Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream by Laura Driscoll and Robert Eberz

I could have skipped reviewing Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream entirely. It's just a cute little book that I got in the hopes that someday my grandkids will come for a visit and need some reading material between the middle grade and picture book levels. But, nah. I like reviewing everything.

In Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream, Splat and his class go on a field trip to an ice cream factory. When disaster happens, they have to work hard to save the day. 

I keep coming back to the word "cute". Well, I Scream for Ice Cream is a beginning reader, after all, and meant to be enticing to little ones learning to read. I bought it primarily because it's a Level 1 reader with a cat on the cover. And, I did love the illustrations. 

As to the story, it's nothing brilliant and there's no big lesson to be learned unless it's about teamwork making things go more quickly. But, it does teach words with "eam" in them (scream, beam, dream, cream, etc.) and I think rhyming words/learning to sound them out is the easiest way to teach reading. I had one child whose teacher chose to go with teaching totally random words rather than focusing on sound and those first couple of years of reading were rough for him, so we worked on phonics at home and things improved. 

Recommended - Adorable, expressive illustrations and a fun story meant to teach children about words that rhyme with cream. Especially fun for cat-loving youngsters and their parents. 

Note: The cover says this is "Based on the bestselling books by Rob Scotton." I'm unfamiliar with Rob Scotton but I opted to use the author and illustrator (interior illustrations only; the cover art is by Rick Farley) that are written inside the book in the subject line, rather than writing whose books it was based upon. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, August 02, 2021

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (I did warn you a large pile was coming, right?):

Top photo (clockwise):

  • Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream by Laura Driscoll, Robert Eberz, and Rick Farley - purchased 
  • People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry - Sent by friend
  • Aven Green Baking Machine by Dusti Bowling and Gina Perry - from Sterling Children's Books for review
  • Fox 8 by George Saunders - purchased
The two purchased books are books I already read and forgot to add to the big stack, which . . . are you ready? 

Bottom photo (top to bottom)

  • Klawde, Evil Alien Warlord Cat #3: The Spacedog Cometh by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth
  • The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
  • Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
  • The Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner
  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
  • When We Were Young and Brave by Hazel Gaynor
  • The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli
  • Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson
  • The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis 
  • The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
  • The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon
  • Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
  • The Time in Between by Maria Dueñas
  • A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier
  • The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck
  • Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
  • Poking a Dead Frog by Mike Sacks
  • It's the End of the World as I Know It by Matthew Landis
  • Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
  • Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Holy Toledo, right? Well, I told myself that it was OK to not bother narrowing down the number of books I tossed in my cart because it was a one-time thing and I wouldn't be buying books (apart from those exceptions to my buying restrictions) for the rest of the year but then . . . I was wrong about that, actually. I have a second order coming, mostly the middle grade books I've been craving. But, I'm done! Really, I am. I'm back in book-buying jail. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
  • The Wartime Sisters by Linda Cohen Loigman
  • Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream by Laura Driscoll, Robert Eberz, and Rick Farley
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • Aven Green Baking Machine by Dusti Bowling
  • Fox 8 by George Saunders
  • When We Were Young by Richard Roper

This last two weeks were good reading weeks. Splat the Cat is just a little "I Can Read" book for children that I threw in the cart with the thought that it would be nice to have a couple of easy-to-read books for when my grandchildren visit (if they ever do) but I had to read it, obviously, and I enjoyed it. Fox 8 is another one that should have been in the big stack but which I'd already read and then forgot to put in the stack when I photographed it. Aven Green Baking Machine was another fun Aven Green book — she is such a great character. I've already pre-posted my review of Aven Green Baking Machine for release week. The Girl with the Louding Voice was my favorite of this batch but honestly, I really loved them all. 

Currently reading:

  • No idea. I'm between reads. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

I dragged my feet on this but with less than a week to go, I messaged Simon Van Booy about his month-long writing workshop to ask if he had any openings left and he still had an open slot! It starts today and I'm both excited and terrified (because there's a requirement to read your work aloud). To prepare, I cleaned and tidied my office-slash-library and, in the process, I came across some of my old writings. I sat down and read an unfinished novel that I don't even remember writing and, huh, it's not bad. I need help plotting and developing characters but it had some good little pieces of intrigue in it, I thought, and I found myself thinking, "I have no idea where this is headed." Unfortunately, that was probably also true when I was writing it but I'm hoping that this class will help me figure out how to finish some of those story starts that stalled. This one's a wee bit old. I mentioned a character who got rid of her Jennifer Aniston hairdo and my MC still had a landline in addition to her cell, which made me chuckle. 

I've also been busy taking more online painting courses (just watched a free one and need to go out and give the project a whirl) and I'm unsure if I'll be able to fit in the reading and painting I like to do regularly, plus blogging. I guess we'll see how intense the workshop turns out to be and I'll work from there. I like being just a little overwhelmed, but if the blog is a little quieter it's just going to be a temporary thing. 

We are having some interesting kitty challenges. Isabel had to go to the vet for a claw that grew into her paw pad. There was hissing, spitting, howling, and . . . after the vet put a towel over her head to get the last claws trimmed without anyone dying a horrible slashing death . . . poor Izzy's bladder went. She was really terrified. On the plus side, she forgave me immediately and even held her paw up a couple of times in search of sympathy after she had stopped limping. She is so funny. 

Fiona has lost weight and will have to return for tests. She's lost enough that the vet said, "It's not nothing" and it will have to be investigated. She's just as perky and happy as ever so I'm hoping it's something minor and, if not, something that can be medicated into submission for a few years. Please cross your fingers and toes for her. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Fiona Friday - Where's the complaint department?

I would like to submit a complaint. My human put me in a space capsule and took me to the bad place. I object. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

In The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman, the author explores a difficult relationship between two sisters and the challenges of being a woman. It's really a sister book, in my humble opinion, not a WWII book, although the Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts makes an interesting historical setting and its role in WWII appears to have been important. 

I'm not usually a fan of sister books because they tend to be gushy friendship stories. The Wartime Sisters is different and I like that because I prefer the conflict. Ruth and Millie are opposites in many ways. Ruth, the elder of the two, is envious of her pretty younger sister. She's very intelligent, good with numbers, but plain and narrow. Millie has curly red hair and is gorgeous and curvy but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. From an early age, their mother shows a clear preference for Millie, expecting her to marry well and making it far too clear to Ruth that her mother has neither a particular interest in her nor any great expectations for marriage. Being snubbed by one's own mother has harsh effects; Ruth becomes bitter and resentful.

Millie doesn't understand her sister's antipathy. She's blind to the fact that male attention is immediately shifted from Ruth to Millie when she's around and doesn't encourage men to act the way they do. She even tries to talk up her sister when marriageable men are around. 

Eventually, both sisters marry and WWII arrives. Ruth is living at the Armory in Springfield when her sister says her husband has enlisted, gone missing, and then writes that "he's gone". Feeling guilty over something she did after their parents' accident, a few years back, Ruth invites Millie and her son to move in with her family. But, the old resentment is still there and they skirt around each other. Will Ruth and Millie ever learn to get along? Will Millie be able to pull herself out of poverty and make a life for herself and her son, Michael? What secrets are the sisters keeping from each other?

Recommended - While I picked up The Wartime Sisters because of the word "wartime" in the title, not the "sisters" aspect, I really enjoyed The Wartime Sisters for the fact that it felt more realistic to me than most sister books and I didn't mind the fact that the war is merely a backdrop, apart from the details of the Armory. I also liked the fact that the family is Jewish so you got a little bit of the father speaking what I assume is Yiddish, the holidays and food that are important and Judaism. I loved that peek into the Jewish culture. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Waiting . . .

No review today because we're just sitting here, waiting for the new sofa to arrive. This little gal will go flying under a bed when the delivery guys knock. 

This seems like a good opportunity to show off a full view of the "good shelves". Unfortunately, the phone camera is all I've got, right now, so you can't see the books all that well. But, aren't the shelves pretty?

Izzy's a great meowdel. She also let me take her picture with my most recently finished read (as of last night). 

Happy Tuesday! Hopefully, I'll have a review finished and posted early tomorrow. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

I've been seeing a lot of [mostly gushy] reviews of Colleen Hoover's books since I joined Instagram, a couple years ago. So many of my IG friends swear by her!  So I had to give one of her books a try. 

There are two interconnected storylines in Regretting You, the connection being family. 34-year-old Morgan married the wrong guy but she's happily married and close to her 17-year-old daughter Clara, the center of her universe, although she's starting to think it's time to go back and finish her education. The man she felt more in tune with as a teenager but didn't end up ever even dating is back in her life, father to her sister's baby boy and planning to marry the mother of his child. Morgan doesn't want to live a life of regrets so she's trying very hard to tolerate this complication. 

Clara is a sweet teenager and a good student with a devoted best friend but there's one boy who acts like he'll be poisoned if he gets too near her. When she stops her car to ask him if he wants a ride on a very hot day and he asks her to help move something, she discovers that he's actually a pretty nice guy. But, why has he been avoiding her at school if he's so friendly when they're alone?

When tragedy strikes and a betrayal comes to light, Morgan and Clara find themselves at odds and turning to the men who are willing to be there for them. 

Highly recommended - I love the "married the wrong guy" trope because it's always so fascinating. How can the couple who belong together get along while fighting back feelings? Is there a way they can end up together without everyone getting hurt in the process? Well, in this case, the complications are a little different than just learning to get along as friends. But, I think if I share any part of the tragedy/betrayal plot points it'll ruin the book for anyone who is interested, so I won't. 

What I will say is that Regretting You is believably emotional and I particularly liked the way Clara's feelings were portrayed as her life is pretty much spinning out of control. My only problem with the book was that the men were too perfect and, in fact, a bit too similar. And, the grief was hard. I've had a loss like Clara's when I was fairly young and it brought back the memories so it was a teary read for me. 

I have a copy of Verity on my reader so that will be the next Colleen Hoover book I read. I'm glad my Instagram friends brought this author to my attention!

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Fiona Friday - In the bubble

Fi and I went on a bit of an unfortunate adventure, yesterday. We still go to the same vet we went to before moving, now 30 miles away. Till yesterday, we've never had a problem. But there was apparently an accident on the highway and we only made it 2/3 of the way. It wasn't clearing up and I got tired of edging forward at 2 mph so we got off the highway at the first available exit and returned home. 

I will say this . . . when she doesn't have to actually go into the vet's office, Fiona doesn't mind the ride! She was very chipper when we got home. She complained for a few miles but then made herself at home in her little carrier. I guess we'll try again next week.  

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

When I heard Where the Crawdads Sing was our July selection for F2F group, I actually said, "Ugh," aloud. I did not want to read this book. The sheer volume of hype had turned me off and the few reviews I read didn't make it sound appealing to me. I strongly considered skipping this book group selection. After all, I'm on a book-buying ban and planned only to buy those I'm most interested in for book group. 

What changed my mind? I looked up the book and it was reasonably priced. At that moment, I didn't want to go hunt down a copy at the library so I just hit the button and voilá, it appeared in my mailbox. I miss having bookstores nearby but can't deny that modern book ordering can be kinda cool. I read it immediately (in June) because I had been planning to read Gone With the Wind in July since the beginning of the year. 

At first, I was sure my "Ugh," was going to be accurate. I spent the first 60 pages hating the book because I was so angry at every character who abandoned the main character, Kya, aka the Marsh Girl. And, as I mentioned in yesterday's review of Gone With the Wind (and many others), I'm not a fan of dialogue written in vernacular unless its use is very limited. At one point, I mentioned the fact that I just wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish. Thank goodness a friend on Instagram informed me that it improves. 

I'm not sure when I got to the point that I couldn't bear to put Where the Crawdads Sing down but I was up a tad late on the night I finished and totally gripped. I was angry, skeptical, teary, happy briefly, then teary again. What an emotional ride. 

Recommended - While there were things I disliked about Where the Crawdads Sing and things that I found implausible (to the point that I was visualizing the author sitting with pen and paper, plotting), I loved the naturalist aspect of the book and eventually the book became impossible to put down. I had to know what was going to happen to Kya, especially whether or not she would ever end up with the love of her life. The murder mystery was not nearly as interesting to me and I'm not actually sure how I feel about the ending. 

Unfortunately, I did not feel up to driving the 30 miles to book group so I can't speak to what others in my F2F group thought, darn it. I was really looking forward to this meeting because I think there's lots to talk about in Where the Crawdads Sing. So, I'd recommend it as a discussion book, even not knowing how the discussion went. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

What is there to say about Gone With the Wind that hasn't already been said? I've been thinking about this a lot. Since it took me a full two weeks to read, my posts about it at Instagram were just updates about where I was in the story and that seems like a good place to start. 

Here are the updates I wrote throughout the reading of Gone With the Wind:

  • 5 days into my reading, the Yankees are coming, Prissy don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies, and Scarlett is frankly pissed that Melanie survived childbirth. 
  • As God is her witness, Scarlett will never be hungry again, or so she says. Not sure if that's really working out for her. I'm so involved that last night I found myself thinking, "Damn Yankees!" I was angry with them for stealing food and valuables, shredding the furniture, and causing everyone but Scarlett, her son, and Melanie's baby to hightail it to the swamp with whatever they could carry. Also, Melanie is tough under that sweet exterior.
  • I passed the halfway point in Gone With the Wind two days ago but yesterday I was so glum I didn't feel like reading at all. I declared that it was Intermission and went to bed early. Back to reading, tonight. Scarlett is wearing her mama's green velvet curtains and I keep thinking of Carol Burnett's hilarious skit in a dress made of curtains with the curtain rod still in them. 
  • Getting there, slowly but surely. There's a lot more that's not in the movie, the farther you get into the novel. I'm enjoying the newness and depth of these added details but I'm also starting to get fidgety, wanting to finish. The funniest/weirdest thing about my Gone With the Wind experience? While I'm reading, the movie theme song is almost always playing in my head. Strange but true. 
  • Rhett and Scarlett are not getting along. Rhett thinks Scarlett has abominable taste in home decorations and Scarlett doesn't care because it's so fun to have money and flaunt it. I hope to finish by tomorrow but might go to bed early and ruin my plan. 
  • FINISHED!! I hope to rewatch the movie soon. I read somewhere that what's most amazing about Gone With the Wind is the fact that Margaret Mitchell managed to make people care about such an unlikable heroine. Scarlett is cunning and courageous, though, in addition to her negative qualities. And Rhett, Melly, Ashley . . . so many fascinating characters. I will remember this book fondly forever. 

Highly recommended: a new favorite - Reading this saga was not just fun, it was an experience. I gave Gone With the Wind five stars. Captivating, informative about the way Southerners thought and behaved and the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction, absolutely addictive reading. 

I can see why Gone With the Wind is considered problematic, now, and why it's also The Great American Novel. Like most other novels with vernacular dialogue, I sometimes became frustrated because those bits were so difficult to read. But, It was simply one of the most engrossing reads of my life so I can't take off even a fraction of a point. 

It took me two days but I did manage to watch the entire movie version of Gone With the Wind across Saturday and Sunday evenings. It's been ages since I've seen it and it was a different experience viewing the film after reading the book. Instead of just sitting back and enjoying it, I was analyzing the differences between book and movie, like the fact that Scarlett's first two children don't exist at all in the movie. 

Obviously, a lot of material had to be cut out of the book to make even a 3-hour film but I was surprised at how faithful the movie is to the book. Instead of cutting out too many important scenes, what David O. Selznick did was boil down many of the plot points to a single scene. So, instead of having Scarlett's long drive to Tara past burned-out mansions, as in the book, the movie shows a single ruined mansion, Twelve Oaks. This nicely ties back to the barbecue at Twelve Oaks where Scarlett surrounded herself with her beaux to try to make Ashley jealous enough to ditch Melanie. Spoiler: It didn't work. 

I like the way the movie ends on a high note, with Scarlett determined to win Rhett back. Even as a child, I was fine with that ending because I remember just believing Scarlett would succeed. I went ahead and got them back together mentally and I was satisfied. 

Back to the book:  I keep using the word "experience" to describe the reading of Gone With the Wind because it truly was. There's so much to the book. Scarlett is both heroic and hideously selfish. Rhett is a rogue but he also has a heart and adores children. Melanie is weakened by childbirth permanently but she's tough as nails when strength of spirit is required. Ashley is so much nerdier than I realized and a terrible businessman. The war is described with some detail but made palatable by the fact that it's told through the eyes of the people of Atlanta as they become aware of what's happening or through Scarlett's eyes as she ends up nursing soldiers against her will. Seriously, what an amazing read. 

Have you read Gone With the Wind? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell

They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell is a fictional pandemic tale that takes place in 1918. I know not everyone can tolerate reading a pandemic novel during a pandemic but I routinely read about emerging diseases and wasn't horribly surprised by COVID-19, so I've had no problem reading both fiction and nonfiction about pandemics throughout the last year-and-a-half. 

In They Came Like Swallows, you view the changes in daily life, the annoyances, the rising fear, and tragic personal loss caused by the spread of Spanish Flu through the eyes of the two Morison children and one of their parents.

Stylistically, They Came Like Swallows reads a lot like a Persephone book. It was published in 1937, so that should come as no surprise. Both the writing and the storyline did surprise me in many ways, though. 

Viewing a pandemic through the eyes of a young child who overhears snippets of conversations, an older child who is frustrated by school closure and the inability to play with friends, a grieving adult, and others around them made for an unusual and well-rounded view of pandemic life through the lens of a single family. 

Highly recommended - There are so many parallels to what we've gone through, recently. There's even a man who complains about church closures. It was an eye-opening lesson in how things don't change. Heartbreaking but an exceptional read and there is, fortunately, a glimmer of hope at the end. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • When We Were Young by Richard Roper - from G. P. Putnam's Sons for review
  • The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden - from Shadow Mountain for tour

When We Were Young by Richard Roper was, I think, the second book I've requested from Shelf Awareness in 2021, although after that request I promptly forgot what I signed up for, since there's no guarantee you'll receive a book you request. I was excited when I saw Richard Roper's name. How Not to Die Alone was a favorite in 2019. 

The Merchant and the Rogue is the third in the "Dread Penny Society" series. I have not read the first book but I loved The Gentleman and the Thief so much that it was actually the offer to tour The Merchant and the Rogue (combined with the usual itch to write) that convinced me it was time to return from my blogging break. 

If you look closely you'll see that When We Were Young is slightly crushed. We have a new mail carrier and damn, she is lazy. The previous mail carrier would walk to the porch and put parcels in a place where they couldn't be easily seen from the street (or I'd meet him at the mailbox if I saw that he was reaching for a parcel, since I can see the street from my desk). The new gal will actually get out of her truck to get some leverage and force parcels into the mailbox, whether they fit or not. Frustrating. The book is not the first thing she's damaged.

Books finished since Tuesday Twaddle:

  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

It took me two weeks (including a couple days off when I was too tired or grumpy to read) but wow, I am so happy to have finally read Gone With the Wind. I will try to fit in a review, this week. 

Currently reading:

  • Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

I have bookmarks in at least 2 or 3 other books but I'm just focusing on the one book, right now. 

Posts since Tuesday Twaddle:

Kinda shows what a break is good for. I've managed to post every day since my return. I'm 3 books away from catching up on book reviews but hopefully I'll keep finishing books at a decent pace. I refuse to think of this as a bad reading year. It's off, for sure, but I've read a lot of terrific books and I'm quite content now that I'm used to my current slower pace (although I hope I will eventually return to my normal reading pace). 

In other news:

I didn't think I'd be able to watch Gone With the Wind — which we still own on DVD, thanks to the fact that I'm a packrat — this weekend but Huzzybuns and I were both feeling sluggish, yesterday, so he napped while I watched the first half of the movie and then I fixed some popcorn and did a couple chores before starting the second half. I'm not finished; the movie is 3 hours long, after all. But, Scarlett just gave birth to Bonnie Blue and Rhett is beside himself with joy so I'd say there's no more than a quarter left. 

The only other thing we've watched is Loki and I haven't gotten around to viewing the finale, yet, because Wednesday has been "Loki Night" and Huz was away on business till Friday. I'm typing this early on Sunday because we've been having daily storms and yet another one is potentially headed our way, so maybe I'll have viewed it by the time this posts. Ah, cue the thunder, right as I'm writing about the next storm. 

It has been oppressively humid because of all the rain and our pot gardens are already tapped out, this year, mostly a failure — especially by comparison with last year, since 2020 had the advantage of being surprisingly pleasant for our area and there were two of us at home to weed and pluck and water. I know it sounds strange but we got a lot of enjoyment out of Huz being stuck at home for the pandemic. 

Speaking of which, we're back to masking up in spite of being fully vaccinated as our state is only 33% fully-vaxxed and this week's daily average number of new cases was literally double that of two weeks ago. I had a doctor's appointment at which my doc said they've had cases of Delta breaking through the vaccine but those who are fully vaccinated don't get as sick as those who are unvaccinated, so that's nice to know. 

Oh, and I almost forgot . . . I did give in and place a Book Closeouts order after seeing the third book in the Klawde series was available (my reviews of Klawde, Books 1 and 2, here) and it ended up being a big one because I figured if I'm only going to place a single order the entire year, it ought to be good. I'll share those books when they arrive, of course. There's a good bit of variety. There are 6 Klawde books in the series, now, and I loved the first two so much that I will try to eventually acquire them all. 

Hope everyone is having a happy summer!

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Fiona Friday - Twofers

I've already posted the photo of Fiona in a basket to Instagram so you get two photos for the price of one, today. First the basket photo:

And, my Ma Bell cat, Izzy, trying to "Reach out and touch someone." You have to be of a certain age to get that, I suppose. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

This review could have gone in the mini reviews as I have even less to say about it than the ones I posted about, yesterday, amazingly. Not that that's a bad thing. 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han is the story of a 16-year-old, Lara Jean Song Covey, who has written letters to the boys she "loved" (I would use the words "had a crush on") in order to help her let go of them. She has kept the letters in a hatbox given to her by her late mother but when the letters are mysteriously mailed to all of the boys to whom they're written, she is humiliated. 

The story is also a romance but there are two boys competing for her attention so To All the Boys I've Loved Before contains a bit of the dreaded love triangle trope. But, it's such an upbeat read with lots of little surprises that I found it almost impossible to put down. I loved the relationships between her family members in particular, for better or worse. 

Highly recommended - If you love a fun, fluffy YA, this is the book for you. I particularly liked it because Lara Jean was innocent and naive in a way that I was at the same age. So, naturally, I found her likable. 🤪

I haven't seen the film and don't own any more of the books in the series so I won't be able to read on, for now. If you've seen the movie, please let me know what you thought of it!

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mini reviews: Summer by Edith Wharton, Remo: The Adventure Begins by Murphy and Sapir, and The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

I don't have a lot to say about any of these, so they get the mini treatment. 

I read Summer by Edith Wharton after Brittanie mentioned it in our online book group and I just happened to spot my copy as I was walking from one room to the next. Thanks, Brittanie!

Summer is kind of difficult to describe but it's about a girl named Charity who works in the library of her small town, lives with a man who took her away from the mountain people out of kindness, and yearns for a more exciting life. 

Brittanie mentioned that the book was considered scandalous at the time it was published but, of course, the mentions of women of ill repute and a neighbor who was forced to go to the Big City for an abortion are only referred to in a vague way. They're obvious and yet obscured by the writing style of the time period. 

Charity, herself, ends up getting into trouble and throughout the book you feel like shaking her. She's aware of the scandal of her friend's sister's pregnancy but naive enough to put her trust in the wrong man. 

I enjoyed Summer but felt like the ending was completely implausible. Still, I'd recommend it. Wharton's writing is stunning. I need to dig through my shelves and see if I can find the other book I know I have by her, The Glimpses of the Moon. I'm not sure if I have any other Whartons but I'll be keeping an eye out. 

Remo: The Adventure Begins by Murphy and Sapir is a companion novel to the 80s movie and I chose to read it after reading Hamnet. Because Hamnet was both melancholy and character-centric, I was in the mood for something plot-driven, pulp-fictiony, even a little stupid. 

Well, I got the stupid part. It actually takes a lot longer to get to the action scenes than I expected. The movie is better, although it's actually pretty bad, too, all "government out to get us so a shadowy organization must be created to kill dangerous people." The authors were imaginative but what they conjured up is ridiculous. 

As to Remo, he's a decent character and I particularly liked the strength of Major Fleming, who was played by Kate Mulgrew in the movie. I just wish the authors had managed to fit in more action. The movie does a good job of portraying the training of Remo Williams and his relationship to his Korean teacher. But, the book portrayal is actually a bit offensive. In hindsight, I doubt I'd have liked the movie as much if I knew early on that the role of the Korean teacher was played by a white guy. 

At any rate, unless you really are in the mood for something terrible, I do not recommend Remo: The Adventure Begins. Save yourself. Read something else. Anything. 

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante is a stand-alone novel by the author of the Neapolitan series (which I have not yet read). 

When the main character's husband abruptly announces that he's leaving her and walks out the door, she descends into madness and experiences the stages of grief before a tremendous climax leads to acceptance of her new life as a single parent. 

What a crazy novel. I gave it 3.5 stars for excellent craftsmanship and was particularly impressed with the way she built to the climax. I especially liked the scene in which her son is ill and so is the dog and it falls to her young daughter to try to bring down the fever of her big brother because Mom can't cope. I'm going to write a sentence about that favorite scene and the climax for posterity but make the text white so it won't be visible and ruin it for anyone (but you can highlight it if you'd like).

When the dog is poisoned, her son becomes violently ill, and the main character can neither get out of the apartment because of a difficult lock or call out for help because both her cellphone and home phone are non-functional, she finds her daughter putting wet pennies on her son's forehead to cool his fever. 

The biggest problem I had with The Days of Abandonment was that it was just too vulgar for my taste and I had trouble liking the heroine, even when she began to finally started to cope with life as a single mother, so I'm iffy on recommendation. And, yet, you can't help but notice the author's skill and it certainly made me look forward to the Neapolitan series even more. So I don't regret reading it (but it's going into the donation box). 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell is about the death of Shakespeare's only son, mostly told through the eyes of his wife Agnes (a form of Anne) and the child. But, it's not just about Hamnet. The story alternates between Hamnet's final day and how Agnes and William Shakespeare met, fell in love, and married and theorizes about how Hamnet's death may have influenced Shakespeare's writing of Hamlet

In Hamnet, Maggie O'Farrell has imagined an Agnes with a finely-tuned sixth sense and a skill for healing with herbs. Shakespeare himself has a lesser role. He is the love interest, the abused child, the unhappy young man, the absentee father. He has a desk where he writes feverishly when he can, but he's stuck working a job in which he's not suited, for a good portion of the book. When he finally is able to do what he chooses, he's mostly out of the picture. 

I love Maggie O'Farrell's writing. Hamnet is melancholy of tone and the child's death is heartbreaking but the story is skillfully crafted and ends, fortunately, on an uplifting note. 

I bought my copy of Hamnet because it was my F2F book group's June selection but it just happened to be the one book I most regretted not ordering before the end of the year and the beginning of my book-buying ban. So I was pleased to have an excuse to buy it! Unfortunately, the book group discussion was not great. Nobody seemed to understand what the author was trying to portray and I don't think anyone else had read O'Farrell before. There is an author's note, at least in the copy I have, so I was surprised that the other group members didn't understand that it's fiction based on the real-life characters but with some alterations from the commonly-known or assumed story, based on her research, along with the magical touch of her own imagination. 

Highly recommended - A story of family dynamics, unique personalities, finding love, discovering your passion, and how very difficult it is to break through grief. While Hamnet is a work of fiction, I suspect it is very well researched. O'Farrell makes you feel, smell, and hear the time in which the book takes place. Marvelously done. 

Hamnet was my third read by O'Farrell and I'm so impressed with her that I've started an O'Farrell section on my shelves, although I don't know what I did with the first book, Instructions for a Heatwave. I may have passed that one on. I enjoyed it but it didn't blow me away like the last two O'Farrells I've read, the other being I Am, I Am, I Am. Click on the titles if you're interested in reading the other reviews. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is, like The Martian, another "guy all alone in outer space" story. But, in this case he's a junior high science teacher who has a humorous inability to swear because he's used to substituting words like "fudge" for the worse option. Also, he's the only man who can save Earth. If he fails, oh well. Earth was nice while it lasted. 

As the book opens the hero, Dr. Ryland Grace, is waking up inside a space ship. He has no idea where he is, how he got there, or what he's supposed to do. Throughout the book, his memory gradually returns and the reader goes back and forth between what's happening in the space ship and what led to the crisis that caused Dr. Grace — who was a consultant, not an astronaut — to end up on this mission. 

There is an alien encounter in Project Hail Mary and it is absolutely delightful. You will fall in love with the alien and maybe cry a bit at the ending. Both the type of book ("guy stuck alone in space figuring out how to fix things") and the entertainment value are more along the lines of The Martian than Artemis, the latter of which I know people found disappointing (myself included, but I liked it more than most). 

As in The Martian, there is a ton of math and science to wade through. This time, though, there are no potatoes. Just thought you'd like to know that. If you enjoyed The Martian, you'll love Project Hail Mary

Highly recommended - Loved it, laughed out loud many times, didn't even come close to following all the math and science but (again, as in my last review) I was able to read between the lines enough to get the gist of most of it. I gave Project Hail Mary a full five stars because I was immensely entertained. I'm hoping this Weir book will be turned into a mini series. I think there's a bit too much that happens to cut it down to movie length.

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, July 09, 2021

Fiona Friday - Boxed

Click on image to enlarge. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang is a collection of short stories that I purchased after hearing that the movie Arrival was based upon "Story of Your Life" by Chiang. I read the book as part of my goal to read a short story per day. 

There are some wonderful stories in Stories of Your Life and Others but what jumped out at me the most was both the intelligent writing and uniqueness. Ted Chiang is so far above me. But, while I'm not brilliant at math and science — both of which feature heavily in his stories — I'm able to read between the lines. And, if you can read between the lines, this collection is fabulous. 

As expected, "Story of Your Life" was my favorite. I love the movie Arrival and found that the movie stuck pretty closely to the short story. There were some changes, of course, but they weren't so drastic that it would be impossible to float freely between the two without getting ticked about what Hollywood did to ruin the story. They didn't ruin it, although they made a significant change to the story of the main character's daughter and I do prefer the written version to the screenplay in that regard.

There was only one story in this collection that I disliked as I was reading it. But, I ended up appreciating it for the way the hero outsmarted the character who had dire motives. 

Highly recommended - If you're a short story fan and you like unusual, sharply written and even somewhat difficult sci-fi storylines, this is definitely the book for you. I found some of the stories very challenging to read but absolutely worth the effort. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue

I think the best way to describe this book is to go back to my old format (of about a dozen years ago) and talk about what I liked and disliked. 

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue is set at a Catholic boarding school on the edge of the ocean in England. Louisa has just arrived at the school as the book opens. As a scholarship recipient, she's quickly made an outcast. Most of the girls are wealthy and frown on the addition of scholarship students. But, Victoria is an outcast, herself, (for different reasons) and welcoming, if a bit strange. Victoria and Louisa become fast friends. 

25 years later, a journalist is tasked with finding out what happened to Louisa after she and a young, handsome art teacher (upon whom pretty much everyone had a crush) vanished. 

What I liked: 

I liked the gothic feel of this Young Adult novel. It's sinister and tense, set in an older building with the fog from the nearby ocean adding atmosphere. I also liked the fact that the author successfully kept me guessing till the end of the novel. 

What I disliked:

I wasn't sure of the right word to describe how I felt about The Temple House Vanishing till I read a couple of reviews and found it in someone else's description. So, with apologies for plagiarizing a single word, it's tedious. It dragged and was far too character-centric for my taste. Also, there was a lot of talk about the cleverness of the girls and their use of irony without such cleverness/irony showing up in their dialogue. Show don't tell, ya know. 

Iffy on recommendation - If you like a character-driven gothic novel, you might love this and if you do buy it or check it out, it would make an excellent fall read. The atmospheric writing is on point for spooky season. I think if the book had been more plot-focused and less detailed about every thought and motion of the main characters I would have been more entertained. But I give the author credit for not giving away the ending and making so many alternatives possible that I couldn't help but keep reading. It's notable that slower-paced, character-driven novels are generally not my favorite. 

TW: Suicide at the beginning of the story (not a spoiler), which is told by Louisa and the Journalist in alternating sections. 

This was the last ARC I read before my break and I still have a few remaining so if you're a publisher, hang in there. I'll get to your book. 

My thanks to Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for the review copy. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Tuesday Twaddle after a lengthy absence

Recent arrivals:

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy 

It's been about 6 weeks since I did a Malarkey post (and then I took a lengthy break, after a few more days). Since then, I've only acquired two books. Where the Crawdads Sing is my F2F book group's July selection. Night Came with Many Stars is my signed, finished copy of Simon's book. 

I did accidentally buy one book and I'm not even kidding, but I've forgiven myself because I got it for crafting purposes, not for reading. <shrugs> I just totally forgot I was on a book-buying ban, the night I ordered it. That makes a grand total of 4 books purchased in 2021: 2 for F2F discussion, 1 by a friend, 1 booboo purchase. I granted myself a Book Closeouts purchase to my exceptions as a mid-year break from the buying ban but I haven't had any interest in buying more books so I'll leave that for a time when I feel like I need an upper. Or, maybe it just won't happen. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Temple House Vanishing - Rachel Donohue
  • Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang
  • Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir
  • Hamnet - Maggie O'Farrell
  • Remo: The Adventure Begins - Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir
  • Summer - Edith Wharton
  • The Days of Abandonment - Elena Ferrante
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han
  • Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
  • They Came Like Swallows - William Maxwell

Of all of the books I've read in the past month-and-a-half, only one was an ARC and I have to say . . . it's rather freeing finally reading almost exclusively off my shelves. I still have a couple leftover ARCs that I need to read and I've accepted one for tour but unless I get offered some children's books, there still won't be much coming in. I'm used to it, now. It was difficult, at first. I missed that "Every week feels like Christmas" sensation of regular book drops on the doorstep but most of what I've been offered has been on NetGalley and I just don't love e-books so I delete all offers that are only for e-books without much thought. 

Also, I've finally come to the conclusion that the only way I'm going to ever get NetGalley to work is if I ask someone to totally delete my account and let me open a new one because something has been hinky for years. I think I finally figured out the deal but I just don't like e-books enough to bother trying to get the problem fixed. 

Currently reading:

  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

My plan (since January) has been to dedicate July to Gone With the Wind and I'm on it. But, it's definitely going to take a good chunk of the month (although probably not the entire month). I've got three other books with bookmarks in them but I haven't touched a single one of them since I opened Gone With the Wind. I'm just enjoying the story too much to divert my attention away from it, when I have the time to read. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

Why'd you go away, Bookfool? Well, I guess I had a case of burnout. I just felt like I was done with blogging, at least for a while, and stopped. As I've said before, I have to write. It's just something that's in my blood and has been since childhood. So, I decided that I would not announce an official departure in case I wanted to come back. And, here I am. Can't go long without writing but for once I absolutely needed to stop writing (at least about books) for a short time. 

I am still watching Chuck, now on Season 4, Episode 22. Otherwise, we've just watched a few random episodes of this or that when we're bored but very little else. We spent our holiday weekend cleaning, going through boxes, setting aside things to donate, and rearranging things. Family was at the beach so it was just the two of us, again. That was fine because we had big plans for getting our messy closet tidied and we got a lot done and 4 bags of donations out the door. Success! Also, we had some nice grilled food on the 4th so it was all good. 

I will start hitting the backlog of reviews, this week, but some may be super short. It just depends on how I feel about them. Hope everyone is doing well and my American friends had a great weekend!

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Mini reviews - The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, Rose Mellie Rose by Marie Redonnet, The Address by Fiona Davis

I don't have much to say about any of these, and this post will catch me up completely (for now) so it may be quiet in here till I finish something. 

I read The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo on my iPad (where I have a fully-loaded Kindle app that I barely ever touch) when our power went out a couple weeks ago and I just wanted something light to read while we sat around in the dark. 

The Magician's Elephant is about a boy who lives with a sickly man who has been telling the boy all his life that the boy's entire family is dead and that the old man rescued the child. The boy spends his days being drilled to be a soldier like his father and doing his master's bidding. One day, he goes to market and is drawn into a fortuneteller's tent with the promise of learning about his future. He spends the old man's food money on the prediction, which has to do with following an elephant to find the sister he thought dead. But, there are no elephants in this [fictional] town. 

And, then he hears that an elephant has been conjured by a magician and fallen through the roof of the opera house, onto the lap of a woman who is now permanently injured. The elephant is being held captive and the boy must figure out how to save the elephant so that he can follow it. The magician, the newly-disabled woman, and a few others figure into this story and it ends on a happy note. 

Highly recommended - The Magician's Elephant was exactly the read I needed on the day I opened the file. It's warm, witty, stirring, and full of heart. Kate DiCamillo's middle grade books haven't let me down, yet. 

Rose Mellie Rose by Marie Redonnet is the second book I read while the power was out and it's . . . kind of weird. The third in a triptych, Rose Mellie Rose is a short novel about a 12-year-old girl named Mellie who was left in a grotto as a baby and has been raised by an elderly woman, Rose. When Rose dies, Mellie follows her instructions and heads for the city of Oât, where she registers, gets an ID, and becomes a part of the dying town on a lagoon. 

There's a lengthy explanation by the author about the three novels in the triptych after the story and, I confess, I have no idea what she was trying to say. But, apparently there is flooding and a cemetery in all three books and the flooding somehow relates to the death of 19th Century literature? There's a lot of death, at any rate, the story is a tragedy, and there is some really disturbing sex (TW: could be considered rape but is not portrayed as such) . . . yes, with a 12-year-old. 

Neither recommended or not recommended - I mean . . . ugh, I really did find parts of Rose Mellie Rose disturbing but at the same time it was compelling and I don't regret reading it, although I would not seek out the companion novels (all three are stand-alones with apparently the same theme so it's not necessary to read them in any order if you do read all three). Mostly, I just feel like I'm glad I read it and now I can pass it on. I bought it long, long ago when we had a salvage store that occasionally got book stock from floods, fires, etc., and I was building my home library so I'd buy just about anything that appealed to me. It's a French translation.

The Address by Fiona Davis is a contemporary/historical combo that takes place mostly in the Dakota, the upscale apartment building in New York City where a lot of wealthy, famous people live and outside of which John Lennon was shot. 

Sara Smythe is an Englishwoman who travels from England to work as the manager of the Dakota as it's opening and Bailey, in the 1980s, is an addict fresh out of rehab who is offered the job of redecorating her cousin's apartment in the same building. 

In the past storyline, we know that Sara went mad and killed the architect who employed her. What happened to cause this fit of passion?

In the more contemporary part, Bailey finds clues to what happened in the past that might change her own future. 

Recommended - I liked The Address. It's the first book I've read by Davis and I wasn't quite sure what to expect but it was another one of those, "Ah, just what I needed at this moment" books. It's a light, easy read but with a nice little mystery and I'd been reading a nonfiction without finishing it for over a week so I needed the mental break. As is often the case, I pretty much predicted everything that ended up happening. It took me a while to untangle the possibilities and come up with my own theory, though, so no problem. 

Sara is institutionalized in this story, at one point, and when I got to that part, I recognized the descriptions from Nellie Bly's book about her time in the madhouse. Sure enough, Nellie made an appearance. The Address is a fun read. I will definitely be looking for more by Davis. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Fiona Friday - Awkward family photos

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Milkman by Anna Burns

'Hold on a minute,' I said. 'Are you saying it's okay for him to go around with Semtex but not okay for me to read Jane Eyre in public?'

~p. 200

The unnamed heroine known only as Middle Sister in Milkman by Anna Burns is a teenager living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. She has a boyfriend of sorts, although nothing official, so she refers to him as Maybe Boyfriend. And, she has a job, to which she often walks while reading. After Maybe Boyfriend receives a car part from Over the Water (I think that's right . . . meaning the UK), he's accused of being a sympathizer with the English cause. Shortly after, someone begins following our heroine around and trying to lure her into his vehicle, offering her a ride and noting that it's dangerous the way she walks with her head in a book. 

From there, things escalate. The man who offered her the ride is known as the Milkman. But, he's not the Real Milkman who delivers milk. In fact, nobody's quite sure why he's called Milkman. He begins to show up wherever she goes. Clearly, he's watching her, and as he continues trying to talk her into going with him, he also begins to subtly threaten Maybe Boyfriend with comments like, "A guy who works on cars might easily find himself the victim of a car bomb, yes?" (Not a direct quote)

No matter where Middle Sister goes — work, school, the park to run with her brother-in-law — either the Milkman shows up or she hears clicking noises, indicating that someone is taking her picture. 

As the incidents increase and the most negative spin possible is made on everything she does, even by her family members, Middle Sister begins to believe that it's not just Maybe Boyfriend who's in danger. Who will survive the escalating tensions caused by the Milkman?

Highly recommended - Milkman is funny, tense, complex, and utterly exhausting because of its lack of paragraph and chapter breaks (there are 7 chapters in approximately 350 pages and the pages are dense, with little white space) but it is a mindblowing, unique and exceptional read. I liked Middle Sister and hoped Milkman wouldn't harm her. 

I didn't always understand the subtleties because I found the vast number of factions perplexing. I just don't know enough about the Troubles to know a renouncer from a paramilitary from a hole in the head, although at times I felt like I was getting it. To that end, I'm hoping to read more about The Troubles in the near future (probably 2022 because I can't rush out to buy books about Northern Ireland, right now). Suggestions for books that will help untangle exactly who all the actors were and what they believed, their goals and demands, etc., during the Troubles are welcome. 

As I was finishing up the reading, there were some riots in Northern Ireland, the cause of which I known nothing about, but I found it interesting that the news said a gate was destroyed and that gate was in a literal wall that still exists between the Catholic and Protestant sides of the town where rioting occurred. That surprised me. I had no idea those divisions still existed but it makes the book feel even more meaningful. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Gap by Benjamin Gilmour

During a summer in Sydney, Australia, paramedics Ben and John face daily tragedy while both dealing with personal struggles. "The Gap" of the title of this book is both a scenic outlook in Sydney where suicides occur frequently and a metaphor for being on edge, the story much like a real-life version of Bringing Out the Dead but with a sense of humor. 

I enjoyed Paramédico by Gilmour and was excited when I heard the author had written another book about his experiences as an "ambo". It took me a long time to acquire a copy of The Gap but it was well worth the wait. Funny, moving, at times shocking and sad, the book is a testament to the courage, compassion, frustrations, danger, and other immense challenges paramedics face daily. 

Highly recommended - Stellar writing. I love medical memoirs (especially about emergency medicine, thanks to my early obsession with the TV show Emergency!) and books about such things as emerging diseases, so The Gap was right up my alley. I have, in fact, a collection of EMS books and I think Ben's writing is by far the best I've read. He takes you to the scene without going too far into detail about the gruesome and disgusting side of patient care, focusing instead on the emotion of patients and those that care for them. 

Trigger Warning for frequent descriptions of depression and suicide.

My review of Paramédico

Note: The Gap does not yet have a US publisher and I knew about its release because the author told me about it. It took a while to find it at a price I could afford but if you're interested and you're in the US, I got my copy from Book Depository. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy

Simon book! Simon book! If you've spent any length of time visiting my blog, you know Simon Van Booy is one of my favorite authors so I'm always extremely excited when he has a new novel or collection of short stories published. Night Came with Many Stars is scheduled to be released on June 8 and I was sent an advance reader by Godine Press thanks to my friendship with Simon. I'd already planned to buy a copy (and I still will — friend exception, you know, to the book-buying ban) but getting an ARC just meant I got to read it sooner. Wahoo for that!

Set in Kentucky, Night Came with Many Stars is a historical/contemporary combo novel. The historical part begins during the Depression, when teenaged Carol is trying to find a way to escape her abusive father and the man he lost her to in a poker game while the contemporary portion begins with a friendship between two boys named Samuel and Eddie that is first shown in the 1980s. Both storylines move forward and you're quickly made aware that you're reading about different generations of the same family. Eventually, they intertwine to tell a multigenerational story of pain and struggle, abuse, the saving graces of friendship and family, and how even those in the worst of circumstances can remake their lives. It's at times harsh (TW: rape) but a lovely, uplifting tale full of heart. 

I feel like talking about any details at all would spoil the reading but there were some particular things that aren't spoilers that I loved, like the fact that one of the characters whistled all the time. That felt particularly homey to me because my father was constantly whistling while he worked, always full of good cheer. It took me back. Also, while I have never lived in Kentucky, the accent felt familiar and very real to me. I must have known people who spoke with that accent at some point, especially dropping the first "y" in "everybody": ever'body. It says in the book that Simon lived in Kentucky for 3 years. I knew he lived there for a while but I didn't realize he'd been there for quite that long. Clearly, he has a great ear for language. I would never have known the author is British from the dialogue or narrative. 

Highly recommended - A 5-star read, an absolutely flawless, moving family saga of pain, resilience, deep friendship, and love. It's my humble opinion that Night Came with Many Stars is Simon's best novel. I had the weird problem of not wanting to put it down yet desiring to drag it out as long as possible at the same time. That's a new one. 

You can pre-order a signed and, if you'd like, personalized copy directly from the publisher at this email:


My thanks to Simon and Godine Press for the review copy of Night Came with Many Stars

Isn't the cover gorgeous? The felted mice were posed with Simon's book for good reason. I just got these two little guys recently and I placed them with the book partly because of the enduring friendship between characters Samuel and Eddie (the bench has a plaque that says "Old Friends") and partly because Simon has a pet mouse, which you can occasionally glimpse if you follow his Instagram account @simonvanbooy . Aren't they adorable? I'm thinking I may just have to name my mice Samuel and Eddie. 

©2021 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.