Friday, September 27, 2013

Fiona Friday - Final Fiona Friday photo and the end of the blog

We no longer have River in our home. I went in to the shelter to adopt her and, thanks to a massive miscommunication, she was kept by the rescue.  Apparently, while I was sitting at home wondering why her photo was not appearing at their website, they were showing her photo to people looking for a pretty, long-haired kitten. We were told we would not be given priority in adopting River, in spite of the fact that she had spent half of her life with us.  No amount of begging produced results and over a week has gone by so I think we can safely say she's found a new home.  That was the crisis I was dealing with.  

We're still grieving her absence.  Since I went in expecting to adopt and came home with an empty carrier, I didn't even really get to say "goodbye" and it was very much like a death.  We're moving on, but I haven't felt much like writing reviews or anything else.  I've read a few children's books and bits and pieces of other books but I'm not even motivated enough to review those, at this point.  Change is the only thing helping me get through my days, so I've decided to make this post the end of the blog.  

Many thanks to those who have been reading my blog for many years and to the new folks I've just recently gotten to know.  I especially appreciate those of you who have taken the time to comment.  I miss the days when there was a great deal more interaction and have appreciated every single comment that anyone has taken the time to make.  

I can be found at Goodreads as N. Horner (please send a message explaining how you know me, if you want to be Goodreads friends) and on Twitter I am @Bookfoolery.  If you've known me for a while and we haven't managed to become Facebook friends, please feel free to email me at and let me know how to find you.  I have a very common name so it's difficult to look me up on Facebook without knowing my home email, which I don't publish online.  I will always end up talking about books somewhere, so feel free to follow along where I go, if you'd like.  :)

Love to all,


©2013 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 20, 2013

Taking a break

I have an issue that needs urgent attention.  Will be back as soon as possible - probably at least a week.  I'm not sure how long this will take.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean
Copyright 1963
Fawcett Crest - Thriller
224 pp.

First Sentence:

Commander James D. Swanson of the U.S. Navy was short, plump and crowding forty.

Side Note:

Interesting to note that in the movie based on this book, the commander was played by the tall and dashing Rock Hudson.  I had pictured someone more along the lines of Ralph Waite, the man who played the father in The Waltons, as I was reading, partly because Commander Swanson was also a cheerful man and I remember Pa Walton smiled a lot.  I know I'm old.

Summarize the plot without giving away the ending:

An arctic science station known as Drift Ice Station Zebra has been damaged by a horrific fuel oil explosion and the nuclear submarine Dolphin and its crew have been called upon to attempt to reach Ice Station Zebra's survivors.  At the last moment, a doctor has boarded the sub. The commander doesn't trust him; however, after checking to make certain that everything is in order, the doctor is allowed aboard. 

But, there's a saboteur on the Dolphin, the damage to Ice Station Zebra may not have been an accident and communication is spotty at best. Will the crew of the Dolphin be able to find Drift Ice Station Zebra?  If so, how will they get through the arctic ice surrounding the floating base and what will they find?  

Capsule Description:

When a science station near the North Pole is seriously damaged, an American nuclear submarine is sent to the rescue.  But, even if the crew of the Dolphin can survive a saboteur's repeated efforts to stop them, will they be able to survive an Arctic storm and a desperate murderer?

What did you like best about Ice Station Zebra?

I loved the language, the fact that things keep happening (it truly is a "thrilling" thriller), the fact that it had a very cold setting and I'm so tired of the freaking heat, the author's sense of humor.  The book really is a roller coaster ride - more thrilling than anything I've read in quite a while.   

A bunch of excerpts:

The tallest of the three tall men, a lean, rangy character with wheat-colored hair and the definite look of a man who ought to have had a horse between his legs, stood slightly in advance of the other two.  Commander Swanson gestured toward him.

"Lieutenant Hansen, my executive officer.  He'll look after you till I get back." The commander certainly knew how to choose his words.

"I don't need looking after," I said mildly.  "I'm all grown up now and I hardly ever feel lonely."

~p. 8

Commander Swanson's cabin was bigger than a telephone booth, I'll say that for it, but not all that much bigger to shout about.  A built-in bunk, a folding washbasin, a small writing desk and chair, a folding camp stool, a locker, some calibrated repeater-instrument dials above the bunk, and that was it.  If you'd tried to perform the twist in there, you'd have fractured yourself in a dozen places without ever moving your feet from the center of the floor.

~p. 18

This ridged and hummocked ice cap had a strange quality of elusiveness, of impermanence, of evanescence; one moment there, definitively hard and harsh and repellent in its coldly contrasting blacks and whites; the next, ghost-like, blurring, coalescing and finally vanishing like a shimmering mirage fading and dying in some ice-bound desert.  

~p. 53

The ice storm was no longer the gusting, swirling fog of that morning but a driving wall of stiletto-tipped spears, near-lethal in its ferocity, high-speed ice-spicule lances that would have skewered their way through the thickest cardboard or shattered in a second a glass held in your hand.  Over and above the ululating threnody of the wind we could hear an almost constant grinding, crashing, and deep-throated booming as millions of tons of racked and tortured ice, under the influence of the gale and some mighty pressure center heaven knew how many hundreds of miles away, reared and twisted and tore and cracked, one moment forming another rafted ridge as a layer of ice, perhaps ten feet thick, screeched and roared and clambered on to the shoulders of another and then another 
[. . .] 

~p. 64

"What do your men think of your making them risk their lives to save the good name of the submarine service?"

"You heard the captain," Rawlings said.  "We're volunteers.  Look at Zabrinski there: anyone can see that he's a man cast in a heroic mold."

~p. 71

"Shall we just lie down and die now or shall we first stagger around in circles for a couple of hours and then lie down and die?"

"It's tragic," Rawlings said gloomily. "Not the personal aspect of it, I mean the loss to the U.S. Navy.  I think I may fairly say, Lieutenant, that we are--or were--three promising young men.  Well, you and me, anyway.  I think Zabrinski there had reached the limit of his potentialities."

~p. 78

A pity they had no submarines in the Middle Ages, I thought; the sight of that little lot down there would have given Dante an extra fillip when he started in on his Inferno.

~p. 188

What did you dislike about Ice Station Zebra?

There were moments I couldn't quite follow the logic of the doctor who works to unravel the mystery of what happened at Drift Ice Station Zebra and who is responsible for the sabotage but it's not unusual for me to think, "How on earth did [whoever] come to that conclusion?"  Mysteries often go over my head.

Highly recommended - Loads of fun.  I must share the cover quotes, all of which I agree with:

"Spellbinding  . . . never a dull moment" --The New York Times

Pulse-Pounding adventure beneath the arctic ice -- "An exciting thriller with a macabre and dramatic background." --Publisher's Weekly

"Don't start reading this book unless you have a free evening, for you won't want to lay it aside until the very end." --Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Only superlatives could describe this story." --Washington Post

Cover thoughts:  I love that cover.  It's a work of art.  In fact, one of the reasons I adore older books is the fact that their covers were so obviously painted specifically for a single book -- not stock images or photos that would be used and then used again with a slightly different coloring or lettering, as we often see, now.  The cover image deposits you right in the midst of a scene as three men, the submarine still in view, struggle across the ice.  Awesome.

Ice Station Zebra came from my personal library.  

©2013 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 16, 2013

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Copyright 2013
Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins) - YA/Dystopian
309 pp.

First Sentence:

Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink.  

Summarize the plot without giving away the ending:

In a dystopian Ohio with water and food shortages, Lynn and her mother spend their time growing food for the winter, purifying water from their pond and defending the pond from invaders.  There is a stream, nearby, but it's unreliable and the pond is slowly drying up.   Lynn and her mother are on waving acquaintance with a single neighbor and have two potential threats to worry about -- smoke by the stream and a gang of men who have attempted to approach the house.

When tragedy strikes and Lynn is left on her own, she must decide whether or not to join forces with her neighbor and help a suffering family by the stream.

HarperCollins has called this YA a "cross-over" novel and I wasn't sure what they meant by that, so I asked and will update when I receive a reply but I'm guessing it's not going to be advertised specifically to the YA crowd because it's not watered down or floofy in any way and likely will appeal to adults who cringe at the idea of reading a young adult novel.  Just a guess.  

Capsule Description:

Winter is falling and there's a deadly threat near Lynn's home.  It's up to her to defend her precious water source in a world where water is scarce. Is she willing to reach out to her neighbor and take the risk of leaving her home to help the starving people by the stream, or will she choose to fight off her enemies on her own?

What did you like best about Not a Drop to Drink?

I like books that are about survival in desperate situations and Not a Drop to Drink is a good one.  The  protagonist, Lynn, has been brought up in a harsh world and the situations that she ends up in are often gut-wrenching. But, she's tough when needed and, after she meets people outside her safe zone, she softens in the right ways.  She's a great character and the book is rife with tension.  First there are the various threats to her pond and then, eventually, when the people threatening her home materialize, there's an even bigger challenge to face.  All is handled well, with just enough quiet moments to develop the characters between tense action scenes.  Actually, having written this, I realize I didn't give it a high enough rating at Goodreads.  It's darn near perfect, so I've gone back and changed my rating to a 5/5.

What did you dislike about Not a Drop to Drink?

I thought the set-up was a little bit dull but it was necessary. Actually, what little I disliked was all necessary and, therefore, I ended up thinking there really wasn't anything I disliked.  Bad things happen in the book but while they're not necessarily predictable (therefore avoiding the trite), they have the ring of truth and are at least subconsciously expected.  I just can't say anything negative at all about Not a Drop to Drink.

Highly recommended - Well-written, tense, atmospheric, excellent world-building -- just a great book, all-around. The author beautifully wove interaction with excitement, friendship with tragedy, climaxing the story with a particularly dramatic action scene and ending with a satisfying wrap-up that takes place years down the road. I don't recall any bad language and there's no sex, so the book is acceptable for YA readers who can handle a lot of death and frightening situations but it's also solidly plotted and believable enough for adult readers who might be just a bit skeptical of young adult novels.  It is also heartbreaking at times.

Cover thoughts:  I like the cover.  The colors give it an "atmospheric" look and while the image of the house and pond aren't entirely accurate to the story (there's an antenna that can be used to climb to the roof, the house is larger in description than the image reflects, there is some forest nearby and there's also a barn), it works well enough.  Lynn spends a lot of time on the roof of her home, watching out for danger, so the figure on the roof is accurate to the story.  

I received a copy of Not a Drop to Drink from HarperCollins in return for an unbiased review.

©2013 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 Malarkey - Quiet malarkey week

Today's Monday Malarkey is brought to you by a juvenile redheaded woodpecker (with just a tiny hint of feathers turning red at the back of his head).  He believes you should just keep hacking away at whatever your heart desires.  Really, he told me (telepathically, of course).

Recent Arrivals:

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead via Paperback Swap 
Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave by Patty Chang Anker from Riverhead Books via Shelf Awareness
The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C. C. Humphreys from Sourcebooks for review

This week's reads:

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You by Dr. Mardy Grothe
The Buccaneering Book of Pirates by S. Pirotta


August Reads 2103 - Brief looks at each of the books I read and/or DNF'd in August
Help for the Haunted by John Searles - a nice spooky read

Other posts:

Fiona Friday - Playing "Stuff on My Cat" - honestly, Isabel didn't mind.

Currently Reading:

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri - and it's so beautifully written that I might not come up for air for a couple days.  We shall see.
Prehistoric Avebury by Aubrey Burl - I just read this one a little at a time.  I'm trying to orient myself but -- let's face it -- I'm terrible with directions.  I "see" Avebury Stone Circle in my memory from the ground, without reference to direction.  I'm trying to overlay my memory with the correct directional orientation and thinking, "Nah, I'm just going to have to go there."  I did learn something interesting during this week's reading:  My favorite place on the planet, the Iron-Age earthworks known as Barbury Castle in Wiltshire, is just about a 6-mile walk, as the crow flies (although there is apparently no need to morph into a crow because there used to be a Roman road, nearby, and the ground is walkable) from Avebury.  I had no idea!  Anyway, this one will linger in my sidebar for a very long time because I have to sit and ponder everything. I can't just breeze through this book (so far).

In other news:

I haven't felt like writing book reviews so reviews may be short, this week. On the plus side, I have loads of story ideas floating around in my head.  That hasn't happened for nearly a decade, so I'm happy about that.  Now, I need to just get back into the habit of sitting down to write on a word processor.

It is still hot. Normally, we go somewhere in August or September to escape the worst of the heat but that's not possible so I'm hiding out indoors.  The cats are not particularly thrilled that I'm so sick of heat I've begun to leave all the blinds closed.  Neither am I, actually.  I thrive on light.

I've decided I'm just going to continue reading what I want to read as it calls to me.  Fortunately, a blend of books from my personal library and ARCs seems to be working nicely, right now.  I'm hoping to start Colleen Gleason's first YA, The Clockwork Scarab, later this week.  

Oh, and this is book club week!  Wahoo!  This month we're discussing The Great Gatsby.  Should be interesting.  

©2013 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.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fiona Friday - Playing "Stuff on My Cat"

©2013 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, 2013

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Help for the Haunted by John Searles
Copyright 2013
William Morrow - Suspense
362 pp.

First sentence:

Whenever the phone rang late at night, I lay in my narrow bed and listened.

Summarize the plot without giving away the ending:

Sylvie's story began when her parents answered a late-night phone call.  Their business was helping the haunted and possessed; it was not unusual for the Masons to go to work in the middle of the night.  But, on that fateful night Sylvie sensed danger.  As she obediently sat waiting alone in her parents' car outside a darkened church, snow blanketing the windows, she heard gunshots and left the safety of the car to find out what was happening.  

Her parents were killed in the church, that night, Sylvie the only known witness.  But, her sister Rose knows more than she will let on. When Sylvie's identification of the murderer comes into doubt, Sylvie begins to question her memories and sets out to discover the truth.  Who was in that church, behind the gun that damaged one of Sylvie's ears and killed her parents?  Why is Rose so bitter and why has she forbidden Sylvie to mention that Rose was also in the church, having lured her parents there, if she was not the murderer?  Why has the basement light come on in their house and what is down there? What exactly did the Masons due to "help the haunted"? What did the man who wrote a book about the Masons say that caused them to fall on hard times before their death?

Help for the Haunted jumps back and forth in time, describing the events leading up to the death of the Masons while following Sylvie as she attempts to determine who killed her parents and why.

Capsule Description:

A mysterious shooting, a haunted basement, the memory of a possessed doll and an oddly shifty sister.  When young Sylvie realizes she may have identified the wrong man as her parents' murderer, she must piece together what really happened the night her parents died.

What did you like best about Help for the Haunted?

I liked the fact that Help for the Haunted was just creepy and suspenseful enough to suit me without being so scary I couldn't read it at night. The basement contains objects that may or may not be haunted, which lends a nice chill to the atmosphere and since the details about what the Masons actually did for a living were held back from Rose and Sylvie, there are a lot of questions posed at the beginning of the book.  Help for the Haunted is nicely paced, the pieces of the story revealed slowly while ratcheting up tension until the exciting scene in which Sylvie finds out the answers and nearly loses her life in the process.  

What did you dislike about Help for the Haunted?

I was expecting it to be much different than what it turned out to be but to say what part of Help for the Haunted didn't match my expectations would be a spoiler, unfortunately.  It wasn't anything that ruined the reading; that much I will say.

A favorites scene:

I like all the scenes with Dereck, a former boyfriend of Rose's.  Rose is a bitter character who becomes a bit tiresome, at times, and Sylvie takes time to develop some intestinal fortitude, since she's accustomed to trying to please everyone. The secondary characters give the book a bit of spark.  Dereck's scenes help to soften the story while Sylvie's uncle and her parents' biographer add interest.  I also loved the climactic action scene in which the identity of the killer and the killer's motive are explained, as well as the scenes in which Sylvie reflects on the childhood game she and her sister played on the foundation of a house that was never completed.  There's a final chapter in which things are quietly wrapped up.  I was hoping the author would wrap the book up in a way that explained what happened to Sylvie and liked the way he tied up all the loose ends.

Recommended - (rating: 4/5) A suspenseful, mysterious, well-paced story about how things are not always what they seem, Help for the Haunted is also about kindness, friendship, lies, the relationships in a dysfunctional family and the difficulty of being the trusted child who feels obligated to live up to parental expectations. Help for the Haunted is suspenseful and atmospheric enough to make a nice read for the RIP challenge, definitely recommended to those in the market for creepy books. 

Cover thoughts:

I like the cover because the color combined with the image of a girl running give it a slightly spooky look, but it's nothing special. The large lettering makes the cover appear . . . common, I guess.  It looks like a typical mystery/suspense.

I received a copy of Help for the Haunted from HarperCollins in return for an unbiased review.

©2013 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, 2013

August Reads 2013

Today's reflection on one month's reads is brought to you by our fearsome library tiger.  The Boston Public Library has lions.  We have a tiger.  I think it works.

August Reads in Review (with links, if applicable):

**Absolute Favorites
*Secondary Favorites

86. *Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum - A fictional account of abuse in a facility for disabled teens (based on reality).  A strong story is slightly marred by the use of vernacular, which is sometimes difficult to wade through if you're unfamiliar with the Chicago South Side accent.

87. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - The first in a YA series about teenage Evie, who works for an international paranormal agency, "bagging and tagging" paranormals to keep the world's human's safe, and falls in love with a half-human, half . . . um, water sprite, I think?  But, when someone starts killing off paranormals, her life begins to change dramatically and Evie is called on to save the world from an evil "Empty One".

88.** The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (reread) - Gaiman's latest fantasy, the story of life as a nerdy outcast little boy wrapped in a scary fantasy with a touch of good magic on the side.

89. The Curiosity by Stephen P. Keirnan - A dead man is brought to life by scientists, who hold him captive. Religious fundamentalists go nuts, a lonely female scientist falls for the man and risks her career to spring him.  There is a lot in this book to talk about but everyone's an archetype and the story is told through 4 separate POVs.  Argh.  It has a terrible ending! Double argh! But, I don't regret reading it. I had a nice discussion about the ending with Ryan of Wordsmithonia, so that added some extra fun to the reading.

90. **The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey - A story of murder, greed and how violence is passed down through the generations. This one got high marks because it broke a brief reading block.

91. Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat - The story of a young girl's disappearance serves as the framework for a novel about the interconnecting lives of people living in a small coastal town in Haiti.

DNF: The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan - I enjoyed this book as it opened but found the jumps between the story of the development of atomic bombs and the building of a secret facility in Tennessee hard to follow because of the way the chapters were laid out. I was also disappointed that the personal accounts of women who worked at the site were minimal and, at times, confusing because it's not told chronologically.  So I set the book aside at just over 100 pages.

92. *Novel Ideas by K. B. Dixon - A quirky book of fictional excerpts from fictional letters of a fictional author.

93. *The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon - A modern mash-up of "Rapunzel" and "Snow White" in which Rapunzel learns her adopted mother's witchy ways and becomes envious of beautiful Snow White.

94. The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen - A suitcase sent to the wrong place, a missing woman, the shattering end of an affair.  I kept my review of this one short because I found it disappointing, although, again, I don't regret the time spent reading it. Kind of a beachy read.

95. *Players (Dr. Who) by Terrance Dicks - The 6th Doctor finds that Winston Churchill is being targeted by assassins from a race of time-traveling beings who like to play games with human history, removing important characters to see how time will change.

DNF: Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley - I was really excited about this book but the author's style put me off in some way and Paris itself seemed deadly dull, as if the author was describing written directions rather than painting Paris as a vibrant setting. I only made it to page 53.

96. **The Book of Someday - Dianne Dixon - The interwoven stories of three women, one living in the 1980s and two in 2012, and how they're all tied to each other via the same image of a woman in a silver dress with pearl-button shoes.  My favorite of the month.

97. Supernaturally by Kiersten White - The 2nd book in the Paranormalcy series. I bought the two remaining books from Book Closeouts because I wanted to know what was going to happen and also wanted to avoid that, "Oops, I've forgotten everything between installments" sensation.  The paranormal agency has closed and Evie is attending school but now she's wanted back for occasional work and there's an impish new character named Jack causing trouble. Jack was a hoot.

98. Endlessly by Kiersten White - The 3rd and final book in the Paranormalcy series lands Evie in the world of Faerie, where she encounters the nasty Dark Queen and is asked to risk her life to send the paranormals back through the gate to their true world.  Nice ending to the series.  I enjoyed all three but came out of the reading feeling like I had little to say, so I don't plan to review the 2nd and 3rd titles.

©2013 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, 2013

Monday Malarkey - Two weeks' worth of arrivals, reading and links

I'm having a pretty pathetic reading month so let's begin with the past 2 weeks' arrivals:

Top to bottom:

Friday's Harbor by Dianne Hammond - from William Morrow
Swimming in the Moon by Pamela Schoenwaldt - from William Morrow
This is Paradise (short stories) by Kristiana Kahakauwila - from Hogarth Press
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry - via Paperback Swap
My Son and the Afterlife by Elisa Medhus, M.D. - from Atria Books
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis - from Katherine Tegan Books
Help for the Haunted by John Searles - from William Morrow

Top to bottom (the top 5 were all won in a Knopf giveaway):

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes
The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
Longbourn by Jo Baker
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron
I Kiss Your Hands Many Times by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak - from Speigel & Grau

Of the Knopf books, there's only one that I'm not interested in reading (the Anne Rice) but Kiddo has expressed interest in that one.  I'm most excited about the new Jhumpa Lahiri.


I've only finished 2 books, so far, in September.

True Spies by Shana Galen
Help for the Haunted by John Searles

I'm blaming the never-ending summer.  Please, Mother Nature, give us a break!!!  It's supposed to hit 100, today.  I melt at the thought.

Reviews (since my last Monday Malarkey):

The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen 
The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon 
Dr. Who: Players by Terrance Dicks 
The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon 
True Spies by Shana Galen 

Other posts:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (the F2F report)
Fiona Friday - a flashback post about our dearly departed Sunshine, aka "Shiny"
A flashback photo of Isabel as a tiny kitten in lieu of malarkey
Fiona Friday - All three girls (just photos)
In a spine poetry mood 


I'm taking a break from ARCs, at the moment, because I think that often helps to pull me out of an unexpected slump.  I'm reading:

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean - A thriller copyrighted in 1963, which I plan to follow up by streaming the movie with Huzzybuns.
Prehistoric Avebury by Aubrey Burl - History for research on one of the stories I have begun to write. Unfortunately, I have the original 1979 release.  This book has been updated at least once and I will probably eventually have to get a newer edition.
Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You by Dr. Mardy Grothe - a book on wordplay.

In other news:

  • River just just climbed up my back . . . with claws. I'm pretty sure I can feel the blood dripping down over my shoulder blades.
  • A fruit fly sacrificed itself in the foam of my coffee, two days ago.  That was weird.  #kamikaze
  • I love what my eldest son said when I ribbed him about how his place in our will is closely tied to the correct spelling of the word "whoa" when he wrote "woah" in a Facebook post.  He said:  "You're going to blow it all on fun vacations anyway. I accepted this when you emailed me from a bullet train." 
  • I'll probably get in trouble for quoting my son on the blog.
That's about all that's worth mentioning in my world.  Happy Monday!

©2013 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.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

In a spine poetry mood

©2013 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, 2013

Fiona Friday - All three girls

©2013 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, 2013

True Spies by Shana Galen (Lord & Lady Spy #2)

True Spies (Lord and Lady Spy #2) by Shana Galen
Copyright 2013
Sourcebooks Casablanca - Historical Romance
346 pp.

First sentence:

Elinor paced the vestibule of her London townhouse, her slippered steps echoing in the strained silence.

Summarize the plot without giving away the ending:

Lady Elinor is bored and fed up with her husband's disinterest in her after years of managing her household and children on her own.  When her husband doesn't show up in time to accompany her to a party, she decides to attend alone in a bold red dress that leaves little to the imagination. Yearning for a little excitement, she is already finding herself intrigued by the advances of a man who is trying to lure her to bed by fabricating an elaborate story about being a secret agent.  Will she give in to an affair for the sake of adventure? What will happen when she discovers the truth about her husband?

Lord Keating is weary with life as a spy but the Barbican group's deadly enemy has already taken out half a dozen of their people.  With one last mission to finish before he retires, he unexpectedly discovers that not only is his wife no longer interested in him, she's on the verge of an affair and so eager to do something different and meaningful that she will happily set herself in the path of danger.  

When a faltering marriage and a sinister threat collide, passions flare.

Capsule Description:

True Lies meets Regency romance.

What did you like best about True Spies?

I read Shana Galen's books for the action scenes and this was no exception.  I enjoyed the spy story within the larger romantic theme, loved the spy scenes and was satisfied with the denouement.  I also liked the fact that Elinor wasn't described as perfect and beautiful.  She was a woman who had blossomed (in her 30s, I think?) and her husband was surprised because he'd paid her so little heed for such a very long time.  I was one of those women who briefly went from duck to swan in my 30s so I did think that made sense and I appreciated reading about a heroine whose looks weren't ridiculously perfect.

What did you dislike about True Spies?

I really hate graphic sex, so it's important to read my thoughts with that reality in mind.  I saw a quote about that, today, actually:

I've always preferred the implied sex scene anyway, because having it spelt out always seems a bit tacky. 
~Henry Cavill, quoted in "Hello, Hot Superman," June 2013 Glamour (British edition)
Mr. Cavill is referring to movie roles, but that quote struck me as similar to my thoughts about graphic sex scenes in novels. I don't know about the word "tacky" but it's a personal preference, obviously. I prefer action and plot to relationship (external vs. internal, blah, blah).  I keep coming back to Shana Galen's books, though, because they're adventurous enough to please me.  Of course, True Spies is Historical Romance -- I knew what I was getting into.  

In this case, I did find it a little difficult to buy into both storylines, a bit.  Winn (Lord Keating) didn't marry for love, sired two girls and has always been cold and distant.  It was hard to define the line between lust and love on his part.  I just couldn't accept that he "fell in love" with his wife so quickly and I thought Elinor should have resisted him longer.  It would have been more interesting if there had been more personal interaction before they started ravishing each other and I would have preferred a bit more fun with the pretend spy trying to lure her to bed before he was removed from the picture, although that was pleasingly wrapped up.

Also, Elinor was sharp but when she wanted to become involved in the Barbican group its leader said she was a natural.  It appeared to me that she was more natural at thinking things through than participating in the dangerous undercover side of the work. Unlike "Saint" (the female lead in Lord and Lady Spy), Elinor never seemed entirely prepared for the job.  I kept trying to imagine what on earth her plan was to deal with her voluminous skirts when under attack.  That's pretty relevant in action scenes that take place during the Regency time period. To be fair, she had little time to prepare and minimal training but managed to hold her own (Regency Girl Power!) 

A favorites scene:

There were a lot of fun scenes in True Spies.  I like the opening, when Lord Keating is running from the bad guys across a rooftop in London and the scene in which Elinor is trapped in a brothel.  And, the scene with the Prince Regent, when a number of spies are trying to save his life but he's more interested in the fact that they might hurt the pretties lying about the room.

Recommended particularly to fans of historical romance.  Not my favorite of Shana Galen's books,  but I enjoyed True Spies.  In spite of the fact that the book is heavier on romance than action,  I absolutely loved the spy bits and that's what kept me reading. Galen's action scenes rock.  I gave True Spies a 3.5/5 rating at Goodreads.

Past reviews of Shana Galen's novels:

The Making of a Duchess
The Making of a Gentleman
The Making of a Rogue
Lord and Lady Spy

Shana Galen's website

I received a copy of True Spies from Sourcebooks in return for an unbiased review.

©2013 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, 2013

The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon

The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon
Copyright 2013
Sourcebooks Landmark - Fiction
340 pp., incl. Reading Group Guide

First sentence Paragraph:

Her father. Shouting her name.  "Olivia!" His footsteps falling loud and heavy on the wood of the floor.

Summarize the plot without giving away the ending:

Livvi is having an affair with the first man who has ever made her feel truly special.  In her twenties but a deeply wounded by childhood abuse and naive due to her homebound education, she finds it difficult to break away when she discovers her lover's secrets and develops an attachment to someone who reminds her of herself as a child.

AnnaLee's husband is both a doctor and a lawyer but he can't seem to find his place in the working world and limits his hours. Frustrated by her husband's inability to provide for the family, AnnaLee is slowly selling off valuables from the home she inherited. Then, summer arrives and brings with it a refugee from distant and wealthy parents. As AnnaLee tries to break through to the girl who calls herself Persephone, will Persephone's desperate attempts at friendship end in disaster?

Micah has cancer.  To determine whether or not it's even possible to atone for the sins of her past, she goes on a journey, seeking out the individuals she's hurt and hoping they can help her decide whether to live or die.

Capsule Description:

The Book of Someday is the story of three women with interconnecting lives.  The key to their interconnection is a painting/photograph/nightmare of the same thing -- a woman in a silver dress and pearl-button shoes.  One of the stories is told from the 1980s, the other two in 2012.  

What did you like best about The Book of Someday?

Could. Not. Put. Down.

It takes a very long time to get to the point that the connection is explained and I figured it out before the author got to the point of the big reveal, even as she was still hiding little bits of the tragedy that connected their lives.  I didn't mind that I figured out the mystery portion because I was enjoying the book so much.  I loved the fact that I found the book so gripping I actually fell asleep reading (the book falling, fwop, onto my chest woke me up) and turned the light out with deep regret then awoke at 5AM dying to keep reading.  I adore that kind of read.

What did you dislike about The Book of Someday?

There were only 2 things that kept The Book of Someday from being a 5-star read.  One was the constant use of sentence fragments.  I understand using them for impact but they were used All. The. Time. For no good reason.  Sometimes I had to visualize lower-case and correct punctuation to figure out the meaning of a paragraph that genuinely should have been written as a single sentence.

The other problem was the ambiguous ending. I couldn't discern whether the author was telling me Livvi was planning to end up with one guy or the other and I wanted that clearly spelled out.  I don't mind an open ending but this one was just confusing to me.  I reread it several times and then dashed off to read other reviews.  Most readers were not bothered by the ending.  I just found it perplexing and decided to create my own ending, mentally. Still, very solid storytelling with just enough held back to keep the suspense going.

Other notes:  

There is a lot of lightly graphic sex in the book (Livvi and her lover), which probably accounts for the comments other reviewers have made about the book reading "like a Harlequin".  I didn't get that "Harlequin" sensation at all, in spite of all of those scenes. I was too busy being swept away by the storyline and trying to puzzle out the interconnection to be bothered, although I'm not a fan of graphic sex scenes.

Highly recommended - One of the most unputdownable books I've read in a while.  Although I gave it a 4/5 rating at Goodreads, The Book of Someday really deserves a 4.5/5 for the mere fact that I couldn't put it down till it literally fell out of my hands . . . and then I was so anxious to start reading that I woke up early and didn't put the book down till I finished.  In spite of the fact that there's some graphic sex and that's something I don't enjoy, I thought the sexual relationship was crucial to explaining Livvi as a character so it just fell into the background for me.

I received an ARC of The Book of Someday from Sourcebooks in return for an unbiased review.

©2013 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, 2013

Monday Malarkey will return next week

We're spending a relaxing day enjoying the Labor Day holiday so in lieu of a malarkey post, you get yet another flashback kitty photo -- of Izzy when she was so new to us that she fit in one hand (which is how she earned one of her nicknames, "Tiny").  I pre-scheduled a book review for tomorrow, last week, in order to keep today free.  Best to all!

©2013 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.