Thursday, November 16, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs)

One thing I especially enjoy about the Going Postal book group I belong to is the variety of books we read. Each member selects a book at the beginning of the year, and every couple of months, after having read the book in our possession, we mail it, along with a journal, to the next person in the group. By the end of the year, we've each read all the books and recorded our thoughts. I have not liked all the books chosen, but I have had a chance to read books I might not have picked up otherwise. Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs is one of those books. I really enjoyed Running With Scissors by the same author which I read about twelve years ago. It was funny and sad--at times shocking--but I found Burroughs to be humble and thoughtful, entertaining, and incredibly resilient. 

It has been awhile since I last read--or wanted to read--a memoir. And while reading Lust & Wonder right now is taking me away from the holiday themed books I am craving, I didn't want to let it sit too long (besides, there's a deadline to finish it and send it on to the next person).

Goodreads Summary: 
In chronicling the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, Augusten Burroughs examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. With Augusten's unique and singular observations and his own unabashed way of detailing both the horrific and the humorous, Lust and Wonder is an intimate and honest memoir that his legions of fans have been waiting for.



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.
Just when I broke my sobriety and started drinking again in moderate controlled measure exactly like a normal person, I met this guy who wasn't just a guy but a writer, and not just a writer but the author of one of my favorite books. 
In AA, you are brainwashed into believing that all the good stuff happens only after you stop drinking. Clearly they are lying; my life improved significantly as soon as I ordered a cocktail.
Augusten Burroughs drew me in right away with this opening. It's got a conversational feel to it and from the second paragraph, I just know he's in for a hard fall. Not that I want him to fail, but it seems given it will happen.



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.

"We didn't say anything. We just sat there on the sofa, and I understood everything. The problem is, I really am monogamous. You know? I've spent the last two years trying not to love somebody who's dying, but it didn't work." [pg 51]



I would be lying if I said tears didn't spring to my eyes as I read this excerpt and what came after. It's an insightful moment into Augusten's life at that time in his life.

I haven't gotten too far into the book--I'm on page 52, but I hope to make more progress this weekend. I find Burrough's writing and story compelling, and look forward to continuing on.

What do you think? Is this something you might like to read?



Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week (well, at least for us Americans)?! If you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day. I will be taking this next week off from blogging. I have to work for much of the week, but want to concentrate on spending time with my family, and maybe even dedicate some extra time to reading. Have a great weekend--and week!


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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

September in New England was about as perfect a season as there was on earth. ~ Opening of Death in the Stacks


Death in the Stacks (Library Lover's Mystery #8) by Jenn McKinlay
Berkley, 2017
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 304 pgs
Source: E-copy provided by publisher for an honest review.

I could not resist requesting Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay when I first saw it up for offer on Penguin's First to Read program. Lindsey Norris is the directory for Briar Creek Library, and she has her work cut out for her with the annual Dinner in the Stacks fundraiser event scheduled in just a few days. The new library board president, Olive Boyle, is less than impressed with the plans and is making a lot of noise to make sure everyone knows it. Olive isn't liked by many people given her penchant to collect dirty secrets and use them as blackmail to get what she wants. She seems determined to bring down the library staff, and Lindsey isn't sure why.

When Olive is found murdered in the library, all eyes fall to one of the library employees who had been threatened by Olive just that night. Lindsey had promised to stay out of further murder investigations (probably related to the previous seven books in the series, which I haven't yet read), but everyone seems to know her better than herself. And this murder did take place in her library, after all. 

Olive is truly a despicable character, and one cannot help but dislike her. Although no one would wish the way she died on anyone, even her, it's likely not many will miss her. I could really relate to Lindsey on the other hand, and enjoyed getting to know her. I'm quite fond of her boyfriend too, but even more so her dog, Heathcliff, who definitely deserves more than the cameo he got. I also like the the sheriff, although she probably gives Lindsey more latitude than she should. There is quite a cast of eccentric characters, including some out of town guests.

I thought I knew the direction the novel was going, but it gets pretty twisty there in the end--if a bit confusing--but it kept me glued to the pages. I just had to know how everything turned out. 

Death in the Stacks was such a fun read. It even ends with the library's craft and reader's guide for one of the "Crafternoons" (the library's craft and reading group) book choices and the craft to go along with it. There are even a few recipes included to send the reader off hungry.  This is one of those books that walked into my life at just the right time. It was funny and down right silly at times, but I was hooked from the start. I look forward to reading more in the series.


To learn more about Jenn McKinlay and her work, please visit the author on the author's website


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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wishing for Wednesday: Paranormal Suspense of the Romantic Variety & A Cozy Mystery



Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. (Based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.)

Today's books share a similar theme. Sort of. Both feature a librarian. One in a paranormal romantic suspense and the other a cozy mystery.


Dangerously Divine (Broken Riders #2) by Deborah Blake
Release Date: November 28, 2017 by Berkley
The Riders: Three immortal brothers who kept the Baba Yagas safe, now stripped of their summons to protect. But fate is not finished with them—and their new callings are even more powerful...

Though his physical wounds have healed, Gregori Sun, the eldest of the Riders, remains in spiritual turmoil. His search for his mother, the one person able to heal his soul and save his life, is failing—until he crosses paths with a beautiful and fascinating librarian who might be the key to his salvation...

Ciera Evans’s bookish ways are just a guise. The product of a difficult past, she has dedicated her life to saving lost teens—by any means necessary. She works alone, but when a dark, brooding stranger proposes they team up to solve both their problems, she is tempted—in more ways than one...

After Ciera and Sun’s plans are derailed by dangerous enemies, they find themselves entangled in an ungodly affair—one that will force them to either find new strength together or be forever haunted by their pasts alone.
[Goodreads Summary]

Reason for wanting to read: I have not yet read the first book in the series (or any of the Baba Yaga books, for that matter), but I do like the sound of this one. A librarian who likes to save lost teens? An immortal and high stakes? I'm there!

*

A Murder for the Books (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #1) by Victoria Gilbert
Release Date: December 12, 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families... including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in
A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries. [Goodreads Summary]

Reason for wanting to read: In recent months I have bee, especially drawn to cozy mysteries when filling out my wish list, and I cannot resist adding this one about a small town librarian. Add to that a mystery from the past. I can't wait to meet Amy and her eccentric librarian patrons!


Do  either of these sound like something you would like to read too?


© 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, November 12, 2017

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Montgomery, Alabama. ~ Opening of Quiet


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Crown, 2012
Nonfiction; 370 pgs
Source: I purchased a copy for my own reading pleasure.
Goodreads Summary: 
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

In
Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

When Quiet first came out in in 2012, I was very excited. American society has often placed more value on extroversion than it has on introversion. People who are quick on their feet, outgoing and are energized by socializing seem to be a step ahead of those of us who are more thoughtful, analytical and tend to need time alone to reboot.

I have always been the more reflective type, preferring to observe what is going on around me before joining in. I feel drained in social situations, rather than energized. I need my alone time to regroup and focus. I do better when I work on my own than in a team setting. And I prefer small groups to large crowds. I am a more private person, and am very introspective. I hate talking on the phone and do not have much patience for small talk.  The list could go on and on. My introversion runs deep.

The agency I work for recently adopted Gallup's employee engagement theory based on focusing on strengths to increase performance. It wasn't a surprise when I took the strengths survey that my top five strengths, particularly three of them, fall distinctly onto the introverted side. I like the idea of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. And to see some of my more introverted traits in a strength-based light has been validating in more ways than one. American culture pushes extroversion from the day we are born (it's even pushed in schools as early as elementary school), and introversion is seen more as a weakness.

What I loved about Susan Cain's book is how it completely flips the idea that extroversion is better on its ear. Through extensive research, time and time again, Cain shows how, throughout history, introverted traits have benefited business and society. Her book is full of examples of introverts shining. She also goes into how introverts have adapted in an extroverted society, sometimes able to fake it with the best of them--but it can take a toll. She also discusses how there is no perfect cookie cutter definition of an introverted and extroverted person. While some traits tend to be more recognized as one or the other, there are social introverts and their are quiet extroverts. And what of ambiverts, who fall more in the middle of the spectrum, with both introverted and extroverted traits?

I especially found it interesting how different cultures view introversion and extroversion. Asian countries tend to value introversion more, for example, whereas the Western world places more value in extroversion.

Quiet was more focused on business, especially in the early chapters, than I expected, and there is a definite bias toward introversion in the book. I expected that, of course (I mean, just look at the title of the book!), but even though Cain says both are equal, extroversion didn't come out as being in the best of light. I wouldn't have minded a bit more balance in that regard.

I came away from Susan Cain's book feeling even more pride in my introversion than when I started; although, I admit it is hard to completely get rid of those old feelings of wishing I were more the kind of person who was at ease in social situations and more impulsive at times.

To learn more about Susan Cain and her work, please visit the author on the author's website


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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 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). 




I hope you all are enjoying your weekend! Mouse had her last soccer game of the season this morning. I am looking forward to being able to sleep in a little on Saturday mornings again. It was a relatively quiet day after that. I managed to get caught up on my book review writing, which I had fallen behind in. Mouse and I had a little tea party with quite a variety of snacks (and no tea). She invited her new unicorn which she got from our next door neighbor who is having a yard sale.

This evening there was a parent's meeting for the dance studio's Christmas showcase. This is my first time doing anything like this, and I am a bit of a nervous wreck. A combination of having no idea what I am doing, how to make rehearsal during work hours, and all the extra costs they don't tell you about.

At least the majority of my Christmas shopping is done. And I got my Christmas photo cards ordered.

Thank you to everyone who took time to vote in my poll this past week! It takes some of the pressure off of me to have you help me choose what I should read next.


Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny came in with 4 votes and Annie Spence's Dear Fahrenheit 451 received 10 votes. Snowfall on Haven Point won 50% of the votes, getting 14 votes.


I was excited about reading all of these, but at the moment, I'm particularly happy to see RaeAnne Thayne's Snowfall on Haven Point won if only because I could use a happy holiday escape right now--something that will help take my mind off of work stress, dance performance stress, family stress, the news, and, well, you get the picture. Thank you so much to all who voted!

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, November 09, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Mr. Dickens and His Carol)

This week I am in the middle of Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. It is a fictionalized account of how author Charles Dickens came to write one of my favorite Christmas stories, The Christmas Carol. I am not finding it to be a fast read, but I am enjoying it quite a bit. It is one of those books I lose myself in when I have a good chunk of time to sit and read rather than in small doses here and there. 



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.
On that unseasonably warm November day at One Devonshire Terrace, Christmas was not in his head at all. 


I like this opening sentence and think it is a good one as a lead in to what is to come. Fortunately, the weather here has finally cooled down, and seems more fall like, but the week before Halloween, I had my doubts. As a result, I can appreciate how the weather can affect our thoughts about the holidays. Even if I live in a climate where the ice cream truck comes around the neighborhood even at Christmas time, I still appreciate that winter in this part of the world means colder weather.


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.

"I know it's true, what you say," he said, flinging his hair back from his forehead. "But I'm in a most disheveled state, John. And fear I've lost my muse."

This is the 56% mark of Mr. Dickens and His Carol. Charles is in dire straits at this point. The deadline is fast approaching for his Christmas story, one he very reluctantly agreed to write. And now this . . .


What do you think? Would you continue reading?


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.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Miss Jane by Brad Watson

You would not think someone so afflicted would or could be cheerful, not prone to melancholy or miseries. ~ Opening of Miss Jane


Miss Jane by Brad Watson
W.W. Norton & Company, 2016
Fiction (Historical); 284 pgs


Brad Watson’s Miss Jane is the story of Jane Chisolm, a woman born with a genital birth defect. The novel, based loosely on the life of a relative of the author, takes the reader deep into rural Mississippi during the early twentieth century. Jane was born on her family’s farm to a mother whose heart was heavy from the loss of her young son and a distant but hardworking father.

Jane is isolated most of her life, attending only a semester of school. She is fairly precocious, however, picking up reading and math quickly on her own. She knows she will never led the normal expected life of a woman due to her deformity, but it does not stop her from feeling or loving or even living.

Given what I had heard about the book going in, I thought it would be more cheerful than it was. That isn’t to say it’s sad, but it is a book about life. And life, as most of us know, can be pretty messy and has its ups and downs. And so it is with Jane and her family. I appreciated the author’s depiction of each of the character’s, from Jane’s somber mother, her rebellious sister, and her distant father who finds comfort more and more in his apple brandy to the more thoughtful and curious Jane. This is as much a coming of age story as it is a character study. The reader sees Jane discovering who she is, struggling to accept her differences and eventually coming into her own. She knows loneliness and isolation. She knows hope and peace. Jane has a strong advocate in Dr. Thompson who befriends the child and does what he can to guide and protect her as she grows up.

I was particularly taken with Grace, Jane’s strong willed sister who wanted only to get out and away from her family. There was a part of me who could relate to her restlessness and feeling of being trapped. When she finally does get away, she proves she can weather just about any storm—her will to survive and stand on her own two feet strong.

Jane is a strong person herself, but in a different way than Grace. While Grace is all edges, Jane is smoother. Her strength is quieter and maybe not quite so obvious. She has a gentler approach to life, her curiosity and thoughtfulness carrying her through. It was impossible not to like Jane. She reminded me a bit of Melanie from The Girl With All the Gifts in that way. I couldn’t help but cheer for Jane and want for her all that life could offer. She makes the most of what she does have, which I think is a lesson many of us should take to heart.

The setting is very much a part of the story, the rural farm and woods surrounding it as well as the small town. The reader gets a real feel for what life was like during that time period, through the good times and then as the Depression sets in.

I found Miss Jane slow going, and I was easily distracted as I read. I am not entirely sure that is the book’s fault though given my state of mind and what was going on in my life at the time I read it. Had it not been for my Going Postal book club, I probably would have set it aside to try again at a later time. It says something though that I still came away from this novel appreciating and liking it overall. 

You can learn more about Brad Watson and his books on the author's website


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

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Wishing For Wednesday: A Psychological Thriller/Paranormal Romance/Holiday Reading



Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. (Based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.)


Poison by Galt Niederhoffer
Release Date: November 21, 2017 by St. Martin's Press

Poison is a literary psychological thriller about a marriage that follows minor betrayal into a bubbling stew of lies, cruelty, manipulation, and danger.

Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass' two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Portland —a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly. First with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace.

With life-or-death stakes and irreversible consequences, Poison is a chilling and irresistible reminder that the closest bond designed to protect and provide for each other and for children can change in a minute. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I Want to Read It: It is the cat that got me. No, not really. It's been a little while since I sank my  teeth into a good psychological thriller and this one sounds like a good one.

*

Maid of Ice by Shona Husk
Release Date: November 21, 2017 by Kensington Books/Lyrical Press

Stalkers and death threats . . .  For Finlay Ryder, danger means playing a racecar driver on a daytime soap. That is, until he’s forced to reckon with his true identity as an Albah, a magical ancient race, by one of his own kind. Someone wants him dead. And worse, an ancient vampire is on the prowl, drawing blood left and right. Now, Finlay has no choice but to hunt enemies with unspeakable powers—or risk being hunted himself . . .

. . . and that’s just the first date.  Ice skater Alina Nyx is using her broken wrist as an excuse for a career change. And when she falls for handsome Finlay, Albah drama feels like her new full-time job. Learning about magic and vampires is exciting, until her life is threatened. Now, as she begins to uncover her own mysterious powers, she must combine forces with Finlay to eradicate their foes for good, or all Albah will suffer . . . [Goodreads Summary]

Why I Want to Read It: I recently discovered this series as a result of seeing this book. A paranormal romance involving a magical ancient race and a mystery. My curiosity has gotten the better of me and I can't wait to give this series a try.

*

Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say edited by Rhonda Parrish
Release Date: November 28, 2017 by World Weaver Press

When you think of Mrs. Claus, do you imagine a quiet North Pole homebody who finds complete fulfillment in baking cookies, petting reindeer and crafting toys alongside elves? How about a magic-wielding ice goddess, or a tough-as-nails Valkyrie? Or maybe an ancient fae of dubious intentions, or a well-meaning witch? Could Mrs. Claus be a cigar-smoking Latina, or a crash-landed alien? Within these pages Mrs. Claus is a hero, a villain, a mother, a spacefarer, a monster hunter, and more. The only thing she decidedly is not, is a sidekick.

It’s Mrs. Claus’ turn to shine and she is stepping out of Santa’s shadow and into the spotlight in these fourteen spectacular stories that make her the star! Featuring original short stories by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, C.B. Calsing, DJ Tyrer, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Kristen Lee, Randi Perrin, Michael Leonberger, Andrew Wilson, Ross Van Dusen, MLD Curelas, Maren Matthias, Anne Luebke, Jeff Kuykendall, and Hayley Stone. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I Want to Read It:  Short stories are hit and miss with me, but I couldn't resist this collection, especially at this time of year. With family coming into town and lots to do, fitting in a short story here and there might be all I can manage. I like that this collection takes a traditional character and puts her in nontraditional roles.


Do any of these sound like something you would like to read too?


© 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, November 05, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

I hate potholes. ~ Opening from Owl and the Japanese Circus


Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish
Pocket Star, 2015
Fantasy (Urban); 433 pgs
Source: I purchased my own copy of this book.

Owl was once an archaeology student whose career as an archaeologist was ruined before she even gotten her degree. She has since made a name for herself stealing antiquities. She is very good at her job, but sometimes trouble follows. Most recently that trouble was upsetting the French Vampire contingency who are now trying to track her down. Owl is living in her Winnebago with her cat, Captain, the two of them on the run.

Unfortunately, she was not able to hide her whereabouts well enough because the next thing she knows, Owl is on a helicopter to Las Vegas where she meets up with a dragon who makes a rather irresistible proposition. If Owl wants to survive, she doesn’t have much choice but to say yes. The trail it leads her down is not only extremely dangerous, but also has her having to deal with the one thing she wishes to avoid: the supernatural. As if the job itself wasn’t bad enough, it seems a very powerful vampire with vengeance on the mind is not only out to get Owl but the object she has been tasked to retrieve.

Owl is joined for a good part of the novel by two of her friends, a fellow former archaeology student who owns a hostess bar and club in Tokyo and the guy she’s afraid to get close to but who proves to be invaluable in backing her up. Then there is my favorite, her cat Captain, who is indispensable, especially against vampires.

Owl and the Japanese Circus is the first in a series, although much has happened in Owl’s life already that gives her an especially interesting backstory. Add to that the mess she is currently in . . . This was a fun book to read. I loved the various references to mythology and the supernatural peppered throughout the novel. The idea of the supernatural living under the radar of us average humans is nothing new, of course, but there is something alluring about it just the same. I think the tie into archaeology especially pulled me in.

As much fun as I had reading this action-packed novel (because there really was A LOT of action packed in!), the novel did seem on the long side. There was so much to take in, not to mention all the twists. I found myself wishing the chapters had been a bit shorter. But that is probably more a convenience issue on my part.

I liked Owl for the most part, but she really seemed to have a knack for jumping into situations without looking—or thinking—first. Her friends complain about this all the time since she always seems to land herself in some pretty bad situations, not all of which she can get herself out of without their help. Instead of this being a learning point for her—her friends come to admit this is one of the qualities that make her so great at being her. I’m not sure I agree.

I can take Owl’s character though if I get more Rin, Naida, and, of course, Captain. Author Kristi Charish does such a great job with the world building overall that I am eager to see where she goes with this series.


You can learn more about Kristi Charish and her books on the author's 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, November 04, 2017

Weekly Mews: October Wrap-Up & What Should I Read Next? (November'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.

I am afraid to tell you that the fall weather seems to finally be here to stay because then it might not and summer will be back. This weekend we will set the clocks back an hour, and so it seems only fitting fall would want to stay, right? Let's hope!

October In Review: October was a challenging month, and it is with mixed feelings that I bade it goodbye this week. Mouse was sick earlier in the month, and discovered the magic of going to the nurse's office. It meant a call went to mom or dad, and she would get picked up. We caught on quick to that, however, but then it was wanting to spend recesses in the nurse's office because it meant spending time with her friend who had a healing injury and couldn't play outside. She had all of us pretty worried, complaining of stomach pain every day. All of this on top of her grieving for our family cat, Parker. A talk with her teacher, the school's health tech, the doctor, plus putting two and two together, everything seems to have gotten back to normal. Thank goodness for open communication between school staff and I.

Work continues to be stressful. I will not bore you with details, but it's a cross between the bureaucracy and the work itself. I had to deal with a couple of very rough situations towards the end of the month. The kind that make me rush home and hug my daughter even tighter and longer than usual. Life is so fragile and children so vulnerable.

Halloween isn't a particular favorite holiday of mine, but for some reason I was very excited to see it come this year. Maybe because I needed something to look forward to. I took a vacation day Halloween Day, and was able to see my daughter in her school's costume parade. We passed out candy and went trick-or-treating that evening. I even dressed for the occasion!

Reading wise, it turned out to be a better month than I anticipated. My lack of interest in reading  at the start of October fortunately gave way in the face of good books. I did not read very much with my daughter, unfortunately, my own illness making it hard to read out loud, and so my husband gladly stepped in. For myself, I read a number of good books, and polished off two novellas in the final days of the month just because I could.

Here is what I read last month:

Solely For Me:
  • The Fire By Night by Teresa Messineo
  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson
  • The Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander & J.K. Rowling (audio)
  • Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Bitten by Deceit by Shawntelle Madison
  • Forbidden by Elle Thorne
Read With My Daughter:
  • What Does It Mean To Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
  • The Prince Says "I Love You!" (Sight Words Book 1) by Thea Feldman
  • Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
  • How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath, Mary Reckmeyer, illustrated by Maurie J. Manning  
  • Sing Your Song! (Nella the Princess Knight) by Kristen L Depken, illustrated by Nneka Myers
  • Biscuit Finds a Friend by Aylssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories
  • The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley and Kate Berube

October 2017 Favorite: It is hard to pick a favorite as I liked everything I read. There was Death in the Stacks, which was light and funny--perfect for my rather depressed mood. But then The Fire By Night was so raw and great. I think, though, I will have to go with The Last Christmas in Paris as my favorite for the month. This historical epistolary novel touched just the right spot with my romantic heart and love for history.



Non-Book Review Posts in October:

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


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New to My Shelves: The November My Lit Box arrived this week. I am loving the boxes that include journals. Did you know I love journals? This month's box includes Erika L. Sánchez's I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, a book I have a feeling I will be able to relate to. Also, included is the Letting Go journal and a pen that either says "Over Achiever" or "Under Achiever" depending on which way you hold it.



Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs is my Going Postal Book Group's selection for this round. It arrived in the mail just yesterday:



E-books purchased in October:


Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar



A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake



The Keeper of Secrets (Horowitz Chronicles #1) by Julie Thomas



Lady of Silver (Blood and Silver #1) by Shona Husk



Warrior of Fire (Blood and Silver #2) by Shona Husk



Running Out of Space: Sunblinded One by S.J. Higbee



Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

Books for Mouse:


What Does It Mean To Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath, Mary Reckmeyer, illustrated by Maurie J. Manning
Sing Your Song! (Nella the Princess Knight) by Kristen L Depken, illustrated by Nneka Myers


My bookish magazines also arrived in the mail this past week!



What I Am Reading: I went back and forth what to read this week, but finally settled on Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva. I figure it is time to start on the many Christmas related books I have stacked up on my nightstand (or Kindle, depending).


What I Am Listening To: I am about halfway into Leigh Bardugo's Wonder Woman: Warbringer at the moment and quite enjoying it. I hadn't expected it to be a modern tale, and so that was a surprise.


What I Am Watching: The Walking Dead is back! It's gotten off to a more or less slow start compared to seasons past, although it has been action packed. It's good to see everyone again. I am also all caught up with sitcom The Good Place, which I have come to really enjoy. The Christmas Hallmark movies have started up again too--and why do I find myself watching them on the weekends when before I could never stand them? I rather like them though, as predictable as they are.


What Is Happening Off the Blog: Soccer practice was cancelled this week (too tired after Halloween, maybe?). Mouse's school had its annual Fall Festival, which my husband was able to attend with us this year. Mouse had a great time. My mom is visiting from out of town this weekend and finally is getting to see her granddaughter play in a soccer game. Mouse has one more after this before the season is over.

I am still in the process of updating my list and LibraryThing catalog of all the books I own. I have an official count on the books on my bookshelves downstairs (excluding the children's books). I am too embarrassed to tell you how many there are (it's a good mix of books I have read and those I haven't).  The next part of the project will be to get all the books on shelves upstairs logged.

I received an e-mail on October 31st about a hostage situation at an elementary school in the town where I live. The school wasn't initially named, and so you can imagine the set off panic bells that set off. I was relieved when I realized it was not at my daughter's school, although no less concerned for those involved. Luckily, no children were hurt. A parent evidently had taken a teacher hostage, barricading themselves in a classroom. Hours later, a report came in that the police had fatally shot the disgruntled parent. The teacher is okay (minor injuries), thankfully--at least physically. A substitute teacher who had tried to stop the parent was treated for a broken nose. What a scare for everyone involved! It especially hits home because it involved a first grade teacher, which is the grade my daughter is in. Luckily, the kids were at lunch at the time, and so there were no students in the classroom at the time.

My Gracie

Around the Blogging Community:

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

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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). 




In honor of this being  Sci-Fi MonthNovember Nonfiction, and with the Annual HoHoHo Holiday/Winter Readathon taking place mid-month, I decided to center this month's choices on those three events (even though I am not participating). I enlisted the help of my husband in narrowing down my choices because so many sounded tempting. I look forward to seeing which book I will be reading this month!


Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny
A thrilling new science fiction series -- perfect for fans of character-driven SF adventure. Linnea Sinclair, author of the Dock Five Universe novels calls it "an edge-of-your-seat ride."

Year 2950. Humanity has survived devastating climate shifts and four world wars, coming out stronger and smarter than ever. Incredible technology is available to all, and enhancements to appearance, intelligence, and physical ability are commonplace.

In this future, Felicia Sevigny has built her fame reading the futures of others.

Alexei Petriv, the most dangerous man in the TriSystem, will trust only Felicia to read his cards. But the future she sees is darker than either of them could ever have imagined. A future that pits them against an all-knowing government, almost superhuman criminals, and something from Felicia's past that she could never have predicted, but that could be the key to saving -- or destroying -- them all.
[Goodreads Summary]

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence
A Gen-X librarian's laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.

Librarians spend their lives weeding. Not weeds, but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the ones that patrons no longer check out, and they put back the ones they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to Just Kids and Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury, as well as her break-ups with The Giving Tree and Dear John. Her notes to The Goldfinch and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover's book.
[Goodreads Summary]

Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
There's no place like Haven Point for the holidays, where the snow conspires to bring two wary hearts together for a Christmas to remember.

It's been two rough years since Andrea Montgomery lost her husband, and all she wants is for her children to enjoy their first Christmas in Haven Point. But then Andie's friend asks a favor—to keep an eye on her brother, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, who's recovering from a hit and run. Andie will do anything for Wyn, even park her own misgivings to check on her grouchy, wounded bear of a brother.

Marshall hates feeling defenseless and resents the protective impulses that Andie brings out in him. But when a blizzard forces them together for the holidays, something in Marshall begins to thaw. Andie's gentle nature is a salve, and her kids' excitement for the holidays makes him forget why he never wanted a family. If only he and Andie can admit what they really want—each other—their Christmas wishes might come true after all.
[Goodreads Summary]



Have you read any of these? Which one do you think I should read this month? 

Thank you for voting! I hope you all have a wonderful November and 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.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes

The body lay motionless. ~ Opening of Sworn Virgin


Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes
William Morrow, 2017
Fiction (Historical); 352 pgs
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.

Eleanora is 18 years old and her father’s world. He raises his daughter in the spirit of her mother, free of convention and gender roles, taking pride in her intelligence and valuing her opinions. She has learned the ways of her father, a doctor/healer, always at his side. As a result, Eleanora stands out in early twentieth century Albania. She dreams of attending a prestigious art school in Italy someday, which her father assures he will help her do. That dream shatters, however, when her father is shot dead in the street as an act of vengeance.

Eleanora, devastated and distraught, returns home to their remote mountain village and her stepmother, Meria. Meria has never quite understood the bond between father and daughter, nor her husband allowing his daughter to live more like a man than a woman. Eleanora is really rather helpless when it comes to doing any of the household duties relegated to the women, and this creates quite a bit of tension between the two women. Having run out of money and food, the two are close to starvation. In an act of desperation, Meria agrees to marry Eleanora off to a wealthy friend’s son. Eleanora had previously spurned Edi, the man she is to marry, due to his cruelness to women, and when she learns of her stepmother’s deal, she feels both betrayed and angry.

Following an ancient tradition, Eleanora declares herself a Sworn Virgin, giving her the freedom to live as a man and as head of the household on the condition that she remain a virgin for the rest of her life. As a Sworn Virgin, she is allowed to participate in blood feuds like the one that resulted in her father’s death, but she herself cannot be killed. Unless, of course, she breaks her vow.

Eleanora is determined to avenge her father’s death and uncover the reason why someone would want him dead. She cannot imagine why anyone would want her father dead. He was a kind and well-respected man. Eleanora knew he had loved her mother immensely. Her mother had died in childbirth, and she had not known much about her at all or where she came from. 

I was drawn to Eleanora’s courage and spunk, but at times found her to be extremely naïve and spoiled. She has a mean streak which comes out when she acts without thinking. I put a lot of that off as her being only eighteen and not really understanding the ways of the world she lives in. Her father kept her rather sheltered. Even so, she has tenacity, and her sense of survival is strong. She takes up hunting and learns the skills she needs to care for herself as time goes by.

I felt for Meria. Her heart seemed in the right place, and I think Eleanora was unnecessarily mean to her even though I did understand Eleanora's anger and where it was coming from. Meria is tied deeply in tradition and turns to that for survival’s sake. I think she made bad choices, but I do not think her intentions were to be cruel.

Eleanora is a free spirit and young, never knowing what love really was. I admit I wondered at the relationship she developed with the injured stranger who appeared at her door, him being so much older, and both she and Meria being in such a needy state at that particular time in their lives. I saw less of a romantic love between them, despite Eleanora’s own ideas, and more of a young woman searching out a father figure. It was interesting to see how that all played out in the novel, given my suspicions. 

Kristopher Dukes brings the Albanian mountain clans and their traditions to life in The Sworn Virgin. It is not a setting I am all too familiar with, and I found the very idea of the Sworn Virgin fascinating. I had never heard of the tradition before, and ended up digging a little deeper online as I read the book to find out more about the practice.

Overall, I enjoyed The Sworn Virgin. Eleanora grows over the course of the novel, becoming more self-sufficient, and as she learns about her mother and father’s relationship and exactly why her father had been killed. I liked Kristopher Dukes’ writing and will definitely look for more by her in the future.

You can learn more about Kristopher Dukes and her books on the author's website. She can also be found 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.