Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Books Read in 2013

(Archive of books read in 2013, in alphabetical order)

Appelhans, Lenore - The Memory of After (2013) - Speculative Fiction (YA)
Armstrong, Rachel - The Fairfolk in Knob's End: Book 1: The Daughters of Annwn (2013) - Speculative Fiction (YA)
Arthur, Keri - Chasing the Shadows (2013-reissue) - Speculative Fiction (Paranormal Romance)
Arthur, Keri - Dancing with the Devil (2013-reissue) - Speculative Fiction (Paranormal Romance)
Arthur, Keri - Hearts in Darkness (2013-reissue) - Speculative Fiction (Paranormal Romance)
Arthur, Keri - Kiss the Night Goodbye (2013-reissue) - Speculative Fiction (Paranormal Romance)
Baker, Christina - The Orphan Train (2013) - Fiction
Brooks, Max - World War Z (2006) - Speculative Fiction (Horror)
Brown, Rita Mae - Litter of the Law (2013) - Crime Fiction (Cozy)
Buchanan, Cathy Marie - The Day the Falls Stood Still (2009) -  Fiction (Historical)
Buckley, Carla -The Deepest Secret (2014) - Crime Fiction
Burke, Alfafair - Never Tell (2012) - Crime Fiction
Calkins, Susanna - A Murder at Rosamund's Gate (2013) - Crime Fiction (Historical)
Carriger, Gail - Soulless (2009) - Speculative Fiction (Steampunk)
Child, Lee - Killing Floor (2009) -  Crime Fiction
Clare, Cassandra - The City of Bones (Book 1: Mortal Instruments) (2008) - Speculative Fiction (YA)
Cline, Ernest - Ready Player One (2011) - Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction)
Cole, Kresley - A Hunger Like No Other (2006) - Speculative Fiction (Paranormal Romance)
Cole, Kresley - No Rest for the Wicked (2006) -  Speculative Fiction (Paranormal Romance)
Cole, Kresley - Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night  (2007) - Speculative Fiction (Paranormal Romance)
Connolly, John - The Wanderer in Unknown Realms (2013) - Speculative Fiction (Horror)
Cook, Claire - Must Love Dogs (2002) - Romance
Cooper, Karina - The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway (2013) - Speculative Fiction (Steampunk)
Culbertson, Judi - An Illustrated Death (2013) - Crime Fiction (Cozy)
Dane, Jordan - Evil Without a Face (2011) - Crime Fiction
Dark, Juliet - The Angel Stone (2013) - Speculative Fiction (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
Dark, Juliet - The Demon Lover (2011) -  Speculative Fiction (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
Dark, Juliet - Water Witch (2013) - Speculative Fiction (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
Finder, Joseph - Paranoia (2004) - Crime Fiction
Flynn, Gillian - Gone Girl (2012) - Crime Fiction
Grafton, Sue - T is for Trespass (2007) - Crime Fiction
Hannah, Mari - The Murder Wall (2013) - Crime Fiction
Harlow, Jennifer - What's a Witch To Do? (2006) - Crime Fiction (Fantasy)
Harris, Charlaine - Dead Ever After (2013) - Speculative Fiction
Harris, Charlaine - Deadlocked (2012) -  Speculative Fiction
Hayman, James - Darkness First (2013) - Crime Fiction
Haynes, Elizabeth - Into The Darkest Corner (2013) - Crime Fiction
Hoffman, Beth - Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (2010) -  Fiction
Holloway, Emma Jane - A Study in Silks (2013) - Speculative Fiction (Steampunk)
Jance, J.A. - Ring in the Dead (2013) - Crime Fiction
King, Stephen - The Shining (1977) - Speculative Fiction (Horror)
La Plante, Lynda - Backlash (2013) -  Crime Fiction
Landay, William - Defending Jacob (2012) - Crime Fiction
Lippman, Laura - And When She Was Good (2012) - Crime Fiction
MacNeal, Susan Elia - His Majesty's Hope (2013) - Crime Fiction
Madison, Shawntelle - Bitter Disenchantment (2013) -  Fiction
McCarthy, Cormac - The Road (2009) - Speculative Fiction
McCarty, Monica - Highlander Unchained (2007) - Romance (Historical)
McCarty, Monica - Highlander Unmasked (2007) - Romance (Historical)
McCarty, Monica - Highlander Untamed (2007) - Romance (Historical)
Melton, Glennon Doyle - Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed (2013) - Nonfiction
Mishani, D.A. - The Missing File (2013) -  Crime Fiction
Moning, Karen Marie - Beyond the Highland Mist (1999) - Speculative Fiction (Romance)
Nayeri, Dina - A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea (2013) - Fiction
Orenstein, Peggy - Cinderella Ate My Daughter (2011) - Nonfiction
Pavone, Chris - The Expats (2013) -  Crime Fiction
Pessl, Marisha - Night Film (2013) - Fiction
Picoult, Jodi - Ninteen Minutes (2007) - Fiction
Plum, Amy - Die For Her (2013) - Speculative Fiction (YA)
Plum, Amy - If I Should Die (2013) -  Speculative Fiction (YA)
Quaid, Jamie - Boyfriend From Hell (2012) - Speculative Fiction (Urban Fantasy)
Quaid, Jamie - Damn Him to Hell (2013) - Speculative Fiction (Urban Fantasy)
Schwarz, Liesel - A Consiracy of Alchemists (2013) -  Speculative Fiction (Steampunk)
Searles, John - Help for the Haunted (2013) - Fiction
Shalvis, Jill - Simply Irrestible (2010) - Romance
Shoham, Liad - Lineup (2013) -  Crime Fiction
Shriver, Lionel - We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) - Fiction
Silver, Elizabeth L. - The Execution of Noa P. Singleton (2013) - Crime Fiction
Slaughter, Karin - Unseen (2013) - Crime Fiction
Van Booy, Simon - The Illusion of Separateness (2013) -  Fiction
van Praag, Menna - The House At the End of Hope Street (2013) - Fiction
Walker, Rebecca - Adé: A Love Story (2013) - Fiction
Zuckoff, Mitchell - Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II (2013) -  Nonfiction


© 2013, 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.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Wishing all of my friends a very Merry Christmas!





© 2013, 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, December 23, 2013

Bookish Thoughts: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman


Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Pamela Dorman Books, 2010
Fiction; 320 pgs

I know what it is like to grow up in a home with a parent suffering from mental illness.  My father suffered from undiagnosed depression for as long as I can remember.  There were days my mom, brother and I had to tiptoe around him, afraid anything we said or did would set him off.  We did what we could to stay on his good side as much as we could.  My father died suddenly just over two years ago.  While we were on good terms at the time, the scars from my childhood remained.  Memories flooded back.  Admittedly, it was the unpleasant ones that seemed to come in waves at first.  The good memories trickled in later--but they did come.  I know that through everything, my father loved me and wanted what was best for me.  I know too that he was proud of me in the end.

CeeCee's story is quite different from my own in many respects, but her story touched me to the core.  Not only because I could relate to what her character went through on some level, but also because of where I am in my life right now.  I cannot know what it is like to lose a parent as a child, to go to live with an unknown relative, and step into an unknown life.  And yet, this book spoke to me.  Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is one of those books that I chose to read at the right moment in my life.  It's message of healing and hope was just what I needed to hear as this difficult year and the one before it come to an end.

CeeCee Honeycutt is a young girl growing up in the 1960's.  An absent father, a mentally ill mother, and no friends to speak of other than an elderly neighbor, CeeCee studies hard and escapes into books.  When her mother dies suddenly, CeeCee is taken in my her Great Aunt Tootie who she doesn't know, shuffled from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia.  As the story unfolds, the reader and CeeCee are introduced to a huge cast of eccentric and yet strong and beautiful women.  Each have their own story of loss and coming into their own.

My heart broke for CeeCee as her story came out.  She lived a lifetime in her twelve years, dealing with issues that no child should have to.  I liked the depth the author gave CeeCee's character in terms of dealing with her grief and anger.

I loved the author's descriptions of Savannah and the characters she's created.  In a book like this, they could have been too perfect in their roles, but they all seemed so very genuine.  I would be hard pressed to name a favorite character.  They all spoke to me in some way. This is a feel good book in just about every way, but it does deal with the difficult issues of grief, anger, racism, and fear.  Not all the strings are tied at the end--and they didn't need to be.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is full of heart.  It is a book about friendship, forgiveness, and family.  It is also about finding one's inner strength.  I cried as I reached the end of this book.  Happy tears.  I felt warm and like I was wrapped in the arms of CeeCee, her aunt and their friends.  I came away from this book wanting to call my mother, wishing she weren't so far away.  I wonder if she's read this book.  If she hasn't, well, she will.  I will make sure of it.

Rating: * (Outstanding)

You can learn more about Beth Hoffman and her books on the author's website

Source: I purchased both a hardcover copy and e-copy of this book for my own reading pleasure.


© 2013, 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.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bookish Thoughts: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan


The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Voice, 2009
Fiction; 320 pgs

I have tears in my eyes as I sit down to write this review.  Cathy Marie Buchanan's novel could not have ended any other way, really.  This book is both beautiful and bittersweet.  This is the type of romantic story I enjoy most--one that is realistic, one that is about falling in love and about life after that initial fall.

Niargara Falls entered my heart the first time I visited when I was a child and again when I was able to visit with my husband.  Seeing beyond the tourist trappings and commercialization, the Falls are one of the most beautiful natural landmarks I have ever seen.  To say it is majestic is not an overstatement.

I am always fascinated by the history of the places I visit, and it was no different when visiting Niagara Falls. I loved hearing and reading about the daredevils who went over the falls in barrels and other contraptions, hoping to conquer the water.  Then there were the whirlpools, the botanical gardens, the history of the power companies harnessing the water.  And, of course, the  fact that to Falls really do stand still.  I continue to get unbelieving shakes of the head and skeptical looks when I mention it to those not familiar with Niagara Falls.

Cathy Marie Buchanan not only recreates the history of Niagara Falls in her novel, but she also gives it a more personal, human face.  This story follows the life of Bess, a young woman whose family was fairly well to do up until her father lost his job with the power company.  Suddenly, Bess's world changes.  Her mother has to go to work, her father drowns himself in alcohol, and her older sister, once engaged to a well-respected man, is wasting away, clearly depressed.

When the book begins, Bess is a naive 16 year old, still full of hopes and dreams.  Her worries are mostly superficial and she knows very little of the world outside.  Over the course of the book, she grows and adapts in ways that she probably couldn't have imagined as she stood looking out her window on her last day of school.  In a way, this book is her coming of age story.  It is also her love story.  The story of how she met a river man, a man far below her station, fell in love, and then had to decide whether or not to pursue him.

Tom reminded me of my husband and I think that is why I fell in love with his character in The Day the Falls Stood Still.  My husband is no man of nature, no river man, the way Tom is, but they have similar natures in other ways.

While I loved the first part of the book in which Tom and Bess get to know each other and fall in love, it was later in the book, after a horrible tragedy, when I was completely swept off my feet.  That's when we really get to see the depth of Bess and Tom's characters.  They both had to make sacrifices that changed them, both for the better and the worse.

It is obvious the author has a special connection to the setting of the novel.  Her love for Niagara Falls comes through in her descriptions of the area and of its history.  Just as I was drawn to the love story and the characters and their troubles, both the major and minor characters, I was also drawn to the historical aspect of the novel.  The politics of the time were not so different than they are now in some respects.  Greed and power are strong motivators; progress is as well.  And yet at what cost to the environment?  I could see where Bess's father was coming from with his viewpoints as well as Tom, although I tended to agree more with Tom.

The novel opens in 1915 and covers the course of several years.  World War I is underway and Canada is feeling the strain of having to conserve and sending her men off to war.  Bess and Tom are not untouched by the war, nor by the after affects of those directly impacted by fighting in the war.  So much death and violence can kill one's spirit. We see it today in our soldiers who have returned home from the battlefield, but I think sometimes we forget it isn't something new.

There is so much more I want to say about this book.  I knew I would like it when I first began reading, and possibly even love it. I most certainly loved it.  The Day the Falls Stood Still is not only a well written novel, it is one that really touched my heart.  It is novel of history, enduring love, sacrifice, and of hope.  I hope you will read it if you haven't already.

Rating: * (Outstanding)

You can learn more about Cathy Marie Buchanan and her books on the author's website

Source: I purchased both a hardcover copy and e-copy of this book for my own reading pleasure.


© 2013, 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.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cat Thursday: Aren't I Handsome?

Welcome to the weekly meme hosted by The True Book Addict that celebrates cats; their foibles and humorousness and the joy they bring. You can join in by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you made or came across, cat art or share with us pics of your own felines, then post your link up at The True Book Addict.






© 2013, 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, December 18, 2013

Bookish Thoughts and Personal Reflections: Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstien


Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
Harper, 2011
Nonfictionl 256 pgs

I like the princesses. I like Disney.  And I love the movies.  It wasn't until I became a mother that I really began looking closely at the messages my daughter might get from some of the Disney movies.  The first time I put in the Little Mermaid DVD for her, I cringed inwardly as I watched the story unfold of a princess mermaid giving up her voice for a man who only throws her over for someone else because that's all he really loved in the first place--her voice.  Sure he had doubts, but it did not stop him from moving on so quickly. That's just one of my maternal grips with the movie.  Of course, a two year old isn't going to pick any of that up, not really.  My point though is that suddenly what seemed like a cute and romantic movie with great songs suddenly took on new meaning for me.  Just another reason I really need to pay attention to the media and messages my daughter is receiving from what she is watching and listening to--and even reading.

Cinderella is the first princess my daughter ever identified and loved.  Every princess was Cinderella for a number of months, until my daughter met Ariel and then later, in person, Aurora.  She's never seen the movie Sleeping Beauty, and has no interest in it at this point. At the writing of this review, the only other princess movie she has seen is Pocahontas, which she has liked enough to sit through twice so far (yay!).  I haven't been able to interest her in Mulan yet, but that's one I hope she will fall in love with over many of the others. (This is where I confess that my absolute favorite animated film, behind Tarzan is Beauty and the Beast, which has the worst message for girls in terms of love changing a man from beast.)

Mostly though, my daughter is most content with her Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins (who I am a huge fan of myself).  Oh, and Henry Hugglemonster and the Octonauts.  She adores the Octonauts.  

Still, as she gets older, I am sure she will start paying more attention to the stories of the princesses, and that's something I worry about.  I don't want my daughter to think she needs a man to rescue her.  I don't mind romance in a story, but I like the idea of equal partners.  I hate the message that a woman needs a man.  I have nothing against men, but in my line of work, I see too many instances where women define themselves by their man.  And it irks me no end.  Plus there's the whole issue of beauty being so important. It is, unfortunately, in our society.  Important, I mean.  Too much value is placed on the perfect face, the perfect hair and the perfect clothes.  The perfect body.  I don't want my daughter growing up feeling she has to fit into some pre-formed notion of beauty. 

The author isn't suggesting girls shouldn't play as princesses or play with princess toys.  For many children, it is a natural part of childhood.  Rather, she wants parents to be aware of the influence media and the like have on their daughters and what messages they are receiving. 

It isn't just about the Disney Princesses though (a concept created in 2000 as part of an ad campaign based on the public's marketing trends in regards to the princesses).  Our young daughters are exposed to a myriad of mixed messages from all different directions telling them what they  should want, what they should look like and how they should behave.  As much as I would like to shield my daughter from much of it (the harmful parts), I only have so much control.

The author goes a little into the history of toys aimed at girls, the various doll brands out there.  I found it all very interesting, especially how innocently many of these endeavors began only to become something else entirely in the end.  For example, I knew very little about the American Girl trend before reading this book, but from what Peggy Orenstien describes, however, I can get behind the idea of them--even if not the consumerism and the price tag.

There were other aspects of the book that spoke to me, validating what I already knew.  How parents' behavior and words, even about themselves, influence how are children see themselves.  I am trying to cut the word "fat" out of my vocabulary, although it's been difficult.  On the other side of the coin, I've been telling my daughter she's beautiful since birth.  We all thought it was funny when she, at one, was going around telling everyone, "I"m beautiful."  Have I damaged her irrevocably by constantly telling her how beautiful she is?   Of course not, but the doubt is there.  I know I mean well.  I am talking about beauty on the out and inside.  She doesn't know that though.  Labels themselves can be dangerous, influencing how we see ourselves and how we respond to outside stimuli.

I was really drawn to the work being done by Child Development Professor Carol Martin and her colleague Richard Fabes with their Sanford Harmony Program at Arizona State University.  The two are looking into the play habits of boys and girls, including the way children tend to clump together in play with their own genders.  What influence would encouraging cross-gender play have on children's perceptions of the other sex in the long-term?  As Orenstein writes, the study's "goal, over time, is to improve how boys and girls think of and treat the other sex in the classroom, playground, and beyond: to keep their small behavioral and cognitive differences from turning into unbreachable gaps."  By encouraging play between boys and girls, the hope is to make their goal a reality.  The ramifications overall could impact adult relationships in a positive way.  So, yes, I got excited after reading that section of the book when I saw my daughter playing with a little boy at her daycare that evening.  It also made me think of another incident I witnessed not too long ago in which my daughter wanted to play with a couple of boys but they told her she couldn't because she was a girl. (I liked that one of the boy's dad's spoke up to encourage his son to let her play--girls can do anything boys can, he told his son.)

I have nothing against girls being girls and boys being boys.  I've taken plenty of psychology and child development classes in my day, even a gender studies class.  I just want my daughter to know that her options are open.  I don't like the social messages out there that promote appearance as number one and that girls and boys have to fit one category or the other.  I don't mind my daughter playing with dolls or that she likes to play in her little kitchen or even have tea parties.  I just want her to have a choice and know that she has a choice. I want her to know that trains and fire engines are not just for boys.

I liked when the author talked about being hypocritical, because I feel that way sometimes.  I tell myself I'll never let my daughter have this or that, but I end up giving in.  My daughter is more girly girl than I had initially hoped.  She likes pink despite my best efforts early on to steer her away from it (I finally gave in and now she has so much pink, it's crazy).  I had hoped to guide her away from the princesses, but that, too, seems to be impossible.  I could fight it more, I suppose.  But I want also to support my daughter in who she is and let her make some of her own choices.  Plus, I like to see her happy. That doesn't mean though that I can't or won't step in to guide her and influence her in ways I think will build her good character, help her be confident and stand up for herself and yet generous and compassionate.

There is a section in the book that talks about children and the internet, touching on the dangers and influences that children will come across.  Children are getting online younger and younger, and as much as we want to control and limit their access, they are often more technologically savvy than their parents.  This is the chapter that scared me.  It's not new information, but it is something every parent must think hard about.

Mouse prefers to play with dolls and play in her little kitchen.  She enjoys playing with blocks and building things.  She likes trains and trucks.  She misses her soccer classes in between seasons.  Mouse likes to pretend she is a princess, but she also likes to pretend to be a doctor and a pirate.  At two and a half, I think she is off to a good start even as I fumble through the opening chapters of parenthood.

As I read Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I felt a sense of relief in a way.  Peggy Orenstein had gone through just what I'm going through.  She had many of the same concerns and questions about perpetuated gender stereotypes and the media and how to maneuver in today's culture as a parent.  Because of that, she decided to do a little research and what we have is her book.  Cinderella Ate My Daughter is entertaining, educational, and self-affirming. It offers food for thought, to be sure.  And it also made me realize I'm not alone.

Rating: * (Good +)

You can learn more about Peggy Orenstein and her books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased both the hardcover and e-copy of this book for my own reading pleasure.


© 2013, 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.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Where is Your Bookmark? (12/17/2013)

In just two weeks it will be the last day of the year.  Usually I am clamoring to finish my best of list and thinking of my goals for next year.  I confess I have only given passing thoughts to both, not quite ready to wrap anything up, much less start anew.  It'll come.  Just maybe not until the beginning of the new year.

I had pretty much given up on reading any of my "must read" books this year, when suddenly I was hit with the desire to dive into Cathy Marie Buchanan's The Day the Falls Stood Still, a historical fiction novel set in Niagara Falls.  And just as I finished that one, I knew I would be reading Saving CeeCee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman next.  Both are very different from my other most recent reads, and both books I have been longing to get to for quite some time.  

What are you reading right now?  Is it something you would recommend?

On another note, I took a spill last week; embarrassing really.  Mouse and I were gathering the packages from our front porch to bring in the house when I stepped wrong and sprained my right ankle, causing a small fracture, and banged up my left knee.  It was a few moments before I could work up enough courage to stand and walk into the house with Mouse.  As I lay there on the concrete, she gave my knee and ankle kisses.  Later when the doctor asked Mouse what happened, she gave a blow by blow account of the incident.  I don't think she's ever said so much in a regular voice (as opposed to super quiet) to a stranger before.  She was so very brave.

I have not been the best at staying off it like I should.  I never am.  I have experienced sprains in both ankles several times over, and so they are nothing new to me.  Just the same, they are never any fun, and are always inconvenient.  Luckily, my Christmas shopping is all done, so that's one less thing to worry about.

Which reminds me!  I participated in The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa exchange again this year and you will never guess who my Secret Santa was!  Sarah aka Sawcat of Sawcat's Book Blog who lives just down the street from me!  Okay, so not right down the street, but at least in the same town.  We even frequent the same independent bookstore, The Cellar Door.

Her gifts to me included two books that have been on my wish list awhileMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and Cinder by Melissa Meyer.  She also gave me two beautiful bookmarks.  I'm so very grateful to Sarah for the wonderful gifts!




Are you giving anyone books for the holidays?  Are there any you are hoping to receive?

*                       *                        *



Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts 
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.


I thought I'd share the start of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman today:
Momma left her red satin shoes in the middle of the road.  That's what three eyewitnesses told the police.  The first time I remember my mother wearing red shoes was on a snowy morning in December 1962, the year I was seven years old.  I walked into the kitchen and found her sitting at the table.  No lights were on, but in the think haze of dawn that pushed through the frostbitten window, I could see red high-heeled shoes peeking out from beneath the hem of her rob.  There was no breakfast waiting, and no freshly ironed school dress hanging on the basement doorknob.  Momma just sat and stared out the window with empty eyes, her hands limp in her lap, her coffee cold and untouched. 
Would you continue reading?


© 2013, 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, December 16, 2013

Bookish Thoughts: Young Adult Fantasy (Semi) Mini Reviews


The Memory of After (The Memory Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans
(Simon and Schuster, 2013; 304 pgs)

The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans is a combination of romance and science fiction set in the after life on what is referred to as Level 2 (the original title of the book).  It's not a particularly happy place, Felicia has found, and she wonders if there is more to it or if this is what eternity will mean for her.  When an old friend from her past appears and asks for her help, promising to re-unite her with the boy she loved in life, Felicia agrees.  She soon finds herself in the middle of a rebellion and isn't sure which side she really should be on.

I wanted to like this book more than I did.  I wanted to love it.  Unfortunately, I never completely warmed to Felecia's character, although I did come to care for her and want a good outcome for her.  I wasn't as taken with Neil as one might expect, unusual given his "good boy" status, which is the guy I typically fall for, as rare as that might be of the female species.  He seemed a bit too perfect, really.  I was, however, especially curious about Julian. To me, he was the most interesting character.  There were moments I wondered if the book was meant to have a Christian Fiction edge to it.  Which wouldn't be a bad thing, but it wasn't what I expected.  

That said, I really liked the way the author told her story, sharing the characters' backstories through memories.  The flashbacks never felt forced or out of place.  And the timing was perfect, building the suspense to the climax.  I never lost interest in the story. 
Rating:   (Fair +)


To learn more about the author and her books, please check out the author's website.

Source: I purchased both a hard copy and e-copy of this book for my reading pleasure.



Die for Her by Amy Plum
Harper Teen, 2013; 60 pgs

If I Should I Die by Amy Plum
Harper Teen, 2013; 405 pgs

I was first introduced to the Revenants Trilogy by Marg of The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader, and was instantly taken in by the world Amy Plum had created.

It is next to impossible to review the third book of a trilogy without giving away spoilers, and given the ending of the second book which had a huge cliffhanger, to say much of anything about what this book is about would give too much away.  Therefore, I refer you to my review of the first two books, Die For Me and Until I Die, and will only lightly touch on my thoughts on the final two installments in the trilogy.

Die For Her is a novella, an aside really, in the trilogy. Written from the perspective of one of the major series characters, Jules Marchenoir, readers get to experience the events in the first two books through someone else's eyes.  Jules is an interesting character to begin with.  He is the best friend of our heroine Kate's boyfriend, Vincent.  Jules is a Bardia, a Revenant who fights to save the lives of humans.  I enjoyed getting to know Jules better, but mostly I found this novella a great way to refresh my memory of the first two books which I read last year in preparation for the third.

If I Should I Die is perhaps my favorite book in the trilogy.  Kate still has that too perfect air about her, but she also seems more vulnerable.  This novel is full of tense moments that had me nearly biting my finger nails.  I really wanted Kate and the Bardia to come out on top.  I've come to care for many of the characters.  I shared their disbelief, doubts, pain and victories.  I also shared in their grief.  Should I Die is the big war between good and evil the other books have been building towards, and  it did not disappoint.  I thought the ending was perfect--although I do wonder about Louis.

Rating: * (Good +)

To learn more about the author and her books, please check out the author's website.

Source: I purchased a copy of these two books for my own reading pleasure.




© 2013, 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.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cat Thursday: Another One in the Bath

Welcome to the weekly meme hosted by The True Book Addict that celebrates cats; their foibles and humorousness and the joy they bring. You can join in by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you made or came across, cat art or share with us pics of your own felines, then post your link up at The True Book Addict.






 Even despite her dunk in the bath the week before last, Gracie still likes to hang out in the bathtub now and then (as long as it is empty).



 Many thanks to everyone who sent prayers, good thoughts and well wishes to Parker.  He seems to be doing much better.  We have almost completely weaned him off of the appetite stimulant and he is taking his weekly injections like a pro.  Parker seems comfortable and happy, and, while not completely his old self, he is definitely making strides in that direction.  We head back to the veterinarian in another couple of weeks and we expect a good progress report at that time.


© 2013, 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, December 11, 2013

Bookish Thoughts: My Recent Foray into Steampunk


The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway by Karina Cooper
Carina Press, 2013
Fantasy; 85 pgs

I had not realized The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway by Karina Cooper was a novella until I started reading it.  Not that it mattered.  It is the prequel to an existing series by the author, featuring Cherry St. Croix, a collector, or bounty hunter, if you prefer.

Fifteen year old Cherry St. Croix has led a varied life.  An orphan by all accounts, once living on the streets of Victorian England, who is now being raised as a lady intended to one day inherit her parents' fortune.  She feels like a prisoner, having no control over her life.  Bored and in need of her own pocket money,  Cherry decides to become a collector.  Her first case involves finding Mr. Strangeway, a man who has built up considerable debt.   What should have been an easy catch, soon turns into a wild chase involving a conspiracy, murder, and domestic terrorists.  

It was an intriguing story with interesting characters living in an alternate reality that is gritty and somewhat dark. I really came to like Cherry and all her eccentricities.  She has a way of finding trouble, but somehow always manages to land on her feet.  Given her past, she's extremely adaptable and resourceful, qualities I imagine would do her good in her job. 

The world building in this novella was believable and well done.  The steampunk elements flowed naturally in the story and the world Karina Cooper has created.

I liked author's writing style and the voice she's given Cherry St. Croix.  I will definitely be seeking out more by this author.


Rating: * (Good +)

You can learn more about Karina Cooper and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copy of the book provided by the publisher via NetGalley.



A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair #1) by Emma Jane Holloway
Del Rey, 2013
Fantasy (Steampunk); 531 pgs

Summary from Publisher:
Evelina Cooper, niece of Sherlock Holmes, is ready for her first London Season - except for a murderer, missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse. In a Victorian era ruled by a ruthless steam baron council, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Evelina has secretly mastered a coveted weapon - magic that can run machines. Should she trust the handsome, clever rake who speeds her breath, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything she would ask?
A Study in Silks is the first book in the Baskerville Affair trilogy set in Victorian England.  Written in a streampunk style, the novel is a mix of mystery and fantasy with a dash of romance.  When Evelina is called upon to look at a body in a closet, she is drawn into a murder mystery.  She feels it is up to her to get to the bottom of the crime in order to protect her friend and her friend's family.  Putting to use her own natural magical powers and the logic her famous uncle taught her, she sets out to find the truth.

I am always hesitant to read books featuring characters related to well known figures in history, whether fictional or factual.  So, reading about a fictional niece of Sherlock Holmes gave me pause.  Still, the story line intrigued me.  I am glad I took a chance on this one.  Benedict Cumberbatch will forever be Sherlock Holmes for me after having seen him take on the role, and it was his face I saw and voice I heard each time Holmes made an appearance in the book.

Evelina is an endearing character, with a past that makes her all the more interesting.  She is a proper lady in just about every respect, except when she's not.  She lives in a time period in which her true natural abilities could land her in a pyre.  I really came to like her, even if I questioned her taste in men.  Still, I have to say the two men who competed for Evelina's attention (yes, there's a love triangle), are both extremely interesting and I can see the attraction (although I am more partial to one than the other).

I liked the attention to detail the author gave each of the characters and the world she created for the novel.  She really brought the alternative world alive for me, and I appreciated the depth of her characters, including the minor ones.

I felt the novel got off to a slow start.  I worried that it would get bogged down by the political goings on the more the author delved into the control over the country the Steam Barons had over England.  Instead, I was happily surprised at how well the author interwove that thread of the story in with the other story threads. For all the twists and turns, the novel could have been a tangled mess, but, instead, I found it quite entertaining and easy to follow.  I was drawn into Holloway's world, both the magic and the historical aspects of the story. By the time I finished the book, I was surprised to learn it was 531 pages long.  It didn't feel like that by the end.  I am looking forward to reading the second and third books in the trilogy.
Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Emma Jane Holloway and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copy of the book provided by the publisher via NetGalley.



Soulless (Parasoul Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger
Orbit, 2009
Fantasy; 384 pgs
From the Publisher:
First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire - and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

I had heard nothing but great things about this book, and although I ended up giving the first two books in the series as gifts to a friend one year, I am only just now getting around to reading the series.  I am utterly in love!  Right from the start the author sets the tone of the book, along with introducing her main character, Alexia Tarabotti.  Alexia is so proper . . . and blunt.  So different from Evelina from A Study in Silks, who was more gentile and diplomatic.  Not to say one character is better than the other--just that I appreciate the differences between the two.


Gail Carriger is such a good writer, staying in character throughout the book, even through the love scenes.  This book was both humorous and dark.  I liked the interplay between characters, both major and minor.  I knew little about this book going in and was treated to twists I didn't see coming, which is always a bonus.  This was such a fun read all around.  I definitely am looking forward to reading more in the series and by this author.

Rating:  * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Gail Carriger and her books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased this book for my own reading pleasure.


© 2013, 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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Where is Your Bookmark? (12/10/2013)

After spending time in Victorian England, hiding in shadows, dabbling in magic and machines, and uncovering conspiracies, I thought a little celestial company might be in order, that of the young adult variety.  I knocked out Lenore Appelhans's  The Memory of After in less than a day.  Set in the after life, on what is called Level 2 (the original title of the book), a young woman finds herself in the middle of a revolt between the angels, when all she wants to do is be reunited with the young man she loves. I am now reading the third book in Amy Plum's Revenant trilogy,  If I Should Die.  Right before that, I read Plum's novella, Die For Her.  Both books, set in Paris, feature angelic heroes fighting to save lives against a foe whose sole purpose is to take them.  A not so ordinary girl is at the center of the story, in love with an immortal revenant.  I enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy, and am looking forward to seeing how the author pulls the overall story together in this final book of the trilogy. 

What are you reading right now?  Is it something you would recommend?




Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts 
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.


Here is a taste of If I Should Die by Amy Plum:
In the Dead of the Night I sat on a bridge spanning the Seine, watching a bouquet of crushed white lilies float toward the spotlit Eiffel Tower.  I strained to listen for the words I thought I'd just heard.  
I wish I could share the final line of the paragraph because it really sets up the mood of the book well and gives you an idea of what more is to come. Unfortunately, it contains a major spoiler from the previous book, and so I left it off.

Would you continue reading?


© 2013, 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, December 04, 2013

Series Bookish Thoughts: The Nikki and Michael Series by Keri Arthur

Meet the players ~ Nikki James is not your ordinary private investigator.  She is street smart and quite tenacious, but the extra-ordinary part of her comes in the form of psychic abilities.  She can find people by holding an item that belonged to them and move objects with her mind.  It comes in handy when she is in a fight, that's for sure. She works for Jake, the man who took her off the streets and invited her into his home. He is the closest person she has to a father, and she is extremely loyal to him.

Then you have Michael Kelly, three hundred year old vampire, working for the Damask Circle, meting out justice to supernatural baddies bent on causing havoc and harming the innocent.  

Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 368 pgs)

In Dancing with the Devil, Nikki believes she's on an ordinary case, assigned to track the teen-aged daughter of a wealthy client.  Only, what lurks in the shadows is anything but--you guessed it--ordinary.  Zombies and vampires and psychic abilities, oh my!  This is the first book in the series, and the story of how Nikki and Michael first meet.  Michael was assigned to protect and save Nikki for reasons unknown to him--or Nikki--when he finds himself face to face with an old enemy seeking revenge.  Despite Michael's efforts to keep Nikki out of it, Nikki is determined to stay on the case after the young teenage girl she'd been following goes missing.

Dancing with the Devil is dark and full of suspense.  The sparks fly between Nikki and Michael from the first moment they meet and it's obvious they will soon hit the sheets together.  I enjoyed the interplay between the two characters, her constant insistence to come along despite the danger and his natural desire to protect and keep her safe.  Yes, it is a bit cliche, but Nikki really isn't a slouch and can hold her own in a fight--at least some of the time--so, I found myself on her side more often than not.  Still, it is on the romantic side when the guy wants to protect you . . .

Nikki plays the damsel in distress often in this book, which might annoy some, but I think it was fitting given this is the first time Nikki is up against the supernatural.  She still has a lot to learn, and has her own demons from the past to shake.

Dancing with the Devil was an enjoyable book, both quick and fun.

Hearts in Darkness by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 336 pgs)

I admit I started to roll my eyes when I came across yet another teenager gone missing in the second book of the Nikki and Michael series.  Any doubts I had were swiftly swept away, however, the more I read. Hearts of Darkness picks up several months after Dancing with the Devil ends.  Nikki has resumed her old life and Michael is nowhere to be found.  Nikki should know.  She's tried to find him.

Nikki's current case, involving a teenage boy, suddenly turns ugly when he is kidnapped by a vampire. Michael then shows up on her doorstep with a proposition.  He needs her to accompany him as his fiance to a resort that may uncover the reasons behind and the location of several people who have disappeared, including the boy on Nikki's case.

In Hearts of Darkness, Michael must confront his past as well as his attraction and bond with Nikki.  Their fates are tied together, and no matter how much Michael thinks keeping her out of his life is the safest for her, he starts to question whether that is actually true.  Nikki is as determined as ever both to find her client and the niece of a friend and to convince Michael life with her is better than without her.

I liked this book better than the first in many respects, particularly because Nikki has definitely learned a thing or two from the last book.  The romantic tension between Michael and Nikki comes naturally, and I continued to enjoy the banter between the two characters.  I also felt the author did a better job in this second book of world building, introducing more supernatural elements and building on the background first introduced in the first book.  Like the first book, this one continues in a very dark vein.

Chasing the Shadows by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 336 pgs)

Nikki has discovered that being the girlfriend of a protective vampire is not exactly what she wants--or at least it isn't enough.  She longs to be a bigger part of Michael's life, including the part where he goes after the villains.  Only, Michael wants nothing more than to keep her and the evil in his life separate.  Nikki, never one to sit around and obey orders, heads off to San Francisco when her former boss and friend Jake requests here assistance in finding a missing woman.  Several wealthy women have gone missing, one of which has already turned up dead--and mutilated--despite the ransom being paid.  As has been the pattern in the previous two books, Nikki has landed herself smack dab in the middle of one of Michael's investigations.

Of the four books in the series, this is my favorite, I think.  The plot was a little simpler in terms of motive and execution, but still intense and well thought out.  Nikki and Michael were definitely on more even ground this book.  Nikki continues to discover new nuances in her existing skills as well as new paranormal abilities all together.  Michael too is noticing changes in his own abilities.

The relationship between the characters continues to be a bit complicated, both Nikki and Michael having brought baggage with them.  Not to mention how differently they see their roles and what they want from each other.  I liked the common themes played out between Jake and his wife, Mary, and how it juxtaposed Nikki and Michael's own situation.  It made for a more interesting story--not to mention gave me more insight into Jake and his wife, two people who play a big part in Nikki's life, especially when she was growing up.

Chasing the Shadows is rich in character angst and development.  It is a good addition to the series.

Kiss the Night Goodbye by Keri Arthur
(Dell, 2013 re-issue; 336 pgs)

In Kiss the Night Goodbye, Nikki and Michael are a month away from their wedding.  That is, if Nikki can finish her final test before becoming an official Damask member.  Something goes horribly wrong during the test, nearly costing Nikki her life.  It is only beginning.  Someone is set on revenge, targeting Michael, Seline (a witch), and everyone around them.  When Michael is kidnapped and taken to a remote ghost town, Nikki follows, hoping to save him and the others threatened by the evil villain.

I couldn't help but think of Juliet Dark's The Angel Stone and Deborah Harkness's Shadow of Night which took the reader back in time as I began reading Kiss the Night Goodbye.  In this instance, there was no going back in time--not exactly.  And I was glad. It was a refreshing change.  The main antagonist was hell bent on recreating the scene that had led to his twin brother's death in order to bring the dead brother back to life.  As far as Michael knows, he is back in that time and place, and unaware of anything that happened beyond it.  Nikki must be careful in how she helps Michael regain his memory--which he must do--if she hopes to save him and herself and all the other innocent people caught up in the spell.

This was a next to impossible book to put down.  As with all the books in the series so far, it is quite dark, the villain is as evil as can be.  As the reader, I could definitely see how far Nikki has come in terms of her skills and maturity.  She has grown over the course of the books as has Michael.  It's obvious the two love each other very much, and I quite enjoyed the romance thread in this book and in the others, even if I questioned some of the timings for intimacies.

Overall, the Nikki and Michael series is entertaining and intense.  I flew through the books, reading them one right after the other.  Although I am not sure I would count this among one of my favorite series, I did enjoy it, and it gave me the chance to try an author on my unofficial "must read" list.

You can learn more about Keri Arthur and her books on the author's website.

Source: E-copies of the books were provided by the publisher via NetGalley.


© 2013, 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.