Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A few DNFs -The Matchmaker of Kenmare, Eyes in the Mirror and The Lantern

I need to tackle my review backlog very soon, but I've got this little pile of Did Not Finish advance readers that I'm tired of tripping over, so . . .

Books I Did Not Finish and Why:

The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney - Released in February of 2011, my copy of The Matchmaker of Kenmare is an ARC that's been haunting me. Haunting, I tell you! I read Delaney's Ireland for HarperCollins' now-defunct First Look program (thumbs up) and The Matchmaker is at least partially set during my favorite time period to read about, WWII, so I wanted to love this book. I deeply desired to fall in love with it. But, after two attempts, I gave up.

Why did I set it aside? The simplest reason: I didn't find it engaging. But, I still keep looking at the book longingly, certain that if I could just get past the first 50 pages I'll love it.

The Matchmaker of Kenmare has received some pretty sparkling reviews and just bizarrely passed a spontaneous flip test, so I will probably give it a third chance. But, I'll do a little skimming within those first 50 pages in the hopes that doing so will get me past what I consider to be a yawn of an opening.

Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer is a YA novel that I got from Sourcebooks for review. I must admit, the combination of cover image and description completely sucked me in. I wanted to read that book! It was one that I dived right into the moment it arrived on my doorstep.

Mini-description: Dee always desired to escape into another world but was stunned when she fell through a mirror, into the parallel life of Samara. Samara was friendless until Dee showed up in her life and agreed to switch places with her. Now, Dee is convinced that Samara's life needs fixing and has set out to change things. But, Samara doesn't like living in Dee's world and just wants her own life back.

Sounds good, yes? Unfortunately, the bit I overlooked in the description was the bio. The moment I began reading, I started to wonder how on earth such a simplistic, poorly written book managed to end up a published work of fiction and I flipped to the author's bio hoping that it would shed some light on that dilemma.

Oh. Okay. Mayer wrote the first version during an 8-week program between her sophomore and junior years of high school. Quite an accomplishment, really. The writing is at least justifiably immature. But, honestly? It's just flat awful. I will not give Eyes in the Mirror a second chance. I set it aside in flabbergasted horror (although not as soon as I read that bio -- I gave it at least another 20-30 pages before giving up). I've read beautiful, mature writing that's been passed over by publishers because the subject matter wasn't considered timely and I truly believe this book was only published because paranormal books are currently "in". There are probably a few people out there who will enjoy Eyes in the Mirror, but I will not be recommending it to anyone.

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson - A gushy, buzzy favorite in many corners and a book whose gorgeous cover you can't help but ogle, The Lantern fell completely flat for this reader. I would blame high expectations if I hadn't received the book early and found it pretentious and irritating before it even managed to work up a buzz.

Actually, I hate it when people use the word "pretentious" to describe someone's writing. I don't know the author. She might be totally down-to-earth, not one whiff of pretense about her. But, even flipping through randomly, just this moment, I found myself cringing. The writing just comes off as overwrought to me.

It's not unusual for me to end up absolutely hating books that get a lot of praise, but darn it! It sounded so good! I just peeked at Paperback Swap, where there are 168 people waiting in line for a copy (4 stars based on 2 ratings) and Amazon (4 stars on average and a broad range of reactions). With that many people waiting, I think I should offer up my ARC on the off chance it will find a happy home.

So, if you are dying to read The Lantern, leave a contact email in the comment section and tell me why you so desperately want to acquire a copy (sorry, US residents only). No need to broadcast this giveaway. I'd rather give it to a regular reader than someone who happened to read a random giveaway tweet. This will be a quick giveaway. I'll draw a name by Friday, December 2 at 10:00 AM, and if nobody signs up I'll just donate it. That gives you about 48 hours to sign up. *Remember to leave a contact email or you're basically screwed*.

Unfortunately, the ARC does not have that dreamy cover, sorry. The cover of this book I purchased last week, however, does:

I know the whole hands-holding-whatever thing has been done to death, but Amaryllis in Blueberry strikes me as the kind of book cover I'd like to stick into a frame and hang on my wall. I just love that stunning electric blue. Unfortunately, the story didn't live up to either the beautiful cover or the appealing description. I got to page 40 before giving up on this one. Too much negativity from the characters turned me off. I mulled giving it a second chance for about 2 nights before deciding, "Nah," and have already swapped it. I've mentioned this one in a past post but I had to share that cover. I adore that cover.

All three four of these "boo, hiss" DNF opinions are just that -- merely my personal opinion. If you're one of the authors and I meet you in a dark alley, someday, I promise not to kick your butt for wasting my time. Wait! I meant . . . remember my opinion is just one drop in an ocean of opinions and there's no need to pick a fight with me. Plus, I probably have at least 50 pounds on all of you and could roll you flat, although I hope to be all muscle and no flab by the time we meet.

The mailman just rang my doorbell!

He delivered some books for Kiddo's birthday (the only thing he asked for -- three books from a series he's currently reading) and Christmas Stories from Mississippi, my face-to-face book club's December selection. The plan is to read "one or two stories per year" because nobody in my F2F group apparently likes to read books that require a lot of thought during the holidays and they always struggle with selections.

It'll be interesting to see if I can actually stop myself at a mere two stories. The very last story is by Willie Morris! I love Willie Morris! Okay, I think we just answered that question.

Next up will be a review of a book. Which book? You've got me. I'm not sure just how I'll approach the reviews, yet -- most recent or first read? Whatever I feel like reviewing? We'll just burn that bridge when we get to it. Or, something like that.

Bookfool in a Goofy Mood

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

New on my shelf

I bought several books over Thanksgiving break and one arrived by mail. Here's what I got:

The Book of Marvels: An Explorer's Miscellany by Mervyn Peake came from Hastings Books & Music in Conway, Arkansas. I love that store. It's been one of our "stop and stretch" points on the trip home to Oklahoma for well over a decade and I was especially excited to visit the store because I'm spending almost zero time in bookstores since the demise of Borders.

When I picked up this beautifully illustrated volume, I was immediately captured. It's subtitled, "An Explorer's Miscellany" for good reason. The writings look to be quite a hodge-podge with excerpts dating as far back as the writings of Herodotus. I'm going to really enjoy digging into this book.

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake is a book I've read about, but I don't know where or when. I just recall reading about it and thinking, "Hmm, maybe someday." So, when I found a copy on a table full of remainders, I flipped through it. The writing looks a little intense, but sometimes I like a good challenge. We'll see how that goes, when I get around to reading.

As always, I read a few random passages. The beginning looked particularly daunting, but the language is lovely. When I returned home, I discovered why the opening seems a little confusing. Gormenghast is the second book in a series. I'll need to find a copy of Titus Groan, the first book. Reading the first book will likely make sense of the foggy beginning. I read a trade publication description in which it's referred to as a "gothic masterpiece" and elsewhere I've seen the word "fantasy" bandied about. Gormenghast is a crumbling castle; Titus Groan its owner. I'm intrigued.

The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano has been on my mental wish list for a while -- not a physical wish list, but I have a couple trusted blogger friends who read and enjoyed the book, so the idea of finding a copy has been lurking in the aging neurons. Sounds like it's about two fish out of water who try to get together (romantically speaking) and find that loners don't necessarily work well in a relationship.

While searching for a cover image, I discovered that there is a movie version of The Solitude of Prime Numbers. I'll have to look into that. Has anyone seen it? Near as I can tell, it's an Italian film and possibly the artsy type that a lot of people don't like. I tend to really like foreign flicks because they're so much less predictable and far more interesting than the standard Hollywood fare but we don't get them, here. I don't actually know anyone who is partial to foreign films (except for my eldest son, who hasn't mentioned it) so I don't know whether it was well received by its intended audience.

Edward S. Curtis: Coming to Light by Anne Makepeace has been on my PaperbackSwap wish list since . . . um, 2006? Maybe 2007. I recently considered dropping it off my wish list to open up a slot because I was starting to think it was never going to be listed. But, just before we left for Tulsa, a copy became available and it arrived while we were away.

At any rate, I'm very excited to finally acquire a copy of Coming to Light. It's a National Geographic book, large but not coffee-table huge -- just big enough that some of the more detailed photographs, at about 8" x 10", are satisfying. There's plenty of text, as well. I've desired to read more about Curtis, the man who became obsessed with photographing Native Americans before their traditions completely disappeared, since I read a fictional account of his life. I didn't realize he'd altered some photos and reused certain costumes when photographing men from different tribes; I learned that much just in perusing the book after we arrived home, yesterday. I have a feeling I'm really going to enjoy this book!

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

Where I Spent My Thanksgiving Holiday

Huzzybuns and I spent our Thanksgiving here:

Well, not really in downtown Tulsa (that was taken as we drove past downtown) but with my wonderful in-laws. We also took a side trip to my sister's house to meet up with my niece and her little boy, whom we hadn't yet met. He's nearly 11 months old (walking a few steps at a time, although he's crawling in this photo) and such a sweet boy!

I only finished one book on this trip: The Wind is My Mother by Bear Heart. It's so fascinating that I've considered getting an extra copy to pass around. I'll tell you more about that, later. I also recently finished reading The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa. It's a sweet story but I can't say it was a favorite.

On the way to Tulsa, we stopped at Hastings Books & Music in Conway, Arkansas. I love Hastings and I've so missed bookstores, since Borders' tragic closing. So, I had a great time there. I bought a book about explorers that looks fun. And, then I went to another Hastings near my niece's house and bought several books. I'll have to grab those and bring them to my desk to chat about, later, but I started to read one of them: Amaryllis in Blueberry. I liked the writing style and the idea, but I was finding the characters too unlikable to keep my interest, so I decided to put that aside and started reading The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton, which I'm loving.

Since I'm still having a great deal of difficulty concentrating to read, I've decided to go ahead and remove all but Tapestry from my sidebar. It's really the only book I'm reading, at this point. Hopefully, my reading will pick up soon. But, in the meantime . . . off to tidy and prepare to decorate for Christmas! Happy reading!

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fiona Friday - Hey, Mom!

This is really a terrible picture but I was excited when Fi turned around after she caught her little bird on a stick, like she was checking to see if I'd observed her fine hunting skills.

And, she looked right at the camera during a rest break, too! Excitement!!

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy (early) Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans! I'll be hanging out with family, tomorrow. I also hope to sneak in some reading time. We shall see. Isabel suggests a nice post-meal bath.

Yes, that was just a way to sneak in a photo I like. Have a great couple of days! Happy reading to all!

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remembering You by Tricia Goyer - review and giveaway/chat links

Remembering You by Tricia Goyer
Copyright 2011
Guideposts - Fiction/Christian
310 pages

I'm going back to an old format I used to use regularly, for this particular review. Who knows. I might just stick with it for a while.

What led you to pick up this book? Remembering You was advertised as a tour book and I was chosen to review it (by Litfuse Publicity Group -- not sure how they choose, but generally you don't get to sign up for two tours in a row). The WWII battle site setting and the author were the two things that caught my interest. I've been curious about Tricia Goyer's writing for a while. To be honest, they caught me at a weak moment. I'm still not accepting books for review. Allegedly.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. When television producer Ava Ellington's grandfather Jack asks her to accompany him on a trip to Europe to the sites of the battles he fought during WWII, she agrees. She decides to turn it into a working trip, bringing her camera and her curiosity along with her. Grandpa Jack and Ava meet up with his long-time best friend from the service, Paul, and Paul's grandson Dennis. Dennis and Ava have a history but their time together ended badly. During their travels, Ava discovers that Grandpa Jack has a secret that she feels compelled to uncover at risk of infuriating all of her travelling companions. Will Grandpa Jack reveal his painful war secret or will Ava end up creating a lasting rift between them? Can Ava and Dennis forget the past and begin again?

What did you like most about the book? The setting(s) from Paris, France through Belgium and Germany to Austria and the WWII history upon which Grandpa Jack's story was based. I thought it was pretty plain that the author had done her research.

What did you dislike about the book? I thought the plotting was a bit transparent and found it difficult to buy into the storyline fully. Had it not been a tour book and a quick read (sadly, I will often finish a book that flows, whether or not I'm fully enjoying it), I might not have finished the book. While it is a Christian novel, I didn't find the Christianity aspect overwhelming or preachy, but it did feel a bit like it was thrown in rather than . . . I don't know, organic? It just seemed a little awkward to me, although not nearly as awkward as the romance and the cheesy conflict.

What did you think of the main character? Ava was pretty annoying. She gradually seemed to soften a bit but my main problem with her was that I just didn't believe in her as a character. I was never able to fully set aside the feeling that I was reading a novel and get swept into the story.

Thoughts about the plot? Not to beat a dead horse, but I just thought the conflict was too forced and some of the plot elements too convenient. However, Remembering You does have a nice grounding in reality as far as the war dimension goes. I know my father felt very strongly about the years he spent in the service and was deeply connected to his war buddies. They often travelled great distances to meet up with each other and it's not uncommon for people to hold reunions at the sites where their war experiences took place. So the setting felt realistic, if not the story itself. I could also certainly buy into the conflicting emotions of an old man returning to a site of terrible tragedy.

In general: A very light, Christian read with a solid basis in history. Generally disappointing but not enough to convince me I should avoid the author's other books. In fact, I just discovered I have another WWII novel by Tricia Goyer tucked away on a bookshelf I haven't drawn from in some time. I will definitely read it. She is a highly admired Christian author and while this book didn't work for me, the fluidity of her writing is excellent and her research strong. Remembering You also has the benefit of being a clean story - no swearing, violence or sexuality.

3.5/5 stars for cleanliness, appearance of historical accuracy (I didn't look up any details, but Goyer is known for her research and I found historical references believable) and above-average flow.

The following is slightly altered from the press info about a Kindle Touch giveaway that was sent to me. I had a little difficulty opening the attachments, so you may see this content in a different format, elsewhere.

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a Kindle Touch giveaway for you and the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party. During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a live chat. Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle touch for yourself and to remember a friend this holiday season with a Kindle touch for them, as well!

I haven't got the foggiest idea how to add all the little icons that are posted elsewhere, so I'm going to direct you to another site to click through to Facebook and Twitter. Obviously, I need to brush up on some technical bloggy things. I used to know how to add HTML to images but I've forgotten how and, as I said, I had difficulty opening the attachments from the publicist. Serves me right for waiting till the last minute.

In other news:

I'm slumpy, again. I'm starting to worry about my brain. Did I not feed it well enough in its younger years? Does it need more coffee to combat its natural attention deficit? I've been trying to go with the flow (watching Season 1 of White Collar . . . at least I'm entertained), but when you're a book lover living in a house that looks like a library with bedding and a kitchen thrown in, it's really distressing when your desire to read abandons you. I'm enjoying everything I'm reading. I just don't feel like reading very often. Horrors.

I hope to enter recovery, soon. Maybe a little turkey will help.

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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fiona Friday - Stretch-Paw Izzy

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mini reviews - Don't Look Now, How to Be an American Housewife and The Education of a British-Protected Child

I've got such a backlog of books to review that I'm going to do a few minis to make it a bit easier to get caught up. All of the following are from my personal library.

Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier is a collection of 5 of du Maurier's creepy short stories, most of which I would guess are closer to novella length. My copy was printed in 1971, when Dame du Maurier was apparently still churning out bestsellers, the copyright date: 1966.

The title story, "Don't Look Now" is my favorite. It begins in a Venice cafe, where a grief-stricken couple, John and Laura, have traveled to try to lift Laura's spirits. While playing a silly game, imagining things about people nearby, they meet two older women. One of the women makes a dire prediction and accurately describes their deceased child, whom she claims to have seen happily sitting at the table with her parents. But, she is blind. After the old woman warns them something is going to happen and says John should leave Venice soon, their vacation takes a frightening turn. Is the blind lady truly psychic? What is the meaning of her warning to John?

"Don't Look Now" is one of those stories that is just predictable enough to make you want to say aloud, "No! Don't go down that alley!" But, it's still surprising enough to satisfy. The remaining 4 stories are a little less fulfilling. "The Breakthrough" tells the story of an engineer who gets tangled up in a frightening experiment. "A Border-Line Case" is the story of a woman who tries to fulfill her father's dying wish but ends up in a frightening situation that leads to a revelation she probably was best off not knowing. And, "The Way of the Cross" is about entanglements and intrigue on a group tour to Israel.

"Not After Midnight" was really the only other story that fully captured me -- enough so that after finishing the story I went on a search for someone to chat with about it. I'm not certain I understood the ending (I didn't find anyone to discuss it with, so if you have the book on hand and want to chat with me, I'll happily reread it). "Not After Midnight" is about an art teacher who becomes intrigued by the odd behavior of an American couple while on a painting holiday in Greece and finds himself falling into the same traps as a man whose curiosity led to his death, the year before.

While only 2 of the 5 stories really thrilled me, I still recommend Don't Look Now. Du Maurier's writing is always vivid and atmospheric; the collection is worth checking out, if only for the title story and would have made an excellent read for the RIP Challenge if I'd ever bothered to sign up. In the fall, I always feel compelled to read something spooky, signed up or not.

How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway tells the story of Shoko, an ailing Japanese woman who married an American soldier just after WWII. Her damaged heart may not hold out much longer; and, she longs to return to her home country to reunite with her estranged brother before she dies. After her doctor forbids her to travel, she takes a dramatic turn for the worse. So, she asks her daughter to go to Japan in her place.

Divorced mother Sue agrees to travel in Shoko's stead and takes her daughter along on the journey. In Japan, Sue becomes privy to family secrets and helps to heal the wounds Shoko and her brother have carried with them for decades.

How to Be an American Housewife is told in two parts, the first part from Shoko's point of view and the latter from Sue's. The change of perspective was a little jarring, at first, because I'd grown to love Shoko and the author did an excellent job of giving the two women distinctive voices. Her skill at making the characters distinctive made the transition difficult, in other words. By the mid-point, I also found that I was predisposed to dislike Sue because Shoko doesn't understand her. It doesn't take long to see events described by Shoko from Sue's perspective and to like her, as well.

I loved this story for many reasons. First and foremost, the storyline drew me in and the pages flew. But, apart from that, I loved stepping into Shoko's shoes and seeing what it's like to move to a spouse's home country and leave your own behind. I also liked reading the WWII scenes and some of them were so genuine that I was not surprised to find out they really happened. Highly recommended!

The Education of a British-Protected Child by Chinua Achebe is a book that Amy of Amy Reads talked me into buying when we met up at my local Borders as it was in its dying days. It wasn't a hard sell. I'm always fascinated by Amy's choices but they're far removed from my own, so I was excited to have her point out a book she particularly enjoyed.

The Education of a British-Protected Child is a collection of essays that mainly focus on education, the Nigerian experience (war, politics, imperialism), slavery and other topics important to Achebe, Nigerians and blacks in general. Although it's one of the most post-it filled books I've read, this year, when I first sat down to write about the book I was so overwhelmed by all the passages worth quoting that I think I'm best off just saying that it's worth the time.

Achebe has a unique perspective in being a highly-educated African who has experienced imperialism from the side of the natives, excellent education in an impoverished nation, a wide variety of experiences in other countries (teaching, travel, even more schooling) and war on his own turf. I learned a great deal from this book and felt like my own beliefs were challenged a bit. At times, I disagreed with Achebe, sometimes I was enlightened and in general I was quite simply in awe of him. I may share some quotes in a future post.

My Face-to-Face book group meets to discuss Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, tonight! I can't wait! Happy Wednesday to all!

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Malarkey - reading and otherwise

This post has been brought to you by a particularly beautiful autumn in Mississippi:

I'm going to do my best to hack away at that backlog of unwritten reviews, this week, but for now . . . an update on life and books, starting with books.

I finished 3 books, last week (links lead to Amazon, although I am not an associate):

Remembering You by Tricia Goyer - A Christian novel about a woman who travels to Europe with her grandfather, his best friend and his best friend's grandson to retrace the older fellows' path in WWII. This is a tour book and will be reviewed soon.

Flight to Heaven by Capt. Dale Black - An e-book, also Christian but non-fiction about a man who was the only survivor of a plane crash at the age of 19, in 1969. A pretty exciting read by a very impressive guy. I didn't mean to read Flight to Heaven, but I actually hit the wrong book image, started reading and, by the time I figured out I'd opened the wrong book (about a paragraph in) couldn't bear to switch back to the book I'd intended to read.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin - A novel I likely would have avoided because of the "mystery" aspect if not for my book group, but thank goodness I didn't. My F2F book club meets this week to discuss the book. I can't wait! It is definitely deserving of the awards and praise it's received.

I've recently received two books in the mail:

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire came unsolicited from HarperCollins. Since I haven't read Wicked or any of the other books in the series but my son's girlfriend has read them all, I handed it to her and asked if she'd be willing to write a guest review. She said, "Yes, but it might take me a while." She's a busy college student, so her response was expected. I'm hoping she'll find the time to read it over Thanksgiving break. She's going to loan me her copy of Wicked so that I can eventually review Out of Oz, as well.

Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson - from Paperback Swap. I have no earthly idea where I read about this book, but it has a badge saying it won "The Stephen Leacock Award for Humour," which seems like a very positive sign.

And, now the bad news, which isn't really all that bad:

Nano went splat. Actually, I'm not surprised that I simply let go of my Nano writing because I'm still a little off on my wake-sleep schedule and knew it would be a stretch to keep up the kind of dedication you need to write a novel in a single month after a big trip. I'm not even disappointed. Writing for a couple weeks has nicely reawakened my desire to write fiction, so I'm going to continue to do so -- just not the book I started writing on the 1st of November. It was fun but turned out to be a book about . . . nothing. It was so seriously lacking in plot that I decided it wasn't worth my time to continue.

I love NaNoWriMo and believe it is an excellent event, a positive activity to join in on, a great way to give people that little nudge they need to at least try (if writing is something they've only talked about), to start over (if you've written in the past and let your skills lapse) or to shove yourself through a novel (if you're already a success and just love the challenge). My wishes for success to those who are still participating.

In everyday life:

Still pretty out there, still taking lots of pictures. But, we had a gusty day and we're on the downhill side of our fall color. Some trees are close to being totally bare. We've enjoyed taking drives to enjoy the color while it lasted. Winter is pleasant in Mississippi and we're really enjoying the unusually brisk autumn air (well, we were -- it's supposed to get nearly to 80, today). It's not winter, yet, but this shot looks a bit wintery, doesn't it?

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

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fiona Friday - Space Ace Has Landed

This is the only photo I've managed to take of Fiona, since we returned from vacation. She must have been spaced out, since she almost never sticks around when the camera comes out. Izzy, on the other hand, has posed so many times that I will probably insert an Isabel photo or two into coming posts.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Yes, I know I am being a bad, bad blogger . . .

. . . but I have several excellent excuses.

NaNoing, for example. So far, life seems to be occasionally getting in the way of the novel writing (you know, sleeping -- my current Life Focus -- and working out, appointments and errands and bill-paying, etc.) but I've completed about 20% of my 50,000 required words and it's been ridiculously, stinking fun. My hero was dreadful in that, "Good grief, he has absolutely no flaws . . . I think I'm going to heave," way. So, I turned the first 8,000 words into a dream sequence and now I'm being just flat mean to my characters. It's such a hoot. Where else can you have that kind of fun without actually hurting anyone?

I've also been driving around town, snapping photos of fall color. We knew a storm was coming after Oklahoma's freaky weekend "Quakenado" (first the quake, then the tornado -- I didn't come up with that cute coined word, unfortunately) because Oklahoma's messes tend to land in our yard, so I rushed out to capture as much as possible. We are having an unusually beautiful fall, probably thanks to several unseasonably early and sharp cold snaps.

We did lose quite a bit of foliage in the storm, but not enough to end the beauty completely, so I'm still at it. Today, I took some pics in the Big City because I had to go there anyway, so I figured I might as well drag the camera along and look for more photo-opportunities.

And another thing! I've been playing with my cats. They are very demanding, but how could you possibly turn down a face like this one?

Impossible. Incidentally, Isabel's perched on top of our entertainment center in the photo above; and, shortly after I snapped that picture and several others, she rolled off. Poor Izzy is really bad with heights. I worry about that girl. Fortunately, I had a bin full of clothing to break her fall. It sometimes pays to be a lousy housekeeper.

I've been trying to sort through my million squillion photos of Japan, but to be honest I'm just intimidated. Between the two of us (Huzzybuns and I), I'm pretty sure we took about 2,500 photos. There's a lot of tossing-out to do -- neither of us is brilliant at photography, I'm afraid -- but plenty of decent photos will remain and there's much to tell. I've set up a travelogue blog, but at this point in time I'm keeping it private. I'll sprinkle photos into this blog, now and then. Never fear.

Yes, we rode the bullet train!!! Did you know it's actually easier to eat salad with chopsticks than with a fork, once you get the hang of eating with them? I learned a lot in Japan. Also, if you're going to order spaghetti at a Japanese Italian restaurant, for heavens sake don't order the kind with tomato sauce. White cream sauce is good.

I do everything I can to keep you informed. Gotta go. We'll talk books later, 'kay?

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

Monday, November 07, 2011

Well . . . that was what I call a break

I'll update my sidebar in a bit, but I just wanted to drop in to say, "Hello! I'm alive!" I'm still going to be on limited-blogging status for as long as it takes to get my house in order and all that fun stuff (that could be eons) but I'm at least back to reading.

While I was away, I hardly read a thing -- literally, did not finish a book for almost 3 weeks. It was distressing. But, on the other hand, I had good reason in that for a good portion of the time I've been gone I was losing my mind over packing all the proper things and then for much of the rest I was hanging out here:

Huzzybuns and I went to Japan! We got to hang out with the charming Nat of In Spring it is the Dawn (and her delightful husband, H., the one day he was available). And, then we came home and one of us basically slept for a week. Can I just say Nat is (besides an excellent guide and lovely lady) a person with great stamina?

We had such fun. We ate a lot of terrific food. This is one of my favorite dishes. Anyone care to hazard a guess? Eel soup! Seriously, I love eel.

Anyway, we had a blast and now it's back to cleaning, purging and National Novel Writing Month. Unfortunately, I started out NaNoWriMo with a bang and then . . . you know . . . basically slept for a week. So, I was ahead but now if I continue at my current rate, NaNo is telling me I'll finish my novel by Christmas. Haha. I love it. I plan to get back on the proverbial horse, today.

The one book I managed to finish whilst on break was Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister by Liz Kessler, a Kindle freebie that I chose because it was easy reading and I was dead on my feet. We had pretty full days in Japan. I didn't finish it till a couple days after we returned.

However, today I just finished my second book since my arrival home: Remembering You by Tricia Goyer. And, I'm back to reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin ("back," although I did manage to read a handful of pages while we were in Kyoto) and Emory's Gift by W. Bruce Cameron (which I'd barely begun before we left, so I restarted the book -- and am currently on page 71). I'm also reading The Wind is My Mother by Bear Heart and enjoying it immensely. TWiMM is a book by a "Native American shaman" from Oklahoma and, at one point, I had to set it aside briefly to let myself wallow in homesickness. But, I got over myself and actually used one of his healing techniques to make my husband's achy shoulder feel better when it was keeping him awake.

So . . . that's everything I'm currently reading. I'll get back to Drama by John Lithgow soon, as well. Drama is a very enjoyable read by a stunningly down-to-earth actor. I think you'll like it if you're a fan of memoirs by the famous (I am normally not, but I have another one on the stacks, here, and I have a poetry book by Lithgow that I've only partially read -- enough that I already knew he was a decent writer and pretty much lacking in the usual arrogance, by the point at which Drama was offered to me).

My bottom-line assessment of Japan: Totally freaking awesome.

Would I go again? I would not have left, if there'd been an option to stay.

The People: Love 'em. So polite. You pick up on the bowing thing pretty quickly, but I only learned how to say, "I'm sorry" or "Excuse me" (kind of a general-purpose word, I think: "sumimasen") so I would definitely purchase a phrase book before returning.

Did I miss reading? Oh, yes. It was horrible not feeling like reading, but I just had no interest in reading at all! Weird.

And, yet, I managed to get zen for a time . . .

I missed my kitties but they were well cared-for by my son's lovely girlfriend, so we returned to relative calm in spite of our lengthy absence.

Since I'm working on writing a hasty novel, I can't say how often I'll check in during the month of November, but I'll be back whenever I can squeeze in the time.

What did I miss in Blogland, while I was away? Anything marvelous? Any flaming controversy? I hope you had a great time, too! Read anything wonderful?

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