Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Wishing to Read Wednesday: Old and New (#1)

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. 

What Happened That Night by Sandra Block
Release Date: June 5, 2018 by Sourcebooks Landmark
One moment Dahlia is a successful Harvard student. The next, she wakes up from a party, the victim of a brutal assault. Her life veers into a tailspin, and what’s worse, her memory of the attack has been ripped away, leaving a cold rage in its wake.

Now, years later, Dahlia is a tattooed paralegal suffering from PTSD, still haunted by that night. Until one day, a video surfaces online, and Dahlia sees her attack for the first time. Now she knows what happened to her. And she knows who to blame. Her rage is no longer cold, but burning, red hot.

And she is about to make everyone pay.
 [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this one: Sometimes a good revenge story is just what this reader needs.


The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah
Release Date: June 19, 2018 by William Morrow
Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II.

To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine Examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy, to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations. There she can bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian vintages and reconnect with her cousin Nico and his wife Heather, who now oversee the grapes’ day-to-day management. The one person Kate hopes to avoid is Jean-Luc, a neighbor vintner and her first love.

At the vineyard house, Kate is eager to help her cousins clean out the enormous basement that is filled with generations of discarded and forgotten belongings. Deep inside the cellar, behind a large armoire, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, some Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. Piqued by the secret space, Kate begins to dig into her family’s history—a search that takes her back to the dark days of the Second World War and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great half-aunt who was teenager during the Nazi occupation.

As she learns more about her family, the line between Resistance and Collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection? [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this one: I love stories involving lost and found diaries, looking back into the past, World War II settings, and family secrets. This one sounds like it will be right up my alley.


Island of the Mad (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #15) by Laurie R. King
Release Date: June 12, 2018 by Random House/Bantam

A June summer's evening, on the Sussex Downs, in 1925. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are strolling across their orchard when the telephone rings: an old friend's beloved aunt has failed to return following a supervised outing from Bedlam. After the previous few weeks--with a bloody murder, a terrible loss, and startling revelations about Holmes--Russell is feeling a bit unbalanced herself. The last thing she wants is to deal with the mad, and yet, she can't say no.

The Lady Vivian Beaconsfield has spent most of her adult life in one asylum after another, yet he seemed to be improving--or at least, finding a point of balance in her madness. So why did she disappear? Did she take the family's jewels with her, or did someone else? The Bedlam nurse, perhaps?

The trail leads Russell and Holmes through Bedlam's stony halls to the warm Venice lagoon, where ethereal beauty is jarred by Mussolini's Blackshirts, where the gilded Lido set may be tempting a madwoman, and where Cole Porter sits at a piano, playing with ideas...
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this one: I have wanted to read this series forever, and have heard nothing but good things about it. Not to mention this cover keeps calling to me.

Do these books sound like ones you would like to read too?
What upcoming releases are you looking forward to reading? 

*                         *                          *

If I am going to draw attention to the upcoming releases I long to add to my TBR pile, why not also give some love to those unread books already sitting on my shelves?

Books from the Back is a weekly meme, hosted by the wonderful Carole of&nnahnbsp;Carole's Random Life in Books to spotlight and discuss the neglected books sitting on our shelves still waiting to be read.. 

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #1) by Laurie R. King (Minotaur Books, 1994)
Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes' pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger. But when an elusive villain enters the picture, their partnership is put to a real test. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read it: As I mentioned above, I have heard nothing but great things about this series and have had this first book on my book shelf waiting to be read forever.  Well, it feels like forever (2010, if I'm honest). I don't know what's stopping me from reading it. I really don't.


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2015)
In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read it: Will I be the last one to read this book? It sounds just like the sort of book I would love from the World War II setting to the characterizations to the plot lines.

Have you read either of these (most of you have, I bet!)? Do you recommend 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, May 20, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well. ~ Opening of The Book of Unknown Americans

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
Knopf, 2014
Fiction; 286 pgs
Source: Going Postal Mail Group

The Book of Unknown Americans is a fitting title for this poignant story of two families, young love, and the obstacles one might face trying to find a place in a new culture and society. Maribel Rivera and her parents arrive at the Redwood Apartments in Delaware with very little. They left behind a relatively prosperous life in Mexico after an accident leaves Maribel with a traumatic brain injury. Her parents want the best for her, hoping a special school in the United States will bring their old daughter back to them. Then there is Mayor Toro who wishes he was more like his brother the soccer star and college student. His family has been in the United States for fifteen years, having come over from Panama, fleeing their war torn country.

Through Arturo and Alma Rivera, Maribel’s parents, the reader gets a real sense of what it was like for them: homesickness, being strangers to the country, not speaking the language, and adapting to their environment as best they can. Arturo was able to secure a work visa, but his job in the U.S. is a definite step down for what he had been doing in Mexico. The hours are long and the conditions are quite rough. Such a simple thing as finding a store and shopping is a challenge. The author conveys the loneliness and outsider-ness the Riveras feel so well. My heart broke from them. They left behind comfort and home for such a bland and cold place . . . There is one scene in which Alma gets lost, missing her stop while on the bus, and she struggles to make it back home, knowing her daughter is getting home from school and expecting her to greet her. My heart broke for Alma. Her desperation and fear. Unable to really communicate with those around her, not really knowing where she was.

It was interesting too to examine the relationships between the characters. Child and parent. Husband and wife. Brothers and friends. There was a definite strain in Alma and Arturo’s relationship—from the accident that injured Maribel to the move to a new country. And also in Rafael and Celia Toro’s marriage. The relationship between Mayor and his father is a tense one, Rafael’s expectations of his son are a particular strain on their relationship, and Mayor feels like he must lie to his father instead of telling him the truth.

Alma and Arturo very clearly love each other and their daughter, and will do just about anything for her. They aren’t quite sure what to make of the growing friendship between Maribel and the neighbor boy Mayor, but they are open to it as they begin to see improvement in their daughter’s condition. Mayor is taken by Maribel’s beauty from the very first, although put off by her initial—seemingly--disinterest. The more he gets to know her and the more he draws her out, and the closer they become. I came to really like Mayor and rooted for him and Maribel, even as their parents weren’t sure what to make of their growing closeness. The Riveras are very protective of their daughter, which is understandable.

Although the novel is mostly told from Alma and Mayor’s viewpoint, giving the reader a glimpse into the Rivera and Toro families, Hernandez also offers brief looks into the lives of the other residents of the Redwood Apartments, all immigrants, all with their own stories of struggle, loss, and hope. There is the photographer, army veteran, a small business owner, and a line cook, to name a few. They come from various Latin American countries, including Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, and even Puerto Rico. I would not have minded more of a chance to get to know some of the more minor characters and see them interact with the main ones. I think they all have stories worth reading.

Overall, I found The Book of Unknown Americans to be a thoughtful and emotion-filled read. Although it seems like a big of the story is meant focus on Mayor and Maribel’s story, I was most taken with the side stories and the struggles of the parents. Their stories felt more fleshed out and real to me. This is a novel of survival, family, love, hope—and yes, heartbreak. I am grateful to my Going Postal Mail Group for the opportunity to read it.

You can learn more about Cristina Henríquez and her books on the author's website She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

© 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, May 15, 2018

Wishing for Wednesday: Brief Cases & The Book of M

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.)

Brief Cases (The Dresden Files #15.1) by Jim Butcher
Release Date: June 5, 2018 by Ace

Why I want to read this one: The Dresden Files, featuring Chicago's very own Wizard Private Investigator, is one of my favorite series, and so is it any wonder I would be looking forward to reading even this short story collection by Jim Butcher, starring characters from the series?


The Book of M by Shepherd Peng
Release Date: June 5, 2018 by William Morrow
Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

Like The Passage and Station Eleven, this haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: I do not often read books like this, but I do enjoy them when I do. This one sounds like it will be both intense and emotional. I can't wait to read it.

Have you read the Dresden Files series? Do either one of these books appeal to you?
What upcoming releases are you looking forward to 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.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Weekly Mews: Happy Mother's Day & My May TBR 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. 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are mothers or in mother-like-roles, whether you have human or furkids (or both). I hope you are celebrating the day in style, whether it be something extravagant or a quiet day at home reading. My husband and daughter took me out for breakfast Saturday morning (to avoid the Sunday crowds).

My daughter calls days like today "in-climate weather days." Cloudy and gloomy. A little rain. We have set aside the sandals we wore earlier in the week, and have put our socks back on for the time being.

Gracie hasn't quite taken to the new kitten, but that was expected. The new kitten's name is Nina, courtesy of Mouse. She went back and forth between that and Fuzzy. My husband is relieved Nina won out. We have had her home for a week now, and she's made herself quite at home. She's a climber and a bit of a daredevil. We have been showering Gracie with extra love and attention to reassure her she's still queen of the house.

What I Am Reading: I am in the middle of Aimee Molloy's The Perfect Mother, a thriller about a missing infant and the mothers in a mommy group, all with their own secrets and drama. It's good so far!

What I Am Watching: I started watching Iron Fist the other day. It's one of the Marvel series on Netflix. I am actually quite enjoying it, despite the negative reviews I had come across when it first came out.

What I Am Worried About: I was able to get one car problem taken care of only to discover more work needs to be done. Fitting everything in I need and want to do. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed these days.

What I Am Looking Forward To: A Dairy Queen Blizzard. I have been craving one all week.

What I Am Grateful For: My cuddly cat and playful kitten. My daughter's zest for life and never-ending curiosity.

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


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). 

Many thanks to everyone who voted in this month's poll! I am very excited to get started on this month's winner, Victoria Gilbert's A Murder for the Books.

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

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss

I was going to jail.  ~ Opening of Pressed to Death

Pressed to Death (Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum #2) by Kirsten Weiss
Midnight Ink, 2017
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 338 pgs
Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series and was pleased with this second installment as well. The Harvest Festival is about to get underway and Maddie, owner of the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, just has to put the final touches on her display. Only, good ol’ Laurel, a detective with a chip on her shoulder, is accusing Maddie of being a thief. Evidently the former owner of the haunted grape press Maddie is using for her display has reported it stolen. Maddie knows it wasn’t. She got it fair and square from a collector who had bought it from the wife of the accuser. With the grape press taken as evidence, Maddie must get creative if she is going to put up a display at the festival. While there, she agrees to help her mother who is a part of the Ladies’ Aid Society set up their event. Then Maddie unwittingly discovers a body—the body of the very man who had accused Maddie of stealing his grape press. Of course, this puts her at the top of the suspect list.

Maddie does not want to investigate another murder. It isn’t her place after all. But it seems the town is taking bets, and her mother is applying pressure. Could the murder be related to someone in the Ladies’ Aid group whose members recently had a falling out? Perhaps one of the people the victim rubbed the wrong way? He wasn’t well liked after all. Or what about the outsider looking into buying up area vineyards? Maddie's mother is acting awfully strange and so are her friends for that matter. As Maddie tries to ascertain the truth, she must stay under the radar of Laurel as Laurel is determined to pin something on Maddie, no matter what it is. (Laurel’s grudge against Maddie is rather ridiculous if you ask me. I really do not like that woman.)

Maddie can’t help it that she’s been caught up in recent murders in town (both this and the first book in the series). They really aren’t her fault, are they? I love how in this novel she doesn’t start out investigating, but people seem to expect her to and so open up to her. Which, of course, leads to her asking questions.

On the personal front, Maddie’s boyfriend’s is hiding something, and while he praises Maddie’s understanding and patience, his long absences and failure to return her calls are weighing on her. Maddie isn’t sure she wants to know, and uses the murder investigation as an excuse not to confront him. I cannot say I am disappointed about this turn of events with Mason. It may open a door for Detective Slate, with whom, even in the first book, seems to have some sort of connection with Maddie. I quite like Detective Slate, and so would not mind if that’s the direction the series goes. Even so, I do like Mason.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the mystery involving a haunted object. In the first book, it was a photograph, and in this one it is the grape press. The grape press is sending out quite a few negative vibes and no one wants it around. Maddie isn’t exactly one to embrace the paranormal being rather skeptical herself, but she does love a good mystery. Finding out what happened to the two lovers associated with the grape press would certainly make a good story for the museum too.

This could easily be one of my favorite cozy mystery series given how much I have enjoyed the two books I have read so far. It is funny and entertaining, with the right dose of suspense and drama that keeps me wanting to come back and visit with the characters. Pressed in Death had plenty of twists that kept me guessing, although I had a strong suspicion of the whodunit early on. I need to make time soon to read the next book in the series, Deja Moo!

To learn more about Kirsten Weiss and her work, please visit the author's website. You can also find her on Twitter.

© 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.