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All kinds of foolery, with focus on books, life and regular kitty reports

Updated: 2018-02-19T10:41:32.966-06:00


Fiona Friday


This was one of those sweet moments that devolved into a spat with Fiona nipping Isabel and Isabel slapping Fi on the nose. Oh, well. At least they get along well most of the time.

©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.

Nature's Lullaby Fills the Night by Dee Leone and Bali Engel


Moths with powdery wings so soft
gently stir the air aloft.
Their flitter-flutter lullabies
barely whisper, "Close your eyes."

So begins Nature's Lullaby Fills the Night, a gently rhyming book about the sounds of nature at night.

Willow branches bend with ease,
slowly dancing in the breeze.
Back and forth their long arms sweep, 
shushing, shushing all to sleep. 

The title occasionally appears in the verses but I wanted to show you, in particular, the softness of the words in this book because they are truly special. Nature's Lullaby Fills the Night is the perfect, calming bedtime read. You can read it in a hushed voice and it's incredibly soothing. I can easily visualize the sound of a parent's voice calming a fussy child as the book is read. It really is a lovely, relaxing rhyme.

Highly recommended - Gentle nighttime images and soothing rhymes make Nature's Lullaby Fills the Night a book that will undoubtedly rock a few fussy little ones to sleep. I read it to my cats, of course, since my grandchild is over 1,000 miles away. Izzy and Fi have never loved being read to but they blinked happily, a good sign that the book is relaxing even to fussy furballs. Nature's Lullaby Fills the Night is another new favorite. I closed it wishing I had a child to read it to.

©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.

A Couch for Llama by Leah Gilbert


The Lago family's couch was very well-loved
It was the perfect spot for snuggling and reading,
card playing, fort building, and hiding and seeking!

Unfortunately, the couch had lived out its useful life and it was time to buy a new couch, so the family went shopping. They looked for a couch that was just right, found the perfect one, and strapped it to the roof of their car. On the way home, though, the couch went flying.

It's a little difficult to see the words in this image unless you enlarge (if you can, do), but it says:

Llama found a couch. 

Photo credit: Leah Gilbert

I love the expression on the llama's face. Llama sniffed the couch, said hello to it (it didn't reply), tried to share his lunch with it and took a bite out of it. Meanwhile, the family discovered their couch was missing while Llama ignored it and then bounced on it, discovered he loved it, and made himself comfortable.

The finale to this wonderful book: The family finds the couch and takes it back but they bring their old couch back for the llama. And, everyone's happy.

Highly recommended - Adorable! The story is a simple one: lost and found, old replaced with new, both people and an animal wanting the same thing, and a compromise reached in the end. But, it's the illustrations that make A Couch for Llama a new favorite, at least for me. I adore the llama and the field of wheat. This may be a personal thing; I'm from Oklahoma and a field of wheat is home. But, I enjoyed the story, too, so it's not just the crazy llama and the wheat that make this book a winner. Any book that I close with a smile on my face is going to become a favorite and A Couch for Llama definitely makes me grin.

©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.

Bagel in Love by Natasha Wing and Helen Darkik


Bagel wanted to join a dance contest but had trouble finding a partner.

Poppy told him his dance steps were half-baked. 

He asked Pretzel, who was at the spa getting a salt rub. She told him his moves didn't cut the mustard. 

Matzo flat out told him no. 

Continuing with loads more puns, Bagel kept looking for a partner, unwilling to give up. The dance contest was already beginning at the Cherry Jubilee and Bagel had decided to try again, next year. But, the music had him tapping his foot. Someone tapped back. Cupcake admitted to not being a very good dancer, but they gave it a whirl and liked each other's style. They were barely in time for the dance contest, where they won the grand prize trophy. But, winning was "just icing on the cake."

Well, huh. There are two ways to look at this story. One way is to look at it as a fun book of puns in which a bagel's determination pays off. The other is to find the rejection up front frustrating and the abrupt ending a little weird. I fell halfway in between. The first time I read the book, I thought, "Wait. What?" The ending was a little too abrupt and maybe even a little too perfect, after all that rejection. But, I did love the puns. The second time, I still didn't love the abrupt ending but this time I was all about the puns and the determination. And, I suppose one could get used to the ending.

Iffy on recommendation - Bagel in Love is an average read, in my humble opinion, but if you happen to be a big fan of puns . . . this is your book. It's chock full of them. And, I did appreciate Bagel's can-do attitude. He didn't let a little rejection (well, a lot of rejection) get him down. The illustrations are bright and bold; and, for fans of shiny things, there's a nice touch of glitter on the slipcover. I received a copy of Bagel in Love for review from Sterling Children's Books and it came with a page of 6 Valentine's cards and a bookmark. I don't know if those are included with a purchase or if they were publicity material, but they're super cute.

Happy Valentine's Day!

©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 Malarkey


Recent arrivals:Nothing, nada, zero, zippo, zilch. So, you get a kitty pic. After all those books that I posted last week, I'm thinking it's good that I had a no-arrival week, but it was kind of miserable in its way. I'm so used to at least one book showing up on my doorstep that I strongly considered making a panic purchase, just so something would arrive. I talked myself out of it. Whew!The kitty pic, by the way, is a shot of one of my favorite Fiona quirks. When I pet her head, she likes to turn her face and stick her little nose in the palm of my hand. It is so trusting of her. I just love that. I finally got a shot of her doing it, this weekend, and I was so excited. Sometimes it's hard to capture those cute, quirky little things they do.Books finished since last Malarkey:Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al FrankenThe Hate U Give by Angie ThomasBeing Mortal by Atul GawandeThis was a pretty terrific reading week. Al Frank, Giant of the Senate was miles better than I expected it to be, The Hate U Give is an online discussion book and I finished it ahead of schedule so I'm enjoying just sitting back and reading the comments by other readers and learning a bit from them, and Being Mortal is one of those rare, meaningful books about life and death that falls into the "Everyone Should Read This" category.Currently reading:Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraThe Statue and the Fury by Jim DeesOur Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne ValenteOnly Killers and Thieves by Paul HowarthAn interesting variety, eh? Week One, 204 pages of Don Quixote down, roughly 800 pages and 4 weeks to go. It's an easy read but I think spreading it out over 5 weeks is going to work well. It's a bit repetitive and, as Bryan of Still an unfinished person has mentioned, it's going to be "a long haul". So, having buddies to read with also keeps me going.In other news:I found Lost in Austen on Britbox, yesterday, and I told my husband that I just wanted to watch a few minutes to see what it was like. He nodded. An hour or two later, we agreed that it's loads of fun and we're glad we watched the whole episode. Huzzybuns said, "I knew you'd watch it all." Yeah, I kind of knew it, too, but I thought I should at least try to only watch a little bit.I'm still watching Doctor Who, also. I guess that will go on for a long, long time, since I started at the beginning of Dr. #1's episodes, although a lot of the early episodes are either missing or unavailable. Still, I'm a little less than halfway through the first Dr.'s years. So exciting to be able to see them, bad as they often are. The series of episodes that I watched this week took place in a space ship and down on the planet of the Sensorites. It had a few hilarious moments in which the cheap sets gave themselves away and the hairstyles of the women changed just a touch. "Ah," you may say to yourself, while watching the two episodes,"so, this is where they broke for the day, came back, and everyone's hair was styled." Hahaha. I love it for the quirks, for sure.I got two postcards in the mail and meant to snap their picture but didn't get around to it, so if there aren't any arrivals next week, maybe I'll manage to get a picture of them to show off. Thanks for the postcards, Kelly and Carrie!©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.[...]

Fiona Friday - Sleepy beans


©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.

More minis - Flowers for Algernon by D. Keyes, The Radium Girls by K. Moore, and Artemis by A. Weir


In my continuing quest to catch up with myself, I've sorted out three books that I purchased and decided to give them mini review treatment. I liked all three for dramatically different reasons.I opted not to write a post about my 2018 reading goals but one of my goals is a continuation of my "one classic per month" goal for a third year. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes was my January choice.Charlie Gordon has an extremely low IQ but a surprising amount of determination, so he's been chosen to be the first human in an experimental treatment. Only tried previously on mice (and not always with good results), the experimental surgery made a mouse called Algernon extremely smart. The book is told in journal form from Charlie's perspective as he goes through the surgery, quickly gains intelligence, falls in love, and then things fall apart.I've seen a movie version of Flowers for Algernon, long ago, but this is my first time reading the book. All I could remember of the movie was that it was both moving and sad. And, as it turned out, the sadness toward the beginning almost overwhelmed me. Charlie has always been a happy man, in spite of his limitations. He has a job and people who watch out for him. But, after his surgery, he starts to become aware that people have been teasing him for years. Maybe they weren't his friends, after all.At this point, my friend Kelly told me that it's one of her favorite classics. I was planning to finish the book, regardless, but I'm glad she gave me hope to help me push through the hardest part. Regardless of how it tugged at my emotions, I was really blown away by the writing. I knew the book was going to end sadly, all along. But, the way it was handled was perfect.Flowers for Algernon is brilliant and heartbreaking and beautiful and awful and maybe even a little hopeful. And, definitely kind of deep, the way it makes you think about how we treat each other and how crucial friendship and love are to having a meaningful life. Highly recommended and a new favorite. I gave Flowers for Algernon 5 stars. I looked up Daniel Keyes and found that he wrote quite a few books, so I'm hoping to eventually find and read more of his work.The Radium Girls by Kate Moore is even sadder than Flowers for Algernon because it's a true story. Subtitled "The Dark Story of America's Shining Women" -- the shining part is literal; they got radium all over their clothing and hair and faces, so they glowed in the dark. The Radium Girls is the story of women who painted watch dials and other instruments. Because they used paint brushes and the work was delicate, they used their lips to bring the brushes to a fine point each time they dipped into the paint. This meant they were actually ingesting little bits of radium all day, every day, at work. Because the paint had to be mixed from a powder, it also got all over their hair, clothing, and bodies.At the time The Radium Girls took place, in the early 20th Century, radium was considered healthful. People drank radium concoctions and handled it without gloves, completely unaware of the damage it was doing to them. But, it didn't take long before the women at the first radium dial-painting establishment began to have serious health issues.There were several companies involved in the painting of clock dials, over the time span covered. All went to great lengths to hide what they knew about the connection between the health problems their formerly-healthy and vibrant young female painters were experiencing (and then their deaths) and the paint they were using. And, the health problems were appalling. The vast majority of the early employees began losing teeth, getting infections in their jaws that would not heal, and even losing pieces of jawbone. Some had legs that shortened, giving them a dramatic limp, some developed back problems. All were in horrendous pain. When they died, their deaths wer[...]

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen


Vanessa used to be married to Richard. Nellie is getting ready to become his bride. And, someone has to warn the new bride before it's too late. But, wait . . . who is whom in this twisted thriller? You won't know for sure till the end.

And, since that's what makes The Wife Between Us a thriller (the rush to find out what's really going on and whether or not the future wife can be warned in time) I can pretty much tell you nothing about this book without giving everything away. So, instead I'll just tell you that what you think is happening at the beginning of the book is totally misleading. In Part Two, the perspective shifts and you realize that the narrators in Part One were unreliable. Who is the wife-to-be and what happened to the wife before her to make her such a nervous wreck? Will Richard's former wife succeed at her mission to warn the bride-to-be? Or will some other twist throw everything in Part Two into question.

Yeah, it's twisty, all right. Unfortunately, I thought The Wife Between Us was just a little too similar to another book I read recently. And, I didn't like the way the author played head games with me. Still, I found the authors propelled me along nicely. Apart from a slightly dull beginning and a jarring shift at the beginning of Part Two when I was so confused that I almost abandoned the book (I took a brief break from it, came back, and it made sense after I'd had time to let the story roll around in my head), I found that the pages flew.

Recommended but not a favorite - In general, I'd say The Wife Between Us was an average to slighty above-average read. I had trouble getting into the book, at first, and part of that was because it was immediately apparent to me that Richard was a controlling jerk. I couldn't understand why Nellie was even interested in him, much less why two women would have fallen for him during his charming moments but not run after seeing his dark side. But, the main problem was that I disliked the shift from Part One to Part Two and never fully managed to get those wives straight in my head after picturing them a certain way and then having it all mixed up, as if images of the wives had been turned to confetti, tossed into the air, and then settled into different pictures when reformed on the ground. If you like that kind of confusion, this is definitely the book for you. Unreliable narrators, twists and turns, a surprise ending, and a quick pace (at least, after the first section) will make you race to the end to find the answers.

©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.

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi


In Down and Across, 16-year-old Scott (real name Saaket) is an Iranian American with helicopter parents and a focus problem. Because he hasn't found his passion, he has a tendency to give up on everything he tries. He's distressed about it but doesn't have any idea what to do to change himself until he finds out about a professor who has dedicated her life to studying "grit" (determination). She's found that people with a high level of grit are more successful.

Scott's parents are traveling to Iran for a month because his grandfather is ailing and his father has arranged for Scott to spend the month doing an internship in which he has zero interest. After giving the internship a try, Scott quits and takes a bus to Washington, D.C. to seek out the professor. Maybe she can teach him how to discover grit. On the bus to DC, Scott meets Fiora Buchanan. Fiora is spontaneous, whimsical, and fun but her delightful personality hides the darker side of her life. While Fiora and a friend of hers from Charleston help Scott navigate the area, Scott pursues his search to discover grit and learns some surprising things about himself in the process.

Recommended - Within the first 50 pages of Down and Across I was almost certain I was going to have to painfully force myself through it or give up. But, eventually the author began to woo me and in the end I found it quirky, surprising and endearing. I loved the uniqueness of its plotline, using crossword puzzles as a metaphor for life, and the fact that I never knew quite where the author was going to take me, next. I'm quick to abandon books that don't grab me up front but I'm glad I stuck this one out.

©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.

A Nest for Celeste and Another Quest for Celeste by Henry Cole


A Nest for Celeste and Another Quest for Celeste were both sent to me by HarperCollins for review and are both written and illustrated by Henry Cole. I thought it would be best to review them together. A Nest for Celeste was copyrighted in 2010 and Another Quest for Celeste is a February, 2018 release. Since I read these toward the beginning of January, I apologize if there are any inaccuracies in my memories of the two books.A Nest for Celeste begins Celeste's story. Celeste is a mouse who has lost her family in a tragic accident. Alone, she's found her way to a plantation home and made herself a nice little room behind the floorboards, where she makes baskets from salvaged bits of dried grasses, wildflowers, and strands of colored thread. Now and then, she goes on a journey to the dining room to collect food dropped by the human inhabitants of the house. There are two vicious rats and a house cat, among other dangers.Joseph is learning his master's art, drawing bird illustrations, while Mr. Audubon is instructing young Eliza Pirrie in dancing, drawing and painting. While Mr. Audubon teaches, hunts, and mounts the birds for his illustrations, Joseph practices drawing. After Celeste has a close call with the cat, Joseph discovers she's made a home for herself in his boot. He's always wanted a pet mouse, so he carries Celeste around in his pocket, talking to her throughout the day (although the author does not go so far as to let the human and mouse communicate with each other). But, even with Joseph to protect her, Celeste keeps getting into all sorts of binds. Will Celeste ever find a home?I had such mixed feelings about A Nest for Celeste that I'm not sure whether or not I'd recommend it, although I think children can handle a lot more than we often give them credit for. Still, some of the things Celeste sees and experiences in this story (which is tangentially a view into John Audubon's world) are harsh. She sees one of the rats being killed by the house cat, just after being taunted by them, views a massive pigeon hunt in which thousands of birds are killed, and witnesses the slow death of an ivory-billed woodpecker after he's shot by Audubon to pin up, as if in flight, for illustration purposes. Adults will probably be aware that both the pigeons and the woodpeckers mentioned in the story have become extinct and that there's a message in each of these plot points.There are also plenty of adventurous moments in A Nest for Celeste. I particularly enjoyed her friendship with an osprey who takes her for a ride in one of her baskets when she's in need of help, and a thrush who keeps her company in Joseph's room. Eventually, Celeste finds a safe and comfortable home in the attic, living in a dollhouse.Iffy on recommendation - I'd recommend finding a copy through your library and reading it, before buying for your children. If you think it's not to scary and that the adventure offsets the violent bits, great. The illustrations are beautiful and look very much like Brian Selznick's illustrations. By the end of the book, I was glad I followed Celeste on her adventures but the first half of the book shocked me so much that I was surprised how pleasantly the book ended.Another Quest for Celeste takes Celeste on an unexpected journey. After spending some time living in her dollhouse home in the attic of a plantation house, Celeste makes the mistake of falling asleep in a bale of cotton when she goes to fetch some food outdoors. The cotton is in a cart and the cart goes to the Mississippi River, where it's put on a steamship. Thus begins another adventure that leads Celeste from the steamship, where she is befriended by a kind old dog, to a forest, where she meets a delightful squirrel couple and settles down temporarily, to the log cabin home of young Abraham Lincoln.There are a few rea[...]

Monday Malarkey


I've got lots of book stack photos, today, since a few people asked me to post my final bookstore purchases. The first stack is arrivals that came in the mail.Recent arrivals (top to bottom):Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, andWe Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, both purchasedObscura by Joe Hart - from Thomas and Mercer for reviewNothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell from Penguin Young Readers for reviewBlack Fortunes by Shomari Wills from HarperCollins for reviewFrancis I by Leonie Frieda from HarperCollins for reviewOur Native Bees by Paige Erbry - from Timber Press for reviewThe Statue and the Fury by Jim Dees for book group discussionFrom this batch, I was most excited by Black Fortunes and Our Native Bees. I'd just been fretting about the fact that I couldn't think of any titles I had on-hand to read for Black History Month when Black Fortunes arrived on my doorstep (literally, the day I was thinking about it). Our Native Bees is about a subject that I consider incredibly important: the fate of our native bees. It is a stunningly beautiful book, chock full of gorgeous photos.And, the final book purchase from our local bookstore closing (several images!):Stack 1 (top to bottom):Sicilian Carousel and Prospero's Call, both by Laurence DurrellBlack Hearts in Battersea and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, both by Joan AikenFathers and Sons by Ivan TurgenevTwo Days in Aragon by M. J. Farrell (Molly Keane)The Happy Foreigner by Enid BagnoldThe Cats of Roxville Station by Jean Craighead George, illus. by Tom PohrtKim by Rudyard KiplingNative American Place Names in Mississippi by Keith A. BacaLong Ago in France by M. F. K. FisherStack 2 (top to bottom):Kangaroo by D. H. Lawrence - This title was one we discussed in the Australian Lit class I took, a couple years ago, so it was an exciting find.Letters from Russia by Astolphe de CustineSense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. WintersI, Claudius by Robert GravesProvence by Lawrence Durrell (I sure hope I like this guy's writing - I think I bought a total of 4 of his titles)Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman HallAllegiant by Veronica RothAnd Both Were Young by Madeleine L'EngleThe Madness of King George (screenplay) by Alan BennettAnd, the last two books, I confess, were bought solely because I thought the covers were cool. They're two of the three books in the The Studs Lonigan Trilogy:Judgment Day, and Young Lonigan by James T. FarrellI know you can see the titles just fine but I would feel weird not listing them. I've heard of this trilogy, but I don't know why. Maybe they were made into movies or a TV series? Studs Lonigan is definitely a familiar name. I will probably read them, not just admire them, but it will be interesting to see if I can find the third book in the trilogy.Books finished since last Malarkey:Force of Nature by Jane HarperDown and Across by Arvin AhmadiSometimes my first thoughts (written by email to friends in an internet book group) are worded best but I can't find them in that mess known as my "outbox" when I get around to reviewing. I just came across my thoughts on Jane Harper's writing (written as I was reading one of her books) while cleaning my outbox, so I figure they're worth sharing:I'm enjoying the fact that the author tells you just enough to leave you room to form your own theories but still feel like you have no idea where she's taking you. I'm also finding that it's easy to hear the Australian accent in my head. It just seemed to come naturally from the beginning. I would have shared that thought in my recent dual review of The Dry and Force of Nature if I'd come across it, last week.Down and Across is a tour book and the review will be posted on the 8th of this month.Posts si[...]

Fiona Friday - Cross my paws and hope to have a nice nap


©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.

The Dry and Force of Nature by Jane Harper


I got an Advance Reader Copy of Force of Nature by Jane Harper via Shelf Awareness after reading many gushing reviews, comments, and tweets about Harper's first release, The Dry. Knowing Force of Nature was the second in a series, I asked friends for advice about order. Did I really need to read The Dry, first? Would I miss important background that would likely feed into the next novel? I've read series books out of order, in the past. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. The advice I received was mixed but leaned toward the likelihood that I'd miss out if I didn't read The Dry, first, so I ordered a copy and have decided to review them together.In The Dry, when Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns for his best friend Jake's funeral, it's his first visit to his hometown since he and his father were driven away. Luke, his wife, and son have been killed. But, did Luke murder his family and commit suicide or did someone else kill the family? Why was their baby daughter left alive but their son killed? Falk doesn't plan to stay in town to find out. But, then Luke's parents ask for help.The title comes from the drought conditions in the area, as the story is taking place. Farmers are losing their livelihood because of the lengthy dry spell and nobody appears surprised that Luke may have killed most of his family. Since The Dry is the first in a series, you get to know Aaron Falk and the story of how and why he and his father were driven out of town in tandem with the unfolding investigation.While there were some moments when I felt myself pulled briefly out of the story because I thought a particular element was weak, those were rare moments and the book was almost impossible to put down. I liked Aaron Falk and that feeling grew throughout the reading. And, I loved the way the author steered you toward believing someone was guilty, eliminated them entirely, and then did it all over again. The ending was surprising, tense, exciting, and believable. An excellent read. The book is set in rural Australia, west of Melbourne, and the setting is almost a character in itself. I love a very vivid setting, so The Dry was a 5-star read for many reasons. Highly recommended.In Force of Nature, the weather has taken a 180° turn. It's winter, now. Months have passed since Aaron Falk solved the mystery of his best friend's death. He has a new partner named Carmen and the two of them have been working with Alice Russell to uncover money laundering at her place of employment. Alice has disappeared while on a team-building hike that lasted three days. The other 4 women made it out of the bush alive but some were injured. They claim Alice took her phone and hiked out on her own after they became lost and spent the night in a cabin. But, did she? Is it possible her disappearance is related to the investigation into the company's finances? A serial killer used to operate in this part of the Giralang Ranges and his son has disappeared. Could he have something to do with Alice's disappearance? Will she be found dead or alive -- or, not at all, like one of the victims of the serial killer?I had two concerns when I first started reading Force of Nature: 1. Will it be as good as The Dry or a disappointing sophomore effort? and 2. Can she pull off yet another "5 women go into the woods and only 4 come out," storyline? It's a plot that has been done to death and I was definitely worried that it would be same old, same old.Well, good news on both counts. I thought Force of Nature was actually even better than The Dry. As with the first novel, I found the book almost impossible to put down. The Giralang Ranges are, as I suspected, based on The Grampians (a few hours' drive from Melbourne, where Falk is based -- you can take a bus t[...]

Mini Rvws: If This Isn't Nice, What Is? by K. Vonnegut, Braving the Wilderness by B. Brown, Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, and a note about a buddy read


All three of these books were purchases and none of them were particularly special, so they get the quick mini review treatment.I bought If This Isn't Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut at our local bookstore's Going Out of Business Sale. It's a book of speeches given by Vonnegut and I'm aware that gesture and tone can make a difference when it comes to listening to a speech versus reading it, so I tried to bear that in mind. But, I still found Vonnegut's speeches a little on the hodge-podge and inconsistent side. He talked about life, shared bits of advice from his own years and advice that had been given to him, along with warnings about what's out there in the real world (particularly in the graduation speeches -- there are a couple speeches that are not to grads, but only 2 of the 7, as I recall).I'm a Kurt Vonnegut fan so I enjoyed the reading but it's not a book I'd highly recommend because it's so repetitive. He tended to reuse his material. Still, it was occasionally entertaining. He passed on the only advice he ever got from his father: Don't ever put anything in your ear. There, I've shared some great advice. This book was responsible for the thoughtful (not impulsive, no way) purchase of two of Vonnegut's books, so there will hopefully be more Vonnegut reading in my near future.Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown is a book I purchased after a new friend told me how much the book meant to her. She said it wasn't the best writing but it was encouraging. I was not familiar with Brown's blog.This new friend (whom I've only talked to a couple times, since, but hope to get to know better) thinks a lot like I do, so I bought the book out of curiosity and I really enjoyed it. However, I had a great deal of difficulty figuring out what Brown meant by the metaphorical "wilderness" - a thematic metaphor that she hammered home pretty heavily. Eventually, I figured it out. And, now I've forgotten. Although the general concept may not have stuck with me and I had a little difficulty with it, at first, there were other things about the book that I loved, particularly when she talked about collective joy and collective pain. She mentioned, for example, her experience driving along the highway as the news of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion broke. Since the author was living in Houston and Houstonians are very connected to the space program, they took this tragedy hard and people suddenly began pulling over. Not knowing why so many cars were stopping, she drove slowly past one and saw someone crying at the wheel, I presume she turned on the radio because she figured out what was going on pretty quickly, after that. Brown used this story as an illustration of collective pain. This entire section kept me in tears. I liked what she had to say about it and I also appreciated her comment about constant negativity being detrimental to friendship; meaning, if you only ever talk about things that are bad in your life, you're less likely to build a real bond. You need positivity in your friendship, as well.An interesting book. I didn't fully understand her purpose but I enjoyed it.I discovered Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur was available for free download in Amazon's Prime Reading (e-book - shock!) shortly after seeing an interview with her on TV. The book is extremely popular with girls of high school age and she draws a huge crowd for her readings. I found the author very poised and enjoyed hearing her talk about how surprised and pleased she was at the success of her book and her thoughts about its success.Unfortunately, I pretty much thought the book was crap. It's a book of "poetry" but it sounded more like the kind of [...]

The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam


I asked you why you loved me and you said love's arguments are always teleological. You love someone because you already love them. You love their particular qualities, because you love them in the wholeness of their being. And because you love them in the wholeness of their being, you love the things about them that wound you.You quoted Rumi: "The wound is where the light enters you.""This was a more complicated answer than I bought," I said, "I was going for the five-dollar answer."~fr. pp. 283-4 of Advance Reader Copy, The Bones of Grace (some changes may have been made to the final print version)I realized, as I was fetching the image for The Bones of Grace, that it's one of those rare books that's already slipped from my mind after less than a month. So, I gave it a couple days and the story is slowly coming back to me. The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam is the story of a Bangladeshi woman, told upon reflection.At the beginning of the book, Zubaida receives the bones of Grace, a walking whale whose bones may be a missing evolutionary link. She is back at Harvard, now, where her story begins. You know from this beginning that she has loved, betrayed, and lost touch with a man named Elijah, and now she hopes he will miraculously appear someday, but probably knows better. From here on, the book jumps back and forth in time.Elijah is a laid-back American guy, a lover of music that Zubaida meets by chance as she's winding down her days in Cambridge and preparing to go dig up bones in Pakistan. She is engaged to a man she's known all her life but the attraction between Zubaida and Elijah is immediate and powerful. They stay in touch when she leaves the country; but after tragedy strikes at the work site, she goes home to Bangladesh and marries. Then, a second heartbreak makes Zubaida reconsider her life and she takes a job working on a documentary film about shipbreaking in Chittagong, away from her husband and family. While she's away from her new home, she attempts to locate her birth mother and Elijah comes to visit her.Zubaida has known she's adopted since she was young, but nobody will tell her the details and this leaves her feeling incomplete. Will Zubaida ever uncover her roots? What happened between her and Elijah in Chittagong that broke them apart forever?Recommended but not a favorite - I loved Tahmima Anam's writing style, apart from the beginning, which I found confusing. I thought she tried to keep things mysterious and the only real mysteries were the origin of her birth -- which is so important to her that it's at the root of everything she does, for better or worse -- and what exactly she did to betray Elijah. There was no reason to make the occasional scene so vague. Still, I liked her writing enough that I kept going. In the end, I liked the atmosphere more than the story itself. The theme of bones is everywhere - the bones of the whale, the bones of ships, the bones of family and whether those of birth and that biological connection are more important than the connections of child and parent who raised her, regardless of biology.But, the tone is deeply melancholy and I had trouble relating to Zubaida. Why was her origin story so important? Why was she so easily able to give up her career -- after obtaining an advanced degree at Harvard, no less -- but unable to follow her heart? I found her a baffling character, so quick to travel to far places, so frustrated about her birth story, yet completely unwilling or unable to simply say, "I've met this guy and I need to figure things out before I say yes to something as permanent as marriage." So, it was an average read because the story itself felt like it was somehow unbalanced. A[...]

Monday Malarkey


Recent arrivals (top to bottom):Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie - from Quirk Books for reviewOur Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente - from HarperCollins for reviewWarren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania Del Rio and Will Staehle - from Quirk Books for reviewNature's Lullaby Fills the Night by Dee Leone and Bali Engel, andA Couch for Llama by Leah Gilbert - both from Sterling Children's Books for reviewSo . . . this isn't actually everything that walked in my door, last week. Remember that local bookstore that was closing? They decided to extend their sale for a few extra days and marked everything to 90% off. It took me a day of fighting with myself before I went in to see if there was anything left worth buying and it was fascinating - chaotic, because there were still a lot of books and about half of them were in boxes. Some of the books were boxed in anticipation of being moved to the antique store across the street, some boxed by people who were buying them (I avoided the boxes). Most of the bookshelves in the store had been sold and hauled away by their new owners, so there were also books lined up on the floor and only a few scattered shelves of books remaining. While I was there, a woman bought a mirror off the wall. At any rate, there were quite a few books left, so I managed to find another embarrassingly nice little pile. Want to see them? If so, tell me and I'll add them to next week's pile. I just didn't feel like grabbing them for today's photograph.Books finished since last Malarkey:The Radium Girls by Kate MooreNature's Lullaby Fills the Night by Dee Leone and Bali EngelA Couch for Llama by Leah GilbertArtemis by Andy WeirI was glad to finish The Radium Girls because it was so, so sad. But, I'm also happy to have read it. It was certainly a good reminder of how deceitful a company can be when its owners fear they'll lose money - even to the point of knowingly continuing to expose its employees to deadly radiation when they knew it was killing people. The two middle books are children's books from last week's arrivals and I'm looking forward to reviewing them. I loved them both. Artemis is a book I borrowed from my youngest son and read hurriedly, in case he had the urge to snatch it back. I will try diligently to work on getting caught up, this week, so I can review some of these books soon!Posts since last Malarkey:Saving Tarboo Creek by Scott Freeman and Susan Leopold Freeman (book review)Forty Autumns by Nina Willner (book review)Fiona Friday - Here I am. Pet me? (cat photo)After Tuesday, I had a headache for several days and I am still fighting to get my prescription for migraine meds filled, so it was not the best week for writing. But, I'm happy that I managed to get three posts published. Hopefully, this will be a better week. Currently reading:Force of Nature by Jane HarperAl Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al FrankenThose of you who enjoyed The Dry (which I have not yet reviewed but found gripping) will be happy to know that I'm having an equally hard time putting down Force of Nature. In other news:January isn't even over and I've read 16 books. That's pretty typical for a January (usually, my biggest reading month) but, wow, does a good reading month throw the book reviewing behind! Fortunately, not all of the books I've read have been from publishers, so I'll be able to whip out a few mini reviews.TV-wise, we've just subscribed to Brit Box channel for Roku (we haven't had cable or satellite service for something on the order of 16 years - also have never subscribed to Netflix, believe it or not) and discovered that they have Doctor Who [...]

Fiona Friday - Here I am. Pet me?


©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.

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner


First sentence: I was five years old when I learned that my grandmother lived behind a curtain. Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner is the story of a large German family, from just after the end of WWII to the present day, with emphasis on the four decades that the family was split apart by the Iron Curtain.Only one child in the family managed to escape East Germany and it took her three attempts. While Hanna got a job in the West and was able to advance at work and eventually marry and move to the United States, the rest of her family lived through hardship and desperation, often hungry, standing in line for hours to obtain necessities, always in danger of being arrested if a neighbor or friend suspected them of saying or doing something subversive against the government. The author, Nina Willner, is one of Hanna's children.The book begins with the end of WWII in 1945 and the division of Berlin. While families waited for the men to come home, American, British, and Soviet troops divided Germany. There were rumors of atrocities committed by the Soviets, so when the American troops pulled out of the area where Hanna's family lived, some German citizens either left with the soldiers or tried to send their daughters away.The reality of Soviet occupation and what was to come was immediate. Everyone was told they must turn in all their food to be equally divided and anyone who hid food would be shot. But, the food was never divided and redistributed as promised, so the Soviets brought hunger. That was just the beginning of life in East Germany. Forty Autumns is a well-rounded family biography that takes you through the entire 40 years, till the family was finally reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall, including the years that the author worked as a U.S. Army intelligence officer serving in Berlin during the Cold War. There are some tense scenes in which she describes various missions into East Berlin.Highly Recommended - History buffs and fans of memoir, particularly anyone with a fascination for the Cold War, will enjoy this meticulously researched story of a single family in which the author compares and contrasts life behind and outside the Berlin Wall. Included are maps, a Family and Historical Chronology (a comparative timeline that shows what was happening historically and within the author's family), photographs, and epilogue describing what's happened since the fall of the wall, an extensive bibliography, and index.©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.[...]

Saving Tarboo Creek by Scott Freeman and Susan Leopold Freeman


The idea that any organism lives and acts independently of others is a myth. The realization that all organisms are connected is a profound insight.~fr. p. 175 of Advance Reader Copy, Saving Tarboo Creek (some changes may have been made to the final print version)Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family's Quest to Heal the Land by Scott Freeman is about how the author and his family purchased a damaged plot of land and set about restoring it to bring back the plants and animals that once made it a healthy environment, including restructuring the original creek to make it a safe place for salmon to breed.The author's bio is worth mentioning as it shows his expertise, which is important to those who might be skeptical when he talks about such things as climate change:"Scott Freeman worked in environmental education and international conservation before completing a PhD in evolutionary biology at the University of Washington." He is married to the granddaughter of Aldo Leopold, author of the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac (click through to visit The Aldo Leopold Foundation) and wife Susan Leopold Freeman illustrated the book. Here's an interior view I located online to give you an idea of the illustrations:The intro to Saving Tarboo Creek is strongly worded as it talks about the dangers of our current administration to our land, including the effect of policies ignoring climate change, although the text of the book is directed more at the history of that particular plot of land and the process of restoration (and what's involved in restoration, in general). It occasionally feels a bit like the author is giving you a college lecture -- in a good way; I felt like reading Saving Tarboo Creek was a learning experience. Freeman speaks from an expert viewpoint, both as a scientist and a person who married into a family in which observation of nature was simply a way of life. Toward the end of the book, he mentions one of the children of Aldo Leopold and how she recorded her observations of the changing climate over the span of many decades. The Leopold family is unusually connected to the land.But, let's back up a bit. Saving Tarboo Creek will teach you a few interesting lessons about conservation, in general, and some fascinating history but it's specifically about a plot of land in Washington. Freeman purchased this piece of land knowing it was damaged. Trees had been harvested by past owners without any thought to replanting and a former creek had all but disappeared, no longer welcoming to the animals it would have hosted in the last century after decades of abuse. After buying the land, the family went about determining which trees and plants were original to the land (some of that involved intelligent guesswork, some of it viewing the original tree stumps) and then hired someone to dig out the creek and restructure it so that there would be a strong current in some places, quieter, sheltered water in others. He also balanced the replanting of original plants with others he thought more likely to survive the altered climate.I can't recall what he called the planting sessions -- plantathons? (it's been a few weeks since I read the book) -- but I found one story particularly interesting. In order to fully plant the land, which was a huge job done in sections, the family needed a lot of help, so they got volunteers to join in on huge planting sessions and there was one particular area where the trees kept dying. After the first year, the author assumed the volunteers may have not known how to go about planting those trees properly a[...]

Monday Malarkey


Recent arrivals (top to bottom - all purchased, except for Bagel in Love):The Virago Book of Christmas, ed. by Michelle LovricWelcome to the Monkey House by Kurt VonnegutMother Night by Kurt VonnegutDon Quixote by Miguel de CervantesThe Hired Man by Aminatta FornaThe Opposite of Loneliness by Marina KeeganBagel in Love by Wing and Dardik - from Sterling Children's Books for reviewThe Virago Book of Christmas is a book I returned to purchase when the local shop that went out of business (gone, now) marked things down further. They had it marked as a "new" book, although it's out of print, so I opted not to buy it when the discount was minimal. It was still there when they bumped up the discount in the last few days, though, so I grabbed it. The Kurt Vonnegut books were purchased after I read his speeches, last week. I've read 4 or 5 Vonnegut books and always planned to read more. Reading his speeches was a nice reminder of how much I appreciate his writing. Don Quixote (this version translated by Edith Grossman) is a book I've attempted to read 3 times and failed. I bought this particular version when Ryan of Wordsmithonia and I decided to buddy read it, starting in February. I thought it would be easier if we used the same version, so we can refer to specific pages if we want to. I'll talk about that more, as we get closer, but anyone who wants to join in is welcome to read along with us.The Hired Man was a total whim. I don't even know what I was thinking. It sounds good, though. I think I looked up an older book when someone mentioned a newer book by the author. Weird. I need to work on those buying whims (suppressing them down to nothing would be good). And, I bought The Opposite of Loneliness after seeing someone mention it on Facebook and reading about it. The author was described as a prodigy, although her work was published posthumously, gathered by her family and published after her death. I'm always curious what people consider prodigious. Books finished since last Malarkey:A Nest for Celeste by Henry ColeAnother Quest for Celeste by Henry ColeBagel in Love by Wing and DardikFlowers for Algernon by Daniel KeyesThe Wife Between Us by Hendricks and PekkanenI ended up enjoying A Nest for Celeste (which, you may recall, I found a bit too filled with violent images, at first) so I decided to continue on with its sequel, Another Quest for Celeste. I thought both were interesting for the historical perspective and the illustrations are beautiful. Flowers for Algernon was another one I started out not enjoying. It ended up being a 5-star read, in the end. Just a brilliant book. Yes, it's sad at times, but it's also deeply moving. And, The Wife Between Us . . . sigh. I guess I should avoid the most hyped books, unless they overwhelmingly appeal to me. I liked it but didn't love it. I had mixed feelings about most everything I read but I'll go into the details when I review them.Posts since last Malarkey:Marigold and Daisy by Andrea Zuill (book review)Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (book review)Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan (book review)Books Read in 2017 (very long list with links)Fiona Friday on the Wrong Day (cat photo)Currently reading:Artemis by Andy Weir The Radium Girls by Kate Moore Kiddo loaned me his copy of Artemis (a Christmas gift) and, in fear of having it yanked back, I started on it immediately. So far, it's a fun read but not as enthralling as The Martian. I've been working on The Radium Girls for several weeks, now, and I didn't see any posts in the discu[...]

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.

Books Read in 2017


January1. Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now - Maya Angelou2. Leopard at the Door - Jennifer McVeigh3. Yesternight - Cat Winters4. Faithful - Alice Hoffman5. We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie6. The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah7. The Wars of the Roosevelts - William J. Mann8. The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking9. March, Book One - John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell10. March, Book Two - Lewis, Aydin, and PowellFebruary11. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood12. March, Book Three - Lewis, Aydin, and Powell13. Geekerella - Ashley Poston14. Dragon Springs Road - Janie Chang15. In Farleigh Field - Rhys Bowen16. The Possessions - Sara Flannery Murphy17. Survivors Club - Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein HolinstatMarch18. The Last One - Alexandra Oliva19. The Almost Sisters - Joshilyn Jackson20. You'll Grow Out of It - Jessi Klein21. A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman22. A Piece of the World - Christina Baker Kline23. The Mermaid's Daughter - Ann Claycomb24. Big Little Hippo - Valeri Gorbachev25. Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep - Leslie Helakoski26. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart - Stephanie BurgisApril27. Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters - Margaret Dilloway28. Elly and the Smelly Sneaker - Leslie Gorin and Lesley Vamos29. The Rain in Portugal - Billy Collins30. Tequila Mockingbird - Leo Cullum31. Sammy's Broken Leg and the Amazing Cast that Fixed It - Judith Wolf Mandell32. The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains - Jon Morris33. The Day I Died - Lori Rader-Day34. Little Known Tales of Oklahoma - Alton Pryor35. The Plague - Albert Camus36. My Life on the Road - Gloria Steinem37. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast - Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney38. Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: The Case of the Stinky Stench - Funk and Kearney39. Caring for Your Lion - Tammi Sauer and Troy Cummings40. Mister Monkey - Francine ProseMay41. The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors - Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex42. Ella Who? - Linda Ashman and Sara Sanchez43. Dance is for Everyone - Andrea Zuill44. The Marriage Bureau - Penrose Halson45. No Man's Land - Simon Tolkien46. We're All Damaged - Matthew Norman47. Almost Everybody Farts - Marty Kelley48. Same Beach, Next Year - Dorothea Benton Clark49. Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler - Trudi Kanter50. Shadow Man - Alan Drew51. 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior - Siegel, Siegle, Bouma, Rockefeller, and SunJune52. On Tyranny - Timothy Snyder53. The Baker's Secret - Stephen P. Kiernan54. Shrill - Lindy West55. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli56. World Pizza - Cece Meng and Ellen Shi57. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows - Balli Kaur Jaswal58. The Explorers: The Door in the Alley - Adrienne Kress59. Bellwether - Connie Willis (link to review written in 2010; brief notes on 2017 reading, here)60. Whatever You Do, Don't Run - Peter Allison61. Goodnight from London - Jennifer RobsonJuly62. Afterlife - Marcus Sakey63. Exit, Pursued by a Bear - E. K. Johnston64. Just Fly Away - Andrew McCarthy65. More Was Lost - Eleanor Perenyi66. The Hidden Light of Northern Fires - Daren Wang67. How to Stop Time - Matt Haig68. The Punch Escrow - Tal M. Klein69. Brave Deeds - David Abrams70. Another Brooklyn - Jacqueline Woodson71. Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi and Sherif Hetata (translator)August72. The River at Night - Erica Ferencik73. The Woman Next Door - Yewande Omotoso74. Searching for Sunday - Rachel Held Evans75. The Salt Line - Holly Goddard Jones76. Amazing Animal Friendships: Odd[...]

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 MacmillanIf 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 [...]

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.