Thursday, September 17, 2020

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Then and Now - A Peek Into Rules of Magic)

I had hoped to crack my current read open sooner than I actually managed to, but personal reading time seems to be in short supply these days. My daughter and I have been reading more together again (yay!) and have gotten into The Haunted Library series by Dori Hillestad Butler. We also discovered the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski, which Mouse insists we read more of--and soon.    

My personal bookmark is in The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman at the moment. I really hope I can carve out some quality reading time soon! I am enjoying what I have read so far.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. 

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. 

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse. 

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. [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 amazing Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.

Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. [opening of The Rules of Magic]

Initial Thoughts: I cannot tell if it is my enjoyment of Hoffman's writing or the opening itself that has me settling in right away for a well-written story. In terms of the opening line itself, it really does seem like "once upon a time" when thinking of being able to disappear like that.With social media and technology today, it takes a lot of effort to completely disappear and start again even putting on a new persona. 




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.


As it happened, Franny soon found herself pulled into consciousness in the middle of the night, awaking with a gasp. It was as if someone had reached into her soul and grabbed her to pull her from her sleep. Her name had been spoken, although how, and by whom, she had no idea. [excerpt from page 56 of The Rules of Magic]

My thoughts: I have had that feeling before, although I imagine it is for different reasons than it is for Franny. I wonder what woke her up? And what will she decides to find out?


Does The Rules of Magic sound like something you would like to read? What are you reading right now? 
A weekly meme in which readers look at what they were reading 
last year at this time and compare it to what they are reading now.  
Hosted by the great Maria from ReadingMaria.

In honor of Readers Imbibing Peril XV (R.I.P. XV) this year, I thought a book involving witches would be a great way to go. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I enjoy reading stories involving witches. And so at the beginning of the month, I enlisted you all to help me pick this month's TBR List book, and Alice Hoffman's The Rules of Magic won. I am not too far into it, but I have high hopes given how much I have enjoyed Hoffman's writing in the past. 

This time last year, I needed something light after reading a couple of dark reads in a row so turned to rom-com Well Met by Jen DeLuca, and what a delight it was! It is set around a Renaissance Faire, which just adds to the novel's charm. I definitely need more books like this in my life right no (Maybe the sequel, Well Played will be in my near future?). You can find my bookish thoughts on Well Met here.

 
These two books are quite a bit different from one another in terms of subject matter, although both focus some on characters carving out new paths for themselves in their lives. Having not gotten far into The Rules of Magic, it is hard to compare too much. I loved one and hope to love the other. 


What was the last book you read this past year around this time? How does it compare to your current read? Have you read Well Met? If so, what did you think?
*                    *                    *

A glimpse into what I was reading 5 years ago: 

 The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig











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


© 2020, 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, September 15, 2020

Waiting to Read Wednesday: The Tea Rose/ Murder at the PTA / A Wild Winter Swan / Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past


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 Tea Rose
(The Tea Rose #1) by Jennifer Donnelly (2002)
East London, 1888 - a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams. 

But Fiona's life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: This landed on my TBR pile in January of 2008. It likely came recommended or I saw it mentioned on someone's blog somewhere. My interest in historical fiction, especially one involving a caretaker who rises above that which would hold her down, is probably what drew me to The Tea Rose


Have you read The Tea Rose? Does this book sound like something you would like to read? 


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.


Murder at the PTA
(Maya and Sandra, #1) by Lee Hollis
Release Date: September 29, 2020 by Kensington
Someone is trying to turn Portland High into a school for scandal with a gossipy website called Dirty Laundry. The latest target of ruinous rumors is newly elected PTA president Sandra Wallage. After a heated meeting with outraged parents, Sandra runs into fellow school mom and private investigator Maya Kendrick, who's discovered the person behind the website. But when the women storm into the venomous gossip columnist’s office they find a lifeless body—along with a confession. Although the police rule the death a suicide, Maya suspects an injured party hung the Dirty Laundry creator out to dry. Maya already has a PI partner—but she's pregnant, and sonograms and stakeouts tend to conflict. So when Sandra volunteers for a crash course in sleuthing, Maya accepts the help. But as these unlikely partners study the clues, a killer plans to teach them a lesson . . . [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: So I admit it was the title that grabbed me first. But I do enjoy a good cozy mystery, and this sounds like it will be fun. 


A Wild Winter Swan
by Gregory Maguire
Release Date: October 6, 2020 by William Morrow
After brilliantly reimagining the worlds of Oz, Wonderland, Dickensian London, and the Nutcracker, the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked turns his unconventional genius to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans," transforming this classic tale into an Italian-American girl's poignant coming-of-age story, set amid the magic of Christmas in 1960s New York.

Following her brother's death and her mother's emotional breakdown, Laura now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a lonely townhouse she shares with her old-world, strict, often querulous grandparents. But the arrangement may be temporary. The quiet, awkward teenager has been getting into trouble at home and has been expelled from her high school for throwing a record album at a popular girl who bullied her. When Christmas is over and the new year begins, Laura may find herself at boarding school in Montreal.

Nearly unmoored from reality through her panic and submerged grief, Laura is startled when a handsome swan boy with only one wing lands on her roof. Hiding him from her ever-bickering grandparents, Laura tries to build the swan boy a wing so he can fly home. But the task is too difficult to accomplish herself. Little does Laura know that her struggle to find help for her new friend parallels that of her grandparents, who are desperate for a distant relative’s financial aid to save the family store.

As he explores themes of class, isolation, family, and the dangerous yearning to be saved by a power greater than ourselves, Gregory Maguire conjures a haunting, beautiful tale of magical realism that illuminates one young woman’s heartbreak and hope as she begins the inevitable journey to adulthood.
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: Maguire is known for his gift of re-spinning fairy tales in unique and different ways. I would like to see what he does with this one.


Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past
(A Salem B&B Mystery #3) by Traci Wilton

Release Date: September 29, 2020 by Kensington
Salem, Massachusetts B&B owner Charlene Morris is looking into a holiday hit-and-run, with a little help from her ghostly housemate . . .

Charlene's parents are in town for Christmas, and her mother is driving her up a tree. Her bed-and-breakfast's resident ghost, Jack, isn't fond of her either--and he's showing it with some haunting high jinks. But when Charlene takes her mom and dad out for dinner, the less-than-seasonal spirits take a deadly turn.

David Baldwin has just won a fortune in the lottery--and it adds a lot of drama to the charity auction he's hosting at his restaurant. When he caps off the evening by playing Santa and handing out checks to some of the attendees, the mood shifts . . . and Charlene observes mysterious tensions between David and his flashy, bleached-blonde wife, his neglected teenage son from a previous marriage, and his hostile business partner, among others. And they're only a few on the long list of potential suspects when David runs into the road and is mowed down by a fleeing motorist. Now it looks like it's going to be homicide for the holidays . . .
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: One of the many paranormal cozy mystery series that has been on my radar for quite a while now, but which I have yet to start. One of these days . . . Doesn't it sound good?!


Do any of these books interest you? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to reading?


© 2020, 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, September 13, 2020

My Bookish Mewsings: A Curious Beginning / A Study in Scarlet Women



I stared down into the open grave and wished that I could summon a tear.
 ~ Opening of A Curious Beginning

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
Berkley, 2015
Crime Fiction/Historical Fiction; 339 pgs
Source: NetGalley

The first in the series, A Curious Beginning introduces readers to scientifically-minded and free-thinking Veronica Speedwell. She is a woman out of her time, speaking her mind no matter the consequence and valuing her independence. She earns her own living and travels the world, and engages in romantic dalliances with no strings attached. When her aunt dies, Veronica sets off to find adventure, only to find herself drawn into an unexpected mystery when someone tries to kidnap her. Then a kindly baron who tries to help her is murdered. She still cannot imagine why anyone would target her. Joining forces with a friend of the baron's, Veronica and Stoker go on the run to not only protect Veronica, but also to find out just who is behind the plot and why. 

Just as I loved Veronica's character, I also fell for the reclusive and rather cantankerous Stoker. He and Veronica are well-matched in wit and intelligence. Stoker is a natural historian who is not so forthcoming about his past. This historical mystery was such a delight to read. I loved the banter between Stoker and Veronica, seeing the slow flame of romance grow between them, and enjoyed seeing the directions the twists and turns took me. I really like Deanna Raybourn's writing style, including her ability to make me feel like I am right there in the pages of the story. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. 


Had anyone told Honorable Harrington Sackville that the investigation into his death would make the name Sherlock Holmes known throughout the land, Mr. Sackville would have scoffed. 
~ Opening of The Study in Scarlet Women


The Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock, #1) by Sherry Thomas
Berkley, 2016
Crime Fiction/Historical; 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley

I admit I wondered if The Study in Scarlet Women was in fact a historical mystery as I initially settled into it.  The author spends quite a bit of time setting up the characters and their situations, letting us into just who and how Charlotte Holmes became the mysterious and well-renowned Sherlock Holmes (because women just didn't do that kind of thing then--not if they wanted to be taken seriously). That is not to say I did not enjoy that aspect of the novel. I did. It was just a bit slow during the first portion, but it eventually did pick up speed. 

Charlotte Holmes has never quite felt like she fit in with the other women of the upper class society she was raised around. A sharp mind, excellent memory, a wish to never marry (despite her father's most adamant wishes), nor does she want to run a household in the traditional sense. She wants to make her own way in the world as an independent woman. And so she does the only thing she can think of: ruin her reputation and run away. 

Charlotte has always been good at deduction and solving riddles. She finds she has a knack for solving crimes as well. She is the first to see connection between three seemingly separate murders, one of which has cast suspicion on her own family. With the kind-hearted widow, Mrs. Watson, a determined police inspector and and old friend, Charlotte sets out to find the real killer and clear her family name. 

I enjoyed this twist on the Sherlock Holmes canon with both Holmes and Watson being women. The opening of the novel pulled me right in--oh my gosh what a fun beginning that was! Charlotte is a formidable character, and I adored Mrs. Watson. The mystery was interesting, although sometimes it felt like it was secondary to all else that was going on in the novel. I am definitely interested in continuing with this series and seeing what Mrs. Watson and Holmes get up to next.  


© 2020, 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, September 12, 2020

Weekly Mews: Pushing Through

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by 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 The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants discuss what they are reading and other bookish topics. 







What I Am Reading: I currently am reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and about to start this month's TBR winner. Last week I finished reading Don't Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross, which I really enjoyed (review to come). I finished it with a big smile on my face.

What I Am Watching: We recently watched the live action Disney version of Mulan. I had read enough about it to know it would be quite different from the animated version. There were aspects that could have benefited from being beefed up, but we all really enjoyed it.

Off the Blog:  The air quality is terrible from all the fires in the state, including the one nearest to us. My great-aunt and her partner in Washington state are having to deal with fires up their way too. Fires are blazing all over the western United States right now. My heart goes out to the fire fighters battling them, and the people and animals impacted.

As the temperature soared last weekend to 117F, we got our flu shots, treated ourselves to Diary Queen ice cream, popped popcorn and watched a movie, and enjoyed the extra day free of work and school. It was a much needed break!

This past week kind of got away from me blogging wise. This time of year is always emotional for me, it being the anniversary of my grandmother and father's death. Work was extremely busy and my daughter needed extra support with her school work. The honeymoon has passed, I think.

Dress rehearsals began this Saturday for Mouse's summer fall ballet and musical shows which will be performed live on Zoom. We cleared a spot in our dining area for her to perform. We need to make a few more preparations for it to be performance ready, but we should have everything in place by show time. I will be honest. It has been an emotional run this time around with COVID-19 and so much up in the air these past few months. All but two dancers will be performing the final shows in studio, Mouse being one of those who will not be. Our county is still under strict orders given our not yet meeting the state's benchmarks. This first dress rehearsal was rough for Mouse, being apart from everyone else. She eventually settled into it though. We had originally planned to pull her out completely, but the dance studio directors offered to let her perform from home. She's been preparing since February for this and had the disappointment of not only having to attend rehearsals via Zoom, but also having the shows postponed. And now here we are. She wants to perform, and, while we have no idea what it will look like or how it will turn out, at least she will get to see it through to the end. 

Mouse has two friends' birthday parties scheduled for this Sunday, both tea party themes. Party treats and games were dropped off at our house tonight and presents picked up. Mouse is excited about celebrating with her friends.


Speaking of birthdays. I had one this past week. My husband and daughter treated me to take out from one of my favorite restaurants, roses and cake! Remind me next year though to take my birthday off work, will you?



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). 





Thank you to everyone who voted! It was not much of a competition. Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic won with 13 votes! Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw came in second with 8 votes, and The Black Witch by Laurie Forest brought in 5 votes. 

The Rules of Magic
 (Practical Magic Prequel) by Alice Hoffman  

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. 

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. 

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse. 

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. [Goodreads Summary]

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


© 2020, 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, September 10, 2020

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Then & Now - And a Peek into Wonder)

Mouse is reading Wonder (Wonder #1) by R.J. Palacio for school right now, and I thought I would read along as well since I had never read it, but have been meaning to. Plus, I hear the movie is good, and I had been putting off seeing it because I had yet to read the book. 


I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. 

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. [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 amazing Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.

I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. tuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go. [opening of Wonder]

My initial thought: I have heard so many wonderful things about this book that it is hard to go into it without high expectations. I do love this introduction. It lets the reader into the heart of the August, our main character, instantly. And while we may not be in his exact position with his same problems, how often have we, as children and as adults, felt out of place? There's something very relatable about August right from the very start.




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's very pretty," Mom said.

"Yeah, I know," I answered, "We're kind of like Beauty and the Beast."

I didn't want to see Mom's reaction. I just started running down the sidewalk after the rock, which I had kicked as hard as I could in front of me. [excerpt from page 56 of Wonder]

My thoughts: I have not yet reached this point in the book yet, but I do want to know more about this girl and Auggie's feelings toward her. I really like the narrative voice in Palacio's novel. She really brings August to life.


Have you read Wonder? If so, what did you think? What are you reading today?

A weekly meme in which readers look at what they were reading 
last year at this time and compare it to what they are reading now.  
Hosted by the great Maria from ReadingMaria.

My daughter is reading more on her own these days than with me. She has also moved away from reading picture books like the one below. I am so excited that she has entered the realm of middle grade books because there are so many I have fond memories of that I hope she will read and enjoy too. But I also am excited about exploring new books with her, like Wonder.   

I am pretty sure that when I added Wonder to our personal library my daughter did not have much interest in it. I, however, really wanted this one for her (and me) because I want to expand her world. That was also the reason The Journey by Francesca Sanna ended up on my shelf, despite my daughter's not being sure about it. It was an opportunity to introduce my daughter to a way of life or experience that is different from her own. 

It was this week last year that she and I read The Journey together, the story of a young refugee girl and her family's flight from their home country in search of a new place to call home.



The artwork is really what made this book for me; the story it tells and the emotions it draws out. Admittedly, some of the darker images scared my daughter a bit, but this proved to be a great discussion starter about immigration and the plight of refugees. Wonder is proving to be its own discussion starter as well. And while it took her teacher to jump start us reading Wonder, I am grateful to finally be doing so.


What was the last book you read this past year around this time? How does it compare to what you are reading now? Have you read The Journey? If so, what did you think?
*                    *                    *

A glimpse into what I was reading 5 years ago: 













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


© 2020, 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.