Sunday, January 30, 2022

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman 
  • The Defiant Middle by Kaya Oakes
  • Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design by Theo Inglis
  • Project Collage by Bev Speight
  • Zentangle Art Therapy by Anya Lothrop

All of these were purchased and all are nonfiction. Call Us What We Carry is, of course, poetry. The Defiant Middle is . . . well, I'm not sure how to describe it but if's about the push and pull of being a woman, trying to find your place in a world in which even religion is patriarchal (but hasn't always been), and the fallout of living with the expectations of others. I read it yesterday and loved it but feel a little at a loss to describe it well. Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design is something I bought after doing a little research into the design of the era in order to make my friend Michelle (one of my early blog friends) a Christmas card geared to her taste and then not wanting to leave that design world behind. Project Collage is my second book about collaging because I am absolutely loving collage, right now. And, the zentangle book was just for fun. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
  • The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American by Andrew L. Seidel
  • Slightly Foxed #71 - August, 2021 
  • Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford and Floyd Cooper
  • The Defiant Middle by Kaya Oakes

I'd only read 3 books in nearly two weeks and then this weekend I just buried my nose in reading material between the weekend chores. Ah. I feel better about my last two weeks, now. 

Currently reading:

  • The Complete Beatles Songs by Steve Turner
  • Paint Mojo, a Mixed-Media Workshop by Tracy Verdugo
  • Store of the Worlds by Robert Sheckley
  • The Runaways by Holly Webb

Posts since last Malarkey:

In other news: 

Meh, not much news. My art space had to be cleared so I haven't done any art. I'm watching a bunch of random stuff but I don't know if any of it will stick. And, we haven't seen any movies. I haven't even left the driveway in days. But, the weather has been amazing. Yesterday, we sat outside on the bottom level of our patio and just enjoyed the sun beating down on us. It was cool enough not to get overheated, in the 60s. This week is supposed to be warm and I think we're ready for a solid break from the cold. We don't have much in the way of cold-weather clothing. 

©2022 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, January 28, 2022

Fiona Friday

Me to cats facing opposite direction: "You guys hungry?"

Cats: [Immediate head swivel and wide eyes]

©2022 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, January 26, 2022

A History of Pictures for Children by Hockney and Gayford and The Collage Ideas Book by Alannah Moore

Both of these books are about art, one focusing on history and technique, the other a book of ideas and examples; one for children, one geared to adults but I wouldn't keep it away from the kiddos. 

I've been a fan of David Hockney's art since I saw "Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy" at the Tate Gallery in London when I was 17.  I loved it so much that I bought one of those little art cards of the painting in the museum shop and started paying attention to the artist. Of course, back then we didn't have the Internet so I only got glimpses of his work on occasion for many years, but I've always been drawn back to his work. 

So, when I saw that there was an art history book by Hockney, I grabbed it. It didn't matter to me that it's for children since my art education was pretty much cut off after elementary school and everything else I know has been learned in classes and workshops (mostly online — meaning, I don't know a lot). What I hoped for was a general overview of art with some of Hockney's work represented to show the various principles or techniques. And, that is exactly what you get in A History of Pictures for Children. It's written as a discussion between the artist and art critic Martin Gayford. It's not an in-depth look at art through the ages but a glimpse of art across time and how it has changed since our ancestors drew the first pictures in caves. It's also about some concepts artists try to portray, like shadow and light and styles like realism vs. cubism. Bonus: "Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy" is one of the Hockney paintings in the book, yay. It's still a personal favorite. 

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the concepts are shown via Hockney's own works and his descriptions of how and why he chose to create a particular work of art. Not a problem for this fangirl. A good introduction to some basics with a glossary and extensive references. 

Highly recommended - Remember, this is a children's book so it doesn't go into great depth. But, if you're a Hockney fan and/or just want yourself or your child to learn some basics about art history, this book is an entertaining read and informative but breezy, nothing taxing. I loved it. And, I did learn a few new things. A History of Pictures for Children is illustrated by Rose Blake. 

The Collage Ideas Book by Alannah Moore is a book in which an artist's work is shown on each spread with a concept that was used in the artist's work. For example, "Embellish with stitching," "Create a fantastical world," or "Be brave with color". 

OK, details. This book is very small, about 5 1/4" x 4 1/2" (this is a ballpark figure based on the proportions of the index card I plopped on top of it; I did not take measurements). It needs to be the size of a more normal book, as in 8 1/2" x 11" because the details are very, very hard to see. In some cases, several works of art by an artist are shown and the smaller images are only about 1" or 1.5" tall and similar in width. I had to pull out a magnifying glass and even then I felt like I wasn't getting a good view of the artworks. That's the bad. 

The good is everything else. I loved seeing the diversity of collage art in The Collage Ideas Book and I figure I will be looking up a lot of these artists online, so perhaps I'll be a able to enlarge their artworks and see them better in that way. Also, there are so many great methods to spark ideas. 

Highly recommended - Small as it is, The Collage Ideas Book is inspiring and, in fact, I did test that idea to look up artists online and it worked well. I looked up the cover artist, Niky Roehreke. Wow, what an explosion of color! I love her work. At any rate, the bottom line is that I'll definitely be referring back to this book repeatedly, so it was worth the money as a reference book. I guess one just has to put up with the size and enjoy the inspiration. 

©2022 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, January 25, 2022

Spy x Family #1 by Tatsuya Endo

My first manga! And, it was a good one, which I read thanks to the recommendation of a friendly librarian (who leads the online book group I joined during the pandemic). Yay for librarians!

Spy x Family #1 is about a spy who is ordered to infiltrate a prestigious school. At first he thinks, "I just need a daughter" and goes about adopting a child and getting her accustomed to acting like he's her father. And, then, he finds out that both a mother and father are required for the interview to get his child accepted to admission in the school. So, he has to go out and find a wife. 

The joy of this story is in the silliness. The adopted daughter, it turns out, is a telepath. And, the wife is an assassin. This is, of course, entirely nuts. I loved every moment; I smiled pretty much all the way through the reading. And, it was definitely interesting learning how to read from back to front and right to left. 

Highly recommended - A very entertaining story. Spy x Family #1 is mostly set-up, but I can imagine I'm going to really continue enjoying this series if even the set-up is this amusing. I'm balancing six books at this moment (January does this to me — I want to read everything and I want to read it all now) but I keep looking longingly at Spy x Family #2. I can't wait to read it. 

©2022 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, January 24, 2022

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

Well, this is unusual . . . a book I finished but didn't really like. That seldom happens since I made a commitment to abandoning books that I'm not enjoying. 

The title character in Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore lives in one part of her life for a single year and then gets swept off to another year of her life and is stuck there, having to figure out where she is, how old, and what's going on in her life. She may live in a 50-something body, one year, and then return to her twenties. The Oona we follow almost always arrives in a time in which a future Oona has lived, so there's a notebook with hints about investments she needs to make (so that she can be filthy rich) but she has a "no spoiler" policy and, except for an often-cryptic note that she leaves at the end of each year, Oona has no hints of what's to come, for better or worse. 

OK, so it's an interesting premise and I know there are plenty of people who enjoyed this book but I had some major issues with it. Chiefly, I didn't like the main character at all. She is too quick to give in to drugs, alcohol, and unprotected sex. I should have stopped at her second life, when she arrives at a club, takes drugs, and has sex in full view of the DJ. Gross. She doesn't even take the time to find out what's going on in her life or if she's dating anyone. But, I kept going. 

I was also disappointed that Oona was so focused on her investments and staying wealthy. She never actually does anything but invest, as I recall. She has no job and  . . . ugh, I thought the "no spoiler" thing was ridiculous. If I jumped from one time period of my life to another, you can bet I would leave myself copious notes. She does eventually start working to improve at a particular skill but otherwise isn't much into learning. That bugged me. 

Meh - I'm sure there were plenty of people who loved this book (It has a 3.86 rating at Goodreads and the friends who've finished it enjoyed it, although one friend did mention that she ditched it when I posted to Instagram). I wouldn't have added it to my wishlist if I hadn't read a positive review or two but it was absolutely not for me and while I don't entirely regret reading it in the hopes that it would improve, a part of me would really like to go back in time and put it in the donation bag at Life #2. This book was definitely not for me. Having said that, I did like the ending because it was exactly how I hoped it would end. And, I did not mind the fact that parts of it were predictable, since much of it was not. 

©2022 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, January 21, 2022

Wordy Birdy and Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants by Tammi Sauer and Dave Mottram

Just a couple quickies. I bought these two books shortly after seeing a review of one of them and thinking, "Oh, how cute!" But, I likely wouldn't have bought them if the author, Tammi Sauer, didn't happen to be a favorite children's book author. Good decision. 

The eponymous bird in Wordy Birdy by Tammi Sauer and Dave Mottram (illustrator) is just what she sounds like, a bird who can't stop talking. But, she's not a good listener and doesn't particularly pay a lot of attention to her surroundings. So, when she sees a danger sign, she just admires it and keeps going, ignoring the message. Her friends try to stop her but she doesn't listen to them, either. And, then a second warning sign . . . same thing. When she arrives at the point of danger, her friends are there to help her escape. Wordy Birdy will be paying more attention, from now on. 

A sweet, funny, charming story with vibrant, expressive illustrations and a nice lesson in friendship and paying attention to one's surroundings. I loved it. 

In Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants by the same author and illustrator, Wordy Birdy and her friends have gone camping. She talks so much that nobody can get to sleep. But, then a hungry cougar shows up at their campsite and she drives him out of the camp with her chattiness, saving herself and her friends. 

There's one fantastic line in this book and it's the cougar saying, "Did she just call me Mr. Cougarpants?" Ohmygosh, the expression on the cougar's face is a hoot!

Both highly recommended - I loved both of these books but my personal favorite is Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants because of that moment when the cougar is stunned and the sheer hilarity of a bird talking a predator away from the camp because he just wanted a nice peaceful meal. So, so cute. Also, I hate to say it but Wordy Birdy reminded me of myself as a child. I got told to please be quiet a lot

These are picture books for younger ones, with few words. My only issue with them is that I never have liked reading picture books that have word balloons to small children because I always felt obligated to point at whoever is speaking. I prefer dialogue to be described within text saying who is saying what. But, that's a personal preference and it's really not a big deal. The stories win out. 

©2022 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.

Fiona Friday - Cute face-washing photography fail

©2022 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, January 18, 2022

2021 Reading Year in Review

2021 followed on the heels of 2020 as one of my worst reading years (quantity-wise) in recent decades and I'm not entirely sure why but some years are just like that, I guess. There were many days that I simply didn't feel like reading. I was just off. But, I still managed to fulfill some of my annual goals and I'm very happy about that. 

2021 Reading Year in Review

Number of books read: 110

Total pages read: 27,899

Average book length: 253 pages

Longest book read in 2021: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - 1057 pages

Shortest book read (not including children's books): Fox 8 by George Saunders - 21 pages

Fiction reads: 101

Nonfiction reads: 9

Short story collections/anthologies: 14

Number of book titles that give me a negative feeling: 5

Classics or modern classics read: 13

Sci-fi: 14

Biggest surprise in the stats: That sci-fi number. I had no idea I'd read so much sci-fi in 2021. 

Please note that when deciding on favorites: 

  1. I'm terrible at narrowing down, so . . . 
  2. I went by kind of a spark joy method. Which book titles gave me the strongest warm, happy feeling?
  3. I have eliminated rereads, even though most rereads are read because they're favorites. 
  4. I realize there are way more than the Top 10 most people end with in fiction favorites but please remember that I'm quick to abandon books and like or love most everything I read. This is a great thing.
  5. My choices may not correlate to my 5-star ratings because I went with the titles that give me that warm, happy feeling right now.  

Favorite fiction (adult): 

  • Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
  • Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Yawaguchi
  • Milkman by Anna Burns
  • The Last Night in London by Karen White
  • Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
  • They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • The Boatman by Billy O'Callahan
  • September Moon by John Moore
  • The Sundial by Shirley Jackson
  • The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan 

Favorite fiction (children's picture books to YA):

  • The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  • The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
  • Where is Our Library? by Josh Funk and Stevie Lewis
  • Ungifted by Gordon Korman
  • All of the "Spy School" series books I read by Stuart Gibbs
  • Two Girls, A Clock, and a Crooked House by Michael Poore

Favorite nonfiction:

  • The Gap by Benjamin Gilmour
  • Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria

Books that I don't think got enough attention: 

  • When We Were Young by Richard Roper - The tale of a broken friendship and how two young men take a long walk on an English path together to try to repair their rift before it's too late. Both heartbreaking and often hilarious. I love Richard Roper's writing. He has a knack for mixing light and dark with levity but I always sob at the end of his books. 
  • Climate Change and How We'll Fix It by Alice Harman and Andrés Lozano (illustrator) - Goodreads says only 8 people shelved this book, which is a shame because it would make an exceptional school resource. It explains climate change with clarity, including through imaginary conversations. 

Book I'm most pleased to have read: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I think this was my 4th attempt? I was enjoying it when we were on vacation, a few years ago, but the old mass market paperback copy I'd repeatedly tried to read for ages actually fell to pieces as I was reading it and it took me months to find a new copy at a decent price. Then another few years passed. I have wanted to read this book since I was a child (when I bought that paperback that fell apart, probably at a garage sale). I'm absolutely thrilled to have finally read it. 

The two books I cannot shut up about: 

  1. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir - By far the most entertaining book I read in 2021. You don't have to love sci-fi to appreciate the storytelling. Since I couldn't shut up, several people read Project Hail Mary on my advice. They all loved it and most have continued to talk about it throughout the year, as I did. 
  2. Night Came with Many Stars by Simon Van Booy - As you know if you've been hanging around for any length of time, I love Simon Van Booy's writing and I adore the author, whom I got to know in my early blogging years. I personally think Night Came with Many Stars is his best novel, although I love them all. Again, I was a bit of an evangelist for this book and several people have told me they read it on my recommendation and loved it. 

So far in 2022: I've read 10 books. But, 3 of those are children's books that came in my First of Year Book Outlet order, 1 from a middle grade series I had on hand, and one is a manga. Not exactly heavy reading material. Regardless of genre/type/age range, this year is starting out like a normal January — the first normal January in 3 years (it's usually my best month) so I have high hopes that this will be a better reading year than the last two. 

If you duct taped me to a wall and said you wouldn't unstick me till I told you my single favorite book in 2021, I would say, "Let me go!!!" OK, and then I'd admit it was Project Hail Mary. But, wow, I read so many terrific books. Since I did read 5 that give me a bad spark when I read their titles, I've been thinking about why I pushed myself through those particular books. I think in two cases I expected them to improve and the rest I forged on because they were short, so why not get my money's worth? As many books as I own, I need to never finish anything that isn't absolutely grabbing me, so I'll be working on that. In fact, after giving those negative vibes some thought I DNF'd a book but it wasn't awful; I think it was just not the right timing for that one.

Other things that were odd about 2021 were the fact that I didn't read as many nonfiction or classics titles as I normally do. Usually, I have a nonfiction title going at all times. This past year, I not only didn't always have a bookmark in a nonfiction title but also abandoned a couple halfway through. And, weirdly, I was enjoying them! I just felt so bogged down by my disinterest in reading that I felt like I needed to let them go because they were slower reads. I hope someday to return to both. 

As to the classics, I did read more than one per month on average if you include the Christmas books that I reread, but I normally try to read a minimum of one classic per month and my classic reads were not as evenly distributed throughout the year as I prefer them to be. I'll try to work on that, this year, as well, although my main goal is to just read off my shelves and let books call to me. 

©2022 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, January 17, 2022

Monday Malarkey

Recent arrivals (clockwise from left):

  • Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
  • The Mixed Media Photography Book by Nitsa Malik
  • Paint Mojo by Tracy Verdugo
  • The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson
  • In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
  • Syllabus by Lynda Barry
  • 1500 Color Mixing Recipes by William F. Powell

This is just a fraction of the books I've bought since I lifted my book-buying ban (now resumed) for 2 weeks. Most were on my wish list but The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams is one I read several rave reviews of and bought on a whim. There will be more to come. I went a bit overboard. Fortunately, I'm parting with way more books, these days, so my hope is that more will go out than come in, by the end of the year. We're a bit skewed to incoming, at this moment. 

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Fortune Favors the Duke by Kristin Vayden
  • Spy x Family #1 by Tatsuya Endo
  • Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
  • Wordy Birdy by Tammi Sauer and Dave Mottram
  • Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants by Tammi Sauer and Dave Mottram
  • A History of Pictures for Children by Hockney, Gayford, and Blake
  • The Collage Ideas Book by Alanna Moore
  • Spy School: Secret Service by Stuart Gibbs
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Both Wordy Birdy books, A History of Pictures for Children, and The Collage Ideas Book are also purchases (you can see I had a lot of books about art on my wish list) but I didn't want to pull them off the shelf to photograph. You'll see them when I review. Oh, and the Spy x Family manga. I bought the entire series (6 of them) and am having a terrible time stopping myself from whipping through all of them. The first was an absolute delight. 

Currently reading:

  • Store of the Worlds by Robert Sheckley
  • The Founding Myth by Andrew L. Seidel

Both of these are books that are going to take me quite a while to read. Store of the Worlds is a collection of short stories and I try to read one or two daily but often go several days without picking it up. And, it's 400 pages long. The stories are excellent, though, so I don't mind dragging it out. The Founding Myth is nonfiction and it's being read in a similar fashion — a chapter or two when I feel like it. I'll add a novel to the mix, tonight, but I haven't settled on anything, yet. 

Posts since last Malarkey:

Blogger is giving me fits and refusing to let me post links to two of these so I'll return and try again, later. However, last year's complete list of books with links can be found through a link in my sidebar and the Fiona Friday pic is the last thing I posted so they're easy to find. 

In other news:

We haven't watched anything but random episodes of various shows that didn't stick, so there's no viewing news. And, we haven't done our annual viewing of O, Brother, Where Art Thou?, which became a New Year's tradition, a few years ago. Need to get to that. We did, however, finally get around to drinking our Golden Celebration tea, which is another tradition that we started after our trip to Japan. We were a bit late (about the 10th, I think?) but I'm fine with the New Year's traditions just landing any time during the month of January. 

There's not a whole lot else going on besides crazy cleaning and purging. Our couples gift, this year, was a robot vacuum cleaner. To map out the rooms, we had to get everything off the floor and, ugh, we are really bad about making little piles (books, canvases, art supplies . . . cat toys everywhere). We skipped mapping one room and threw a lot of stuff into it. And, now we can't even get from one end of that room to the other, but that's next, going through all those piles and deciding what to keep and what to part with. There are way too many canvases propped up in there.  Some of my artwork is in progress, all in various stages. Some is done and has just been lying around. It was fun to make but not worth hanging on the walls. I've begun painting over some early paintings and I mostly paint on paper, now, to save space. 

Anyway, the floors are so clean. I'm loving that. Because we have hardwood floors with throw rugs and both the broom and vacuum cleaner (even on the correct setting) tend to fling things off to the side, I've been cleaning my floors by using the suction hose and scooting around on my rear end. Wow, am I glad to not be doing that, anymore. 

Oh, and another thing I bought was a 5-year "One Sentence a Day" diary. It's more like a paragraph's worth of room. I'm enjoying the challenge of trying to boil my day down into a single paragraph without being incredibly dull. I could easily say "Did X loads of laundry" almost every single day. I'm not kidding when I say it's a challenge. 

Did you get snow, yesterday? We got flurries but it was so light that I had to strain my eyes to see that it was, in fact snowing (it melted on contact with the pavement), while 40 miles away they got an accumulation of about 2". Bummer. But, we already had snow flurries once, so I'm satisfied. I've gotten my snow fix. Meanwhile, the cold descended about a week or two ago and to avoid having to cover and uncover the plants (last year, we actually screwed up and lost a few), Husband bought a grow light, stuck many of the outdoor plants in the Guest Room bathtub and ran an extension cord to the light. The cats are dying for us to let them jump into the tub but we keep the doors closed because most are probably not cat safe and we're not going through that, again (poisoned cat fiascos: 2 to date). It's kind of hilarious. And, I guess it's good that nobody can visit because of Covid because there's no place for guests to shower. Life is kind of a riot when you think about it. 

©2022 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, January 14, 2022

Fiona Friday

©2022 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, January 12, 2022

Fortune Favors the Duke (The Cambridge Brotherhood #1) by Kristin Vayden

Quick note: The cover image says Fortune Favors the Duke is a book in "The Cambridge Brothers" series and Goodreads says it's the first in "The Cambridge Brotherhood" series. Since the hero of this book attended Cambridge and his only brother has passed away, I think "Brotherhood" is likely the correct name of the series and that's why I chose to put it in the title line. Hope that's correct. 

Catherine Greatheart and the new Duke of Wesley have something in common: the loss of his brother and her fiancé, the former Duke. Six months have passed and the loss still stings. The new duke, Quinton, misses his brother and is not thrilled that he has been thrust into the management of an estate when he was perfectly happy working as a professor at Cambridge. Catherine actually loved her fiancé in a time when one is more likely to make a match based on money than love and is tired of the pity but not entirely ready to resume her social life. 

When Catherine's grandmother insists that the time has come for Catherine to return to society, she does so reluctantly and is surprised to find friendship offered by Quinton. Meanwhile, Catherine's grandmother and the woman who would have been her mother-in-law have become close and would like to see Quinton and Catherine become a couple. But, when Catherine and Quinton begin to realize that their friendship has grown into something bigger, they must take care. Society may frown upon the new duke taking the place of the former and think Catherine a money-grubbing social climber. 

After disaster strikes and Catherine is no longer allowed to run her grandmother's estate, what will happen? There's definitely something fishy about the fellow who has been named the trustee for the estate and the bitter old woman he has named as Catherine's companion and chaperone. If Quinton marries Catherine, will he be betraying his brother's memory?

Neither recommended or not recommended - I liked Fortune Favors the Duke but . . . there are several buts, actually. There were a few historical anachronisms that bugged me ("And so it begins," a very modern phrase, for example, and women were always swatting the men — in a time period when people barely touched). I was also skeptical that Catherine would be considered a social climber or made a pariah if she married Quinton. Social climbing was pretty much the modus operandi of young women in Regency England, after all, and matchmaking seldom about love. However, in spite of these things, Fortune Favors the Duke is a sweet story, I loved the relationship between Catherine and her grandmother, and I found the building affection between Quinton and Catherine believable and lovely. So, I liked the story and I'm glad I read it, although it's not a favorite.

My thanks to Sourcebooks for the review copy!

And, a further note: This is my very last recently requested review copy (I do have plenty I didn't get to in a timely manner). Last week I received an email saying an unsolicited ARC is on its way to me and that's fine. I will be happy to read and review any unsolicited books that arrive, providing they appeal to me. The goal is to read almost exclusively off my shelves. A few exceptions will be nice, actually. And, apparently, I'm still fine with reviewing so I'll carry on, although we'll just have to see how much I feel like writing about future reads. 

I've just finally printed out my list of 2021 Reads and am working on narrowing down my favorites for a Year in Review post, so that's still forthcoming and I'm thinking that I may try to continue the blog but maybe mix things up a bit and write beyond just book reviews. I have, for example, a few books I want to donate but I'd like to keep the marked quotes so I may occasionally do quote posts. Anyway, it's all up in the air and just call me flighty. I'll figure things out but I'm very much looking forward to some changes, this year. 

©2022 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, January 10, 2022

Dune by Frank Herbert

I think I'm going to feel silly saying anything at all about Dune by Frank Herbert after nearly a lifetime of hearing about it and wanting to read it; but, I've decided to go with a Q/A format. 

Warning: There may be some minor spoilers in this review. If you're planning to read Dune, soon, and don't want to take a chance of reading a spoiler, please skip down to the recommendation near the bottom of this post. 

What's Dune about?

The Emperor has instructed the Atreides family (the Duke, his concubine Jessica, and their son Paul) to leave their home planet and move to Arrakis, also known as Dune, where they'll be in charge of the spice trade. Spice is extremely valuable and it seems likely that the Baron Harkonnen, who was previously in charge of spice, will have set a few traps. 

Here's the Google description of the movies:

In the year 10191, a spice called melange is the most valuable substance known in the universe, and its only source is the desert planet Arrakis. A royal decree awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides and ousts his bitter enemies, the Harkonnens. However, when the Harkonnens violently seize back their fiefdom, it is up to Paul [Kyle MacLachlan in 1984; Timothée Chalamet in 2021], Leto's son, to lead the Fremen, the natives of Arrakis, in a battle for control of the planet and its spice. Based on Frank Herbert's epic novel.

Have you seen the movie versions?

Yes, I saw the new Dune movie that only covers half of the book (almost to the page count) and then decided to watch the 1984 version, which I didn't see back in the 80s because I heard it was so awful. It definitely departed farther from the book than the new movie, which is both more accurate and a visual feast. But, in both cases the story kept us glued to the TV. 

Did the book meet your expectations?

Yes and no. It had more of a fantasy aspect than I was expecting, with the Bene Gesserit (the females often referred to as witches, of which Paul's mother, the Lady Jessica, is one) and their powers, then the rituals and rules of the Fremen (the desert people). I'm not big on fantasy but I like sci-fi and I was most interested in finding out the subtle details that can't be portrayed in a movie. So, I guess you could say I liked everything but the religious aspect, although I was fascinated by the way the author blended a bunch of religions and I definitely found myself thinking he either did some rocking fine research or simply had a huge knowledge base. 

Would you recommend Dune?

Absolutely. I know there are people who won't be able to tolerate it, for one reason or another (the somewhat confusing politics, the annoying made-up lingo), but I'm so glad to have finally read it! I felt like there was this Dune-shaped hole in my pop culture knowledge (there are a lot of other holes, unfortunately) and I found that it was an epic story with a huge depth and breadth that captured me in every form. Even as inaccurate and visually unappealing (often repellent) as the 1984 version of Dune was, the story still was compelling. 

What did you find surprising and special about Dune?

It was way ahead of its time in regard to ecological preservation. You don't get this from the movie (at least, not from the 1984 version) but the planet has at some point been ravaged and yet, in spite of being almost entirely desert, the indigenous people, the Fremen, are in the process of a plan to renew the planet that will take many, many generations. And, yet they know its value isn't in the harvesting of a single product. They also know how the spice is generated and have control over that, if need be. So, while I expected the political aspect because of what happens in the movies, I was most thrilled by the fact that it said a planet can be brought back from disaster if you have the patience and dedication. 

Did the book answer all your questions about the movies?

Yes, and then some. The one thing that I didn't get when I watched the movies was, "Why would Duke Leto take his family, his security team, and everyone else who ran their home and grounds to Arrakis if he knew spice was the most valuable thing in the universe?" Clearly Baron Harkonnen wouldn't willingly give up the planet's harvest. So, it seemed like kind of a set-up and I actually said that, as I was watching the first movie (the newer one). The book answers that question early on. Since a great deal of the book is internal and the newer movie is heavily visual, the movie does leave some questions lingering. But, there's much more to the book than either of the movies and everything was answered. 

Highly recommended - While I disliked the more fantasy-oriented aspects of Dune, it is such an amazingly detailed world and so incredibly plotted that I probably should have given it 5 stars just for the depth of detail. But, I took a point off for annoying made-up language. That's the thing I actually can't tolerate about fantasy, all the weird words and names and strange religiosity. I tend to have trouble remembering made-up language. I like sci-fi, though, and Dune is a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. So, while it will not become an all-time favorite classic for me, it was well worth the read and I still highly recommend it. At around 700 pages, it's a bit of a chunkster and surprisingly, I've come to enjoy sinking into a world for a longer time. I used to consider anything over 400 pages a chunkster and was a little terrified of those longer books. Not anymore. 

Because I like how and where the book ended, I don't plan to read any of the many sequels. However, this particular copy has an afterword by the author's son that made the continuation sound tempting. 

©2022 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, January 08, 2022

Books Read in 2021


1. Heart Berries - Terese Marie Mailhot
2. Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World - Fareed Zakaria
3. Dragon Mountain - Katie and Kevin Tsang
4. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline - George Saunders
5. Georgana's Secret - Arlem Hawks
6. Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3) - Martha Wells
7. Bobcat - Rebecca Wells
8. The Evening Chorus - Helen Humphreys
9. Shock Wave (Pick Your Fate #2) - Jack Heath
10. The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester
11. The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton


12. Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It - Maile Meloy
13. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain - Robert Olen Butler
14. In Our Time - Ernest Hemingway 
15. Apex Hides the Hurt - Colson Whitehead
16. The Widow of Pale Harbor - Hester Fox
17. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise - Dan Gemeinhart


18. Vintage 1954 - Antoine Laurain
19. Climate Change and How We'll Fix It - Alice Harman and Andrés Lozano
20. List of Ten - Halli Gomez
21. Exit Strategy - Martha Wells
22. Sweet Bean Paste - Durian Sukegawa
23. Bindu's Bindis - Supriya Kelkar and Parvati Pillai
24. Retrograde - Peter Cawdron
25. Band of Sisters - Lauren Willig
26. Mosquitoland - David Arnold
27. Reader's Digest War Stories - Reader's Digest Association


28. Before the Coffee Gets Cold - Toshikazu Yawaguchi
29. Take Three Girls - Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood
30. Nocturnes - Kazuo Ishiguro
31. Milkman - Anna Burns
32. Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot - Kate Dalgleish and Isobel Lundie
33. Aven Green Sleuthing Machine - Dusty Bowling and Gina Perry
34. The Last Night in London - Karen White
35. Code Talker - Joseph Bruchac


36. The Little Spacecraft that Could - Joyce Lapin and Simona Ceccarelli
37. The Gap - Benjamin Gilmour
38. The Magician's Elephant - Kate DiCamillo
39. Rose Mellie Rose - Marie Redonnet
40. Night Came with Many Stars - Simon Van Booy
41. The Address - Fiona Davis
42. The Temple House Vanishing - Rachel Donohue
43. Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang


44. Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir
45. Hamnet - Maggie O'Farrell
46. Remo: The Adventure Begins - Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir
47. Summer - Edith Wharton
48. The Days of Abandonment - Elena Ferrante
49. To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han
50. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
51. They Came Like Swallows - William Maxwell


52. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
53. Regretting You - Colleen Hoover
54. The Wartime Sisters - Lynda Cohen Loigman
55. Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream - Laura Driscoll, Robert Eberz, Rick Farley
56. The Girl with the Louding Voice - Abi Daré
57. Aven Green Baking Machine - Dusti Bowling and Gina Perry
58. Fox 8 - George Saunders


59. When We Were Young - Richard Roper
60. Where is Our Library? - Josh Funk and Stevie Lewis
61. Once Upon a Goat - Dan Richards and Eric Barclay
62. Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat (Klawde #1) - Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth
63. Klawde: The Spacedog Cometh (Klawde #3) - Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth
64. The Invisible Woman - Erika Robuck
65. Klawde: Target: Earth (Klawde #3) - Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth
66. The Merchant and the Rogue (The Dread Penny Society #3) by Sarah M. Eden
67. Wish - Barbara O'Connor
68. Pastoralia - George Saunders




99. Dragon Mountain - Katie and Kevin Tsang (reread; link leads to first 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.

Friday, January 07, 2022

Fiona Friday - Temptation

Yes, she got a couple fingertips of whipped cream. 

©2022 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, January 06, 2022

More Stuff I Read in 2021 but Didn't Get Around to Reviewing - In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren, The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar, and The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

Last of the 2021 reads!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren was a buzz read in 2020 and the reviews I read were all positive. So, when I happened across it during one of my mid-year purchases, I tossed it in the cart. And, I'm glad I did. 

A Christmas version of the movie Groundhog Day, In a Holidaze has a heroine named Maelyn, who has just made a terrible mistake (kissing an old friend while drunk). And, then her family finds out that the friends who own the home where they meet up twice a year with the same group of college buddies from her parents' university days are selling the house. While driving to the airport to leave their annual Christmas get-together, everyone in her family is upset about the house and the uncertainty of what will happen to their gatherings when something happens and Maelyn finds herself back on the plane, on her way to the Christmas gathering that she just left. What happened?

When things happen exactly the same way they did the first time she experienced the holiday, Maelyn is stunned. But, when she keeps getting thrown back onto the plane and reliving her Christmas vacation (each time lasting a bit longer before something happens to return her to the past), she realizes it's up to her to make changes if she wants to break free from the time loop in which she's stuck. 

Loved it and recommend it. Like Groundhog Day, In a Holidaze is basically a romance (it eventually gets a bit steamy) in which the heroine must figure out how to win the man she loves. But, she also has some other challenges to figure out and some reflecting to do on her life and what direction she wants it to take. I totally enjoyed In a Holidaze and will definitely read more by Christina Lauren if I get the opportunity. 

This is my second year of purchasing and reading The Short Story Advent Calendar, this year edited by Alberto Manguel with an "around the world" theme so that each story's author came from a different country. Oddly, I just now realized that I didn't think of this as a "book purchase". It didn't even occur to me that I was buying reading material! So funny. And, I think it's fine because it's an advent calendar. I'm always looking for some sort of advent calendar to usher in the Christmas season.

Well. This is a nice new tradition that I'll definitely keep going. I absolutely loved popping the seal on a new short story, every night. And, this year there was a bonus. Two friends let me know that they'd bought their own copies of The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar after reading my review, last year. Brittanie was one of them and we texted regularly about what we thought of various stories. That honestly doubled the fun. 

As with the 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar, there were stories I loved and some that didn't thrill me. Some of the authors were well known (Oscar Wilde, Muriel Spark, Hans Christian Andersen), some I'd never heard of. I didn't take notes on them, this year, because I won't be buying many books so it's pointless to write down favorite new authors but I know Brittanie did. Loads of fun and highly recommended!

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer is subtitled "Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements". It's about the kind of people who get involved in mass movements, the characteristics of a mass movement's leaders, what factors keep a mass movement going, and how they end. 

I don't know how I found out about The True Believer but I must have read about it somewhere. It's a classic, published in 1951, and therefore dated in some ways (he talked about the Iron Curtain and why he believed the Soviet Union would continue to exist for at least another 30 years, which turned out to be correct . . . closer to 40) and the slow rise of Communism elsewhere. 

But, what's most astounding to me is how comparable our last president was to Hitler. I have resisted comparing anyone to Hitler because he's pretty much considered the penultimate evil bad guy that everyone wants to use for comparison. But, throughout the reading, I realized that the former president did, indeed, parallel the actions of Hitler, Stalin, and other dangerous fanatics — holding rallies, declaring himself the only arbiter of truth, discouraging trust in experts and government entities (and successfully dismantling some of them), choosing a sector of the population to demean, and encouraging violence. 

Interestingly, the author also talks about why a quieter, more competent leader cannot maintain the following of a radical who is not as well educated but has the ability to stir up the masses to dangerous anger, even when there's really little to genuinely be angry about. 

I highly recommend The True Believer but it's not an easy read. Still, it's relevant in spite of its age and kind of scary, although there were rays of hope. 

Okie dokie, then! This is the end of my 2021 reads! I will post my full list of reads and links on Saturday, since tomorrow's kitty pic day. Then, I'm hoping to finally write a post about favorites, although it will not be a Top 10, as most people do. I'm too eclectic a reader to narrow down to 10 books, so I'll probably do it by category. 

Happy reading!

©2022 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, January 05, 2022

Books I Read in 2021 But Haven't Reviewed: Christmas Quartet

First, the Christmas books! Well, most of them. I'll get to the rest of the books I haven't reviewed, later. This post will be very, very short reviews of 4 books I reread to get myself into the Christmas spirit. Did it work? Well . . . it helped. I'll go clockwise. 

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote is one of my favorite Christmas stories, about young Truman and his elderly distant cousin and how they celebrated the Christmas season. His cousin was, like Truman (whom she called "Buddy"), subject to the whims and restrictions of the other members of the sprawling mansion in which they lived. But, they still managed to have fun saving money, gathering the ingredients for their annual fruitcake baking, chopping down and decorating a tree, doing the baking and giving the fruitcakes away, making each other gifts, and playing with them, dancing. It's a lovely, bittersweet story and I try to reread it every year, now. 

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas is another favorite Christmas story that I noticed someone mentioned as being a story about nothing at all. Well, sort of true. It's a slice of life sort of story, written by the famous Welsh poet and more notable for his incredible use of words and sense of humor than for any particular storyline. I've reviewed both of these stories before, so here's a link if you'd like to see my thoughts in greater detail, from when I first read them:

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote and A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson became an instant favorite when I found my copy at Publisher's Outlet, the off-price bookstore in which I worked in the 90s. Wow, it's hard to believe how long ago that was. I have no real memory of buying the book, apart from taking off the sticker. Did I read it in the store, first? I was allowed to read off the shelves and put the books back, provided I didn't dog-ear or get anything on the pages and they were returned to the shelves in as-new condition. So, I might have read it and loved it so much I bought it. Or, I might have just thought it looked fun and bought it on a whim. I did plenty of that, too. The bookstore got a lot of my money, in spite of my discount. A hilarious classic tale of a wacky family who end up taking all the lead roles in the annual Christmas pageant and surprisingly turning it into something better than it ever has been. I love it so much. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is another Christmas book I return to periodically. I think I mentioned that we also watched The Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine and I went to the local production of A Christmas Carol at the New Stage Theater in Jackson with Brittanie of A Book Lover. Seriously, the only thing I was missing was a viewing of Scrooged. It's a story I love and appreciate for its "money isn't everything; people are everything" theme. And, I might be guilty of going around squeaking, "God bless us every one!" during the holiday season. I don't think I need to talk about the actual story. If you haven't read it or seen it in some fashion, you should definitely come out from under that rock.

Since all four of these books are favorites, I'll continue to reread them in the future. Do you have any old favorites that you reread during the holidays? 

©2022 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, January 04, 2022

Reading and Blogging Goals for 2022

Click on image to enbiggen (and please pardon the dust). 

I've been mulling my 2022 plans for literally weeks, waffling about whether or not I want to make major changes. Last year, as you know if you read my blog regularly, I made a pretty major change in that I opted to go on a full year book-buying ban but offer myself a few exceptions and also to rarely accept ARCs. So, what's in store for 2022?

Reading and Blogging Goals for 2022

1. The return of the book-buying ban. I've given myself a couple weeks in which to purchase some of my most-wanted titles. I can't get all of them, of course. The wish list grew enormously, last year, as I found that a way to keep myself from immediately buying was to just add to the wish list. But, I've chosen a few and will probably buy a couple more. My ending date for allowing purchases is January 14.

After that, I'm going to continue with last year's rules and exceptions to the buying ban. The exceptions are books by people I know personally, dirt cheap books, and maybe some F2F group selections. However, I'm going to allow myself to return to checking out books from the library so I'm hoping my F2F books will be available there to prevent having to purchase. Again, I'll allow myself a mid-year purchase, but I hope to limit myself to a single mid-year order.

2. I will read exclusively off my shelves, the exception being the occasional library check-out. I have a specific shelf that I plan to tackle, first. That's shown above. I have so many books that they're piled up on the library floor and were also piled on the floor in other rooms (the books on the library floor remain but the rest have been moved off the floor, now). The books shown are actually my bedside pile, which has been shifted to the top of a shelving unit. I'm not going to limit myself to only reading off that shelf but I'm going to try to focus on getting through those, first. 

3. Read at least 100 books. That's my Goodreads goal; however, I have discovered a new love of chunksters so I'm not going to kick myself if I decide to read some bigger books and don't make my goal. 

4. Continue reading from an anthology or collection of short stories at all times. Last year, that went pretty well. There were times I focused on a single read and the anthologies fell by the wayside, but I got through quite a few and want to keep that going. 

5. Accept no ARCs. None. That is going to be so hard. But, the next goal should make it somewhat easier . . . 

6. Only write what I feel like writing. If that means only a monthly reading update, fine. If it means 25-word reviews, fine. I've found that after 15 1/2 years, I don't really want to write a full review of absolutely everything I read, although I like having a record so I'd like to write something about each book I read, regardless of length. I am, at this point, leaning toward eventually going to a "Monthly Reads in Review" post as my only method of reviewing. But, along with that I'm considering continuing Monday Malarkey and Fiona Friday. On these details, I haven't decided so the blog will continue as it has been until I make a decision and then . . . well, I guess we'll see. Opinions on this are welcome. Would you even drop by if I only post once a month? Would Monday Malarkey and Fiona Friday keep you coming back? Is blogging passé?

7. Get rid of as many books as possible. This means going through older books as well as letting go of finished books a little sooner. I have found that I require a cooling-off period before I let books go and that's fine. But, I need to be a little more mercenary about getting rid of anything I won't read again. 

That's it! OK, more goals than I expected but most of these are holdovers from last year and I did pretty well, last year. The one goal I utterly failed at was my goal to read books by Native American authors. I read a few but let that one slide, after a time. I'll keep that as an unofficial goal that I'd also like to work on but since I'm not buying, it'll mean reading what I already own. 

It's so nice to start a fresh, new year! 

©2022 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.