Tuesday, August 04, 2020

They Called Us Enemy - George Takei, Elsinger, Scott, and Becker



They Called Us Enemy is George Takei's graphic novel about his family's time in two separate internment camps during WWII. It tells a little about his life before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and how sentiment turned against Japanese Americans, the signing of the bill that led to the imprisonment of both American citizens and those who had been residents of the US for a long time without becoming citizens, how traumatic leaving their home was, the conditions they lived in at the camps, and how people banded together to make their lives more tolerable.

Takei talks a little about how this experience fed into the kind of escapism and pretend that led to his acting career and how this story was told as a play.

Highly recommended - I'm not a big fan of graphic memoirs but this one is excellent and very moving. It has very clear illustrations and text. My distaste for graphic memoirs is two-fold: sometimes people seem to share a little too much for my taste (a little harder to ignore if there are illustrations) and I don't always understand what's happening. There was never a point that I didn't understand what was going on in They Called Us Enemy. It's very well done. I thought Takei's story was also fascinating for the fact that his story was a little different than the other tales of Japanese Internment I've read because his parents made the choice not to sign a document saying they rejected the Emperor of Japan, due to the wording. That put them in much worse circumstances, for a time.


©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, August 03, 2020

The Plains by Gerald Murnane


The Plains by Gerald Murnane is an Australian modern classic about a man who goes to the Plains region of Australia for a filmmaking project. But, first, he must get to know the Plainsmen and what makes them tick. He finds a patron, a wealthy landowner willing to pay him to spend time reading diaries and documents on the Plains to research his film.

~~~Warning: This next paragraph may contain spoilers. Skip it if you are planning to read The Plains and want to be surprised, please!~~~ 

The storyline in The Plains is predictable, at least in part, but still managed to surprise and tickle me. It's told in three parts. In the first part, the narrator travels to the Plains and hangs out where the Plainsmen do, hoping to learn about them and understand them enough to create his film. At the end of the first section, he finds his patron. In the second part, the narrator (I don't recall whether or not he was ever named) is living with his patron, admiring the patron's wife, and spending most of his time in the library of the patron's estate. In the final section, years have passed and the narrator realizes he has become a Plainsman, himself. But, I won't tell you what happens to his filmmaking process because it's worth discovering if you're at all interested in reading the book. And, it's quite funny.

It's safe, now. 

I got of whiff of the slyness of the author's sense of humor when the narrator made a comment about not knowing quite when he left Australia. That's like saying you aren't quite sure when you left America as you entered Kansas. But, I think it's likely I would have missed out on a lot of the subtle humor if I hadn't read the introduction, which was written by a writer who was so impressed by The Plains when he first read it that he started corresponding with the author. I highly recommend reading the intro, if you have this copy of the book.

I found the beginning and the last section of The Plains a little difficult until I stopped thinking so hard about what the author was trying to say. Oddly, The Plains made more sense when I put less effort into figuring it out.

Recommended with a note - The Plains is a very Australian book and you have to kind of shift your mindset to get it if you're not Australian. It's best to embrace the quirkiness. It's not often I read a book that's more difficult the harder you try to understand it but this is definitely that kind of book.

Side note: The Plains caught my eye in an Australian bookstore because I grew up on the American Plains and have a fondness for wheat, which would get blown into our yard during storms when I was young; there was a wheat field not far from us at the time (it eventually became a Walmart, ugh). I didn't buy a copy when I was in Australia but my husband went back there on business, after we vacationed Down Under, and I sent him with a list. The Plains was at the top. He tried to read it and found it a little too weird.

Reminder: I've gone to every-other-week Monday Malarkey posts, so there will be a Malarkey post next week.

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Fiona Friday - Sweet kitty kiss and new catnip toy

I forgot it's Friday! Darn Coronavirus throws everything off. I've already posted this image to Facebook but I adjusted the color a bit because it was a little yellowish. It was by far my favorite kitty photo of the week so apologies to those who have already seen this one. I'll throw another below for funsies.


Fiona got a new catnip squirrel, last week. Isabel occasionally plays with it, too, but I've found Fiona using it as a pillow, occasionally. She is definitely appreciating it the most.


It was a delightful week with the kitties. :)


©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is the sequel to The War That Saved My Life, which I reviewed, here:

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

And, because it's a sequel, there may be some spoilers, so I'd advise you to skip this review if you're concerned that I might give away a plot point or two from the first book. 

In The War I Finally Won, this middle grade WWII fiction continues the story of Ada, her brother, Jamie, and Susan. In case you don't want to click through to the first review, just a quick reminder of what happens in The War That Saved My Life: Ada is stuck at home with a cruel mother who occasionally locks her into the cabinet and won't let her leave the apartment, even to attend school, embarrassed about Ada's club foot. But, when her little brother Jamie is evacuated to the country, Ada finds a way to tag along and they end up with a depressed woman, Susan, who rises to the challenge of dealing with a traumatized child who has not attended a single day of school.

In The War I Finally Won, Susan has become the children's permanent guardian, Ada has surgery to fix her club foot, and the family has moved after losing their home to a direct hit by a bomb. Now that they know their mother has been killed, Ada is struggling with whether or not Susan will abandon them and upset by the fact that Jamie has begun to call Susan "Mum". There are some other plot points I don't want to give away because I think it's best reading them as they unfold but, as in the first book, there's a good deal about horses. In The War That Saved My Life, a horse named Butters figures heavily into the plot about Ada's healing.

The War I Finally Won is a very plot-driven story packed with emotional scenes that gives you that wonderful "you were there" sensation. There are so many moving scenes, in fact, that I pretty much cried my way through the book. At one point, I was reading in bed and I cried enough that I had to sit up because I was soaking the collar of my shirt. I consider that a positive. I like a deeply affecting book.

Highly recommended - It is necessary to read The War That Saved My Life, first, because The War I Finally Won is a continuation of the story in that book and much of what's in the latter will not make sense if you haven't read the first book. Both are excellent. While I didn't think the characters sounded British when I read their dialogue, that was the only indication that the author is American. Otherwise, the time and place were clearly thoroughly researched.


©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan


Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan was one of the most exciting things I found on that day I flipped through every fiction page on Book Outlet. Friends have been gushing about Shaun Tan's illustrations for years. I honestly didn't pay attention to the title so it wasn't until right before the book arrived and I read a review that I found out Tales from Outer Suburbia is just what it sounds like, a slim book of short stories, beautifully illustrated.

I thought of Tan as merely an illustrator but his quirky stories are loads of fun. My particular favorite is the one that goes with the cover image. I don't want to give anything away because all of the stories are so surprising and fun. At least one made me laugh out loud and repeat the story to my husband. I will reread this book numerous times, I'm sure.

Highly recommended - Tales from Outer Suburbia is a pure delight, not only for the uniqueness of the short fiction but also for the stunning illustrations. It's an eyeball feast. I'll be looking for more by Shaun Tan.

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monday Malarkey



Recent arrivals (all purchased, top to bottom):


  • In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
  • Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  • My One Square Inch of Alaska by Sharon Short
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
  • Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
  • Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama
  • Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
  • Golden State by Ben H. Winters
  • The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
  • Trumpocracy by David Frum


A lot of these have been on my wish list for some time, so I went a little hog wild on a day I was feeling down in the dumps. Apparently, this is a common thing for book lovers. Someone in one of my book groups on Facebook asked people to admit how many books they have coming in the mail *right at this moment* and one woman said, "I have 48 in my cart at Book Outlet."


Books finished since last Malarkey:


  • Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams and Tara Nicole Whitaker
  • Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • The End of October by Lawrence Wright
  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
  • I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O'Farrell
  • The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  • Stop! Bot! by James Yang
  • Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
  • The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • The Plains by Gerald Murnane
  • They Called Us Enemy by Takei, Elsinger, Scott, and Becker
  • Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump
  • Dominicana by Angie Cruz


I guess it's been a while since I did a Monday Malarkey post. I'm planning to do them every other week, so there will not be a Monday Malarkey next week but I'll post one two weeks from today. In case you're wondering, part of the reason I managed to read so many books in the past few weeks was my participation in the "Laid-back reading challenge" via Instagram. I enjoyed being in a small group reading for a week together and chatting. It inspired me.


Currently reading:


  • Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum


I'm still not even past the introduction of the Tatum book so I imagine it will be one of those books I put in my "currently reading" category a couple of times and then potentially drop, even though I'm still reading it because saying I'm still reading it makes me cringe. But, I'm sure I'll eventually finish it. It's just going to take some time.


Posts since last Malarkey:




I decided I like doing a sort of "round-up" post of what I've read and posted, now and then, so while I considered getting rid of Monday Malarkey, I've wholly rejected the notion, now. It will continue, just spaced out a bit more.


In other news:

This week, Huz and I were watching a medical professional on the news. He said that even after the human trials for COVID-19 vaccines are finished, a vaccine will have to be mass produced and then somehow distributed to the public and because all of that takes time, he couldn't imagine that it would be less than a year before we can go back to normal. Huz turned to me and said, "Another year with you? Ugh," and I laughed because I know when he's joking. Seriously, kids, this is the best thing about a long marriage. Get yourself a partner who can insult you and make you laugh because you know he's kidding.

Anyway . . . a year. What an awful thought. We are introverts and we're doing okay but we still occasionally get a little stir crazy. Yesterday, we drove the 30 miles back to Vicksburg to go through a drive-through Mexican place, really just to get out of the house. The girl in the drive-through window wasn't wearing a mask (against local mandate). I don't know if I'll go there, again.

The worst news of the week is that I have finally reached the stage of knowing someone personally who died from COVID-19. I knew that time would come. First, it was knowing people who knew people who had the virus, then knowing someone personally, then knowing a bunch of people who had it personally, and now . . . my favorite childhood Sunday School teacher, the mother of one of my best friends has passed away.

Please wear a mask and socially distance.

Here's a behind the scenes photo of Fiona with my books because . . . of course she had to check them out:


The purple is a tumbling mat I use for yoga because a yoga mat is too thin for me, now.

I'm on my last week of that painting class, Postwar Abstract Expressionism. It has been the most amazing learning experience. I've taken some so-so classes through Coursera but Postwar Abstract Expressionism was first rate. The only problem I had with it was the inability to ask questions of the instructor. There was no common board where that kind of interaction could take place. But, I learned a lot and have had so much fun with the painting lessons. While I'm working on the final lesson, I'm already scouting around to see what kind of class I can find to participate in, next.

Have you found anything wonderful to help fill your time with new learning experiences during the pandemic?

©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Fiona Friday



©2020 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.