Friday, June 21, 2019

Fiona Friday - Isabel considers it all

©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, June 20, 2019

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Natalie Tan and her mother once butted heads in the same way that her mother, Miranda, did with her own mom, Natalie's laolao. Miranda didn't want to work in her mother's restaurant and, later, she didn't want to send her daughter to culinary school. Now, Miranda is dead. A phone call from her neighbor Celia informs Natalie and she rushes home for the funeral.

Natalie's dream was to open a restaurant. But, when her mother refused to help pay for culinary school, Natalie went out on her own. For years she has traveled the world, learning to cook but unsure enough of herself that she has kept running away — even running away from love. Now, she is back in her mother's apartment, over the empty restaurant her laolao ran until her death. And, Natalie is well aware of the opportunity. The restaurant is hers, now, and she has her grandmother's recipes. She doesn't have much money but she believes in her ability to cook and wants to make a go of it.

When Natalie is told that she must solve the problems of three people before attempting to open a restaurant, she cooks for three of the neighbors. But, then everything goes wrong. What can Natalie do to salvage the situation? Will she ever be able to open a restaurant? What happened on the day of her mother's death that caused Natalie's agoraphobic mother to run outside? And, what became of Natalie's runaway father?

Recommended - I had a lot of trouble getting into Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune, at first. The writing style is a little stiff and uneven. But, I loved the touches of magical realism (when Natalie cries, her tears turn to crystals, which she gathers up and puts in bowls; and, the food she cooks has magical effects, as well) and I found that author Roselle Lim kept surprising me. Just when I thought I was certain I knew what was going to happen next . . . plot twist! I love being surprised, so that's the main thing I appreciate about Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune. There are little things that are predictable, but the main plot points kept catching me off-guard. I also loved the San Francisco Chinatown setting and the way the author brought all the threads of the story together so beautifully, in the end. So, while I found the writing style a little rough, the denouement and the surprising elements of the story won me over.

Note: Recipes are included but they don't contain measurements. This is something that apparently used to be common because my grandmother's recipes often didn't contain measurements. Don't tell my sister but I threw away a bunch of them because I'm the kind of cook who follows measurements. My husband is the kind who tosses things together by feel; lack of measurements wouldn't have bothered him if he'd had any interest in her recipes, but he didn't. I did keep the recipes that were special to me — don't worry, I didn't throw them all away.

I received an ARC of Natalie Tan from Berkley for review (many thanks!). True confession: I adore that cover. If I hadn't received a copy to review, I probably would have chased it down based on the cover alone. And, I may do that, anyway. The Reader's Guide was not included in the ARC and I'd like to read that bit of extra material. After such a perfect ending, I wanted to know more about the author.

Updated to remove title error: 6/21/19 

©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, June 19, 2019

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Cassie Hanwell was traumatized twice over at the age of 16. Since then, she's both acted and become tough. A firefighter/paramedic, she has to be physically and mentally strong to handle life in a firehouse and all of the things a firefighter sees. And, she's happy with her place in life. But, then things start to go wrong. When one of the people who traumatized her sets her off, she is given a choice: apologize to him or be dismissed from her job. At the same time, her mother is facing a health challenge and needs Cassie's help. When she ends up moving to a new fire station in an entirely different region, Cassie knows she must be extra careful about how she behaves.

Cassie isn't the only new body at the fire station she moves to, but she's the only female. The rookie is new to firefighting, though, and Cassie is not. So, Cassie is thrown together with him frequently, tasked with sharing some of her hard-won experience. When Cassie and the rookie find themselves attracted to each other, Cassie is horrified. The last thing she needs is to endanger her job with a potential romance. Will finding love wreck her life as a firefighter for good or soften her and help her deal with the trauma of her past?

Highly recommended - I could not put Things You Save in a Fire down. Cassie was a wounded soul but not in a way that felt manufactured. In fact, part of the trauma is never spelled out, as I recall. But, you can read between the lines and her story felt entirely believable to me. I cared about her and wanted the best for her. I also absolutely loved reading about what it's like to be a firefighter — the camaraderie, the type of things they have to deal with (dangerous, weird, and yucky situations), the pranks they pull on each other and the things that are completely taboo. I've read some of this, in the past, because I have a fascination with both firefighters and paramedics but there was more detail than I'm accustomed to and I think you can take the accuracy to the bank because the author's husband is a volunteer firefighter.

I jumped the gun a little on this title because I put it on the wrong ARC pile (le sigh). Things You Save in a Fire is an August, 2019 release. And, of course, it's just June. I like to wait till a lot closer than 2 months ahead of release date to review. I received my ARC from St. Martin's Press (thank you!) and I loved it so much that with it just sitting here beside me, I keep looking at the book and thinking, I want to start it all over again. Definitely a new favorite and one I'll hang onto for a reread.

©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, June 18, 2019

Finding Orion by John David Anderson

Finding Orion by John David Anderson is a middle grade book about a boy named Orion and his quirky family, aptly named the Kwirks. As the book opens, a singing clown has appeared at their door after Mr. Kwirk, a scientist who develops jelly bean flavors, has gotten the family to give him their impression of fried chicken-flavored jelly beans, his latest creation. The clown informs the family that Orion's grandfather has passed away.

They pack up and drive to Papa Kwirk's sister's home, where they attend a very strange funeral and then are sent on a quest, a scavenger hunt that will lead to Papa Kwirk's ashes.

I don't want to give away any details because Finding Orion is every bit as quirky and fun as it sounds. I will forewarn you, though, that I found the first third or so of the book mildly dull. It had this crazy start with the clown and the friend chicken jelly beans and then . . . meh. The trip to visit Papa Kwirk's sister and attend his funeral just bored me. There was a lot of time spent on tention: tension between Mr. Kwirk and his aunt, talk of Mr. Kwirk's difficult relationship with his father and why he left home then seldom met up with his father, etc. It was only when the scavenger hunt began that things really began to pick up speed. From that point on, I really enjoyed the book and I absolutely loved the way it ended.

Recommended - The first third or so of the book is slow but hang in there, if you read it. The best is yet to come. The scavenger hunt really feels like the beginning of the story, to me. As they chase down objects and messages that bring up the past and require Mr. Kwirk to recall his childhood, the true meaning behind the things that Papa Kwirk did — things that were misinterpreted by his son, the father of the Kwirk family — Orion and his family begin to realize that Papa Kwirk may not have always been able to communicate effectively but his heart was in the right place. A lovely, upbeat, goofy, and heartwarming story.

I think I got my copy of Finding Orion (an ARC) from Walden Pond Press via Shelf Awareness.  My thanks for the review copy!

©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, June 17, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • 25 Days 'Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander - from HarperCollins for review
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman - from Berkley for tour (I think - don't see it on my desk calendar but I recall this being a tour book so I'll look on my other calendar)
  • Change is the Only Constant by Ben Orlin - from Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers for review
  • The Escape Room by Megan Goldin - from St. Martin's Press for review

OK, this is an odd bunch but a fun one. 25 Days 'Til Christmas is not one I recall being offered and the letter included in the envelope implies that it's unsolicited for a Christmas in July-type promotion. I'll have to reread the letter to clarify the timing but I'm always up for Christmas reading in the summer. As a child, I remember doing Christmas in July at church. I have no idea what that was all about, anymore, though. I think it was maybe a way to do good in the middle of the year so that all the fun gifting wasn't saved for one particular month? When I switched denominations (to my husband's) that practice seems to have stopped.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is one I definitely recall requesting. I just need to check my calendar to make sure I know when to post if it is, in fact, a tour book as I recall.

Change is the Only Constant and The Escape Room were both received via Shelf Awareness, which I'm currently trying to avoid because I have a backlog and need to get caught up before I go around signing up to read more, although . . . I confess I did sign up for a couple romance tours, a week ago. Ooof. Both were by authors I've been eager to give a go.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs

I hope to review both of those this week, but if not this week I should get them reviewed by the following week. Fortunately, I'm not too far behind on reviewing, at this point -- just reading. :)

Currently reading:

  • The Mueller Report - Washington Post version
  • Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Interesting side note: I discovered (after renewing our Sam's membership specifically to buy tires for Kiddo's car) that Sam's Club has copies of the same version of the The Mueller Report that I'm reading. If you have a membership, you should grab a copy. I'm not even kidding.

Posts since last Malarkey:

None. Well, that's unusual. Not even a Fiona Friday post? Nope. Not a thing. We were a little rushed getting ready to leave town but I don't recall why I failed to pre-post anything. I must have been frantically doing house cleaning because laundry and packing alone aren't enough to keep me from the blog.

At any rate, we were gone for a week and when we returned on Friday, I didn't have it in me to stagger to the computer to post. Saturday, we had some errands to run and then I didn't even think about the blog. I was certain my computer was still off but apparently the spouse turned it on at some point and fiddled or I would have dragged myself in here to post a cat photo, even though I didn't see the cats all week (they were very happy to see us and followed me everywhere, so I did take some new photos). So, it was a laziness issue. Oh, well. Next week is a new start, every time.

In other news:

Here's where we were:

Well, that's where we were on the last day of our trip to Tulsa, when we decided to travel Route 66 from the Blue Whale at Catoosa, OK to downtown Tulsa. This is by far my favorite photo. There was literally nobody on the road but us. I stood in the middle of the lane to snap that picture, no hurry, no problem. We were home for a final trip as Huzzybuns' mother was preparing to move to another state. So, it was goodbye to the spouse's childhood home -- which was nice, since I never did get a chance to say goodbye to my own childhood home -- and goodbye to Tulsa, where we'll no longer have a place to stay. I'll miss having a home base in Tulsa but we're looking forward to visiting Mom-in-law in her new home. Apparently, we already have a date for our first visit. Woot!

No TV, no streaming, no movies. We boxed up the TV on the first day and didn't really feel like watching TV in our hotel room, so it was a TV-free week until we got home. And, then we just watched a couple episodes from Season 2 of The Heart Guy, which is our new addiction. Love that show.

How was your 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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Her Other Secret by Helenkay Dimon - from Avon Romance for review

Just the one arrival, this week, a surprise (unsolicited) that looks really fun. No purchases! I'm so proud of myself. Love the cover of this one. He looks both handsome and nerdy with the glasses. Nerdsexy.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Cat Poems by various authors
  • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Both of these books are books that I should have finished in a day —two, at the most. I read the first half of Things You Save in a Fire just before bed, one evening. Then, I had two days that I was just too busy to touch the book and finally finished it the next time I was able to pick it up. If I'd had time to even glance at it longingly, I would have. It's a good story, unique because the heroine is a firefighter.

Currently reading:

  • Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett 
  • The Mueller Report - Washington Post version

Again, I didn't touch the book about PTSD but I'll try to give it some time, this week. I barely found time for the two I finished. I didn't touch The Mueller Report, either, but I can't recall the title of the PTSD book, just the author: Shaili Jain.  OK, I just looked. It's called The Unspeakable Mind. Fingers crossed that I get some of it read, this week. Same with The Mueller Report.

Posts since last Malarkey:

Obviously, it was a better blogging week than the week before. That's mostly thanks to having a Children's Day. I didn't think about the fact that it was my bloggiversary till I was in the midst of Children's Day review posting, although I did remember D-Day. I always remember D-Day. It feels like a day that can't be allowed to pass without at least stopping for a few minutes to think about those who sacrificed for our freedom. 

In other news:

The Heart Guy is pretty much the only TV we watched, last week. Well, no, that's not true. I watched a good bit of Good Omens, on my own. It's really quite interesting reading the book at the same time I'm viewing the Good Omens series. Usually, of course, it would be crazy to read and view concurrently but I've been somewhat less concerned about the possibility of there being too many differences since Gaiman did the screenwriting.

We finished up the first season of The Heart Guy at about 9pm, one night, and went straight into the second season because we both wanted to see if it kept the same cast. It mostly did. One character left but at least Dr. Knight Face-Timed with her, so it felt like they gave viewers a bit of a transition. I appreciated that. I tend to cling to favorite characters and I liked her (Aiofe).

Not much else is going on. We're trying to grow grass in our backyard because the construction crew had it down to dirt. I appreciate the excellent job they did of grading the yard, before they left. We've planted some monkey grass, rose bushes, and a Japanese maple tree. Most everything's doing well. And, Huzzybuns brought home a couple of plants from his mother's house because she's in the process of moving. Her miniature rose bush got a little sunburnt so I brought it inside and babied it in the sink, giving it little showers and telling it what a good little plant it is. That worked brilliantly. After about 4 days, it had lots of new leaves and was looking so much better that I moved it outside, this time in a spot that gets a lot less sunlight (under the covered part of the patio). And, then I put it out in the rain when a storm moved in. It's looking happy, now.

I haven't made it to the gym for weeks but now that we have our finished terraced patio with steps, I use it as my home gym on the days I can't make it. I've discovered that if I walk back and forth across the top deck, go down all the stairs, and then walk around the bottom level and back up, that's almost exactly 100 steps. So, I've been gradually building up my stair-climbing muscles. And, hopefully, I'll make it back to the gym, soon, but it's nice to have that option since our house is a ranch with no stairs of any kind.

I painted a little, too, and had various errands and appointments. It was a busy week. I hope to find more time to read, 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, June 07, 2019

Fiona Friday - Friends

 I couldn't get them both to look up at the same time.

©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.