Friday, May 31, 2019

Fiona Friday - Catnipped

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein

You know how nervous you can get about a book that so high on your wish list that you're afraid it won't meet your soaring expectations? Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein was that book. I still remember scenes from The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Epstein. So, I also knew from that experience that Jennifer Cody Epstein tears your heart into tiny bits and then sets them on fire. Still, I got to Wunderland as quickly as I could because I was so excited about it, even knowing what I was probably getting into.

Wunderland is the story of two German girls, school friends, one of whom becomes a Nazi (a member of the BDM, the girls' version of the Hitler Youth) and the other who finds out she's half Jewish. A contemporary/historical blend, the second storyline is about the daughter of the Nazi, who receives her mother's ashes and a bunch of unsent letters that explain everything her tight-lipped mother would never tell her.

Highly recommended - Perfectly paced, devastatingly realistic, clearly well-researched, and magnificently plotted. The author firmly, painfully plants you in her characters' shoes to tell a bittersweet story about a friendship tested, a mystery revealed, and the horror of war. Wunderland is one of the best books I've read, this year. Not an easy read but one that will make you feel the emotions of the characters, for better or worse.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • Walking in the Shade: 1949 - 1962 by Doris Lessing - purchased
  • Pick Three by Randi Zuckerberg, 
  • Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson, and 
  • Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok - all from HarperCollins for review 

Walking in the Shade is an older title that I got for $1 at Off-Square Books in Oxford, MS. We went there to visit Kiddo and deliver a few things he left behind when he returned to his apartment after a break between the spring and summer semesters. We had a great time visiting. Walking in the Shade is the second of Doris Lessing's memoirs; I don't own a copy of the first, but I can't find the first memoir at a cheap enough price to suit me so I will probably just read this one and be happy or see if my library system has a copy, when I'm ready to read it.

Pick Three was a surprise. When I opened the box, my first thought was that I couldn't possibly have requested it because it's not my kind of book. Did I hit the wrong box on a request form? And, then I saw the letter inside and confirmed that I didn't request it. But, I sat down and read a few pages and I'm much more intrigued than I expected to be. The other two were requested from HarperCollins and I've been looking forward to both.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride by Molly Hurford
  • Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

Rules for Visiting is going on the favorites list. It took me a while to warm up to the writing style, but once I did I absolutely loved the story. It's a warm fuzzy of a book, about gardening, friendship, and reaching out to make friends after years of hiding from the world.

Currently reading:

  • Cat Poems by Various Authors
  • Finding Orion by John David Anderson 
  • If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home by Tim O'Brien
  • The Unspeakable Mind by Shaili Jain

I read a few of the cat poems, this week, but it's an odd selection. Some are wonderful; some leave question marks hanging over my head. Finding Orion is yet another middle grade book. I'm enjoying it but not massively in love. It starts better than the others I've read recently, though. The Unspeakable Mind is frustrating me a bit. In books about psychology, authors will often introduce a case to describe a particular aspect of the psychology topic in question but not wrap up the case in a satisfying way. A psychologist friend of mine, Greg Moffatt, wrapped up his case studies so nicely that I actually wrote to thank him, it was such a relief. Unfortunately, Shaili Jain does the typical introduction without bothering to take the stories to a conclusion. So, you may learn about some guy whose PTSD caused him to drink heavily who recovered, for a time, and then suddenly started drinking again because something triggered his PTSD (this is an actual example) but then the author doesn't tell you what happened. Did he ever reach the point that he was able to stop drinking, again? Did he continue drinking and stop therapy, then lose touch? It doesn't matter what the result was; a line or two to let the reader know how the story ended is something that I think is a necessity but one that's all too frequently skipped.

I've just started If I Die in a Combat Zone. I was sitting on the floor, picking up cat toys after I spilled a basket of jingle balls in front of a set of bookshelves, and saw a couple of Tim O'Brien books on the lower shelves. I chose If I Die in a Combat Zone and it turns out Going After Cacciato is the award-winning and better-rated book, but that's OK. I've meant to read more Tim O'Brien for years and I like the idea of reading something about war on a day in which we celebrate the memory of those who died in service.

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

We're still watching The Royal but I can't find a DVD cover for Season 3 to post, here, so I presume it hasn't been released on DVD. Strange, since the 4th and 5th seasons have just arrived for streaming . . . on BritBox, I think. Tragedy just struck and an important character was killed. Well, I cried.

We also started watching The Heart Guy, an Australian series about a partying heart surgeon in Sydney who gets in trouble and is sent to his hometown to work as a GP for a year as punishment. It's hilarious.

I watched the season finales of NCIS and Chicago Fire (everyone dies . . . maybe). And, then Thursday came and I felt a little bereft knowing that The Big Bang Theory will never return, except in reruns. In the past, we've watched the entire series from beginning to end but I missed some episodes, this year, so I'm ready to watch it all over again from the beginning.

I've only recently become hooked on Chicago Fire and I looked to see if it's available for streaming (without having to purchase anything). Nope, not on any service I subscribe to. Disappointment. Maybe someday.

Yesterday, we watched To Catch a Thief, which I think must be in my top 3 favorite Hitchcock movies (along with The Rear Window and North by Northwest). I started thinking about Grace Kelly/Princess Grace and wondering when she died, how old she was, how long she acted – all things I'm sure I read about in the past. I hadn't given her a thought for a long time. She was only 52 when she died and acted for a mere 7 or 8 years, before marrying a prince, but managed to go from being described as "boring" and "vanilla" to winning an Academy Award during that time. Impressive. Cary Grant described her as his favorite actress because, "She had serenity." I think that comes across in her acting.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Fiona Friday on the Wrong Day

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Pinky Got Out! by Michael Portis and Lori Richmond

"Welcome to the zoo. Showing you around is my favorite thing to do," said the zookeeper. "These birds always stick together. So today, be like a flamingo and stay with your flock."

"Uh-oh," said Penny. 

Pinky is a famous flamingo at the local zoo. When a group of children go on a field trip to the zoo, Penny is the first to notice that Pinky has escaped from the flamingo enclosure. She tries to get the zookeeper's attention but fails. As the class walks around the zoo — learning about meerkats, seals, monkeys, pythons, and other animals, along the way — the news of Pinky's escape slowly spreads.

Penny tells Mia and Mia tells Joey. Penny. and Max tell the zookeeper Pinky's in the giraffe exhibit and the zookeeper says, "Don't be silly." Pinky is good at hiding. By the time they've seen the pandas and ostriches, passed the ice cream cart, played in the children's area, and visited the gift shop, everyone knows that Pinky got out. They tell the zookeeper in chorus, making her jump, and in the next page spread the children are climbing onto the bus while the zookeeper stands behind a fence with Pinky. All is well.

Recommended - I particularly love the fact that Pinky hides in most of the illustrations (he's snorkeling in a tank in the spread with the seals) giving little ones the job of hunting him down in each page spread. In the final spread, it's night-time and the zookeeper is counting the flamingos, as she does at the beginning of the book. She counts to 9 and says, " . . . and . . . wait." Pinky is flying away again. I predict giggles and a lot of fun pointing out the mostly-hidden flamingo from children who are read Pinky Got Out! I always loved reading books with an interactive quality and ones that tickled their funny bones. My children would definitely have loved Pinky.

I received a copy of Pinky Got Out! from Penguin Random House for review. Many thanks! 

It's Friday, but this is a tour post so Fiona Friday will be posted on the wrong day (Caturday, of course), this week! 

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride by Molly Hurford (Shred Girls #1)

Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride by Molly Hurford is the first in a middle grade series about three girls who are into competitive bike riding. Lindsay is 12 years old, painfully shy, has a passion for comic books, and wants to be a superhero. She's decided to spend her summer studying up on what it takes to be a superhero and training in her basement. But, her parents have other plans. 

When Lindsay's parents tell her they're going overseas to work and she will be spending part of her summer living with her cousin, Phoebe, she's nervous. Phoebe has loads of piercings and tattoos. Lindsay's pretty sure she's a supervillain. But, once she arrives at Phoebe's apartment, she starts to realize that tattoos and piercings have nothing to do with character. 

Phoebe works at Joyride, an indoor BMX biking facility, and she wants to share the joy she herself has gained from learning BMX tricks. So, Phoebe talks Lindsay into letting her train Lindsay, along with a couple other girls her age, Jen and Ali. Lindsay is so shy that she's nervous about even talking to them, but Phoebe was just like Lindsay at 12 — so shy that she often spent her time reading to avoid social interaction. Can Phoebe help Lindsay make new friends and learn the joy of biking? When a jumping competition is held at Joyride, will Phoebe be able to talk Lindsay into joining in? What will happen when they find out there won't be a separate competition for girls so the girls will have to compete against the boys?

OK, this is going to be a hard book to review because it wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it was going to be a little heavier on the girl power, maybe more humorous, and less about the technical concept of training for a BMX competition. And, with apologies to the author, I simply did not like the writing style. I found it a little too wordy and exhausting. Because I was committed to doing a book tour post, I went ahead and forced myself to keep reading. I usually try to avoid doing that because I've found that if I'm not enjoying the reading, I generally end up hating a book. 

Surprise! I didn't hate it, in the end. I didn't love it because it didn't work for me, stylistically speaking, but that's a personal thing so I wouldn't tell anyone not to read it. And, as I read the book I found myself thinking that if I was younger and had access to a facility with something to prevent injury like the foam pit in Shred Girls, I might have really enjoyed learning how to do the bike tricks Phoebe trains the girls to do. So, in the end, I thought it was a very positive story and worth recommending.

Recommended but not a favorite - Recommended particularly for girls who need a little encouragement to try something different and those interested in either comics or BMX biking. It's also a very uplifting read for girls who have a bit of social anxiety as it kind of walks the reader through what it's like to take a chance on friendship if she's terrified of meeting new people. 

I received a copy of Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride in return for an honest review. Many thanks! 

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Free Speech Century, ed. by Lee C. Bollinger and Geoffrey R. Stone

When sovereignty resides in the citizenry, then there can be no place for the State to tell the people what they can and cannot say or hear. The process of self-government must be insulated from the intrusion of official censorship, and it is the proper role of the judicial branch to provide that insulation. 

~p. 6, from "Dialogue" in Advance Reader Copy of The Free Speech Century (some changes may have been made to the final print copy)

The Free Speech Century, edited by Lee C. Bollinger and Geoffrey R. Stone, is a book of writings on the topic of free speech published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Supreme Court decision interpreting the speech clause of the First Amendment. The book opens with a dialogue between the two editors and then dives into the writings, which are divided into three parts:

1. The Nature of First Amendment Jurisprudence
2. Major Critiques and Controversial Areas of First Amendment Jurisprudence
3. The International Implications of the First Amendment

The simplest way to look at those three sections is probably to say that the earlier writings lay the foundation for the modern interpretation of the First Amendment, while the second section goes into the disputes and problems with current interpretation, and the third section (the shortest) observes how the U.S.'s First Amendment has influenced the writing of constitutions in other democracies throughout the world and examines new and coming challenges, with focus on free speech on the internet and the responsibility of social media platforms.

Up front, I have to say that I have a limited understanding of law and had to look up a lot of legal terminology. The Free Speech Century's collection of writings, though, is varied enough that I found some of them breezy and straightforward, as a layman, while others were difficult to read. But, those that were more challenging were worth the effort involved in reading and parsing. And, much like reading something like a Georgette Heyer novel, the farther you get into the reading, the easier it is to understand as you become accustomed to the language.

Among the topics are the original purpose of the amendment (to allow citizens to keep the government in check), why the amendment was considered less important till WWI upon the decision in Schenck v. the United States (written by Oliver Wendell Holmes) that the book commemorates, the judges who made important decisions and how they changed how we view free speech, America's influence on the constitutions of other democracies, current problems with the First Amendment and challenges going forward.

I marked up the book so thoroughly with flags that I ended up intimidating myself with the sheer number of quotes I found flag-worthy. Flipping through all those quotes, though, has served as a reminder of the depth of free speech topics that are covered in The Free Speech Century. I found some topics more interesting than others, of course. One that I was particularly interested in was, "The Classic First Amendment Tradition under Stress: Freedom of Speech and the University" by Robert C. Post, about the concept of speech sanctioned by a university and whether or not state schools have the right to ban speakers. That was a topic I've wondered about, since some speakers (particularly those with radical right-wing views) have recently been banned from speaking on campuses, prompting some conservatives to claim that free speech is being throttled by the universities that have banned them.

The purpose of classic First Amendment principles is to protect the process of self-government. But speech within universities does not serve this purpose. It serves the purpose of education, which requires an entirely different framework of speech regulation and protection. Speech within campus is ordinarily protected according to principles of academic freedom, as distinct from freedom of speech. [...] The plain implication is that [students'] speech may be regulated in ways that facilitate their education. [...] No competent teacher would conduct a class on the premise that all ideas were equal. 

~p. 112, from "Freedom of Speech and the University"

"Keeping Secrets" by David A. Strauss is worth a read if you have a strong opinion about recent leakers of government information because it compares the Pentagon Papers to recent leaks and explains recent leaks, like that of Edward Snowden, in a way that has been glossed over by the press. Like the argument about free speech on university campuses, it's a topic I've wondered about.

Snowden leaked because he was concerned about government surveillance programs. But Snowden, unlike Ellsberg [leaker of the Pentagon Papers], was not deeply knowledgeable about the materials he was leaking. He had no particular background or training that would enable him to evaluate either whether the government was acting wrongly or how damaging the release of the information might be. He had access to all that information not because he was an expert but because he was an IT guy.

~p. 128, from "Keeping Secrets"

Highly recommended - While the reading can be challenging, at times, The Free Speech Century is an excellent book. I learned a great deal about such things as the meaning of "clear and present danger" in relation to free speech (words first used in the Schenck decision), how Canada is getting the problem of porn as free speech right but the U.S. allows for exploitation of women and children, why free speech rights have nothing to do with what kind of speech a business considers acceptable and can forbid on its platform or from its employees, why the ACLU "features prominently, if not centrally, in most histories of the modern First Amendment," when leaked government information has been punishable or not and why, and many other topics.

Notably, I just yesterday read an article by an artist who claimed that her right to free speech was being quashed by Facebook because her art — which contains controversial images in protest of their recent usage — has led to her being banned completely from Facebook and losing not just years' of posts but, more importantly, the list of followers that help her maintain an income. I already knew that how a business chooses to regulate speech is not covered by the First Amendment, as she suggests, but I definitely gained a deeper understanding of why that's true and the historical purpose of the amendment from The Free Speech Century.

Ugh, it's hard to shut up about this book. It was definitely a terrific learning experience. I won my Advance Reader Copy of The Free Speech Century from Oxford University Press via a Shelf Awareness Drawing and I feel privileged to have read it.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • Slinky Malinki's Cat Tales: Five Favorite Cat Stories by Lynley Dodd and 
  • Maiden's Trip: A Wartime Adventure on the Grand Union Canal by Emma Smith, both purchased
  • Bad Order by B. B. Ullman - from Sterling Children's Books for review
  • Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim - from Berkley for review/tour
  • Shred Girls 1: Lindsay's Joyride by Molly Hurford - from Penguin Random House for review
  • Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty, and 
  • The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton, both from HarperCollins for review
  • Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler - from Crown for review via Shelf Awareness
  • Pinky Got Out by Michael Portis and Lori Richmond - from Crown for review
  • There's Only One You by Heling, Hembrook, and Butcher,
  • Koala Is Not a Bear by Gray and McAlister,
  • Butterflies On the First Day of School by Silvestro and Chen, and 
  • If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon by Lapin and Ceccarelli, all from Sterling Children's Books for review

Whoa. That's a lot of books. And, most of them arrived this past week. I ordered the book of 5 cat tales, Slinky Malinki's Cat Tales, after some troublemaker from Australia in my cat group mentioned growing up with the Slinky Malinki and Scarface Claw books. I looked them up online and discovered that the least expensive way to get a taste of Slinky Malinki was to order a hardback of 5 cat tales from Book Depository. Slinky Malinki must be exclusively an Australian thing because the book was shipped directly from Australia (there was an Australian customs tag affixed to the envelope). I read them aloud to my husband and I think he has a thing for Slinky Malinki tales, now. Seriously, he loved them.

The rest . . . well, let's just say I was not expecting such a windfall. I also bought some books at the dollar store when I went to look for something entirely un-book-related. And my library had a shelf of free books that I plucked a few titles off of, as well. Most of the free books are in terrible shape but that just makes it easier to let go of them after I've read them. I may have also spent $2 at the library sale in my old town. OK, yes, I did. I confess. Plus, I got a book called Cat Poems from my youngest and his future bride for Mother's Day. And, Brittanie and I traded a few books when we went to Paint Night. So, obviously, I need to spend the next couple of weeks figuring out what to get rid of.

I opted not to photograph all the library/dollar store books but I did post a pic of the freebies to Instagram and I took a picture of the dollar store purchases, which I may also post there. The $2 library stack is still in my trunk. I just didn't feel like gathering absolutely everything to photograph, today.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Free Speech Century, ed. by Bollinger and Stone
  • There's Only One You by Heling, Hembrook, and Butcher
  • Koala is Not a Bear by Gray and McAlister
  • Slinky Malinki's Cat Tales by Lynley Dodd
  • Pinky Got Out! by Michael Portis and Lori Richmond
  • The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith
  • Butterflies on the First Day of School by Silvestro and Chen
  • If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon by Lapin and Ceccarelli
  • Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein


Last Day by Domenica Ruta - I'm only mentioning this book because I got far enough into it to feel like I can say something about it. I DNF'd it at p. 80. Last Day is a dystopian tale about a day that's celebrated as the last day of Earth, annually, but the end has never come. One of the characters is terrified of Last Day but the rest treat it like a holiday, no biggie, till it actually does become the last day. The last day of life on Earth had not arrived when I gave up. I liked the author's clever use of language and the quirkiness of the story and characters (you know one character is going to be fun when she pops a shoestring in her mouth and swallows it) but I found it fragmented and difficult to get to know any of the characters very well. I battled with it for days because I wanted to like it but then I finally gave up when I realized it was frustrating me and I kept putting it down for good reason. This is particularly interesting to me because I've been toying with a story idea of my own that I was intending to set up in the same manner, stylistically. Now, of course, I'm rethinking it.

Currently reading:

  • The Unspeakable Mind by Shaili Jain
  • Cat Poems (various authors)
  • Shred Girls: Lindsay's Joyride by Molly Hurford

I really enjoyed the 50 pages I read of The Unspeakable Mind (a book about PTSD) but then I decided the time had come to focus on finishing The Free Speech Century so I set The Unspeakable Mind aside and plan to return to it, this week. Cat Poems is a tiny book that I stuck in the drawer after reading 16 pages. Oops. I pulled it out, this morning, and will continue with that, also. And, as to Shred Girls . . . I've read several middle grade books, recently, and I've found that most of them take me a while to get into. Whether that's got something to do with the reading level feeling a little awkward to me or something else I'm not sure, but the ones I've read have all come together nicely in the end. So, I'm hanging in there in spite of the fact that I am not currently enjoying Shred Girls at all. Hopefully, it will improve. The part I've read was mostly set-up.

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

The best news of the week is that Izzy kitty is 100% back to normal. It took a full 6 days for her to recover from licking avocado out of the bottom of a bowl and 4 of those days were really rocky but she didn't require a third tummy-soothing shot. She's been very happy, energetic, and affectionate, since her little tummy stopped aching. I can't tell you how relieved I am.

The second best news of the week is that I finally changed my browser to Chrome with the help of Kiddo (who is home between semesters) and it worked! I can reply to comments on my blog, again. Woot! I went back and replied to all the comments I could find on previous posts. Hopefully, I got to all of them.

We watched the conclusion of Les Miserables on PBS, last night, and I thought it was absolutely perfect. What a wonderful production. I'm aware that much of the rest of the U.S. population was watching the finale of Game of Thrones. I also watched the finale of The Big Bang Theory, last week, and found it almost perfect. There was one thing I found disappointing. I'll put it in white text in case of spoilers for those who may still not have seen the ending: I was hoping Raj would find true love. Highlight that empty-looking bit to see what I wrote, if you're interested, but please -- no spoilers in the comments, for those who haven't looked at their DVR copies, yet.

The only other news is that it's getting hot, now. I'm never ready for summer but it feels particularly awful being driven indoors, this year, since we have a marvelous new patio. I love it so much that I want to spend all my time outside, walking around on it and going up and down the steps, reading and sipping cool (or hot) drinks, watering the plants, sitting by a fire and chatting, etc. It's been such a wonderful addition to our house that if the slightest drop in temperature with a bit of wind happens, out the door we go (but with mosquito repellant). Autumn is going to be so fun, this year.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Things are happening and Malarkey is not one of them

I would have completely taken the week off without mentioning it because we were going to Tulsa and I didn't have time to put up a Monday Malarkey post or pre-post any reviews but then I ended up staying behind because Isabel was (and is) sick. I've mentioned this everywhere I can think of, so I'll say it again . . .


Don't let your cat eat even a small amount of avocado. The pits are toxic. Thankfully, Isabel did not chew on a pit. But, she did lick a mostly-empty salad bowl that had remnants of avocado flesh and that was enough to cause her so much pain she could hardly walk. She ate the bits of avocado on Thursday night. Friday morning, she was moving verrrry slowly and her tail was down. I could tell she had a bellyache and figured it must be the avocado. I didn't catch her licking my bowl till it was too late.

Isabel got an antibiotic because there's a chemical in avocado that throws off the gut flora and a shot to soothe her tummy. It helped and she was all full of affection on Friday night. Saturday, she was back in pain and I had commencement in Oxford (son is not officially graduating till after the summer session but he wanted to go to his graduation ceremony) and then we came back and I had a whopping half hour to close my eyes before going to Paint Night with Brittanie. The next day, we hopped in the car and drove to Meridian, MS, to meet up with Marg (it was a great weekend for meeting up with blog buddies!) and we decided it was too late to go get her an after-hours shot when we returned but clearly her tummy ache was back. So, back I went to the vet, yesterday, while Husband went to Tulsa without me. If she's still hurting tomorrow, she'll get a third shot. But, she's slowly improving and she's eating and drinking.

So, no Malarkey. And, I've decided to go ahead and make this a staycation. 

When I realized there was no way I could possibly go to Tulsa (even though Kiddo is here, I figured he'd be spending most of his time with his future wife, which he is) I wrote up a big ol' list and I'm going to make this a week for chores and reading. I'll be back for Malarkey, next Monday. And, hopefully I'll have good news to report about Isabel. It's been awful seeing her so miserable. Most of my cat-loving friends on Facebook were unaware that avocado is dangerous to cats. There were two exceptions. One lost a kitten after he ate avocado (the flesh, not the pit), so clearly even the flesh can be deadly.

Off to do chores and read. Wishing everyone a happy week!

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fiona Friday - Fresh laundry

Part of the laundry already folded itself up (and went to sleep).

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway and No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

Since I screwed up and made my On Democracy post so lengthy, I'm going to double up and keep these two reviews short. Both are children's books and I presume they're for around the same age range but No Flying in the House may skew a bit younger.

Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway is the story of 12-year-old Cady. Cady's father has been arrested and she has to stay with her Aunt Chelle while he's in jail. Chelle owns a pie ship that isn't doing well. She lives in a small, tourist town with several pie shops and she only sells two flavors. Cady wants to help salvage the pie shop. But, first Aunt Chelle insists that Cady must learn how to make the perfect pie and the best way to do that is with practice. She tells Cady that she must bake 1,000 pies. Cady sets to work and while she's practicing and learning, she experiments with different flavors. Cady thinks part of the reason Aunt Chelle's shop isn't doing all that well has to do with their limited offerings so she's determined to find some unique flavors and convince Aunt Chelle to sell them. When she's not at the pie shop she's getting to know the town and making friends. When things go terribly wrong and Cady's afraid she may return to being homeless, can she and her new friends come up with a plan to save the pie shop?

Recommended - I was unsure about Summer of a Thousand Pies, at first. Middle grade books don't always interest me as much as I hope they will and it seemed fairly bland, at first. But I'm glad I stuck it out. There are some timely themes including homelessness and how traumatizing it can be for a child and the broken immigration system. Cady also has the challenge of learning how to forgive the people in her life who have let her down. Aunt Chelle is LGBT but her partnership is presented in a very matter-of-fact way, not as a problematic element, which I liked. There are also recipes in the book — always a plus!

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock is an older title, originally published in 1970. I bought a copy of it when I saw a photo of one woman's favorite childhood books. I'm actually quite surprised that I've never heard of it because I would have been the right age for it a year or two after publication and books starring little girls with special abilities (or magical cats – both for obvious reasons) were among my favorites. But, nope, I'd never heard of it.

Annabel Tippens has a strange guardian, a 3" dog named Gloria. When Gloria shows up at a wealthy woman's home and asks to live with her, she doesn't admit to the fact that she's caretaker for a little girl until the woman says yes. When Annabel finds out she's half fairy, she makes a nuisance of herself by trying to learn how to fly. My favorite passage:

"If I were a fairy, I'd be able to fly, wouldn't I?" Annabel asked Miss Peach one day. 
"In my opinion," said Miss Peach, "that's the best part of being a fairy."
"Would I need wings?"
"Not necessarily," said Miss Peach. "But wings would undoubtedly help."
After that, when no one was looking, Annabel practiced flying. She started by jumping off the terrace. 

That cracked me up.

Recommended for little girls - I am absolutely certain I would have loved this book if I'd found it when I was in the right age range. Unfortunately, I found it a little too silly. Gettin' old. But, I'll find a happy new home for it.

I bought both of these books and will either donate them or pass them on to my granddaughters.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

On Democracy by E. B. White, ed. by Martha White

Treason is too narrowly interpreted to suit us. Our courts call it treason when a restaurant-keeper helps a German flier to escape, but nobody calls it treason when a congressman helps a touchy issue to escape "until after the elections are over." We hang a man for the first kind of treason; we reelect a man for the second. 

[...] It is not only treacherous to help the enemy by postponing questions which involve the lives of all of us but it is the greatest insult which can be offered to the electorate of a democracy. When you hear it announced that such-and-such an issue cannot be raised now because it is "political dynamite," the implication is that you yourself are mixed up in a cheap trick perpetrated by one section of the people on another section.

~from pp. 39-40 "Treason, Defined"(originally published in 1942) in Advance Reader Copy of On Democracy by E. B. White

One of my all-time favorite pieces of writing in the world is by E. B. White, a tribute to Pullman cars (railroad sleeping cars) in a book of essays published some time in the 1940s. It's a lovely, moving, brilliant piece of writing. So, I figured White probably had some wise and wonderful things to say about democracy and jumped at the chance to read and review On Democracy, a book of his essays and a handful of rhyme-heavy poetry.

I was correct. There's plenty of wisdom in On Democracy. But, it is also an excellent showcase for White's wit and humor and a reminder that America has survived similar attempts to attack truth and the rule of law to what we're currently experiencing, although I confess that I didn't find the fact that such attacks eventually failed all that soothing because we now have so many huge issues to address. Among them: potential human extinction being ignored and/or suppressed by an entire administration, massive voter suppression, newly-created poll taxes, refusal to address a foreign attack on our voting system (machines that can be easily compromised and which contain no paper backup are being bought by states at an alarming rate), and a political party that talks big about transparency whilst going out of its way to hide absolutely everything that may or may not say something untoward has been done by them while declaring investigations (which they themselves recently drove into the ground with at least 7 investigations that proved absolutely nothing bad about the same exact issue) pointless and partisan. These are huge challenges.

With the fate of humanity on the line the stakes, it can be said, are much higher. Still, it's heartening to know that there have been times in the past when newspapers were being heavily bought out by a single purchaser who pushed his political slant on the reportage, corruption has run rampant, and executives in government have attempted to hide documents important to the public.

A few quotes from the book:

Fascism is openly against people-in-general, in favor of people-in-particular. Nationalism, although in theory not dedicated to such an idea, actually works against people-in-general because of its preoccupation with people-in-particular. 

~p. 45, "Definition of Fascism," published 1943

When you think with longing of the place where you were born, remember that the sun leaves it daily to go somewhere else. When you think with love of America, think of the impurity of its bloodlines and of how no American ever won a prize in a dog show. 


Save the world by respecting thy neighbor's rights under law and insisting that he respect yours (under the same law).

~pp. 60-61, "Instructions to the Delegate," published 1946

There's not much news to report. Roger and Evelyn had a baby girl a couple of weeks ago, and Roger is supporting it by working for a magazine called Holiday, a travel publication based on the perfectly sound idea that everybody in the United States would like to be somewhere else. 

~p. 80, Herald Tribune ("Hollywood Ten" letters), published 1948

Misinformation, even when it is not deliberate, is at the bottom of much human misery. 

~p. 95, "The Thud of Ideas," published 1950

Some of the published news was distorted, but distortion is inherent in partisan journalism, the same as it is in political rallies. I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or nonpolitical, that doesn't have a slant. All writing slants the way a writer leans, and no man is born perpendicular, although many men are born upright. The beauty of the American free press is that the slants and the twists and the distortions come from so many directions, and the special interests are so numerous, the reader must sift and sort and check and countercheck in order to find out what the score is.

~p. 121, "Bedfellows," published 1956

[Editorial insert: In our modern world of brief sound bites, I'd be willing to hazard a guess that less than a quarter of the American population takes the time to "sift and sort and check and countercheck" as readers of the 1950s may have done, hence the creation of the term "echo chamber."]

The Herald Tribune headed the story, "PRESIDENT SAYS PRAYER IS PART OF DEMOCRACY." The implication in such a pronouncement, emanating from the seat of government, is that religious faith is a condition, or even a precondition, of the democratic life. This is just wrong. A President should pray whenever and wherever he feels like it (most Presidents have prayed hard and long, and some of them in desperation and in agony), but I don't think a President should advertise prayer. That is a different thing. Democracy, if I understand it at all, is a society in which the unbeliever feels undisturbed and at home. If there were only a half a dozen unbelievers in America, their well-being would be a test of our democracy, their tranquility would be its proof.

~p. 124, "Bedfellows," published 1956

Highly recommended - While not exactly what I expected (heavier on the wit and humor than I anticipated), E. B. White was a brilliant writer whose thoughts on democracy were at once light-hearted and serious, penetrating and cogent. I was fascinated by the fact that White was hell-bent against the formation of what was then known as the "United Nations Organization" because he feared a world government would trample on the rights of individual nations to create and execute their own laws.

The essays/poetry span a significant time period, from 1928-1976, so there's a lot of ebb and flow from war to peace and back, through presidencies left and right, in and out of corruption, through arrests for speech we would now consider protected and threats to the press and university professors, and spanning other challenges to democracy. I recommend it to anyone interested in solid writing, politics, essays, history, and/or the topic of democracy in tumultuous times. Apparently, there have not been very many stretches without some form of upheaval. It does give one hope but also serves as a reminder that in order to maintain genuine hope, the requirement for action on the part of the populace is axiomatic.

My thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Far Flung by Cassandra Kircher

The full title of Far Flung by Cassandra Kircher is Far Flung: Improvisations on National Parks, Driving to Russia, Not Marrying a Ranger, The Language of Heartbreak, and Other National Disasters. Boy, that's a mouthful, isn't it?

So, I'll just drop the subtitle for the rest of this review. Far Flung is an exceptional series of essays set in a variety of locations, most of which deal with how nature had an impact on the author's life and her acceptance and understanding of herself and her family (particularly her difficult, emotional father). Settings include Wisconsin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Alaska, and Oxford, England.

I think anyone who loves camping, climbing, or otherwise challenging his or herself outdoors will especially love Far Flung, although I'm someone who desires to be outdoors more than I'm able (thanks to allergies and heat-induced migraines). I was particularly enamored with the settings. Rocky Mountain National Park is where I spent roughly half of my childhood vacations and, in fact, my great uncle was one of the people who died in the Big Thompson Canyon Flood, which Kircher mentions, so her essays set in RMNP really took me back and were particular favorites. And, I've been to most of the other settings, so there was a little bit of a cool factor there, as well. But, it would not have mattered one bit where she the writings were set because Kircher's writing is so incredibly strong that I would have been blown away, regardless. It just happens that I could relate to some of the locations.

Highly recommended, a new favorite - Deeply meaningful, muscular but subtle. Absolutely fabulous, mesmerizing writing. I hated for this book to end. I particularly recommend Far Flung to anyone who loves travel writing, essays, or memoirs. But, just read it if you love fantastic writing. One of my favorite reads of 2019, so far. I feel like I can't do this one justice.

I was one of the lucky people who won a copy of Far Flung via a Shelf Awareness drawing. My thanks to West Virginia University Press! I'll be looking to see what else you have to offer.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals: (top to bottom)

  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith,
  • Earth to Charlie by Justin Olson, and
  • The Mueller Report, publ. by The Washington Post, all purchased
  • How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper - from Penguin Random House for review

I ordered 100 Sideways Miles a while ago (from Book Depository) on one of those days that I was thinking about the books I've wanted to buy but put on the back burner. I'd already forgotten about it, so it was a pleasant surprise when it arrived. Earth to Charlie, was an impulse purchase that I looked up when David Abrams (author of Fobbit) wrote about reading it. It sounded right up my alley and I've had a terrible time not diving into it immediately, but I fell behind on my ARC reading so it'll just have to wait. The Mueller Report . . . I started reading that on my phone (you can read it online for free) and within 14 pages two things had happened: 

a) My eyes were screaming. I hate reading electronically also, so I decided I was going to have to either print it out and have it spiral-bound or buy a copy. I don't know where to have things spiral bound, locally, so I opted for the latter. 

b) I'd decided Trump is much guiltier than I realized of accepting Russian help. I thought accepting help from foreign governments was illegal and that aid (money spent on ads, etc.) is considered in-kind donation or something like that? I'm confused. But, anyway, I bought a copy so I can read it at my leisure, mark it up, and be able to respond with knowledge and insight if anyone tries to tell me the investigation was a crock. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • On Democracy by E. B. White
  • Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway

On Democracy is a book of E. B. White's essays and poetry, often with oblique yet relevant references to democracy, that span the years 1928-1976. Summer of a Thousand Pies is a middle grade book that includes recipes (pie, cake, frosting). I enjoyed both.

Currently reading

  • Last Day by Domenica Ruta
  • The Unspeakable Mind by Shaili Jain
  • The Free Speech Century by Stone and Bollinger

I'm thinking about adding Inspired by Rachel Held Evans to that list, but not sure if I'm ready to read her writing so soon after her death. We'll see. Last Day is an interesting idea — once a year, everyone celebrates in anticipation of the end of the Earth, which keeps not arriving (till it does, I think, but I haven't gotten there, obviously). Yesterday, I got to a surprisingly glaring error in the book that means I'll have to check a finished copy or connect with a publicist to see if it's been fixed. The Unspeakable Mind (about PTSD) opens with a story about how PTSD effected a former soldier and it was so gripping I hated to put the book down but it was time for bed so I've only read that intro story. I hope the rest of the book is equally fascinating.

And, The Free Speech Century is that book, the one I've been working on for 4 months and only occasionally mention. Some of the essays contain more legalese than others and are harder to read but you should see how many flags I've got in that book. Seriously, I should have found a highlighting pen instead of wasting so many flags! I'm at the point that I feel like, "OK, I've been reading this for too long. Time to wrap it up." It will still be slow going but I'm 2/3 of the way through, now, so the end is in sight.

Posts since last Malarkey:

I didn't realize I only wrote one review, last week! I remember not feeling much like writing for a couple days, though. I guess a couple of days is a good portion of the week when you only post 5 days a week. Hopefully, this will be a better reviewing week but I'll probably keep the reviews short because I'm a little swamped with chores, this week.

In other news:

I guess you could say it was almost an anti-computer week. I didn't post much, spent most of my online time on the phone, but even had a couple days off from that when a new phone arrived, and then I shut the computer down and unplugged it for Saturday morning storms and didn't plug the computer back in till this morning. That means I didn't get my browser changed from Safari to whatever – probably Chrome — but Huz is home, this week, so maybe he can help me accomplish that in the evening. Most of my commenters are people I can track down elsewhere, so I've started going to other blogs or Facebook, etc., to reply to people who comment. That makes me feel better about being unable to comment directly at the blog.

In TV news, I'm still watching Star Trek: The Original Series, but I think I've only watched 3 episodes. That's because I usually watch a little bit whenever I'm sitting down with a meal and then I stop the episode and continue it the next time I have a few minutes to watch. We finished the second season of The Royal, this week. And, we watched the last 20 minutes or so of O, Brother, Where Art Thou? while I was crying about the news that Rachel Held Evans had died and it helped a little, since the movie is so funny.

After OBWAT, we watched Paris, Wine, and Romance on the Hallmark Channel. I have a feeling Huzzybuns was being kind because he knew I'd been avidly watching the updates about Rachel's health and was so hoping she'd recover. A good, goofy romance movie always helps soften bad news. I read up a little on the movie and the actors, after, because I noticed the heroine looked slightly pregnant and kept holding a coat or purse in front of her belly. I was interested to find out that they filmed their scene in front of Notre Dame just a week-and-a-half before it burned. And, yes, the actress is expecting. Cool.

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Fiona Friday - Sunbeam

©2019 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.