Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: The Rancher's Christmas Song by RaeAnne Thayne

The twins were at it again. ~ Opening of The Rancher's Christmas Song


The Rancher's Christmas Song (Cowboys of Cold Creek #16) by RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin, 2017
Romance (Holiday); 224 pgs
Source: E-copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Single dad Beckett McKinley’s rambunctious twins ask their music teacher, Ella Baker, for help in learning their father’s favorite Christmas song. They want to surprise him by singing it at the children’s annual holiday show. On impulse, Ella agrees, but only if the boys will teach her how to ride a horse. She has long struggled with a phobia of horses with roots from her childhood. I admit I had to remind myself to suspend my disbelief in this—a teacher asking young boys to teach her to ride a horse seemed a bit silly . . . but it wasn’t as if she didn’t realize it was impulsive, and she wished she could take it back almost as soon as she said it. They were just so excited about the trade though. She didn’t have the heart to disappoint them.

Beck has long been attracted to Ella Baker, the daughter of his neighbor and mentor, but his effort to keep his distance and hide his feelings has only made her think he doesn’t like her. She assumes it is because she grew up in Boston, not Cold Creek, and he, like her father, feels she doesn’t belong there. Ella has conflicting feelings about Beck—she is attracted to him and yet sees him as a rival for her father’s attention—and for her family’s ranch.

I adored those twin boys. They had energy to spare, and ran their teachers and father ragged, but they have good hearts and are eager to do the right thing. I like Ella’s approach with them.

While Ella has some things to overcome, like her fear of horses, her real conflict is with her father and his inability to see that she is willing and capable to learn how to run the ranch. Her father’s failing health is in part what brought her to Pine Gulch, a place she loved as a child. She wants to make it her home. Beck and her father see her being there only temporarily—her father still seeing her as a child he has to protect, and Beck seeing his former wife, also a city woman, in Ella despite the two women being completely different.

I really liked Ella and Beck, both down to earth and hardworking people. Ella takes on her fear head on, and I loved that about her. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. Beck is still haunted by his past and has to get past that before he can fully let love in. The two characters have definite chemistry together. I enjoyed seeing the characters come into their own—and grow together over the course of the novel.

I may have got misty-eyed at the end of this one—and in a few other places. This was a sweet romance—perfect for the holiday season.

To learn more about RaeAnne Thayne and her books, please visit the author's website. You can also find the author on Facebook and Twitter.

© 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, December 14, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (A Peek Into These Violent Delights)

This weekend will be crazy busy for us. Mouse has two dance performances, one Saturday and one Sunday; we have dozens upon dozens of cookies to bake; last minute shopping to do; and a house to get ready for the upcoming Christmas holiday. My mom will be arriving in town Friday afternoon. We are looking forward to seeing her. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Hopefully we can all get in a little reading as well.

This month's MyLitBox selection was These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung. It seems a timely novel given current events. I dove in pretty quickly. I had hoped to be further along than I am now (#COYER Winter Switch starts tomorrow after all!), but I am only about half way through. 

At Windemere School for Girls, one of America’s elite private schools, Dr. Gregory Copeland is the beloved chair of the English Department. A married father with a penchant for romantic poetry—and impressionable teenage girls—he operates in plain sight for years, until one of his former students goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and two additional Windemere alumnae who had relationships with Copeland as students, the unlikely quartet unites to take him down.

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, These Violent Delights is a literary exploration of the unyielding pressures and vulnerabilities that so many women and girls experience, and analyzes the ways in which our institutions and families fail to protect or defend us. A suspenseful and nuanced story told from multiple points of view, the novel examines themes of sexuality, trauma, revenge, and the American myth of liberty and justice for all. [Goodreads Summary]

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.
"What is the point of a high school reunion when you can already see who got fat and bald on Facebook?" asks Caryn, the intern working with me this semester, and I can't help but laugh because she's right. 
I went into this book with high expectations having never heard of it before. The opening does not exactly grab me though, I admit. And while it gives nothing away about the plot or what is to come, it does put one in the mind of memories of high school, which is likely what the author was going for--intentionally or not.


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'm so glad you reached out." I pass her a napkin. "Of course I wish it never happened, and that we were meeting under different circumstances, but it's nice to know I'm not alone."
This particular passage from page 56 of the novel is likely a common refrain among survivors of abuse or assault. There is something about being able to connect with someone who went through a similar experience that cannot be equaled talking to someone who has never been through it.

What do you think? Is this a book you would like to read?

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


Some photos from my recent visit to the Mission Inn, a historic hotel. It's gorgeous at night this time of year, with all the lights and holiday decorations. I haven't yet been this year after night fall, but hopefully will get a chance before the year is out.








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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne

She really needed to learn how to say no once in a while. ~ Opening of Snowfall on Haven Point 


Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
HQN Books, 2016
Romance; 384 pgs
Source: Review e-copy provided by publisher for an honest review.

This is the 5th book in the Haven Point series, and I have to say I really love Christmas in Haven Point. I would love to catch the boat parade. I really enjoyed Snowfall on Haven Point. I expected the romance, but was not expecting a dash of mystery thrown in. Sheriff Marshall Bailey is certain his being hit by a vehicle was no accident, despite the initial investigation results claiming it to be just that. He is frustrated and annoyed that he is out of commission due to his injuries. As a man who does not like to ask for help, he is not at all happy when widow Andrea Montgomery walks through his door. The Christmas cheer she and her two children bring with them is contagious and it is just a matter of time before the Sheriff’s defenses crack.

Marshall protests way too much about being able to do things on his own—but I get it. Marshall is a proud man and hates having to rely on others. He feels defenseless. He is the one who is used to doing the saving. He is also holding onto a pretty big secret from his past that he knows could be a game changer in any relationship he may develop. The emotional fallout for more than one person will be huge. I thought author RaeAnne Thayne handled this in a sensitive manner and felt the characters' reactions were realistic overall.

Andie and her children have only been in town a few months. She knows that when people look at her, they see the assault victim that needed rescuing the previous summer, and not the strong woman she really is. There’s also the fact that she is a policeman’s widow, and getting into another relationship with a law enforcement officer is the last thing she wants to do for obvious reasons.

Marshall and Andie try to fight the attraction, each struggling with their own internal arguments of why falling in love would be bad for them. They both would be bringing a lot of baggage into any relationship. I like that neither one of them is perfect. I also like that they are both very supportive of the other, even if they are trying hard not to fall in love. There is a mutual respect there that I think is important in any relationship.

While the happy ending I was expecting was there, I appreciated how much the characters grew over the course of the novel, both as individuals and together. They had a lot of overcome, not all of it pretty. I can always count on RaeAnne Thayne to deliver a clean romantic and inspiring Christmas story, and Snowfall on Haven Point was no different.

Thank you to everyone who voted for Snowfall on Haven Point in my November TBR List Poll!

To learn more about RaeAnne Thayne and her books, please visit the author's website. You can also find the author on Facebook and Twitter.

© 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, December 12, 2017

Wishing for Wednesday: More Irresistible Books Added to my Wish List



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.)


A Mortal Likeness by Laura Joh Rowland
Release Date: January 9, 2018 by Crooked Lane Books
A photographer in Whitechapel, London, Sarah Bain is also a private detective—skilled at capturing others’ dark secrets, and expert at keeping her own. When a wealthy banker, Sir Gerald Mariner, posts a handsome reward for finding his missing infant, all of London joins in, hoping to win that money for themselves. Usually discouraged by a saturated market, Sarah is instead curiously allured as she realizes the case hits much closer to home than she first thought.

As she dives in, she discovers a photograph of baby Robin Mariner and his mother. But it eerily resembles the post-mortem photographs Sarah, herself, takes of deceased children posed to look as if they were alive. Now it’s unclear whether the kidnapping is a cover-up to hide the reality of his disappearance, or if it’s truly a cry for help.

The clock is ticking and Sarah must uncover the truth before her past catches up to her in
A Mortal Likeness, the gripping follow-up to bestselling author Laura Joh Rowland’s The Ripper’s Shadow. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: A female private detective in the Victorian age isn't very common. Seeing this upcoming release, I am curious about the series itself and hope to read both the first in the series and this second one to come.

*

Peculiar Ground by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Release Date: January 9, 2018 by Harper Collins
The Costa Award-winning author of The Pike makes her literary fiction debut with an extraordinary historical novel in the spirit of Wolf Hall and Atonement—a great English country house novel, spanning three centuries, that explores surprisingly timely themes of immigration and exclusion.

It is the seventeenth century and a wall is being raised around Wychwood, transforming the great house and its park into a private realm of ornamental lakes, grandiose gardens, and majestic avenues designed by Mr. Norris, a visionary landscaper. In this enclosed world everyone has something to hide after decades of civil war. Dissenters shelter in the woods, lovers rendezvous in secret enclaves, and outsiders—migrants fleeing the plague—find no mercy.
Three centuries later, far away in Berlin, another wall is raised, while at Wychwood, an erotic entanglement over one sticky, languorous weekend in 1961 is overshadowed by news of historic change. Young Nell, whose father manages the estate, grows up amid dramatic upheavals as the great house is invaded: a pop festival by the lake, a television crew in the dining room, a Great Storm brewing. In 1989, as the Cold War peters out, a threat from a different kind of conflict reaches Wychwood’s walls.

Lucy Hughes-Hallett conjures an intricately structured, captivating story that explores the lives of game keepers and witches, agitators and aristocrats; the exuberance of young love and the pathos of aging; and the way those who try to wall others out risk finding themselves walled in. With poignancy and grace, she illuminates a place where past and present are inextricably linked by stories, legends, and history—and by one patch of peculiar ground.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I love a book where the setting is just as much a character as the characters themselves--especially when so richly drawn. I am dying to find out more about Wychwood. I want to visit there myself.

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Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
Release Date: January 2, 2018 by Berkley
A broken promise reveals a terrifying legacy in this electrifying novel from the New York Times bestselling author of When All the Girls Have Gone.

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture...a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide--and her own past...

Like Virginia, PI Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire--and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the picture, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories--and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: A cult-ish past . . . I can't resist that. This is one I am really looking forward to!


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.

What's In A Name Reading Challenge


My decision not to participate in any reading challenges in 2017 meant not participating in one of my favorite challenges, the What's In A Name Reading Challenge hosted by Charlie of The Worm Hole. I plan to join in the fun in 2018, however. I already have some ideas for what books on my TBR shelves to fit into a few of the categories. And although the chances of me sticking to any list I make is low, I still enjoy coming up with some possibilities of books when putting together my sign up post. This time is no different.  I think this one will be quite fun this year!

The challenges runs from January to December, and the idea is to read one book per category. A book cannot count for more than one category. The categories this year are

The Word "The" Used Twice in the Title
- Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking
- The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White
- The Woman in the Window A.J. Finn
- The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

A Fruit or Vegetable in the Title
- The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna
- Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

A Shape in the Title
- Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
- A Distant Heart by Dev Sonali
- Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
- Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

A Title That Begins With Z (can be after "The" or "A")
- The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
- Zorro by Isabel Allende
- Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi

A Nationality in the Title
- The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
- The Spanish Bow by Anromeda Romano-Lax
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
- A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint

A Season in the Title
- The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner
- Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
- Spring Forward by Catherine Anderson
- Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Heather Webb et al

Will you be participating in the What's In A Name Challenge this coming year? Have you read any of my possible selections?


© 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, December 11, 2017

#COYER Winter Switch


It has been awhile since I last participated in the COYER (Clean Out Your E-Reads) Challenge. I know I said no challenges in 2017, but this one starts this month and goes into March of next year. I figured it was late enough in the year that it counts more as a 2018 reading challenge. The ladies who host COYER switch it up every winter and summer to keep us participants on our toes. I especially like this winter's twist. Participants can participate in the traditional COYER option (the Strict) or take on COYER Switch.

COYER Winter Switch has 3 components: The Strict, The List, and The One with the Twist. Participants in COYER Switch will do each component at different times. There will be three phases:
  • December 16 – January 12 
  • January 13 – February 9 
  • February 10 – March 9 
The components can be done in any order and are as follows:

THE STRICT (the good ol' strict COYER)
  • Every book you read must be an eBook or audiobook.
  • Every book must be either free or less than $5.
  • No library books, borrowed books, or Kindle Unlimited.
THE LIST
  • Make a list of up to 30 books you want to read. Every book on the list must be in your possession BEFORE you put them on the list.
  • You can add 5 new books for every 5 books you read.
  • Books on the list can be any format, any price, obtained any LEGAL way… so that means library books, KU, borrowed, etc.
THE ONE WITH A TWIST
  • You can read ANY book. ANY price. Obtained any LEGAL way. 
  • The Twist is, you have to stick with one format. If you choose audiobooks, then only the audiobooks you read during this phase will count. If you choose eBooks, then only eBooks you read during this phase will count. ETC….

My Plan:

December 16 – January 12 ~ I definitely need to devote more time to my e-galleys and so The Strict seems like the best place to start.

January 13 – February 9 ~ For the second round, I am going with The List. I can mix it up with physical, audio and e-books allowing me some flexibility. Another good thing about the List is that I can list up to 30 books. The chances of my reading more than five of those in the amount of time given is very slim, but at least it is leaving the door open for a nice variety of books--a kindness to my many reading moods.

February 10 – March 9 ~ That leaves me with The One With a Twist to close things off. Following the lead of Terri of Second Run Reviews, I will not be deciding on the format of the book I will stick to on the final round just yet. I want to see where I am on my list--and how I am feeling when the time comes. It will be between e-books and physical books though, as I do not listen to that many audio books.


My COYER Winter Switch Reading List (for The List Component):

E-Books:

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Vanished by Karen E. Olson
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Betrayed by Karen E. Olson
The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
China Dolls by Lisa See
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Deja Moo by Kirsten Weiss
After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Physical Books:

Sunday Sugar by Q. Gibson
Lie  Still by Julia Heaberlin
Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier
A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Hunger by Roxanne Gay
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


I will not be setting a numeric goal. I will just try to stick to the categories. I will likely be breaking the rules in one regard, which I want to state up front. And I make no apologies for it. I am part of a mail book group and already have a prior commitment to read whichever book comes my way next.

COYER Winter Switch really will be a challenge, but I also plan to have a lot of fun with it.  Will you be joining in?


Thanks to Michelle, Berls and Stormi for hosting the challenge again!

© 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, December 09, 2017

Weekly Mews: What I Am Reading Now & December's TBR List Winner

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 hope you all had a wonderful week. Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes for my mom. The good news is the surgeon was able to remove all the cancerous cells from her breast and none were found in her lymph nodes. The bad news is the surgeon did not get enough of a margin around the affected area and needs to go back in. She will likely have another surgery after the holidays. She had been planning to visit Greece in February with a group of friends, but it looks like it won't be happening now. Not with a second surgery and radiation treatment still to go. My mom is disappointed, but happy given the news about the cancer.

The fires in Southern California are the main focus of the local news these days. Fortunately, none have been close to us, but I do have friends and family in affected areas. Only one friend I know of has had to evacuate (because of the Lilac Fire in San Diego County). She and her family are staying in a hotel for the time being. It's all very scary. The Santa Ana winds have made these fires even more destructive, giving them strength and speed. My heart aches for those who have suffered losses, including the animals who were unable to escape. Many of the firefighters are working 42 hour shifts before being relieved. They are doing great work out there, and my prayers are with them as well.

It was a relatively uneventful week otherwise. Mouse had her first father/daughter dance and had such a fun time with her dad. My husband kept me posted with the occasional photo. Mouse had a blast dancing with her friends and her dad. She looked so adorable in her polka dot dress. My husband even put on a suit for the event!

Mouse with her corsage and cookie

This weekend Mouse has her first dress rehearsal for her upcoming holiday dance showcase. There will be one more after this before the big performances next weekend. I hear tickets are sold out for both performance dates! Admittedly, more people are probably interested in seeing The Nutcracker than the showcase performances that proceed it, but it makes me glad we secured our tickets early.

Mouse in her dance costume with her prop present 
(you can't tell, but the wrapping paper is sparkly)

Thank you for your patience with me. I am slow at visiting blogs and responding to comments both because of that thing we call life and also because I am trying to limit my time at the keyboard (and on my phone) as I dampen my most recent bout of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I appreciate all the well wishes you have sent. I am doing much better. The rest and wearing the braces at night has helped quite a bit.

What I Am Reading: I am in the middle of Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne. It is a Haven Point romance about a librarian who not only takes in a rather sexy pilot as a tenant, but also fosters two young boys whose mother seems to have disappeared on them (their father is deceased). It's definitely a book that pulls at the heartstrings--not too unusual in a Christmas themed book, wouldn't you say? 

What I Am Listening To: I haven't started a new audiobook, although I did download The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, which means when I'm tired of listening to holiday music in the car, I will start on that one. 

What I Am Watching: I am back to watching Supernatural. I finally made it to season 10! I'm only six episodes in, but am enjoying it so far. I haven't been able to binge watch any shows as of late and it will likely be awhile before that happens again. Definitely not for the rest of the year. 

What I Am Looking Forward To: My managers are taking all of us out for breakfast later this week, which will be a nice break from the usual work day. But I am most looking forward to seeing my mom at the end of the week. She will be coming into town to visit us for the holidays. She's deserving of quite a big hug right about now. 

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


*
New to My Shelves: 

The December My Lit Box arrived this week. I am just going to share Sunura's comments about this month's box as I think she says it best:
Money, power, and influence are all it takes to convince people to ignore the obvious sometimes. Sound familiar? Our final selection of the year closely mirrors some of today's headlines and is a story about breaking the silence, getting rid of the shame, and getting justice.

I am very excited about this month's subscription box. I love everything in it. Every box has been a wonderful surprise and well worth the money. This next year, My Lit Box will be offered only quarterly, which is both sad (because it's a nice monthly surprise!), but also good because it will reach more people and be more affordable (maybe my husband won't give me any more dirty looks about the cost).

Have you read These Violent Delights? What did you think? What new books did you add to your shelves this week? 

*

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). 





Seventeen of you voted for this month's winner, Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley, a historical mystery. For a while there it was close, but The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn fell behind earning only 13 votes in the end. A Murder for Books by Victoria Albert made a good showing with 9 votes.

I hope to read all three books soon, but, of course, Death Below Stairs will take precedence. I am really looking forward to reading it!

Thank you again for voting! I hope you all have a great rest of the month 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.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (A peek at Sugar Pine Trail)

I have been mixing my holiday-themed books with thrillers as of late, and today you just happened to catch me reading RaeAnne Thayne's Sugar Pine Trail, one of her Haven Point novels. I enjoy Thayne's romance novels not just for their sweet romances and happy endings, but also the depth of the characters and the tough issues many of the characters struggle with. I just barely started this one, but expect it to be a fast and entertaining read.




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. 
This was going to be a disaster. 


I thought about sharing a bit more than just the first sentence given how short it is. I like how it already puts you in the character's mind immediately, and it has me wondering what will come next.




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.

"She'll be okay, won't she?" Davy had finally asked her. Julia hadn't wanted to lie to them or give them false hope, so she'd only hugged them close. 



I randomly jumped to 56% in Sugar Pine Trail as I'm still only at about 6%.  This particular passage has me wondering what Julia is hiding and about whom from the young boys she's taken under her wing.


What do you think? Is this something you would keep 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, December 06, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

On that unseasonably warm November day at One Devenshire Terrace, Christmas was not in his head at all. Mr. Dickens and His Carol


Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
Flatiron Press, 2017
Fiction (Historical); 288 pgs
Source: E-Copy of book provided by publisher for an honest review.

Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol was a good way to kick off the holiday season. Silva’s writing took me back in time and right into the life of author Charles Dickens. His latest book is not doing so well and his publisher is threatening to dock his pay, bill collectors and family wanting financial help are knocking at this door, and his wife has just given birth to another child. To make things worse, he is being asked to write a Christmas story in a short amount of time. Charles is feeling a lot of things at the moment, but the Christmas spirit is not one of them. Especially with his wife Catherine’s holiday preparations costing him more and more money with each new decision she makes and his children with their wide eyes and innocence hoping for their father’s usual holiday generosity.

Charles is indeed a generous man and does not like to say no to his wife or children. As a result, he knows he has little choice but to write the Christmas story, despite his initial refusal to do so. His temper is short, his family has deserted him as a result, time is running out, and writer’s block has set in. Taking to the streets of London, Charles walks into the night, hoping for inspiration. He finds it in the form of a mysterious woman in a purple cloak. Could she be his muse?

With a bit of humor, the occasional name dropping, and a lot of atmosphere, Samantha Silva’s fictional account of how A Christmas Carol came into being was both compelling and inspiring. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Christmas stories, both in written and movie form. It’s a story that most people know and is very much a part of Western culture today. It’s message is timeless as is its impact. And while Silva’s tale in Mr. Dickens and His Carol follows a similar theme, it doesn’t quite live up to the original. But then, what book could, really?

Still, I enjoyed getting to know Charles Dickens as a character and most especially Eleanor Lovejoy and Timothy. I wouldn’t have minded more time spent with them. I will admit that Charles’s obsession with Eleanor did give me pause, given he is a married man, his wife having just given birth to their child. And while I could see why Charles might be into Eleanor, I couldn’t quite see the attraction the other way around. Still, there is something about Eleanor—her mystery, her past, or perhaps her Timothy—that drew me to her just as Charles was drawn to her. And, of course, Timothy. In a story like this a Timothy is essential.

I loved the historical tidbits Silva included about the real Charles Dickens’ life as well as the appearance of his “rival” authors of the time, William Thackeray and Wilkie Collins, for example. It was also interesting to get a close up of the plagiarism and pirating that took place during the time. Oh, and the fan and critic reactions! People were just as bold with their opinions then as now—only then they did not have the internet and so most of it came in person on the street.

The ending is what really made this story for me, bringing it around in a way that made me appreciate the book even more than I might have otherwise. One thing is for sure. I hope to re-read A Christmas Carol soon.

To learn more about Samantha Silva and her work, please visit the author's website

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Wishing for Wednesday: Women's Rights, Valkyries, & Forbidden Love



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.)


Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood
Release Date: January 2, 2018 by Pegasus Books
Set in England in 1907, Impossible Saints is a novel that burns as brightly as the suffrage movement it depicts, with the emotional resonance of Tracy Chevalier and Jennifer Robson.

Escaping the constraints of life as a village schoolmistress, Lilia Brooke bursts into London and into Paul Harris’s orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women’s lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John’s Cathedral. Lilia doesn’t believe in God, but she’s attracted to Paul’s intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.

As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can’t deny their attraction, but they know they don’t belong in each other’s worlds. Lilia would rather destroy property and serve time in prison than see her spirit destroyed and imprisoned by marriage to a clergyman, while Paul wants nothing more than to settle down and keep Lilia out of harm’s way. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read it: If the cover isn't enough to draw me to this book, the description seals the deal. Women's suffrage and a seemingly impossible romance. I hope this one turns out to be as good as it sounds!

*

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking
Release Date: January 2, 2018 by St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Press
Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read it: Valkyries! What more is there to say?


*


A Distant Heart by Dev Sonali
Release Date: December 26, 2017 by Kensington Books
Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world.

Tasked at fourteen-years-old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart.

As Kimi anticipates a new life, Rahul struggles with loving someone he may yet lose. And when his investigation into a black market organ ring run by a sociopathic gang lord exposes dangerous secrets that cut too close to home, only Rahul's deep, abiding connection with Kimi can keep her safe—and reveal the true meaning of courage, loss, and second chances.

Infused with the rhythms of life in modern-day India, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s candid, rewarding novel beautifully evokes all the complexities of the human heart.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read it: I seem to be collecting Dev Sonali's books, but I have yet to read any of them. This upcoming release has reminded me I need to get to them!


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, December 03, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

Just when I broke my sobriety and started drinking again in moderate and 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. ~ Opening of Lust and Wonder




Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
St. Martin's Press. 2016
Nonfiction (Memoir); 304 pgs

I read Augusten Burroughs’ Running With Scissors years ago, and it made quite an impression on me. It was shocking and funny--and left me feeling terribly sad. I meant to go on and read more by Burroughs’, but I never managed to because my interest in memoirs has waned over the years. When Lust & Wonder appeared in my mailbox, the latest from my Going Postal book club, I was 1) sad because it really doesn't fit with my happy Christmas-themed bookish mood and 2) happy because I would finally be able to visit with Augusten Burroughs again.

Augusten Burroughs is the child of an alcoholic professor and a psychotic poetess who, in his later childhood, is sent to live with his mother's psychiatrist. Neglected and abused, raised with very little structure and guidance, and struggling with his own mental health issues early on in life--all of which have a profound impact on his adult life, including how he copes, sees the world around him, and in his relationships with others. Lust and Wonder does not go much into his childhood other than a mention here and there to give the new reader an idea of where he comes from. You will find that in the author's earlier books--although this one does stand well on its own.

In Lust and Wonder Burroughs opens up about his life after his memoir Dry, particularly his search for love and stability. He talks about his relationships—the failed and the successful. Burroughs seems to have a difficult time trusting his own gut when it comes to his romantic relationships, a symptom of his past and his doubts about his own mental health. There were several times throughout the book I wanted to tell him to not sell himself short.

I really like Burroughs’ conversational style. I find him relatable and insightful. He comes across as a very genuine person, which is a must in a memoir. He’s very open about his experiences as a gay man, including talking about HIV and AIDS, his grief at losing a loved one, his struggles with mental illness and the mistakes he has made over the years. He lays it all out there, warts and all. He talks honestly about his dependence and struggle with alcohol, both while lost at the bottom of a bottle of Scotch and while sober. He also writes about his anxiety, a topic I can relate all too well with. I can understand his willingness to stay in a relationship that isn’t working for the sake of security and stability and not wanting to risk the unknown by making a change--especially given his past. Sometimes it is easier to ignore and suppress what isn’t working than to confront it. But at what cost?

Augusten Burroughs takes the readers on his journey with him, through the pitfalls of his relationships as well as the successes. He made me laugh and cry; and I came away feeling as if I had just caught up with an old friend.

To learn more about Augusten Burroughs and his 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.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Weekly Mews: November Wrap-Up, What I Am Reading Now & What Should I Read Next? (December's 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.


December promises to be a busy month, and I imagine I will not have as much computer time as I would like, especially toward the middle and last half of the month. Between family coming in from out of town and all of Mouse's activities, including a big holiday dance showcase, free time will be hard to come by. I am happy to say that my holiday cards are in the mail, and I am officially all done with the Christmas shopping. I am still waiting on a couple of packages, but the money is spent, and so I figure it counts as being done anyway.


I put together a bookish Advent calendar this year for my daughter, wrapping several of Mouse's Christmas books. I had mentioned the idea to her, asking if she would want to do something like that, but explained we would be using books we already owned. It just so happens she has over 24 holiday-themed books. I have always wanted to do something like this. I think it will be a lot of fun!

Did your December get off to a good start? What are you most looking forward to this month

November In Review: 

My mother paid us a visit in early November, and Anjin and I got to go on a rare date. We decided to see the new Blade Runner movie, as the original is one of my husband's favorites.

Soccer season came to an end. Mouse had fun at the season end party. I think we are all glad for the chance to sleep in on Saturday mornings again.

While my reading got off to a slow start the beginning of November, it picked up with my break from blogging Thanksgiving week. Although I had to work most of that week, I took advantage of any spare time I had to read. Mouse and I organized her books and wrapped Christmas presents. We also managed to get the house mostly decorated for Christmas. We still haven't put up the tree, but will likely be doing that this weekend.

Thanksgiving Day brought some bad news. Ten or so years ago, my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors were able to successfully remove all malignant growth. Unfortunately, it has returned. My mom went in for surgery the first of December, and we will know late next week whether the margins are clear.

In more bad news, although much less so, we sprung a leak and I spent a good part of one day this past week waiting for the plumber to come out. Fortunately it wasn't a terribly expensive fix, but it still cost a pretty penny.

My carpal tunnel syndrome seems to be flaring up in both wrists. It has made life at work and at home a bit more challenging considering how much time I spend on the computer. Add being so busy with other things, it makes me a not very good commenter as of late.

Getting back to my reading, I am actually quite proud of how will I did both quality and quantity wise in November. I read some great books--none were disappointing.

Here is what I read last month:
  • Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
  • Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs
  • Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
  • Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
  • Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (audio)


Non-Book Review Posts in November:

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


*

New to My Shelves: 

I purchased a few e-books and one audiobook this past month that I couldn't resist:


The Breakdown by P.A. Paris
The Good Samaritan by John Marrs
Betrayed  (#3 Black Hat Thriller) by Karen E. Olson
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (audio)
Starstruck (the Cowboys of Cold Creek) by RaeAnne Thayne
Shadowed (#2 Black Hat Thriller) by Karen E. Olson
The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves by James Han Mattson
Cursed by Fire (#1 Immortal Brother) by Jacqueline Frank


Have you read any of these? What did you think? What new books did you add to your shelves in November? 

*

What I Am Reading: I am currently reading Shadowed by Karen E. Olson. Oh my gosh! Talk about suspenseful! The book hasn't let up since page one. I am sure I will be finishing the book this weekend. Probably Saturday if not tonight. My e-reader has been acting up (I'm not sure if it is the actual device or the book itself) which is the only reason I have not been able to finish it yet). Next up is another Christmas themed book. Maybe The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson.

What I Am Listening To: I just finished listening to Leigh Bardugo's Wonder Woman: Warbringer and haven't yet started another audio book. It always seems to take me a while to start another one after finishing one. I am not sure which one will catch my attention next.

What I Am Watching: I am all caught up with The Walking Dead. At least until Sunday's episode airs. It has been a rather lackluster season so far. I am enjoying The Voice and watching too many Christmas Hallmark movies. 

What I Am Worried About: Besides the global and societal issues I have no control over, everything I have to do this month. All the places I have to be. All the money I have already and still have to spend. How I will be able to get my daughter to this or that event. And if I will survive this whole dance holiday showcase ordeal. Dance/Stage mom: I am not. Work. My mom. Especially my mom. And what are we going to serve for Christmas dinner?!

What I Am Looking Forward To: Christmas Day and the day after.

What I Am Grateful For:  My family. My mom. My husband. Especially my husband. And, of course, my daughter. And my loving and playful cat who is such a comfort.


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

*

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). 




At the moment I type this, there is a cat attacking my head. Rather, rubbing herself all over me and clawing at my head. It is making blogging a little difficult at the moment, but I shall persevere. I have mysteries on the brain this month and chose three different types of crime fiction novels for you to choose from. They all offer something a bit different from one another, and I would love to know which one you think  I should read this month.

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries #1) by Jennifer Ashley ~ I love a good historical mystery, and this one is irresistible sounding, don't you think?

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.  
Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.  
[Goodreads Summary]


The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn ~ Doesn't this sound intriguing? I think so!
 What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
[Goodreads Summary]


A Murder for the Books (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #1) by Victoria Gilbert ~ Who can resist a mystery featuring a librarian? I know I can't!

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]



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

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