Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday Teasers

A little tease from where I was:
With the boys Cerise had to do things their mother's way, striving to hover near the mark, as if she was never really alone with them, and this was what she could save back - hoard - for Sophie, that delicious feeling of going home on the bus to just us two.
~ pg 50 of "Slender Little Thing" from The Mechanics of Falling and Other Stories by Catherine Brady

A little tease from where I am:
She hung up. He now understood his chemistry teacher's notion of disassociation energy - very draining - and he wished he were bromine. Cherish every moment of diatomic moleculehood.
~ pg 98 The Brightest Moon of the Century by Christopher Meeks

A little tease from where I will be:
The weather service had promised fine weather for the entire weekend, but their promises were not very dependable. In Irene's opinion, you could put more stock in Eva Moller's crystal balls and spells, or magical formulas.
pg 216 The Glass Devil by Helene Tursten

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday At the Movies: Soundtracks & Twilight

The Monday Movie Meme is brought to you by The Bumbles.

This week's movie topic is all about Soundtracks . . .
We watched Dog Day Afternoon a few weekends ago and it dawned on me as we watched that other than Elton John's "Amoreena" in the opening scene, there is not another note of music during the entire film. Not much of a soundtrack opportunity there. Typically, music plays such an important role in movies. Itzhak Perlman's haunting violin lives in the background of Schindler's List seamlessly setting the tone, whereas the ominous notes in Jaws jump right out to signal the villian. Songs carefully chosen for their lyrics or their tone can boost a scene too. These days, it seems the songs off of the soundtrack albums are more successful than the movies they appear in. Here are some of our favorite soundtrack albums - and we happen to think the movies were pretty entertaining too. What about you?

There was a time when I bought the soundtrack to every movie I saw. Well, just about. I love music. And movies. The combination together can be breathtaking when the right music is added to the right movie.

Some of my favorite soundtracks include (I am limiting it to 10 because my list could go on forever):

Slumdog Millionaire
The Princess Bride
Forrest Gump
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More with Feeling (I know this isn't a movie, but I couldn't leave it out)
‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?
St. Elmo's Fire
Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion
Runaway Bride
Sleepless in Seattle
Swing Kids

Monday's Movie hosted by Sheri at A Novel Menagerie

My husband and I cuddled on the couch Friday night and watched Twilight, which came out last week on DVD. My Harry Potter/Twilight fanatic friend was getting on my case just about every day, wondering when I was going to watch it. It was my husband's second time seeing the movie and my third.

For your sake, I am going to skip reviewing it again. One review is enough. I enjoyed watching it again and my impressions of the movie haven't really changed all that much. The sparkly forest scene--if you've read the books or seen the movie, you know what I mean--actually didn't look nearly as ridiculous on my television set as it did on the silver screen. My husband said it had to do with the resolution. It's not the greatest movie. Call it a guilty pleasure, if you will. There's just something that keeps me wanting to come back to it. I am really curious to see how New Moon turns out come winter.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Salon: A Reading Retrospective, March 2004

I wish I had kept a blog in March of 2004. Some of you might have enjoyed reading about my jury experience. I could not talk about the case at the time, but I kept a detailed journal of the entire process as it unfolded. There was the juror who showed up hungover almost every day and was actually under the influence one day. That was the day he fell asleep right in the middle of the autopsy photo presentation. I met a couple of nice women and we spent our lunch breaks together for the duration of the trial, although sometimes I would slip away to fit in a little reading.

It was a murder trial. A man had killed his live-in girlfriend by beating her to death. They were both heavily under the influence of alcohol at the time. It was my first experience on a jury. I was fascinated by the entire criminal court process. Up to that point in time, my job had taken me into other coutrooms, but nothing like this. Looking back, maybe reading a legal thriller would have been fitting considering the circumstances.

Then again, spending time in the Dark Realm was probably the wiser choice--something completely different from what was going on in the real world. The horrors of real life could be kept separate from the world I was escaping to in the pages of my books.

Daughter of the Blood was my first introduction to Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy. I actually had my doubts about the book at first. I had a hard time getting a firm hold on the sense of place and time. But that soon changed as I grew closer to the characters. and became more involved with the story. Anne Bishop has a way of drawing out her characters, bringing out their emotions and making them seem like flesh and blood. It was hard not to feel a part of the story and the events as they unfolded.

I still remember the moment I finished Daughter of Blood. I was addicted and I needed my next fix. I couldn't wait for the next book in the series and dragged my husband to the bookstore to pick up a copy of the next book in the trilogy. I flew through both Heir to the Shadows and Queen of the Darkness. I was completely mesmerized.

The Black Jewel books are dark and fantastical. They are filled with magic and struggles for power. They are sensual at times and cruel at others. There are other books set in the Dark Realm as well. I have read all but the two most recent ones.

I was disappointed when I went back to read my reviews of the trilogy books just now. They do not fully convey the appreciation I felt for the books then and now. I at least rated them well.

The murder trial came to a close for me when the verdict was read. It had been an eye opening experience. I got to see what the jury process was like first hand. While it was an exciting process to be a part of, it was also a very sad one. A crime had been committed and a family was irrevocably broken. Those are wounds that no one will ever completely heal from. Not the dead woman's children nor her parents. Not even the defendant who is serving a good part of his life behind bars.

I chose to read something on the lighter side at that point in time. I needed something that would make me laugh. I ended up reading an early release copy of Steve Kluger's Almost Like Being in Love, which I had gotten through the Harper Collins First Look Program. Baseball and love. A great way to start off the spring season and step away from the tragedy I had just been a part of, however indirectly. My journal entry about this book ended with the statement: "I found myself swept up in the story, chuckling throughout, and hoping love would win out in the end."

Have you ever sat on a jury? What did you think of the experience? Do you remember what books kept you company during the breaks? If you have never been on a jury or end up on one again, what sort of book do you think you would want to bring along to read when you had a free moment?

I currently am immersed in a collection of short stories by Catherine Brady. It is called The Mechanics of Falling and Other Stories. She has a great way with words. I look forward to finishing it up and hope you will stop by to read my review later this week.

Week in Review:
Monday at the Theater: Grease
Tuesday Adventures
Reviews: Presenting Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville (4 reviews)
My Review Policy
Mail Call and Friday Fill-Ins

Friday, March 27, 2009

TGIF: Mail Call & Friday Fill Ins

Last Friday I was complaining about stolen mail. This week my mail thief must have been on spring break. It was as if the mail gods had heard me and decided to reward me for my recent suffering. This week's Mailbox Monday on Friday, I have several books to report.

The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice (Many thanks to Joy from Thoughts of Joy who sent me this one!)
The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris
The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black

This week, Janet took the first sentence in 6 of my favorite books...you fill them in...with the right words or even better, ones of your own.

And...here we go!

I guessed a few of these without trying too hard, but for the sake of the meme thought it would be more fun to make up my own responses.

1. "In a hole in the ground there lived a family of ishkabiddles."

2. "I was unable to visit the bookstore last week but that ain't no matter."

3. "After dark the rain began to fall again, and I curled up under my afghan with my book."

4. "Rats are coming up from the hold of the Spanish galleon."

5. "There was a hand in the darkness, and it reached for my book."

6. "Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, and so she was surprised when she danced her way right into a tumble down the stairs."

7. And as for the weekend, today I'm not especially looking forward to my early morning dentist visit followed by a trip to the veterinarian to see if Parker's health has improved; tomorrow my plans include a spring walk and catching up with errands; and Sunday, I want to spend the day visiting with you, reading, and preparing for the week ahead!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review Policy

Book Review Policy

Welcome to Musings of a Bookish Kitty.  My name is Wendy, aka Literary Feline.  Musings of a Bookish Kitty is simply the place I come to talk about books and share other random thoughts. I strive to create an informal and friendly atmosphere where readers can commiserate, trade book recommendations, and discuss books and other bookish topics.

Reading is a passion of mine, but it is not my profession.  My priority is my family, followed by my career (unrelated to reading and books).  As a result, I read and blog when I can.  I make no money and receive no compensation for keeping my blog up or writing reviews. I have my own stack of books to read in addition to any review books that may come my way. It is a continuous struggle to find a balance between the two.

Review Policy:

I am only considering review requests on a very limited basis at this time due to time constraints and other obligations. 

What you need to know:
  • I accept both e-books and print books, although at this time I prefer to review books in e-format.
  • Sending me a book for review is no guarantee it will be reviewed on my blog.
  • I accept books for review only when I think it will be a book I will enjoy reading.  I read for pleasure and do not want reading to become a chore.
  • I write only honest reviews of the books I read and review.  I do my best to be fair in my reviews.  When I do write a negative review, I try to find something positive to say along with the negative.  I am a strong believer that while I might not like a book, it doesn't mean someone else will not like it. 
  • If I am unable to finish reading a book I have started, I will state so on my blog and list my reasons why.
  • Because of other priorities in my life, I am not always able to get to books as quickly as I (or you) might like. I prefer not to read on deadline unless it's for a pre-arranged book tour.  I need 3 to 4 weeks to prepare (read the book and write the review)  for a book tour date.  
  • I cross post my reviews to GoodReads and LibraryThing.
  • If you are interested in contacting me, please e-mail me at literaryfeline[AT]gmail[Dot]com. 
Genres I will consider for review:
Crime Fiction (mysteries and suspense/thrillers)
Science Fiction/Fantasy (urban, traditional and paranormal)
Contemporary Fiction
Literary Fiction
Historical Fiction
Women's Fiction
Young Adult (fantasy/paranormal only, please)
Middle Grade

Types of books I WILL NOT consider for review:
Self-help books
Christian fiction

ARC and Galley Copies:  I do not sell the print ARC's sent to me. I sometimes do hold giveaways for the readers of my blog and will give away the ARC or review books sent to me. If this is a problem, please let me know ahead of time, and I will respect your wishes. E-galleys are deleted.

Disclosure:  I review books I purchase myself, books borrowed from the library, and books given to me as gifts or on loan from friends and family.  I also review books sent to me by publishers, publicists, and authors. 

Privacy:  For giveaways, I often request personal information in order to contact the winners and send them their prizes.  Any information provided by participants in the giveaway is kept completely private and is never sold or shared with a third party unless the party is involved in the giveaway by way of providing and shipping the prize in question.  All personal information obtained for a giveaway is destroyed upon completion of the transaction.

Rating System: I no longer rate the books I read on my blog, however, I do rate them on Goodreads. I rate books on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being outstanding and a 3 being good.  You can refer to my rating system here for further explanation.  All ratings are subjective based on my enjoyment of a book.  I take into account writing, characterization, the plot, setting and my over all feel for the book.  The opinions expressed in my reviews and in the rating are strictly my own.

Thank you for taking the time to visit. If you have any questions drop me a line at literaryfeline[AT]gmail[Dot]com.

© 2006-2021, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Presenting Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville (Four Reviews)

I have done my best to keep each of these reviews spoiler free (unless you count a little synopsis as a spoiler), despite the fact that this is an ongoing series. While each of the books in this series can be read as a stand alone, the background stories are overreaching and quite revealing. The two most recent books published have a tiny hint of a cliff hanger at the end, promising more trouble to come. I recommend the reader read them in order if possible.

The series begins with Kitty and The Midnight Hour, which I read before my blogging days. Kitty Goes to Washington followed close on its heels (click on the title for my review). The following are my thoughts on the next four books in the series.

Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn
Warner Brothers, 2007
Fantasy; 303 pgs

Ever since striking out on her own after being exiled from her pack in Denver, Kitty, the country's most famous werewolf and radio talk show host, has had it rough. Her trip to Washington only added to her now complicated life. She wants nothing more than to spend some quiet time alone and work on her memoir. A cabin in rural Colorado is the perfect getaway--or so she believes until strange things begin happening around her. A dead rabbit is left on her porch long with a cross painted on her door in blood. An evil lurks outside her door, one she cannot quite identify. With the police wanting to pin recent animal deaths in the area on her, Kitty must figure out what is going on. Old friend Cormac, the werewolf bounty hunter, and her attorney, Ben, are more than willing to help, although they come with their own baggage.

Amidst all of that, Kitty takes in a newly turned werewolf and has to reach inside herself to find the strength to be the alpha, a role completely opposite the one she was in at the beginning of Kitty and the Midnight Hour. Kitty is an amazingly strong woman, however, she doesn't quite realize that. Remnants from her abusive past have left their scars and will carry over into the next book in the series as well. At times, she lets her fears get the better of her, but she always manages to come through in the end.

Kitty Takes a Holiday is not quite as fast paced as the other novels in the series, but it does allow the character time to process much of what has been happening to her over the past few months, which I think adds a hint of realism to this urban fantasy series—grounding it in a sense. This particular book carries a number of different story threads, some intersecting better than others. It feels like a transitional book. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but felt there were a couple of minor loose ends that should have been resolved. Perhaps I have that to look forward to in future books!

Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central Publishing, 2008
Fantasy; 326 pgs

I was more than ready to dive into Carrie Vaughn's next Kitty Norville book after finishing Kitty Takes a Holiday. The mood was right and I was not quite ready to say goodbye to the characters just yet, however temporary. I wasn't disappointed.

Kitty and her new mate have settled in Pueblo, Colorado, far enough away from Denver not to cause problems, but close enough to continue with her radio show at KNOB. Her talk show is one of a kind. She reaches out to supernatural beings and others who want to learn more about them. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Kitty rushes home to Denver and finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between two powerful vampires. Despite her best intentions to stay neutral, Kitty is forced to choose sides. Her former pack leader wants her dead and will not rest until she is. With the werewolves and vampires on the brink of war and a powerful werewolf out for her blood, Denver is not the safest place to be--not even with the new supernatural police unit lead by Detective Hardin on the case.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and entertaining. Kitty is coming into her own as an alpha wolf, still struggling with her former life and her new one. She is not a violent person and would prefer to talk things out, but even she realizes that the ideal is often not the reality. Kitty must make some very difficult decisions, and she isn't quite sure she is up to being the one to make them. Her insecurities come to the forefront in this novel.

I am still not quite sure how I feel about her love interest. I like him very much as a character, and perhaps my hesitation to fully accept them as a couple comes from the fact that I am not sure the sparks between she and another man from her past have fully had a chance to die out. Still, her current relationship makes more sense for practical purposes, and I do hope they will be happy together.

One of many things I like about Carrie Vaughn's series is that it is dark and a bit on the gritty side, while at the same time remaining easy reading. Carrie Vaughn is one of my comfort authors.

Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand by Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central Publishing, 2009
Fantasy; 301 pgs

Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: 2009 Pub Challenge & Buy One Book and Read It Challenge

Kitty heads out of town again, this time for Las Vegas. She somehow was talked into hosting a live television special in the City of Sin and in delivering a message from Denver’s Master Vampire to the one in Las Vegas. Add to that a wedding, a poker tournament and mobsters; what could be more fitting for the setting of this novel?

Kitty is booked into the same hotel that is hosting a gun show and some of the conference goers are not too keen on her kind. It does not take much to make an enemy of someone who already has it in for you. Where Kitty goes, you can be sure magic and danger will be close behind, and sure enough, Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand has some of both. Las Vegas is the home of many secrets and Kitty quickly finds herself tangled up in the middle of several.

Although I liked Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand, it got off to a slow start. Considering the characters that needed to be introduced for the set up of the various plot threads, including the main one, it probably could not have been done any other way. In addition, I wish the author had gone a little farther with certain threads in the novel, but perhaps that was in part due to the limitations of a first person narrative.

Something I really liked about Kitty in this book is how she used her cell phone to warn her friends when she was about to jump into trouble. Sure, she didn’t stay put like she promised and ran head first into trouble all by herself. But at least she reached out for help, even if a little later than she should have.

One of the strongest things Kitty has going for her are her friends and how they will stand by her during the worst of moments. Kitty may not be able to tackle the biggest evil in the world on her own, but she is a team player—most of the time—and she is not afraid to stand up for herself no matter how afraid she might be.

Carrie Vaughn has created an interesting storyline which holds a lot of promise in developing further in future books. Although this was not my favorite book in the series, Kitty and her friends continue to keep me entertained and interested in their adventures.

Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central Publishing, 2009 (ARC)
Fantasy; 336 pgs

Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: ARC Challenge & 2009 Pub Challenge

Trouble seems to follow Kitty no matter where she goes, and it certainly has found her in Denver. Something is stalking her and threatening her pack. She is up against a supernatural force she cannot explain, much less name. Seeking help from the crew of a televised paranormal investigation show, maybe she will be able to figure out who or what is behind the strange happenings and learn how to stop it before it wrecks even more havoc than it has already.

She also is offered help from another source; a mysterious vampire offers his services but for a price. His price is high and both the Master Vampire of Denver and Kitty are unsure they can trust the man who says he is the only one who can stop the foe they are up against. As danger draws closer takes the life of someone close to her, Kitty is desperate and willing to try anything to save her friends and family.

I am beginning to see a pattern with the Kitty Norville books. I appear to like the novels that take place in Denver best (although I really liked Kitty Goes to Washington too). Kitty seems more settled in this book, although not completely. Her position in the pack is somewhat tenuous, especially with an evil after her that she knows so little about.

Carrie Vaughn continues to add new and interesting characters to the series as well as bring back old ones that I am eager to learn more about. The longer the series goes on, the more I like the character of vampire Rick. Kitty has a good ally in him even though they do not always see eye to eye. And I was pleased to see Odysseus Grant reappear—there’s still so much to learn about him!

Kitty Raises Hell is a great addition to the series. It was different and fun. I look forward to meeting up with Kitty and friends again in the near future.

Many thanks to Miriam from Hachette for providing me with a copy of Kitty Raises Hell.

Be sure and stop in and visit the author's website!

See what others on the blog tour thought of the Kitty books:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Adventures

I am worn out and tired. Tired of watching over my shoulder and worrying about those under my protection. I am their alpha and I must do what I have to do. Some sort of evil is out to get me. It has set foot in my Denver hometown. I have to get to the bottom of this before anyone gets seriously hurt--or worse.

~ I currently am lost in the world of Kitty Norville in Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn

A little tease from where I have been:
The first time Rick came to the New Moon, I had to invite him in. I shouldn't have had to.
~ pg 46 of Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn

A little tease from what I have to look forward to this week:
Clay wakes up in the bathub, naked. He pulls himself up on his elbows: he's bone dry and so is the tub, and his bass guitar is perched upright on the toilet seat.
~ pg 86 of The Mechanics of Falling and Other Stories by Catherine Brady

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday At The Movies (& Theater) & Eye Candy

Monday's Movie hosted by Sheri at A Novel Menagerie

Movie: Grease (1978)
Genre: ‎Comedy, Romance, Musical
MPAA Rating: G
Directed By: Randal Kleiser
Writers: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey (musical) & Allan Carr (adaptation) & Bronte Woodard (screenplay)
Rating: 5 Bags of Popcorn (Just Because)

I couldn't be more excited. It was my first day on campus. My first day in my dorm room. I was a freshman in college. My parents and I had just said our goodbyes, my mom and I in tears. A sudden wave of loneliness washed over me. I turned to my trusty old television set with the rabbit ears antenna and discovered the reception was horrible. Amidst all the channels I tried, I found one where the white noise was bearable even if the picture was not coming through. The sounds from the movie Grease filled the room.

A young woman heard the music coming from my doorway and stopped in to say hello. Like me, she was alone at this new school with no friends or acquaintances. At least not until that moment. We got to talking and suddenly I felt better. I am sure she did too.

I cannot remember the first time I saw the movie. I only know it has always been one of my favorite musical films. Even though I sometimes still huff about the fact that Sandy ended up having to turn into a "bad girl" to get her man, I have never lost my love for the music and story.

When I got the opportunity to see the stage production of the musical earlier this month, I was floating in the clouds. I worried that it would be a let down having grown up on the movie. Could I get past the fact that Olivia Newton John and John Travolta would not be playing Sandy and Danny? And what about Stockard Channing? No one can replace her as Betty Rizzo. Still, the opportunity to see the performance live was too good to pass up.

I had not known the history behind the musical in its original incarnation. I had not known that changes were made, songs added, when the movie version of the musical came out in 1978. Although it really should not have come as a surprise. Jim Jacobs, one of the writers, put in bits of his own life, people from his past into the musical. The T-Birds were based on the Burger Palace Boys, a real life gang in Chicago.

I wish I had been able to see the musical in its original form, although I imagine it would not be quite the same--it probably wouldn't have felt quite right to me, having only known the film version. The stage production my husband and I enjoyed the weekend before last was more closely based on the film, although it was, in some ways, still true to its roots. True to Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's dream, the stage production is more about the gang--the group as a whole--then it is about the individuals.

My husband and I had a great time. It was hard not to sing along (silently) and smile throughout the show. The performers did a wonderful job. I wished I could be right there with them on the stage.

American Idol fans might be interested to know that American Idol Taylor Hicks played the part of the Teen Angel. I have to admit that Beauty School Drop Out is my least favorite song in the film, and even after the stage show, it is still among my least favorites, Taylor Hicks notwithstanding. He did a fine job, just the same. I missed the season of American Idol in which he won and so wasn't familiar with him all that much, other than in name. The crowd in the theater went wild when he came on stage--it's obvious he has fans out there. After the show, he came out and performed a single from his new album, From a Distance. Both my husband and I were impressed.

One of the parts of the show I enjoyed the most was when Dominic Fortuna came onto the stage 10 minutes before the start of the show. He was in his role of Vince Fontaine, radio DJ. He was a hoot. He had us all laughing, waving our arms, dancing in our seats and having a fun time. It was a fantastic way to start off the show.

Musical: Grease
Genre: ‎Comedy, Romance, Musical
Directed By: Kathleen Marshall (Director and Choreographer) & Tom Whiddon (Music)
Writers: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey

The Monday Movie Meme is brought to you by The Bumbles.

This week's movie topic is all about Eye Candy . . .
We all appreciate quality filmmaking, but sometimes you just want to appreciate the image on the screen, and we're not talking about the cinematography! There are times when an actor or actress is put in the film purely for their looks and then there are times when they win the role purely on acting chops but their physical presence is distracting anyway. Here are some examples of our favorites. What about you?

Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Paul Bettany (I especially liked him in Inkheart where he plays the part of Dustfinger)

Will Smith (Do I have to specify a movie? He's good to look at in anything he does!)

Johnny Depp (Even when in character, as crazy looking as can be, there's still something mesmerizing about this man in any role he plays.)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan in P.S. I Love You (Okay, so I am more a fan of his in his television appearances: Supernatural and Grey's Anatomy. But still. )

Naveen Andrews (I adore this guy on the television show Lost. But he was in The Brave One and Bride and Prejudice, both of which I saw and enjoyed, and so I'm sneaking him in on a technicality.)

Daniel Dae Kim (Same goes for Daniel Dae Kim. I don't remember him at all in Crash--although I loved the movie--or in Spiderman 2, another movie I really liked, but he was there. IMDB says so!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Salon: Random Bookish Thoughts

I am feeling lazy today, and so I thought I would post a few random bookish thoughts for the Sunday Salon.

  • Many thanks to all of you for your book recommendations last month for my coworker who is interested in discovering the love of reading. For those who may not know, he wants to read two books this year, which is a big deal considering he doesn't even read one book a year right now.
  • He currently is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.
  • He's only just started it, and so I haven't asked him what he thinks yet.
  • My other coworker, the one who turns his nose up to reading, didn't take the bait when a friend and I left a copy of Marley and Me on his desk.
  • The book ended up in the break room for general consumption.
  • At least he did not toss it in the trash.
  • I am reading the sixth book in the Kitty Norville series, Kitty Raises Hell, by Carrie Vaughn right now.
  • I have read three of her books back to back this past week and a half and this will make the fourth.
  • Considering the little cliff hanger at the end of the last book in the series, it was a no brainer that I would jump into my current book right away.
  • The advantage to reading series books back to back is that the characters and world stay fresh in my mind.
  • I am glad though that this is the last book I have in the series to read right now. I'm ready for a change of scenery.
  • I know my limit well and recognize when it's time to step away from a series to avoid burn out.
  • I usually mix up my reading more, but sometimes I like to linger in a series for a few books before moving on.
  • I like how Carrie Vaughn handles the whole re-introduction and catch-the-reader up thing.
  • She does it naturally and without it seeming like overkill to someone like me who is reading the books back to back.
  • My husband, Anjin, is still on a Hard Case Crime novel kick.
  • He recently reviewed The Dead Man's Brother by Roger Zelanzy on his blog.
  • Anjin is currently reading The Cutie by Donald E. Westlake.
  • One of my coworkers told me the other day that I cannot leave for lunch without telling them where I am going (book wise).
  • She and her cubicle mates enjoy hearing about my lunch time reading adventures.
  • I did not go to the bookstore this past week.
  • Happy reading!

Friday, March 20, 2009

TGIF: Weekly Meme Fun

This week's Musings Monday question:

We were all warned as children to 'never talk to strangers', but how do you feel about book-talk with random people? When you see people reading, do you ask what it is? Do you talk to people in the book store or the library? Why or why not? What do you do if people talk to you? (question courtesy of Dena)
"Excuse me. Pardon me. Oh! I'm sorry. Excuse me. Ouch! Pardon me."

It was July 20, 2007. Barnes and Noble was crowded with people buzzing about the midnight release. It wouldn't be long now! Friends and families were gathered together for the event; strangers became instant friends. We all had something in common: our love for Harry Potter. At a moment like that, it was impossible not to talk to someone I didn't know.

In most instances, I tend not to approach strangers while they are reading. I do attempt to take a peek at the title of the book, sometimes straining in an unusual direction in hopes of satisfying my curiosity. I cannot help myself. While part of my unwillingness to push myself on a stranger I see reading has to do with shyness, a bigger part has to do with the fact that it might come across as rude. Not everyone wants to be interrupted while reading. Just this afternoon, in fact, I had reached an intense scene in my book when a coworker wandered into the breakroom. "Please leave me alone; please leave me alone," I silently begged. Fortunately for both of us she did just that.

I generally do not mind if someone I do not know strikes up a conversation about books with me. It has happened on occasion as I browse through a bookstore. Maybe someone is trying to decide on a book and is wondering out loud if it would be worth it (okay, so maybe she wasn't asking me directly, but that's just a technicality) or perhaps he notices a book in my hand which he read and loved--or hated.

It is not very often I find myself reading in a public place where strangers have asked me about the book I am reading. And even though there are those moments when I would rather not be interrupted, more often than not, I wouldn't mind at all. So, the next time you happen to see me with my nose in a book, do take time to stop and say hello.

For this week's Mailbox Monday on Friday, I have one book to report.

Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Suggested by Janet:

How about, “What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?”

I can still remember holding it in my hands. I was nestled under Grandma's afghan with a dog snuggled up in the crook of my legs and a cat curled up on my lap. I was excited and anxious. I had an entire afternoon of reading ahead of me, and I could not wait to dive in and see where my book would take me.

Words filled the pages, black ink on off white paper. I was prepared for the images to form in my head. Only, something was wrong. Something terrible was happening. The book was silent. It was not speaking to me. Maybe I could find an old episode of Law and Order to watch on television. It always seems to be playing somewhere. Or I could work on that crossword puzzle that had me stumped. I found myself dozing off to sleep before I knew it, waking with a start when my dog jumped down off the couch to bark at the postal carrier who had just dropped the mail in the mailbox.

Oh yes. The worst "best" book. The one everyone said I should read. The one almost everyone loved. It is too bad I cannot remember the title.

1. Why do we have to sometimes stop reading at the best part of a book?

2. Anya curling up on my chest and arms while I sit at my computer is now a habit.

3. I have to figure out a way to make sure the thief doesn't steal anymore of my mail (namely those packages the UPS delivery person and postal carrier leave on my porch while I am hard at work).

4. I had never heard the phrase "the worm has turned" before today, and it is probably not one I will remember tomorrow.

5. I will figure out this mess and fix it the way I always do.

6. How was I to know he would be waiting right outside the door?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Page in the Life of April from Cafe of Dreams

I am so excited to welcome my next A Page in the Life guest. Have you had a chance to meet April from Cafe of Dreams? If you haven't, here's your chance. And if you have, I thought I'd offer you a little more of a glimpse into April's life.

April is one of the sweetest and nicest people I know in the blogging community. She always has a kind word to say and is one of the first to offer me encouragement when I need it. I appreciate all of the times she has stopped by Musings of a Bookish Kitty to leave a comment.

Cafe of Dreams is a fitting title for her friendly blog. I feel right at home there. It's like sitting down with a steaming mug of hot cocoa (with a few marshmallows added in for good measure) to chat about books with a friend. She shares her thoughts on books, has guests stop by and visit, and introduces me to new authors and books I have yet to try.

Please welcome April to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Literary Feline: Welcome, April. I am so excited to have you here! Thank you for dropping in and answering a few questions. I thought we'd start off with an easy question: how do you like to start off your morning?

April: Hmmm, how do I like to or how do I actually?! LOL! My ideal way to start is to be able to get in a couple of cups of coffee, a bit of quiet peace, do a bit on the computer or read for a while. In reality, I get up and fight to wake my daughter up to get ready for school (her bus is here at 7:30). Once she is off, if my son is still sleeping, I will sneak in a cup of coffee and some relaxing computer time or reading. Otherwise, if he is awake, we eat breakfast, usually watch a bit of Scooby Doo while cuddling together in the chair and then either play or/and start on laundry.

Literary Feline: Besides reading and books, what are some of your other interests, hobbies or passions?

April: Blogging, lol! Reading other people's blogs, playing games on pogo.com, playing DS (I am a BIG game fanatic - especially word and puzzle games). I have to of course say my children, they are my life and my breath. I enjoy browsing on Amazon and just bopping around on the computer. My newest thing has been Twitter and I enjoy Facebook. Whenever I get the chance, I love to be near the water - there is something that absolutely centers me and brings peace to me when I am sitting near and listening to the water. Someday, I would LOVE to learn to knit - that has always been one of those goals in my life. I have met so many awesome bloggers with such great knitting talent! Music is and always has been a passion of mine. I don't play anything, but listening just settles me and brings a smile to my face - it makes the worst of things/chores bearable, lol.

Literary Feline: How did you get started blogging about books?

April: Initially, I started with the idea of having a way to just keep track on the books that I read throughout the year. Maybe also add a bit of my own personal writing and everyday type things, recipes, etc. Once I got into reviewing for authors and publishers, things just took off and I am loving every minute of it!! Blogging has become such a relaxing, fun and creative outlet for me, that when I get busy and don't have time to blog, I feel a bit lost (I am also bad about seeing, thinking or doing something and then think to myself "oh, I have to blog about this, lol").

Literary Feline: Has blogging impacted your reading? If so, how?

April: In all honesty, I would have to say that it has, just for the fact that while doing the virtual book tours and book review requests, I have opened myself up to an entire array of genres and books/authors that I may not have otherwise read. It has been wonderful, fantastic and tons of fun. I also find myself reading faster, since I have begun blogging.

Literary Feline: What types of books do you like to read? And do you blog about every book that you do read?

April: I do blog about every book (unless I don't get it finished, in which case, if it is for a tour, I will still blog about it, but not give my rating) I honestly love most types/genres of books. I think that Paranormal, Romantic Suspense and Cozy Mysteries will always hold a special place for me. They are probably my favorites and what I love to relax with.

Literary Feline: Do you have any reading routines, rituals or habits?

April: I really don't. I am a mood reader, so I guess that may affect my reading a bit. I do love my Sunday mornings when my hubby takes care of the kids and I get to take a hot bubble bath and just read for a good hour. That is a piece of heaven for me!

Literary Feline: How do you pull yourself out of a reading or blogging slump or what steps do you take to avoid that from happening?

April: I find that if I am reading constantly, I can get burned out and need to take a couple of day's break (which shocks me! lol) Once I do that, I seem to be fine. Otherwise, I just got through my enormous mountain of books until something piques my interest and that will bring me out of a slump. The same goes for blogging. I have started to take the weekends off as a break and that really helps that slump/drudgery feeling that creeps up every now and then. Also reading other people's blogs makes me more excited to write on my own, if I am feeling a bit lost, as to what to write.

Literary Feline: Do you have any advice or tips for your fellow bloggers?

April: My biggest piece of advice is to just have fun! If you are having fun with what you are writing and blogging about, readers will feel your enthusiasm and want to come back for more. Also, try to blog every day, or as much as you can, that seems to be a big helper in the way of picking up returning friends/readers. Visit the blogosphere, make friends and just enjoy yourself! Be creative, say what you want and just be yourself.

Literary Feline: What are you reading right now? Do you have any book or author recommendations?

April: I am reading Avenging Angel by Kim Smith on my Black Berry as an eBook, I just finished listening to Too Close To Home by Linwood Barclay (loved it!), so am deciding what to listen to next, and I am reading The Saga of Beowulf by R. Scot Johns, finishing up Shattered Reality by Kimberly Cheryl and starting It Happens in Threes by Denise Robbins.

As far as recommendations, where would I ever start?! lol For Young Adult, I would highly recommend Across the Pond by Storyheart/aka Barry Ava and The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice, I absolutely adore Cleo Coyle and Sammi Carter for Cozy Mysteries, Jodi Picoult for Fictional Lit., I can't wait to read her new one!! I loved Change of Heart and Nineteen Minutes (both favorites!), I love Janet Evanovich for a fun read, as for Suspense, I would say David Morrell and Joe Hill. Ok, I will stop now. I could seriously go on and on and on and on, lol!

Thank you so much, Wendy, for the honor of being a part of your delightful series "A Page In The Life" I am truly honored! I also thank you for being such a great friend - you are one of the first blogs and blogger friends that I met in the very beginning and you are just so awesome!

Literary Feline: I think you are pretty awesome too, April! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Be sure to stop by and visit April over at Cafe of Dreams!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Thoughts on Watchmen & My Favorite War Movies

Rorschach’s Journal. October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. [Opening Panel]

Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons & Jon Higgins
DC Comics, 1987
Science Fiction (Graphic Novel); 416 pgs

* (Very Good)

“In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria . . .” So begins the song Russians written by Sting. While the song plays no part in the graphic novel or movie entitled Watchmen, it certainly fits the dark and chaotic mood captured during that time period in history. During the early to mid-1980’s, in both our reality and the alternate one created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the Soviets and the United States were circling around each other and the fear of a nuclear war was on many people’s minds.

In Watchmen, nuclear war seems imminent. The only reason the Soviets have not attacked is because of Dr. Manhattan, the United States' weapon that helped win the Americans the Vietnam War in the 1970’s. However, that changes when someone appears to be murdering masked crusaders in New York. Rorschach, a masked hero himself, is the only one who seems to suspect anything is a foul. He sets out to warn his fellow superheroes and get to the bottom of the recent murder of the Comedian, a hero that was both loved and hated by those who knew him.

In 1977, the Unites States passed the Keane Act, outlawing costumed vigilantes. It was a time when the general public was balking at authority figures and a major police strike only compounded the situation. Costumed vigilantes were no longer the heroes of society. Some turned their status as former superheroes to their advantage while others chose to fade away quietly into the background, resuming normal lives. The Nite Owl is one who chose a more quiet life, settling into a regular routine, middle age creeping up on him; whereas Ozymandias profited from his past as a superhero, using his money to better society and the earth. Dr. Manhattan, once a scientist whose fate was tied to a terrible accident in the laboratory, continues to work for the government. At his side is his lover, the former Silk Spectre. Rorschach is the only one among them who refused to give up his costume and continues to roam the streets, dealing out his own form of justice.

The characters, while parodies of fictional superheroes, are quite unique in their own right. They each have their own stories; stories that explain how and why they turned to vigilantism as an occupation and the direction their lives have taken with the changing times. The vigilantes described in the pages of the graphic novel and in the movie are flawed. It is not a simple case of right versus wrong or good versus evil. The characters as well as their stories, including the mail story arc, play on moral ambiguities.

Rorschach is perhaps the most sympathetic of the characters. My husband says he was the biggest parody of all in the book, and yet he tends to be many people’s favorite. Perhaps it is in part because his past is the saddest and garners the most sympathy. Or it could be because his view of the world in black and white is easier to stomach, especially when faced with the situations he has had to deal with. He fights on the side of justice, something most of us want.

Dan Dreiberg, the Nite Owl, is another of my favorite characters. He is good-natured and kind. He is a bit of a geek, interested in his gadgets and owl mythology. He became a costumed vigilante with the best of intentions.

My husband insisted I include something about the pirate story that runs through Watchmen. There were moments I found it a bit distracting, I admit, the constant interruptions from the main story, but it really is an interesting tale that fits in nicely with the overall atmosphere of the novel. A boy sits day after day entranced by a comic book, Tales of the Black Freighter, as the world around him appears to be falling apart, the threat of war imminent. In the story, a man rushes home to try and save his family, fearing he will return too late and the pirates will have gotten there first. By the middle to the end of the story, I was just as entranced as that boy must have been. I wasn’t surprised by the end of that particular tale. I was, however, surprised at how Watchmen ended.

When I finished reading Watchmen, I turned to Anya, my eight month old kitten, and said, “That was horrible.” Then when my husband asked me a few minutes later what I thought, I repeated the sentiment. Those who have read the graphic novel will most likely understand what I mean. I was not talking about the novel itself. It’s an amazing story. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created a complex and intricate tale that has stood the test of time. I understand now why some consider it a classic in its genre. It was one of the first comics that dared to deconstruct the image of the superhero, painting them in more realistic and human light. The genius that went into the artwork and the structure of the book is also what makes it stand out. As for the ending, it really couldn't have ended any other way.

In regards to the graphic novel, I at first struggled to get a handle on who the characters were and at times the jumps in time and stories got a little confusing, but it all came together in the end. Watchmen is much deeper than one might assume at first glance. There is a lot to it. A lot more than I expected, that’s for sure. This is definitely a graphic novel that deserves to be reread. I am sure there are many nuances I missed this first time around. This book would actually make a great book group selection.

I am quite glad I watched the movie so soon after having read the graphic novel. It made all those little movie Easter eggs stand out. I got a kick out of each one. The movie actually cleared up a couple of questions I had after reading the graphic novel.

Director Zack Snyder went to great pains to try and make the movie as close an interpretation to the book as he could. He did a pretty job of it too. There were definite differences. The pirate comic book story (Tales of the Black Freighter) that ran through the graphic novel had to be left out (it will be included in the DVD version), the 1st generation of costumed vigilantes was glossed over quickly, and the biggest and most obvious change: the ending (the mood and outcome were more or less the same, however). There were others, of course, but you don’t really want me to go into each one. And even if you did, I wouldn’t. I have to let you find out some things for yourself, after all.

There were a couple of instances when I wished I could rewind the film to see a scene over again. Not because I was confused, but because I felt like I had missed something I should have caught.

Both my husband and I walked out of the theater satisfied with the movie. It was not last year’s The Dark Knight, which I loved. This is no five star movie. Sure the Mars scene wasn’t nearly as spectacular as it is in the novel. It is obvious the story and characters came straight from a comic book. I especially appreciated how well the movie was cast—many of the characters looked exactly like they did in the pages of the graphic novel.

It is a very dark film in terms of storyline. It has its more violent moments and there is occasional nudity. Overall it was a fun movie. It was also thought provoking. The movie captured the overall feel and mood of the graphic novel—the moral ambiguity so well expressed in the book.

It’s been a long time since my husband and I had so much to say about a movie over lunch as we did Watchmen. We’re still talking about it days later.

Movie: Watchmen
Genre: ‎Action, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Writers: David Hayter & Alex Tse (screenwriters); Dave Gibbons (graphic novel illustrator) & Alan Moore (graphic novel, uncredited)
Rating: 3 Bags of Popcorn

Monday's Movie hosted by Sheri at A Novel Menagerie

I considered skipping this week's Monday Movie Meme simply because my review of Watchmen is just a wee bit long, but the topic this week is just too good to pass up. The Monday Movie Meme is brought to you by The Bumbles.

This week's movie topic is all about War . . .
We were determined to make some headway in our Netflix queue on Saturday night but when we turned on the T.V., the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan appeared on the screen. It is impossible to turn away from the entire opening sequence of that movie - regardless of how horrifying the images. We feel it is one of the most jarring images of war you can find in a movie. War lends itself well to film and here are some of our favorites. What about you?
I love war movies. I am my father's daughter after all. I was raised on war movies. Well, war and action movies. I am sure the fact that my father is a war veteran himself plays a part in that as well. Just a few of my favorites that come to mind immediately:

Glory (1989)
The Great Escape (1963)
Dirty Dozen (1967)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Schindler's List (1993)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Band of Brothers (2001, TV mini series)
Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Platoon (1986)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Three Kings (1999)
Star Wars

Do you have a favorite war movie? Tell me about it!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Salon: Intermission Reading & Genre Confusion Confession

Size matters when I am packing two books for a trip into the big city. My purse can only hold so much. I grabbed my copy of Kitty Takes a Holiday along with my husband's current book, The Dead Man's Brother by Roger Zelazny, and carefully tucked them into the open pocket of my purse. And off we went. I intended to read on the hour and a half to two hour drive into Los Angeles, but I was too interested in singing along to the Grease theatrical soundtrack (yes, I'm one of those people who likes to sing in the car).

Taking our seats with a half hour before the start of the show, my husband and I decided to break open our books. Reading is a great way to pass the time while waiting as I am sure many of you know. It also makes those 15 minute intermissions go a little faster. We could have chatted amongst ourselves, eavesdropped on the conversations around us, or spent the time staring off into the crowds. We've done all of those things at some point in our musical watching experiences, and we will likely do them again in the future. This time, however, we were both in the reading mood and more interested in getting back to our books. The only downside is having to tuck them away again when the theater goes completely dark, sometimes with just tone paragraph to go until the end of the chapter (which happened to me last night).

Other places you may catch me reading while waiting are before an appointment, in the drive-thru line, at the gas station while my husband pumps the gas, at the movie theater before the movie begins, inside the car while my husband runs into the game or manga store for a quick peek, and sometimes in line at the post office. Often, these stolen reading moments are very brief. I used to try and read during commercials while watching television, but since the invention of the DVR, I no longer watch commercials but fast forward through them. It's really for the best though. I often would get so engrossed in my book during the commericals that I would forget to start watching television again when the show was back on.

What about you? Where can I catch you reading while waiting?

It has been awhile since I last visited with Kitty Norville, werewolf radio talk show host extraordinairre. I first began reading Carrie Vaughn's series a few years ago, during the early years of my growing interest in the urban fantasy/paranormal genres. Laurell K. Hamilton was one of the first authors I tested in that genre, and she, along with Charlaine Harris and her Southern Vampire Series (which I still can't bring myself to call by its "new" name even though I am a fan of the television series) sold me on the idea of not only vampires, but werewolves too. Kitty was among the first werewolf heroines I came to love; Elena from Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld Series being another.

I am not sure what it is about the hot blooded beasts I find so interesting. I have always been fascinated by real life wolves: their strength and beauty. There, of course, is something very dangerous about them as well.

I tend to be picky about the types of books in this genre I will read. Heavy romantic plotlines often bore me (there are always exceptions), and so I tend to gravitate more towards those books that have a mystery or thriller slant to them, with the romance on the side if it is there at all. Does that make me more of an urban fantasy reader than a paranormal one? I admit to being a bit confused by the entire urban fantasy/paranormal distinction.

I had not meant to go off on such a tangent, but sometimes my thoughts wander in unexpected directions. It is time to pull myself away from the computer and spend the rest of the morning reading. Be sure and stop in tomorrow for my review of Watchmen, both the graphic novel and the movie.

Happy reading everyone!

Week in Review:
Monday Movies: The Counterfeiters, Eagle Eye, Tropic Thunder, and Favorite Documentaries
Review of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
A Bookish Quote: Books & Civilization
A Little Bit of Friday Fun: Trying New Authors