Friday, June 28, 2019

Fiona Friday - Isabel has to say hello

This is classic Izzy. She was lightly napping when I set the books beside her to try to get a cat-with-books shot. I didn't get the chance. She had to jump up to greet me. That girl is loaded with affection and greedy for pettings.

©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, June 27, 2019

Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James + Giveaway

Lady Betsy Wilde worries that her mother's lascivious reputation has rubbed off on her after the duchess left her family for a blond Prussian man when Betsy was a child. So, for her first season she has put on a sweet, demure face and garnered a large number of proposals. She's rejected them all and lives with the fear that her mother's behavior may be hereditary. Best to find a boring husband, she thinks, rather than to awaken her sexuality.

Jeremy Roden served in His Majesty's Army during the American rebellion and lived through a tragic battle. While recovering from a gunshot wound and an episode of PTSD, he's been living in Lindow Castle, the Wilde family estate. Lady Betsy is accustomed to seeing him slouched in a chair, drinking whiskey, or laid out on the floor unconscious in the billiards room. He's certainly no prospect for marriage but at least he's interesting.

When Thaddeus, Viscount Greywick and a future duke, proposes to Betsy in the billiard's room, Jeremy encourages her to marry him. They're friends from school and Jeremy knows the future duke is trustworthy, plus you can't do better for titles than a duke. But, Lady Betsy yearns to go on an adventure in breeches, sneaking in where women are not allowed, just once before marriage. Jeremy offers a wager. If she wins a billiard's game, he'll take her where she wants to go. If not, she is his for the night.

But, when Jeremy begins to fall for the real Betsy — not the society facade but the billiards-playing, beer-loving, slightly wicked and adventurous Betsy — he's unsure what to do. He is a wounded soul and likely has been cut off from the title of marquess after a row with his father. Can Jeremy overcome his unexpected yearning or will he gain the confidence to ask for Betsy's hand in marriage? When Betsy finds herself becoming attracted to Jeremy, will she go the safe route and marry a kind but stuffy future duke or give in to attraction and marry the exciting man she's falling for?

Highly recommended - I liked the characters and their backstories in this book but didn't find it quite as far-fetched as I often do with romance. Jeremy and Betsy are constantly worrying about whether or not they're breaching convention and risking their reputations, whenever they're thrown together and end up alone. Oh, and come to think of it, I liked all the other characters  — or had fun disliking them — as well. Lord Greywick is believably stiff, his mother zany. Betsy's aunt is both charming and delightfully surprising. Say No to the Duke is the 4th in a series (it stands alone fine) and I don't know if my local library carries romance but I'm tempted to hunt down the first 3 books.


I don't normally do giveaways because I don't have a thematic blog and my following has dropped off significantly in recent years (my own fault) but this review book came with an extra for giveaway purposes. Bottom line: your chances are excellent if you follow the rules. Skip a rule and find yourself disqualified, sorry. No exceptions.


1. You must be a U.S. resident.

2. Tell me your all-time favorite romance novel, if you have a favorite. If not, what's the best book you've read, this year?

3. Include your email address for contact purposes.

That's all! Not a difficult contest. Drawing will close next Friday, the 5th of July. I will not announce the name of the winner; the winner will be contacted privately by email, so be sure you write that email address. It's OK to leave blanks to avoid whatever technical nastiness can happen from leaving your email the normal way.

©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, June 26, 2019

Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs

Camille used to be a photographer but she put away her camera and her fearless lifestyle after her husband's tragic death. And, her daughter Julie may as well be packed in bubble wrap. Now, she processes found rolls of film, teasing out images that could easily be ruined. When Julie has an accident, in her rush to get to the hospital Camille ruins an important roll of film preserved from the Vietnam War, throwing her in the path of Finn.

Finn wanted a family but instead he ended up divorced. Now, he lives and works in France, not far from where Camille's father grew up. When something goes wrong at Camille's father Henry's French estate and a mysterious crate is exposed, a set of photos and a camera are sent to Henry in the United States and they pique Camille's interest. As frightened as she is to leave the safety of home, Camille's curiosity about her paternal grandmother convinces her to accompany her father and daughter to France for the summer, where once again she'll meet up with Finn. But, will she let herself dare to open her heart again?

There's also an unfolding mystery set during WWII, which I really enjoyed, but I think the contemporary romance part of the book dominates Map of the Heart.

Recommended but not a favorite - I don't know what it was about Map of the Heart that made it drag, but I had a terrible time getting into it. Once I did, though, I enjoyed it. A sweet, fairly predictable story of WWII combined with a present-day romance. Good for summer reading but not brilliant. I found the fact that Henry's estate just happened to be near the place Finn was working in France a bit too convenient.

I received a copy of Map of the Heart from HarperCollins for review (many thanks!) It's my second book by Susan Wiggs. While I found this one so-so, I absolutely loved the first book I read by her, Between You and Me, and will definitely give her another try.

©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, June 25, 2019

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

It's funny to be writing about Good Omens just a week after a group of people got together to petition the wrong network to cancel the TV series because it means it's given me extra food for thought, which is always a very fine thing. Short version: Good Omens is a satire about the Apocalypse. Now the longer version.

Good Omens is about an angel, Aziraphale, and a demon named Crowley who have been on Earth since the dawn of humanity. There's a running joke about the flaming sword that Aziraphale loaned out when he was guarding the Garden of Eden (never returned), throughout the book. Aziraphale and Crowley have gradually become friends of the Odd Couple sort, dramatically different yet cordial and frequently thrown together so that they've become comfortable with each other's quirks and even playfully pick on each other a bit.

Now, the end of the world is coming. When the Antichrist is born, it's the demon's task to make sure he is placed with the right family (an underhanded, work-addicted American ambassador and his wife) so that he'll be brought up horrid and bring on the fight between Heaven and Hell. But, a little mix-up occurs and the Antichrist, Adam, is placed with the wrong family. They're a lovely, very British couple and Adam is brought up to be kind and curious if a little bossy. He has his gang of friends and is about 11 or 12 years old, as I recall, when the time comes and the Hound of Hell is brought to help him with his task.

Meanwhile, Aziraphale (who currently runs a book shop) and Crowley (who slouches about causing trouble and driving his beloved classic car) are not particularly thrilled about the coming apocalypse because they've grown quite fond of life on Earth and would prefer that it just continued on, as is. So, if it's possible to throw a spanner in the works, so to speak, they're going to do so. There's also a witch who is carefully counting down the clock to the end of the world and observing as the prophecies of her ancestor, Agnes Nutter, unfold, while a witchfinder who has failed at pretty much everything ends up tracking her down and finding that he's there primarily to fulfill the prophecies in Agnes Nutter's book.

The hilarious thing about people protesting the TV series is that Good Omens is not evil in any way. Rather, it points out the fact that people are basically awful but some are fairly pure and good. And, it's because of the inherent goodness in the parents of the misplaced Antichrist, Adam, that things turn out rather different than expected. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are in there, too.

Bottom line: This is really a book about how the good in the world can overcome the bad and a lesson that being surrounded by kindness and positivity turns out well, in the long run, although bad influences may try to thwart you. It's honestly quite a positive message in a tremendously funny, twisted satire. And, for crying out loud, it's just fiction. People need to get a grip.

Highly recommended - I'll talk about the TV series and how closely it follows the book, in a sec, but for now the book. The combination of Terry Pratchett's wit and humor and Neil Gaiman's wild imagination makes for an absolutely brilliant and immensely entertaining read. The dialogue is a hoot, the message that good influence can overcome evil intent well plotted, and the perfection of the writing a given. The only thing I had a problem with was that there was enough complexity that I had a little trouble getting it all straight in my head, at first. That was one reason I opted to go ahead and watch the Good Omens TV series while reading Good Omens, the book. I thought it might help me with some of the bits that I wasn't visualizing well. That worked out quite well.

How about the TV series? I went back and forth between book and series as I read part of the book and then watched an episode while eating lunch or supper (or split the viewing of an episode between both) and then went back to the book and read some more at bedtime, etc. Naturally, there are bits of the book that are left out because they're a little superfluous and that worked fine for me. Neil Gaiman did the screenwriting and he often chose to use the exact wording from the book, particularly in dialogue. So, it's not the kind of book that you feel like, "Ack! I can't bear it. So many changes!" It sticks pretty close to the book with just a few minor additions and deletions. The ending is where the biggest changes were apparent to me. Because the book was written and published in the 90s (then updated in the early 2000s), the technology is a bit dated. That just adds color, to be honest.

The Good Omens TV series can be gross, at times. There's one demon, for example, who has what appear to be festering wounds and flies buzzing around her head. I found myself cringing when that character appeared, but otherwise it's not too difficult to watch if you've got a weak stomach. The casting is fabulous. You can't beat David Tennant as a demon or Michael Sheen as a slightly incompetent angel; and, Jack Whitehall is absolutely perfect as the disastrous-with-electronics witchfinder. There's a bit of the bumbling, sweetly innocent Brit of Hugh Grant's romantic comedy days in Whitehall's performance. And, I adored Adam's parents. So, the TV series is highly recommended by me, as well.

I've read quite a few Neil Gaiman books and a couple of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (my youngest son is a big fan of Pratchett, so I'm grateful that I had one of his books on-hand during one of those, "I'm bored and can't find a thing to read!" moments). Good Omens is definitely going on the favorites list for Gaiman, whom I've found iffy. I love about 60% of Gaiman's work, so far. The rest gets a meh. I like Pratchett but found his humor a little exhausting. I think it was nicely tempered by Gaiman's slightly darker bent.

I received a copy of Good Omens from HarperCollins (the TV series tie-in with the cover shown above) in exchange for an unbiased review. I had been thinking, "Oh, oh, oh, I've got to read that and watch the series!" before the offer to review arrived, so I was absolutely giddy when it arrived and I'm so glad I got to read and watch at the same time. I don't often advise people to read the book right away or watch the movie/series anytime soon if I've read and viewed both because the changes can be jarring but they really seemed to complement each other, in this case.

Many thanks to HarperCollins!

©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, June 24, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James and 
  • Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean - both from Avon Books for tour
  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang - purchased
  • Alexander von Humboldt: How the Most Famous Scientist of the Romantic Age Found the Soul of Nature by Maren Meinhardt - from Meryl Zegarek Public Relations for review

Hmm, I'm not sure how I got Alexander von Humboldt. That may be a Shelf Awareness book. I don't log the books I sign up to review via Shelf Awareness because you never know whether or not you'll receive a copy. So, they don't go on the schedule till they arrive. I've been receiving more unsolicited books than I normally do, lately, so I often look at arrivals and think, "Did I request this?" Either way, they go on the stacks and I try to get to everything, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Stories of Your Life and Others has been on my wish list for a while and I bought it on a whim. I was none too pleased when it came with a fold in the cover but I decided it's not bad enough to worry about sending it back. I'm at least 30 miles from a bookstore, now, so I'm afraid I buy a good portion of my books from the Evil Online Store owned by the World's Greediest Non-taxpaying Billionaire. I've decided I just need to plan better and work at trying to buy my books from indie stores because I've received far too many with damage from Amazon. It's getting kind of ridiculous. I've sent all of the rest of them back for replacement.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

I'll finish Say No to the Duke, today, but I'm not quite there. So, only one book finished. 

Currently reading:

  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper
  • The Mueller Report - Washington Post edition
  • Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James

I didn't read any of The Unspeakable Mind, yet again, so I'll try to get at least 50 pages of that read, this week. Extreme Ownership is a book my husband thrust into my hands. "Read this!" he said, "And, then pass it on to Kiddo." It's a book about applying the lessons learned by the authors when they were Navy SEALs to business. It's primarily about teamwork, owning your decisions, for better or worse, and being a leader. They have a management training business in which they go around shooting at people with laser or paint guns and teaching them how to work as a team. Husband has read the book twice and thinks it's excellent so I started reading it immediately. There are some great, really intense stories about SEAL missions. It can be a little repetitive (so far) about the lessons but their stories are really edge-of-your-seat and do a great job of illustrating what they've learned. 

How Not to Die Alone was another that was either sent unsolicited or received via Shelf Awareness. It's a quirky British book and I haven't gotten far but I can tell I'm going to like it. And, I really need to concentrate on The Mueller Report but I keep putting it off to finish other things. What I've read is pretty damning. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

I've gone ahead and kept watching The Heart Guy (Doctor Doctor in Australia) in spite of the husband being away on business, so I'm getting close to the end of the third season. And, apparently, the third season is the final one. Fortunately, when Huzzybuns is around, I get to watch it all over again from the point at which we stopped because I'm not going to ruin the fun for him and I like it enough to watch repeatedly. That was really the only thing I watched, this week. It's binge-worthy. I'm going to miss it when we finish. I love the complexity of the characters. They're really interesting people with funny and believable dynamics.

©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, June 21, 2019

Fiona Friday - Isabel considers it all

©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, June 20, 2019

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Natalie Tan and her mother once butted heads in the same way that her mother, Miranda, did with her own mom, Natalie's laolao. Miranda didn't want to work in her mother's restaurant and, later, she didn't want to send her daughter to culinary school. Now, Miranda is dead. A phone call from her neighbor Celia informs Natalie and she rushes home for the funeral.

Natalie's dream was to open a restaurant. But, when her mother refused to help pay for culinary school, Natalie went out on her own. For years she has traveled the world, learning to cook but unsure enough of herself that she has kept running away — even running away from love. Now, she is back in her mother's apartment, over the empty restaurant her laolao ran until her death. And, Natalie is well aware of the opportunity. The restaurant is hers, now, and she has her grandmother's recipes. She doesn't have much money but she believes in her ability to cook and wants to make a go of it.

When Natalie is told that she must solve the problems of three people before attempting to open a restaurant, she cooks for three of the neighbors. But, then everything goes wrong. What can Natalie do to salvage the situation? Will she ever be able to open a restaurant? What happened on the day of her mother's death that caused Natalie's agoraphobic mother to run outside? And, what became of Natalie's runaway father?

Recommended - I had a lot of trouble getting into Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune, at first. The writing style is a little stiff and uneven. But, I loved the touches of magical realism (when Natalie cries, her tears turn to crystals, which she gathers up and puts in bowls; and, the food she cooks has magical effects, as well) and I found that author Roselle Lim kept surprising me. Just when I thought I was certain I knew what was going to happen next . . . plot twist! I love being surprised, so that's the main thing I appreciate about Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune. There are little things that are predictable, but the main plot points kept catching me off-guard. I also loved the San Francisco Chinatown setting and the way the author brought all the threads of the story together so beautifully, in the end. So, while I found the writing style a little rough, the denouement and the surprising elements of the story won me over.

Note: Recipes are included but they don't contain measurements. This is something that apparently used to be common because my grandmother's recipes often didn't contain measurements. Don't tell my sister but I threw away a bunch of them because I'm the kind of cook who follows measurements. My husband is the kind who tosses things together by feel; lack of measurements wouldn't have bothered him if he'd had any interest in her recipes, but he didn't. I did keep the recipes that were special to me — don't worry, I didn't throw them all away.

I received an ARC of Natalie Tan from Berkley for review (many thanks!). True confession: I adore that cover. If I hadn't received a copy to review, I probably would have chased it down based on the cover alone. And, I may do that, anyway. The Reader's Guide was not included in the ARC and I'd like to read that bit of extra material. After such a perfect ending, I wanted to know more about the author.

Updated to remove title error: 6/21/19 

©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, June 19, 2019

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Cassie Hanwell was traumatized twice over at the age of 16. Since then, she's both acted and become tough. A firefighter/paramedic, she has to be physically and mentally strong to handle life in a firehouse and all of the things a firefighter sees. And, she's happy with her place in life. But, then things start to go wrong. When one of the people who traumatized her sets her off, she is given a choice: apologize to him or be dismissed from her job. At the same time, her mother is facing a health challenge and needs Cassie's help. When she ends up moving to a new fire station in an entirely different region, Cassie knows she must be extra careful about how she behaves.

Cassie isn't the only new body at the fire station she moves to, but she's the only female. The rookie is new to firefighting, though, and Cassie is not. So, Cassie is thrown together with him frequently, tasked with sharing some of her hard-won experience. When Cassie and the rookie find themselves attracted to each other, Cassie is horrified. The last thing she needs is to endanger her job with a potential romance. Will finding love wreck her life as a firefighter for good or soften her and help her deal with the trauma of her past?

Highly recommended - I could not put Things You Save in a Fire down. Cassie was a wounded soul but not in a way that felt manufactured. In fact, part of the trauma is never spelled out, as I recall. But, you can read between the lines and her story felt entirely believable to me. I cared about her and wanted the best for her. I also absolutely loved reading about what it's like to be a firefighter — the camaraderie, the type of things they have to deal with (dangerous, weird, and yucky situations), the pranks they pull on each other and the things that are completely taboo. I've read some of this, in the past, because I have a fascination with both firefighters and paramedics but there was more detail than I'm accustomed to and I think you can take the accuracy to the bank because the author's husband is a volunteer firefighter.

I jumped the gun a little on this title because I put it on the wrong ARC pile (le sigh). Things You Save in a Fire is an August, 2019 release. And, of course, it's just June. I like to wait till a lot closer than 2 months ahead of release date to review. I received my ARC from St. Martin's Press (thank you!) and I loved it so much that with it just sitting here beside me, I keep looking at the book and thinking, I want to start it all over again. Definitely a new favorite and one I'll hang onto for a reread.

©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, June 18, 2019

Finding Orion by John David Anderson

Finding Orion by John David Anderson is a middle grade book about a boy named Orion and his quirky family, aptly named the Kwirks. As the book opens, a singing clown has appeared at their door after Mr. Kwirk, a scientist who develops jelly bean flavors, has gotten the family to give him their impression of fried chicken-flavored jelly beans, his latest creation. The clown informs the family that Orion's grandfather has passed away.

They pack up and drive to Papa Kwirk's sister's home, where they attend a very strange funeral and then are sent on a quest, a scavenger hunt that will lead to Papa Kwirk's ashes.

I don't want to give away any details because Finding Orion is every bit as quirky and fun as it sounds. I will forewarn you, though, that I found the first third or so of the book mildly dull. It had this crazy start with the clown and the friend chicken jelly beans and then . . . meh. The trip to visit Papa Kwirk's sister and attend his funeral just bored me. There was a lot of time spent on tention: tension between Mr. Kwirk and his aunt, talk of Mr. Kwirk's difficult relationship with his father and why he left home then seldom met up with his father, etc. It was only when the scavenger hunt began that things really began to pick up speed. From that point on, I really enjoyed the book and I absolutely loved the way it ended.

Recommended - The first third or so of the book is slow but hang in there, if you read it. The best is yet to come. The scavenger hunt really feels like the beginning of the story, to me. As they chase down objects and messages that bring up the past and require Mr. Kwirk to recall his childhood, the true meaning behind the things that Papa Kwirk did — things that were misinterpreted by his son, the father of the Kwirk family — Orion and his family begin to realize that Papa Kwirk may not have always been able to communicate effectively but his heart was in the right place. A lovely, upbeat, goofy, and heartwarming story.

I think I got my copy of Finding Orion (an ARC) from Walden Pond Press via Shelf Awareness.  My thanks 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.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • 25 Days 'Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander - from HarperCollins for review
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman - from Berkley for tour (I think - don't see it on my desk calendar but I recall this being a tour book so I'll look on my other calendar)
  • Change is the Only Constant by Ben Orlin - from Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers for review
  • The Escape Room by Megan Goldin - from St. Martin's Press for review

OK, this is an odd bunch but a fun one. 25 Days 'Til Christmas is not one I recall being offered and the letter included in the envelope implies that it's unsolicited for a Christmas in July-type promotion. I'll have to reread the letter to clarify the timing but I'm always up for Christmas reading in the summer. As a child, I remember doing Christmas in July at church. I have no idea what that was all about, anymore, though. I think it was maybe a way to do good in the middle of the year so that all the fun gifting wasn't saved for one particular month? When I switched denominations (to my husband's) that practice seems to have stopped.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is one I definitely recall requesting. I just need to check my calendar to make sure I know when to post if it is, in fact, a tour book as I recall.

Change is the Only Constant and The Escape Room were both received via Shelf Awareness, which I'm currently trying to avoid because I have a backlog and need to get caught up before I go around signing up to read more, although . . . I confess I did sign up for a couple romance tours, a week ago. Ooof. Both were by authors I've been eager to give a go.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs

I hope to review both of those this week, but if not this week I should get them reviewed by the following week. Fortunately, I'm not too far behind on reviewing, at this point -- just reading. :)

Currently reading:

  • The Mueller Report - Washington Post version
  • Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Interesting side note: I discovered (after renewing our Sam's membership specifically to buy tires for Kiddo's car) that Sam's Club has copies of the same version of the The Mueller Report that I'm reading. If you have a membership, you should grab a copy. I'm not even kidding.

Posts since last Malarkey:

None. Well, that's unusual. Not even a Fiona Friday post? Nope. Not a thing. We were a little rushed getting ready to leave town but I don't recall why I failed to pre-post anything. I must have been frantically doing house cleaning because laundry and packing alone aren't enough to keep me from the blog.

At any rate, we were gone for a week and when we returned on Friday, I didn't have it in me to stagger to the computer to post. Saturday, we had some errands to run and then I didn't even think about the blog. I was certain my computer was still off but apparently the spouse turned it on at some point and fiddled or I would have dragged myself in here to post a cat photo, even though I didn't see the cats all week (they were very happy to see us and followed me everywhere, so I did take some new photos). So, it was a laziness issue. Oh, well. Next week is a new start, every time.

In other news:

Here's where we were:

Well, that's where we were on the last day of our trip to Tulsa, when we decided to travel Route 66 from the Blue Whale at Catoosa, OK to downtown Tulsa. This is by far my favorite photo. There was literally nobody on the road but us. I stood in the middle of the lane to snap that picture, no hurry, no problem. We were home for a final trip as Huzzybuns' mother was preparing to move to another state. So, it was goodbye to the spouse's childhood home -- which was nice, since I never did get a chance to say goodbye to my own childhood home -- and goodbye to Tulsa, where we'll no longer have a place to stay. I'll miss having a home base in Tulsa but we're looking forward to visiting Mom-in-law in her new home. Apparently, we already have a date for our first visit. Woot!

No TV, no streaming, no movies. We boxed up the TV on the first day and didn't really feel like watching TV in our hotel room, so it was a TV-free week until we got home. And, then we just watched a couple episodes from Season 2 of The Heart Guy, which is our new addiction. Love that show.

How was your 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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Her Other Secret by Helenkay Dimon - from Avon Romance for review

Just the one arrival, this week, a surprise (unsolicited) that looks really fun. No purchases! I'm so proud of myself. Love the cover of this one. He looks both handsome and nerdy with the glasses. Nerdsexy.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Cat Poems by various authors
  • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Both of these books are books that I should have finished in a day —two, at the most. I read the first half of Things You Save in a Fire just before bed, one evening. Then, I had two days that I was just too busy to touch the book and finally finished it the next time I was able to pick it up. If I'd had time to even glance at it longingly, I would have. It's a good story, unique because the heroine is a firefighter.

Currently reading:

  • Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett 
  • The Mueller Report - Washington Post version

Again, I didn't touch the book about PTSD but I'll try to give it some time, this week. I barely found time for the two I finished. I didn't touch The Mueller Report, either, but I can't recall the title of the PTSD book, just the author: Shaili Jain.  OK, I just looked. It's called The Unspeakable Mind. Fingers crossed that I get some of it read, this week. Same with The Mueller Report.

Posts since last Malarkey:

Obviously, it was a better blogging week than the week before. That's mostly thanks to having a Children's Day. I didn't think about the fact that it was my bloggiversary till I was in the midst of Children's Day review posting, although I did remember D-Day. I always remember D-Day. It feels like a day that can't be allowed to pass without at least stopping for a few minutes to think about those who sacrificed for our freedom. 

In other news:

The Heart Guy is pretty much the only TV we watched, last week. Well, no, that's not true. I watched a good bit of Good Omens, on my own. It's really quite interesting reading the book at the same time I'm viewing the Good Omens series. Usually, of course, it would be crazy to read and view concurrently but I've been somewhat less concerned about the possibility of there being too many differences since Gaiman did the screenwriting.

We finished up the first season of The Heart Guy at about 9pm, one night, and went straight into the second season because we both wanted to see if it kept the same cast. It mostly did. One character left but at least Dr. Knight Face-Timed with her, so it felt like they gave viewers a bit of a transition. I appreciated that. I tend to cling to favorite characters and I liked her (Aiofe).

Not much else is going on. We're trying to grow grass in our backyard because the construction crew had it down to dirt. I appreciate the excellent job they did of grading the yard, before they left. We've planted some monkey grass, rose bushes, and a Japanese maple tree. Most everything's doing well. And, Huzzybuns brought home a couple of plants from his mother's house because she's in the process of moving. Her miniature rose bush got a little sunburnt so I brought it inside and babied it in the sink, giving it little showers and telling it what a good little plant it is. That worked brilliantly. After about 4 days, it had lots of new leaves and was looking so much better that I moved it outside, this time in a spot that gets a lot less sunlight (under the covered part of the patio). And, then I put it out in the rain when a storm moved in. It's looking happy, now.

I haven't made it to the gym for weeks but now that we have our finished terraced patio with steps, I use it as my home gym on the days I can't make it. I've discovered that if I walk back and forth across the top deck, go down all the stairs, and then walk around the bottom level and back up, that's almost exactly 100 steps. So, I've been gradually building up my stair-climbing muscles. And, hopefully, I'll make it back to the gym, soon, but it's nice to have that option since our house is a ranch with no stairs of any kind.

I painted a little, too, and had various errands and appointments. It was a busy week. I hope to find more time to read, 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.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Fiona Friday - Friends

 I couldn't get them both to look up at the same time.

©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, June 06, 2019

If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon by Joyce Lapin and Simona Ceccarelli - Children's Day #5

This is the final post for Children's Day! Thanks for reading! 

When you're weightless, there's no up or down. 
In fact, if your birthday cake floats upside down, it'll
be just as safe as it is right-side up. 

If You Had Your Birthday Party On the Moon takes young readers and listeners from a little after take-off to the return flight to Earth as author Joyce Lapin imagines what it would be like to celebrate a birthday on the moon. Topics discussed are gravity or the lack of it (on Earth, in space, and on the moon), how long it takes to fly to the moon, what it's like to experience weightlessness, how astronauts sleep, what the moon looks like up close and why it looks that way, light from both the Earth and the sun, how long a moon day lasts vs. the length of an Earth day, why the sky is black instead of blue when you look up from the moon and much more.

As impressively informative as If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon is, I think my favorite thing about it is the illustrations, which I absolutely love. They're such happy images. Children jump in low gravity, sit on boulders to watch the Earth rotate, play ball, make angels in the moon dust, play freeze tag, and try to hit a piñata. In every case, the science behind what happens (balloons fall because there's no air on the moon; balls fly six times as far because of the lower gravity) is described. There's even a two-page spread about things that were left behind on the moon by astronauts, why they're still exactly where they were left, including the footprints, and why the flags have faded.

Highly recommended - A delightful way to present a science lesson about the moon and space travel. When I signed up to review If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon, I expected something a little more silly and less informative. I was definitely pleasantly surprised.

My thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy of If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon!

One little note:

Today is my 13th bloggiversary at Bookfoolery. I usually don't say much about it — I usually just post a picture of a slice of cake with the right number of candles (or number-shaped candles) beneath a photo and a few words about the anniversary of D-Day. But, I forgot to make or buy cake and I feel a little speechless at the thought that this is the 75th anniversary of the landing at Normandy. I was born less than 20 years after the end of WWII, watched the first moon walk from the dining table on a tiny black-and-white TV, and I remember the end of the Vietnam War.

Even in blog years, I'm feeling old. 13 years ago, I had a child in junior high and one working on his first college degree. Now, my eldest child has 4 (yes, 4!) university degrees, a wife, and two children. My youngest has just set a wedding date and is finishing up his second degree. We do love learning in this family. Both of my grown children are avid readers and that is, I think, the best thing about my life. I raised two readers. Bloggiversaries make me all sappy, obviously. To those who are still reading my blog, I appreciate you!

©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.

Koala is Not a Bear by Kristin L. Gray and Rachel McAlister - Children's Day #4

Koala has never been to camp, before, so she doesn't know her way around. When Grizzly invites her into the Bear Cabin, Kangaroo announces that Koala is not a bear. Grizzly says Kangaroo is a know-it-all. Koala notes that she has sharp teeth and claws, a bear trait. The bear says Koala must be a bear.

said Kangaroo.
"Crocodiles have sharp teeth
and claws. And they, most
certainly, are not bears." 

You can see where this is headed. Koala can climb trees, but so can lemurs. Koala can growl, but so can tigers. But . . . Koala doesn't have a tail, although she does have thick, wooly fur. The duck says if Koala walks like a bear and talks like a bear, she must be one. But, Kangaroo replies that she has it on good authority that Koala is not a bear. And, there are ways in which Koala is not so similar to bear, like her eating habits. When Kangaroo points out the fact that Koala and Kangaroo both have pouches and Koala pulls out a photo of her family, which includes Kangaroo's great-aunt Quokka, the light bulb goes off, so to speak. Koala asks Kangaroo if she rode in a pouch, was called a joey when young, and is from Australia.

Kangaroo scratched her chin. 
"Western Australia. So that makes us . . . "

"Cousins?" guessed Grizzly. 

"Confused?" asked Duck 
"Marsupials!" said Kangaroo. 

"Family!" added Koala. 

And, Kangaroo shows Koala to the Marsupial cabin.

Highly recommended - Koala is Not a Bear could have been repetitive and unsurprising, but instead it was sweet, informative, charming, and even a little funny, especially with the ending duck joke in which the duck asks the platypus which way it is to the duck cabin. I love this story.

Many thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy. One more post to go!

©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.

Slinky Malinki's Cat Tales by Lynley Dodd and Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field - Children's Day #3

These two books were both purchased for my personal collection.

Slinky Malinki
was blacker than black,
a stalking and lurking
adventurous cat. 
He had bright yellow eyes,
a warbling wail
and a kink at the end
of his very long tail. 

He was cheeky and cheerful, 
friendly and fun,
he'd chase after leaves 
and he'd roll in the sun.

Slinky Malinki and Scarface Claw were mentioned in my cat group by an Australian cat lover who thought cat lovers from other countries might be interested in the cat books Australians grew up with. It's a huge cat group with over 150,000 members from around the world. I have to wonder how many other non-Australian cat lovers rushed online to see if they could find a Slinky Malinki book or two to read, as I did.

Slinky Malinki's Cat Tales contains a variety of stories about Slinky Malinki stealing things, causing all sorts of chaos when Slinky Malinki figures out how to open doors, playing outside with other cats at night, and waking his family (then going for a nap after they all rise). The fifth story is about Scarface Claw and what a tough cat he is, except when he sees his own reflection — the only thing he's afraid of!

Highly recommended - Cat-loving kids (and old folks like me who love to read children's books) will adore Slinky Malinki and Scarface Claw because they're so very, very true to the reality of the kind of mischief and silliness that cats get up to. Even my husband loved this collection of stories.

Oi Frog! Sit on a log!"
said the cat. 
"But I don't want to sit on a log," said the frog.
"Logs are all knobbly and uncomfortable. 
And they can give you spliinters in your bottom."
"I don't care," said the cat.
"You're a frog, so you must sit on a log."
"Can't I sit on a mat?" 
asked the frog. 
"Only cats sit on mats," said the cat.

Oi Frog! is a book that I bought almost entirely based on the cover. I just thought it was so stinking cute. And, the illustrations are by far the best thing about the book, which continues to talk through what various animals sit upon. Hares on chairs, mules on stools, frogs on logs. Because they rhyme and it's a British book, there are a few that don't quite rhyme if you're American, like gophers on sofas, but if you're as ridiculous as I am, you can always read the book to your child in a British accent (it's okay if you're terrible at British accents — kids don't care).

Some of the rhymes are delightfully nutty, like parrots sitting on carrots, fleas on peas, and storks on forks. But, the ending is by far the best part.

"What do dogs sit on?" asked the frog. 
"I was hoping you weren't going to ask that," said the cat . . . 

The final illustration shows a frog beneath a dog's bottom, holding a white flag that says, "Help!" I laughed out loud at that final page spread.

Recommended but not a favorite - It's the illustrations that make Oi Frog! a delight. Admittedly, I did find myself zoning out a bit at the sheer number of rhyming descriptions of what various animals sit on. But, I'm sure little ones will have giggle fits at the silliness. It's a super cute book. There's a whole series, in fact. I don't plan to buy more. Oi Frog! was a total whim. I'll have fun reading it to the grandkids (or they'll have fun reading it with Mom or Dad), though. I'm definitely curious to see what else Jim Field has illustrated. I do love the illustrations.

©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.

Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro and Dream Chen - Children's Day #2

Rosie practiced raising her hand, writing her letters, and saying her teacher's name. 
She couldn't wait to start school. 
But the night before her first day, Rosie couldn't sleep. 
In the morning, her belly hurt. 
She didn't touch her chocolate chip pancakes. 
"Maybe I'd better stay home," said Rosie. "I don't want Emily to be lonely."

Butterflies on the First Day of School by Annie Silvestro and Dream Chen is about how one little girl gradually gains confidence throughout her first day of school. Metaphorical butterflies represent nervousness. When Rosie and her friend Isabella do something courageous (talking to a stranger on the bus when Rosie first speaks to her seat mate, Violet, for example), one or more butterflies will fly out of each girl's mouth, symbolizing that little bit of nerves that is flying away.

Butterflies on the First Day of School shows Rosie getting ready for school, riding on the bus, having circle time in which the children share three things about themselves, having playtime inside and out, making friends, and then waving goodbye to her new friends and arriving home.

Recommended, especially for new preschoolers or kindergarteners - The activities shown (painting, circle time, playtime, flipping through books) are done in both preschool and kindergarten so Butterflies on the First Day of School covers nervous schoolgoers across those ages but since some children don't attend either, I'm sure it'll work for 1st graders, as well. I adore the use of the butterflies to show how Rosie loses her nervous feelings and gains confidence throughout her first school day. I also am quite fond of the fact that Rosie has a cat at home so illustrations of her preparing for school, sleeping, and having breakfast include a kitty.

I received a copy of Butterflies on the First Day of School from Sterling Children's Books for review. Thank you!

©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.

There's Only One You by Heling, Hembrook, and Butcher - Children's Day #1

Today is Children's Day at Bookfoolery! I've got 4 books from publishers and two that I purchased. The reviews will appear every two hours, so buckle up! 

Your knees might feel knobby;
your ears might stick out.
Are you tall? Are you short?
Are you thin? Are you stout?

You might be outgoing, 
or maybe you're meek.
Whatever – you're awesome,
being unique!

There's Only One You is a rhyming book about embracing uniqueness that talks about everything from physical characteristics to personality and how a child handles emotions to special talents and skills. It includes such things as the use of wheelchairs and walkers, hearing aids and glasses, having one friend or a wide circle of friends, speaking with an accent or eating different foods, and shows different types of families a child may belong to.

In vibrant colors children are shown exploring in a field, running in the snow, watching fireworks, reading, dancing, playing with toys, hitting a piñata, watching a play, eating ethnic food, doing magic, visiting the zoo, stargazing, attending a costume party, and more. I'm frankly amazed at how much territory is covered in this picture book.

Highly recommended - I love books that are about about embracing differences and There's Only One You does a fantastic job of showing diversity of not only skin and hair color and other characteristics but a wide variety of other attributes (having two fathers or mothers) that may set a child apart. I'd recommend There's Only One You to anyone and everyone but it's an especially useful book for young children who feel uncomfortable with the differences between them and the children they play with or see at school and need a little reassurance.

My thanks to Sterling Children's Books 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.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane was one of those books that I wasn't sure I was going to like, at first, so the one thing I think you should know about it is that it's absolutely worth hanging in there if the writing style puts you off. I don't even remember what it was about the book that made me wrinkle my nose, at first. Maybe I found it a little weird? The writing is unique, for sure. But, once I became accustomed to Kane's voice and got to know the main character, I began to really love the story.

May works on the gardening crew of a university where there's a particular tree that's special because it was grown from a cutting that May acquired from an ancient tree in Scotland. Because of the tree — I don't want to give away the details — May ends up getting some unexpected vacation time. She's been pondering friendship and wondering if, perhaps, she hasn't worked hard enough at being a friend when she's given the surprise month of vacation so May decides to spend most of her time off traveling to visit 4 friends.

Highly recommended - A lovely, uplifting, unique story. I'm keeping the review short because I don't want to give too much away but May is an interesting character who begins the story a little hollow and wounded but who learns and grows in an incredibly satisfying way once she makes the decision to work harder at being a friend and building new friendships. I think people who love plants will come away from Rules for Visiting with a particular affection because it's just fun being in May's head while she muses about gardening and favorite plants.

I got my ARC of Rules for Visiting from Penguin Random House (thank you!), I think via Shelf Awareness. I feel very lucky to have received a copy. I love stories of friendship and Rules for Visiting is the kind of book that makes you feel warm and hopeful inside.

©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, June 03, 2019

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando by William J. Mann - from HarperCollins for review
  • Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field - purchased

The Contender was a surprise (unsolicited). I'm admittedly not big on biographies unless I have some special interest in a person or topic (a biography specifically of wartime years, for example). But, I'll always flip through and read the cover info to see if I'm interested when a book is sent to me unsolicited and I am intrigued. I was around when Marlon Brando was still alive and I thought of him as kind of a hot mess. I really have not seen much of his work, although I liked him in The Freshman. I was totally unaware that he was a social activist. This interests me. The book is a big one but it's not going to be released till October so hopefully I can get an early start on it and have it finished by then. Oi Frog! was bought on a whim. It's cute but not what I was hoping for, although the ending made me laugh out loud.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field
  • If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home by Tim O'Brien
  • Finding Orion by John David Anderson

I read If I Die in a Combat Zone for Memorial Day. I may have mentioned that. Speaking of biographies, it's O'Brien's story of his time in Vietnam, although he also describes the time just before, when he was trying to decide whether or not he should run to Canada or another country, on principle. Like his fiction, it's pretty horrifying but so well-written and gripping that I started reading it on Monday afternoon and finished in the morning on Tuesday. Finding Orion is yet another middle grade book that began slowly but improved.

Currently reading:

  • The Mueller Report: Washington Post version (with 50 pages of extra material)
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I didn't touch Cat Poems or The Unspeakable Mind, this week, but I hope to finish up the book of poetry and read at least a little of The Unspeakable Mind, this week. I'm finding that I really only want to read The Mueller Report, right now, but I'm forcing myself to read a little of something else, every day, so some days I don't read any of The Mueller Report at all (even though it's what I desire to read). Everyone in America should read it. Seriously, everyone. I've read 100 pages of the version I'm reading (not sure how many pages of the report itself that entails) and it's amazing that nobody has shut the president up about calling the "Russia thing" a "hoax". How Russia attacked us and is still attacking us is very clearly detailed, down to who did the funding, what Russian agencies were involved, and how the Russians got American photographs to put in their fake social media accounts (hint: they came here). It also mentions that the attack is ongoing and becoming more sophisticated.

I think a lot of Republicans would be up in arms about McConnell's refusal to debate any election security bills if they took the time to read it. We are in desperate need of some very serious work to protect our elections.

Posts since last Malarkey:

So, not a big blogging week, then. No, not at all. 

In other news:

It was, however, a big TV week. I watched both seasons of Fleabag. I was curious about Fleabag because I read about it in Entertainment Weekly and they made it sound so brilliant that my interest was piqued. It's about a young woman who owns a London cafe that's doing badly after the death of her partner in the business. I watched the first episode and thought, "Oh, this is so rude and inappropriate. I love it." Well, it's about life, really, and it's so very, very British. It's the kind of show in which someone will be complaining that a sauce is absolutely revolting and then a waitress or waiter drops by and asks if everything's okay and that same person says, "Oh, marvelous, yes. Fine, thank you, it's delicious." An American version would have the poor waitress in tears, probably.

At any rate, it's a very rude show (language, sex) but utterly fascinating for the interpersonal dynamics and the way a very sad heroine tries to make up for the emptiness inside by sleeping around. In the end you find out exactly why she's so torn apart. And, someone does something very kind for the heroine, which I confess brought me to tears. Wonderful ending. That's the first season. The second season has a new secondary cast and the problems of the first season are gone, mentioned maybe once. In the second season, the heroine falls for a priest.

The really stand-out thing about Fleabag, besides the fact that it's hilarious and disgusting and surprisingly meaningful, is that the cast is out of this world. Olivia Coleman, Ben Aldridge, Bill Paterson, and Andrew Scott are a few of the famous faces. There were others I recognized but couldn't put a name to. It's got quite an all-star cast. I sort of binged on Fleabag and now I'm watching it again with Husband, who is not a binge-watcher. This second viewing will take forever.

I also watched a Hallmark movie: The Birthday Wish. Loved it. And, we're still watching The Heart Guy and The Royal but didn't get to see many episodes, this week.

Oh, one more! We started watching Good Omens. So far, so good. Love the cast, of course. And, since I'm also reading the book, I can compare the script to the book. Fun.

©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.