Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Mews: November TBR List Poll Winner & Culling the Bookshelves

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. 

What I Am Reading:  I have mostly been reading Tolstoy's War and Peace as I waited for my November TBR List poll to close this weekend. I actually finished all of November's reading assignment and am now ready to begin the epilogues, which will bring me to the end. I will tell you more about what Mouse and I are reading in my next Mouse's corner. I think it will make several of you happy. I can already hear the "I told you so's."

What I Am Watching: A lot of  Odd Squad and Mission Force One thanks to my daughter. Mission Force One is a spin-off of Disney's cartoon Miles in Tomorrowland. Last weekend we joined several of our friends from the dance studio to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. We all enjoyed it. There was quite the applause and cheering when Misty Copeland came on screen from our group.

Off the Blog: This past week took a lot out of me emotionally. With work, the mid-term elections, mass murder, wildfires, and a pesky cold (which I will take any day over murder and fire), I just wanted to pull the blanket over my head and stay in bed. Our friends and family are safe, thankfully.

I spent the weekend going through mine and my daughter's bookshelves, organizing books, and pulling out ones to give away. I managed to get some Christmas shopping done. And we all now have new shoes (which were long overdue). Two of Mouse's Nutcracker costumes came in, and I got the list of accessory and hairstyle requirements, which always stresses me out some. Tickets are officially on sale! I wish you could all come.

My donation pile

Mouse's donation pile

Laundry baskets make comfy resting spots:

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 Sunday 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). 

Looks like Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry won with 6 votes! I am oh-so-ready for a Christmas themed book right now, and this one sounds perfect. Thank you to all who voted!

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

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#22)

The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Crown Publishing 2010)
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family — past and present — is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: Everyone was singing the praises of this one when it first came out, and I knew I just had to read it. I still haven't managed to get to it, although I still hope to read it one of these days.


The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Atria Books
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: I loved The Thirteenth Tale and after reading the synopsis  of this one, I knew I had to read it. I am already intrigued!

Before We were Strangers by Brenda Novak
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Mira Books
Something happened to her mother that night. Something no one wants to talk about. But she's determined to uncover her family's dark secrets, even if they bury her.

Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn't sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound--the ominous thump before all went quiet.

In the morning, her mother was gone. The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn't sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn't just difficult--he was deadly.

Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who'd rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn't whether she can uncover what really happened that's what will remain of her family if she does?  [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: Doesn't this sound deliciously thrilling? I love a good story about buried secrets being unearthed. 

Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

I sit on the edge of the bed waiting, the day I've feared for months finally here. ~ Opening of The King Slayer

The King Slayer (The Witch Hunter, #2)  by Virginia Boecker
Little, Brown Books for Young Reader, 2016
Fantasy (YA); 377 pgs

Elizabeth Grey was once the only female on Lord Blackwell's elite group of witch hunters, finding and meting out justice to those they found guilty of witchcraft. In the previous book, The Witch Hunter, Elizabeth suddenly found herself on the other end of the spectrum, herself accused of witchcraft. On the run and suddenly the target of all the witch hunters, Elizabeth makes some unlikely allies who came to her aid.

Although Elizabeth and her new found friends were able to come out on top at the end of The Witch Hunter, it was just the beginning of the horrors to come. With Lord Blackwell angrier than ever and more desperate for power, war is sure to come and no one is safe.

Elizabeth does not have the same strength or power she did in the previous novel, but her skills as a fighter and assassin remain formidable. She is hiding among those she once saw as the enemy of the kingdom, and there is no love loss from the witches and wizards she once had targeted. They do not exactly trust her. When her healer boyfriend begins showing the strain of being under the stigma and turns against her, Elizabeth feels she must solve this problem on her own. She must take out Lord Blackwell. She knows this will likely mean her death.

I had enjoyed The Witch Hunter quite a bit, and The King Slayer was just as good in its own way. It is much more action-packed and tense. With every decision made and step taken, the suspense builds, leaving me turning the pages as quickly as I could. I really felt for Elizabeth and the situation she was in. While I think she did not always make the wisest of choices, I could see why she made them.

It was good to see some of the returning characters and get to know them a bit better, particularly John (the healer) and Shulyer (a reverent). I wouldn't have minded a bit more time with Fifer though. An interesting twist I was not expecting was the appearance of the usurped king, who has a fairly bad reputation among the witches and wizards--and for good reason. His relationship with Elizabeth is a complex one to say the least, and it was interesting to see how the two interacted in this second novel. I admit to not liking, even hating, his character in The Witch Hunter, and I certainly did not warm to him, not even by the end of this book. Although, I do think he had changed and grown as a character. Some things though are hard to forgive.

The King Slayer takes the reader deeper into the conflict between the kingdom and the witches and wizards. The Witch Hunter was richer in world building and The King Slayer more action-packed. However, the use of magic in this one seemed more diverse and unique. I thought the power shift between some of the characters, particularly John and Elizabeth, was interesting, and added a different layer to the overall stories between the two books. 

To learn more about author Virginia Boecker and her work, please visit the author's website

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Sunday Mews: Wrapping Up October & My November 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. I am also linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by the great Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently. I am linking up to Nicole of Feed Your Addiction's Monthly Wrap-Up Post, where any book bloggers who write monthly wrap-up posts can link up and visit other bloggers to see what they have been reading.  

October was over in a blink. I feel like the month was just starting, and then it was Halloween. November is already looking like it will follow a similar path. The trimester is coming to an end, and Mouse has a five day weekend coming up, what with teacher conferences and Veteran's Day. Then the week after that, she is off for Thanksgiving break. I still have not heard whether I am approved for time off  that week (fingers crossed!), and so there may be some last minute running around to arrange for child care. My mother-in-law is scheduled to have triple bypass surgery on the 13th of November, and my mom will be driving down for a brief visit at the end of the month for my great aunt's 90th birthday celebration. Mouse's Nutcracker rehearsals have kicked into high gear with just over a month before performance time, and Girl Scouts is keeping us busy as well. I think Mouse might be coming down with a cold-although I'm hoping it is just allergies. None of us can afford to get sick any time soon.

New to My Shelves: 

Ghost of a Chance (Chintz 'n China, #1) by Yasmine Galenorn

Hex Marks the Spot (Drop Dead Witchy, #1) by Ani Gonzalez

Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb

Fan the Flames (Search & Rescue, #2) by Katie Ruggle

What I Am Reading: I am about half way through The Secret Language of Cats: How to Understand Your Cat for a Better, Happier Relationship by Susanne Schötz. (My cats are probably wondering why I am following them around all the time now encouraging them to "talk.")

What I Am Watching: I finally listened to Greg of Book Haven and began watching Riverdale. I am in the middle of the second season, I believe. I am enjoying to so far, although it has certainly taken some twists I did not see coming. I also started Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, and am loving it. I mean, witches. That says it all, doesn't it?

Several of us from the dance studio will be going to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms this weekend. Have any of you seen it yet? What did you think?

Off the Blog: As I mentioned above, October went by so fast.  Mouse and I spend a lot of time at the dance studio, between dance classes and rehearsals. We have had a few Girl Scout events scattered in here and there as well. Work has been crazy busy as it often is this time of year. On top of my regular work, I am in charge of putting together the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday schedules for our 24 hour operation, which means making time to figure out the logistics of making sure there is enough staff coverage to let as many employees possible get the time off they would like around those dates. Thank goodness for flexible staff willing to make comprises!

We stretched out Halloween for about a week. We did manage to make it to the pumpkin patch, although it was a close call what with everything else we had going on. Since the dance studio allowed the dancers to dress up for a week before Halloween, Mouse was able to put some of her old costumes to use. She and I attended her Fall Festival event at the school, which was a lot of fun. We did go trick-or-treating Halloween night. Although our small street does not really get into it, the next streets over go all out. People were out in their driveways with fires going as they passed out candy to the passersby. It was quite crowded as it always is, but everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

Here is what I finished reading in October:
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace
  • The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo
  • Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
It was another slow reading month for me. I have pretty much accepted the fact that the rest of the year will follow a similar pattern, especially if I am to finish my two biggest reads of the year, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Hugo's Les Misérables. I finished October on a high note with both, being all caught up with the read-along schedules. This past month, both books saw the death of significant characters. Another one is coming soon in Les Misérables, and I am dreading it. I hope I am in a safe place when I get to that moment.

Magic Slays was by far my favorite book read this past month--it was so nice to jump back into the Kate Daniel's series again. I did enjoy my other reading as well. I wanted to re-visit The Legend of Sleepy Hollow before diving into Palombo's novel and am glad I did.  I knew some of the complaints about The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel going in, and actually wasn't bothered by them. The second half of the book was definitely better than the first. While I think The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One will not be to everyone's taste because of the subject matter, I found it to be a very powerful  collection of poetry and am so glad to have read it. I think Lovelace's voice is one that echoes that of many women in the United States today.

This Past October In Reading Mews:

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


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 Sunday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

I am in the mood for something Christmas-y. It is long over do. Here are my top three choices, and I could really use your help in deciding what to read next. Which sounds the best to you?

Murder in Her Stocking by G.A. McKevett ~ Hair certainly was bigger in the '80's. Even mine.  Sounds like trouble found its way to McGill, including murder. This sounds like it will be entertaining.
As the Moonlight Magnolia Agency revisits old memories on Christmas Eve, Granny Reid takes the reins back thirty years to the 1980s--back when she went by Stella, everyone's hair was bigger, and sweaters were colorful disasters. But murder never went out of style . . .

Christmas has arrived in sleepy McGill, Georgia, but holiday cheer can't keep temperamental Stella Reid from swinging a rolling pin at anyone who crosses her bad side--and this season, there are plenty. First an anonymous grinch vandalizes a celebrated nativity display. Far worse, the scandalous Prissy Carr is found dead in an alley behind a tavern. With police puzzled over the murder, Stella decides to stir the local gossip pot for clues on the culprit's identity . . .

Turns out Prissy held a prominent spot on the naughty list, and suspects pile up like presents on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the more progress Stella makes, the more fears she must confront. With a neighbor in peril and the futures of her beloved grandchildren at risk, Stella must somehow set everything straight and bring a cunning criminal to justice before December 25th . . .
[Goodreads Summary]

A Coldwater Warm Hearts Christmas by Lexi Eddings ~  I cannot resist a bookworm heroine.  I love a good holiday romance, and this one sounds like it will be fun.
It’s hard to be the new girl in town, especially around the holidays. But when the town is Coldwater Cove, Oklahoma, there are plenty of folks willing to welcome you—and lovingly meddle in your life . . .

High school English teacher Angie Holloway has been in this little Ozark hamlet for a few years, but she still feels like an outsider. And with no family of her own and single to boot, she’s rusty when it comes to opening her heart. Nevertheless, she’s been drafted to direct the annual Christmas pageant—whether she likes it or not. As for her assistant, that job’s been handed to Seth Parker. He may be smoking hot, but the brawny construction engineer is definitely not her type. After all, she loves literature, he “reads” blueprints . . .

While Angie tries to put a new spin on the show, and Seth tries to tolerate her correcting his grammar, they both resist the locals who insist on pushing them together. But when Seth finds her copy of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility—marked up with her revealing comments—he can’t resist trying to romance her using his newfound knowledge. And Angie is surprised to find that this big, handsome lug can read her like a storybook hero . . .
[Goodreads Summary]

Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry ~ A little murder around the holidays, psychic visions, and cat as a sidekick makes this a tempting choice!
Someone’s spreading deadly holiday cheer through Salem, Mass . . .

Lee Barrett has landed her dream job at Salem’s WICH-TV. As the new field reporter, she’ll be covering events live as they’re unfolding. Next on her holiday checklist is an interview with the beloved chairman of a popular walking tour through Salem’s historic districts. But it may be his ghost walking this snowy Noel season after Lee finds him murdered in his stately offices, bloody Santa hat askew.

With her police detective boyfriend working the case and a witch’s brew of suspects—including some bell-ringing Santas—Lee chases down leads aided and abetted by her wise cat O’Ryan and some unsettling psychic visions of her own. When a revealing clue leads to another dead body, not even a monster blizzard can stop Lee from inching closer to the truth . . . and a scoop that could spell her own demise this killer Christmas.
[Goodreads Summary]

Thank you for voting! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!

© 2018, 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, November 02, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation: From Vanity Fair to Girl Waits With Gun

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate of Books Are My Favourite and Best in which our lovely host chooses a book and participants take it from there: creating a chain of books, each connected to the one before. Seeing where we end up is half the fun! 

I have not actually read the starting title for this month's Six Degrees of Separation, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, although I do have a copy on my TBR pile. It has been there quite a while, sad to say. Looking over the synopsis of the novel, about two women from very different sides of the track, I cannot help but think of another novel that has that in common.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is about two very different women, one an orphan who makes a living as a petty thief and the other an heiress to a fortune. Fingersmith reads like a classic and is a delicious Gothic novel--one of my all-time favorites.

Although I generally like to stick to books I have read for this meme, I am straying from that with this next one. I have long wanted to read Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman. Admittedly, I had started reading it once, but got distracted by other books and never got back to it. While perhaps not an obvious connection to Fingersmith unless you know something of Nellie Bly's history and what happens in Fingersmith, there is a connection nevertheless. During her career as an investigative journalist, Nellie Bly went undercover in an asylum, her articles about her experience being quite the exposé. And in Fingersmith, one of the characters is forced to go to an asylum.

I did a report on Nellie Bly in sixth grade, and she has since been one of my favorite and most admired historical figures. I know less about Elizabeth Bisland, but I hear she is also a journalist worthy of knowing. Just as these two women had to prove themselves in a field once dominated by men, so did women like Hilda Matheson, a pioneering radio talks producer at the BBC who also served as the first Director of Talks. I had not heard of Ms. Matheson until I read Sarah-Jane Stratford's Radio Girls. While Radio Girls may be fictional, Ms. Matheson was not. She has quite a résumé, in fact.

While on the subject of talk radio, another favorite talk show host comes to mind. This one a bit of a pioneer herself--at least in the world the author has created. Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn brings readers late advice talk show host, Kitty Norville, who provides advice to the supernaturally disadvantaged. The Kitty Norville series was one of my first forays into shapeshifter urban fantasy, and there was no going back (Laurel K. Hamilton and Kelley Armstrong are also to blame).

Author Carrie Vaughn read her favorite children's book, Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, over and over when she was growing up. It was the first book to make her cry, and it affected her deeply. This classic novel  about friendship between a barnyard pig and a spider moved me as well.

While Constance Kopp and her sisters did not live in a barn like Charlotte and Wilbur, they did live on the family farm. They lived a relatively quiet life until a buggy accident changed everything. Amy Stewart's Girl With a Gun takes the real life Kopp sisters in her fictionalized novel about their lives in the early 1900's. Constance was one of the first female sheriff deputies in the U.S.

This month I am all over the place with the types of books chosen. My husband was hoping I would end with Lord of the Flies due to the pig connection, but I could not bring myself to go there. Six Degrees of Separation is such a fun exercise to go through each month. Sometimes it takes a bit of thought, but I love seeing where all I end up!

Have you read any of these titles? What sort of chain do you think you would put together?

Next month (December 1, 2018), we’ll begin with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

© 2018, 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.