old one, but other than The Royal (which I also viewed and finally finished), it's one of the few things I've seen on TV in a while. The movie is Three Days of the Condor, a 1970s-era movie starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. It has me thinking I might want to have a Robert Redfordathon. There are quite a few Redford movies that I love.

Out of curiosity, I just looked up Three Days of the Condor and found that it was released in 1975 and has an 86% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

As to that newly-updated review policy, between that and my book-buying ban (which has lasted at least 10 days — I know, but it's hard, people!) there should be relatively few books to photograph in the near future. And, at some point I'll be going on an extended blog break, which will mean shuttering the blog for at least a month, possibly much longer. I'm not thrilled about it but you do what you have to do and I have no control over what's to come. I'll let you know what's up when the time comes. At any rate, till then it'll be business as usual but I'll just be working from the ARC backlog.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Review Policy - Updated 9/15/19

Update: I am not currently accepting books for review. 

I'm going to keep the previous listed conditions in place at the bottom section of this post so that I have the old policy handy if/when I return to reviewing a broad variety of books, but at this point I have a backlog of ARCs and I'm expecting to have to take from 6 weeks to several months off, soon, due to events beyond my control. 

Effective immediately. 

Best to all,

September 15, 2019

Ignore the following, please.

1. No e-books, PDFs or self-published books will be accepted, ever. I tried electronic books and discovered that I need and desire a solid book in hand, the ability to mark passages with Post-its, the feel of placing a bookmark inside a book and the satisfaction of closing a book when done. The only exception to this rule is self-published, bound books by friends or relatives. If you don't already know me, sorry.

2. I do not review books that require a post on a specific date, aka "book tours" or any other scheduled reviews, nor will I post specified content. My blog, my content.

3.  Any books accepted for review are subject to being ditched if they don't work for me. If I choose to DNF (Did Not Finish) a book, I reserve the right to say nothing at all about the book.

4. This is a new condition: If I accept a book for review, a "review" may consist of something as minimal as a single paragraph. You can say quite a bit in less than 50 words; I've discovered that during the times I've written "month in review" posts. But, don't ask me to review a book at all if you're not willing to accept very brief thoughts.

5.  I reserve the right to change this policy at any time.

Thanks for visiting my blog!


Friday, September 13, 2019

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

I had to ponder The Rent Collector for a bit before even considering writing a review. There were things about it that felt a little off to me. It's the story of a little family in Cambodia (based on real characters but heavily fictionalized). Sang Ly and Ki Lim live in a dump and pick through trash to find items they can sell. Their baby, Nisay, has been sick all his life. Even when they occasionally manage to get treatment, once the antibiotics run out he goes right back to being sick.

Sopeap is a drunken woman who collects the rent monthly. When Ki Lim finds a children's book in the garbage, Sang Ly is excited. Nisay will have a little treasure. But, something remarkable happens to Sopeap when she sees the book and Sang Ly realizes the rent collector knows how to read. She asks Sopeap to teach her, so that she can better their lives. Gradually, Sopeap's former life (before the Khmer Rouge slaughtered the educated) comes out through her teaching.

I was most fascinated by the mystery of Sopeap. Who was she? How did she end up in a dump if she was an educated woman and why did she drink heavily? What had happened to her to make her such a mess?

The story is told a little like a fable and very much like the stories that Sopeap teaches Sang Ly to read. Inside the story, there are lessons. They aren't always what you want to hear. Heroes and villains may have elements of evil or humanity in them, respectively. Things may not turn out the way you expect. But, somewhere in there are the universal themes and similar tales that continue to be retold — always a journey, whether internal or external.

I glanced across a few reviews and noticed that people spotted the same things I did. Sang Ly does not sound like a poor person who lives in a dump. She has a pretty substantial vocabulary and she learns to read at a startling speed. But, I think if you focus on such details, you're missing the point.

The Rent Collector is about literature, about life, about finding the meaning in both that may or may not be hidden. If you look at it too literally, what the author is attempting to say will just buzz right past you. One of those themes was obviously that you should find beauty wherever you are. Kind of a "bloom where you're planted" thing. A little trite, maybe, but I loved the unfolding mystery of Sopeap's past, the growing friendship between Sang Ly and Sopeap, the way Sang Ly helps Sopeap find redemption, the quest for a cure for little Nisay, and the general loveliness of the storytelling.

Highly recommended - While not a 5-star read because I did occasionally have trouble with clinging to reality instead of sinking into the story itself and allowing it to envelope me like a dream, I thought it was a terrific read and it makes me want to learn more about Cambodia and its people.

I bought The Rent Collector for group discussion and I'm looking forward to my next book group meeting. I think we'll have a lot to discuss. If I feel like anything said during the discussion is worth mentioning, I'll return to post about it, after the meeting.

I didn't get any great cat photos, this week, so if I manage to snap anything tonight, I'll post it on Saturday. If not, Fiona Friday will return next week.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Invisible as Air by Zoe Fishman

Either he did this all the time or he would make a one-time exception for a friend; she didn't care. She just wanted the pills. So badly. 

Just these few hours without them in her system, her world was too much. Edges were sharper, the sun was hotter, her unresolved emotions too present. Sylvie much preferred the alternative. She would do what she had to do. 

~ fr. p. 252 of Advance Reader Copy, Invisible as Air

Teddy stopped eating, his stomach suddenly full. His parents didn't so much argue when they argued; his mom just lobbed firecrackers while his dad retaliated with water balloons. 

~ fr. p. 260 of ARC

In Invisible as Air, Sylvie has been privately grieving her stillborn daughter for 3 years but she has been unwilling to even say Delilah's name aloud. She's become distant and snappish. Her husband, Paul, has channeled his grief in a different way, exercising vigorously and becoming a shopaholic. He's purchased so much unneeded exercise equipment that credit card debt has become a problem. Their son Teddy is on the cusp of turning 13 and Sylvie is nervous about planning his bar mitzvah while dealing with work, the PTA, homemaking, and a homebound husband who has broken an ankle in a biking accident.

As a newish health nut, Paul has decided to battle through the pain of his broken ankle rather than taking the prescribed painkillers and one day Sylvie decides to take one of his pills. Just this once, she'd like to feel a little lighter. The pill makes her feel relaxed, happy, and less stressed. It even makes her kinder to the people around her. So, she starts taking one a day and then two. It doesn't take long before she's hiding the pills and then stealing to keep from having to stop taking them. While she's sinking into addiction and spiraling out of control, her new attitude actually seems to be a good thing from Paul's perspective. But, when Sylvie can no longer bear the thought of doing without the pills, can she stop taking them? Or, will her family find out and intervene?

Recommended - Unputdownable. at least for this reader. An easy read with great flow, nicely paced, which is told from three separate points-of-view: those of Sylvie, Paul, and Teddy. While I was slightly surprised by some errors (bearing in mind that I have an Advance Reader Copy) that I tend to think of as typical of newer writers, which Zoe Fishman is not, they were blips. I just had to know what was going to happen with Sylvie and stayed up way too late finishing the book. There's also one possible research flaw that I consider significant. But, again, because I found Invisible as Air so gripping, I only knocked off a point for the things I found questionable.

I think it's worth adding that Invisible as Air could be triggering for anyone who has lost a child to stillbirth as it really digs into the lasting grief felt by each of the family members and how they responded to it.

I received a copy of Invisible as Air from HarperCollins in exchange for my unbiased review. The paperback has some extra features: a conversation with the author, reading group guide, and information about other books by the author. My thanks to HarperCollins!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling is the second in a series and — full disclosure — I haven't read the first: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. But I loved Momentous Events (I'm going to shorten the title, from here on out, to save time) and there were only a couple minor confusion factors, once I got into it.

Aven is starting high school and her friend Connor has moved away. It's hard enough dealing with the change of schools and all the new people but there's an extra complication for Aven: she's armless. In the first book, she moved from Kansas to a Western amusement park in Arizona. Now, her buddy Connor's absence has left her with a single friend at the new school, Zion. When a good-looking football player takes an interest in Aven, Zion warns her that he's bad news. But, Aven is friendly and she likes the attention. When things turn out badly, the experience causes Aven to lose trust and retreat from people who genuinely care for her. Who can she rely on? Who is just being nice because she has no arms or pretending to like her? Aven is a positive thinker and self-reliant, but even with her terrific attitude, the humiliation of how she's treated by people at her new school gets her down. Can she learn to trust, again, and even find love?

Highly recommended - I adored this book. Aven is a great character with realistic challenges and a terrific sense of humor. Momentous Events is entertaining and upbeat with valuable lessons and terrific characters.

I had a tiny bit of trouble with reading the books out of order, although never enough to slow me down for long and it just had to do with characters who were introduced in the first book. It took me a while to realize that Joe and Josephine were one and the same, for example, and to figure out the relationship between Joe and Aven (Josephine, aka "Joe", is Aven's grandmother). There should be no problem if you read the two in order, but at most the book could have used an introductory sentence or two to clarify who various characters were.

Momentous Events still stands alone fine, otherwise. What's important to focus on is Aven, her closest friends, and the challenges that she faces. It's easy to get behind Aven because she's so likable and interesting. I kept imagining myself in her shoes. She is tremendously adaptable — playing the guitar, eating, and doing just about everything you can imagine doing with your hands with her feet, instead. Aven is used to being stared at by curious people but it's still uncomfortable. And, yet, she is such a happy, positive little clam. You can't help but love her. I wish there were more books that portrayed people with unique challenges as just humans like anyone else, the way Momentous Events does. Reading about a character like Aven is a fantastic way to learn about what it's like to live with a disability.

I received a copy of Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus from Sterling Children's Books for review and it is by far one of the best children's books I've read, this year. My thanks to Sterling! Momentous Events would work equally well for middle grade or high school readers, in my humble opinion. Aven was in middle school in the previous book. Which, ugh, I so want to read. This book-buying ban already sucks.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas - purchased
  • You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley - from Berkley for review
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone - purchased
  • Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli - purchased 

This is an interesting assortment, yes? The Count of Monte Cristo has long been one of the books I list in my top 5 and it's my #1 favorite classic, but guess what? I have been reading the abridged version without realizing it for . . . well, a long time. I've read it several times. I only found out my version is abridged about a year or two ago (it's not stated prominently, inside or out) and have planned to get the complete story, since. Then, someone reminded me, about 10 days ago. Timing is everything. I've been thinking about rereading but decided I really needed to get that chunkster instead of reading the old abridged version. So, I did.

This Is How You Lose the Time War is a book I saw someone post about on Instagram but it wasn't a review so much as a mention and an endorsement. I went off to read about it and it sounds like my cup of tea. Lost Children Archive . . . no idea. I remember reading about it, but where? I think it might have been one of my favorite Instagrammers who mentioned it, but I'm just not sure. At any rate, it sounded fabulous and I hope I'm right about that. I'm going to continue to work on not buying books (or anything online) in the near future but I'm not going to kick myself around the room if I slip up, occasionally.

You Were There Too was sent unsolicited. I received a request to review it and ignored it because I still have a backlog of ARCs, but as always I'll try to fit any unsolicited book into my schedule. It's a January release, fortunately, so no hurry. My backlog is a little embarrassing. At this point, I'm putting the books closest to publication at the head of the queue and fitting in one from the backlog, now and then. I'll just keep hacking away at it.

Kiddo kindly held the books for the photo above. He's in town for a job interview, today, hence the nice shirt cuff.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill 
  • Invisible as Air by Zoe Fishman

Reviews to come. 

Currently reading:

  • The Rent Collector by Camron Wright 

I just finished Invisible as Air at 2:00 in the morning, last night, and immediately started The Rent Collector, this month's F2F selection. So far, so good. I plan to add a nonfiction title, tonight, probably the abridged version of The Mueller Report that I recently received.

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

I think I totally forgot to mention that I recently turned a year older. Huh. You'd think that would be memorable, but maybe birthdays aren't the big deal they used to be. I got flowers, a strawberry cake (cooked by my future daughter-in-law), a bunch of cards, pizza, and some Japanese munchies. I liked it.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Fiona Friday - A girl and her carrot

Catnip, of course.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri


I've put two images of The Beekeeper of Aleppo up because I noticed the one on the right is more common at Goodreads. My copy was like the one at left, an ARC, and it appears to be available with this cover in hardback but it's also possible that the image wasn't updated by the publisher. So, to make it easy to identify, if you decide to go looking for it in an actual store, I've opted to post both images.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is about a man and his family who lived in Aleppo, Syria, when it was a peaceful place. After meeting his cousin Mustafa and finding out about his work as a beekeeper, Nuri chose to join his cousin Mustafa's beekeeping business. But, then drought hit the country, followed by war. Now, his house has been bombed, his child killed, and his wife blinded. The book goes back and forth in time, from the idyllic past in which Nuri's country is beautiful and peaceful and he has a job he loves to the beginnings of drought, the bombings, the deaths of loved ones, his cousin's escape to England, and then finally a time when Nuri's life is threatened and he's left with no choice but to try to get to England, as well. All of that falls into the past timeline. In the present timeline, Nuri is living in England, hoping to be approved for asylum, and doing strange things like sleeping in the garden.

There's so much to this book. You get a glimpse of the horrifying journey that one must take to escape across Europe, where not every country is willing to let immigrants pass through and human smugglers take too many people across the water on dangerously unstable boats. You see the deterioration of a country from peaceful and lovely to being reduced to violence and rubble (in this case, due to climate change). The loss of one's livelihood (Nuri's beekeeping; his wife Afra's art) is shown as yet another facet of loss and grief. The death of a child and the post-traumatic stress and how they change the way Nuri and Afra behave is described. The dangers to women who are refugees are shown.

Being a refugee . . . this is the third book I've read about people having no choice but to escape violence-ridden countries (not the same country) but the hazards are always the same. You leave out of desperation and take very little. Every little thing you have, though, some people are willing to steal: your money, your backpack with just a few shreds of clothing and maybe a bar of soap, your phone, your shoes, your life. Women are often raped or otherwise abused. You could have been wealthy in your home country but you're nothing and nobody, just a chance to make money to a smuggler, a nuisance to the countries you travel through, a suspicious alien to those from whom you seek asylum. We, the readers, normally see these stories from the opposite side, as the place people try to go. In a country where asylum is a possibility, it's incumbent upon the residents to understand why anyone would want to leave their home and travel thousands of miles to ask for asylum. The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a novel that helps give you that perspective.

Highly recommended - While I didn't find that The Beekeeper of Aleppo tugged at my heartstrings in the way that some do (I didn't cry; I just took the family into my heart and maybe grieved with them and feared for them), I think I got out of The Beekeeper of Aleppo what the author wanted — a better understanding of what it's like to live somewhere that was once a happy, beautiful place to live with a rich history and then have no choice but to run for your life; a feel for the horror, the grief, and the terror of being a refugee. I'm glad the author chose to portray the story through the eyes of Nuri rather than Afra because Afra's grief made her nearly catatonic, at times, while Nuri refused to give up hope. He had problems and fears and guilt, but he was still mostly a functioning human.

I received an ARC of The Beekeeper of Aleppo from Ballantine Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House) for review. Many thanks! I think this title would be a good one for group discussion and I plan to loan my copy to my F2F group's leader in the hopes that she'll agree.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

In Pain by Travis Rieder

First the simple description, which I wrote immediately after closing In Pain by Travis Rieder:

A fascinating memoir and exploration of how we mishandle pain management in America.

And, now a deeper description:

In Pain is part memoir, part analysis. The memoir portion is the story of author Travis Rieder's personal experience with opioids after his foot was crushed and degloved (the skin almost entirely removed) in a motorcycle accident. His injury was so severe that he had to be heavily medicated to cope with the pain. But, he had one doctor who was a bit conservative about medicating him and another who came up with a non-opioid solution to cover the time between doses when he got "behind" the pain and was in agony for an hour or two while he waited for the next opioid dose.

After the surgeries, Rieder was on a heavy regimen of regular painkillers and he thought he was doing pretty well until one of his doctors disagreed. He shouldn't need that much pain medicine, anymore. But, out of all of the doctors he'd dealt with (including the one who helped him manage his dosages in the first place) not a single one was willing to work with him on tapering off his opioid medication so that he could learn to live with minor pain and the least pain medication possible. Not even a pain management clinic would take him. And, he wasn't an addict so he didn't technically belong in rehab. One doctor made a "tapering" recommendation that shocked me. I wasn't surprised when Rieder, upon following his advice, went through a miserable withdrawal. What surprised me was that he didn't slow it down. Instead of cutting out an entire dose every 4 hours (that's an example; I didn't write down the specific details), maybe he could cut out half a dose twice a day?

At any rate, Rieder was dependent upon the opioid medication he took but not addicted. And, here is where the meat of the book lies. What's the difference between dependence and addiction? Who is responsible for helping people who are dependent on to drugs taper off of them as safely and easily as possible? Why don't doctors seem to know anything about how to safely dispense or taper opioids? And, what can be done to keep people from literally dying by the thousands during the opioid epidemic? Is there a way to prevent needle-borne disease and accidental overdose? Is there a way to keep people in chronic pain from getting entirely cut off from painkillers and ending up in such agony that suicide seems the only solution?

Because Rieder is a bio-ethicist and works with doctors, there was actually no reason at all that he should have had to go through the horror of withdrawal without help. He had friends he could have turned to. But, Rieder mentions, because we think of addicts as people without will, he was ashamed of his dependence and it didn't even occur to him to reach out. Imagine what it must be like for people without the resources he could have called upon.

Highly recommended - I'm going to hand this book to my doctor, the next time I see him, and may even buy a copy or two to pass around. I am so impressed. The author mentions ideas that challenge our strict, puritan thought process. Needle exchange programs to keep people from getting HIV, for example, often make Christians cringe. "We're encouraging drug use!" they say. Rieder disagrees. If they're going to use needles anyway, why not make doing so safe? Non-opioid medicines that work equally well or sometimes even better than opioids (depending on the kind of pain) are withheld by hospitals because they cost more — opioids are cheap. Why allow hospitals to refuse the use of a medication merely because it will affect their bottom line?

Doctors need more training on how and when to dispense pain medication and how to taper people off of it. There's more. I'm babbling because I think In Pain is such an important book. He also talks about the fact that the worst of the opioid crisis has actually passed, and yet legislators are writing panic legislation that punishes people who actually need regular pain medication ("legacy" patients) for long-term conditions. This is true where I live. It ties the hands of the prescribing physician, threatening them with losing their license if they go over draconian prescribing guidelines.

I received a copy of In Pain from HarperCollins in return for my unbiased review. If I could, I'd pass it out to every doctor in the country; at the moment it's a new release and a bit on the expensive side, but I will at least buy one copy to pass around and hope it comes back to me. Know any billionaires in need of a mission? I've got one for them. My thanks to HarperCollins!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

RIP XIV - I'm in

The Roman numeral after the RIP in the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge is enough to make your head spin a little. 14 years! Wow. I've been playing along without signing up for as long as I can remember. I only joined in officially during the early years (the first two, if Google is accurate) and then I realized I was better off just doing it on my own. This time, however, I've signed up. I didn't see any specific place to choose which Peril I'd signed up for, but in my head it's Peril the Third: read one book that fits the description.

Dark Fantasy.

Carl's description works for me a bit better, so I'm going to go off the garden path, a bit. Anything "spooky or atmospheric" is the definition I used when hunting for books for the RIP XIV. That includes dystopian novels. At any rate, it doesn't matter all that much. The point is to usher in fall with some special reading. I've gathered a few books and I've signed up to read one of them, but I won't limit myself to a single book if I feel called to read more, nor will I stick to this list if I feel like something else is calling to me.

Current stack (with thanks to Isabel for letting me borrow her haunted house to use as a prop):

Top to bottom: 

  • A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
  • Vox by Christina Dalcher
  • The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Not pictured:

  • The Sundial by Shirley Jackson

I've already begun to read Heart-Shaped Box because, as I mentioned in my Monday Malarkey, an acquaintance is dying to discuss it with me.

Blast from the past:

Here's what my stacks looked like for the RIP II, a dozen years ago, back when our Miss Spooky was still alive.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom): 

  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis
  • The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell

Two of these were stress purchases and the other was for the RIPXIV Challenge. I have one more from the stress purchases on the way, but I think it's coming from England; it's also for the RIPXIV Challenge (which I'll probably post about tomorrow). Hopefully, I'll get a grip, soon, but in the meantime . . . not a bad set of books for a horrible day's stress shopping.

Heart-Shaped Box is a book my physical therapist has been begging me to read for at least a year and he said, "You have to read Heart-Shaped Box!" when I told him about the RIPXIV Challenge. I'd decided I'm done with Hill, after the 2nd or 3rd book with a cat torture scene but Nate assures me there's no cat torture in this one and he is desperate for me to discuss it with him. I am, humorously, the person who introduced Nate to Joe Hill's writing. He's bought everything Joe Hill ever wrote, at this point, and has moved on to Uncle Stevie's work (that should keep him busy for a while). But, Hill remains a favorite and he's even gotten at least one of his other clients started reading Hill. Word of mouth. Never knock it.

Dom Casmurro is a book I'd never heard of but I read about it in a conversational thread at Facebook. I don't recall which book was being discussed but the general consensus was a negative one. There was an unreliable narrator, but it just wasn't as good as everyone hoped. Someone suggested Dom Casmurro as an alternative and said it's a favorite in her home country. I was curious, of course, so I looked it up and read about it. Obviously, I decided it sounded like a good read.

I'm "friends" with Mary Doria Russell on Facebook (but not real friends; we've never met, although she shared one of my Facebook posts and may have responded to me once). So, I've been seeing her posts about The Women of Copper Country since it was released. It wasn't till I read a review of the book that my ears perked up, though. And, then came that stressful day and I just went for it.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret
  • In Pain by Travis Rieder
  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

Yay, finally a decent reading week! And, every one of those books was great for entirely different reasons. The Rogue to Ruin nicely wrapped up the Misadventures in Matchmaking romance series with some surprises. In Pain is an incredibly important book from which I learned a great deal about where we've gone wrong managing pain in America and what can be done to change things. The Beekeeper of Aleppo is the book our head of state needed to read 2 or 3 years ago, when massive numbers of people were trying to find asylum from the bombing in Syria. It is timely and deeply meaningful.

Currently reading:

  • Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

The heroine of Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus is a girl who is just entering high school and has to deal with the challenges of making friends in a newer, larger school after one of her besties has moved to a different school. The complication: she is armless and doesn't know who to trust when people are friendly to her. Momentous Events is a follow-up book and I haven't read the first, unfortunately. While it mostly stands alone, there have been moments when I've felt lost, particularly when Aven (the heroine) refers to one of the many cast members without any context. I don't know, for example, who or what Spaghetti is, at nearly halfway through the book. A dog, maybe? She has a horse named Chili, but she also has a tarantula, so who knows what other kind of critter Spaghetti could be. Still, it's a fun read and I'm not letting a few little road bumps stop me.

I'm not far into Heart-Shaped Box but I hope to finish it before my next PT appointment. So far, so good. I think I'll stick to reading this one during the daylight hours, since it's about a haunted suit.

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Meh. Nothing to say. Hope my American friends have enjoyed the Labor Day holiday!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Fiona Friday - Izzy wants my breakfast

I am that spoiled woman whose husband occasionally brings her breakfast in bed on the weekend. This is what I get for it. She actually licked my biscuit. Can't blame her; it was cheesy.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs is set in the near future. There are five defined levels of driverless cars, from Level 0, in which the driver performs all tasks, to Level 5. Soon, all cars will be Level 5, totally autonomous with no manual override and no steering wheel. As the day begins, the author introduces readers to 8 characters who are boarding fully-autonomous cars. Some of the characters are uncomfortable with the lack of manual override; some are fine with it or even appreciate the freedom to read or do other tasks instead of paying attention to the road. The setting is England.

In Birmingham, there is a court in which the responsibility for autonomous automobile accidents is decided and Libby Dixon has jury duty. Libby was the witness to a horrific accident and knows how such cases can turn out. Now, Libby will have to share her opinion about similar cases between autonomous cars and pedestrians or other vehicles that are not autonomous. She has her suspicions that not everything is on the up-and-up in this court.

Back to the 8 passengers. After all the passengers have been on the road for a while, a hacker takes over their cars, one by one, and claims that he will crash them into each other in about 2 1/2 hours. Soon, the passengers will all be dead. But, he's taken over the airwaves. Now, the people in the autonomous accident court and viewers across England have no choice but to choose one person to live. The hacker provides proof that there is no way to rescue the occupants of the autonomous vehicles.

What's the hacker's objective? Will anyone survive?

Recommended - I had some minor issues with this book, the main one being that it was just a little too far-fetched for me. Some of the victims were chosen at random, according to the hacker. But, he knew intimate details about the lives of most of them and chose to only release partial information, just enough to make them all look guilty of something. In the end, I understood the point the hacker was trying to make. It's really a book about how a small percentage of people controls the vast majority of what happens to the population, how limiting information available can provide a skewed viewpoint, and how difficult it is to get all that across to the populace. I think that's the theme, anyway. I don't want to give away what's being manipulated and why he's trying to draw attention to it because that would ruin the story, but I will say that I found the book a little awkwardly written yet difficult to put down. And, the one thing I loved best about it was that the author managed to keep surprising me. I have a tendency to guess what's going to happen in a suspense, so I always appreciate an author who can surprise me.

I received a copy of The Passengers from Berkley Books in exchange for an unbiased review. My thanks to Berkley! I've already picked out the person I'm going to pass this book onto and I can't wait to hear his thoughts.

While I was in the midst of reading The Passengers, a friend wrote a comment to me on Goodreads to tell me John Marrs is one of her favorite authors. I love it when that happens!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret (Misadventures in Matchmaking #3)

Ainsley is the eldest of the Bourne sisters and, at 27 years of age, she presumes she will never marry. In the past, she was once betrothed to a horrible man who was emotionally and physically abusive. She managed to escape. The Rogue to Ruin is her story of love and marriage, the third and final book in the Misadventures in Matchmaking series.

Now, Ainsley has decided that The Bourne Matrimonial Agency is not doing well because of the gaming hell across the street. Reed Sterling is the proprietor, a former boxer who retired and made his fortune running the business. Ainsley is certain that his business is keeping potential clients away — not the fact that her two sisters have married two of the wealthier clients, as many suspect. And, she's decided to declare war on Sterling's to drive it out of business.

Reed Sterling's early life was hard. First, his father was killed in a duel and then his mother married a series of awful men. Boxing and then his business were his escape from hardship. But he's developed a strange attraction, in recent years. The eldest of the Bourne daughters is the most buttoned-up and stiff of the lot. So, why does he find her so appealing? When Ainsley declares war on his business he's slightly amused. But, when he walks in to find a man she was formerly betrothed to threatening Ainsley, he is determined to keep her safe. How will he square his newfound affection with the damage she's doing to his business? Will the dangerous man to whom she was formerly betrothed become violent, again, or can Reed protect her?

Highly recommended - It took me a while to warm up to Ainsley. Unlike her lighthearted and slightly silly sister, Briar, you're not as quickly grabbed by the personality of the character. But, it doesn't take long to realize the couple is perfect for each other and to begin to root for them. And, I absolutely adored the ending.

This is the last book in the Misadventures in Matchmaking series and I recommend reading them in order because the other two sisters occasionally flit in and out with their spouses. Plus, there's a delicious surprise at the end regarding a regular character who is not a part of the family. I loved this series. Usually, I don't keep romance books for a reread but I've held onto all three of the books from the Misadventures in Matchmaking series, I enjoyed them so much.

I received a copy of The Rogue to Ruin from Avon Books in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher and
  • Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram - both purchased
  • Invisible as Air by Zoe Fishman and
  • No Judgments by Meg Cabot - both from HarperCollins for review

Fiona was wondering what on Earth I was up to, as you can see! The two books I purchased were both pre-ordered. I think A Boy and His Dog, etc. was recommended by Andrew Smith (Young Adult author of many books) but I can't recall where I read about Darius the Great. I think I have one or two more pre-orders coming (one in January?) but I've put myself back on a book-buying ban and haven't had many offers for review books, lately, so the arrivals may dry up. That's fine. This has been my lowest-quantity reading month and I still have a backlog, so I need to work at reading what I've got.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Passengers by John Marrs

Ugh, that's it. Just one book. Praying, hoping, crossing fingers that this week is better.

Currently reading:

  • The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret (Misadventures in Matchmaking #3)

In spite of hopes, I didn't touch In Pain by Travis Rieder, this past week, but it's a good book and a quick read so when I get to it I'll undoubtedly finish it quickly. I have really enjoyed the Misadventures in Matchmaking series. This is the last, since it's about three sisters working different parts of the matchmaking business and slowly getting paired off without having much success at finding matches for their clients.

Posts since last Malarkey:

Harry's Trees is going on the favorites pile. I wish I'd thought to start a favorites pile earlier — at the beginning of the year rather than a few months in. I've got a sizable portion of them set aside, though, which will make it easier than normal to review my favorites at year end. And maybe I can make space and shelve them together. I need to work on getting rid of some older titles that I thought I'd reread but now realize I never will, anyway.

In other news:

There's not much other news. I'm trying to decide whether or not a landscape I painted on top of collage (on 12" x 12" board - something I've done twice since viewing a free Ivy Newport video on this particular technique) is done and ready for varnishing or needs a bit of touch-up. I think there are one or two places I'll touch up. Humorously, I have probably done about 40-50 paintings since I started painting, a few years ago, and I haven't signed a single one because I can't decide how to sign them. Full signature? Cutesy little block of initials? Husband prefers I don't sign them at all because it's not like I'm going to be a famous artist, so why wreck the painting with my signature. But, I appreciate my grandmother's signature on her paintings, so I don't think I'll listen to him, although I don't know what I'll do about the plethora of unsigned paintings lying about and hanging. I probably won't pull any off the walls to sign. Maybe I'll just start signing them, from now on.

I'm still watching The Royal and now on the fifth and final season (at least, the final season available to us for viewing), which is good because I'm about ready to move on to something else. They have a tendency to mercilessly kill off favorite characters. I've been too busy to watch TV, most days, so I've generally watched The Royal while eating supper, just to sneak in a little TV time.  Future daughter-in-law has loaded her Netflix onto our TV, so that widens my options for finding something new after I finish with The Royal. Anyone have suggestions for great things (not mysteries or anything gruesome/terrifying) to watch on Netflix?

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Fiona Friday

This cracks me up.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen

He tossed and turned in his bed. He'd hoped that now that he had commenced the maintenance and repair of Pratt Library, it might assuage his nighttime frets. He'd had such a good morning at the library, trapping the ceiling raccoons. Though there'd been some pushback in that situation, too. One little sharp-toed son of a bitch attached itself to the leg of Ronnie's pants, and he had to hobble-run to the front door and launch it with a catapulting kick out onto the front walk. 

He slammed the big oak library doors and leaned against them, panting.

"That's a wondrously resourceful method of pest control, dear," Olive called over from the circulation desk. 

~from p. 173 of Harry's Trees

As I write, it's Monday evening and I know I'm going to have trouble getting into the next book I read because the last, Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen, was so good that I already know it's going onto the favorites for 2019 pile; it got a solid 5 stars at Goodreads.

Harry's Trees starts with a memorial service. Harry's wife Beth is being memorialized at a Quaker gathering, where people sit quietly until one feels the urge to say something, sing, recite a poem, whatever they're compelled to do. A couple tell stories about Beth and then one plays a song on her flute. And, then Harry does something strange. We then go back in time to find out how Beth died, what happened in the moments before her death, and why Harry is tormenting himself with guilt.

In another part of Pennsylvania, Amanda has lost her husband Dean. The reader learns about the circumstances of Dean's death, as well. Amanda has a daughter named Oriana who believes that her father has taken on another form, with wings. Amanda has spent a year trying to nudge Oriana out of her fantasy world and into the reality that her father is dead and he's never coming back, without luck, when the local librarian in a library that's falling apart in a town without the funds to repair it hands Oriana a handmade book and advises her to check it out.

And, then their paths cross. Harry has quit his job to go to the forest. There, he is spotted hitting his head on a stone fence by Amanda, who is a nurse. Oriana sees more than Amanda does and because of what she's seen, she knows something about Harry and determines that he is somehow connected to her.

I'm being deliberately vague because Harry's Trees is so magical that I don't want to give anything away. The storyline absolutely did not go where I expected it to go, although there were some predictable threads. Harry ends up living in a treehouse on Amanda's property, built by her rugged deceased husband. Oriana inserts herself into Harry's life, reads him the handmade book, and comes up with a solution to assuage Harry's guilt and free him from the pain he's been holding onto. But, it's so unique that I don't want to tell you about it. Just read the book, okay?

Highly recommended - There are touches of magical realism in Harry's Trees but they're delicate touches, much like those in Sarah Addison Allen's books. There's a little tragedy, a little magic, sweet friendships, some pay-it-forward kindness, a couple of villains. Harry's Trees is about grief and healing, love and heartbreak, guilt and atonement, greed and generosity. It's about moving forward after the worst thing you can imagine happens and it's just beautiful. The scene I loved most is the final scene with the librarian, which brought me to tears but in a moving way, not a sad one.

I love, love, loved Harry and Amanda and Oriana. Especially Oriana. She's a delightful child — smart and cunning and a little wise, but not in a way that's far-fetched. Her belief in magic is handled beautifully. You see the connections that she does but you're aware, at the same time, that her viewpoint is both clever and full of the kind of childish wonder that most adults blow off. Harry understands her because he needs that kind of wonder in order to help him break free of the guilt that's weighing him down. Anyway, it's pretty much perfect. There were places I thought some of the prose could have been edited down a bit, but not enough to convince me to knock off even half a point.

I received a copy of Harry's Trees from MIRA (a Harlequin imprint) for review. Many thanks! I've recently read two MIRA books and I'm impressed with the quality. Back in the 90s, when I was involved in a romance writers' group, I recall reading a handful of MIRA titles, mostly fantasy/sci-fi, as I recall, each with a touch of romance. I love the direction they've taken this imprint.

There is a little extra material at the back of the copy I read (the cover image shown is the one I have). In it, the author talks about being told, early on, that his books were "very visual" and would make good movies, which led him into screenwriting. I just happened to have been thinking that it was easy to visualize this story and it would make a great movie, just before I read the author interview. Ha! Somebody turn Harry's Trees into a movie, please.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko and
  • The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton - both purchased 
  • Summary of the Mueller Report for those too busy to read it all: Abridged and Introduced by Thomas E. Patterson - from the author for review
  • Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris - from St. Martin's Press for review
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper - purchased
  • Renia's Diary by Renia Spiegel - from St. Martin's Press for review

I don't normally accept anything for review directly from authors, but I made an exception for the Summary of the Mueller Report because I just finished reading the full version and it's a slog. I figured it would be helpful and fun to read an abridged version (kind of a review/revise experience, if you will). Plus, having read the longer version I will definitely be able to tell readers whether or not you get the same basic gist out of the shorter abridged report. The author has assured me that the words are all directly cut from the full report. It's not an alteration (like a summary in his own words), in other words, title aside. Since the summary has arrived and I haven't yet written my review of The Mueller Report, I'm going to hold off and review both at the same time. That'll also give me time to work on organizing my thoughts about the Washington Post printing.

I bought Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko after reading that it was chosen for Wiley Cash's book club. Although I haven't been participating, I've found that his choices all interest me. Until I feel like I have the time to participate, I'm not going to buy them all, though. Ceremony intrigued me because it's Native American writing and I have a particular interest in all things Native American but have found it a little difficult finding recommendations for Native American writers or book titles. The Outsiders was a purchase I should have made ages ago. A friend is reading it with her kids and her post about the books she will be reading with her boys reminded me of just how long The Outsiders has been on my wish list. 10 years? Longer? It was on my PBS wish list for ages. I've never seen the movie, either, although I saw a tiny bit of it, one time, and it was a very emotional scene. At any rate, I'm glad to finally have a copy. Would you consider it a modern classic?

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris is by far my most hoped-for and anticipated ARC arrival. Since my book group just recently read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (in which Cilka is a character) and there was some disagreement about whether or not she could be considered a collaborator, I'm very eager to read her story. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen

Currently reading:

  • In Pain by Travis Rieder

I should say I have a bookmark in In Pain because I set it aside to focus on Harry's Trees and then had a week of not really reading and gobbled down Harry's Trees over the weekend. I hope to get back to reading In Pain tonight. Novel-wise, I'm kinda-sorta between books. I started reading my F2F group's discussion book (we meet this week) but I didn't get very far so I don't know if it'll stick, yet. It's The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis.  You'll hear more about it if I do manage to read it, obviously!

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Last week was a bad week for the Bookfool family and we have more bad weeks on the horizon, so my reading and blogging are likely to suffer. I guess we'll just have to let things unfold as they will. If I have to take an extended break, I'll let you know. Some days I can't read at all. One day at a time.

I didn't watch anything overly thrilling. A bit more of The Royal, some random episodes of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, a little news. That's about it. Kiddo was home and he watched an old favorite, Father Goose starring Cary Grant, from our old DVD collection. I asked him to leave the movie in the DVD player and I'm hoping I can find the time to watch it, this week.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Fiona Friday

The reason I'm slow to get the laundry folded. Mustn't ruin the kitty's comfort. Isabel loves a good pile of freshly-cleaned laundry.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Normal People by Sally Rooney

In Normal People by Sally Rooney, Marianne is a wealthy outcast who is crackling with intelligence but hasn't got a single friend in school (the equivalent of American high school, I think, but the book takes place in Ireland). Connell is equally sharp and has a wide circle of friends. His mother cleans Marianne's house and he'll occasionally stop to talk to Marianne while he waits to pick up his mother from work. In her home, Marianne speaks freely in a way she doesn't at school, and her conversation with Connell is natural and relaxed. When they begin sleeping with each other, though, it's with the knowledge that neither can acknowledge the other in school.

Both are accepted into Trinity College in Dublin, where their circumstances are flipped. Popularity and friendship are based more on income than personality at Trinity. Connell is admired for his looks but he feels adrift and friendless while Marianne now has plenty of friends. Their unique friendship continues even though they occasionally drift away, through difficult relationships and good ones, depression and abuse, ups and downs. Slowly, Connell becomes aware of Marianne's dark secrets and Marianne helps him deal with his own challenges. When push comes to shove, they may hurt each other at times, but they're always there for each other, as well.

Highly recommended - The depth of characterization in Normal People and the simple but powerful writing style made it nearly impossible to put Normal People down. I was utterly fascinated with the characters, the writing, the depth of emotion, and the way Marianne and Connell seemed to circle each other magnetically and simultaneously fiercely resist the pull. Would they end up together or would one of them eventually drift out of orbit, maybe marry another?

I'm not going to ruin the ending. I'll just say that while it wasn't the kind of ending I prefer and I had to sit with it over a bowl of spaghetti (which was really terrific), I realized after letting it settle that it was, in fact, the perfect ending for this particular story. Most crucially, I am in awe of the writer's keen observation and mastery of language. I definitely plan to read her other book, Conversations with Friends.

The cover of Normal People shown above is the cover of my personal copy, which I ordered from Book Depository, so it might not be what you can find in the US. I just finished it and immediately sat down to write my Goodreads review, then realized there wasn't much I'd change about that review (my reviews at GR and the blog are often quite different in size and style) so most of this is copied directly from that review. I had planned on working on my review of The Mueller Report, today, but it's going to require some thought and care and may take a little longer than I'd hoped. I wrote some preliminary thoughts, last night, and totally went off the rails — too much, too much. I'll try to whittle it down but still hit all the most important points. If you're waiting on that review, please be patient with me. It's such an important book that I want to get it right.

©2019 Nancy Horner  All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • Crosstalk by Connie Willis - purchased
  • Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling - from Sterling Children's Books for review
  • The Road to Urbino by Roma Tearne - from Megyl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc. (unsolicited, I think?) for review
  • Vox by Christina Dalcher,
  • The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street by Karen White, and
  • The Passengers by John Marrs - all from Berkley for review
  • Tiny but Mighty by Hanna Shaw - purchased

Of the two books that I purchased, one was brought to my attention on Instagram (which, I find, is becoming very dangerous) and the other . . . well, also via Instagram but through the author's kitten rescue page. She knows how to care for the tiniest of kittens and shares her knowledge about caring for them while posting pics of her latest tiny foster babies. I don't know if I could ever care for the most fragile, young kittens if I were to ever foster (which won't happen as long as Isabel has a say in the matter) but I've really been enjoying learning from her Instagram posts and decided it would be a great idea to learn more . . . just in case I ever happened across any tiny kittens or if I'm ever free to foster, one day. Can't hurt to be educated. And, I just love Connie Willis. Here's the cover of that kitten book:

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Mueller Report - Washington Post edition 

Finally! Finishing up The Mueller Report meant not reading much else, last week. I had one DNF: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin. I don't often give up on books but I've given up on two, this past month! Weird. This one . . . I don't know if being in the right mood for it would have changed anything. It might have, but by the time I set it aside to finish The Mueller Report (I reached the point that I was sick of not being done with it and focused on finishing), I considered giving up on The Escape Room instead of just setting it aside and when I came back and read a handful of pages I agreed with myself. I personally thought the prologue ruined the book. In the prologue, a security guard hears gunshots and finds a bloody scene. So, you know this particular situation is coming and you quickly figure out that one of the two main happenings is going to end up in carnage. But, I absolutely did not care who lived or died. The only character I kind of liked was apparently already dead. Bummer. Anyway, it just wasn't for me. At another time, I might have finished it anyway. But, this wasn't the week for it. 

Currently reading:

  • In Pain by Travis Rieder
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney

In Pain is an ARC but the finished book has already been released and describes the author's experience with painkillers after a devastating and extraordinarily painful injury. I have no idea why I ordered Normal People, although it's the winner of the 2018 Costa Novel Award. It might have been an enthusiastic review. So far, if so, I share that reviewer's enthusiasm. Sally Rooney's writing is understated and yet precise and powerful. It really is amazing how beautifully the two main characters were drawn within a few short pages. I am hooked. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Kiddo was home, this weekend, and developed an earache that escalated to the point that he didn't think he could drive himself the 2 1/2 hours to Oxford, yesterday. Since he has work and an important meeting (plus, the clinic he uses is there), I drove him up to Oxford and will have to fetch him when it's time for him to come home. It's a pleasant drive and I love Oxford but because I didn't make the decision to take him home till about 1:45 and left at 2:00 PM, I didn't have time to go to Square Books. I figured it would be a bad idea not to make a quick turnaround so I could get home before dark. No Square Books. Feel for me, people. On the plus side, we'll have to pick him up, at some point. So, maybe we'll get a nice dose of Square Books, then.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Fiona Friday

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Storm Blown by Nick Courage

In New Orleans, Emily's brother is recovering from surgery after a major illness and his immunity is still compromised. Her father works on an oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico and her mother spends most of her time fussing over Emily's brother. Because of his lowered immunity, Emily isn't even supposed to walk into Elliot's room and her mother hardly even looks at her, anymore. When Emily spends the night in Audubon Park and develops the sniffles, her mother shoos her to a friend's house, not realizing that Emily's friend isn't even in town, a hurricane is on the way, and Emily is feeling rejected. Emily leaves without telling her mother where she's going and shortly after, her phone battery dies.

Alejo lives in Puerto Rico and helps his padrino (the online dictionary and a translator both say padrino means godfather) with his work at a resort hotel. His mother has moved to the American continent and someday Alejo hopes to join her. But, for now, he lives in an impoverished area outside San Juan and he's happy. When news that a deadly hurricane is coming reaches the resort, Padrino Nando decides he must go home briefly. But, when Nando doesn't return, Alejo becomes concerned and decides he must go find his padrino.

While Hurricane Valerie is growing, the people the National Climatic Research Center are almost all home with the flu so one employee who isn't an expert in weather patterns, Joy, is charged with watching the crucial numbers that indicate the strength of the storm. Suddenly, after merging with two other weather systems, Hurricane Valerie becomes a "megastorm" and Joy has to gather the team together to head down to New Orleans.

In a heart-pounding second half of the book, Megastorm Valerie moves into Puerto Rico and then New Orleans as two children face their fears alone outdoors with the dangerous storm moving in quickly.

Storm Blown by Nick Courage is a middle grade book told from 5 separate viewpoints: Emily's, Alejo's, a petrel flying over the Atlantic, Emily's father on an oil platform, and Joy's.

Recommended but I had some minor issues with this book - First, what I loved. Storm Blown is edge-of-your-seat as the storm moves closer and then arrives. It's dramatic, exciting, adventurous, and the author treats the emotions of the two youngsters with respect. I could easily imagine myself in the shoes of those children, drenched and wind-blown but determined to find a loved one (Alejo) or hide from them in a favorite place to seek comfort (Emily). In spite of what I considered its flaws, I really enjoyed Storm Blown and I'm glad I read it. I think I would have enjoyed it if it had been around when I was in elementary school.

The minor issues I had were the fact that the author chose to create a fictional research center rather than using the National Hurricane Center (I'm sure he had his reasons but I would have much preferred a glimpse inside the NHC and a bit of accuracy) and a couple statements I considered inaccurate about hurricanes. But, it's a children's book and it was more about the courage those children had to summon, the emotions they were going through, and the danger they were encountering than what a government agency does. So, while I would have preferred accuracy, I enjoyed the story and definitely recommend it for the child who loves an exciting read.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Rosie and Rex are opposites. Rosie is brimming with life, loves color and sparkle and disorder. Rex is organized and disciplined. When they meet, it's because Rosie has done something Rex would never do. And, yet, there's a spark between them when they meet again, and they begin to date. He doesn't approve of her marijuana use and is uncomfortable with the chaos that surrounds her. She thinks he's a little stiff. And, yet, somehow he is charmed with her and she finds comfort in his stability. They fall in love and marry.

Willow and Asher adore their mother. On days that they go to Rosie's house, they know they'll get to watch movies, eat sugary things, wear matching pajamas, and have fun. On the days they stay with their father, they have to follow detailed lists. They never get to cook or dance. Rex doesn't pay as much attention to them as Rosie does. Rex's house is just not fun and sometimes he becomes very angry when they don't follow the rules.

But, Rosie is becoming increasingly unstable and unpredictable. Sometimes she comes late to pick them up from school. Sometimes, Rex arrives instead. Willow is stressed. She's bullied at school and the sharp differences between her parents aren't helping. When Rosie spirals out of control, what will happen? Asher is adaptable. But, can Rex be the parent that Willow needs him to be? Or, has he been showing his love all along in ways that Willow hasn't noticed?

In alternating chapters, the reader experiences the unfolding romance and collapsing marriage of Rosie and Rex alongside Willow's story as she navigates divorce and bullying then observes her mother's downward spiral.

Highly recommended - A gut-wrenching read, at times. Rosie appears to be bipolar, although that's never stated. Rosie Colored Glasses is about mental illness, love, parenting, addiction, grief, romance, marriage, divorce, bullying, and being yourself. It's heartbreaking and uplifting and sad and beautiful. I imagine this book will stick with me hard for some time to come. The author says it's based on her own childhood and I actually wondered about that, as I was reading. It seemed awfully detailed for mere imagination. Not that authors can't be that creative but often when a book is that vivid there's at least a little of the author's story tucked in there. Be prepared; Rosie Colored Glasses is an emotional read, but thought-provoking and meaningful on so many fronts.

I received an ARC of Rosie Colored Glasses from Harlequin in exchange for my unbiased review. My thanks to Harlequin/MIRA!

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