Saturday, January 20, 2018

Fiona Friday on the Wrong Day

I humorously approved comments at the blog, yesterday, and completely forgot to post a Fiona Friday pic. Today's photo was taken by Kiddo, this morning. Fiona was hanging her head over her fluffy bed and looking adorable. Of course, she had to scowl when someone came along with a camera.

©2018 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 19, 2018

Books Read in 2017


1. Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now - Maya Angelou
2. Leopard at the Door - Jennifer McVeigh
3. Yesternight - Cat Winters
4. Faithful - Alice Hoffman
5. We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
6. The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah
7. The Wars of the Roosevelts - William J. Mann
8. The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking
9. March, Book One - John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
10. March, Book Two - Lewis, Aydin, and Powell


11. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
12. March, Book Three - Lewis, Aydin, and Powell
13. Geekerella - Ashley Poston
14. Dragon Springs Road - Janie Chang
15. In Farleigh Field - Rhys Bowen
16. The Possessions - Sara Flannery Murphy
17. Survivors Club - Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat


18. The Last One - Alexandra Oliva
19. The Almost Sisters - Joshilyn Jackson
20. You'll Grow Out of It - Jessi Klein
21. A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
22. A Piece of the World - Christina Baker Kline
23. The Mermaid's Daughter - Ann Claycomb
24. Big Little Hippo - Valeri Gorbachev
25. Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep - Leslie Helakoski
26. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart - Stephanie Burgis


27. Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters - Margaret Dilloway
28. Elly and the Smelly Sneaker - Leslie Gorin and Lesley Vamos
29. The Rain in Portugal - Billy Collins
30. Tequila Mockingbird - Leo Cullum
31. Sammy's Broken Leg and the Amazing Cast that Fixed It - Judith Wolf Mandell
32. The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains - Jon Morris
33. The Day I Died - Lori Rader-Day
34. Little Known Tales of Oklahoma - Alton Pryor
35. The Plague - Albert Camus
36. My Life on the Road - Gloria Steinem
37. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast - Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney
38. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: The Case of the Stinky Stench - Funk and Kearney
39. Caring for Your Lion - Tammi Sauer and Troy Cummings
40. Mister Monkey - Francine Prose


41. The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors - Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex
42. Ella Who? - Linda Ashman and Sara Sanchez
43. Dance is for Everyone - Andrea Zuill
44. The Marriage Bureau - Penrose Halson
45. No Man's Land - Simon Tolkien
46. We're All Damaged - Matthew Norman
47. Almost Everybody Farts - Marty Kelley
48. Same Beach, Next Year - Dorothea Benton Clark
49. Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler - Trudi Kanter
50. Shadow Man - Alan Drew
51. 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior - Siegel, Siegle, Bouma, Rockefeller, and Sun


52. On Tyranny - Timothy Snyder
53. The Baker's Secret - Stephen P. Kiernan
54. Shrill - Lindy West
55. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli
56. World Pizza - Cece Meng and Ellen Shi
57. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows - Balli Kaur Jaswal
58. The Explorers: The Door in the Alley - Adrienne Kress
59. Bellwether - Connie Willis (link to review written in 2010; brief notes on 2017 reading, here)
60. Whatever You Do, Don't Run - Peter Allison
61. Goodnight from London - Jennifer Robson


62. Afterlife - Marcus Sakey
63. Exit, Pursued by a Bear - E. K. Johnston
64. Just Fly Away - Andrew McCarthy
65. More Was Lost - Eleanor Perenyi
66. The Hidden Light of Northern Fires - Daren Wang
67. How to Stop Time - Matt Haig
68. The Punch Escrow - Tal M. Klein
69. Brave Deeds - David Abrams
70. Another Brooklyn - Jacqueline Woodson
71. Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi and Sherif Hetata (translator)


72. The River at Night - Erica Ferencik
73. The Woman Next Door - Yewande Omotoso
74. Searching for Sunday - Rachel Held Evans
75. The Salt Line - Holly Goddard Jones
76. Amazing Animal Friendships: Odd Couples in Nature - P. Hanackova and Linh Dao
77. Cap'n Rex and His Clever Crew - Henry L. Herz and Benjamin Schipper
78. Ally-saurus and the Very Bossy Monster - Richard Torrey
79. Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter
80. Reincarnation Blues - Michael Poore


81. Defining Moments in Black History - Dick Gregory
82. The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's (the Hard Way) - Patrick McDonnell
83. Noor's Story - Noor Ebrahim
84. The Way to London - Alix Rickloff
85. Snowspelled - Stephanie Burgis
86. An American Family - Khizr Khan
87. Alan Cole is Not a Coward - Eric Bell


88. Iowa: Poems - Lucas Hunt
89. My Little Cities: London - Jennifer Adams and Greg Pizzoli
90. My Little Cities: New York - J. Adams and G. Pizzoli
91. My Little Cities: Paris - J. Adams and G. Pizzoli
92. My Little Cities: San Francisco - J. Adams and G. Pizzoli
93. Goodnight, Little Bot - Karen Kaufman Orloff and Kim Smith
94. Dough Knights and Dragons - Dee Leone and George Ermos
95. Rufus Blasts Off - Kim Griswell and Valeri Gorbachev
96. Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things - Simon Van Booy
97. Dark Matter - Blake Crouch
98. The Boat Runner - Devin Murphy
99. A Bigger Table - John Pavlovitz
100. The Goddess of Mtwara and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing, 2017
101. Bonaparte Falls Apart - Margery Cuyler and Will Terry
102. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code - Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu
103. The Cottingley Secret - Hazel Gaynor
104. We Wish for a Monster Christmas - Sue Fliess and Michael Michell
105. The Bear Who Didn't Want to Miss Christmas - Marie Tibi and Fabien Ockto Lambert
106. Mice Skating - Annie Silvestro and Teagan White


107. Blackout - Marc Elsberg
108. The Secret of Nightingale Wood - Lucy Strange
109. The Underground River - Martha Conway
110. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
111. Inky's Great Escape - Casey Lyall and Sebastia Serra
112. Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie
113. The Lost Words - Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
114. Future Home of the Living God - Louise Erdrich
115. The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne
116. Quackery - Lydia Kang and Nate Pederson
117. Animal Expressions - Judith Hamilton


118. When They Call You a Terrorist - Patrisse Kahn-Cullors and Asha Bandele
119. A Christmas to Remember - L. Kleypas, L. Heath, M. Frampton and V. Lorretj
120. Spies in the Family - Eva Dillon
121. The Last Mrs. Parrish - Liv Constantine
122. The Power - Naomi Alderman
123. The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
124. A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
125. Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe - K. Howes and V. Fabbretti
126. Marigold and Daisy - Andrea Zuill
127. Walkabout - James Vance Marshall
128. Odd Child Out - Gilly Macmillan

Links lead to reviews, although some may be as short as a sentence or two within a monthly reads post.

©2017 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 18, 2018

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan is the second in the Jim Clemo detective series. Here's a quick link to my review of the first Jim Clemo book:

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

If you click through that link you'll find that I didn't fall in love with What She Knew, but I found it memorable enough that I wanted to read the next in the series and I'm glad I made that decision.

Noah Sadler has been fighting cancer for many years and now he's losing the battle. His best friend, Abdi Mahad, has been the one constant companion in his life who doesn't let the illness get in the way of their friendship. But, when Noah is found floating in Bristol canal and Abdi is unable or unwilling to answer any questions about what happened, he comes under suspicion. Did Abdi push Noah into the canal? If so, why? If not, what exactly happened?

Detective Inspector Jim Clemo is back on the job after a bit of a breakdown led to mandatory leave. Noah's case is the first one he's been given and he's determined to get it right. But, the more he learns, the more convoluted and confusing the case becomes. What does a photograph taken by Noah's father have to do with Abdi? Did it have anything to do with Noah ending up in the canal? Does Abdi's Somalian background have anything to do with what's happened, the friendship, his behavior? Noah's mother is suspicious of Abdi, but is she merely prejudiced?

I found Odd Child Out utterly gripping but also a difficult read. Gilly Macmillan is hard on young characters. You do know at the outset that Noah Sadler is going to die, but you don't know if he'll recover from his near-drowning in the canal and then die of his long-term illness and the author actually puts you in Noah's point-of-view, at times.

While Detective Clemo and his partner are trying to get to the bottom of what happened, the story of a Somalian man in the photograph taken by Noah's father unfolds and, toward the end, there are some heart-pounding scenes when the strands finally wind together. While I don't remember what exactly caused Jim Clemo to break down in the first book, I found him likable and enjoyed reading about his troubled background in this second book. He's turning out to be a more interesting and complex character than I initially suspected, so I'm looking forward to future books in this series.

Highly recommended - Painful as it is to know that a character is going to die, regardless of how the case turns out, Odd Child Out is suspenseful and the pages absolutely flew. I enjoyed it immensely and found the heart-pounding scenes toward the end of Odd Child Out incredibly satisfying. I did figure out one strand that I think was supposed to be surprising (which is not unusual) but it was not enough to give away the most important piece of the puzzle. This is a page turner, in my humble opinion.

©2018 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.

Walkabout by James Vance Marshall

I read Walkabout by James Vance Marshall as an ebook (shockingly, I've actually read two e-books in the past month and am in the middle of another) because my eldest son had just finished it when I put Walkabout on my wish list and he said, "It's very short. I'd advise you to just read the e-book instead of ordering a paper copy."

Walkabout is the story of two children who are the only survivors of a plane crash in the Australian Outback. Brother and sister, Peter and Mary are from Charleston, South Carolina, their destination Adelaide, where they planned to visit their uncle. The book begins just after the plane crash. The two watch the plane burn and then curl up together and fall asleep, although Mary intends to watch for hazards but is overcome by exhaustion.

I finished Walkabout in a single December afternoon and have forgotten some of the details, like how old the children were, but I'm guessing Mary was around 10 and Peter 6. At any rate, they're young enough not to know that it would be best for them to stay close to the wreckage, which is near a creek. Instead, they set out to walk to Adelaide. It's desert dry and they're unfamiliar with the land and its creatures, so they're likely within hours of death when they encounter an Aboriginal boy. They can't communicate but they're able to convince him to help them.

How much of the story is accurate to the life of Aborigines I can't say, but the introductory material in the NYRB version says James Vance Marshall was not the real name of the author but it was, in fact, a real man's name - the name of a man who had spent some time in the Outback and whose notes the author obtained access to, with the permission of his son. So the author did have access to knowledge, if not first-hand experience.

The biggest frustration for me, and probably this is true of most females, was the fact that once the Aboriginal boy (who has gone walkabout as a rite of passage) realizes Mary is female, he treats her like a pack mule or servant rather than a fellow human being. I'm curious if that was true in a particular tribe or just something the author came up with, perhaps a product of the times or an assumption about natives, as the book was originally published in 1959. Walkabout left me with a lot of questions. But, the bottom line is that I enjoyed following the children and their new friend as he helped them learn to forage, follow the shadiest path through the desert, and gave them instructions on how to survive the final leg of their journey.

Recommended - My son drew my attention to some minor anachronisms that I missed and the story is not a perfect one, but I enjoyed Walkabout primarily for the survival aspect. Peter worked to learn the Aboriginal language during their days in the desert; Mary did not. But, the level of communication, while shallow, was enough that even when the Aboriginal boy died (the implication being that he willed himself to death after the girl looked at him in shock and he decided she'd seen death in his future) he was able to let them know where they needed to travel to reach water and, therefore, survival. Fascinating but very brief reading. You can finish this one in an hour or two. It's closer to novella length than novel length.

Notes on the movie by the same name: I have not seen the movie based on Walkabout, which my son says is a bit of a cult classic, but there are some significant differences. I read about the movie and decided it definitely isn't something I want to watch, especially since it's so very different from the book. The movie begins with a man taking his children in the desert to kill them, not with children surviving a plane crash.

Addendum: It wasn't till I posted a link to this review that I remembered a second frustration besides the way Mary was treated by the Aboriginal boy and that was the fact that the children called the boy, "Darkie". I kept hoping they'd try to exchange names but it never happened and they continued calling him "Darkie" or referring to him as "the darkie" throughout the story. It's also worth mentioning that the children didn't particularly sound American. They occasionally used expressions I know to be common in the UK.

©2018 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 17, 2018

Marigold and Daisy by Andrea Zuill

Marigold and Daisy is the second book I've read that's both written and illustrated by Andrea Zuill. I'll add a link to the first book in a sec.

Marigold had a good life. And, then her little sister arrived (first as an egg, then a snail). Daisy was adorable. In fact, the other creatures were charmed by everything about her: her swirly shell, her size, her poop (yes, her poop)! Marigold tried to talk to her Dad about Daisy but he just didn't get it. Daisy was, Marigold decided, an evil genius who had set out to conquer the world by being adorable.

Then, things got worse. Daisy started following Marigold around, invading Marigold's personal space, singing loudly. She even tore up Marigold's favorite toy. That was enough to set Marigold on edge. "I'm out of here," Marigold said. 

While munching on a flower, she complained about little Daisy and ended up getting chewed out by a bee. "Hey, Slimy! This flower is mine! Quit munching on it!" the bee shouted.

Amazingly, Daisy came to Marigold's defense and chased the bee away. Now, Marigold and Daisy got along just fine. And, then one day they were called to see their new brothers.

Recommended - I liked Marigold and Daisy better, the more I read it. It's a cute story that does a good job of showing that, yes, a new sibling can be really annoying. But, sometimes a little brother or sister can turn out to be terrific at the least expected moment. My eldest might have appreciated this book, a couple decades ago, when Kiddo came along and everyone thought he was adorable except the big brother whose toys Kiddo kept stealing. A sweet story and I'm particularly fond of Zuill's color-on-white illustrations.

Another book that I reviewed by the same author/illustrator:

Dance is for Everyone by Andrea Zuill

©2018 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 15, 2018

Monday Malarkey

When I look at the stack of books I acquired, this week, I feel like one of those characters in a movie who has done something terrible and shouts (as he's being handcuffed), "I can explain!" All of this week's acquisitions were purchased. I'll tell you why there are so many, in a bit.

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • Caesar's Vast Ghost by Lawrence Durrell
  • Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert
  • In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
  • L'Amante Anglaise by Marguerite Duras
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  • The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards
  • Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymore, an Introduction by J. S. Salinger
  • Emily L. by Marguerite Duras
  • Summer Crossing by Truman Capote
  • The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
  • Wildlife by Richard Ford 
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
  • The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
  • The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
  • Some Horses by Thomas McGuane
  • The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley
  • War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator by John MacGavock Grider, Ed. by E. W. Springs
  • The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino

OK, so why the huge stack? Our local secondhand bookstore (the only bookstore within 30 miles, actually), Pentimento Books, is going out of business. Normally, I seldom go there because they're a bit pricey but at 50% off the prices were reasonable. I decided to focus on books that are either classics or by well-known authors I've enjoyed (I often like their less famous books better), authors I've had on my mental radar but not gotten around to, and WWII.

The WWII pile is not shown, apart from War Birds, because it's doubly embarrassing. I bought Churchill's entire history of WWII in one volume and The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw, along with a very thick "Armed Services Edition" of a History of WWII. A couple of the books in that stack are just random titles that piqued my interest. The Go-Between just sounded fun and I've got one book by Lawrence Durrell, so I bought it a friend. Not pictured is a book I've already read, If This Isn't Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut. It's a book of speeches which I probably will not recommend, although there are bits of wisdom between its covers. It made me want to read more Vonnegut, so I ordered a couple Vonnegut books and they'll show up in next week's arrivals.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Braving the Wilderness by BrenĂ© Brown
  • The Dry by Jane Harper
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (ebook)
  • If This Isn't Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut

Huh. Now that I look back, I can see that I didn't like much of what I finished last week. The Dry is excellent, but Milk and Honey didn't do a thing for me and If This Isn't Nice, What Is? was a bit on the repetitious side. Braving the Wilderness is a book that I sometimes enjoyed and sometimes found a yawn because I honestly could not entirely discern its purpose. But, I'll tell you more about that when I review it. I'll probably do a single post with mini reviews of those three.

Posts since last Malarkey:

Not a big posting week, unsurprisingly after the heavy posting of the week before.

Currently reading:

  • A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole
  • The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Oy. I can't say I'm in love with any of these books, either. A Nest for Celeste is lovely to look at and has its charming moments but it can also be brutal (the mouse watches a rat get killed by the cat of the house, a bunch of people shoot "thousands" of passenger pigeons out of the sky, and then the famous illustrator, Audubon, shoots an ivory-billed woodpecker and lets it slowly die before pinning it up to illustrate). It's harsh, to say the least. The Radium Girls (bought for discussion) is deeply sad because it's the true story of a company hiding the fact that their painting process was causing the slow, torturous poisoning deaths of its former employees -- the reason for all those "burdensome" regulations on corporations in a nutshell. And, Flowers for Algernon is also sad. But, I really want to finish it because I want to get back to reading a classic per month. I'll definitely need to find something a bit more upbeat to read after all this.

No other news, today. It wasn't a particularly eventful week, apart from visits to the bookstore that's going out of business and my very first Paint Night with a friend. We painted a snowman with sand mixed into the paint to give the snow texture and glitter spinkled on top of the snowman's body. Fun!

©2018 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 12, 2018

Fiona Friday - Princess Izzy

No human fingers were damaged in the making of this image (thank goodness). You can tell she was thinking about getting back at me, though.

©2018 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 10, 2018

Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe by K. Howes and V. Fabbretti

Magnolia Mudd looks forward to Fridays because on Friday her uncle Jamie comes over to invent with her. Uncle Jamie is different than most adults. He's all about the science.

He says, "We can make it go higher!" and
"A little electricity never hurt anyone." 

Magnolia's favorite invention is the Super Jumptastic Rocket Launcher Deluxe, which runs on "Mudd Power" (a human jumping on an air pad to launch the rocket). It needs a bit of work and Magnolia's looking forward to getting help from Uncle Jamie. But, then he announces that it will have to wait because he's bringing over someone called Miss Emily. Uncle Jamie is getting married. And, he wants Magnolia to be their flower girl.

Uck, the last thing Magnolia wants to do is be a flower girl. How boring. Magnolia asks if she can do something different. Maybe something involving Mudd Power? She tries a number of inventions, none of which are quite right. But, then she comes up with a plan and enlists Emily's help. On the day of the wedding, her Dual-Directional Super-Jumptastic Flower Launcher Deluxe is a hit. Actually, it's a bit of a knock-out for the mailman who gets a bouquet of flowers in his face.

Highly recommended - There's only one minor thing I disliked about Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe and that's the cartoonish illustrations. However, that's simply a taste issue and the storyline - a young inventor kicking science butt - is the kind of girl power book I doubly appreciate now that I have a granddaughter, so it gets my highest recommendation.

Side note: I am loving the girl power trend in picture books. When I think back on my childhood favorite stories, I realize that all of them had heroines who were special in some way - bold, imaginative, gifted with some unusual power. But, I don't recall any of the picture books I loved being female-centric. This is a terrific trend. I've added a "girl power" category to my labels and will add it to some of my older reviews and any real stand-outs I review in the future.

©2018 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.