Wednesday, December 30, 2020

How to Get Away with Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries, #2)

In this second installment of the middle grade Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery series, How to Get Away with Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce, young Myrtle has been sent on a train trip to the shore for vacation. She'd rather be home, studying law and medicine, and solving murders. But, Myrtle's father is in Paris at a conference and she's sent packing with her governess, Miss Judson, and the formidable (and not a little intimidating) Aunt Helena. She also brings her cat, Peony, along. Peony is a tremendous character and no ordinary cat. 

Things get off to an interesting start when Myrtle hears Mrs. Bloom, an insurance investigator, telling the owner of the train and the resort to which they're headed that his insurance policy on a valuable diamond and Alexandrite tiara will have to be cancelled if he doesn't follow the rules and put it in a safe, as specified. At that moment, it's in a display case for all to see. Then, it goes missing and Mrs. Bloom turns up dead with Aunt Helena's scissors in her back. Are the theft and murder connected? Is it possible that Aunt Helena's a murderer? What happened at the resort town that made Mrs. Bloom a friend to all? 

Myrtle has a little trouble getting involved in the investigation but once it becomes apparent that the railroad inspector is less than competent because of his unwillingness to listen to female witnesses and then Aunt Helena is arrested for the murder, Miss Judson bends to Myrtle's will and they're on the job. They summon a friend to help with the legal aspect (a familiar character from the first in the series) and slowly unwind the mystery. 

Highly recommended but I advise reading the series in order - It's the characters and the dialogue that make How to Get Away with Myrtle such a delight. The cast is fairly large and that's probably my only complaint but it's a minor one because they're all so well delineated that there's never any confusion from one character to the next. I simply found the cast size a little unwieldy and would have to think for a minute or two to remember previous encounters when they were reflected upon. At any rate, I like Myrtle and Miss Judson. I loved the way what appeared to be related threads were broken off into separate stories that were satisfying unto themselves. And, I really adore the young lawyer called in to help, who calls Myrtle "Stephen" for reasons I don't entirely recall, although I remembered him as soon as Myrtle described him. A very satisfying mystery with loads of charming scenes and a few edge-of-your-seat moments. Not to be reserved for middle school kids. Grown-ups need a little good fun, too. 

My thanks to Algonquin Books for the review copy!

©2020 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, December 28, 2020

Monday Malarkey

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Recent arrivals (left to right, all purchased but one):

  • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Grand Tour by Adam O'Fallon Price
  • The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
  • Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria
  • Georgana's Secret by Arlem Hawks - from Shadow Mountain for book tour with Laurel Ann of Austenprose
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  • Natives by Akala

I haven't gone quite as wild on the last-minute book purchasing as I expected before my year of not buying begins but it's still a pretty significant stack. I have a few coming from Book Depository and a couple pre-ordered and then that should be it for the next year. 3 out of 5 friends and relatives surveyed think I can't make it a year without buying any books. They're probably right but I am determined to read what's on my shelves and really kind of excited about it. I'll write more about my non-buying and reading goals either just before or after New Year's. 

Some of these have been on my wish list for a while (Caste has been calling to me all year), others were bought more spontaneously (Sharks in the Time of Saviors — President Obama was my influence). In truth, I could have just stopped buying when I made the decision to read off my shelves for a year because it's not like I don't own enough books. But, I figured if I bought a few that have been calling to me, I'd be more likely to succeed. We'll find out, I guess. 

Georgana's Secret is the one tour book I received. While I don't plan to stop accepting children's books if they're offered and I may do an occasional book tour, I'm otherwise planning not to bring books into my home because the entire point is to lighten the load. I was able to get quite a few older titles that I'll never reread off the living room shelves and shift things around a bit so that some favorite authors' titles are together instead of scattered across various shelves, this weekend, so that felt like a good way to start. I'm really looking forward to Georgana's Secret. I've loved every book I've read from Shadow Mountain, so far, and I desire a little dose of romance, now and then. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
  • Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepard and Wendy Edelson
  • 400 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath 
  • The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar, ed. by Michael Hingston

Currently reading:

  • How to Get Away with Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries #2) by Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria

Myrtle is a fun character and I'm enjoying the book when I get a chance to read but reading time is scarce when the spouse is on vacation. I almost said "when the spouse is home" but he's been home since forever, now (um . . . 9 months?). I just started Ten Lessons because it kept calling to me and who am I to deny a book that is aching to be read? It's great, so far. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

Because I read so many children's books and gathered them all into one post, I got caught up on book reviews, again. But, since then I've finished my Short Story Advent Calendar and I hope to finish Myrtle tonight or tomorrow, then I'll be back in business. 

In other news:

We had another very quiet holiday but I decided that our grab-and-go Thanksgiving meal was just meh, so this time we went for a nice dinner and I've decided I'm never going to skip the formal Thanksgiving meal, again, with or without guests. 

We've watched more TV and movies than normal: 

  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • Wonder Woman 1984
  • Cross Country Christmas
  • The Mandalorian
  • While You Were Sleeping
  • The first episode of Stargirl

It's not a proper Christmas if I don't watch It's a Wonderful Life. And, I decided that While You Were Sleeping (an old family favorite) would be a good movie to add to the annual viewing tradition. It's not exactly a Christmas movie but it takes place mostly between Christmas and New Year's so it has the advantage of not being absolutely necessary to watch it by Christmas. We can just fit it into the season, somewhere. 

We finished the second season of The Mandalorian and loved the ending. Not sure where they can take it from that ending point, but it was a good one. I think we partly watched Stargirl because we both like Luke Wilson but it was pretty fun and we laughed a lot. Cross Country Christmas is the only Hallmark movie I specifically remember watching but I think we may have watched another or pieces of a couple, although none were particularly memorable. There was one with a prince whose wardrobe was very poorly fitted and I may have yelled, "Worst prince, ever!" at the TV.  I tend to yell at the TV during Hallmark movies. It's a thing. 

I have not seen the first Wonder Woman movie, so I had nothing to compare the new one with. Apparently, that's a good thing. Most of my friends hated Wonder Woman 1984, but I only found the ending a bit insane and too drawn out. Otherwise, I was fine with it. I was expecting not to like it at all and it kept my attention, so that was enough for me. I do want to see the original, though, since everyone says it's better. Oh, and we starting watching Chuck from the beginning, again. It's a series we watched and loved when it was new, so bit of a throwback going on. Still love it. 

It's a little early to say this but I hope 2021 is a fabulous year and a big improvement for all of us. I fear we are about to go through some very hard times, but I'm encouraged by the words of hope coming from our future president. 

©2020 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, December 23, 2020

Christmas books!

All of the books shown above are rereads and I have a feeling I've mentioned a couple of them in the past, so just some quickie thoughts about each:

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas is one of my favorite Christmas reads. I only discovered it a few years ago, when I was asked to make suggestions for short reads to discuss at my F2F group's Christmas meeting, and I've read it 3 times, since. 

Our snow was not only shaken from whitewash buckets down the sky, it came shaking out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely white-ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunderstorm of white, torn Christmas cards.

Oh, how I love A Child's Christmas in Wales. Absolutely captivating, humorous, and a pure delight. Dylan Thomas' use of language blows me away. The "fish-freezing waves" and "the gong was bombilating". I'm going to make reading it an annual tradition, along with . . . 

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, a timeless, beautiful story of an unusual friendship between cousins with decades between their ages but a tender relationship. They're impoverished but rich with the ability to find Christmas joy together. A Christmas Memory is such a lovely, meaningful book about the simple joys of Christmas. 

Isabel helped me out with another of my reads (mostly by sleeping next to me), A Little House Christmas: Holiday Stories from the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Wilder did such a wonderful job of describing where the family was living in each story and that particular year's circumstances (blizzard, life in a dirt home that had no stove, living near a small town where she had an uppity rival) that there's never a sensation that these stories were pulled out of context. 

As in A Christmas Memory, the stories in A Little House Christmas are about simple joy. Laura and Mary even talk themselves into being fine with no gifts at all when Pa needs a new horse, one winter. I haven't read A Little House Christmas in many years but I loved it so much that it made me want to go back and read the entire series. I don't think I ever actually read all of the Little House books, as a child, but I remember those I did read with affection. 

The only book from this batch that I didn't love was The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L'Engle, which appears to be a Christmas story written as part of a series, the Austin Family Chronicles. I was unfamiliar with the characters and felt it a bit mediocre, even back when I bought it in the 90s. I'm pretty sure the only reason I kept it was the fact that I happened to be collecting books by Madeleine L'Engle, at the time. It's a nice enough story, just nothing brilliant. 

Vicky is worried that her heavily pregnant mother won't be able to attend the Christmas pageant but when a blizzard blows in while her father's away from home and her mother goes into labor but can't leave the house, she realizes what's really important. The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas is sweet and old-fashioned, a good reminder that a simple, traditional Christmas that's not all about the gifts is a lovely thing. But, it's mediocre enough that I'm going to part with my copy. 

I also got one new-to-me book (originally published in 2005, if I recall correctly), The Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepard and Wendy Edelson, a children's illustrated retelling of the true WWI story of the cessation of hostilities between British and German troops at Christmas. The soldiers shared food and drink, sang songs from their respective countries, and enjoyed a brief reprieve from fighting. It's told as a fictional letter home from the front but based on the stories told by those who were present. 

I thought The Christmas Truce was nicely written and the illustrations are fabulous. I'll probably forget to put it in the recent arrivals pile, next Monday, but I purchased it after looking for a different children's book about the Christmas Truce and finding that it's both out of print and out of my price range. 

This will be my last post of the week. I'll be back on Monday. 

Merry Christmas to all my book-loving friends! 



©2020 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, December 22, 2020

400 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath

  • Nika is halfway up the face of a glacier when she realizes it's melting from the inside and there's only a sheer face of ice that will fail soon, inundating the village in which her parents work for Doctors Without Borders. But, she's too far away. Can she find a way to save the village from catastrophe?
  • While on a field trip in a national park, Charith spots a man creeping around with a gun. He tells his teacher and they hastily board the bus but the man gets ahead of them and plants a bomb in the road, severing their brake line and sending them careening down the mountain with a kid at the wheel. 
  • Nancy is standing on the deck of a cruise ship when an island that shouldn't exist materializes out of the mist. Spotted by the people on shore, they are pursued and hit with missiles. But, Nancy left her dog in her cabin. Can she get down to the lower deck to save her dog without going down with the sinking ship? 

These are just a few of the short stories in 400 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath, a middle grade book that is so tense and action-packed that I would not advise limiting it to a middle grade audience. Each story plunks the reader right at the beginning of a terrifying, taut situation in which the main character has a limited amount of time to figure out how to save someone, complete a dangerous job, or just survive. 

Highly recommended - Whether you have an action-loving child, one who doesn't love reading that you're trying to tempt, or just need a book that's great for breaking a reading slump, 400 Minutes of Danger is a perfect, fast-paced and lively, often outlandish, read. It took a while for me to realize that the stories in 400 Minutes of Danger are interconnected, as the author slowly drops clues and then nicely gathers those clues and explains them in the final story. I appreciated the way he wrapped things up but I would have also been perfectly happy if the stories had no connection because they're so entertaining. 400 Minutes of Danger is a wild ride not to be missed. 

My thanks to Sterling Children's books for the review copy! 

I have one more Jack Heath book for review and I would have been perfectly thrilled if Sterling had sent me everything he's ever written. I'll keep my copy of 400 Minutes of Danger for when I'm in a reading slump as this kind of fast-paced adventure is exactly what I need sometimes to break the spell. And, I'll be reading the next Jack Heath book, soon! 

©2020 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, December 18, 2020

Fiona Friday - Meowdeling

Fiona's working on perfecting her headshot in case of a future meowdeling career. 

©2020 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, December 17, 2020

Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

Talk about an unusual read for this bookfool! I don't read true crime, anymore, and seldom read crime novels for the same reason. I used to read both all the time. I stopped reading true crime when my husband told me he was coming home to find me in tears a little too often and I needed to give it up. Crime novels and mysteries . . . burnout. I was addicted to a number of mystery series for several years and then just suddenly couldn't stand them. Now, I really no longer have the ability to freeze out the yuck from my brain (not that I was very good at it in the first place -- see: Husband Advice). But, after a slumpy month, I needed to shake up my reading and I've found the best way to knock myself out of a slump is to read something very different from my normal fare. So, there you go. 

Cold Granite does have a lot of gruesome scenes, incidentally. If you can't tolerate them (particularly if you're upset by crime against children) you might want to avoid this, although I think the writing is exceptional and it was because of that fact that I was able to overlook the most disgusting bits.

Detective Sergeant Logan McRae of Aberdeen, Scotland has just returned to work after nearly being killed in the line of duty. Now, Aberdeen seems to have a child killer on the loose. Within days, bodies are found and several children go missing. Logan is still occasionally having some trouble with his injury, so the new boss assigns a uniformed female Police Constable to work with him . . . or, maybe babysit him. He's not too happy about it, at first. 

There is so much that happens in this book that I don't think I can even unravel it enough to talk about the various threads but there's a man who has a mental problem and collects the dead animals he scoops up from the side of the road, a young man who has been caught in a crime of his own and has to testify about the abuse he suffered when he was in a hospital, and Logan dealing with a new boss who isn't sure he should be back at work and an old flame at work who wants to stay well away from him. There's also a reporter who keeps coming up with information he shouldn't have and publicizing it and he wants to weasel information out of Logan. Suffice it to say, Cold Granite is nicely complex and twisty. 

Meanwhile, it's very cold and snowy in Aberdeen, which feeds into the mood. There's mention of Christmas decorations, so there's a tiny bit of the season injected. It's way too grisly to call a Christmas read, though. 

Highly recommended but not for the faint of heart - I'm normally the faint of heart and I really had to work at shutting out the images of autopsies and decomposed bodies, but I thought Cold Granite was incredibly well-written with believable characters and dialogue and I liked Logan. Will I read on in the series? After closing the book, I felt tempted but I'm about to attempt a year-long book-buying ban and read only from my shelves (not even the library). So, it's very unlikely that I'll get to another MacBride book right away. However, I will definitely remember this author and series and I think someday I will try to read on. This particular book was originally published in 2005 so there are quite a few more books in the series. 

©2020 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, December 16, 2020

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is about a young woman named Margaret who is in her 20s and looking forward to fulfilling her dreams. Margaret has a fresh MBA, a 3-story condo, and the promise of a lucrative job when her boyfriend, Chip, takes her for a flight in a private plane to propose to her. She's terrified of flying but gives in. When the flight ends in a crash and Margaret is both burned and paralyzed, her entire life is upended. Chip walked away without a scratch and she's been slotted with the least-talkative, meanest physical therapist, Ian. 

While Chip avoids visiting, her family (including the sister who hasn't spoken to her for 3 years) rallies around her but not always in a positive way. Will Margaret ever walk again? Will Margaret and Chip survive the guilt on one side and pain on the other? Will Margaret's sister Kitty and their mother, who drove Kitty away, ever be able to resolve their differences? 

How to Walk Away is a romance with plenty of meat on its bones. It takes a very serious subject, losing everything after a crash, and winds in slow destruction of certain hopes and dreams with a growing relationship. You know pretty early on some of what will happen and who Margaret will end up with because it's a romance and they're always obvious in that way. I personally found the direction it went immensely satisfying if a little cheesy, especially toward the end. 

Highly recommended - I love the blend of humor and anguish, heartbreak and hope. My only problem with How to Walk Away was the fact that Margaret had bought a 3-story condo on the promise of a lucrative job. I know that can happen but it felt just a bit too far-fetched for a twenty-something who has just finished her MBA. I loved the emotional impact of Margaret losing her dreams; it felt truly realistic. Some days Margaret was OK and some days she thought about giving up. I know the emotional rollercoaster of health drama and appreciated how genuinely those emotions were portrayed. And, of course, I loved the slow-burn romance. 

I've read 3 books by Katherine Center, now, and this one is one of my favorites. The other is Things You Save in a Fire. Here's my review of that one:

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

©2020 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, December 15, 2020

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Look, another e-book! I am on a roll, here, all the way up to one per month. 

One Day in December was my first read of the month and I chose it because the cover made it look light and fun. It got a lot of attention at some point, thanks to Reese's Book Club, and everyone seemed to be reading it at the time (Last year? The year before?), but I bought my electronic copy long after the buzz had died down. 

Laurie is sitting on the upper deck of a London bus when it pulls into a stop and she sees a man who instantly sets her heart aflame. Their eyes meet and he even attempts to board the bus, but he's too late. For a year, she looks for the man she has come to think of as "Bus Boy" but London is huge and she never manages to spot him, again. Just as she's finally decided to give up, her best friend and roommate brings home a new boyfriend, Jack, the man she claims that she intends to marry. And, you guessed it . . . he's Bus Boy. They recognize each other but pretend otherwise. Clearly, Jack is off-limits, now that he's dating Sarah. And Jack, likewise, is unwilling to hurt Sarah by acknowledging that he's seen Laurie before, although he remembers that fleeting connection that passed between them very well. 

Years pass. Laurie and Jack gradually become fast friends and they only cross the line once. Eventually, Laurie finds a love of her own. But, the reader knows Laurie and Jack are meant to be together. Will they ever find a way to each other?

Highly recommended - I loved One Day in December, not just for the romance but for the deep and enduring friendships throughout the book. Laurie and Sarah have an incredibly special relationship and this creates a tremendous tension. There's obviously always some kind of spark between Jack and Laurie. But, they're good people and neither would ever do anything they know will cause Sarah pain, so they work hard at becoming friends and suppressing their attraction. It's absolutely lovely how careful they are not to step out of bounds for the sake of their mutual friend. 

While One Day in December is not the kind of book my F2F group would discuss (they like literature; I can't imagine they'd go for anything romantic), I think there's a good deal to discuss. "What would you do?" is the most obvious question. What if you were Laurie? What if you were Jack? How would you react if you were Sarah and you found out about that one kiss? Should Laurie have immediately spoken up and said, "Hey, your new guy is Bus Boy"? 

Also, One Day in December is remarkably complex and believable, in my humble opinion. It isn't a quickie romance. Each year, Laurie writes down her goals and the reader sees how they play out. There are life changes for all of the characters, and the interaction between the characters has its ebbs and flows. Laurie's life is particularly complicated by the challenge of trying to find her place in the working world and by the health of her father, as well as the memory of a childhood loss. Jack, meanwhile, goes through a significant challenge of his own that threatens everything he holds dear. 

I loved this book and I'll definitely be looking for more by Josie Silver. It is, incidentally, always a sign that I enjoyed a book if I read it electronically and manage to finish. I still do have the problem of not feeling like e-books are real. It's very easy for me to set down my reader and forget I'm reading an e-book. So, if I finish it, I was engrossed. In this case, I was mesmerized, charmed, eager to find out what would happen, and ultimately satisfied. 

©2020 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, December 14, 2020

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return by Martin Riker, and
  • Boom Town by Sam Anderson - all purchased
  • Shockwave by Jack Heath - from Sterling Children's Books for review

Three of these were on my wish list but I bought Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return after reading a short story by him in the Short Story Advent Calendar, which is not pictured but which also arrived during my blogging break. The Summer of Broken Things was a dollar store find. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • One Day in December by Josie Silver
  • The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L'Engle
  • A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
  • A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride
  • A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

Most of these were very short (the Christmas books). One Day in December and Cold Granite were around 400 pages or a little over. So, not bad for about 11 days. Ditching the blog to read when you're slumpy always seems to work for me.  

Currently reading:

  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
  • 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar by Hingston and Olsen

I've wanted to get a Short Story Advent Calendar since Nat, formerly of In Spring it is the Dawn blog, talked about hers, several years ago. And, I cannot even begin to tell you how fun it is breaking the seal on a short story (or two -- I got mine a little late, as it came from Canada) each day. It's one of the highlights of my day. I'm also really enjoying How to Walk Away and I've been laughing at myself because I never noticed the plane on the cover till I started reading the book — just the flowers. A plane crash is the inciting incident so it's rather important. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

I'm working on thinking through my reading goals for 2021 and so far there's only one thing that's important to me: I want to stop buying books for the entire year (well . . . with a couple exceptions, like books by friends) and read off my shelves. I haven't got any blogging goals, yet. Still pondering. Admittedly, I bought at least two of this week's arrivals specifically because I'm about to stop buying books and wanted to make sure I got them before the end of the year. Neither of the two family members I told about this non-buying goal believe I will succeed. They have good reason to feel that way. 

Movie-wise, we've watched a bunch of Hallmark movies, at least two episodes of The Mandalorian, one of Life on Mars (we grew tired of it in the middle of the second season and took a break but we're back to watching it), and Persuasion, the 2007 version starring Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth. We also got 2/3 of the way through Romancing the Stone but we'll have to finish that up tonight. Both of us decided we were too tired to finish the entire movie. 

The only other news is that we still have shelves and boxes of books crammed into a couple of our rooms because of the leak that damaged our living room flooring (did I tell you about that?) but it looks like the two boxes of flooring left by the previous owner are going to cover the damaged bits! Yay! We didn't think we had enough till we moved the shelves but there was no damage beneath them. Oddly, there's damage on either side. We still haven't figured that out, but it's mostly replaced and the leak has been repaired so maybe we'll have those shelves back in place by Christmas. 

©2020 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, December 03, 2020

Back soon

I have literally run out of books to review because of my recent reading slump so I'm going to take a short break from the blog to read until I have plenty to write about. Back soon!

©2020 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, December 02, 2020

Trumpocracy by David Frum

First things first: Trumpocracy by David Frum (a conservative journalist) is outdated as it only covers the current president's first year in office. That's important to know but it's still worth the read, in my humble opinion. Some of Frum's conclusions turned out to be wrong and I don't always agree with him but he nicely lays out the many corrupt actions the president took during his first year, as well as those of his family, plus his many business connections to Russia and the back-channel connections put in place by his son-in-law. No, the Russian connections are not a hoax. Read the Mueller Report if you're scowling, at this point. And, while the president tried to convince the public that he had separated himself from his business interests, early on, Frum also goes into how and why it was obvious that wasn't the case. 

I read much of this as it was unfolding but had forgotten quite a bit. Some of it was new to me, but very little. Frum's explanation as to why House and Senate Republicans did an immediate about-face and fell into line behind the incoming president after so many senators said electing him would be a disaster makes perfect sense: an unpopular president tends to drag the rest of his party down with him in elections. So, they had to prop him up. 

Frum has a newer book coming out and I'm curious what he has to say, 3 years on, but I don't know if I'll read it. The new book, Trumpocalypse, comes out in May of 2021. 

Recommended but outdated - Outdated or not, I still enjoyed reading Trumpocracy for the reminder of what I'd already forgotten, how immediately and completely the president showed himself, his family, and his cabinet's corruption. Again, I don't always agree with Frum. He has opinions that don't meld with mine, although he's very up-front about what he believes and I think that his candor allows the reader to understand where he's coming from without feeling as if he's trying to hammer home his own viewpoint. It's also quite an organized read without a lot of bouncing back and forth in time, which I definitely appreciated. 

©2020 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, December 01, 2020

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

I made the cover image really big because I love this cover. I felt transported to the time and place of A Castaway in Cornwall every time I looked at that cover. 

In A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen, Laura is living with her Uncle Matthew, his wife, and her daughter, Eseld in Cornwall. The year is 1813 and England is at war with France. Orphaned as an adolescent, Laura longs to visit the isle of Jersey to see her parents' graves. She feels as if she was cast aside by them when they went to tend to her sick aunt. 

Near Laura's home is a dangerous reef that is notorious for causing shipwrecks and Laura has a habit of salvaging items she finds on the rocky shore, cleaning them, searching for the loved ones of those who died in a shipwreck, and returning the items if she can. But, there are dangerous men who will do anything to acquire the cargo of a wrecked ship.

When the Kittiwake is wrecked and Laura finds a man nearly drowned on the beach, one of those dangerous wreckers threatens to kill him but Laura protects him and nurses him back to health. Alexander, the survivor, claims to have been returning to his home in Jersey. But, he is keeping secrets from the people who help him. Where is Alexander really from? Is he a dangerous escaped prisoner? When Laura finds herself falling for him, is she making a mistake? Will he end up leaving for his home, never to return? 

There's a lot that I'm leaving out because I think it's best to let this one unfold and I don't want to spoil any of the surprises. I enjoyed how it played out and I was happy with the ending, although a few too many people found romance in a fairly short timespan and that felt a little over-the-top, at least to me. 

Recommended - I should mention that last week was such a stressful week that I had a terrible time reading and didn't even read at all for 3 days in a row (shocking!) so my reading of A Castaway in Cornwall was likely colored by my inability to focus. So, please take my thoughts as atypical. I enjoyed A Castaway in Cornwall but since I was struggling to read, I never felt truly sucked in by the story and normally would have stopped to read something quick and easy then returned to it. But, I was scheduled for a tour so I didn't feel like I had the time to do what I normally do when I'm having difficulty focusing. Probably because of that, the story felt like it was too descriptive and drawn out. I have enjoyed Julie Klassen's books immensely, in the past, and the ratings of A Castaway in Cornwall are very high at Goodreads; it probably would have been a pretty quick read and more enjoyable at any other time. I did like the main characters and was rooting for them. 

Many thanks to Bethany House for the review copy and Laurel Ann for the opportunity to tour this book! 

©2020 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, November 30, 2020

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom - click on image to enlarge):

  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates - purchased
  • Dragon Mountain by Katie and Kevin Tsang and
  • 400 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath - both from Sterling Children's Books for review
  • Extraordinary Things to Cut Out and Collage by Maria Rivans - purchased

This is also my first stack photographed with the Christmas decorations! I bought the wooden cut-out houses at Target and have them pretty much everywhere -- in the bedroom, on the mantle, and on the entertainment set. I've left them as is but we liked them so much that Huzzybuns encouraged me to buy some extras to decorate for different seasons and I'm looking forward to painting some snow and lights on a few for winter, pumpkins and ghosties for fall, flowers for spring/summer. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris
  • Trumpocracy by David Frum
  • A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

Well, this just hasn't been my month for quantity. Hopefully, December will be an improvement. On the plus side, I am still enjoying everything I read. This has just been one of those months in which I've been either too tired or too stressed to read at all, many days. I'm fine with that. Sometimes you just have a bad month. Moving right along. 

Currently reading:

  • Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver

If Cold Granite doesn't sound very much like my type of book, it's deliberate. I figured after a sluggish reading month I needed to shake up the reading to get myself back into the swing of things. It seems to have worked. Saturday night was the first night in ages that I've read more than a handful of pages. Yesterday, I added One Day in December because I'm ready for some Christmas reading and happened to have that one handy as an e-book (so that will be my e-read for the month). I'm enjoying it, also. So far, so good. 


Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Because I've been kind of stressed and not felt up to reading, I've watched a lot of movies, lately. I think this is everything but I can't be 100% sure. 

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater was cute and I thought the two actors were OK together but his hangdog look at the beginning of the movie became a tiny bit tiresome. And, the heroine smiled so much it's amazing her face didn't break. Still, I enjoyed this one. While not a favorite, it was pleasant without becoming so saccharine that it was unbearable. I did think it was bizarre that the heroine had such a huge home, given her job description, but she was divorced so maybe the first hubby was wealthy. He was never around during their marriage, she said, so that seems likely. 

Heart of the Holidays was my favorite of the Hallmark movies we watched. I thought the heroine was a particularly good actress (actor?) and while the theme, "Hardworking woman becomes reacquainted with her old sweetheart who is more relaxed than she is; will they be able to work it out?" has been overused, I thought the actors had enough chemistry and their timing was so perfect that it helped overcome some of the problems that tend to niggle at me when I watch Hallmark movies. I will deliberately be looking for more movies with Vanessa Lengies (just looked up the heroine). She was terrific. 

A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado had a terribly weak premise. The town of Brooklyn Colorado is in need of something big to draw in visitors and they mayor and his daughter, who works for him, have decided that they must find the perfect evergreen tree to draw in a crowd. Unfortunately, the perfect Christmas tree is on private land and the heroine has already become acquainted with the man who owns the land. Was she trying to butter him up to steal his tree? 

We got a phone call in the middle of this particular movie and muted it, for a while. I found the heroine painfully bubbly and decided I liked the movie better with the volume off . . . till the couple had a big fight at the mayor's office. At that point, we both became curious and tried to unmute the TV at the same time with 2 different remotes, cancelling each other out and putting it back on mute. But, once we figured out what was happening (which only took seconds), we enjoyed the rest of the movie. 

And, finally, we watched the 1987 version of Overboard starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, an old family favorite. We still have it on DVD somewhere around here. But, it was streaming and we hit it right at the beginning. At one point, the Roku reset and Huz said, "We may have to get out the DVD to watch the end." Well, good luck finding it, I thought. Fortunately, we were able to reboot the Roku and return to the same location in the movie. Anyway, it was as fun as always. I love Overboard. I'm also a fan of the newer version and confess I was shocked at how well the remake was done.  

We also watched an episode of Vintage Roads Great and Small and the first episode of the second season of The Mandalorian. Told ya I watched a lot of TV. 

During the past couple of weeks, we also ended up with a new (used) car that I'm calling my husband's "Midlife Crisis Car". It's cute, sporty, and totally different from our usual understated, stripped-down Hondas (I am not normally into all the bells and whistles). This has meant a lot of, "Hey, you want to go for a drive?" is happening. And, while you do really feel the road in this new car, it's definitely fun to ride in. I haven't driven it, yet, because it's a 6-speed and I feel like I'll need to practice on a quiet day, which hasn't happened, lately. The traffic has been horrendous. It has a great sound system and it has turned my husband into one of those weird guys who have to keep their car exterior clean and polished, but that's not a bad thing. He's usually a very messy guy and this is the first time he's ever said, "Nobody can eat in this car." Awesome. 

Hope all my American friends had a great Thanksgiving! We were on our own, just the two of us, and the weather was perfect so we had a good day, a nice meal but not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and we hope to make up for the lack of gathering in 2021. 

I've got a couple of reviews to post, this week, then I'm going on a blogging break, starting Thursday, and lasting until I've actually finished a few books. I don't know how long that will take. My reading is going much better than it has during the rest of November but Cold Granite is pretty thick and I have no idea how many pages are in One Day in December. So, maybe a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, depending on how I feel about my reading. It helps to step away for a while, now and then. But, I'll be back! 

©2020 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, November 27, 2020

Fiona Friday

I let my two turkeys (belated Thanksgiving reference) play in the DVD cabinet when they got bored and whiny, this week. Unfortunately, it took me a while to think about snapping a picture. Fiona was just emerging from behind the DVD drawer in this shot. 

©2020 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, November 24, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden is a Victoria romance, the story of a man who is a gentleman by ancestry but supports himself by writing penny dreadful stories (Society must not find out!) and a music teacher who has been stealing back former possessions since her father was bankrupted and they lost everything. 

Hollis Darby's father gambled away everything but he still has principles. As a member of the Dread Penny Society, he is tasked with wooing various well-pocketed members of society into donating to their cause, rescuing waifs from the street and giving them a new home and life. They're also seeking a thief, the "Phantom Fox", whom they think to be one of the street children. 

Ana Newport's fall from society is more recent and painful as her father did nothing wrong beyond choosing a business partner who was dishonest. After the loss of his company, their house was emptied of all possessions and he has retreated to a single room, where he sits in the window. Ana teaches music but she has also become a skilled thief, although she only steals items of little but sentimental value. Will Ana get caught? 

Hollis has been besotted with Ana since the moment he first laid eyes on her but she seems hesitant to become involved with anyone. When Hollis's brother needs a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis jumps at the chance to ask her for help. It can't hurt that she will need a ride to and from the house. 

Hollis is also worried about his brother. He's hanging out with the wrong people and possibly gambling, the very thing that caused the loss of the family fortune. And, Ana Newport's father has noticed strange happenings at the home across the street. Are they connected? Hollis suspects that the notorious Four-Finger Mike is running a gambling den near Ana's home. Will Hollis and his friends find a way to infiltrate the house and stop Hollis's brother from ruining the family all over again? 

Interspersed throughout the book are installments of two immensely entertaining penny dreadful stories, one the story of a ghost school where young ghosts learn how not to accidentally fall through the floor, how to haunt properly, and other important ghostly skills. The other seems to parallel the main story without being a carbon copy, the tale of a man who has discovered that things are mysteriously disappearing from his ancestral home. The latter has a surprise twist that I never could have guessed in a million years. 

Highly recommended - Adventurous, captivating, clean romance and so immensely entertaining that I dashed off immediately to add the first book to my wish list. The Gentleman and the Thief is the second installment in a series but it stands alone, although hints are dropped and a few small things left open-ended, clearly to lead into a third book. I have got to chase down a copy of the first in the Dread Penny Society series: The Lady and the Highwayman.

Many thanks to Shadow Mountain for the review copy!

©2020 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, November 20, 2020

Fiona Friday - Look at my paw

Look at it. 

©2020 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, November 18, 2020

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede

I read The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede as an e-book, which means I shocked myself because not long before I'd read Mexican Gothic electronically, as well. You know how I abhor e-books, right? Two in a row? Gasp! That's not likely to happen again, soon, although I am trying to read at least one per month. We'll see how that works out.

The Day the World Came to Town is the story of what happened when American airspace closed after the twin towers were hit, why Gander was chosen as the place to land a large number of planes, how the landing was handled and locals coordinated the effort to care for their huge influx of visitors, and what became of the various planeloads of people in the short and long run, along with a few of their stories. 

The Day the World Came to Town is not particularly well written but I liked it for the stories of kindness and the sense of community, including the way the "Newfies" embraced their guests and went out of their way to provide for their individual needs (like Kosher food for a small group when someone realized they were Orthodox Jews and noticed they weren't eating at all). For a few days, nobody cared about status, country of origin, skin color, etc. It made me want to move to Newfoundland, to be honest. What lovely people and so generous. 

The hard part of the reading was the losses described; and, if you were around on 9/11, it really takes you back to the memories and the emotion. I got teary a lot. 

Recommended - The Day the World Came to Town is slightly dated because it was written soon after 9/11 but it's still a good read. I chose to read it specifically because I'd heard it was an uplifting story and we were on the verge of the presidential election, as I was reading. I needed the escape and it didn't need to be perfect to fit the bill. 

©2020 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, November 17, 2020

The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris

And that's the most bitter thing about love: you can't understand it, measure it — not all its edges and intricacies — until it's gone and the clear print of its negative self is left behind. 

~p. 12 of The Museum of Forgotten Memories (Advance Reader Copy - the final print version may be different)

In The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris, Cate Morris is still grieving the loss of her husband, four years past, and now she's lost her teaching job and her home. But, she has one last option. Her husband Richard was the heir to an estate with a museum full of treasures from around the world, including stuffed animals collected by his grandfather, Col. Lyons-Morris. For reasons he never explained, Richard stopped talking to his grandfather and never returned to their ancestral home; he even dropped part of his double-barreled last name. Although he never returned before his death, their son Leo has the right to take residence in the sprawling mansion. 

So, Cate and Leo pack up their flat in Islington and travel to the home that contains Hatter's Museum of the Wide Wide World, which is now run by a steely woman named Araminta Buchan and a handful of employees and volunteers. It's on its last legs. Within 6 weeks, it's likely that the board that oversees the running of the museum will close it. They would benefit from its liquidation and it's unlikely that funds will be found to prop it up. Can the museum be saved?

Leo looks just like his father but he has Down's Syndrome and Cate has clung to her parenting role. Now that Leo has arrived at his ancestral home, he's finding a new strength and determination. Will Cate be able to let go and allow Leo to grow and thrive, even possibly start a new life with someone else? 

Richard's best friend, Simon, dated Cate before she saw Richard and felt an immediate spark. He has been a kind presence as Leo's godfather and was a rock during the rough years of Richard's decline but spends most of his time out of the country. When Cate falls for a new man, will it last or will she be drawn back to her dear friend? 

Recommended - OK, first . . . you have to know half the reason I accepted this book for review was because of that stunning cover. How could you not want to know what's within its pages? In the preface, the author talks about the real museum in Kent that inspired the story and the kindness of the Major who preserved the animal specimens the museum was known for. I just added a new place to my bucket list. If it's at all like the fictional museum version, it must be worth the visit. 

As to the story, I had some minor issues with it that aren't worth mentioning and a problem with Cate's romance. The man she fell for moved on Cate faster than lightning. I was completely creeped out by the speed of his advances, to be honest, and never trusted him. Whether or not I was correct and he turned out to be trustworthy, I won't say. But, there are many surprises in The Museum of Forgotten Memories. It has a lot of plot twists that I never could have anticipated and only a couple that I managed to figure out with few enough hints that they were probably lucky guesses rather than a case of too much foreshadowing. 

I will say that I found it challenging to like Cate, at first. She was quick to make assumptions, a little haughty, and so heavily weighed down by her experiences that her inner monologue was a bit dark, sad, and judgmental. But, she was willing to confront her issues and apologized when she was wrong. So, she grew on me. And, while I haven't encountered many Down's Syndrome characters, it felt to me like Leo's character had the ring of truth. I had a friend in high school with a brother who had Down's and he always glowed when he spoke of his brother and how everyone loved him. Leo is like that; he has a temper yet he's also a charmer and everyone adores him. 

Obviously, there's a lot to this book. It has a surprising complexity and a gentle wisdom. And, I do love a book set in a sprawling English mansion. 

My thanks to Gallery Books for the review copy!

©2020 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, November 16, 2020

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (clockwise):

  • A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen - from Bethany House via Laurel Ann of Austenprose for tour 
  • Alone in London by Hesba Stretton,
  • The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier, and
  • Fled by Meg Keneally - all purchased

Because I am not so hot at self-control, I don't recall if the purchases were made before or after I told myself I was back on a book-buying ban. On the plus side, I still have some books coming but I don't think I bought anything this week. Maybe one book. Maybe none. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • I is for Illuminati by Chris Vola
  • The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede
  • Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion by James Pray

Wow, that's two week's worth. Yikes, not good. Hope the election thing being over will help with the rest of the month's reading. 

Currently reading:

  • The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris

I'm going to stop even mentioning the Spanish Flu book till I've finished it. It's been pouting on the bedside table for weeks, now. The Museum of Forgotten Memories is a tour book and I'm scheduled to review it tomorrow, but then I think I only have one more tour book and one ARC, after that, so I'll be free to read off my shelves exclusively, soon. Funny thing about The Museum of Forgotten Memories: I keep forgetting the title. Hilarious, since it's got the word "forgotten" in the title. I am loving it, so far. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Not thrilled about the current direction of the pandemic stats (straight up). I just returned to Facebook after a 3-month absence for my sanity during the election season and found out that I had one friend recovering, one just diagnosed, one who has a brother on a ventilator, and a cousin of mine was in the hospital, all COVID-19. Today, yet another friend said she's been diagnosed positive. Partly for that reason, we're having an early Thanksgiving with Kiddo and daughter-in-law. We're not much in the mood for a big meal so we're doing hors d'oeuvres and veggies. No turkey and stuffing, nothing heavy. And, we'll be eating outdoors, not hugging, and wearing masks when we're not eating. It's a nuisance but dying is worse. 

We've finished the first and only (at this point) season of Avenue 5, watched a couple Hallmark movies (The Mistletoe Promise and Campfire Kiss -- I liked the former and found the couple had zippo chemistry in the latter), and a lot of news. Husband normally is not big on watching the news but even he was glued to the TV as the vote counts came in. Hopefully, this election will lead to a little calm and the return of a functioning government. Fingers crossed. We certainly need it for the COVID effort. 

©2020 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, November 13, 2020

Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion by James Pray and a Fiona Friday pic

It took me over a week to finish a single book, thanks to election stress. Anyone else dealing with this? I think it's fading. Fortunately, Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion was a good book to spend time with. I loved the main character and enjoyed every minute of this exciting middle grade book. In fact, I really, really want the author to continue Jonesy's adventures. 

Jonesy Archer and 17 other youngsters have been stranded on the remaining portion of a remote science station called Canary Station since it was attacked and mostly destroyed, 3 years ago. When the bad guys return, drawn by the signature from Jonesy's special power, her "flux", they're unable to find her so they take all of her friends instead, hoping to lure her into the legion in an exchange. 

Determined to save her friends, Jonesy figures out a way to run for help. Nobody has the strength and technology to battle the Gray Legion. But Jonesy's power is indeed special. Will she find a way to control her power and locate her friends to rescue them (preferably without giving herself up in exchange) before it's too late? 

Highly recommended - There's a lot more to the story that I'm leaving out, of course, like how the children survived the attack and the 3 years alone, how Jonesy manages to escape, and what happens after. It's a 400-page book and action-packed! I seriously hope the author is working on making this a continuing series and I would love to see it turned into a movie. 

Bonus: Jonesy is 11 years old and while she's smart and tough, the author let her be emotional. She actually cries quite a bit. As a person who was quick to tears at that age, I really appreciated the realistic emotions. 

Many thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy! 

I didn't take many photos of the kitties, this week, but I did get one of Isabel with Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion while I was reading! Happy Friday!

©2020 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, November 11, 2020

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia has been on my wish list for a while and I've read seemingly a gazillion reviews of it, so I was really excited when the e-book went on sale at a reasonable price. I may be terrible about getting around to reading e-books but desperation is very motivating and I really truly wanted to read it. 

Noémi is a party girl who lives in Mexico City in a sprawling, modern home, with her wealthy father. When she receives a rambling, incoherent note from the cousin who used to live with them, her father says she must go find out what's wrong with Catalina. Noémi doesn't really want to go but she knows it's the right thing to do. 

She's met at the train station by Catalina's husband and taken on a long drive up into the mountains to their remote home. This is where the "gothic" bit comes in. The home is an old mansion in poor repair and Catalina lives with her husband's family, including the patriarch of the family, a cousin, and the cousin's mother. There's mold on the walls and the family has bizarre rules that they expect Noémi to abide by (no talking during meals, no smoking, no bothering her cousin unless they feel she's okay to receive visitors). Catalina appears to be sick but maybe more in spirit than in health; her personality is entirely different from the carefree, happy soul of pre-marriage. But, Noémi isn't sure what's wrong and she's determined to get to the bottom of it. 

There's much more to the story, of course, including a growing attraction to cousin Francis and weird dreams that may be caused by the house, itself.

Recommended but not a favorite - Although I never fell massively in love with the plot, I liked about the first 2/3 of Mexican Gothic for the atmosphere, the creepy people, the weird dreams, and the questions that all this strangeness brought up. Why did Catalina's personality change? What was in the potion she had Noémi fetch from town? Was Catalina's husband just imprisoning her so he could keep her money or was there more to the story? What was up with the patriarch of the family and his need for silence? What was the reason for the murder in the family, years ago? What happened to all the other people who died near the house or in the family's long-closed silver mine?

See, I told you there was more to the story. Around the 2/3 mark, Mexican Gothic got a bit too weird for me and I considered giving up. Instead, I flipped to the end of the book and read a few pages to see if it looked like the book was worth sticking out. The ending looked promising so I continued, but I confess I pushed myself to read faster. The reason for all the strange happenings was just a little too bizarre for my taste. I did find the ending satisfying, though, so I have no regrets. And, I loved Noémi. She's a great, strong female character who was devoted to Catalina enough to refuse to leave, even when things became seriously weird and even dangerous. I also liked Francis and was rooting for Catalina, Francis, and Noémi to escape. 

My friend Brittanie started reading Mexican Gothic a few days after I did so we got to discuss it, which always adds to the reading experience. So glad I've been able to occasionally find people to discuss books with; I am missing my F2F group but the hole they fill in my life has been kept nicely plugged by discussion with other online friends and I so appreciate that. 

©2020 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, November 10, 2020

I is for Illuminati by Chris Vola

I is for Illuminati by Chris Vola is an A-Z guide to conspiracy theories, a coffee table style book with an opening poem for each letter, a spread of text — usually 2 pages but sometimes a tad more about the particular topic (aliens, chem trails, the big bad government wanting to kill us all with vaccines), and a list of other things that start with the same letter, not necessarily all conspiracy-related. The author mentions both those who've espoused a theory and those who've debunked it within in the text. 

My only problem with this book is the fact that occasionally the writing is so tongue-in-cheek I had a little trouble figuring out what the author was serious about and when he was joking. To be honest, I don't consider that a big issue because I is for Illuminati is probably best for sparking conversation rather than as, say, a reference book (it's definitely meant to entertain, not go into elaborate detail). Here's an interior shot, with apologies for the poor quality:

It was actually the fact that I have a friend who has fallen for the QAnon conspiracy theories that made me sit up and take notice of this book when it was offered to me for review. It was . . . kind of soothing to read a book in which such things are treated exactly as what they are: conspiracies, often without even a shred of evidence (although he pretty much had me convinced that aliens are real; I can't say why). 

Recommended - A fun book to set out on your coffee table in the hopes of starting some fun conversation or a nice gift for someone who can use a smile. Obviously, the midst of a pandemic is not the best time to be having friends over for tea and conversation (unless you're outdoors, of course, and wearing a mask) so it's currently best for enjoying with those in your bubble or for gift-giving purposes. Yes, I definitely have Christmas on my mind. 

My thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy! 

©2020 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.