Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (02/21/2017)

This morning I was able to start reading Terrie Farley Moran's Read to Death, a cozy mystery about a Florida book group, where one of the members could be a murderer.

Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a book they are reading or thinking about reading soon. It is also where I share my first impressions about the book I am sharing.

In the parking lot of Read 'Em and Eat Café and Book Corner, I stood by the side of the sky blue van with oversized white letters advertising the "Gulf Coast Cab and Van" etched on the center door panel. I mentally counted the members of the Cool Reads/Warm Climate Book Club as they settled in. All six were present. My BFF and business partner, Bridgy Mayfield, was busily stowing thermoses of sweet tea and pastry boxes in the carrier right behind the driver.

Every Tuesday, Ambrosia from The Purple Booker hosts Teaser Teaser at which participants grab their current read, open to a random page, and share two or more sentences from that page while avoiding any spoilers.

Teaser from 10% of Read to Death:
Ophie gave a wide good-bye arm circle to the group, but when she opened the door, she stopped dead still. She stuck her head out the door, looked back at me and barked, "Sassy, get over here." 

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

Right from the start I am eager to go on a field trip with the Cool Reads/Warm Climate Book Club. I think it would be fun! My participation in an in-person book group was very short-lived, I am afraid. Some day, when my time is more my own, I might give it a try again.

The teaser instantly has me wondering what Ophie has seen--or found. I am looking forward to reading more!

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it anything you would recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's  Top Ten Tuesday Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would in the last three years. I ended up doing five of each: Five books I thought I would like more than I did and five I liked (and even loved in some cases!) more than I expected.

Books I thought I Would Like More Than I Did

1. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl ~ I love stories about witches and magic, and was so excited to dive into this one. While I enjoyed parts of it, I was left feeling disappointed. I haven't read more in the series; not sure I want to.

2. Ripper by Isabel Allende ~ For years, I have heard wonderful things about Isabel Allende's writing, and when given the opportunity to read Ripper, I jumped at the chance. It was a change of pace for the author--maybe I should have stuck with her older work which had come recommended. I do plan to give her another try.

3. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin ~ I so wanted to love this book. There were some beautiful parts to it. In the end though, I came away feeling I'd missed something important. 

4. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving ~ A book I read after hearing how beloved it was--and ultimately being let down. It had its moments, but overall, I did not care for A Prayer for Owen Meany all that much. 

5. Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley ~ I adored Lena Coakley's Witchlanders and was excited to read this one by her. Not to mention it featured the BrontĂ« siblings. I barely made it through this one, to be honest. 

Books I Liked More Than I Expected

1. The Good House by Ann Leary ~ I admit to being a bit weary of books that feature alcohol abuse by a main character. I absolutely loved The Good House, however. It was both intense and insightful.

2. Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J.D. Robb, Narrated by Susan Eriksen ~ I didn't like this book the first time I read it. I am not sure why I gave it another chance; maybe because people continued to recommend the series, because I got a copy as a gift, or because I am in a different place now than when I first read it, I decided to listen to the audio version and give it a another try. Although I cannot say I especially loved the book, I did like it the second time around and have since listened to the second book in the series and plan to continue with the series.

3. Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust ~ I enjoy reading poetry from time to time (even though I often feel intimidated by it), and ended up reading this collection twice, back to back. Something I never do. I just loved this collection of inter-connected poems.

4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell,  Narrated by Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra ~ Contemporary YA is not my go to genre; in fact, I tend to shy away from it. I kept hearing about Rainbow Rowell though, and decided to give this one a try. I ended up loving it--loving Eleanor and Park.

5. A Man Called Ove  by Fredrik Backman ~ Love, love, love! I went into this one a bit reluctantly. Even put off reading it. Came way feeling nothing but love.

What about you? What books did you like less than you thought would would? What books did you like more than you expected?

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sunday Post: New Books, Winter Dislikes, and Reading and Watching TV

New to My Shelves: My Allen Haskin's The Life We Bury arrived in the mail this past week thanks to my Postal Mail Book Club, in which six of us readers have each selected a book, journal about it, and send it around so everyone in the group gets a chance to read it throughout the year. I'm really excited to read this one--probably early next month. Have any of you read it?

I also recently purchased a copy of The Journey by Francesca Sanna, which I hope to review soon on my blog.

What I Am Reading: I barely read 50 pages this past week. Between lunch time meetings and a potluck and no time in the evenings, unless you count children's books. I have been reading with my daughter every night. I hope to find time sometime soon to dedicate to reading a good chunk of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and I plan to start my TBR list winner for the month early in the week, Read to Death by Terrie Farley Moran.

What I Am Listening To: I still haven't started a new audio book. This week, I promise.

What I Am Watching: I have not been watching too much really. I am all caught up with The Walking Dead. It was a refreshing mid-season premiere in some ways. Good to see most of the gang back together again. I couldn't help but laugh right along with Rick at the end of the episode. 

What's Going On Off the Blog: I am really tired. I moved around a lot of furniture on Friday. I should have waited for my husband. My back isn't thanking me. But I was in the mood to do it and knew it wouldn't get done any time soon if I waited. So it got done, and I feel better, but I still feel like I didn't get as much done as I wanted. And another thing, do any of you other parents find that the toys and art supplies and other little kid-related items never seem to be in the right place? And they double and triple and quadruple when you aren't looking?  Saturday we were out and about all day with soccer and errands. Sunday will be similar.

Around the Blogosphere:

This Week In Reading Mews:

Tell me about what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your week? Do you have anything planned for this coming week?


Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Can you read and watch TV or listen to the radio at the same time?
The other day I sat and read a chapter in my book at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, amidst screaming children and the constant sounds of games going on around me. I sometimes get so engrossed in a book I do not realize someone is talking to me. I can have the television or radio on in the background while I read with no problem. Unless the book I am reading is not holding my attention, then I am easily distracted.  My preference would be to read in complete silence--when I have the house to myself or I find an empty office at work to read during my lunch break. Reality has other ideas. More often than not, I read with some sort of noise in the background--whether it be a television or chatter or what have you. I can read just about anywhere, really. Noise or no noise.

When it comes to actually watching television or listening to the radio while I read, not really. On the rare occasion I am watching a television show with commercials (because I use a DVR or Netflix more often than not for my viewing pleasure), I may read during the commercials (but then I have to be careful not to get too involved in the book that I forget to stop and watch the show when it comes back on). But if I am actively watching a show, I can't read at the same time or vice versa. I really only listen to the radio when I'm driving, and so reading at the same time would not be wise. In fact, it would probably lead to certain death or, at the very least, injury. I can listen to audio books while driving though, which has proven to be very effective as of late when there is nothing on the radio I want to hear.

What about you? Can you watch television or listen to the radio while reading?

Every Sunday, Kendra Allen of Reads and Treats comes up with a theme for a Sunday list  of 5 things (because making lists are fun!) and asks participants to share.

Today's 5 Things on Sunday theme is Winter Dislikes. This is a bit of a tough one given I live in Southern California and winter is, well, it's not much different than the end of fall and the beginning of spring. The weather is pretty decent, I love rain, and Christmas is my favorite time of year.

1. Cold. I am not a fan of the cold. My nose turns bright red and won't stop running, and I can't get warm no matter what I do. Having to get out of bed when it's cold is the worst, especially since I leave for work before dawn this time of year. No, I am not a cold weather person. Forget about snow. I have never lived anywhere where it snowed in the winter and for good reason.

2. This is a stretch, but I do not like it that it is darker longer than it is daylight. Of course, that changes day by day as spring gets closer, which is something to look forward to but  still. I leave for work in the dark and I get home from work when it's dark. Where is the fun in that?

3. I don't like that I have to wear shoes that aren't sandals when I go out because it's either too cold or wet outside.

4. I don't like February much. Or January even. They both seem to drag on forever and feel like the longest months of the entire year. Seriously. Even when February has only 28 days. I am not sure why that is. It just is. July and August follow at a close third and fourth.

5. I do not like how quickly my car windows fog up in the winter. It is so annoying. I have to remember how to turn on my defroster and pray the window clears before I have to pull over because I suddenly cannot see.

Is there anything about winter you do not like? I would like to know!

I hope you all have a great week! Happy Reading!

The Sunday Post is hosted by the wonderful Kimba, the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, and gives us all a chance to recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. 

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam

Most children have two whole legs and two whole arms but this little six-year-old that Dinesh was carrying had already lost one leg, the right one from the lower thigh down, and was now about to lose his right arm. A Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam

The Story of a Brief Marriage by Aunk Arudpragasam
Flatiron Books, 2016
Fiction; 208 pgs

The Story of a Brief Marriage first came to my attention when it arrived in My Lit Box subscription the end of last year. I was able to fit it in as my last book read of 2016, and what a read it was! In the novel, Sri Lanka has been in civil war for decades and the army has pushed the Tamil minority up against the coast. Dinesh, one refugee among many, has been on the run for so long that he barely remember his life before--and yet, what he does remember is worlds away from where he is now. It was as if he had been a different person. So much has changed. Now, he is numb and surviving the best he can. He is going through the motions.

Something inside Dinesh awakens when he is approached with a marriage proposal. When was the last time he had family of his own? He longs to be needed and the desire to protect and care for another human being grows in him the more he considers the proposal. Ganga is reluctant to marry Dinesh. She had just lost her mother and brother two weeks before. Dinesh wonders at the father's motives for wanting to marry off his daughter, but in a way, he understands.

We really do not get to know Ganga's full story, which I wish we could have seen more into. This is all Dinesh's story, however. At the start of the novel, he is helping an injured boy--we see over the course of the novel that Dinesh is a caring and thoughtful human being. There is a scene with a crow that offers the reader a deeper glimpse at Dinesh's mindset over the course of the novel. Ganga's reaction is how I might have reacted, but Dinesh offers a different perspective, about life and holding onto it as long as we can, no matter how painful.

I can't even imagine being in a situation like Dinesh and Ganga. In a scene near the end, there is a boy standing and staring, not reacting in the middle of a missile attack, and I thought of the photo of the little boy in Aleppo, numb and not crying, that was all over the media last year. Like him, so many in this situation are numb to what goes on around them, having to always live in fear. It comes down to just trying to survive: to eat and sleep and even relieving oneself.

Anuk Arudpragasam's The Story of a Brief Marriage is beautifully written. It takes place over a 24 hour time period and is just over 200 pages, but is not a quick read. It is detailed and contemplative. The novel is an experience more than it is a story. I felt the numbness and desperation of the characters. I felt raw inside. Everything we do and have--what we often take for granted--how easy to forget how many advantages we have. How little we really need. How unimportant it all is, especially when in situation like Dinesh and Ganga, where survival is all they can focus on. The Story of a Brief Marriage is a reminder of how fragile we all are, and yet how resilient we can be. It is also the story of how war can rip us bear and leave us raw. We keep going, surviving in the worst of circumstances because we have to.

To learn more about author Anuk Arudpragasam and his work, please visit the author's website.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (02/14/2017)

I am feeling too lazy to run upstairs and get my Kindle to share a teaser from my current read, and so I thought I would share something from Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal, which is coming up soon on my TBR pile. It seems the perfect choice to share given it is a love story--and today is Valentine's Day.

Goodreads Summary:
Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a book they are reading or thinking about reading soon. It is also where I share my first impressions about the book I am sharing.

The Ellsworths of Long Parkmead had the regard of their neighbours in every respect. The Honourable Charles Ellsworth, though a second son, through the generosity of his father had been entrusted with an estate in the neighbourhood of Dorchester. It was well appointed and used only enough glamour to enhance its natural grace, without overlaying so much illusion as to be tasteless. His only regret, for the estate was a fine one, was that it was entailed, and as he had only two daughters, his elder brother's son stood next in line to inherit it. Knowing that, he took pains to set aside some of his income each annum for the provision of his daughters.

Every Tuesday, Ambrosia from The Purple Booker hosts Teaser Teaser at which participants grab their current read, open to a random page, and share two or more sentences from that page while avoiding any spoilers.

Teaser from page 105 from Shades of Milk and Honey:
Jane sat in silence, struggling to compose herself. If she had any hope of taming her sister's notions of propriety, then she would have to find a way to mend this breach between them.
What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

I hope to start this one before the end of the month. 

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it anything you would recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's  Top Ten Tuesday them is All About Romance, and so I thought I would share ten of my favorite romantic quotes from books I have read over the years.

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you."  
~ Persuasion by Jane Austen
"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." 
~ Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
"I've never had a moment's doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life." 
~ Atonement by Ian McEwan
"Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches [...] I have stayed these years in my hovel because of you. I have taught myself languages because of you. I have made my body strong because I thought you might be pleased by a strong body. I have lived my life with only the prayer that some sudden dawn you might glance in my direction. I have not known a moment in years when the sight of you did not send my heart careening against my rib cage. I have not known a night when your visage did not accompany me to sleep. There has not been a morning when you did not flutter behind my waking eyelids…" 
~ The Princess Bride by William Goldman
“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”  
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
“Is love this misguided need to have you beside me most of the time? Is love this safety I feel in our silences? Is it this belonging, this completeness?”  
~ Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
 “I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any woman has ever loved a man, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm.” 
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once."  
~ The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”  
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
"Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love."  
Hamlet by William Shakespeare 
 I grabbed my book and opened it up. I wanted to smell it. Heck, I wanted to kiss it. Yes, kiss it. That's right, I am a book kisser. Maybe that's kind of perverted or maybe it's just romantic and highly intelligent.
~  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Do you have any favorite romantic quotes? Would any of these make your list?

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mouse's Corner: The Princess In Black by Shannon & Dean Hale

The Princess in Black Series by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Books in the series (so far):
  • The Princess In Black (Candlewick Press, 2014; 96 pgs)
  • The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party (Candlewick Press, 2015; 96 pgs)
  • The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde (Candlewick Press, 2016; 96 pgs)
  • The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation (Candlewick Press, 2016; 9688 pgs)
While browsing the shelves at my daughter's school book fair this past fall, I discovered The Princess in Black series and asked Mouse if it was something she might be interested in. It was a silly question. Anything about princesses is sure to get her attention. We came home with three books in the series, and she received the fourth for Christmas, soon after it had come out. 

These chapter books might be a little above her reading level just yet, but the stories are fun and we enjoy reading them together. Mouse is quite taken with Princess Magnolia and her secret identity as the Princess in Black. When wearing her mask, the princess fights monsters wanting to eat the village goats. Princess Magnolia loves pink and parties and is afraid of snails. She wears frilly pink dresses and has a unicorn named Frimplepants. The Princess in Black can hold her own in a fight and rides a pony named Blacky.  There's nothing she is afraid of.

In the first novel, The Princess in Black, Princess Magnolia has an unexpected visitor who is determined to find out what the Princess is hiding. A window of opportunity to snoop opens when Princess Magnolia's monster alarm goes off. I love the illustrations and how they tell their own story.

In the second novel, The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party, finds Princess Magnolia struggling to balance playing host at her own birthday party while at the same time being called out repeatedly as the Princess in Black to fight monsters. I was out of breath just reading that one! It's no wonder Princess Sneezewort has some questions.

Bunnies can't possibly be monsters, the Princess in Black argues in The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde. Her friend Duff the Goat Boy isn't so so convinced. This story one never fails to get Mouse laughing.

Tired and in need desperate need of a nap, the Princess in Black has been fighting monsters all night in The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation. The Goat Avenger suggests she take a vacation, and after some contemplation, she agrees, leaving him to guard the goats. Only, it doesn't turn into much of a vacation when a sea monster threatens to eat everyone on the beach. Whenever we read this one, Mouse likes to make up her own stories about climbing or riding the sea monster's back.

The writing is witty and the stories adventures any young school-aged child will enjoy. In each book, Princess Magnolia must balance her dual identities as princess and hero. She is as sweet and kind as she is courageous and a fighter, and Mouse likes that most about her.

The illustrations are well fitted to the story and really add life to the Shannon and Dean Hale's stories. LeUyen Pham captures Princess Magnolia's expressions quite well. Mouse's favorite illustrated scenes in the novel are the ones where the Princess in Black is fighting the monsters. She has a style all her own. 

Mouse and I enjoy these books, and I imagine will continue to do so for a long while yet. 

To learn more about author Shannon Hale and her work, please visit the author's website.
To learn more about author Dean Hale and his work, please visit him on Twitter
To learn more about illustrator LuYuyen Pham and her work, please visit her website.

To share your children's book related posts stop by Booking Mama’s feature,
Kid Konnection and leave a comment as well as a link to your posts!

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.