Saturday, June 03, 2023

Weekly Mews: School Is Out for the Summer (if only work was too)! (Please Vote in June's TBR Poll)

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Sunday Salon (TSS) hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz  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. I am also linking It's Monday! What Are you Reading? hosted by Kathryn of Book Date where readers talk about what they have been, are and will be reading.

I am linking up Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently.  

It's hard to believe it is already June. May brought the end of the school year for us. The promotion ceremony was very nice. Mouse earned a President's Award for Educational Excellence. Her dad and I are so proud of her and all the hard work she's put in. We were sorry my mom could not be there, but she is still in Washington with my Great Aunt and her partner. There is good news on that front though. My Great Aunt is doing well and expected to get out of rehab this coming week. 

We went to a minor league baseball game last weekend. It was supposed to be a late Mother's Day present for my mom, but since she's out of town, we took one of Mouse's friends instead. The girls weren't really interested in the game, but they had a good time hanging out together. The home team won--yay! We followed up after the game with a trip to Barnes and Noble (because of course we did!) and dinner at Red Robin. It made for a nice day.

It has turned into a lovely day today. Not too warm and not too cool. Mouse and her Girl Scout troop spent the afternoon at the nearby Air Reserve Base passing out donated Girl Scout cookies to the local troops. One of the service people offered to take them on a tour and they got to see a Reaper drone up close. The girls enjoyed being able to offer a small token of thanks to the troops who serve the country. 

In between all this, it's been work as usual. 

What have you been up to lately? 

I just started reading Ashley Weaver's Playing It Safe, the third book in the Electra McDonnell series. I enjoyed the first two books in this historical mystery/espionage series and have high hopes for this one too. 

When I finished the first book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger (see my thoughts below in Mouse's Corner), my daughter set copies of the next two books on my desk so I could start them right away. I'm just so excited she's finally letting me read her favorite series! I am well into the second book in the series, Exile

It has been awhile since I last picked up a nonfiction book and decided to start Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour. I haven't read a lot of parenting books, but this one came highly recommended by several different sources.

What are you reading at the moment?

I recently came across Sue's Big Book Summer Challenge and am going to take part in it this year. The challenge is to read one or two or however many books a person wants that are over 400 pages long. I have a few books I am considering for this, but haven't quite settled on them yet. The challenge lasts from May 25th to September 4th. Check out Sue's blog, Book By Book, for the details and to sign up! 

My TBR List is 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 let you vote for my next read during that month. My review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

I could use your help deciding which book to read next! I am in the mood for historical fiction, and, when looking over my shelves, these three popped out above the rest. Which of these three books do you think I should read next? Have you read any of them? If so, what did you think? 

The Last Heir to Blackwood Library by Hester Fox
In post–World War I England, a young woman inherits a mysterious library and must untangle its powerful secrets…

With the stroke of a pen, twenty-three-year-old Ivy Radcliffe becomes Lady Hayworth, owner of a sprawling estate on the Yorkshire moors. Ivy has never heard of Blackwood Abbey, or of the ancient bloodline from which she’s descended. With nothing to keep her in London since losing her brother in the Great War, she warily makes her way to her new home.

The abbey is foreboding, the servants reserved and suspicious. But there is a treasure waiting behind locked doors: a magnificent library. Despite cryptic warnings from the staff, Ivy feels irresistibly drawn to its dusty shelves, where familiar works mingle with strange, esoteric texts. And she senses something else in the library too, a presence that seems to have a will of its own.

Rumors swirl in the village about the abbey’s previous owners, about ghosts and curses, and an enigmatic manuscript at the center of it all. And as events grow more sinister, it will be up to Ivy to uncover the library’s mysteries in order to reclaim her own story—before it vanishes forever.

Lush, atmospheric and transporting,
The Last Heir to Blackwood Library is a skillful reflection on memory and female agency, and a love letter to books from a writer at the height of her power. [Goodreads Summary]

Weyward by Emilia Hart
I am a Weyward, and wild inside.

2019: Under cover of darkness, Kate flees London for ramshackle Weyward Cottage, inherited from a great aunt she barely remembers. With its tumbling ivy and overgrown garden, the cottage is worlds away from the abusive partner who tormented Kate. But she begins to suspect that her great aunt had a secret. One that lurks in the bones of the cottage, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.

1619: Altha is awaiting trial for the murder of a local farmer who was stampeded to death by his herd. As a girl, Altha’s mother taught her their magic, a kind not rooted in spell casting but in a deep knowledge of the natural world. But unusual women have always been deemed dangerous, and as the evidence for witchcraft is set out against Altha, she knows it will take all of her powers to maintain her freedom.

1942: As World War II rages, Violet is trapped in her family's grand, crumbling estate. Straitjacketed by societal convention, she longs for the robust education her brother receives––and for her mother, long deceased, who was rumored to have gone mad before her death. The only traces Violet has of her are a locket bearing the initial W and the word weyward scratched into the baseboard of her bedroom.

Weaving together the stories of three extraordinary women across five centuries, Emilia Hart's Weyward is an enthralling novel of female resilience and the transformative power of the natural world. [Goodreads Summary]

The London Séance Society by Sarah Penner
A spellbinding tale about two daring women who hunt for truth and justice in the perilous art of conjuring the dead.

1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.

Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves… [Goodreads Summary]

Thank you for voting! What will you be reading next? 

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn (Berkley, 2022; 365 pgs)
Older women often feel invisible, but sometimes that's their secret weapon.  
They've spent their lives as the deadliest assassins in a clandestine international organization, but now that they're sixty years old, four women friends can't just retire - it's kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller. [Goodreads Summary]
Killers of a Certain Age was a bit different than other books by Deanna Raybourn, but I was no less excited to read it. Who wouldn't with a description like the one above?! Billie, Mary Alice, Natalie, and Helen were the first all female assassin team, known as the Sphinxes, working for an organization that originally got its start going after Nazis and later other people deemed to be a threat to social justice. Now their employer has invited them on an all expense paid cruise to celebrate their retirement, but nothing is ever quite what it seems, is it? The four women are lounging on the deck of the ship one minute and on the run the next, in this clever thriller. Just why did the organization turn on them and how can they save themselves? 

The author takes the reader back and forth between the past and present, sharing how each of the women became the skilled assassins they are and their current predicament. They aren't sure who they can trust, if anyone, other than each other. They draw on all their experience and prove that the old school ways can be just as effective today as they were back then.

Witty and tension filled, Killers of a Certain Age was an enjoyable read. Perhaps with more aches and body creaks than they once had, the four heroines in the novel are nothing to be trifled with. While the mystery behind the who and why did not come as a complete surprise, I enjoyed it just the same. The backstories of the characters were interesting, and one of the strengths of the novel was the relationships between the women. 

Thank you to everyone who voted for this book in my May TBR List Poll! 

Challenges Met: Mount TBR / COYER

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
(Berkley, 2023; 368 pgs)
Put the kettle on, there’s a mystery brewing…  
Tea-shop owner. Matchmaker. Detective? [Goodreads Summary]
Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers was such a fun read! It was heartwarming, laugh out loud funny and charming wrapped in a well thought out mystery. Vera Wong's tea shop has seen better days. She is a 60 year old widow with an adult son who is too busy to take much time out for her. And only one regular customer. One morning, she comes downstairs from her living quarters into the shop and discovers a dead body. In anticipation of the police, she makes tea and prepares for their arrival. Vera is sure the man was murdered but the police aren't so certain. Vera comes to the conclusion that she can do a better job in finding the killer than the police.

Vera befriends her suspects as only Vera can, over tea and a little mothering, which they all seem to be in need of. The mystery is told from the point of view of several different characters, including Vera, a format that works very well for this novel. All of the characters (except the victim) are relatable, none of whom I wanted to be guilty but whom all had motives. Vera is really the heart of the novel, which, of course, will come as no surprise. I forgive author Jesse Q. Sutanto for putting off the next Aunties book to write this one. It's my favorite of hers yet. 

Challenges Met: Cruisin' with the Cozies / COYER

Have you read either of these books? If so, what did you think? 

Mouse was reluctant to let me read the first book in her favorite series, but she finally relented (I'd been begging her for ages now). I read Keeper of the Lost Cities Illustrated and Annotated Edition (#1) by Shannon Messenger (Aladdin, 2012; 544 pgs) this past week. Sophie is a prodigy in more ways than one. At 12 years old, she is a senior in high school and a Telepath. On a school field trip one day, Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who also has telepathic abilities. Sophie's life changes irrevocably after that, and she is forced to leave her old life behind for a new one--one filled with elves and other fantastical beings. Sophie was an anomaly in the human world and she is proving to be one in the elven world as well. There is a lot Sophie doesn't know about herself, where she came from and why she was hiding among humans. And others want to know too--some of them not so nice.

I can see why my daughter enjoyed this book so much. Sophie doesn't really fit in among the humans and stands out even amongst the elves. She is insecure and smart. That makes her a very relatable character. Although, she does feel a bit more at home in the elven world ultimately--developing strong friendships and attending a school that focuses on helping her better understand and hone her special abilities. There are life endangering moments, not so well kept secrets as well as some that are tightly kept, interesting creatures, and the typical tween drama (bullying, crushes, and angst). 

Keeper of the Lost Cities was cute and kept me entertained. There is something to be said about elves with varying abilities--what I might call magic, but they think of more as science. There are gnomes and goblins too. Shannon Messenger put a lot of thought into her world--and it was fun to step into the world she's created. I admit I did laugh when I first came across a dinosaur, and the novel suffers from all the significant characters being exceptionally good-looking, which always makes me cringe. While I might not be as enamored with this book as my daughter is, I did like it and am interested in seeing where this series will take me next. 

Challenges Met: Mount TBR / Backlist / Big Books Summer

Have you read this middle grade novel and series? 

When I asked Mouse if there was anything special she wanted to do to celebrate the end of the school year, she immediately said she wanted to go to Barnes and Noble.  I wasn't going to complain! We made another trip to the bookstore last weekend after the baseball game. These are our combined finds from the trips: 

Deenie by Judy Blume
Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island #1) by Alex Aster
The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson
Serafina and the Black Cloak (#1) by Robert Beatty

Sasaki and Miyano, Vol. 1 by Shou Harusono
Toilet-bound Hanako-kun, Vol. 0 by AidaIro
The Savior's Book Café Story in Another World, Vol. 2 by  Kyouka Izumi, Oumiya, and Reiko Sakurada

King of Scars (#1) by Leigh Bardugo
Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Legends & Lattes (#1) by Travis Baldree

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint
Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid

What new books made it onto your shelf recently? 

We celebrated the final day of school last month by going to see the movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. It was fun, if a bit silly--although, that is part of its charm.

I finally caught up and finished Dead to Me. I love Christina Applegate in general and she does such a good job in the series. I think my favorite character though is Judy, played by Linda Cardellini. It's a fairly dark comedy, and very well done.

I took the plunge and watched the post-apocalyptic series Sweet Tooth. My daughter said the main character Gus reminds her of a couple of the anime characters she and I love for his innocence and seeing the good in others. I have not read the original comic book series and so am not able to compare the two. I like the show, although cannot say I love it.

My family and I watched the finale of Ted Lasso. The third and final season has gotten some criticism, but I enjoyed it overall. It's such an uplifting show and seeing the characters grow and their relationships evolve over the course of the series was among the best parts of it. A person does not have to be a soccer or sports fan to appreciate the show.

We are diving back into the X-Files, slowly making our way through season one after having stalled for a little while there--too interested in other things.

Have you watched any of these shows? What have you watched recently?

I hope you have a great week! Let me know what you have been up to!

© 2023, 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, May 26, 2023

Where Is Your Bookmark: A Peek Into Keeper of the Lost Cities / The Tropes I Enjoy Most (and then some)

Today's featured book is the first in my daughter's favorite series, Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger. She FINALLY has agreed to let me read it, and I am looking forward to starting it soon. She has the annotated and illustrated version. 

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

Blurry, fractured memories swam through Sophie's mind, but she couldn't piece them together. She tried opening her eyes and found only darkness. [opening lines from Preface of Keeper of the Lost Cities]
"Miss Foster!" Mr. Sweeney's nasal voice cut through Sophie's blaring music as he yanked her earbuds out by the cords. "Have you decided that you're too smart to pay attention to this information?" 

Sophie forced her eyes open. [opening of first chapter in Keeper of the Lost Cities]

I purposefully added the last lines in both because I like symmetry of her opening her eyes in these two very different scenes. It was probably unintentional on the author's part, but I always like it I come across that sort of thing. I imagine from the preface, Sophie is not in a good place. A bit of foreshadowing would be my guess. The first chapter opens with a fairly everyday moment. Both of these together make me want to keep reading. 

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.

"Is it going to be hard to get into Foxfire?" she asked.

"Counciller Bronte will be difficult to impress," Alden admitted. "He feels your upbringing and lack of proper education should disqualify you. Plus, he doesn't like surprises. The Council had no idea you existed until today, and he's more than  a little miffed about it. But you only need two out of three votes. Just do the best you can."

The Council didn't know about her? Then why did Fitz say they'd been looking for her for twelve years? [excerpt from page 56 of Keeper of the Lost Cities]
This excerpt makes me wonder if Sophie is part of a some sort of a prophecy. I look forward to finding out!

Keeper of the Lost Cities
(#1) by Shannon Messenger
Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…
But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.
But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.
[Goodreads Summary]

Have you read Keeper of the Lost Cities? Does it sound like something you might like? 

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post where bloggers discuss a wide range of topics from books and blogging to life in general. It is co-hosted by Linda Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell, Roberta from Offbeat YA, Jen from That’s What I’m Talking About, Berl's from Because Reading is Better than Real Life, and Karen from For What It’s Worth. Join in by answering this week's question in the comments or on your own blog.

Which tropes do you enjoy most?

This would be an easier question to answer if I was asked to list the ones I tend to avoid because I like many different tropes (not to be confused with subgenres--because I have a long list of favorites on that subject too). I did my best to narrow the list down, but I am sure I missed some. 

Romance: I enjoy fake relationships the most (at least right now). But I also really like second chance love, friends to lovers, and enemies to lovers. Add in a bookish theme and I am even happier! Destiny/soulmate tropes work especially well in paranormal or supernatural romance, I think, and is one of my favorites. 

Mysteries: Small circle and isolated locales are among my favorite types of mysteries. The Everybody Did It trope can be quite fun if done right. I am also happy with the mystery where everyone has a reason to want the person dead but in which only one person did it. The nosy reporter is another mystery trope I really enjoy. As much as I love cozy mysteries, amateur sleuths (whether in cozies or another subgenre of mysteries) can be hit and miss for me depending on how they are used--but I really like them when they work for me. A good heist trope is another favorite of mine.

Fantasy: Mix in fantasy with any of the genres I read and I am in reader heaven. But looking strictly at fantasy tropes, magic is by far my favorite. Magic schools, magic libraries, magic/supernatural beings and creatures, magic artifacts, witches, warlocks, wizards--I cannot get enough. I know some might say they are overdone, but I really like the Chosen One and Reluctant Hero tropes. Dragons and quests are also fantasy tropes I am drawn to. When it comes to quests, a ragtag group of strangers coming together is my ideal. While I am not a huge fan of the damsel in distress trope, I do like role reversal tales quite a bit. Oh, and I can't forget the redeemed villain! Or time slips!

Science Fiction: I am not well read in the science fiction genre, admittedly, but I do enjoy what I have read. Put a ragtag group together to go on a heist, quest or to battle a common foe and I am already hooked. Space travel, time travel, and alternate universes are among my favorite science fiction tropes.

Horror/Thrillers: I like thrills more than I like gore, so my horror trope tastes run along those lines. Abandoned or old houses have to be at the top of the list, especially when those houses are like characters themselves. Supernatural beings or monsters can be a lot of fun. Or that mysterious neighbor. Ancient evil and cursed or forbidden artifacts need to be included here too.

Historical Fiction: I especially enjoy historical fiction with protagonists out of their time. I find historical fiction that uses social and political upheavals to be very appealing. And I just love a dual time line. 

Some of my other favorite tropes include revenge, overcoming adversity, underdogs, groundhog day type tropes, family secrets, hidden diaries found, generational sagas, stormy weather, and saving that cute animal.

So much for narrowing it down--although, to be fair to me, I didn't list them ALL. 

What are some of your favorite tropes? 

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

Are you reading more e-books lately? ((submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

Surprisingly, I am reading less e-books than I normally do. Usually the e-books easily make up the majority of my reading. However, so far this year, 58.8% of my reading has been print books; digital books have made up 38.2% of my reading; and only 3% in audio. 

What format of books have you been reading most of lately? 

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

© 2023 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, May 20, 2023

Weekly Mews: My Bookish Mewsings on The Moon Within by Aida Salazar & Other Updates

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Sunday Salon (TSS) hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz  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. I am also linking It's Monday! What Are you Reading? hosted by Kathryn of Book Date where readers talk about what they have been, are and will be reading.


May is going by so fast! We had painters at the house today, giving our shutters a fresh coat of paint. That should make the homeowner's association happy.  My husband considered doing it himself, but my mom and I talked him out of it. He's got a bad shoulder and we worried about his safety. 

This week was relatively calm as far as it goes. Work continues to be busy. My husband and I had to get creative with our work schedules this week in order to make sure Mouse was picked up from school. My mom often helps out with pick up (thank you, Mom!), but my mom's aunt fractured her pelvic bone and my mom has been helping her and her partner out this week and possibly for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the after school program Mouse sometimes goes to was full  for the week and unable to take her. My great-aunt seems to be doing well. Hopefully that continues to be the case. 

At the moment, I am reading Deanna Raybourn's Killers of a Certain Age, this month's TBR poll winner. It is good so far! These four retired assassins are a force to be reckoned with!  

Earlier this week, I finished reading Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca. You can check out my review here.

I am considering one of these next. I wonder which one it will be . . . . 

Marion Lane and the Raven's Revenge (#3) by T.A. Willberg
Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Homicide and Halo-Halo (Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery #2) by Mia P. Manansala
Playing It Safe (Electra McDonell #3) by Ashley Weaver

What are you reading right now? What do you plan to read next? 

I wish I had read this book with my daughter two or three years ago, when I first added it to my TBR shelf. But I am glad I read it now. Aida Salazar's novel in verse, The Moon Within (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019, 240 pgs), is a beautiful and inspiring book about not just a Mexican-Puerto Rican girl, Celi, entering a new phase in her life, but also that of her friend, Marco, who is also coming into his own.  This is a story about growing up: first periods, first love, friendship, family bonds and conflict, bullying, and transitioning. It is steeped in culture, traditions, and heart. This review includes some spoilers--so stop reading and skip to the next section if you plan to read this novel. 
Though I've never seen it
I know my locket is there. 
It keeps my questions
            my secrets

and safe. [excerpt from  pg 5 of The Moon Within]
Celi doesn't want the fanfare her mother has planned for her first menstrual cycle. She's embarrassed by her mother's wish to celebrate something Celi would rather keep private and hidden. But her mother does not want her daughter's experience to be the same as hers. She does not want her to feel shame or fear. As a mother and as someone who was once a young girl going through puberty, I understand both points of view.  
Celi, your moon will not be like mine.
You will not begin womanhood in doubt
in shame
but surrounded by the strength
of women in your community.
    No it isn't. It is a way you've made up!
It is a way that we have to reclaim 
so that we are not erased. [excerpt from page 182 of The Moon Within]

In the author's note, the author talks about how something once so celebrated and honored in some cultures has been made to feel dirty in modern-day western cultures. This is something I have observed too, although I like to think the tide is changing.  

As Celi navigates her changing body and puberty, her friend Marco is going through his own changes. Born a girl, Marco has long felt more like a boy. I loved how Salazar celebrates him in his and his family's acceptance of who he is. The author draws from precolonial indigenous, Mesoamerican ideas and beliefs, referencing the Aztec god Xochiquetzal, who was both male and female. Xochihuah, people with dual genders or who are gender fluid, are believed to have been considered sacred and well respected. 

While Celi loves Marco and their friendship, conflict arises when the boy she is crushing on is rude to Marco, deadnaming him and making fun of him. Celi struggles with her feelings--her attraction to Iván and her loyalty to her best friend. 

My locket lies open on
            a shore of a sea
                        of confusion
steady sand grounds my feet
like Marco--my best amifriend forever
            but the waves of Iván
                        crash into me
            a foam that wraps around my legs
                        sends a tingle through my body
                                    and swarms my heart
                        with a feeling of
            first love? [excerpt from pg 141 of The Moon Within]
Celi's relationship with dance, music and the moon (Luna), play a big part in this book. Celi is most herself when she is dancing, often to the sound of drums played by her father or Marco. It is a part of who she is. The title itself suggest the importance of the moon to the story, as it can be tied to the moon cycle as it relates to the female body. And here the author brings dance and the moon together: 
I watch her light up a sliver of dust
in my room.

Like a performance
small specks dance

They dance like I do. [excerpt from pg. 7 of The Moon Within]

I love the idea of a moon ceremony; and while it is not a tradition I carried out, it is one I admire and see the beauty in. The picture painted by Salazar as she wrote about Celi's moon ceremony was very moving and heartfelt. 

As my last offering to my moon altar
I lay my first doll, Alma, inside an open gourd
then I add a flint, for protection
and a spool of thread to mend
her bird-print dress
I say goodbye beneath my breath
while Mima sprinkles her
 crystal dust
that feels like love. [excerpt from pg 197 of The Moon Within]
I also really liked that she included Marco in the experience, incorporating his transition in such a way that honored both him and Celi.

The Moon Within carries such a positive message and the characters are very relatable. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Have you read The Moon Within? Have you read any poetry or a novel in verse recently? 

School is winding down for Mouse, and this week of school has been spent doing mostly non-academic activities (Mouse said she would rather work on her play than play board games). Just three more days of school to go and then it's on to middle school in August. Mouse isn't sure she's ready--and I am not sure I am either. Reading wise, Mouse is reading V.E. Schwab's Gallant

I recently watched the movie The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, based on the book with the same title by Gabrielle Zevin. I really liked the book and remember how much the characters came to mean to me as I read it. I wasn't quite as enamored with the movie, although I did enjoy it. Today I made my family watch A Man Called Otto, an Americanized movie version of Fredrick Backman's book, A Man Called Ove. I thought it was very well done. I really like Tom Hanks and Mariana Treviño was great as Marisol. Let's face it though. The cat stole the entire movie. (It goes without saying though that the book was still better.)

My daughter has been begging me to watch more anime with her and we most recently started the first season of Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-Kun! It is about a human boy who is sold by his parents to a demon, and the demon enrolls the human boy in demon school, trying to pass him off as his demon grandson. It's a cute show--a good mix of action and heart. We also started the second season of By the Grace of the Gods, an isekai slice of life anime. 

What have you watched recently?

I hope you have a great week! Let me know what you have been reading!

© 2023, 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, May 18, 2023

Where Is Your Bookmark: My Bookish Mewsings on Well Played by Jen DeLuca (& Books I Want to See on the Screen)

Along with this mini review, I am linking to both Book Beginnings, a meme in which readers share the first sentence of a book they are reading, hosted by Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader and Friday 56 hosted by Freda of Freda's Voice, in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading.

It all started with a necklace. 
A beautiful pendant, made of gleaming silver in the shape of a dragonfly, strung on a green silk cord. Its eyes were tiny crystals that caught the light, and the wings were a delicate filigree. I spotted it on the last day of the Willow Creek Renaissance Faire, while Emily--or Emma, since we were still in character--and I strolled the grounds.  [opening line of Well Played]
His arm went around me, his fingertips stroking slowly up and down my upper arm. There was no expectation of anything physical. He hadn't even kissed me since I'd first arrived. 
It was the best date I'd been on in years. [excerpt from 56% in Well Played]

Well Played
 (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca

Berkley, 2020
Romance; 332 pgs

My thoughts: I adored Well Met, the first in a romance series by Jen DeLuca, and so was looking forward to reading Well Played. Now seemed like the perfect time since my family and I had just been to a Renaissance Faire, and I was very much in the mood to maintain that Ren Faire ambience. It didn't take me long to settle in with the book, and the next thing I knew, I was done! 

While a portion of the novel takes place off season, much of it is set during the summer in small town Willow Creek. Stacey lives for the faire and looks forward to being a part of it each year. Her dreams of a career and her own life fell away years before after her mother got sick, Stacey has accepted that she's stuck in her current life. She tries to pretend she's happy, but that façade cracks a little when her  best friend Emily and Simon get engaged. After drinking too much one night, Stacey leaves a comment on the Dueling Kilts band fan page of her sometimes Ren Faire fling, which leads to a year of e-mail correspondence and later texts.  She pours her heart out to him and him to her. Or so she thinks. If you are getting a Cyrano de Bergerac vibe, you wouldn't be far off. Or catfishing for the less romantic take on it. But this is a romance so let's go with with the Cyrano vibe . . . 

Although Well Met was magic for me in every way, I was a little less enamored with Well Played. I did enjoy it though. It was funny and charming, not to mention the setting. I found Stacey relatable (and it's always nice to come across a plus sized heroine). On the outside, she's confident and flirty, which we see some of in the first book in the series where she is a secondary character. But in this book, with her front and center, we get to see a more complex character, as the layers fall away. It was great to see some of the repeat characters from the earlier book--Emily, Simon, April and Mitch (whose turn it will be in Well Matched, which I look forward to reading). 

I admit to not knowing much about faire life, but one aspect I really appreciated about this novel was how it gives readers a glimpse behind the curtain of a Ren Faire and some of it's moving parts--from the local volunteers to the vendors and entertainers who spend their life on the road traveling from faire to faire, as well as the rehearsals, costumes, and some of the behind the scenes action. 

Challenges Met: Backlist, Mount TBR, COYER

Have you read Well Played or any of the other books in the series?  If not, does this sound like something you might enjoy?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post where bloggers discuss a wide range of topics from books and blogging to life in general. It is co-hosted by Linda Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell, Roberta from Offbeat YA, Jen from That’s What I’m Talking About, Berl's from Because Reading is Better than Real Life, and Karen from For What It’s Worth. Join in by answering this week's question in the comments or on your own blog.

Which book/series would make a great movie/tv series?

I am currently watching Shadow and Bone on Netflix, having just read the first five books in the Grishaverse series (the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Crows duology) by Leigh Bardugo. There was some crossover because I actually started watching the show before I read the books. As often is the case, I wish I had read the books first. And I wish I had put some time between the books and watching the show because . . . well, if you've read the books and seen the show, you will understand. Seeing how the writers weave the books together despite the separate time lines, creating new content, and manipulating the book material to fit this new story has been fascinating to say the least. I am enjoying the show--but I loved the books, especially Six of Crows and even more so Crooked Kingdom. Anyway. To the question of the week! 

My mind is stuck in Renaissance Faire mode right now, and so I admit I would really like to see Jen DeLuca's Well Met series come to life in a television series. Or maybe a movie for each book. I think though it'd be more fun as a short television series because you could really get to know the characters more that way. I would want the series to maintain the humor and lightheartedness of the book series--in a smart and clever way. I don't want them to be turned into Hallmark-esque movies. Although, those  types of movies have their place too. 

Has Dear Martin by Nic Stone been made into a movie yet? It should be, if not. 

I hope they make a movie out of Lisa See's The Island of Sea Women. It's a part of history worth featuring on the big screen and such a moving story!

I tend to gravitate a lot towards fantasy and science fiction, and I can think of an endless number of possibilities. Here's just a small few that come to mind:

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes would make a great movie--science fiction and horror mixed together. 

Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab please. My daughter seconds this idea! Preferably in a series format.

Oh, and what about the Hollows series featuring Rachel Morgan by Kim Harrison. I would have that series on repeat. 

Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library series would be such fun to see in television series form! The fae and dragons and Librarians! I don't think I could take it if it wasn't done right though. 

I could keep going. But if all of these books and all the others I would want to see on screen were made into television series or movies, when would I read?!  Besides, we all know the books are often better.

What books would you like to see come to life on the screen--if done right, of course? 

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

Have you ever attempted to repair a damaged book? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

Kind of. I once ordered a set of books on E-Bay that were said to be in good condition. The seller's definition of good condition and mine are not the same. The covers were ripped and extremely loose (I could see the threads barely hanging on) and pages were falling out. My husband and I tried taping the pages to the covers but it was clear we didn't know what we were doing. 

Then there was the time I accidentally dropped a book into a bucket of water. I ended up buying a new copy. There was no coming back from the damage done to that soaked book. 

I have read a few fiction books in which characters restore damaged books.  I am in awe of their skills. It really is an art all its own. 

What about you?

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

© 2023 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.