Saturday, July 08, 2017

My July TBR List Winner!

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:


My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise).




Thank you to everyone who voted in my July TBR List poll! My three choices this week were all a bit different from one another. There was Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (dystopian novel about a zombie), The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (involving a time traveling serial killer), and  The Girls Guide to the Apocalypse by Daphne Lamb (a comedy apocalypse novel).


The winner is Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey! I am looking forward to finally reading Carey's novel.


Thank you again to all who voted! Enjoy your weekend and the rest of July. I will see you again after my break. Happy Reading!


© 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.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (It's Hot Outside, Let's Stay Inside and Read)

This week I settled down with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas whenever I got the chance to read. I just finished reading it, and I have so many thoughts . . . If you haven't, you should read it. Books like this are why I love reading.


A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the wonderful Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.

I shouldn't have come to this party.

Thoughts: That one sentence can go in quite a few directions. It definitely has an ominous feel to it, don't you think?


A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% (or any random page) of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.

I've seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I've tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down. 
Now I am that person, and I'm to afraid to speak. [pgs 34-35]
What do you think? Would you continue reading?

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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.

In one sentence, describe your passion for reading.
I could go with something cliche: Reading is like breathing to me.

But this is what I am really thinking: Your existence is forfeit if you interrupt my reading.

What about you?
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Every Friday Ellen from 15andmeowing.com and Ann from McGuffy’s Reader get together to host the Friendly Fill-Ins. You can be serious or funny--the idea is just to have fun.

1. My favorite line from a film is one that still makes me melt inside whenever I hear it:
Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together... and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home... only to no home I'd ever known... I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like... magic. [From Sleepless in Seattle]

2. Other than blogs, a couple websites I visit often are Goodreads  and LibraryThing.

3. When I feel down, I like to settle in on the couch, a cat cuddled on my lap, my daughter and husband snuggled next to me and read a book or watch a favorite movie.                              .

4. If I could devote an extra hour a day to reading, I would have a smaller TBR collection. Maybe.


 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and rest of July! I will be taking a break for the rest of the month, but will be back in August. Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!


What?! I do too fit!


© 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.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

She ran, weaving in and out of the startled pedestrians, but her pursuer was still close on her heels. ~ Opening of Radio Girls 


Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford
NAL, 2016
Fiction (Historical); 384 pgs
Source: I received this book from the Publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Radio Girls was such fun. I loved it. From a historical aspect alone, the novel ignited the researcher in me, making me want to learn more about the people I was reading about. Journalism has long been an interest of mine and reading about the early days of the BBC was intriguing. Newspapers were always the source of news for many people, but the radio took it to a different level, bringing voices into the homes of anyone who owned a radio in an instant. The main character, Maisie, may be fictional as is the espionage aspect of the novel, but quite a few characters throughout the novel are real historical figures--including Lady Astor and literary greats such as H.G. Wells and Virginia Woolf.

Maisie just needed a job. An American trying to make her way in London (anything to avoid returning to the U.S. and her actress mother), she needed the income. She leaves her interview with the BBC knowing she didn’t pass muster, but the next thing she knows, she is starting the next week as a secretary. Serving both the formidable Director-General, John Reith, and the Director of Talks, the extraordinary Hilda Matheson, Maisie has her work cut out for her.

With growing unrest in Europe and the collapse of the economy in the United States, there is a strong sense of worry in the air in terms of just how England will be impacted. No one wants to be drawn into a war, and men who lost a lot of money in U.S. investments are suddenly desperate.

Maisie has a good eye for detail and it is that, in part (and the encouragement of Nora), which motivates Maisie to unofficially start looking into possible espionage. What starts as innocent puzzle solving turns into a more dangerous game, one that could very well put Maisie’s life on the line. She is sure in her cause, however, and willing to take the chance.

I saw a lot of growth in Maisie’s character over the course of the novel. She’s rather unsure of herself in the beginning, but her confidence grows over time. Society was on the cusp of major changes as a whole, tradition versus progress, both vying for position. We see that clearly with Maisie’s character who, in the beginning, aspires to a job which will lead to marriage to a man who will be able to take care of her. Certainly the influence of women like Nora play a part in Maisie’s change in attitude as time goes by. She realizes just what she is capable of and that she does have other opportunities open to her. As a result, a new found confidence takes her far.

There are still hurdles to overcome obviously. Women are only just getting the right to vote, and there are many who are skeptical of whether that is a good thing. Even at the BBC where women sometimes held powerful positions, they were still expected to quit once married and pregnant with child. Tradition has strong roots and change does not generally come easy, especially because it involves long held beliefs and practices. At that time in history, society wasn’t ready to accept same sex relationships, which were not only considered immoral, but also criminal. I wondered how Maisie would react to Nora’s secret once she discovered it, and appreciated how the author dealt with it. It is clear throughout that Maisie has a lot of respect for Nora, and admires her. I felt the same way. I loved Nora and have a lot of admiration for all she accomplished not only in the book, but especially in real life.

The mystery aspect of the novel may have stretched believably, but I wasn't bothered by that as I was reading. I found myself holding my breath a few times at the close calls and eager to see how everything would play out. I was caught up in the lives of the characters and the historical time period. I thoroughly enjoyed Radio Girls, and look forward to reading more by Sarah-Jane Stratford.

You can learn more about Sarah-Jane Stratford and her books on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.


© 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, July 02, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Ellsworths of Long Parkmead had the regard of their neighbours in every respect. ~ Opening of Shades of Milk and Honey 



Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Tor Books, 2010
Fantasy (Historical Romance); 306 pgs
Source: I purchased this book for my own reading pleasure.

Shades of Milk and Honey was an enjoyable light fantasy romance. Influenced by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey bears some similarities to it, but ultimately is very different from the classic novel.

The novel is set in Dorchester, among the society, where everyone has a reputation to maintain and the roles of women and men are quite formal and proper. There is the overbearing mother and rather laid back father, both of whom want to find good husbands for their daughters. Jane is rather plain in appearance while her younger sister, Melody, is a great beauty. Unlike her sister, however, Jane has a strong talent with glamour, the magical ability to weave illusions of sorts. Jane expects she will live her life as a spinster, and most of the focus is on her sister, who is sure to catch a good husband. As it happens, the person Melody has her eyes set on, is the very person Jane favors for herself. Only, she knows the likelihood of that match is next to nil. Why would anyone choose Jane over her sister, after all?

A mysterious artist, a soldier and childhood friend, and the sister of their neighbor, all come to town for separate reasons, but will all play a part in the events that follow. Reputations are at stake, secrets are discovered and hearts are sure to be broken. Jane and her sister’s relationship is put to the test, at the risk of ruining it altogether.

Jane is clearly a reasonable woman, even if insecure about her own talents. She’s really quite gifted in magic and underestimates herself. This only endeared her to me more, however. I admit I was not as taken with her sister Melody, who came across as spoiled and selfish. To be fair, however, as the story progresses, the reader gains insight into Melody's behavior and thought process. Both she and Jane are not the same women at the end of the book that they are at the beginning.

While a quiet novel at first, this one takes an interesting  turn towards the end as the climax builds and comes to a head. It wasn't what I expected, but then it was fitting when all was said and done. It made sense.

Many thanks to the person who recommended I read Shades of Milk and Honey! Even my husband has expressed an interest in giving this one a try.

You can learn more about Mary Robinette Kowal and her books on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.


© 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, July 01, 2017

Monthly Reading Mews (June Wrap-Up) & What Should I Read Next? (July's My TBR List Poll)

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants 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. As well as Stacking the Shelves hosted by the great Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently.

June In Review: This past month, my husband and I took turns reading with our daughter. As my regular readers know, Mouse got her first library card last week. She's participating in this summer's reading program with our local library.

I participated in the Those Who Save Us read-along with Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) and Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) over at the War Through the Generations Challenges blog. We had a nice discussion of Jenna Blum's book, which will wrap up this Monday. I also read June's TBR List winner, The Lost Girls of Rome, which the majority of you voted for in last month's poll. Thank you for that! I enjoyed it quite a bit. Overall, I would say it was a good reading month with only one book that was more "meh" than good.

Here's what I read last month:

Solely For Me:
  •  Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie
  • Girls in Disguise by Greer Macallister
  • The Lost Girls of Rome (Marcus #1) by Donato Carrisi, narrated by Howard Curtis
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
  • I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting by Karen Alpert
  • Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Some of the Books I Read With My Daughter in June (many of which we read over and over and over again. And then again):
  • Kindergarten Kids On Our Way to First Grade by Kate Howard and illustrated by Mike Byrne
  • Let Me Finish! by Minh Le and Isabel Roxas
  • It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton
  • Our Funny Valentine (First-Grade Friends Forever) by Judy Katschke
  • Amelia Bedelia (Amelia Bedelia #1) by Peggy Parish and Fritz Siebel
  • Dancing Dinos Go to School by Sally Lucas and Margeaux Lucas
  • Sight Words: First Grade Set by Bobby Lynn Maslen, Lynn Maslen Kertell & Sue Hendra

My Favorite Book Read in June: Although it took me a moment to fall into the rhythm of Ann Leckie's unique narrative voice in Ancillary Justice, I was quite taken with it when all was said and done. I haven't read too many science fiction novels in recent years, but this one definitely has me eager to read more.

Mouse's Favorite Book Read in June: I thought Mouse would go with Let Me Finish! (which I overheard her acting out when she thought I wasn't looking) or Amelia Bedelia, which she laughed all the way through. But no, of all the books Mouse and I read together (and even the ones she read with her dad which aren't listed here), she is very adamant that her favorite is the Sight Words: First Grade Set. When I asked her what it was she liked most about those over all the other books we read this month, she said it was because she could read them all by herself with no help. That is a good enough reason for me.



Non-Book Review Posts in June:

How did your June shape up reading wise? What was your favorite book you read in June?

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New To My Shelves:

We went out with a bang ordering books from the last Scholastic book catalog for the school season:

It Came in the Mail by Ben Clanton & Let Me Finish! by Minh Le & Isabel Roxas 

 Amelia Bedelia Hits the Trail & Amelia Bedelia Joins the Club

 
Ready to Read series: Living in Italy/Mexico/China/Brazil/South Africa/India 

I bought one e-book and one hardback book this past month for myself:

The Red Lily by Juliette Cross

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai


Have you read any of these? What new books did you add to your shelves this week?

What I Am Reading/Listening to Now: I currently am listening to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It is a classic novel I have long wanted to re-try after my past failed attempts to read it. I know some of you are probably wondering what is wrong with me--wanting to read/listen to a book I couldn't finish twice before. It isn't often I push myself to get through a book I am not particularly enjoying, but, at this point, it's become a bit of a competition. I will conquer Brave New World this time! I will find out what all the fuss is about. Or wonder what those of you who love this book were could possibly be thinking.

I finished reading my last book for June before heading to bed, and will be starting fresh this month. I haven't yet decided which book to read. Maybe something off my nightstand.

Off the Blog:

Summer is here! With it came the end of the school year, our end of the year party for Girl Scouts, and the beginning of summer fun.  

Mouse's first ballet slippers next to her new ones. 
She's enjoying her ballet classes this summer, 
and adores her dance teacher.

Early in June, we celebrated my husband's birthday.

I signed up for the local public library's adult reading program. 
It's a bit different than the children's. 
(enlarge to see the Bingo categories)

Mouse's and my blanket fort.

 Enjoying the beginning of summer.

I will be taking a blogging break this month, after this week is out. I hope you all have a great July, and I will see you again in August! 


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Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:


My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 




Yet another month of "girl" titles! All three of these sound like they will be good for different reasons. I look forward to seeing which you will pick for me!


Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey ~ I have heard it is best to go into this one knowing as little as possible. A dystopian novel about zombies? All I know is many who have read this one have loved it.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes ~ A time traveling serial killer and the would-be-victim who hunts him. Sounds a bit scary and intriguing!


The Girls Guide to the Apocalypse by Daphne Lamb ~ The apocalypse is here and millennial Verdell isn't exactly who you would expect to survive for long. Billed as a comedy, this novel has gotten mixed reviews over all, but does sound fun.



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


© 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.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Trying Again/Friday Fun)

I must confess I have started Brave New World by Aldous Huxley a couple times over the years, the first being required reading during my freshman year at the university. It was the one book I was required to read that I couldn't finish. I tried again on my own a few years later. No such luck. Now I'm listening to the audio version. Because, why not? Maybe I will like it better this way and actually finish it this time.



A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the wonderful Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.

A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State's motto: COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY. 
The enormous room in the ground floor faced towards the north. 

My thoughts: Not much to go on, is it? At this point, it could go either way.


A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.

From page 108 of Brave New World:
Suddenly it was as though the whole air had come alive and were pulsing, pulsing with the indefatigable movement of blood. Up there, in Malpais, the drums were being beaten. Their feet fell in with the rhythm of that mysterious heart; they quickened the pace.


I haven't quite reached this point in the audio version (I chose a page randomly in my paperback copy to share), but I like this passage. It give me hope that the book may get interesting yet.

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Have you read Brave New World before?

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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.

Name a book that changed your life.
Whenever this topic comes up, I always give the same answer about a book I read during my undergraduate studies, which helped give me perspective about my relationship with my father, which was often contentious. Although common sense in some respects, the book offered a message I needed to hear at that point in my life: I couldn't change my father, but I could change how I responded to him.

Throughout my life, it would seem like certain books find me when I need them most, whether to provide me insight, guidance or an all out escape when life's stresses become overwhelming. Books can have be that light bulb that instantly goes on in my head or they can be more subtle in their approach. Each can be just as powerful in their own way. That book I read for my college course, To Dance With Anger by Harriet Lerner, that led me to a new approach with my dad. Or the collection of Mercedes Lackey Valdemar books that my husband-then-boyfriend gave me one Christmas early in our relationship--a moment when I suddenly realized just how much he loved me. Books that had belonged to him--this from a man who hates giving up his own books. It took our relationship to an entirely new level.

The list of books that have impacted my life could go on for quite a while, even if not forever (I'm not that old. Okay. Just a little old.). I have to wonder sometimes how much of it is the book itself or rather my being open to whatever experience or message I am ready to hear.

What about you? What book has changed your life?
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Every Friday Ellen from 15andmeowing.com and Ann from McGuffy’s Reader get together to host the Friendly Fill-Ins. You can be serious or funny--the idea is just to have fun.


1. My next project will be to update my book catalog in LibraryThing, which is where I like to track all the books I own.

2. Fireworks are already to blame for one fire in a nearby field, set off by teenagers playing. The city is coming down hard on violators of the no fireworks law--the parents of those kids are not only being fined, but also sent the bill for the fire department and police response.

3. "Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don't believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others." - Coretta Scott King

4. This week, I am thankful for my family, dark chocolate and good books.


 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!


© 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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: LaRose by Louise Erdrich

Where the reservation boundary invisibly bisected a stand of deep brush--chokecherry, popple, stunted oak--Landreaux waited. ~ Opening of LaRose 


LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Harper, 2016
Fiction; 372 pgs

In a split second, everything can change. Landreaux Irons had been aiming for the deer when he pulled the trigger. Instead, he shot the five year old son (Dusty) of his best friend and neighbor. In this heart-wrenching novel about two families filled with grief, Louise Erdrich explores loss, justice and forgiveness.

Erdrich's writing is beautiful, sweeping me up into her story set at the turn of the twenty-first century in North Dakota. Turning to Ojibwe tribe tradition, Landreaux offers his own five year old son, LaRose, to the Ravich family, to atone for his taking the life of their only son. The grieving father, Peter Ravich, wants to say no, but his wife, drowning in her own loss, accepts. To be in the shoes of either mother was heartbreaking. I cannot even imagine the pain Nola was experiencing, to lose her son to such a senseless death, and then for Emmaline to give up her beloved son to her estranged step-sister.

It is through this tragedy and this act of atonement that the two families become even more closely tied. My heart ached for LaRose, pushed away by his own family and sent to live with a family deep in grief. I felt for Maggie, Dusty's sister, who was put in such a difficult situation--not only grieving the loss of her brother, but to be a brother to LaRose--and to hold up her mother who was falling apart in every direction. Maggie's recklessness scared me. She was so lost. LaRose grounded her in a way as he did everyone. He gave Nola purpose and Peter hope that perhaps their family would be okay.

Landreaux, a recovering drug and alcohol addict, feels so much guilt over what he's done. His wife suffers in her own way. As to their children. I really liked LaRose's sisters. Through it all, even as the sadness threatened to overcome everyone, they still managed to see the light.

Outside but intertwined in the story of these two families is that of Father Travis who seems lost in his own way and yet a significant support for the families and Romeo who holds a childhood grudge against Landreaux and only wants to ruin the man's life the way Landreaux ruined his. There is also the story of the first LaRose, which is shared at intervals, through flashbacks, in the novel, connecting the past with the present, tradition with the new. LaRose is a name that runs in Emmaline's family and is highly regarded.

This novel could easily have been about revenge, and yet the focus is more on the characters finding peace within themselves and with each other. There is so much anger and sadness. And yet, as time passes, the families begin to heal. Their shared love and bond with LaRose help bring about forgiveness, both of others and themselves.

By the time I finished the last page of Erdrich's novel, I had tears in my eyes. What a beautiful novel. Tragedy turned to hope. I still worry about Maggie though.


You can learn more about Louise Erdrich and her books on Facebook


© 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, June 26, 2017

Mid-Year Review: My Top Ten Favorite Books So Far This Year.

Can you believe the year is half over? With the Top Ten Tuesday theme this week being the best books that I have read so far this year, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to review my reading year so far.

I have read a total of 35 books (not including children's books, of which I have read over 90). I long ago surpassed my Goodreads goal of reading 13 books for the year (okay, so my goal was a bit of a joke this year).  Looking back, I have read a lot of great books so far, and quite a variety. I decided it would be a year of no reading challenges, and so far I have stuck to it  despite some very tempting ones. I avoided making any real reading goals, although I did make a list Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017, which I didn't fare to well with. But let's not focus on what I haven't yet read, rather what I did read from that list.

I read the book my husband recommended, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (review pending). I also read a book my daughter recommended, The Princess In Black Takes a Vacation by Shannon and Dean Hale and LeUyem Pham. Back in December I had asked you all to recommend a book for me to read during the first half the year, and I picked two winners the following month: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal and Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Both of which I have read. My review of Kowal's book is pending, but I did enjoy it. Thank you to those who recommended those books!

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

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is Best Books I've Read In 2017 So Far. Considering most of the books I have read this year are children's books, I thought I would split the list--five of my favorite children's books read in the first half of the year and five of my adult favorites so far. I also included two honorable mentions because I couldn't help myself.




1. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, illustrated by David Catrow is a favorite of mine and Mouse's. We both love Molly Lou Melon. Molly Lou tries to live by her grandmother's advice and it is soon put to the test when she encounters a bully at her new school. This book is about having confidence in oneself and celebrating our differences.


2. While in search for a book about the Chinese New Year, I came across this gem of a children's book, The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang, illustrations by Alina Chau. Yet another favorite Mouse and I share, this one about a young girl who goes up against an ancient monster using her wit and charm. I liked how the author incorporates Chinese New Year traditions into the story and the heroine's actions as the story unfolds.


3. Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson is a well written and thoughtful book that introduces children to the difficult subject of slavery. The author does not shy away from presenting some hard facts of the time, making this a good book for parents to read with their children in case they have questions or want to talk about anything and everything that happens to Henry.


4. When I first read Let Me Finish! by Minh Le and Isabel Roxas to Mouse, I was nearing the end when she blurted out the big reveal that was coming (she had read the book at school, evidently). I guess she missed the message of the book. Those of you who don't especially like book spoilers will be able to relate to this book and the main character, a boy who just wants to read his book without someone giving away the ending. That doesn't seem like too much to ask for, does it? Evidently it might be . . .


5. Chalk by Bill Thomson is perhaps a cheat given it was a re-read for me. I fell in love with this book the first time I encountered it--an imaginative story told through illustrations about a group of children who find magic chalk waiting for them at the park. It's one of my daughter's favorites too. We have read it several times now and never tire of it.



6. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See was not only the first book I finished reading in 2017, but it also earned my highest rating. That's quite a way to start the year! I have long been a fan of Lisa See's work, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan being one of my all-time favorite books. This one comes in right next to it. Lisa See is gifted at creating characters that get under my skin and in weaving history, tradition, and cultural issues into her novels. She is an auto buy author for me. I can't get enough of her books.


7. I picked up The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood to read for a read-along and because the timing seemed perfect. I had only read one other Atwood book in the past, which I enjoyed, but found a little intimidating. The Handmaid's Tale is beautifully crafted and such a sad, and, in many ways, frightening story. Especially given how easily it is to imagine the fiction in the novel becoming reality. I can see why The Handmaid's Tale is considered a modern classic.


8. Monstress, Volume One: Awakening by Liu, Marjorie & Sana Takeda is a work of art, both in the writing and the gorgeous artwork. While I enjoy graphic novels, I tend to gravitate more towards graphic memoirs, which tend to have more depth (at least in my relatively limited experience). However, the richness of the world and character building in this volume is amazing. I am anxiously awaiting the release of the second volume next month.


9. LaRose by Louise Erdrich was my first book by the author, but it will not be my last. I found her writing beautiful. She is extremely adept at drawing out the raw emotions of her characters as well as immersing me completely in their lives. I loved how well--and naturally--she incorporated Ojibwe tradition and history into the novel.


10. Uprooted by Naomi Novik was one of the books recommended to me in a poll I held last December. It was also a book I had been wanting to read for some time. It did not disappoint. Naomi Novik's world building drew me in instantly, and I especially appreciated the tie in to existing folklore.


Honorable Mentions:


I could not help but mention The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrations by LeUyem Pham even though the entire series was a re-read this year for us. It remains a favorite for both my daughter and me. It is just so much fun. It's about a princess who has a secret identity. When she dons her black monster fighting attire, she becomes the Princess in Black. Whether hosting a fancy birthday party or beating up monsters, she is a fun character to spend time with.


I was a little nervous about reading Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie at first because of the mixed reviews, but I found it to be an extremely compelling and good read. It took a moment for me to get into because of the unusual narrative style, but once I did, I had a hard time putting the book down. Breq is such an interesting character, and I look forward to reading more about her in the next book of the series.


Have you read any of these? What did you think? What is your favorite book of the year so far?


© 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, June 25, 2017

Mouse's Corner: The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang and Alina Chau

This past week Mouse got her very own library card! She also signed up for the public library's children's reading program. For every five library books she reads, she gets a stamp and a prize (a coupon for a free meal, free admission to the local kid's museum, i.e.).


The Nian Monster written by Andrea Wang and illustrated Alina Chau
Albert Whitman Company, 2016
Fiction (Children's); 32 pgs
Source: Purchased for my daughter's personal library.
Goodreads Summary: 
Tong tong! The legendary Nian monster has returned at Chinese New Year. With horns, scales, and wide, wicked jaws, Nian is intent on devouring Shanghai, starting with Xingling! The old tricks to keep him away don't work on Nian anymore, but Xingling is clever. Will her quick thinking be enough to save the city from the Nian Monster?

When I was growing up, my mom always made a point of celebrating the Chinese New Year with us. I was excited when I found this book. It sounded like something Mouse would enjoy, and sure enough, she loves it. She gets excited every time she pulls it out of her stacks. We've read it a dozen or so times and the story never gets old.

Xingling is very brave standing up to Nian monster when he appears at her window. She outsmarts him at every turn, while introducing a variety of her family's traditions. It is a great opportunity to teach young ones about a different culture. Xingling isn't alone in her efforts to save Shanghai, she has the help of her family and neighbors. 

It's a cute story, and the artwork lends itself perfectly to the novel. Mouse's favorite part is towards the end, when the fireworks go off. She loves to count the dancing dragons in the background.



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.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Secret Societies/Interruptions/A Little Friday Fun)

I nearly finished with Jenna Blum's Those Who Saved Us, and have been enjoying the read-along discussion over at at the War Through the Generations Challenges blog this month, which wraps up in another week. In order to pace myself with that book, I am also reading The Lost Girls of Rome by Donato Carrisi, but June TBR List winner. It is about a forensic analyst with the police recently lost her husband. The authorities believe it was a suicide, but his wife isn't convinced. She begins her own investigation into his death, which leads her into dangerous territory, including a possible centuries-old secret society. And that's only a part of it. I'm halfway in and enjoying it quite a bit.




A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the wonderful Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.

The corpse opened his eyes. 


My thoughts: That first sentence certainly grabs one's attention doesn't it? One might assume from the first sentence this is a zombie book. I admit, it gave me pause at first, and I had to stop and ask myself, "Aren't I reading a mystery?" Which, of course, reading on, I quite clearly am.


A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.


Taken from 33% of my Kindle edition of The Lost Girls in Rome:
"What about my husband, did you know him? Did you kill him?" There was no anger in her voice, just despair. "If you know something you have to tell me. Or I swear I'll kill you." She seemed sincere.


This is a quite tense scene with one character pointing a gun at the other, although it is also a very telling moment. Is he the one who killed her husband? Will she shoot him? It's obvious how much emotional pain she is in.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?


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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.

If you are at a really good point in a book and the phone rings or the door bell rings, do you stop reading or let the phone or door bell go unanswered?

I do not like talking on the phone at all if I can help it. So there is that. Luckily, I do not receive a lot of phone calls. At least on my cell phone. Most people know to text me instead if they need my immediate attention. Although that can be futile too if I am busy with my family, at work, do not have my phone on me, or do not notice the text when it comes in. If I did remember to turn the ringer back on my cell phone (I keep it on silent at work), even while reading a good book, I will likely, at a minimum, look to see who may be calling. If it is my husband, my daughter's school or my mom, chances are good I will answer it. Anyone else . . . probably not. I'm going back to that book instead.

If it's the land line, I rarely, if ever, answer it at all. Chances are, it is someone wanting me to buy something, donate money, or the IRS threatening to send the police to arrest me for not paying my taxes (a scam, obviously). Most of the time, I do not even register the landline is ringing when it does ring. It is set to a generic song which doesn't sound like an actual ringing phone (to avoid waking up the baby during a nap--when she was a baby, anyway; I just never changed the ring once she got older). So, yeah, the good book will win out every time when it comes to the landline ringing.

I am not one of those people who likes unexpected drop in visits. As it is, most people who knock on my door are people trying to sell something. Frankly, I'd rather not be bothered.  And so, admittedly, there was a time when I never answered the door unless I was expecting someone. Just over six years ago someone tried to break into my home. The man knocked on my door and rang my door bell. Thinking I wasn't home, he tried to kick down the door. This was a month after someone had already broken in when we weren't home and robbed us. Except, this time, I was home. He ran away after I yelled through the door I was calling 911, thankfully. But I have never completely gotten over the experience.  Now, anytime my door bell rings or someone knocks on the door, anxiety shoots through me--even when I'm completely lost in a good book. So, whether I open the door or not, my attention from the book will be broken. I have to get up and see who is at the door. Besides, it might be the mail person with a book I ordered!

What about you? Do you bother to answer the phone or door while engrossed in a good book?
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Every Friday Ellen from 15andmeowing.com and Ann from McGuffy’s Reader get together to host the Friendly Fill-Ins. You can be serious or funny--the idea is just to have fun.


1. A recurring dream I have is of me exploring a house: sometimes familiar but other times unfamiliar; it might be big or rather small; I may be afraid and trying to hide or full of curiosity and wonder, excited to see what's behind the next door.

2. Turning my favorite book  into a movie can either make me very happy or especially disappointed.

3. My daughter's daycare summer camp program schedule is driving me crazy!

4. Lately, I have been feeling extra stressed and overwhelmed.


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!




© 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.