Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lock In by John Scalzi

I like the cover of Lock In better than the book.  Huh. I usually love John Scalzi's writing. Granted, the final section (the three codas) of Redshirts lessened the reading experience for me. But, I always feel like I'm in the hands of a brilliant mind when I'm reading Scalzi's work. So, why didn't Lock In work for me? Well, let's look at the elements.

Lock In is a detective story (mystery) set in a future (sci-fi) that takes place after a pandemic (health/politics). Shane came down with the disease as a child and is well-known as the "poster child" for Haden's Syndrome, the virus that locked him into his body without the ability to move or respond to stimuli, like many other survivors of the virus. He has an implanted neural net that allows him to get around in an android-like body with all sorts of computerized features. He can record and store video and other information and refer back to it, transport his brain into other "threeps" or android bodies, view additional information in a Google-glass manner that streams across his vision or hang out in a virtual agora, where he can mingle with other locked in "Hadens".

Shane is also a brand spanking new FBI agent. His partner had Haden's but without loss of mobility and was, at one time, an "integrator" -- a person who has an implanted neural net for the sake of allowing locked in Hadens to access a human body, move and feel, while the integrator is still present and aware but suppressed, having ceded the ability to control his body to a client.

There's a lot of complex world-building in Lock In and it's very, very well done. You can't help but be impressed by the level of thought that went into this world. However -- and this is a big "however" -- I thought there came a point that the details of the world got in the way of the story, itself. Halfway into the book, I found myself irritated that Scalzi was still explaining his world to me. Maybe I didn't need to know everything or some of what he explained was intuitive enough that the author should have given the reader a little credit for understanding without detailed explanation? I felt like he was trying to show the reader just how well he'd thought out his backstory by shoving it into the narrative or dialogue at every opportunity.

There's also the problem that Lock In is a detective story with a boat-load of characters. I burned out on mysteries years ago -- at least a decade ago -- so a mystery/detective novel is a hard sell for me. When I pick up a John Scalzi book, I do so in anticipation of a good sci-fi read. I do occasionally read mysteries but I've never returned to loving them. The number of characters added as the story progresses amounted to yet another road block; they made my head spin. I managed to keep most of them mentally sorted but it would have helped if I'd read the book in paper form rather than electronically because it's a nuisance to flip back through an e-book to locate previous mention of a character.

Otherwise, my only problem with the book was that I didn't feel like Scalzi did an adequate job of describing the threeps. Were they basically hollow plastic shells or more flexible and closer to human in appearance, like Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation? I never had a fully developed image of a threep in my mind, although I leaned toward the former (hard plastic shell). I do believe the fact that Shane was independently wealthy and could rent a new threep at any time if, say, a borrowed threep didn't work out or was damaged, made things a bit too easy. But, his wealth also did serve a purpose so the ways in which he avoided certain barriers to action due to access to money didn't bother me as much as my inability to fully visualize how the character was represented each time he switched threeps.

Recommended but not a favorite - I didn't expect this to end up such a lengthy review! There were a lot of things that bugged me about Lock In that are personal issues, like the fact that it's basically a detective novel, so I would not dissuade anyone from reading Lock In. However, even with personal prejudices aside, I don't think it's Scalzi's best work; and, since I also found Redshirts disappointing, I'll go back to Scalzi's earlier works in the future, rather than eagerly awaiting new releases.

Cover thoughts - The cover image is an excellent graphic representation of the fact that only a fraction of the population ends up permanently damaged by the virus. It's both eye-catching and a good fit for the storyline. I really do love it more than the book. But, I liked the book; I just didn't love it.

©2014 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, September 29, 2014

Monday Malarkey - Arrivals and reads, drawing winner, lingering thoughts on banned books

It's Monday so it must be time for a cat lounging on a glass table.

I've opted not to get out the camera to photograph arrivals, today. This week I only received 4 books and I'm not in the mood to snap and load. Haven't double-checked the back-up, lately, so I've got over 1,000 photos on my memory card and loading takes forever. I know. Get with the program, Bookfool, check your back-up and empty the memory card. Soon, soon.

Recent Arrivals:

  • Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady - Ever go to a swap site thinking, "I hope I have a slot for this book because I really want to put it on my wish list," and the book is there, available for request? It's a rare and wondrous experience. That was what happened with Falls Like Lightning, which I wanted to read after finishing Tomorrow We Die by the same author. So exciting! 
  • Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming - from Dey St. books for review (I forgot this one was coming)
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson - purchased for read-along
  • Momosas: Fun, Alcohol-Free Drinks for Expecting Moms by Paul Knorr - from Sterling for review (I'm not the target audience but I don't drink alcohol, so . . . ). This is one of the two books I told you I was excited about. We're going to play with recipes, this week!

Last week's posts:

Last week's reads:

  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  • Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
  • Saints by Gene Luen Yang
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Currently reading:

  • Me On the Floor, Bleeding by Jenny Jagerfeld - a Swedish YA! 
  • Momosas by Paul Knorr

Just ditched:

Daring: My Passages by Gail Sheehy - When I haven't picked up a book for 3 weeks, it's time to move on. I'm not getting rid of Daring, though. I was enjoying it; I just got sidetracked. I'll return to the book when it calls to me. It's definitely a fascinating read, if only for the historical perspective.

This week:

Lord only knows what I'll get around to on the blog, this week. Since I took a little time off, considered giving up the blog and came back with a resolve to change, my reading has gone from "a bit of a drag with regular slumps," to "I am having so much fun!" It does mean there's a serious backlog of review posts but I'm just not worrying about that. I'll get to them. There will probably be a lot of mini reviews in my future. My ARC shelf has some gaps that aren't filling, even though only one of the 18 books I've read, this month, was sent to me. That's because I've plunked the latest on the piano bench. It's cheating, I know. I'm telling myself I'll read them sooner if I have to walk past them a dozen times, every day. We'll see if I'm right.

About the drawing:

Petite was the winner of the drawing for a copy of Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon. I haven't apparently done a drawing in at least two years because I couldn't figure out how to close comments when it was time to draw a name. So, instead, I simply removed the drawing info to keep anyone else from seeing it and trying to sign up. *shrug*  Whatever works. Thanks to those who participated! I enjoyed your jokes and haikus!

Addendum to my comments about Fallen Angels:

Kiddo came home, this weekend, so we got to talk a bit more about Fallen Angels. I said something about it being very "raw", that the dialogue was unflinchingly real and unfiltered. The soldiers talked about social diseases and sex and racism and fear. They lost their heads under stress and became more violent when they'd initially hesitated to kill, turned away from death or cried openly. Son replied, "I think that's why I loved it so much," and commented that the realism was what captured him during a time when (in my words) his world was filtered by the adults around him.

Kind of profound, the thought that it's through reading scenes that some people see as too disturbing that youngsters begin to understand the world. Maybe banning books, keeping kids in the dark about life only makes it more difficult to cope with the world when they're faced with hard truths? Especially when we read with our kids, books that challenge our comfort and beliefs can be the opening for dialogue about their questions and concerns, an avenue to helping them navigate those uncomfortable years when they're straddling youth and adulthood. That's the best reason I can think of to stop banning books. I know the last thing I wanted to do to my children was make those years more difficult.

Back to dealing with Monday.

©2014 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, September 26, 2014

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers - My Banned Books Week read

The noise was terrible. Every time a mortar went off, I jumped. I couldn't help myself. The noise went into you. It touched parts of you that were small and frightened and wanting your mommy.

~p. 243

I remember buying Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers for Kiddo at a Borders. I had no idea it had been challenged or banned. It was published in 1988 by Point, an imprint of Scholastic, so it was around before Kiddo was born. Had I known it had been challenged, would that knowledge have changed anything? Probably. I would still have bought it but would more than likely have read the book with him or after he read it so that we could discuss it. That was my practice during the tender years. If you read a book with your child, you can talk with him or her about anything that disturbs you or clashes with your beliefs or morals. But, tell a kid not to read something and they're going to do everything in their power to get away with it. I'd already learned that lesson with my eldest.

What's it about? From the cover:

On a jungle battlefront where one misplaced step could be any soldier's last, every move can mean the difference between death and survival.

Richie Perry, Lobel, Johnson, Brunner and Pewee are all in Vietnam. They came there for different reasons, but now they share a single dream -- getting out alive.

My thoughts:

It took me at least a good 50 pages to get into Fallen Angels. Myers' style is minimalist, which can come off as awkward during everyday scenes but lends the story an immediacy during action. Richie narrates the story and he is an African-American (although that term isn't used; they're either "black" or "brothers") with a bum knee. At the beginning of the book, he's lamenting the fact that his paperwork has not come through. He shouldn't be going to Vietnam at all because of his knee, but he's on his way.

It's 1967 and there are talks of peace, hopes that the war will end before Christmas. If you were alive during the Vietnam war, as I was, you know those hopes were futile. I was very young but I remember when it ended in the 1970s.

As the book progresses, the men are thrown into greater danger, going on more frequent missions, watching their numbers fall. The book is about war but it's also about poverty and racism, politics, fear, horror and loss. It's about what it's like to be a part of something so terrifying that you know you'll carry those scenes with you forever while, back in the "World", people have no idea what you're going through and often don't even talk about it. What should Perry share with his family? What should he keep to himself? Will he and his brothers in arms survive their year or die horribly and for no good reason?

Fallen Angels is a gut-punch of a book. It's pretty clear why some people might challenge it. There's talk of sex and social diseases, descriptions of graphic violence, challenges to authority. At one point, Perry is aware that people are uncomfortable because he and his best friend, Peewee, are holding hands. There's no implication of homosexuality, but I can see how people who are homophobic might read "gay" into that scene and one or two others.

Highly recommended - A deeply meaningful and powerful read. I wish I'd read this when my son first read it, years ago. War, racism, lack of mercy in a dangerous situation, why someone would choose war over poverty . . . so many topics to talk about. Fallen Angels would make a great discussion book.

Kiddo and I have, in fact, been talking about it by phone as I've been reading. He told me what he loves about it the most is that you come to care for the characters and want them to live. That's exactly how I felt. I know writing from death is a fairly recent conceit but I was still concerned that I was going to find that Perry was writing from beyond the grave, in the end. I didn't want him to die. I cried a little when one of my favorite characters was killed. Fallen Angels isn't a beautiful literary work like The Things They Carried but it leaves you with that same, "You were there," feeling.

 To close, one of my favorite passages (because it made me smile):

"Man, this ain't even Boonieville," Sergeant Simpson said, "This is the suburbs of Boonieville." He threw his gear on the small folding cot in the hooch that was our new home outside of Tam Ky.

~p. 190

©2014 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, September 24, 2014

Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon

I'm a little late getting around to talking about Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon because of all that recent blog angst but I don't want to skip it because I adore Preston-Gannon's lighthearted storytelling and cheerful illustrations. I also very seldom hold drawings at Bookfoolery but Dinosaur Farm is worth sharing. Page down for info about the giveaway. It will be a short one so sign up quickly if you're interested and please pass it on if you've got friends with little ones.

Dinosaur Farm is just what the cover indicates, the story of a farmer's day in which the livestock are dinosaurs, perhaps farmed for their eggs:

The reader follows the farmer's day as he feeds his livestock, gives the dinosaurs a scrubbing, cleans out his pond and shovels up dino manure. He also has a garden to tend and the garden has a unique, prehistoric look.

There are hatchlings to attend to and the evening meal to deal with. Then the farmer gets to go home and take a bath, knowing his animals are safe and happy. The farmer forgets to close the gate, though, and some of the dinosaurs sneak inside to sleep with him. Such a cute ending!

You will be happy to know this book is Isabel-approved, meaning it smelled good. I'm sure she'll enjoy it if I ever read the book to her, as well. Cats love it when you read to them.

©2014 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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Some of my favorite books have been banned

Foyle's Books tweeted this and I love it.

As always, I didn't realize Banned Books Week was coming till it was upon us but better late joining in on the fun than never. I've just been perusing various banned book lists and it never fails to surprise me just how many books on those "most frequently banned" lists I've not only read but loved. I did find one I've never read that I knew I could pluck off a shelf. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers happens to be among Kiddo's favorites but I didn't realize it had been banned or challenged. It's on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books List: 1990-1999. I'm going to add that to my reading list for the week. Kiddo will probably be thrilled. He's been talking about it for years and loves to share his favorites with me.

A few of my favorite banned or challenged books:

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (New favorite! I also love The Grapes of Wrath)
Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien

©2014 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, September 22, 2014

Back to Malarkey

I'm not going to photograph the books I bought when I went stress shopping because they'll be showing up as I read them but plenty of non-purchased books have arrived since my last Monday Malarkey post. I like doing Monday Malarkey posts, by the way, so I'll continue to write them unless I feel compelled to skip one, for some reason.

Recent Arrivals:

Top to bottom:

  • Me on the Floor, Bleeding by Jenny Jagerfeld - sent by friend
  • The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag - via Paperback Swap
  • Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke - via Paperback Swap
  • Oil! by Upton Sinclair - via Paperback Swap
  • In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin - sent by friend
  • The Precious One by Marisa De Los Santos - ARC from Harper Collins
  • A Sudden Light by Garth Stein - Unsolicited from Simon & Schuster 
  • It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (not shown - just arrived via Paperback Swap)

Last week's posts:

Last week's reads:

  • Tomorrow We Die by Shawn Grady
  • Puzzlehead by James Yang
  • I am neurotic (and so are you) by Lianna Kong
  • Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During WWII by Martin W. Sandler
  • Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
  • Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne

Clearly, letting go of the rigidity of my former blogging method has helped restore the joy of reading.

Currently reading:

  • Lock In by John Scalzi 
  • Daring: My Passages by Gail Sheehy - long story but I was planning to dive back into Daring on Saturday night and couldn't get to the book without disturbing my husband so I read the two Monument 14 books, instead. They were nearby and super-quick reads.


The casual approach is really clicking for me. I'm going to continue to write without using any format and only when I feel like it, reserve weekends for family time, read whatever calls to me. I've grown accustomed to not receiving regular parcels; I missed them when I first stopped requesting ARCs. Some will probably still trickle in and I'm now allowing myself to request, again, but I'm capping requests at 2 per month. I've been surprised to find that limiting the arrivals has seriously ramped up the anticipation. I can't wait for my two September requests to get here!

Time for a selfie in a cat's eyeball:

©2014 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.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fiona Friday - Isabel helps with the washing-up

©2014 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, September 18, 2014

Random reading thoughts and a bit of utter coolness

I'm reading this:

I'm having trouble focusing on Lock In, which is surprising because I love Scalzi's writing, in general. You know how sometimes you can recognize the genius in a book but you're just not feeling it? That's Lock In. And, yet I don't want to give it up. I'm reading it as an e-book and wondering if that's part of the problem. I have this horrible tendency to read fewer pages at a stretch than I do with a paper book. I will actually set down my reader, walk away and then completely forget I'm reading an e-book. That's one reason I don't read them often. I may buy the paper book, eventually.

Also reading this, and it is a gut-kick:

I've read a few books that were either centered upon (novels) or about (nonfiction) Japanese Americans interned during WWII but I'm realizing just how little I knew. Such a dark and frightening passage in American history and a testament to the courage and creativity of those who were deprived of their rights as American citizens.

It's been probably 5 or 6 days since I picked up Daring: My Passages by Gail Sheehy (see sidebar), but only because I keep finding other distractions.

This book is very suspenseful:

I read Shawn Grady's first book, Through the Fire in 2009, and thought it was exceptional so when I happened across Tomorrow We Die whilst book shopping (stress shopping -- husband was about to leave the continent; I hate that), I tossed it into the cart. So glad I did. I'll tell you about it in more detail, later. Brief descriptors:

Emergency medical action (yes, another paramedic book)
Family drama
A touch of romance

Bit of utter coolness:

I found a book by an author/illustrator from my high school! James Yang and I worked together on our high school newspaper and yearbook staffs. So very cool to find a book by someone from my younger days.

More about Puzzlehead, later. Gotta go read.

Update: I don't feel like writing a separate post about Puzzlehead, so I'm just going to tell you quickly that it's about a group of friends with heads of varying shapes. They go in search of the perfect place but then Puzzlehead gets his head stuck in his ideal spot and the rest of his friends pull on him. They all go flying and their heads lock together into a perfect rectangle, the point being that sometimes the perfect place for you is there all along -- in this case, the children didn't need to go in search of perfection; they already had each other. It's a clever story but I need a kid to read it to, desperately. I'm curious whether or not a child would "get it" because it took a little puzzling (haha, see what I did?) before I fully understood the theme.

©2014 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, September 17, 2014

Thoughts about 3 quirky books: The Future for Curious People by Sherl, The Time Fetch by Herrick, 2 AM at The Cat's Pajamas by Bertino

This is kind of weird, really -- three quirky reads in under a month? That doesn't happen often. I'm just going to talk a little about each of them and what I thought was good or bad, as per my new commitment to kicking formality in the head and shoving it out the door.

The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl has an interesting history. The story idea was the very prolific and professional Julianna Baggott's. But she thought the story needed a twenty-something's perspective and basically turned over everything she'd written to Sherl, a poet she believed competent to handle her baby. She holds the copyright although his name is on the cover. Fascinating.

The Future for Curious People is about two people who are involved in relationships. Godfrey has proposed but not been accepted by his girlfriend, Evelyn is uncertain her boyfriend is the right person with whom she should settle. Both go to the same "visionist", a doctor who gives them each a drug and puts a wacky device on their heads. They then can see scenes from their possible futures with a specified person. This alternate reality is oddball, in and of itself, but it's the hodgepodge of crazy characters that make the book truly shine. I responded mostly as intended, I think. I loved the two main characters and hoped they'd drop their respective partners and end up together. I liked the goofy secondary characters and the idea of the visionist.

Otherwise, I thought the book had a sagging middle problem and  -- this is bizarre -- after finishing the book I completely forgot the ending by morning. Either I was really beat or it wasn't memorable, I'm not sure which. Still, I liked The Future for Curious People especially for the characterization, and I'd read it, again, sagging middle and all. I did like the beginning best, though, and would not hesitate to reread only the first 100 pages for the sake of character study. My copy was sent by Algonquin.  So was the next book . . .

The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick is either a middle reader or young adult. I'm not actually certain but it's suitable for either and I think it leans MR.  I've got the book here and I like the first paragraph from the cover flap so here 'tis:

Under normal circumstances, a Time Fetch sends out its foragers to collect only those moments that will never be missed or regretted. It then rests, waiting to be called back by the Keeper, who distributes the gathered time where it is needed in our world and others.

Going on in my own words, a rather strange boy (middle schooler, I think?) named Edward thinks the Fetch is a rock and pulls it out of its hiding place to take to science class, setting into motion a chain of dangerous events in which time, the earth and the people existing within Earth's time are put into jeopardy. Edward's two best friends and a snarky girl from school (acting out as bullying characters often do) have to eventually join together to save time and the world.

Again with the nutty characterization, which I loved, but The Time Fetch is fantasy. As I was reading, the main thought running through my head was, "This would have been a favorite if I'd read it as a child. I would have read it over and over again." When I sat down to write to friends about the reading, I thought the synopsis made it sound kind of ditzy. It didn't come off that way as I read but there were moments that I thought were less than stellar. The end was wild and hairy, twisty fun, though, so I closed it feeling satisfied. I may even try to foist it on my 22-year-old.

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino (from Crown via Shelf Awareness) is a book that has a smidgen of magical realism mixed in with a large dollop of -- yes, again -- eccentric characters. Madeleine is a motherless child of 10 whose behavior is appalling. Her father has retreated to a drug-addled haze in his despair but she has a large support circle comprised of people who knew her mother and look out for Madeleine as they promised in her mother's dying days. Sarina is a divorced teacher who teaches Madeleine and is surprised to find herself still attracted to a man from her past. Lorca is the owner of The Cat's Pajamas, a jazz club. Three threads and a pretty good job of knitting the threads together in unanticipated ways.

I'd been in a bear of a slump when I picked up 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas and because it was the first book to suck me in for quite a while, it kept me up very, very late. In fact, I tried desperately to finish by 2 A.M. for kicks. I failed, but I didn't sleep long and finished it shortly after an early wake-up call.

The funny thing about 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas is that I was aware of its flaws (truly vulgar language that crossed the characterization lines, a failure to pull off the magical realism due to one particular scene in which that magical touch should have shown up but didn't, one of the three intersecting storylines' failure to be as compelling as the others, a tragically odd and confusing ending) but I loved it at the time for pulling me out of the slump. Upon reflection, it loses some of its glow because the vulgarity stands out in my memory.

The author's turn of phrase was what made the book particularly quirky and I was mesmerized by her use of language. 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas is one of those books that don't hold up as well upon reflection; they just happened to be right for the moment. I loved it, for the most part; I'm glad I read it. I will hesitate to read more by the author till I've heard whether or not future offensiveness in her writing is off the scale. That was the one thing that bugged me during the reading, although I had fun observing how the author played with words. She definitely has a unique style.

The cover . . . oh, my. That cover cannot possibly be properly portrayed photographically. It is sparkly-beautiful. I appreciate all three of the covers in this post but 2 A.M. is my favorite.

©2014 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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maybe It's Just the Method: Thoughts on The Future of Bookfoolery

This is how I've felt about my own blog, for the past year or so:

Well, no wonder I'm burnt out. If you're bored by your own blog, for crying out loud, what's the point?

I must say, I was very relieved to find that I'm not the only one who has been going through this angsty stage. Andi at Estella's Revenge, Heather of Capricious Reader, Beth Fish Reads and Shannon of River City Reading have all talked about being bored with their blogs, wanting to shake things up, switching to "free range reading". I had no idea that so many blog buddies were going through the same thing, primarily because I've been staying away from blogs in the hopes that un-internetting myself would help.

So, here's what I'm thinking. When I began writing this blog, my reviews were deliberately casual online journal entries about my reading and my family. I didn't spend a lot of time on them. This review of London Transports by Maeve Binchy, for example, was my first post. I wrote my thoughts and moved on. Sometimes I just posted a photo with a few words or told an anecdote.

I've been thinking about blogging a lot and I'm pretty sure that the only way I'm going to be able to carry on is to return to a simpler blogging style, keep my posts brief, allow myself to be more random, do away with the formality of reviewing (which keeps creeping back; this part may be a struggle). What do you think? Think that will work? Am I crazy even thinking about sticking around?

Addendum: Fist pumps to "free range reading".

©2014 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.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Color of Burnout

Burnout is orange. It's made of sharp pointy things and it smells of blackened pizza. It makes you prickly and insufferable if you think about it too much. It's not especially pleasurable but the outcome can be positive in the long run. I've been here, before.

Yes, my friends, I am definitely still in the midst of blogger burnout. I thought maybe a week or two of avoidance would do the trick but I'm still happiest away from the computer. So I've been thinking maybe I'll do weekly updates till I get over the hump. It doesn't aggravate me to sit at the computer and write. It's merely reviewing that I can't tolerate.  Frustrating, but hopefully it will pass.

Reading update:

After my last update, I finished Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Believe it or not, I was never assigned any Steinbeck reading at all during my school years. Shocking, no? I've read several of his works as an adult and inexplicably convinced myself that Of Mice and Men was one of them. But, recently I came to the realization that I was wrong; I hadn't read it at all. And, of all the books I've read recently, Of Mice and Men turned out to be the one that gave me the strongest I want to talk about this sensation I've had in quite some time. So, it was definitely a fulfilling read.

My copy of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell arrived via Paperback Swap not long before Trish announced her Sparrow Read-Along (#SparrowRAL at Twitter, still under way) so I joined in on that and finished it, mid-week. The story is still rolling around in my head. I liked the story but I loved the characters, particularly Emilio. I still miss Emilio.

I only finished two other books, this week, both poetry for children from the "Poetry for Young People" series published by Sterling, both purchased. I enjoyed the extra material in the two volumes I read in April: Robert Frost and African-American Poetry, so I was very excited to find some of the other titles in the series reasonably priced when I went shopping for poetry.  These are the two I purchased and read, this week:

The illustrations in both books are fabulous and I particularly enjoyed the Kipling because there was ample information about each poem, beyond the biographical information at the front of the book. I'm not certain Dickinson is for me, to be honest. But, I do claim a few favorite lines from her poems -- like, "Hope is the thing with feathers" -- even though I'm not entirely taken with her poetry, in general.  I've been in a Serious Poetry Mood, so I have purchased a few other titles and hope to get started on them, soon.

I've also begun reading The Light Between the Oceans by M. L. Stedman, as planned. I began reading Gail Sheehy's memoir, Daring: My Passages, shortly after I started The Sparrow, although the reading of Daring skidded to a halt during the time I was most immersed in The Sparrow. And I just began reading A Survival Guide for Life by Bear Grylls, last night. I'm definitely enjoying my reading more, now that I've relinquished the pressure of reviewing. Hopefully, I'll someday get my reviewing mojo back. In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy myself and take each day as it comes, soak up the air, endeavor not to burn the next pizza, play with the cats. It's in the 70s! The windows are open!!  Cool air makes being alive a million times more gratifying.

Happy thoughts to all.

©2014 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.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Not-quite-a-week update

Just thought I'd drop by my blog. Hello anyone who reads this. Hello, blog. The blog break is helping, already. I've only finished one book, this week: Spillover by David Quammen. I didn't feel much like reading, at the beginning of the week, but I'm slowly getting back my reading mojo. Spillover, about zoonotic diseases (those that cross over from animal to human -- which is most of them), is excellent and will make you want to get the annual flu shot, wash your hands regularly, wear a mask, possibly hide from people. I'm reading Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, now.

I'm going to take another week off but I have this sneaking suspicion that I'll be okay when that ends. I'll keep updating. I'm happy that I feel fine sitting to type an update. My brain was starting to feel like the photo above. I'm shooting for this:

I'm going to make this next week an internet-free staycation week and we'll see if that gets the brain clutter down to reflective pond with beautiful trees and a mountain backdrop or, at least, small-town traffic level. If not, I'll stay away a bit longer.

Here are the books I plan to dip into, this week:

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell - There's a Sparrow Read-Along going on  [#SparrowRAL on Twitter] and I'm already behind but I'm hoping to get started reading The Sparrow, this week.

California by Edan Lepucki - The copy of California in my house is a book that's traveling and since it has one more stop after my home, I need to get going on it so it can move on to the next reader.

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Steadman is my F2F book group's September selection. Last month, I screwed up and waited too late to get started reading and I'm not sure if I'll make it to the meeting but I still want to get the book read in time, just in case.

OK, off to stick my head back into the sand. Bye for now!

©2014 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.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Tuesday Twaddle in lieu of Monday Malarkey and Time Off from Blogging

I opted not to get on the computer most of the day, yesterday, because I had to do important things like eat birthday cake. Also, after updating my browser over the weekend, I'm still getting used to the browser updates, which are frustrating. Silly little things have changed, like no longer being able to write an accent sign over an e by hitting Option and E. I guess I'm going to have to look that stuff up all over again, just when I got it memorized. Le sigh. So, anyway, you get Tuesday Twaddle instead of Monday Malarkey. Same thing, really.

Recent arrivals:

  • One Flight Up by Susan Fales-Hill - via Paperback Swap
  • Stormdancer and Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff - Purchased
  • The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition by Amity Shlaes and
  • Shades of Gray by Susanne Jacoby Hale - sent by friend

Last week's posts:

Last week's reads:

  • The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick 
  • 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
  • Second Form at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Currently reading:

Just Spillover by David Quammen. I'm sure I'll add something else, soon, but I'd like to make a little progress on the reading of Spillover, since I've been hacking away at it, off and on, for ages.

Blog plans:

I'm going to take some time off from the blog as I've been having a terrible bout of insomnia and also feel like I want to scream at the thought of sitting down to write a blog post. Clearly, I've become a little burned out (plus, lack of sleep can totally screw up one's ability to think straight). We got a new gym in town, a couple weeks ago, and I'm finding that my days revolve around planning when to exercise, so maybe it will help if I take off some time, get into a routine, and then fit my blog posts within whatever time ends up being open. I enjoyed The Time Fetch and 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas enough that I doubt I'll have any trouble remembering them well enough to write about them later, so I'm not worried about that. I'm planning to do a giveaway some time this month, as well, so hopefully I'll feel recovered within a week or two.

Having said all that, I can't tell you how long I'll be away. I've found that I need to take breaks from blogging more often every year. If I don't feel like writing about books within a week or a month, I'll just stay away till I do. Best to all, till then!

©2014 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.