Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Merry Christmas to all!

Taking a little time off the Internet. Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays and a bright, new year in which all of your wishes come true in 2022. 

©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, December 21, 2021

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

I love Jenny Colgan's writing, so I jumped at the chance to read The Christmas Bookshop during the holiday season. And, I was every bit as charmed and heart-warmed as I expected. 

Carmen has been working at a department store for years but it's been slowly going downhill. When it closes permanently, she's at loose ends and has no choice but to return to her parents' home. Her sister Sofia lives in a perfect house in Edinburgh with a perfect husband and they have lucrative jobs, both lawyers. Sofia is expecting her fourth child and when their mother asks Sofia if she can possibly find a job for Carmen, Sofia realizes that Carmen might be the person who can help a small bookstore owner, Mr. McCredie, at least get his business in enough shape to sell it as a going concern instead of an empty storefront. Mr. McCredie is more of a bibliophile hermit than a businessman and has frittered away his entire inheritance. He's about to lose everything. 

Carmen is not interested in living with her accomplished sister in her fancy house but a bookshop sounds like a decent place to earn a little money. What she finds is a disaster. The bookshop is dusty with mostly antiquarian books, no organization, and no hint at Christmas decor. Carmen's a little overwhelmed, at first, but then she gets to work cleaning, organizing, decorating and creating events to draw people in. While doing so, she meets two men who appeal to her. One is a famous author with perfect teeth and lots of money. The other studies and lectures about trees. 

Can Carmen draw in enough traffic and sell enough books to help Mr. McCredie's shop keep going? Or, will Christmas be the end of her job and the bookshop, entirely. And, what about those two guys? Will she let the wealthy man who writes inspirational books sweep her away? Or, will she find herself with a sudden interest in trees and man buns? 

Highly recommended - A lovely tale of friendship and love in snowy Edinburgh at Christmas, worth buying to save for next year if you're a Christmas book fan or downloading right now if you need a little upper. There's a lot of tension between sisters Sofia and Carmen so this book fit the "sisters who learn to get along" theme that I love (because I have a sister with whom I have little in common) but there's so much else I loved about this book. I loved taking an armchair visit to Edinburgh. Because she mentioned a lot of sights, I had fun looking things up on my phone. I loved visualizing the quirky little shop and seeing in my mind's eye what Carmen did to make it lovely and grab the interest of people passing by. I loved how Carmen interacted with her nieces and nephew, encouraging the one who was most like her, who was experiencing similar frustrations as a sister and student. And, I really want to see the giant tree that drew Oke, the dendrologist, to study in Edinburgh. I'm pretty sure I've read about that same tree elsewhere (it's about 2,000 years old) and I enjoyed reading about it again. I also adored the relationship between Carmen and Mr. McCredie, a wounded soul whose emotional and work life Carmen improved. 

In fact, I loved the world she built in Edinburgh so much that I really didn't want to leave it. But, The Christmas Bookshop has a perfect, lovely, satisfying ending so I closed it with a smile on my face and I may have shed a few tears. 

Many thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy! I will hang onto this one for a reread. I'm not big on reading seasonal books otherwise, but Christmas is a big YES. 

©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, December 20, 2021

Monday Malarkey - Merry Christmas edition

There were no book arrivals at all, this past two weeks, so you get a Festive Fiona Christmas pic to admire instead of a book photo. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
  • The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
  • Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron
  • The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

I read four old favorite Christmas books because I was having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. The decorating wasn't getting done and I just wasn't feeling it, although I put out some cute little gnomes and bought some flickering curtain lights that drop about halfway down the windows (I figured full-length would be a cat hazard) and they're very cheering. The books helped! Our Christmas tree never did get fully decorated but when we plug it in at night you can't see that it's not as full of ornaments as it normally is. And after reading all those Christmas books, I finally got the mantle dusted and decorated, painted a few little wooden animals white and put red and white ribbons around their necks then set them marching across a shelf, wrapped gifts, decorated the entry table, and called it done. 

Currently reading:

  • The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar by Hingston and Olsen (publisher)
  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren 

It's Sunday afternoon as I type and I haven't yet started to read In a Holidaze; it's what I plan to read next. I don't know if it'll take but if it does it should be my last Christmas book. I started an anthology of Christmas stories and poems a couple days ago but found it dull, so there was one DNF, this week. I don't know if I'll hang onto the anthology to try again in 2022 or just donate it. I'm leaning toward donating. 

Posts since last Malarkey: 

In other news:

I think I mentioned that we stopped midway through the second episode of Get Back. After a couple weeks of waiting to see if husband was willing to watch more of it, he admitted that he wasn't interested. So, I finished watching Get Back while he was in Denver on business, this week. I enjoyed it! Yeah, parts of it are either chaotic or a bit of a snooze but in general I found it fascinating and enlightening. I have a book of Beatles songs that I got from HarperCollins and never managed to review because the friend I was going to discuss it with passed away shortly after I received it but I think I'm finally at a point that I can pull it off the shelf without weeping over the loss of my friend so I hope to start on that, soon. 

A Dickens of a Holiday is a Hallmark movie that I watched, this week. We'd turned it on in the middle the week before and I thought it was intolerable without context, but starting from the beginning worked. It's about a couple of actors. The female has returned to her hometown and is in charge of directing the annual production of A Christmas Carol but when her Scrooge loses his voice and is told that he has to rest his vocal chords for a month, she calls on a local guy who has become famous to play the role. He's . . . pretty awful. Actually, I didn't even think he was a great Scrooge at the point that we were supposed to think she'd given him some great advice and he'd improved, but I thought the interaction between the two characters was fun and sweet. 

I know I watched another Hallmark movie and, in fact, loved that one. But, I can't remember what it was even about. This was definitely a movie week. 

Finding You is a movie I found on Prime. It's about a New York violinist who goes on a semester abroad in Ireland after her audition for music school is a failure. On the way to Ireland, she's seated beside a famous star and takes an instant disliking to him. But, when they end up in the same Bed and Breakfast and her host family is too overwhelmed with the new business to show her the sights, he offers to take her. She also gets some lessons from a local fiddler and has to do community service, acting as a companion to a senior citizen. I loved this movie for the hilarious scenes in which the actor is fighting dragons and the Irish setting but I also found it touching and sweet. I had tears absolutely streaming down my face near the end. It was a little triggering for me but worth it. 

Another Prime movie I happened across one day when I was in the mood for TV was Mistletoe Mixup. It's about a woman who has two men interested in her. One leaves his phone number but never texts back and the other follows up. She likes the guy who doesn't text back better. But, when the other fellow asks if she'd like to join his family for Christmas (she has no family), she's surprised when she shows up and the guy who didn't text back opens the door. They are, it turns out, brothers. Bit of a mess. I liked that. It's obvious from the beginning which guy she really clicks with and how it will end up, but that's the joy of romance, isn't it? You get what you expect and desire out of the story. I enjoyed it.

And, there's one more movie that I plan to watch, tonight: 

'Tis the Season to be Merry is a movie that I saw advertised while watching A Dickens of a Holiday. I don't know what it's about or whether or not I'll like it but I'll be in front of the TV at 7pm Central time, watching. 

Oh, and last week I went to see the local production of A Christmas Carol with blogger friend Brittanie of A Book Lover (not currently an active blog). It was fabulous! I was so impressed. We've talked about getting tickets to the New Stage Theater but just never gotten around to it so I was excited when Brittanie asked if I wanted to go. Husband was unfortunately on his flight to Denver but that's OK. Brittanie and I hadn't seen each other since before the pandemic and it was nice to catch up in person. 

I have one more review to do, maybe two if I do a post about all the short Christmas books, then I may be done posting till after Christmas. I don't know if I'll get around to posting another cat photo. We'll see. They're so cute, I probably will. 

Hope you're enjoying the Christmas season!

©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, December 17, 2021

Fiona Friday

Fiona, coming at ya with the glamour shot. 

©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, December 15, 2021

Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron is the 14th in the Jane Austen Mystery series and the first I've read. In Jane and the Year Without a Summer, Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra spend two weeks in the spa town of Cheltenham to take the waters as Jane's health is declining. 

Most of the book reads very much like an Austen novel, with a large cast of characters interacting, some maybe with romance in mind, others with suspect motives. 

Is the viscount who insists that the wife who ran away from him return to Cornwall trying to kill her for her fortune? Or is she simply desirous of her independence and the ability to live by her own means? When deaths begin to occur at the boarding house in which Jane and the viscountess are staying, Jane is determined to solve the mystery. 

Highly recommended - While I admit to being a bit overwhelmed by the huge cast of characters, I loved the writing style and found the storyline suitably intriguing without being overly complex. Also, it was clear early on that the author had done her research. I stayed in a building on a site that was mentioned, which has one of London's infamous blue plaques (Hans Place) mentioning Jane Austen's stay. After reading this installment, I really want to go back to the beginning of the series and read them all. Reading Jane and the Year Without a Summer was definitely a learning experience and I want to know more!

My thanks to Soho Crime and Laurel of Austenprose 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, December 13, 2021

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa

In The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, Rintaro is a hikikomori, a reclusive teen who loves books and has an almost encyclopedic knowledge about them. His grandfather has just died, leaving him to run Natsuki Books on his own, but soon he'll have to leave the bookstore behind to live with a distant aunt. 

Rintaro stops going to school entirely after his grandfather's death. Why bother? He's going to leave, soon, and he doesn't have any friends. When an orange tabby named Tiger shows up and asks for his help saving books that are being destroyed, he follows. And, when the class rep — a cheerful girl named Sayo — arrives with his homework and becomes involved in the series of adventures into the labyrinth with Tiger, what will they discover? Can he and Sayo save the books from destruction?

Highly recommended - I had trouble putting down The Cat Who Saved Books and ended up with a bit of a late-night hangover from staying up to finish. I liked the way Sayo and another bookish schoolmate ignored Rintaro's introverted tendencies and spotted the depth of his knowledge and his heart. A lovely story of how books connect us and help us understand each other, translated from the Japanese. 

I won a copy of The Cat Who Saved Books from HarperCollins via Goodreads. Many thanks! 

This copy also includes a note on the cover illustration, which is quite interesting. 

©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, December 10, 2021

Fiona Friday - We like autumn

©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, December 09, 2021

Red is My Heart by Antoine Laurain and Le Sonneur

First a note on the cover: I don't know if this is the final cover for the American edition of Red is My Heart but the one I have is so subtle that the words don't stand out (they're impressed rather than printed on the cover). In person, it has a nice look but this cover is what you see at Amazon. I chose this image over a photo of my copy so that it would stand out. 

Red is My Heart by Antoine Laurain and Le Sonneur (illustrator) is a sweet, sad, funny, and ultimately hopeful story about a man who is despondent after his girlfriend leaves him. It's heavily illustrated, so probably novella length.

Each of the illustrations are in black and white with a touch of red. The red is usually distant in some way (but not always), and I presume it represents the loss of a piece of the protagonists heart or the distance, loneliness, and longing that he feels. But, maybe it's less a collaboration than a project written with the thought of Le Sonneur's art (which, you can see from this interior shot, the author describes as serving no purpose). I'd love to know how this book came about.

Highly recommended - I love Antoine Laurain's sense of humor. Red is My Heart is a simple story of a broken heart that appears to be on the mend in the end, but both Laurain's sly wit and the illustrations made Red is My Heart a super fun read that I will undoubtedly return to when I want to read something simple and visual. 

I jumped the gun a bit because I neglected to look at the publication date when I sat down to read Red is My Heart. The current release date is January 18, 2022. It can be pre-ordered. 

My thanks to Meryl Zegarek Public Relations and Gallic 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.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Dragon Legend (Dragon Realm #2) by Katie and Kevin Tsang

Dragon Legend by Katie and Kevin Tsang is the second in the Dragon Realm middle grade series. The books do need to be read in order, so if you haven't read the first book please stop here. There may be spoilers. You can read my review of the first in the Dragon Realm series, here:

Dragon Mountain by Katie and Kevin Tsang

In Dragon Legend, Charlotte, Billy, and Ling-Fei must decide whether or not to follow their friend Dylan, who has been grabbed by their teacher, Old Gold, and pulled into a time portal. Old Gold has betrayed them, as well as his grandson, JJ. The entire point of Chinese Culture Camp was to find the right children to help him enter the Dragon Realm, where he planned to join the evil Dragon of Death and be on the winning side when she rules the Human and Dragon Realms. 

Of course, the children decide to go after Dylan. Because JJ has been left behind by his grandfather, he's invited to come along on Dylan's dragon, Buttons. Using one of the dragons' hoards and their powers, they open a portal in time to search for him. What they find is not promising. It looks like the Dragon of Death and her evil minions are already killing innocent dragons who refuse to join her.

What else will the children find? Will they be able to locate and rescue their friend, Dylan? What has Old Gold done with him? Can JJ be trusted? When they find out what Old Gold is up to, will they be able to beat him at his game? And, when there's a fierce dragon battle, who will win? 

Recommended - There's only one thing I didn't love about Dragon Legend and that's the fact that a few too many hints were dropped about how it would end (another cliffhanger). Meh, whatever. I still loved it. I've deliberately kept my review vague but a lot happens and I just don't want to spoil it for kids or grown-ups who love a bit of dragony adventure. And, Dragon Legend is quite a whirlwind ride. Over time, the power the children have from their pearls and connection with their dragons becomes stronger. But will it be enough when the time comes for battle? 

Ugh, I want to read the next book! My thanks to Sterling Children's Books for the review copy. I love this series and would highly recommend it to any child or grown-up in need of an escape into another world. There is some fascinating and unique world building. I enjoyed that feeling that you never know what's going to happen next. Even the ending was surprising in many ways, in spite of the fact that you know what's going to cause the cliffhanger. 

©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, December 06, 2021

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (above):

  • The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa - Goodreads win from HarperCollins for review

I almost never win anything from Goodreads but I suspect that's because I don't try too hard. I'm excited about The Cat Who Saved Books because a) cat, b) books, c) Japanese author. Also, a couple friends have reviewed it and enthused about it, so that's always positive. And, yes, those are blooming roses behind the book, in case you were wondering. But, it does finally look like fall, here, and some of our trees are even entirely bare. 

From the library sale (top to bottom):

  • L'Assommoir by Emile Zola
  • Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
  • Dimensions of Sheckley: Selected Novels of Robert Sheckley 
  • The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, ed. by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis

I actually went to the library sale in search of old books with illustrations I could cut out for collaging but as I said on Instagram, I am Bookfool and must live up to my name. I have Beneath a Scarlet Sky in e-book and it's possible I already have a print copy but in my memory I see a slightly dirty copy. If I'm right that I already have it, I'll re-donate the other copy when I find it. This one is nearly pristine, as I prefer my books to be. 

There was one person at the library sale who was clearly there to find books to resell. It's funny how you can spot them. They're always in a hurry and all business, avoid eye contact, and frequently pull out the phone to look up value. 

You may recall that in my last Monday Malarkey post I said I thought I was probably done receiving books for the year. Um . . . I think that's true now? I guess we'll see. I am not buying, although I did make an exception for library sales so the books above don't violate my book-buying ban. At any rate, if I receive anything, it will be a surprise. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • The Way We Weren't by Phoebe Fox
  • Dragon Mountain by Katie and Kevin Tsang
  • Dragon Legend by Katie and Kevin Tsang

Wow, only 3 books in two weeks. That's not great. But, there were a couple days that I remember not feeling like reading and The Way We Weren't had a bookmark in it for over a week (not the book's fault). Plus, holiday cleaning and entertainment was done. OK, it seems reasonable, now that I've thought about it. And, I enjoyed all 3 books, so I can't complain. 

Currently reading:

  • Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron
  • The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar by Hingston and Olsen (publisher)
  • The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

This is my second year with a Short Story Advent Calendar and it turns out my post about last year's Short Story Advent Calendar influenced two friends to purchase their own. This has been so much fun, already. Brittanie (former blogger at A Book Lover) and I have been texting each other about some of the stories. It's twice the fun having someone to discuss them with, even if it's only to say, "I thought it was funny, did you?" This year's advent calendar has a "'round the world" theme, so most are translations, which I love. Translations often give you an excellent peek into other cultures. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news:

We've only watched one movie in the past 2 weeks, the 1984 version of Dune that has been criticized since its release. Honestly, I avoided it all these years because of the criticism but I wanted to compare it to the newer release. Wow, what a huge difference. The new Dune is a work of art, visually appealing but clearly missing some of the nuance that the book should reveal. 

The 1984 Dune is the opposite. It's not very enjoyable to look at and the Baron was so gross that I often found myself looking away during his scenes. But, the missing bits of characterization seemed to be spelled out a lot better. I felt like I got the storyline in a way I didn't with the newer version. It's not perfect, obviously. The storyline is clearly expansive and was far too compressed in the 1984 version. And, yet, I enjoyed getting to see the entire story play out and I cannot freaking wait to read the book. I think Dune is going to be my first chunkster read in 2022. 

Also, wow, what an all-star cast. 

Otherwise, we've watched bits and pieces of movies but not turned on the TV, much. The only other thing we've watched a substantial chunk of is the Beatles documentary, Get Back. And, what an interesting experience that is, seeing them work through the creative process, interact with the people in the studio and each other, joke and bicker. 

Like everyone else who has commented, I think the most fascinating part of the first episode was watching Paul start with a rhythm and a single chord, add a tune, and then start adding lyrics to "Get Back" and seeing how his bandmates then joined in. 

I was also intrigued by Paul's comment that in 50 years people were going to blame Yoko Ono for breaking up the band because she "sat on an amp". Of course, she was immediately blamed; it didn't take 50 years. It was fascinating to see her sit quietly and I appreciated the fact that she wasn't the only girlfriend/wife to show up at the studio. 

In general, it makes so much more sense why the band broke up, now. They needed to go their separate ways. They were clearly itching to try new things but still very good friends. They laughed a lot but there was occasional tension. No woman was to blame for their need to move on. Anyway, that's all my thoughts, so far. I think we stopped halfway through the second episode because it was late, so we have 1 1/2 episodes to go. I didn't have too much trouble with the Liverpudlian/Scouse accents but I noticed someone commented that he couldn't understand them and gave up (beneath a friend's Facebook post). Subtitles are available. I chose to use them in the second episode because there were definitely times I missed a joke or couldn't understand what was said. 

Also, it's been fun watching what everyone else seems to be viewing, for once! 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch-style home, we had workers building a sidewalk that goes from the driveway to the terraced patio at the back of our house. The sidewalk is finished and I love it. It has the same cobblestones as the patio and ties in nicely, plus it's very subtle and pretty; you don't see the sidewalk from the street unless you're looking for it and I like that. They had to build a couple more steps from the upper patio level to the sidewalk because they redid the earthwork and we're waiting for them to return to cap those off, then we'll probably get the earth that was ripped up sodded. At any rate, it's an exciting addition to our house. The side yard was soggy and slippery; we really needed something to make walking around the side of our house less hazardous and it's so pretty that it really adds a nice feature to the looks of our yard. Now, if my knees would stop hurting, another goal of adding the sidewalk was to create an extra stretch to walk on without straying from the house, in case one of the arthritic knees goes out. Gah, I feel old. How are you feeling, today? :)

©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, December 03, 2021

Fiona Friday - Stargazing

©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, December 02, 2021

Spy School, Evil Spy School, and Spy Ski School by Stuart Gibbs

All three of these books are from the same middle grade series but the Spy School series has been going on for quite some time and there are at least 7 books, now. So, this doesn't cover all of them, by any means. 

In Spy School (Spy School #1) by Stuart Gibbs, Ben Ripley is an ordinary kid with above average math skills and his dream is to be in the CIA one day. But, he's not exactly CIA material. He can barely get through the school day without something going wrong. 

When Ben is told that he's being given a scholarship to a special school for science and math nerds, his parents are particularly excited. But, when it turns out that he's actually moved into a school for future CIA agents, it's Ben that's thrilled. Until he finds out that his acceptance was a case of mistaken identity. 

From his introduction to spy school to fighting the bad guys (known as SPYDER) toward the end of the book, Spy School is an action-packed, humorous, and hopefully-romantic ride. I particularly loved the side characters who are written in the James Bond vein: a grandfather, his son, and his granddaughter — a family that goes all the way back to the start of America's spy network by Nathan Hale, their ancestor. Ben develops a terrible crush on Erica Hale, who has been training to be a spy her entire life

Will Ben get a really attractive girlfriend and a place in the CIA? Will his opportunity to become a genuine spy evaporate when he scores badly in self defense? Are extreme math skills enough? What will happen when Ben is faced with a dangerous person from SPYDER, a network of criminals who would like the CIA's spy school to go up in smoke?

I knew I'd made a good decision buying as many from this series as possible when I read Spy School. It is just ridiculously fun. I loved the action, the humor, and the interaction between Ben and Erica, as well as the hilarity of Alexander Hale's attempts to make himself out to be the world's greatest spy (Alexander is Erica's father). 

Next up is Spy Camp, but when I bought the 5 books from this series, either I overlooked it or it wasn't available. So, I skipped on to Evil Spy School (Spy School #3). This wasn't a problem. Although there are references to the second book, each of the Spy School books stands alone just fine. 

Ben has been kicked out of spy school for accidentally bombing the principal's office, but when he's recruited to join a different group of spies, the bad guys he's already fought twice, he agrees to join their school with the thought that he can learn what they're up to and maybe even stop their nefarious plans. 

Evil spy school is not at all like the CIA's spy school. There's a massive gym, for one thing, and there aren't many students. One is extraordinarily perky, which seems odd in a school where the kids know they're working for the bad guys. But, as Ben gets to know his fellow students, he realizes he's there for a reason. He was set up and now he has no choice but to determine what the bad guys are up to before it's too late. And, by too late, I mean Really Big Bombs raining down. Will Ben be able to figure out the evil plan in time to save the day? 

Once again, nonstop fun. I love the rollercoaster plotting of the Spy School series and where the author took Ben's maybe-relationship with Erica (well . . . friendship) in Evil Spy School and the bang-up ending (lots of running and explosions and funny moments). 

Spy Ski School (Spy School #4) takes Ben, Erica, some of his friends from school, Alexander Hale, and the grandfather (I can't remember his name) to Colorado, where Ben has been tasked with getting to know Jessica Shang, the daughter of an extraordinarily wealthy Chinese businessman. The CIA suspects that he's up to no good, but they really don't know. They don't even exactly know how he became wealthy but he's rented an entire hotel for himself and Jessica while they're in town so Jessica can take skiing lessons. At the hotel and even around Jessica, security is very tight. 

Ben doesn't know how to ski and neither does Jessica, so he's the perfect person to hang out with her on the bunny slopes. But, a complication arises when Ben's best friend arrives on the ski slopes and risks the entire mission by getting in the way of Ben and Jessica's potential friendship. 

Will Ben be able to get close to Jessica so that he can figure out what her father is up to? Has Ben's best friend figured out that Ben is learning to be a spy? While some of his team also spend time skiing, a few dig for answers on computers set up at the hotel. Is Jessica's father really helicopter skiing? Or is he meeting with dangerous people? If he's doing something dangerous, can he be stopped?

All highly recommended - OK, yes, they're very goofy books. I like humor and action combined, so the Spy School series is perfect for a middle-grade-loving adult like me and makes me wish my kids were younger so I could foist the series on them and watch their faces light up. Both of my sons would have loved this series during their elementary years, especially my younger son. I highly recommend all three and I'm looking forward to reading the remaining two on my stacks. I think they'd be particularly great for reluctant readers who like a good laugh. Both of my sons went through a phase during which they were disinterested in reading and I lured them back by finding books that fit their personal interests. Both were fans of action and adventure and loved a good belly laugh. It's hard for me to imagine a child not enjoying this series, to be honest. 

©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.