Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Merely Mystery Reading Challenge 2012 February/March Reviews

If you haven't already, please sign up for the Merely Mystery Challenge here!

One of my favorite parts of challenges is supporting and cheering on my fellow participants--not to mention all the great new-to-me book recommendations I come across! Please leave direct links to your February/March review posts for qualifying reviews for the challenge here. Participants without blogs can post reviews on general review sites such as LibraryThing, Goodreads or Shelfari. And if you have the time, stop by and check out some of your fellow participants reviews as well! I am sure they would love to hear from you!

Please include your name or blog name along with the title of the book you reviewed as well as a direct link to your review post (not just a general link to your blog). Thank you!

© 2012, 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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

In Loving Memory: Celebrating A Life

I wanted to write a poem. Or perhaps find a fitting one celebrating life. Nothing stood out or spoke to me. I wrote a condensed biography of his life only to decide at the last minute it wasn't good enough. Not good enough to honor a man whose life meant so much to me. Whose memory I hold dear. This isn't a post meant to garner sympathy. It's simply in honor of a great man. I wanted to share photos from my childhood as well, but they seem to be tucked away in some hidden corner. I think these say so much, however, and they'll have to do. Today would have been his 69th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad. Remembering the good times . . .

© 2012, 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.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: Between Interruptions edited by Cori Howard

Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood edited by Cori Howard
Key Porter Books, 2008
Nonfiction; 328 pgs

Being a new mother, I jumped on the opportunity to read Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood when approached to be a part of the TLC Book Tour. I am eager to read about other mothers' experiences, especially honest ones. In part, I'm seeking out stories that are similar to my own, ones I can relate to so that I know what I'm experiencing is normal--or some semblance of normal at least. For another, I can't help but feel a special bond with other mothers, and I am curious about their stories just as much as my own.

It is easy to talk--and write--about the light and fluffy side of parenthood. About the smiles and milestones reached. It is even easy to joke about bowel movements and leaky breasts. It isn't so easy, however, to talk about the realities, including and especially the struggles of the entry into motherhood. I suppose that is one reason why I found myself clinging to the essays in Between Interruptions. Here were women telling it like it is, saying what I have been wanting to say--but not sure how.

It seems as if this topic has been popping up everywhere these days--in books, the media and around the blogosphere. I wish I'd thought to look for a book like this early on. I might not have felt so isolated and alone. I did talk a little about my own experience early on with Postpartum Depression last summer both on this blog and at Tales from the Toybox. Although, even then, I wasn't quite ready to go into too much detail. It's still difficult for me to talk about.

Between Interruptions offers several different perspectives of motherhood as the contributing writers share their personal stories with the reader. We hear from working mothers and stay at home moms as well as mothers of non-traditional families as they talk about their experiences finding friends, adjusting to work or staying at home, breastfeeding, dealing with anxiety (both general and specific), infertility, and having a child with special needs--among other things. The contributing writers pull no punches. They share their experiences and feelings, offering a real glimpse of the obstacles they have encountered as well as the joys.

The stories of new mothers in the workforce especially touched home for me. I may not have quite as glamorous a job as some of the writers who contributed to the book, but I understand the internal conflicts of being a working mom, of needing (or wanting) to work and of leaving my child in someone else's care. I still sometimes breakdown in my car after saying goodbye to my daughter after our lunch time visits some seven months later. Leaving her in the mornings as she still sleeps in her crib hurts my heart. It makes the mornings I am there when she wakes up, a smile lighting her face, all the more special.

The section on guilt had me in tears, I confess. It hit so close to home: Postpartum Depression, pressures surrounding breast feeding, postpartum sex, and dealing with feelings of inadequacies and jealousy. I could have written any three of those essays. I saw myself in each of them. It was a relief to read stories of other woman who had gone through what I am going through.

I do not think any book about motherhood is complete without touching on non-traditional families. I work with a number of single mothers and have friends in same sex relationships with kids. I also know parents who have adopted children--I even assisted in a few adoptions myself. So, I was glad to see essays devoted to such mothers as well.

One of my favorite essays in the collection was one by Joy Kogawa and her daughter Deidre Kogawa-Canute: Comparing Notes: A Conversation Between Mother and Daughter. The two carried on a conversation about motherhood, the patterns carried down through generations, and about their own expectations and feelings about being a mother and daughter and how our actions impact each other. There was quite a lot packed into their conversation. It was clear the two didn't always get along, and yet the openness with which they shared such a conversation with each other makes if obvious that they respect and love each other very much.

Even with the difficulties many of these mothers faced, one thing shines through in all the essays. The mothers' love for their children and their desire to give them the best life they know how. I came away from the novel feeling a pride I had yet to feel as a mother, feeling stronger somehow.

I hope you will check out what others had to say on the TLC Book Tours route!

Note: The print copy version of the book can only be purchased through the author's website. An e-copy can be purchased through Amazon and other vendors.

To learn more about Cori Howard, editor of Between Interruptions and founder of The Momoir Project, an online writing centre for moms who want to learn to document their own stories, please visit the Please visit the Momoir Project website.

Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. E-Book for review provided by the editor.

© 2012, 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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Salon: Happy New Year!

Gung Hay Fot Choy! Despite my lack of Chinese ancestry, my mother introduced my brother and I to the Chinese New Year early on. The house would be cleaned the week before the New Year was ushered in to get rid the old--and the bad. Oranges and tangerines were a must on New Year's Eve, and we'd find red envelopes with a little money tucked inside on New Year's Day. It is the year of the Dragon, a year expected to be exciting and unpredictable. This past year, the year my daughter was born (the Year of the Rabbit), was supposed to be calm and tranquil--well, we know where that got my family! Hopefully this New Year will be a bit calmer and less intense despite the predictions.

This past week everyone in the house was struck down by a very nasty stomach virus. It was quite the nightmare. It seems to have subsided at last, and we are on the mend. I joked with my husband that perhaps it was a fitting end to such a tumultuous year.

I wish I could say I was reading something to fit the occasion of the Chinese New Year. Alas, my reading has taken me back to the familiar waters of the mystery. I am smack dab in the middle of my first Deborah Crombie mystery, No Mark Upon Her, featuring Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. I love the setting--and so far the characters and mystery as well. Duncan Kincaid was about to go on family leave when he was assigned a possible murder case, one involving a fellow police officer and prospective Olympic rower. While the investigation into the death is the main focus, I admit I am also quite drawn to the side story. Crombie offers a glimpse first hand at how work can interfere with not only the personal life of the investigator putting in the long hours, but also the family of that investigator. I will let you know what I think of the novel once I am finished with it.

Next up, I will be tackling the Independent Literary Awards' Mystery Short List books, and since I won't be able to post my thoughts until after the awards are announced, I am afraid you won't see many reviews from me in the coming weeks. I will try to fill the gap with more From the Archive reviews as well as perhaps an essay or short story now and then.

Have a wonderful week everyone! Happy Reading!

First Popsicle. Pedialyte in Disguise.

© 2012, 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.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cat & Mouse: Planning that First Birthday

The big day is right around the corner. About three months ago, I began getting questions about what I planned to do for Mouse's first birthday. I hadn't given it much thought. It was too early, I said. Now it's less than two months away. I have given it some thought. I have been encouraged by some to have a big party--it's more for the parents, after all. Of course, my response to that is if that's the case, I want a quiet day at the spa. Throwing a big party sounds nothing like fun to introverted and reserved me.

When I think of Mouse, I am not sure she'd appreciate a big party either. She isn't one who likes a lot of attention heaped on her. It'd have to be time limited since she needs her rest. So wouldn't she be just as happy with a small intimate party, surrounded by people she loves? It isn't something she will remember anyway--only in photos.

You can tell which direction I am leaning. So, chances are, we'll be having a small party--maybe just mom and dad and the grandparents if they can swing it. I did, for a brief moment, consider something big. Maybe get a jumper, invite all the kids we know and their parents. My coworker's daughter who had a baby a week before I had Mouse, is having a big party at Chuck E Cheese. I could do that . . . Naw.

I suppose I should now decide on a theme (do I really have to have a theme?) and a cake. Do I give Mouse her own little cupcake or her own small actual cake like my friend gave her daughter on her first birthday?

What did you do for your children's first birthdays? Or for those who don't have children, what's your take?

Decisions, decisions . . .

© 2012, 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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: Archon by Sabrina Benulis

Israfel rather enjoyed the sight of the human stumbling into his nest. [opening sentence]

Archon: The Books of Raziel by Sabrina Benulis
Harper/Voyager, 2012
Fantasy/Horror (YA); 385 pgs

When I first read Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop, I found myself on shaky ground. I'm an extremely visual reader, creating scenes and characters in my head as I read the words on a page. I picture everything. With the first book in the Black Jewel's Trilogy, however, I had trouble seeing the world the author had created in my mind's eye. I can't explain why, just that it's so. Perhaps it was the way the author jumped right into the story and took off running. It was the same for me with Archon by Sabrina Benulis. And yet both books captivated me, drawing me into their worlds. Even when I wasn't reading, I felt a little like I had one foot in the book and the other in reality. I love it when a book has that effect on me.

Set in Luz, a city on the cusp of all that is holy and hell, the novel is about a damaged young woman who wants nothing more than to die. Only she can't. Every attempt she makes ends in failure. Haunted by visions of angels, Angela longs to join them. She is sure she will find answers at the Vatican's exclusive university in Luz.

A prophecy foretelling the end of the world warns of the coming of the Ruin or Archon. The Archon is believed to be the reincarnation of the once powerful angel, Raziel. Angela is one of many who fit the description of this alleged Ruin with her red hair, pale skin and mystical powers. Considered freaks of society and ostracized, the blood heads are both feared and hated.

Angela becomes the target of a particularly nasty sorority leader who will stop at nothing to prove that she, Stephanie, is the Archon. Soon Angela finds herself at the center of the struggle between Heaven and Hell--where good and evil are blurry at best and where the likely outcome is life or death.

Despite my initial difficulty picturing Luz, I found Archon to be an intense and entertaining book. The characters were fascinating--flawed and mysterious, beautiful and yet ugly. The whole evil versus good came into play time and time again and was upended just as many times throughout the book. It was hard not to feel sympathy for even the darkest of characters. Angela, the main protagonist, is a strong young woman despite her insecurities. She shows courage and decisiveness when she most needs it. And yet clearly she is quite damaged, having been terribly abused as a child because of her blood head status.

The angels in Archon are more like the ones in the television show Supernatural than they are from the show Touched by an Angel. The angels are prideful and self-centered, having their own agenda that doesn't always include the humans. It makes it all the more interesting. I confess I didn't see the allure of any of the angels really. Sure they were beautiful, but their personalities left a lot to be desired.

Of all the characters, the one that I was most drawn to was Sophia. She is a mystery right from the start. Kim, too, was an especially interesting character. He and Angela seemed well suited for each other. I was never quite sure of Kim or Sophia--where their loyalties lied. Both are still a bit of a mystery and I hope to learn more about them in future books.

It's hard to believe this is a debut novel. The author expertly weaves the characters and their stories together. There are several moments throughout the book that left me holding my breath, afraid of what was to come and yet dying to know what would happen. I picked up Archon to read on a whim and am so glad I did. It was an exciting read and I look forward to seeing what else Sabrina Benulis has to offer. I just hope she doesn't take too long!

To learn more about the author and her book, please check out the author's website.

Source: Copy of book provided by publisher for review.

© 2012, 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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cat & Mouse: First Steps

I am lucky enough to work in a job that allows me every Friday off. It's Mouse's and my day. We may do the laundry or straighten the house--or not. We dance to music from the radio, her bopping along and me, shuffling my feet and swaying. We play with each other. She plays on her own. She most likes my undivided attention, which I am happy to give her. She likes to crawl on me and play with my face. She has the most beautiful smile . . . We read books together and, occasionally, weather and health permitting, go out for walks or to play in the backyard.

One of Mouse's favorite activities, however, is grabbing hold of my index finger or thumb and pulling me along as she takes a tour of the house. We stop at various locations that catch her eye: a cabinet, her elephant blow pop toy, a bookshelf, a stray sock, a cat . . . She holds onto my finger despite sitting down to inspect something, not wanting me to go far. Then she'll get back up and off we go to the next stop on the tour. She has such a confident and determined look on her face in moments like those--sure of where she is going, trusting that I will be right by her side. Sometimes our tours take all morning or afternoon. Sometimes just a few brief moments. I love this time together.

Once I was in the middle of washing dishes and she came over and pulled herself up holding my leg. She wanted my hand. I began to ask her to let me finish and then decided against it. The dishes could wait. With my still wet hand, I offered her my finger and off we went, exploring.

In early December, Mouse took her first three steps all on her own. She was at daycare at the time. My husband and I didn't see it, therefore, it doesn't count. About a week later, she took three steps for me. It was a momentous occasion. Mouse was so proud of herself. She kept trying again and again, often only to fall on her bottom. She received two push type toys for Christmas and had a blast pushing them around the house, strengthening her leg muscles.

On New Year's Day, as I was sitting on the floor in front of the couch, Mouse cruised around the corner of the couch, out of my sight. The next thing I know, Mouse comes around the corner and walks towards me, without touching the couch. The grin on her face was priceless. She would do that several times throughout the day. There was much praise, tons of hugs and lots of smiles that day. Even a tear or two. My baby was walking!

The next day she felt braver and ventured out into the room, away from the couch and me. In all my excitement, I felt a little spark of sadness. My little girl is growing up--and so fast! It's hard not to feel proud, especially seeing how happy she is at having achieved a goal she had longed to reach.

I wondered if her finger holding tours would end now that she can walk on her own. I am sure they will someday. But the same evening she proved she could walk across the room on her own, she took hold of my husband's finger and took him on a little walking tour of the house. So, for now, at least, we can rest assured that she still wants us by her side.

© 2012, 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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

From the Archives: July 2005

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are several from July 2005:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Bantam, 1813; Fiction, 360 pgs)
Pride and Prejudice has regained popularity in recent decades, the story making appearances in several movies and a renewal of interest in the book outside of classroom reading assignments for high school and college literature classes. My own interest in rereading this old classic was piqued by the mention of Jane Austen and her novels in the book, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, which I had read earlier in the year and in seeing the Bollywood production of Bride and Prejudice, a movie loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is a love story, full of comedy and drama that tells the tale of the Bennets, a family of five daughters. This is the story of smart and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet, the second eldest Bennet child, and Mr. Darcy, a prideful man whom Elizabeth takes an instant dislike to. Jane Austen has written a novel that has stood the test of time and continues to be enjoyed and related to in all its glory. Ms. Austen crafted a beautiful and moving story. She wasted no words, and there is not a scene in the book that does not belong or leave this reader wanting more.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic, 2005; YA Fantasy, 652 pgs)
Like so many others around the world, I got caught up in the Harry Potter frenzy, awaiting the release of the latest in this popular series by J.K. Rowling. Although I gave in to sleep instead of attending the crowded bookstore release parties, I did not wait long to find my way to the store to pick up my copy. I waited even less time to dive in and read the 6th book in the series. Returning to Harry Potter’s world was like visiting with old friends. It was easy to get caught up in the lives of Harry and his friends, cheering them on, holding my breath when situations grew tense, laughing out loud, and even shedding tears. J.K. Rowling seemed less inclined to spend time with description in this particular novel, however, the story moved along quickly and never lagged. Answers were given to mysteries unknown and the book ended with many more unanswered questions. The depth to the characters that emerged during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was less evident in this book. Perhaps the fans will better receive this one, as it is slightly less dark, although I still believe the 5th book stands out above the rest. Definitely an enjoyable read and it will not disappoint Harry Potter fans, although not everyone will be happy with the demise of one of the characters.

By A Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (Avon , 2004; Crime Fiction, 352 pgs)
I picked up this book to take a break from another book I’ve been trying to read the past couple of weeks and am wondering why I never had heard of Laura Lippman before now. By A Spider’s Thread is her most recent P.I. Tess Monaghan novel and I will definitely be on the look out for the books in the series I’ve missed so far. Tess reminds me a little of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhoune: independent, smart, resourceful, and tough. In By A Spider’s Thread, Tess is hired by a wealthy Jewish Orthodox fur merchant to find his missing wife and their three children, however, Tess has her work cut out for her because the man who hired her isn’t immediately forthcoming with information about his family. I love the concept of the SnoopSisters, helping each other out across the country. Ms. Lippman opened her novel with what seemed like a simple case and as the story unraveled, it became more complex as secrets and motives were revealed. There was never a lack of suspense and I had a difficult time putting this one down.

The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter (Knopf, 2002; Crime Fiction, 657 pgs)

In The Emperor of Ocean Park, Stephen L. Carter tells the story of a son whose deceased father, a former federal appellate court judge, has left him a complicated riddle to solve, a mystery that puts his life in danger as he gets closer to the truth. This novel is heavy with politics, conspiracies and at times religion. It focuses much on familial relationships and self-discovery. Although a suspense novel, it read more like a general fiction novel.

Several times during my reading of the book, I felt that the author was on the cusp of taking the story to a new and better level only to be disappointed. I liked the author’s writing style; however, it was heaped with what I thought was unnecessary detail. As one friend suggested, the author did too much telling and not enough showing.

Another reason I had trouble getting interested in the book was that I had a hard time relating to any of the characters, particularly the main character, Talcott Garland, attorney and professor at an Ivy League law school. I never felt that connection that I often have with characters in the books I read, however small.

Despite that however, the book did have redeeming qualities. The author wrote an intelligent novel that was complex and multifaceted. The characters were well developed and realistic. The book was much more about them and their interactions, I thought, than the actual mystery surrounding Tal's mission to find out what the arrangements were. The story did interest me enough to bring me back to it and give it more of a chance. About 400 pages into the book, the book finally grabbed me the way I like to be grabbed by the books I read, and I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to see what happened next and not just because I was determined to finish it before the end of the month. I am glad I took the time to read this book, even though I found myself wondering why a couple of times. It was thought provoking and, in the end at least, entertaining.

Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think?

© 2012, 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.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sunday Salon: Where Is Winter?

I am sneaking in a quick moment at the computer while Mouse enjoys her morning snack. After yesterday I wasn't sure I'd have time on the computer at all! I have posts ready for this coming week, but whether I have time to prep them will be another issue . . .

Winter seems to have taken a break the last few weeks in my part of the world, giving Spring an early peek at the year ahead. It's made for beautiful weather during the daytime and Mouse and I have enjoyed being outdoors. The nights are still very chilly, often in the 30's. It hasn't helped Mouse's cough which just won't seem to go away no matter what we try (and we've tried just about everything!).

On the reading front, I finished reading Between Interruptions edited by Cori Howard this past week. It's a collection of essays about motherhood. Although my intent is not to get too involved with review books this year, I couldn't resist joining the tour for this one (my review will go up January 23rd). I'm kind of sad I missed out on the tour for Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orienstein. I have been looking for an excuse to dive into that book. Oh well, it's for the best. I have enough reading I need to do in the next few weeks.

As of right now, I am reading Archon: The Books of Raziel by Sabrina Benulis, a young adult urban fantasy novel about a troubled girl who has visions of the supernatural, particularly angels. It's been compared to Twilight (what young adult fantasy series isn't these days?), but from what I can tell the similarities are very small.

I seem to be stuck in an urban fantasy and mystery phase right now--makes sense given they are my two main comfort reads. I do want to mix it up a little more this year, which is why I joined a couple of challenges that will force me to venture into my other loves, like historical fiction and literary fiction. That's the plan anyway!

I can't go without announcing the big bookish news of the week!

The short lists based on your nominations are up for the Independent Literary Awards. I hope you will go take a look! I am a judge on the mystery panel and over the next several weeks will be busy reading the five finalists. It'll be a challenge given how little time I have to spare for reading these days, but I am determined to make it happen! I, along with the other judges, are excited about seeing who will come out on top in each of the categories.

Biography/ Memoir
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (Penguin)
Bossypants by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur Books)
I Pray Hardest When Being Shot At by Kyle Garret (Hellgate Press)
Little Princes by Conor Grennan (William Morrow)
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch (Harper)

Well With My Soul by Gregory Allen (ASD Publishing)
Swimming to Chicago by David Matthew Barnes (Bold Strokes Books)
Songs of the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout (Circumspect Press)
Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender by Nick Krieger (Beacon Press)
Huntress by Melinda Lo (little brown books for young readers)

Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney (Syracuse University Press)
Cross Currents by John Shors (Penguin Group: NAL Trade)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Knopf/Doubleday Publishing Group)
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene (Penguin Group)

Missing Daughter, Shattered Family by Liz Strange (MLR Press)
The Cut by George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur/LIttle, Brown)
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (St. Martin’s Press)
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey (Dutton)
Fun & Games by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)

Berlin 1961 by Frederick Kempe (Putnam Adult)
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Crown)
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper)
Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku (Doubleday)
The Social Animal by David Brooks (Random House)

Beyond Scent of Sorrow by Sweta Vikram (Modern History Press)
Catalina by Laurie Soriano (Lummox Press)
What Looks Like an Elephant by Edward Nudelman (Lummox Press)
Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems by Ramos, Emma Eden (Heavy Hands Ink)
Sonics in Warholia by Megan Volpert (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Speculative Fiction
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Candlewick)
The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Viking)
11/22/1963 by Stephen King (Scribner)
Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor Books)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Crown)

So many of the nominees from all of the categories look tempting! I imagine my wish list will be growing by the dozen the more I read about some of those books. A few already are on my wish list.

Oops. Baby calls. Do drop me a comment and let me know what you are reading and have been up to so far this year! I hope you all have a wonderful week. Happy Reading!

© 2012, 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.

Monday, January 02, 2012

On a Blogging Break, but First . . .

Yeah. So. I am officially taking a break this week from blogging as is my start of the year transition. The truth is I have no reviews or posts ready and only ten minutes to spare on the computer right now (I'm supposed to be getting dressed for a run to the hardware store).

Before I do go on break, however, I am caving in and joining two more challenges. Well, one challenge and one project. Don't judge. It is the beginning of the year, and I don't make New Year's resolutions. But being goal oriented, I have to put my energy somewhere. My intentions are good, anyway.

Here goes . . .

I haven't been reading nearly enough historical fiction as of late and I really like the folks over at Historical Tapestry. Therefore, I am joining the Historical Fiction Challenge. I am aiming for the Out of My Comfort Zone level requiring me to read two books even though historical fiction isn't really outside of my comfort zone. It's what I feel I can manage though and since I'm already challenge crazed it's best to keep things simple, wouldn't you say? The challenge lasts throughout the year. I have a ton of historical fiction novels on my shelves still to read--now to decide which two to read!

Just yesterday I was putting something away in the spare bedroom where I keep my mass market paperback books (the ones not on the bookcases in the master bedroom that is) and noticed my Stephen King books. I would really like to read one this year if possible. Then I saw Kathleen and Natalie's announcement of The Stephen King Project and decided I couldn't refuse. Since I was already going to read one anyway, right? So, off I go to sign up for the the King Novice Level! I have actually read two King books, but I still think of myself as a novice. I really enjoyed one and laughed my way through the other. It'll be interesting to see what I think of the next book I read by Stephen King.

I haven't decided yet which book of his to read. I'm dying to know what is so freezer worthy about The Shining, but I really want to read The Dead Zone, of which the television show was based (the one I watched episode after episode of while on maternity leave while cluster feeding). And then there's The Stand and the Dark Tower series . . . Hmmm. Choices, choices.

Enough is enough. That's it. No more challenges.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week! I hope to be back up and posting soon.

© 2012, 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.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 Challenges: Bring It On!

This past year I barely read half the amount of books I read the year before, and I don't expect to do much better this year. Still, I have caught challenge fever. I am limiting myself to five challenges. Five too many, I know. Call me crazy.

I am a series addict. I have started a gazillion series with every intention of reading more in each series only to get distracted by other books, sometimes other series. When I saw that Yvonne was hosting the Finishing the Series Challenge, I had to join in.
The challenge requires that all books be part of a series. The number of books a person has left to read in the series is open to the reader. The challenge will span over the course of 2012.

Yvonne offers three levels (Level 1 = 1 Series; Level 2 = 2 Series; Level 3 = 3 or more Series)--and while I have enough series going I should sign up for Level 3, I am going to aim lower in order to be more realistic (and so I won't feel so bad joining other challenges).

Level 2 - Complete 2 Series
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (I have read 9 out of 14 books in the series so far)
The Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton (I have read 19 out of 22 books in the series so far)

I have been tempted to join Carrie's Essay Reading Challenge in past years but my love for full length novels always won out. I have several books full of essays that I have been meaning to read and occasionally come across one online or in a magazine that I just have to read. And what better way to fit in a little reading when I only have a brief moment to do so than by reading an essay or two?
Running from January 1st to November 30th, participants are asked to read anywhere from 10, 20 or 30 essays. I am going to set my sight on reading 10 essays this year. I considered going up to 20, but think I'd better play it safe for now.

Now I have an excuse to get to those Nick Hornby books as well as the one by Michael Chabon I've been meaning to read.
One of my absolute favorite challenges is the What's in a Name Challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and I am happy to be participating in the challenge this year.

Participants are assigned to read one book from each of the following categories within the year:

A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title.
A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title.
A book with a creepy crawly in the title'
A book with a type of house in the title.
A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title.
A book with a something you'd find on a calendar in the title.

I can't wait to browse my shelves looking for the perfect titles to fit those categories!

Among the more ambitious challenges I am taking on this year is the Eclectic Reader Challenge hosted by Book'd Out. Open through the entire year, this challenge asks readers to read one book from twelve different categories, the goal being to give the reader a variety of tastes from the different book types.

Participants will read books from the following categories:Literary Fiction
Crime/Mystery Fiction
Romantic Fiction
Historical Fiction
Young Adult
Science Fiction
Non Fiction
Participants Favorite Genre

I am not going to make a list of books ahead of time--my options right now are limitless. I do hope to read books already on my personal shelves, however, which will be good for both my TBR pile and my bank account.

It wouldn't be right if I didn't participate in my own challenge, the Merely Mystery Reading Challenge, now would it? I am really excited about exploring the mystery genre more fully. I love a good mystery and can't wait to dive in. The challenge spans the entire 2012 year. My goal is to complete the Shamus Who Has Seen It All Level, which means reading one book from each mystery sub-genre:

The Whodunit
Locked Room Mystery
The Inverted Detective Story
The Historical Whodunnit
The Police Procedural
The Professional Thriller
The Spy Novel
Caper Stories
The Psychological Suspense
Spoofs and Parodies

Which challenges are you participating in this coming year?

© 2012, 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.