Friday, May 07, 2021

Fiona Friday - Some weeks are like that

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

A Tokyo basement café that stays cool and comfy all the time, a ghost who occupies a chair except during bathroom breaks, and 4 people who need at least a few moments to visit with someone important to them. In the small café in Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi you can travel through time if you're willing to follow the rules. And, the rules are strict. 

As each of 4 people travel in time for understanding, reassurance, or a glimpse of someone they love, a change takes place but always in the heart of the person who traveled through time. 

What an incredibly satisfying, heart-warming book, absolutely lovely. 

Highly recommended - One of my favorites of the year, so far, I absolutely loved this Japanese time travel (a translation). I honestly don't want to say too much about it because I loved the experience so much. I closed Before the Coffee Gets Cold with happy tears.

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells - pre-ordered in 2020
  • The Little Spacecraft that Could by Joyce Lapin and Simona Ceccarelli - from Sterling Children's Books for review

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Last Night in London by Karen White
  • Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
  • The Little Spacecraft that Could by Joyce Lapin and Simona Ceccarelli

I was reading a friend's Instagram post, last night, about how we get so tied to numbers when it concerns our reading and how she shifted from counting books to counting pages because she's having a year much like mine . . . kind of a slow reading year, very atypical. She said it didn't work. She was still obsessing over numbers, so now she's trying to just be happy with what she reads and forget numbers completely. I will always notice the numbers because I've literally been tracking my reads for about 30 years. It's just ingrained. Still, I'm working on trying to ignore them and just enjoy my reading. Some weeks that works, sometimes it doesn't. But, I'm getting better about tolerating myself when I only manage to read a few pages before falling asleep or . . . worst case scenario . . . don't feel like reading at all. 

Currently reading:

  • The Gap by Benjamin Gilmour
  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

I read Benjamin Gilmour's first book, Paramedico, a few years back and was excited when he contacted me to tell me he had a new release. But, Ben lives in Australia and The Gap wasn't yet available in the US. In fact, at the time I couldn't even figure out a way to order a copy. The author said he would contact his publisher and try to get me a copy but that never happened, which is fine from my end, although not helpful for the author. Finally, just before the end of the year, I was able to order it and I am so glad I did. While reading about the stress of being a paramedic and the types of calls they go out on is probably not for everyone, it's sort of a minor passion of mine and I am enjoying the book immensely. 

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang is a book I bought a few years ago after watching the movie Arrival and reading that the movie was based on a short story by Chiang, which is in this collection. When I started my "short story per day" goal, I looked for it and couldn't locate my copy. But, I did some deep cleaning, this weekend, and found it, yay! The first story, "Tower of Babylon" was unique and rather stunning, so now I'm even more excited about reading on. 

Posts since last Malarkey: 

In other news:

I'm now on Season 3 of Chuck and we're within a couple episodes of finishing The Mallorca Files (which I hope will keep going . . . there are fewer episodes in the second season). And, I'm still enjoying Atlantic Crossing, although I don't buy into the portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt as a whiner and Missy LeHand as openly envious and rude to the princess. I'm guessing both portrayals were designed to add drama. I did manage to watch the episode that I missed at the PBS website and I'm glad I did as there were some important moments that helped clarify the following episode. 

We got out once, this weekend, to fetch some things we needed at Sam's, one being a large bag of flour. Thanks to the pandemic, Huzzybuns now bakes bread regularly (usually, a couple new baguettes each week, sometimes extras to freeze). We were both pleased that everyone was masked up and observing social distancing. All of our mandates were lifted on Friday — no mask mandates, no indoor seating limits, etc. — except for masks in schools during the final month of the school year. But, stores can still require masks and the larger ones still do. I feel more comfortable being around people in masks, in spite of being fully vaccinated, so that's a relief. It may take a while to feel OK around people in public. 

At home, we are having some yardwork done, which excites me no end. I have allergies so I'm not much help in the yard, although I'm great for weeding planters, trimming shrubs, picking up limbs, and plucking tomatoes. And, now that husband is commuting back to work, most days, he is adjusting and hasn't quite kept up with all those nasty vines and volunteer trees. So, I asked around and found a guy to clean up the yard a bit. He pointed out a fungus on our camellias, which he says explains why our azaleas died suddenly at the end of last summer, and with that revelation, the job became bigger. The camellias were going to die and we really wanted to refresh the gardens, anyway. So, the front gardens are being redone almost entirely. I'm not kidding when I say I'm excited. I was afraid the neighbors probably hated us, the yard was looking so bad. 

Painting-wise, I did very little, this last couple of weeks. I've played with my gelli plate (a squishy pad used for printmaking) enough that now I'm starting to cut figures out of the paper, which was mostly painted experimentally to get the hang of it. But, my work area was getting too messy so I've stopped to clean it, put things away, and get organized. I have to do that now and then because I tend to get things out and leave them out, so my work space shrinks as I'm hemmed in by paint, brushes, jars of gel, pens, canvases, pieces of torn paper, etc. It's looking better but not quite finished. I do love getting messy with paint. 

What's up in your world? 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Fiona Friday

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Mini reviews - Mosquitoland by David Arnold, Reader's Digest War Stories, and Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

Mini review time! All of these books are from my personal library. 

Mosquitoland by David Arnold is a YA book about a teenage girl named Mim Malone. Mim's parents recently divorced and she has moved to Mississippi (the "Mosquitoland" of the title — accurate, by the way) with her father and stepmother. When she finds out her mother is sick, she decides to take a road trip to Ohio. Nobody is saying anything about her mother so she doesn't know how bad her mom's illness might be. 

Along the way, Mim meets some quirky people, has a lot of unexpected experiences, and discovers a few things about herself. 

Recommended but not a favorite - I had mixed feelings about Mosquitoland but liked it enough to recommend it. It's well plotted (a lot happens) but there were two things that kept it from being a favorite. One is that one of the things Mim sets out to do is resolved but you don't know the full details. That felt like a cop-out to me. The other is that the voice was a little weird and I am frankly tired of super smart young fictional characters. Much of what Mim had to say seemed like it was well beyond her years. She's clearly above average and that just annoyed me. So, that was just a personal issue. 

What I particularly loved was the makeshift family trope. On her journey, Mim picks up a friend here, a friend there and they all bond. I did have a little trouble with the Mississippi portion as it sure seemed like the author knew nothing at all about Mississippi beyond the fact that it's hot, humid, and buggy. But, Mississippi itself was somewhat unimportant to the storyline; I liked the fact that I never, ever knew what was going to happen next; and, I warmed up to the strangeness and humor, the farther I got into Mosquitoland

Reader's Digest War Stories is a collection of stories from the Reader's Digest magazine. When I bought the book, I was actually looking for a collection of "Drama in Real Life" stories because it was a "Drama in Real Life" set in London during the Blitz (which I read when I was around 10 years old) that began my interest in WWII. I couldn't find anything like that so I bought the war stories, instead. 

Beginning with stories published in 1956, the book contains personal accounts of war experiences, some historical accounts told by writers, "Humor in Uniform" funnies, and a very nice article about the Churchill War Rooms. I had three particular favorites. One was about a man who fell 18,000 feet from an airplane without a parachute, survived, and had to convince his German captors that he was telling the truth about having fallen from a plane. Another was about a woman who worked for the French Resistance in both world wars. And, the third was "This Secret Place," about the War Rooms. We've visited the Churchill War Rooms but there were two general items of interest to me in this particular article. One is that the war rooms could only be visited by appointment at the time, as there was not yet a museum. The other was the fact that you can only learn so much during a museum visit. I found the article filled out a few cracks in my knowledge and, having been there, it was easy to visualize the rooms mentioned as I'd seen them. 

Highly recommended - The paper Reader's Digest War Stories is printed on is cheap and my copy has already yellowed, even though it was just published in 2012. And, unfortunately, I didn't realize one of the pages in my secondhand copy had a big chunk missing. Wish I'd known that when I bought it so I could have complained to the seller for not being totally honest about its condition. But, I found the war stories captivating, often terrifying, and I'm very glad I came across it. 

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro is the third book I've read by Ishiguro. A set of five interconnected stories with music as one of their connecting themes, I read it as part of my challenge to read anthologies and collections of short stories in 2021. 

I don't have much to say about Nocturnes, to be honest. The first two stories were very, very odd and I thought I was going to absolutely hate the book, initially. But, I did like the last three. They just weren't brilliant or moving or wise in the way you hope a short story will be. Still, I liked the clarity of Ishiguro's writing style enough to keep going. 

Meh - I gave this one an average rating. The stories are strange and generally disappointing but I don't regret reading Nocturnes. However, it fits the pattern. The only book I've loved by Ishiguro is The Remains of the Day. There are two that I've tried to get into several times but found boring. A Pale View of Hills was confusing (I didn't get the imagery) and then upsetting because it contained a senseless killing of kittens. I will never, ever love a book that contains animal abuse of any kind. But, I love The Remains of the Day so much that I will undoubtedly keep trying to find another Ishiguro that I love. This one was just average. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Last Night in London by Karen White

The Last Night in London by Karen White is a contemporary/historical novel that goes back and forth between present-day London and London just before the beginning of WWII, in 1939, through the Blitz. 

Maddie has been asked to come to London to interview an elderly woman who goes by the name of Precious and just happens to be distantly related to Maddie. Precious was a model in the late 30s to early 40s and the article Maddie writes will be paired with an exhibit at the local Design Museum that will include clothing and accessories Precious saved from her time as a model. The editor in charge is a college friend from when Maddie was studying in England and Maddie will be staying in the spacious Marylebone Road flat in which Precious lives, which is owned by the family of the editor's cousin, Colin, whom Maddie has avoided in the past. 

In 1939, we get to know Precious and her best friend and roommate, Eva. Eva's real name is Ethel Maltby and she is from Yorkshire, the daughter of a laundress and a drunken abuser, while Precious is an American. Eva has an ear for accents and has decided to reinvent herself. In her new persona as Eva Harlow, she meets Graham and falls madly in love. But, Graham is high born and it will be difficult enough for his parents to accept Eva as the daughter of a deceased doctor and his wife. They would absolutely force him to reject her if they knew the truth. 

In the present day, Precious is a bit cagey but says that Graham and Eva disappeared in 1940 and she would like to know what happened to them before she dies. Her heart is failing and she probably doesn't have much time left. While Maddie gathers information and sifts through the various articles of clothing that have been preserved, she also tries to unravel clues about the elusive Eva and figure out why someone's image has been cut from many of the photos that she's able to obtain from Colin's mother, which were kept by Graham's sister, Sophia. 

Meanwhile, as Britain watches Hitler's every move and prepares for war, someone finds out Eva's secret and threatens to tell Graham and his family if she doesn't do as he says. 

In the past, what will Eva do when she is threatened? What became of Eva and Graham? And, in the present, what does Precious know that she's too tight-lipped to share? Will Maddie be able to figure out the mystery of Eva and Graham? What do a sterling silver cigarette case, an address, the deliberately damaged photos, and some unopened envelopes have to do with their story? 

Highly recommended, especially for London and WWII aficionados - A nice, twisty story with a fantastic setting. There were things I absolutely loved about The Last Night in London and a few that didn't feel quite right or consistent with the beginning of the book but in general I loved it once it got going. For example, there's a prologue that takes place during the Blitz that's extremely exciting just before you get into the tale of Maddie and Precious. I need to go back and read it because it doesn't feel like it entirely matched up with the ending. But it was one of those dangling carrots that kept the pages flying and I loved that. I also thought the beginning was ridiculously over-plotted. Too many connections that were unnecessary or hard to buy into. But again, once the story got going that didn't matter one bit; the connections were irrelevant apart from how Maddie's past melded with her present and and the distant connection between Maddie and Precious was only relevant in their mutual turn of phrase and understanding of Southern ways. 

There's also a bit of silliness that leads Maddie to push away Colin. It's a bit of a spoiler but it's something that affects my own life and I just thought it was . . . well, not a very good reason for the heroine to keep doing the, "Come here, go away, go away, come here," thing. And, I did figure out the surprise twist early on. I looked at some earlier reviews of books by Karen White and found that I tend to find her stories predictable, but again, that just didn't matter because I really did enjoy the twists and turns to the story. 

But by far the thing I loved best about The Last Night in London was the setting. I adore London and the familiarity with places mentioned made this read almost comfy to me. In fact, most of the book takes place in the flat in which Precious lives, which is located in an apartment complex called Harley House on Marylebone Road, a real building that I stayed in with a friend whose father lived there. His employer paid for yearly visits from the family members who remained in the US and she invited me to tag along, one year. It was one of the best experiences of my life so revisiting the area through fiction was amazing. It was the Harley House setting that tempted me to accept the book for review and I'm so glad I did. The Last Night in London is by far the best book I've read by Karen White and I think her experience living in Harley House is part of the reason it's so good; her knowledge of the area really shines through. 

I was so excited about The Last Night in London being set in Harley House that I got in touch with the friend whose father lived in Harley House and she was every bit as excited as I was. Her stepmother, who lived in the flat for many years, is also planning to read it. I'm happy to say it was worth recommending to them!! 

Husband and I stayed in the Marylebone area (on Baker Street), a handful of years ago, and Harley House was just around the corner so we sought it out. I thought it looked like the road had been widened but the building looked just the same and I took a single photo: 

It's a big, beautiful building that borders Regent's Park. Some of the windows of my friend's father's flat opened onto the side shown, which is right next to the Royal Academy of Music. It was summer and we kept the windows open so in the morning we'd awaken to beautiful music. 

Many thanks to Berkley Books for the advanced and finished copies and for the excuse to write to my childhood friend. We have emailed sporadically and met up a couple times but it never hurts to find an excuse to contact an old buddy! 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Fiona Friday

I did a disturb. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Climate Change and How We'll Fix It by Alice Harman and Andrés Lozano

It's Earth Day and I've been saving my review of this book just for today! It's so good. Climate Change and How We'll Fix It by Alice Harman begins with the very first thing you need to know: What's the difference between weather and climate? As I read the beginning of the book, it occurred to me that already I found that it had defined climate change in a more palatable and easily comprehensible manner than any other book I've read (and I do enjoy reading about climate change), enough so that I couldn't help but think that a lot of adults could get a great deal out of Climate Change and How We'll Fix It

From the introduction of Climate Change and How We'll Fix It:

In the first section of this book, we're going to try to answer the big questions you might have about climate change. Questions like "How do we know it's happening?", "What is causing it?", and "What will happen if we don't stop it. 

Then, in the second section, we'll look at some of the problems getting in the way of fixing climate change. And in the third section, we'll try to figure out how humans — including you! — can help solve these problems and create a better, safer world for us all. 

There's a pretty substantial list of contents but the first section, "What We Know" talks about the Greenhouse Effect, different types of energy/fuel and how they contribute to climate change or can reduce it, food and farming (impacts of farming on the climate and the reverse), "Too much stuff" (conspicuous consumption, particularly in advanced nations where advertisers try to convince everyone they need more, and how wasteful consumption adds to the problem), and how exactly scientists find the evidence and impact of climate change. 

The second section uses talking heads (illustrated with little conversation bubbles) to show the two sides of various issues. For example, the "That's not fair" problem has a person from an advanced nation and a nation that is trying to become wealthier in discussion. The person from the wealthier nation tells the other that his country needs to reduce its carbon emissions but the other country's opinion is, "Hey, you did it to make yourselves wealthy and now it's our turn." 

The third section, about solutions, goes into some interesting territory in that it tells the reader that there are ways to do your part but it's also important to understand that there are reasons people don't understand and act on climate change, that it's important to listen to others and learn from them, try to promote fairness in climate action, and not lecture people. I thought the bit about not lecturing because it doesn't work anyway but simply doing what you can was particularly great because, in fact, I've read an entire book about why people don't want to even think about climate change, much less accept it, and it makes a lot of sense to stick to simplicity — do what you can to help, but let others come to understanding of what needs to be done in their own time. 

Geared for older elementary level, Climate Change and How We'll Fix It would be an excellent library resource and wonderful for use in classrooms or for science reports. Adults who don't want to read a more in-depth book but just want to know the basics will get a lot out of it, as well. Here's an interior image to give you an idea of the reading level (click on the image to enlarge). 

Highly recommended - I've read quite a few books about climate change but this children's book is one of the clearest, most easily comprehensible books I've read. It does become a little repetitive in the latter half and I thought the fictional conversations were a tiny bit more complex than the text. Still, Climate Change and How We'll Fix It is an excellent primer about climate change: what it is, how scientists know it's not normal, why progress in reversing it has been slow, and what readers can do to help bring about change. It also contains a very nice glossary. 

My thanks to Sterling Children's Books 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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot by Kate Dalgleish and Isobel Lundie

Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot by Kate Dalgleish is just what it sounds like, the story of a young elephant who has a bad memory. When Edmund is sent to fetch some items for his brother's birthday party, his mother teaches him a song about memory and then sends him with a list, which he promptly discovers that he's forgotten. 

Colin the Cricket tags along to try to help Edmund but Edmund can't quite hear what Colin is shouting. The end result is like a game of telephone. Colin shouts, "It's a bunch of balloons!" and Edmund says, "Aha! A gang of masked raccoons!" and promptly places them in his wagon to take home. Here's a spread showing how Colin's shouted reminder to pick up twenty pointy party hats becomes "seven sassy dancing cats!" You should be able to click on the following image to enlarge.

As you can see, the illustrations by Isobel Lundie are dynamite. There is not only a ton to look at to keep little eyes busy, but she also has hidden Colin the Cricket throughout the book. At the end of the book, the number of Colins to be found is mentioned (25) and there's a foldout illustration of what happens when Edmund brings home all the wrong items. Edmund has forgotten to send out the invitations but his brother says he thinks he's about to have the best party ever!

Highly recommended - This book is a serious gigglefest. If my grandkids were within driving distance, I'd dash over to read it to them because I just know they'd have a great time laughing at Edmund's silly mistakes and enjoying the crazy illustrations. So. Much. Fun. 

Many thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy!! My copy of Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot is going on the favorites shelf to save for grandkid visits. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Aven Green Sleuthing Machine by Dusti Bowling and Gina Perry

Aven Green is a girl with no arms who has decided to put her superior brain cells to use solving mysteries in Aven Green Sleuthing Machine by Dusti Bowling. At first, the mysteries are not all that mysterious. In some cases, she's the guilty party, which makes sleuthing very easy. But, some mysteries require more brain power. 

When a string of mysterious disappearances of food at the school along with gigantic messes happen, Aven is on the job. And, when she finds out her grandmother's dog is missing, crime solving becomes even more urgent. 

Working in sleuthing around her everyday life at home, at school, and with friends, Aven tracks down clues to the mysteries. But, will she be able to figure out what's going on at school and what's become of her grandmother's dog? Aven doesn't want her grandmother to be sad about her missing fur friend. 

Highly recommended - Hilarious and adorable middle grade fun; I smiled all the way through Aven Green Sleuthing Machine. I love the fact that Aven talks about her armlessness up front and then after that it's no big deal. You're reminded when she writes with her toes or picks up a fork with them, and when you see her in the illustrations. But nobody treats Aven like she's any different from them apart from helping her when she asks by doing things like holding a pen or flipping a button. One of my favorite scenes takes place when Aven has her friends over and they're karate-chopping pillows, which totally took me back to childhood sleepovers. 

Aven Green Sleuthing Machine is the second of the Aven Green books I've read and both serve as excellent lessons in not "othering" people who are a little different. Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus (link leads to my review) is a YA, while Aven Green Sleuthing Machine takes a step back in time to elementary school — third grade, as I recall. Aven is a great character, funny and delightful. I hope there will be a lot more books about her. I particularly loved the way she gave a title to every mystery, i.e. The Mystery of the Missing Donut (not from the book, just an example). 

My thanks to Sterling Children's Books 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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • Unstoppable by Joshua M. Greene - from Insight Editions, unsolicited, for review
  • Aven Green Sleuthing Machine by Dusty Bowling and Gina Perry, and 
  • Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot by Kate Dalgleish and Isobel Lundie - both from Sterling Children's Books for review 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Take Three Girls by Crowley, Howell, and Wood
  • Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Milkman by Anna Burns
  • Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot by Kate Dalgleish and Isobel Lundie
  • Aven Green Sleuthing Machine by Dusty Bowling and Gina Perry

Nocturnes is a book of short stories. After taking a break from them for a few weeks, I'm back to reading short story collections. Although I haven't begun to read my next one, I have a couple of possibilities on the bedside table. 

Currently reading:

  • The Last Night in London by Karen White

Posts since last Malarkey:

Only three posts in the past two weeks because I took off last week to read. Did I read while I was taking my blog break? Yes I did.  But, did I also take the time to tackle my Do List like crazy and have fun painting up a storm? Yes, I did that also. I may have done more from the Do List than anything else but it was a decent week and part of the reason I took off from blogging was the fact that I was running out of books to review. I have now planted myself firmly back into the "Wow, you have quite a review backlog" category. However, only 3 of the books I haven't reviewed (out of 8) are from publishers so I'll review those, first, then take my sweet time with the others. 

In other news:

We only watched one episode of The Mallorca Files and one of Ambassadors. I'm also watching Atlantic Crossing and World on Fire on PBS but I missed both, last night. I think you can watch PBS episodes online if you miss them. Guess I'll find out. 

We did our major pot planting about a week ago and, wow, things do grow fast down here. We only do pot planting, not garden plots. But, thanks to the pandemic we have some large planters (pandemic gardening was part of our entertainment in 2020) and it's exciting to see everything filling out. 

In painting news, I finished a mixed media project I started working on in February using a little of what I learned from a free tutorial by artist Kate Morgan. There was a good bit of trial and error but I like the end result. I do art exactly like I used to do writing, back when I wrote fiction regularly. I always have a bunch of different projects going and I just move from one to another and back, building on them. I guess I usually read that way, too. Hmm. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Week off to read

Back next Monday. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Fiona Friday

I feel judged. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig is a fictionalized account of real-life events in which a group of Smith College graduates traveled to France during WWI to help the citizens who had been bombed out of their homes and were starving, lacking medical care, and often living in cellars of damaged buildings or barns. 

Kate Moran, a former scholarship girl from Brooklyn, is working a job she doesn't really like when her wealthy best friend from college, Emmeline Van Alden asks her to join the Smith College Relief Unit after another member dropped out. They will be going to France to help displaced and starving citizens, mostly women and children. Kate agrees for the change of pace but after being stung by the words of Emmie's cousin, many years back, she isn't sure she is interested in resuming her friendship with Emmie. 

Along with 15 other Smith grads, Kate and Emmie travel across the Atlantic Ocean and arrive in Paris to find that the proprietor of the place they planned to stay doesn't have enough rooms and some of their supplies have either gone missing or are stuck with nobody available to fetch them. Only a few of the women can drive and there are many complications but eventually they make it to a bombed-out village and set up to help the citizens get back on their feet. They are not far from the front line, relatively speaking, but they're able to set up their own lodgings and a store and provide for the villagers' medical needs and slowly branch out to aid those in the surrounding area. But, will the war stay far enough away from them or will the Germans break through and endanger the women and everything they've accomplished? 

Recommended - Excellent WWI fiction based on real events. Because the author stuck closely to the real-life events, much of Band of Sisters is about the friendships and backbiting, the difficulties acquiring supplies and dealing with automobile disasters, the dangers that single women face driving around the countryside, the touches of romance, and how the women overcome obstacles big and small. It's slow of pace in the first half to three-quarters but I was actually quite gripped by the everyday challenges the women faced and imagining how I would handle them if I'd been among them, wondering whether I would stick it out or run wailing back to the US in defeat. In the latter part of the book, it becomes fairly nail-biting and I particularly loved that bit. 

I really appreciated the fact (made clear in the author's note) that she fictionalized the characters but chose to use actual events within her work of fiction rather than making things up. As a result of that choice, there's an everyday feel to most of the book but I prefer accuracy of events, even if that means a book is a bit less action-packed. Even before I read the author's note, the Smithies' challenges seemed very realistic to me. Read Band of Sisters when you're in the mood to dip your toes into a unique view of WWI history and don't mind a quieter, slower-paced read (at least till near the end). 

I received a review copy of Band of Sisters from HarperCollins (many thanks!) in exchange for an honest review and have posed my copy on a news periodical from 1919. It's not in great shape and the pages have to be turned carefully or they'll crumble. The photos are amazing, though. I chose the spread above because the Smith women encountered ruins everywhere they went, although the photo above was taken in Belgium. Here's another photo that shows a Red Cross relief worker from Great Britain. The Red Cross is mentioned but as I recall the women worked with either the American or French Red Cross. You should be able to click on both images to enlarge them. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood

In Take Three Girls by Crowley, Howell, and Wood, Ady, Kate, and Clem all attend the same boarding school, St. Hilda's in Melbourne, Australia. But, they each have their own circles of friendship and unique struggles. 

Ady's parents fight constantly. Her father is an alcoholic and drug addict whose addiction has meant that he can no longer find a job. They are struggling to stay afloat. Ady's house is in a pretty posh neighborhood and Kate and Clem are not in her circle of friends. In fact, sometimes Ady's friends go out of their way to snub the others. Ady has a boyfriend who is handsome but she's not even sure she has all that much interest in him. She may even be dating him just because everyone else thinks he's hot. What will happen with Ady's parents? Should she keep dating Rupert or tell him the truth and let him go?

Kate is from the country and her parents are working hard on the farm to pay for her schooling. They expect her to get a scholarship for the remaining two years and eventually go to medical school. But, since Kate saw a celloist perform in a unique way, she has become obsessed with combining her computer and musical skills and her new goal is to win a scholarship to a cello workshop in Iceland. She is cheered on by her platonic friend back home, Ben. But, a boy named Oliver keeps annoying her and trying to tell her how to improve. Meanwhile, she is starting to cut classes and miss tutoring sessions to go to a club where she can hear the music she loves. Should Kate go with her heart and choose the musical path or go for the scholarship to save her parents the hardship?

Clem is a swimmer but she broke her wrist and during her time off from swimming she gained weight. She also has become besotted with Stu, the slightly older (19 to her 16) guy she ran into when she broke her wrist. Now her wrist has healed but she is humiliated by the tightness of her new uniform and has begun skipping swim practice. Clem's fraternal twin sister, Iris, is Kate's roommate. Clem and Iris are not getting along at all since their parents moved to Singapore and Clem chose not to room with Iris. When Stu drops hints that he wants to sleep with Clem, will she go along with it? What if she's decided swimming competitively is no longer for her? What's next? Will she and Iris ever work things out?

All three girls are sophomores who are thrown together for wellness classes after a website called PSST, in which girls are singled out for various attributes in gossipy, embarrassing, misogynistic, and very graphically nasty lists causes the school to come up with wellness class as a plan to help them deal with the gossip mill and its painful effects. And, at some point all become targets of PSST. When Ady, Kate, and Clem are grouped together as a friendship trio by thumb size (seriously) they are expected to spend time together to expand their horizons and break free from their usual social circles. None is interested, at first. But, as they let their guards down and begin hanging out with each other, they find an unexpected bond. 

Recommended - The wellness bits are a little bit odd and I had so much trouble keeping the three girls straight, at first, that I restarted Take Three Girls and took notes, which I never had to refer back to, once written. But, once they did the thumb matching and started hanging out together, it was clear that a connection was going to develop and I absolutely loved seeing their friendship grow. That was one of my favorite things about Take Three Girls. I also loved the realness of it: the things they worried about (boys, school, sex), the temptation to sneak away through the "portal" — a door in the dormitory that wouldn't close all the way — and the way they were learning about their own needs and desires and hopes for the future. It all felt very familiar in a distant way and I think teenage girls will especially relate. There's also a great deal of emphasis on misogyny and how that effects women of all ages, which any female at all can relate to. 

I talked about this book with my youngest son and he noted that the concept of the wellness class sounded like just the kind of lame reaction school administrators would have to a genuine bullying problem. I won't spill how the real problem is solved but they do end up getting something out of the wellness classes. It just isn't the solution to the bullying site. That's taken care of in a way that's very satisfying. 

My thanks to Sterling Teen for the review copy of Take Three Girls!

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals:

  • The Last Night in London by Karen White - from Berkley Books for review
  • Night Came with Many Stars - from David R. Godine for review

I already have an ARC of The Last Night in London, so I was surprised to get a finished copy. I'm really looking forward to it because the historical part takes place in a building in London that my friend's father lived in for many years and which I stayed in for 3 weeks. As to Night Came with Many Stars . . . anyone who has hung around this blog for any length of time at all will know how thrilled I am to get my hands on any book by Simon Van Booy! I usually read Simon's books 2 or 3 times before reviewing and since it's almost impossible keeping my mitts off of it, that will probably happen, again. It's a June release. Can. Not. Wait. But, there are a couple books ahead of it in line. Argh. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Reader's Digest War Stories
  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

I am just going to have to give in to the fact that this is not my year for reading. However, at least there were extenuating circumstances, this past couple of weeks. For one thing, I am trying to fit in reading, writing, painting, and exercise with the usual chores and finding it hard to squeeze everything in. For another, I had one very sleepless night before our second vaccination doses. The vaccination took up most of one day, an appointment took another, and I didn't read much for a couple days because I couldn't see straight from fatigue after my all-nighter. Oh, well. I had a good month in March, overall, so I'm very happy about that. 

As to the books — I loved Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Reader's Digest War Stories but had mixed feelings about Mosquitoland. I'll try to review them ASAP, of course. I'm a bit behind on reviewing, at the moment. 

Currently reading:

  • Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood (YA)
  • Milkman by Anna Burns
  • The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume 1 (1909-1939), ed. by Litz and MacGowan

I plan to review Take Three Girls by tomorrow but it may be later in the day. If so, I'll leave it at the top of the blog for an extra day, since it's a review book. I finally picked up Milkman, after 6-8 weeks of slowly forgetting that it's got a bookmark in it. I'm enjoying it but I still find it a little exhausting so it will probably take me a long time to read it and I'll wedge in other books. I had no problem at all picking up where I left off, though; it's a very memorable read. And, it's National Poetry Month so I started reading The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume 1. It's a thick one! So far, some of his poetry seems a little poncy to me, some goes right over my head with a whoosh, and some I love. It'll be interesting to see if he grows on me. I know some of his more familiar poetry but have not read much of Williams. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

So . . . not a big two weeks for blogging, either. Hopefully, the reading pace and blogging will improve over the next week or two but I still have a lot on my plate. 

In other news:

Hope those who celebrate had a Happy Easter! Ours was nothing exciting because our local family didn't come over and our distant family is far, far away. We mostly spent the day cleaning but watched The Narnia Chronicles: Prince Caspian, each time we felt like taking a break or stopped to eat. Our living room looks so much better. It was getting all cluttery and messy and frustrating. So, while I wish we could occasionally see our grandkids on a holiday, at least we got plenty accomplished. 

We're now just over a week away from being considered "fully vaccinated" (1 week left of the 2-week interval after the second Covid vaccine dose) and really excited about feeling comfortable getting out, soon. We still plan to wear our masks because of the variants but hope enough people will take the vaccine for us to reach herd immunity within the coming months. I am so grateful for the quick development of the vaccine. 

We're still watching The Mallorca Files and I'm watching Chuck but honestly, we've just been too busy to watch TV, otherwise, and we manage about an episode per week of Mallorca. That's partly because we want to stretch out the fun, though. It's not often we find something to watch together. I also watched Atlantic Crossing and World on Fire on PBS, yesterday. I was surprised that they started World on Fire from the beginning but then I realized that's often the case when there's a big gap between seasons of a PBS show; they'll play the previous season and then move on to the next. I decided it was worth a repeat, so I did watch it again. Atlantic Crossing scared the peawaddin' out of me. I don't know how people survived WWII without dropping dead from fear alone. 

Happy reading!

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Fiona Friday on the Wrong Day

I know, Fiona. I loved it, too. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Retrograde by Peter Cawdron

OK, first things first. After I read Retrograde, at some point I read a couple reviews and found that some readers had been under the impression that it would be like The Martian because it's also set on Mars and there's a disaster at its core. Just forget that, right now. Retrograde is an entirely different story and it deserves not to be compared to The Martian merely because of the words "Mars" and "disaster". 

As the story opens, astronaut and micropaleobiologist Liz (an American) is hanging out in the Chinese living pod where the residents are having a great time playing games and drinking a little too heavily. Then, something happens and the woman in charge of the Chinese scientists in the Endeavor mission angrily sends representatives from other countries back to their own pods. There are 5 groupings of individuals from around the world on this semi-autonomous station (they grow their own food, produce their own oxygen, etc., but require occasional delivery of supplies from Earth). The narrator later explains why they're divided in the way they are but they've worked harmoniously together till now, apart from a few individual tensions.

What happened to cause the sudden animosity? Nuclear war on Earth. Communication with Earth has become difficult anyway because they're in retrograde, but what little they're able to discern is that many large cities have been obliterated. It doesn't actually seem to make any sense at all. If one country was the aggressor against another, why so many large targets in so many different countries? What happened? And, what should the astronauts on Mars do?

There's an immediate split into factions based on region but Liz thinks that regardless of what's happening on Earth, they need to stick together and figure out how to survive. It appears that their supply ship has sailed right past them, for one thing. When things start going wrong on the space station and people begin to die, they must rush to figure out what's happening and why and stop further damage. 

Highly recommended for sci-fi fans who don't mind a slow start -  The first half of Retrograde is more about getting to know the people and their relationships, understanding how the station works and what it looks like, and the initial question: Should we band together to deal with this challenge or split into factions? 

What happens in the latter half, when you start to understand what's happening on the station itself (not just Earth) is a plot that I found wildly implausible, although some real-life scientists are concerned about the possibility. However, I didn't care about whether or not it was implausible or felt that way (I mean . . . it takes place at a space station on Mars, which is still pretty implausible in and of itself). I was in it for this one unique story experience and in the latter half it becomes more like a thriller and a race against time to stay safe and eliminate the danger. I really loved that latter half. And, to be honest, while I had a lot of questions and kept thinking, "Are they sure there was a nuclear war or is this a test to see how they would react to such a disaster?" all my questions were eventually answered so I found the story very satisfying. 

I think I got the recommendation for Retrograde from Instagram, but I'm not 100% certain. At any rate, I enjoyed it immensely and will be looking to see what else Peter Cawdron has written. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa is the story of a cook named Sentaro, an older women named Tokue, and a teenage school girl named Wakana. Sentaro works in a confectionary shop selling dorayaki, a Japanese pancake filled with red bean paste. Sentaro spent a couple years in jail and was offered the job by a man who is now deceased, who paid off Sentaro's debt. Sentaro has been slowly paying him back. The new owner is the previous owner's wife. 

Sentaro has been using pre-made bean paste in the dorayaki he sells when elderly Tokue comes in asking him for a job. Tokue has strangely twisted hands and he's not even sure if she could do a job if he hired her, although he could use the help. But, then she brings him some of her bean paste to taste and he's sold. If she will make the bean paste, sales will go up and he'll be able to pay off his debt to the new owner much faster. 

Tokue is a hard worker and she makes friends with the young schoolgirls who come into the shop very easily. But, then something happens to cause people to stop coming to the store. If he doesn't turn things around, the owner is going to either sell the store or change it to something else entirely. 

Convinced that there is something magical about Tokue's ability to make excellent bean paste, Sentaro has an idea. He will go talk to Tokue at her home. Wakana goes along and while there, they learn the sad history of the people who were forced out of their family homes, never to return to their families. Tokue was one of them. Can Tokue's wisdom help Sentaro? 

Highly recommended - I've got to watch the movie, which appears to be called "Sweet Bean" without the word "paste". I just peeked online, a bit ago. Sweet Bean Paste is a sweet story with a wonderful theme: your worth is not about what you do for a living. Just being alive means you have value. So lovely. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Fiona Friday

I didn't take many cat photos, this week, but this one from last week cracks me up. Fiona often narrows her eyes, turns her head, or runs away when I try to take her picture. This look . . . she must have been comfortable enough not to turn away but she clearly was not thrilled that I'd whipped out the camera. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Bindu's Bindis by Supriya Kelkar and Parvati Pillai

First things first: A bindi is the decoration South Asian females often wear on their foreheads, which is known as a "third eye" and is meant to keep evil away. I thought that was what a bindi was, as I went into the reading of Bindu's Bindis, but I wasn't certain so I looked it up. It's good to know that going into the book, in case the child you're reading to has questions. 

Bindu is an American girl who loves wearing bindis. She wears different designs depending upon her mood, using stick-on bindis that come in a variety of colors and shapes. Her grandmother sends her a new set each month and she wears them to the temple, on holidays, and at home. Then, one month her grandmother brings them to Bindu in person. 

Bindu wears a "brilliant oval bindi" to greet her grandmother, or Nani, at the airport. But, when they turn from the gate, her family is surprised to find that they're being greeted by protestors with signs telling them to go home. Bindu holds her head up high and so does Nani. 

Nani has always loved dancing and she teaches Bindu some of her moves. When Bindu dresses up to dance in a school assembly, she's excited at first. But, then some of the children giggle at her beautiful outfit and she's hesitant. Nani tries to excite her by offering different bindis for Bindu to try but it doesn't work. So, Nani goes up on the stage and starts dancing, then Bindu joins her. 

Recommended - I like the story, love the vibrant illustrations in Bindu's Bindis, and particularly appreciated the fact that there are two separate challenges that are tied together: dealing with protestors who are xenophobic and children who make Bindu nervous about her ethnicity. Both are obviously common, right now, in the US. There was one thing I wish the author had done and that's add a single sentence or phrase defining the word "bindi" at the beginning of the book. However, once you know what it is, you know . . . and there's no longer a need for a description. So, after I thought about it for a while, I decided it's no big deal. Bindu's Bindis is a children's picture book, after all, and the illustrations alone make it pretty clear. There is some information about who wears bindis, other names for them, and why they're worn, in the back of the book. 

Incidentally, as I was reading the scene with Nani getting up on stage, I was reminded of the similar scene in About a Boy when Hugh Grant gets up on stage and makes a fool of himself to encourage his young friend to perform. I love the cringeworthy humor of that scene (and the movie, in general), so Nani's dancing brought back a fond memory. In Bindu's Bindis you get a similar feeling from Nani's dancing. It's a little uncomfortable but her joy is infectious. I wanted it to be real and to be transported into that scene. 

My thanks to Sterling Children's Books 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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (clockwise from upper left):

  • Bindu's Bindis by Supriya Kelkar and Parvati Pillai - from Sterling Children's Books for review
  • The Last Night in London by Karen White - from Berkley Books for review
  • The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue - from Algonquin Books for review
  • Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley - from Sterling Teen for review

Getting close to 3 months without a purchase and I will not deny I've been sorely tempted to buy a few. In fact, it was so rough, this week, that I had a nightmare that I accidentally bought a book — meaning, I briefly forgot I was on a book-buying ban in my dream and then was horrified when I realized I'd broken my ban. Funny. I'm finding it easier to have a long, hard goal than the usual generic, "I'm going on a book-buying ban for a while." That never lasts. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
  • Bindu's Bindis by Supriya Kelkar
  • Retrograde by Peter Cawdron
  • Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

This was a good couple of weeks. 3 out of 4 of these were books I absolutely loved. 

Currently reading:

  • Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  • Reader's Digest War Stories: Daring First-Hand Accounts of World War II

I'm a little unsure about Mosquitoland because it's a road trip on a bus and I just recently read a road trip bus book. However, it's quite different so I'm going to give it at least 75 pages before deciding whether or not to keep going. 

I did not start another collection of short stories (again), although I tried. I picked up and started reading the two volumes I mentioned in my last Malarkey (Daphne du Maurier and Kazuo Ishiguro). Apparently, I was not in the right mood. But, I wanted to read something with shorter works in it and my Reader's Digest book of WWII war stories was just sitting out there, calling, "Me, me, me!" I figure short works of nonfiction are a good filler till I'm back in the mood for more short stories. Some of those WWII stories are nail biters.

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

There's not much news. Huzzybuns is getting out more, going to his office several days a week, and he'll be taking his first plane flight on business soon. I went to the grocery store, which sounds unexciting but I really have not been since before the pandemic because I was recovering from surgery for a couple months and then we just got into a routine. I wrote a list; he bought the groceries; we unloaded and wiped everything down together; I planned meals; he cooked. But, this week we were low on several items and he didn't have time to go, so I got up early and had a great deal of fun loading up my cart with veggies. Huz is not such a big veggie person but he'll cook them if they're in the house. It was fun! And, our grocery store requires a mask so everyone was well behaved, in spite of the fact that the mask mandate was ditched by our governor nearly 3 weeks ago. 

Oh, and I got a flat tire. That happened on a different day when I planned to go to Target (I didn't make it) and was somewhat less fun but it was a pleasant day and while the spouse could not come for a rescue, he managed to find a service that came to me. While I waited, I went to a nearby restaurant where almost nobody was wearing masks and all but one of the mask wearers had them under their noses or chins. It freaked me out. I asked to get my food to go and ate in the back of my car with the hatch up. That worked well. Since it was such a gorgeous day, it was a perfect time to picnic in one's trunk. We have a little more than a week before we get our second doses of the vaccine and then two weeks after that I think I'll feel a bit more comfortable around the people who don't wear masks, although I think I'll keep using drive-through, pick-up, or curbside till the pandemic is genuinely over. Restaurants are just not for me, right now. 

Still watching the same shows, no change there: Chuck, The Mallorca Files, Downton Abbey. I often watch only a half episode of Chuck or Downton while I eat lunch and then forget about it for a couple of days. We're not binge-watchers. So, it'll probably take us a while to get through the three. I also watched part of the second Narnia movie, Prince Caspian, on Disney + but Huz walked in the room and said, "You're watching it without me???!!!" Oh. So, I stopped and said I'll be happy to start from the beginning on another night. I'm enjoying it, so far. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Fiona Friday - Izzy and I are reading

I love having a reading buddy. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells (Murderbot Diaries #4)

Note: For convenience, I'm going to use "he" and "him" pronouns, although Murderbot is neither male nor female as it's a part organic and part mechanical being and therefore technically an "it". 

Murderbot is traveling again when he becomes aware that someone is in pursuit of him. And, whoever it is, they've got a well-armed and heavily weaponized security team. He'll have to use all his wits to get away from them. Then, a series of news items indicate that Murderbot's old friend, Dr. Mensah, is in trouble and it's likely Murderbot's fault for causing the devious GrayCris company problems, including exposing the cover-up of illegal activity he discovered in Book #3: Rogue Protocol

Knowing the danger, Murderbot carefully heads out to rescue Dr. Mensah. Some of the team from the original Murderbot book, whom Murderbot once saved, have gone to try to work out a deal for Dr. Mensah's release. But, there are complications. Will Murderbot be able to help them secure Dr. Mensah's release and keep the entire team safe? 

Exit Strategy is the 4th novella in the Murderbot Diaries series and it brings the story full circle yet leaves an opening for the story to continue. In fact, I read a review saying the book was originally intended to be the end of the series, although there's now a novel and another book is coming out soon (a friend who has read it says the coming release is novella length). I have the novel and the new book coming out in April, Fugitive Telemetry, is one that I pre-ordered before the end of 2020. I'm so glad I did. 

Highly recommended - Another edge-of-your-seat read. The Murderbot series needs to be read in order but they each stand alone. There are no cliffhanger endings.

I have absolutely no regrets about buying them all. None. They are so entertaining. As with all the other novellas, there's always some set-up in which Murderbot must figure out what's happening before a series of breathtaking action scenes. I loved the interaction between Mensah and Murderbot in the first book and it was very satisfying to read more of the same as they're reunited. 

I'm saving the novel for later since Murderbot books make terrific slump breakers but I confess it's been difficult staying away from the next book, this time. I really want to read on. 

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

I'm a big time travel fanatic, counting Jack Finney among my favorite authors, so when I read that there was a time travel aspect to Vintage 1954 after reading The Readers' Room, also by Antoine Laurain, I knew I must read it. 

In 1978, a Frenchman who saw a UFO in 1954 and has been teased about it ever since drinks a bottle of wine, goes for a walk, and never returns. In 2017, the owner of an apartment complex in Paris, two of his tenants (including the great-grandson of the man who disappeared), and an American staying in an Airbnb in the building all share a bottle of wine and return to 1954. What does a UFO have to do with their trip through time and will they ever be able to return home?

Highly recommended - A lovely, quirky, upbeat story. I absolutely loved Vintage 1954. I'm always besotted with time travel but I particularly loved the fact that there was a unique twist with the UFO and adored the sweet friendship that grew between the four people who unexpectedly travelled through time together. 

My thanks to Gallic Books publicist Meryl Zegarek, who sent me a copy of Vintage 1954 after I mentioned that I'd added it to my wish list!!

©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 for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

List of Ten by Halli Gomez


List of Ten by Halli Gomez is the story of a teenager named Troy Hayes. Troy, now 16, started showing symptoms of Tourette Syndrome (TS) as a child and a year later his mother, from whom he inherited the neurological disease, abandoned the family. He is also Obsessive Compulsive and has a fixation with the number ten. He's in constant pain from his physical tics, tries to be as invisible as possible, and doesn't go out much. He is just tired of his existence and wants to die. So, he's written a list of ten things he plans to do, a kind of bucket list with suicide at the end. But, then he is seated next to Khory. 

Khory has had a traumatic experience of her own and her parents are so overprotective that she can't even go to a movie. She understands being different and has no problem looking past Troy's tics to the person inside. When he offers to tutor her in math (because "Kiss a girl" is on his list), she is eager to get the math help but also clearly attracted to him. Through Khory, Troy acquires a new circle of friends. But he's still in horrible pain and frequently humiliated. Can Troy learn to live with his rebellious body or will he go through with the suicide?

Highly recommended - List of Ten is not an easy read (emotionally speaking) because it's written in First Person and you experience Troy's anguish, but I think that's also what makes this book so powerful. Being placed squarely in the point of view of someone who has this syndrome was a great learning experience. I would never have thought about the fact that the movements would be so excruciatingly painful, for example. It makes sense; I just hadn't given it any thought. 

The theme of learning to live with your challenges is always a positive one. I did find the repetition tiresome and yet when I really paid attention (repetition is necessary, since Troy is always counting to ten and making the same or similar movements), I noticed that the author did a fantastic job of not making the repetition exhausting by changing up the wording. And, reading about how painful it is to try not to make repetitive movements helps you to understand how difficult it is to live with TS. 

I had one small plot issue that I've decided might be a spoiler so I'm going to leave it out of my review. While it's not crucial, that one plot point regarding one of the characters was confusing and, I think, conflicted with what was said elsewhere in the book. But, after some thought, I came to the conclusion that it was annoying but not so important and because of both that (non-importance) and the fact that the story itself seems like a powerful and important one to me because it's not a topic I've read or even seen much about, I only took off a half point and rated the book 4.5/5. 

List of Ten is an eye-opening story and I think the more attention this book gets, the better, so that more people can learn about and start to understand the syndrome, hopefully making it a little easier for people with TS to deal with. 

Today is release day for List of TenMy thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy!

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