Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 2015 In Review

The weather has been: Hot! As soon as spring began, summer weather settled in. We had a week of temperatures in the 90's.  And one day of 100.  We had to turn on the air conditioner. I was really trying to avoid that this early in the year. The temperatures seem to be cooling down again, thankfully. Spring is definitely in the air.

I am listening: I am a failure when it comes to audio books. I did not listen to even one minute of one during the entire month of March. I have enjoyed listening to my daughter sing Katy Perry's Roar though.  She may not be in tune, but she's got a lot of the words down. I love listening to my daughter sing.

I am watching: I saw Insurgent in the theater. In 3D, in fact, because I wanted to go to the early show. I texted my husband as I waited for the movie (and previews) to start how old everyone was in the theater with me. I expected a younger crowd.  I realized suddenly though that I am old too. *sigh* I enjoyed the movie (although I don't feel the 3D version is worth it) quite a bit, but wish I had re-watched Divergent first. I felt kind of lost in the beginning.  It's been awhile since I read the books. Mostly what I thought about as I watched the movie was the third book--if you've read it, you know what I mean.

I also saw the new live action version of Cinderella in the theater.  Twice.  I hadn't really planned to see it the first time. The second time, I went with my husband and daughter (she wanted to see the Frozen cartoon--"but not the Frozen movie because that's scary"--that was showing before the movie). And if you know anything about my daughter, you know her wanting to go to the movies at all is a rare thing.  She hates movies (unless it's Caillou's Holiday Movie--you've heard me say that before, haven't you?). Anyway, Cinderella was very well done, I thought. I loved the way it was similar to the Disney cartoon version and yet also different to make the story fuller. Shaina's blog post entitled Cinderella, The Survivor: A New Look At An Old Story is a must read. She captured my thoughts on the movie--and the story--well.

What I am reading: I read only 3 books during the entire month of March.  Well, 3 1/2  if you count the one I didn't (and don't plan to) finish. Of the 3 I did finish, one was a novella. On the plus side, those three books I did read I really enjoyed.

Besides currently reading Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which I will likely finish in April, I have begun reading Diamond Head by Cecily Wong. I am actually quite excited about this book, the story of a family over several generations, from China to Hawaii. I will be reviewing the book later this month for a blog tour. I also hope to start A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison soon.

I am thinking/feeling: Overwhelmed. For much of March I have felt overwhelmed, both at work and at home. And a bit like an underachiever. I feel like I did not accomplish much during the month, especially after all the out of town guests finally left and Mouse's birthday was a thing of the past. I finally took down the birthday streamers and decorations this past weekend.  The Christmas/Valentine's/Birthday/Spring tree also came down. I know many of you are disappointed there won't be an Easter or Independence Day tree. And I'm sorry for that.  Mouse was sad when we took the tree down.  When I told her that her pink princess tower tent could go back up, she was happy again.

The child this past month: 

Plans for April: The Los Angeles Times Book Festival is coming up in three weeks and it just happens to be the weekend we are planning a visit to Disneyland.  I am not sure I will be able to both, but it sounds like we might try. I have not even looked at who will be at the festival, which is surprising given how I usually can't wait to see the schedule. Are any of you local bloggers going?

I do hope to read more this coming month to make up for the shortage of books I read this past month.  

How did March turn out for you?  Does anything in particular stand out?  

What was your favorite March read?

March In Reading Mews:

Number of Books Completed in February: 3
Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
Magic of the Gargoyles by Rebecca Chastain
Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes

Favorite Book of the Month: Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes

Currently Reading:
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Diamond Head by Cecily Wong
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (audio - yes, still. I have to finish it this month. I have to.)
Posts of Interest This Week:

© 2015, 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, March 30, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (03/31/2015)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List. I differentiate between my TBR list and Wishlist, which I know a lot of people don't do. Anytime I mention my TBR list or pile, it includes books I already have on hand.  Books I want to read, but do not yet have on hand go on the Wishlist. With that in mind, these are books were the most recently added to my TBR pile:

1. Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle (bought on recommendation of Samantha of Booked On a Feeling)

2. Copperhead by Tina Connolly (purchased)

3. A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison (review copy via publicist)

4. Come Winter by Clare Guiterrez (review copy via NetGalley)

5. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (won in a giveaway hosted by Beth F of Beth Fish Reads)

6. The Killing Moon by J.K. Jemisin (purchased)

7. Making Your Mind Up by Jill Mansell (review copy via NetGalley)

8. Daughter by Jane Shemilt (review copy from publisher)

9. The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar (gift from friend)

10. The Sound of Glass by Karen White (review copy via NetGalley)

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

Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts 
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where  
participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a 
book they are reading or thinking about reading soon.

I am currently in the middle of two books. My husband and I are still reading Jane Eyre. I have reached the point where Jane is engaged to be married, right before the big climax that will shake her world. I know it will be impossible to stop reading if I continue--and I want my husband to have a chance to catch up first. He's actually not far behind me, so it won't be long.

After reading Elizabeth Haynes' Behind Closed Doors, I decided I needed something light and picked up a historical romance novel, A Touch of Passion by Bronwen Evans. Set in 1813 England, it is the story of a high spirited lady who won't bow down to convention and a Viscount who values honor and integrity above all else. They make an unlikely pair, but the attraction between them and a possible scandal that would put both their reputations on the line can't keep them apart. Here is a sample from the opening: 
Cyprians' Ball, London 1813
"I'm surprised Lord Blackwood has graced us with his presence. It's common knowledge he's enamored with the French ballerina Juliette Panache. I doubt he's in the market for another mistress."
"With his appetites, he no doubt has a stable of mistresses." 
Would you continue reading?

Openings about a men's prowess in bed (which soon followed the above) are not the kind that win me over immediately, I am afraid. I do like that the two protagonists grew up together--Blackwood being the brother's best friend. I enjoy those types of romances. I had hoped this one would grow on me, but at 41% in on my Kindle, I decided it was time to move on to another book. There was no chemistry between the character and me. I am sure this one will appeal to some historical romance readers out there.  It just wasn't for me.

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it something you would recommend?

© 2015, 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, March 29, 2015

Mouse's Corner: Lost Kisses by Trudie Trewin

I Lost My Kisses by Trudie Trewin and illustrated by Nick Bland
Orchard Books, 2008
Fiction (Children's); 32 pgs
From the Publisher: 
Matilda Rose loves to kiss. But one day, something goes terribly, horribly wrong. She loses her kisses, just before her daddy is going to come home. Matilda goes on the hysterical and thoughtful search to find her kisses. Matilda Rose learns that you can never really lose your kisses -- they will always be there when you need them.

It is probably my fault my daughter is  such an affectionate girl. I am always kissing her cheeks and head, giving her hugs, and she is always kissing and hugging me back (and hugging just about everyone else too).  As a result, this book is a big hit in my house. The playful illustrations are a story unto themselves, and on quite a few pages you will find various animals kissing.  Matilda is a young cow who is stumped at the loss of her kisses. She looks for them all over town, including in the grocery store.  She is asked a couple of times what a kiss looks like and her replies are clever and sweet, even if not entirely helpful.  There might not be a great lesson in this children's book, but the story is a delightful one to read and easy to relate to.

To learn more about author Trudie Trewin and her work, please visit the author's website
To learn more about illustrator Nick Bland and his work, please visit Scholastic

Source: The book came from my daughter's bookshelf. I think it was a gift from a family member, but I might have bought it for her on one of my many visits to the bookstore. Is it bad that I can't remember?

 © 2015, 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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

TGIF: Hopping and Booking Through Friday (03/27/2014)

My husband woke up this morning with a killer headache, and so I volunteered to drive our daughter to school today. Wouldn't you know it, the minute we get there, she runs to the restroom and throws up. Home again we go. She's resting (I'm not so lucky that she'll sleep--I doubt she'll even nap), and I am hoping she'll let me do a little blogging today. I am five reviews behind and had hoped to work on those. They may have to wait. It's not like they haven't waited this long already . . . Here's hoping she is feeling better soon! Stomach troubles are no fun.

Every Thursday Deb from Booking Through Thursday asks a question which participants respond on their own blogs on Thursdays (or any day they can, thankfully for me). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.
Do you carry a book around with you? Inside the house? Whenever you go out? Always, everywhere, it’s practically glued to your fingers? (And yes, digital books very much DO count as long as you’re spending time reading on your Kindle or iPad and not just loading them with books that you never actually read.)
Now I feel bad about not being more detailed in my Day in the Life post yesterday. One of the first things I grab before heading downstairs in the morning is my e-reader and maybe a print book if I just happen to be reading one. I make sure one or both are tucked into my purse when on my way out the door. If I am staying in, I like to have them close by just in case I get the chance to read.

Sometimes you can find me walking and reading. I learned the hard way that I cannot read while going up and down my stairs, although sometimes I still snatch peeks in my book as I go because, well, how could I not?

Do you take a book everywhere you go? 

Book Blogger Hop

Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Which books have you read in the past month that still have you thinking back to the storyline and the characters? (submitted by Elizabeth)
I read more than my average amount of books last month.  This month is a different story. It was not a month for reading despite my best intentions.  As a result, all of the books I've read this month were pretty memorable. That's not the answer you want though, is it?

Is it fair to say Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, which I have read before? Probably not since I am just over half way through (I'm taking my time reading it since my husband and I are reading it together) and haven't yet finished it.

I finished the third book in Anne Bishop's The Others series early in the month, Vision in Silver, which I devoured and absolutely loved.  Meg is a blood prophet, a trailblazer. She's innocent and kind, like a child in many ways, still learning the ways of the world. She has a way with people--and the others--winning over their hearts, including mine. She is also extremely brave, pushing herself, challenging herself.  And Sam, the young wolf whose mother was killed in front of him. He has suffered so much and has finally come out of his shell. It's hard not to love him and feel for him as a mother.

After reading all three books (Written in Red, Murder of Crows and Vision in Silver) in a row it is hard not to think about them still, admittedly. Still, I imagine this book and the two before will stay with me awhile given how much I enjoyed them and the world Anne Bishop has created. I hate having to wait for the next in the series.

Have any books you read this month stand out for you more than another? 

© 2015, 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, March 26, 2015

A Day In the Life of Me

Tomorrow Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity is hosting "A Day in the Life" event, encouraging bloggers to share one day out of their lives with each other. I went back and fourth on how to do it, tried taking notes of my day, laid it all out on paper and, well, it is really rather dull. I thought of telling you about a weekend day as those are the days the family is all together--Saturdays are for soccer, the park and library visits and Sunday are often our lazy days--but my narrative took me in another direction as I began to write. I did not think I would have much to say, regardless.

On a work day, I get up while it is still dark outside (around 4:30 a.m.), sometimes after pushing snooze, sometimes not. I kiss my 4 year old sleeping daughter and husband before heading downstairs. I am supposed to work out first thing, but I haven't been good about it lately, I'm ashamed to say (I need an injection of self-motivation). If I do work out, I go back upstairs to shower, and then come back down to eat breakfast. When I do not work out, I sleep in a little longer (or catch up on the Walking Dead if it is Monday). I enjoy the quiet time of the early morning. I feed the cats and give them some attention. Sometimes I squeeze in a little reading or listen to an audio book. More often than not, I catch up on e-mail or Facebook on my phone. I don't have much time before I have to rush out the door to work, which is about a fifteen to twenty minute drive. I love the drive. I have an uninterrupted view of the sunrise these days, as it peeks out from behind the distant mountains. Of course, if I am running late it means the sun is right in my eyes. I try not to be late.

There's no rushing around to get my daughter ready. My husband does all that. He starts work later and is the one responsible for getting himself and our daughter up, dressed and out the door for work and school. I rarely see either one awake before I leave for the office.

My work day involves a lot of paperwork, consultations, computer work and talking on the phone. There's the occasional meeting. I could tell you stories . . . But, really, I can't. I work with sensitive and confidential information. Some days are harder than others. I generally like my job and the work I do. I work with a great group of people. I'm known for bursting into song at any moment and for my dry sense of humor. I am also the queen of the non sequitur. My coworkers and I find laughter where we can. It helps balance out the days that are heaviest with bad news--the death of a child or another tragedy or something more than the usual crisis intervention we deal with every day. I never take my breaks, but I nearly always take my lunch. I need it for my mental well being, if nothing else.  The quiet time recharges me.  I work ten hour shifts, sometimes longer, which make for long days.  My job is harder now that I am a parent. The stories I hear and deal with at work have never been pleasant, but as a parent it's gotten harder to not think of my own little girl--to put her face on the abused and neglected children I hear about. I say this not for sympathy or anything like that.  It just is. 

I am lucky to make it to my daughter's school/daycare in time to pick her up before closing. Just barely. I am the luckiest mother alive to have found such a caring daycare provider and teacher. I trust her completely, more than I do my own mother and mother-in-law. I dread the day my daughter goes into kindergarten and has to start somewhere new. Right now, she's just a mile, if that, away from my office. But my biggest fear is putting her with someone else, someone I don't know, while I am at work. With the type of job I do and the stories I hear, I do not trust easily.  Yes, so, I will definitely be one of those overprotective parents.

As I drive to my daughter's school, I often wonder which side of my daughter will greet me that day: a happy girl or a cranky one.  Usually it's both.  She's always happy to see me, running to give me a hug (except on the rare occasion she doesn't because she's too busy playing). I got into this bad habit early on of letting her play awhile before we leave. I could blame my daughter's best friend's mother as I was only following her lead when Mouse was old enough to walk and voice her own opinion. The best friend's mother is who I wish I was as a mother.  She's always so patient with her daughter. I have never heard her raise her voice other than to call across the yard. She always sits with her daughter when she first arrives, talks to her and asks her how her day went. She offers these perfect little lessons to the children, knowing just what to say, right on their level--like when breaking up an argument, helping them express their emotions, encouraging them to share, etc.  She's always got these great ideas for projects to try. She really isn't perfect, of course. I know this and I know I shouldn't compare myself to other mothers, but I still find myself wishing I was more like her.  

I couldn't sit Mouse down and talk to her when I first arrive at her school even if I wanted to. Mouse is too quick to hug me and then run off to play some more. She sometimes comes back for me, wanting me to play with her too. If I try to ask her about her day, she's quick to redirect the conversation back to her game. I don't push it. I let her play.  Sometimes we sit and draw together. Most of the time, I really don't mind. It helps my brain shift from work to home and I enjoy interacting with my daughter and her friends until the other parents arrive. I think her teacher appreciates the chance to talk with adults for a bit, even when we're all still there a half hour after closing (sometimes she is the reason we stay so late).

Most days we play in the school's front yard, Mouse or her best friend often convince some other child and their parent that playing in the "meadow" is a must before anyone goes home. Us parents often joke about how the children spend all day together and yet they act like they haven't seen each other all day. They cry when it's time to go.  Mouse and I are ALWAYS the last to get in the car to go. Sometimes she goes easily.  On others she fights me. Cries (although less of that now that she's getting older, thank goodness). Pouts. Runs away. Hides. I tell her if she doesn't get in the car by the time I count to five she won't get to watch television when we get home. That usually gets her to cooperate. When it doesn't, I keep adding to the list until I've lost all patience; I worry about the day she's too big for me to pick up and carry to the car, her hugging me and pouting. I always follow through with my threats if she doesn't cooperate--and, of course, that brings on tears once we get home, and she realizes I was serious.

Most recently though, I've taken to sitting down on the school's front lawn beside her when she clearly isn't ready to leave after everyone else has, and she'll climb into my lap. We sit there and look at the sky--and finally she'll talk a little about her day. By the time I force the issue of leaving, she's more ready to go. I don't know if this is the best way to handle it, but I prefer the more peaceful approach--and it isn't like we have to rush home, not really.

Mouse doesn't often talk to me on the car ride home, at least not at first. I try to engage her, but she's often lost in thought looking out the window, sucking her thumb.  I find the most likely way to draw her out is to tell her about my day, about the people I "played" with and who might have been sick or feeling sad that day or maybe who won an award or was extra helpful. She'll then ask me questions and express her concern, if appropriate. Maybe she opens up about her own day more.  Yesterday, in fact, she told me she told me she couldn't tell me about her day. With a little more prodding she told me she couldn't tell me or her teacher that one of the girls at her school hit her. Her friend was mad because Mouse had told her she had a secret and wouldn't share it "because then it won't be a secret."  *Sigh* It can't be easy, can it? I wasn't too excited about having this conversation in the car. We did talk though. About her being hit, about her not wanting to share with me what happened, and about secrets (which, by the way, is a concept she doesn't really understand--we're working on it).

Sometimes on the car ride home we sing. My daughter's current favorite songs are Roar by Katy Perry and Shake It Off by Taylor Swift.  I love it though when we sing songs together that she learned in school or that I taught her (all those old camp songs which still come in handy after all).  When she's first trying to learn a song, she will have me sing it over and over until she can sing along.

Let's not talk about this past Monday when I got distracted and did not buckle her into her car seat, only for her to tell me when we were half way home, on a stretch of road that was hard to find a spot to stop.  "Look, Mommy! I can get out of my seat by myself," as I catch sight of her leaning forward to point out a bag of garbage in the middle of the road, and tell her quite firmly to sit back in her seat. I won't mention that when I got out of the car, I left the car running, ran around to her side to buckle her in and couldn't open the door. Or the front passenger door. They were both locked.  I will skip the part about how panic filled me as I saw my cell phone on the passenger seat, just out of reach, and I wondered if I would have to flag down a car to stop so I could call my husband for help, all the while my daughter locked inside a running car.  The images of all possible disasters ran through my mind. I ran around to the driver's side, and fortunately it was still unlocked. I felt a huge wave of relief.  My daughter, once she was all buckled in and we were on our way again, said quite calmly, "We won't be doing that again, will we, Mom?"  No, baby girl.  No, we won't. We laughed about it, and, of course, she told her dad all about it that evening.

When we finally get home, Mouse will want to stand in the driveway for awhile, maybe run up and down it before wanting to open the door to the house all by herself.  What happens next varies, with the exception of always asking for a snack and juice.  We talk more about her day. We take a closer look at any art work or worksheets she brought home.  Mouse helps me unload the dishwasher or load it, depending. She likes to help me change the cats' water too. Sometimes we play dress up or pretend. Or do a puzzle. On days when I am just too tired, I turn on the television and we watch cartoons together. Mouse likes to cuddle up next to me, climb on my lap.  She doesn't like to sit still, but she has to be touching me, somehow. And with that, of course, everything is right with the world.

At least until I tell her she cannot have the cookie she asks for until after dinner or she gets mad because I won't let her linger outside longer or I am not doing just what she asked me to in our game of pretend. It's clear she's tired at that point, overstimulated and cranky. There are sometimes tears and screaming. In the worst moments, my nerves are frayed, if they weren't already, usually because she gave me a hard time about coming home as well.  At those times, I am losing my patience and my husband is racing home to rescue both of us from each other. In the best moments, I redirect her and she is able to let go of whatever made her mad in the first place. Or we may talk about what made her mad and work through her emotions. Often, she just needs a hug and reassurance that her world isn't falling apart,  and to know that I still love her. What I'm thinking though is that she needs to eat and sleep. 

When my husband gets home from work, Mouse is perfectly happy. Things have calmed down by then and we're both more or less happy.  Often at this point, the television is on, Mouse is drawing and/or watching a cartoon. We enjoy dinner together about 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. depending--or rather, we constantly remind Mouse she needs to eat or she'll go to bed without dinner in between our own bites of food. (I could write an entire other post on meal times in our house.)

At around 8:00 p.m. on a good night, later if it's not, there's bath shower time (God forbid it is hair washing night because that is sure to bring on some tears), and maybe, if she's lucky, a little more television time before Mouse's teeth are brushed.  Or perhaps a game with Daddy. Then it's story time and sleep.  Finally.

Only . . . Bed time is not always easy. It can be a fight to get her upstairs to take a bath shower, and to get her to brush her teeth. It's a fight to get her into bed.  Not every night.  But many nights. Sometimes their are tears.  Often there are attempts at procrastination.  She can be quite creative in that regard. Mouse rarely does anything at top speed. She meanders and takes detours. We try to be firm and sometimes scold when it goes on too long.

Somewhere in all of this my husband takes over, and I sneak away.  Maybe to shower and often to read a little before bed. When Mouse is having a good evening, I enjoy the peace and quiet. When she isn't, well, I struggle with going to her when she cries for me or just letting her dad handle it. I kind of use him as my litmus test in what to do. If he's feeling frustrated, I rescue him. As strong as the urge is to run to her every time she calls me, I am not sure it's the best idea. I feel torn between wanting to meet her needs and help her feel secure and in wanting her to be independent and not rely on me so much.

Mouse does not seem to mind getting into bed.  Maybe because it means cuddling with me. She nestles up close and closes her eyes. Then they pop open as does her mouth. She has more to tell me about her day. As tired as I am, try to tell myself to enjoy these moments.  Be glad she wants to talk to me. It can be hard though, given how early I have to get up in the morning, as drained as I am. There are times I send her off to her father, the night owl, who lets her watch him play a game or read on his computer. Then there are the moments when I hate myself, when I tell her through gnashed teeth to "Please, just go the sleep." To be fair, sometimes I ask Mouse questions and encourage her to stay awake just a little longer. Sometimes I stick my leg high in the air and she does too. We touch our toes. We share nose kisses. We giggle and laugh. I suppose one can fault me for being inconsistent in keeping to a strict routine.  Regardless, I always, always kiss her and tell her I love her and to have sweet dreams.  Most nights she falls asleep first, and I drift off after.

And that's a day in my life.  More or less.

© 2015, 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, March 23, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (03/24/2015)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit. This is a category in which I will read everyone else's list and wish I had thought to put this or that book on my list. I kept my list to mostly books I red during elementary school, with the exception of two, which I read in 7th grade. There are so many! It was hard to limit the list to just 10.

1. Harry Cat's Pet Puppy by George Selden ~ I named one of my childhood dogs after the puppy in this book.  It's a story that has always been close to my heart.

2. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George ~ A must read coming of age story about a girl trying to find her place in the world.

3. Help! I'm a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford ~ Oh, how I love this book! Imagine being trapped in the library overnight . . . 

4. Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston ~ I read this in school as required reading and loved it. It is nonfiction, about Jeanne's childhood in a Japanese Interment camp in California.

5.Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume ~ This is not my favorite Judy Blume book, but it's one I would like to read again at some point now that I have a daughter of my own.

6. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell ~ Karana is one of my favorite childhood characters. Her story is one all girls (and boys too) should read.

7. Tarantulas on the Brain by Marilyn Singer ~ It is because of this book I am not afraid of spiders.

8. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton ~ I loved this book and went on to read anything I could get my hands on by the author after I read it.

9. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor ~ This book is one I have never forgotten; the story of the Logan family, Cassie in particular, made me angry and sad and it inspired me.

10. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White ~ A beautiful and bittersweet story--everyone should read this one.

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

Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts 
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where  
participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a 
book they are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Today I thought I would share the opening of the E.B. White's classic, Charlotte's Webb:
Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
"Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."
"I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight. 
"Well," said her mother, "one of the pigs is a runt. It's very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything. So your father has decided to do away with it."
Would you continue reading? Have you read this one?

© 2015, 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, March 22, 2015

From the Archives: Spending time with Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe

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. The first half of 2006 seemed to be my time for series reading. I read quite a few books by Alexander McCall Smith during that time. Here are some of my reviews from 2006: 

Morality for Beautiful Girls (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #3) by Alexander McCall Smith
Anchor, 2001
Fiction; 227 pgs

Spending time with Mma Ramotswe was refreshing and fun. The main character in the No. #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series was her usual charming self. With the aid of her capable assistant detective, Mma Makutsi, there is not much that Mma Ramotswe can’t do. In the third book of the series, the detectives are asked to uncover a plot to poison the brother of a well-known government man as well as determine the integrity of several contestants in an upcoming beauty pageant. There is simplicity about the characters and the way Mr. Smith tells his story and yet it is so full of common sense and wisdom just the same. It was impossible not to laugh out loud throughout the book and even shed a tear near the end.

The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #4) by Alexander McCall Smith
Anchor, 2002
Fiction; 191 pgs

A new detective has opened up his own business in town; Mma Makutsi decides to start her own business to earn extra money; Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has yet to set a date for the wedding; and Mma Ramotswe is asked to locate a couple of women from a man’s past. Alexander McCall Smith’s fourth novel in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series was a pleasant way to spend time. It’s hard not to like Mma Ramotswe and the other characters in the series. Although not quite as enjoyable as the third book in the series, I did like the book.

The Full Cupboard of Life (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5) by Alexander McCall Smith
Anchor, 2003
Fiction; 198 pgs

The Full Cupboard of Life was a delightful little book. Mr. Smith brings back the wonderful characters in the fifth installment of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This time around, Mma Ramotswe is called upon to determine which of a wealthy woman’s suitors has good intentions when it comes to marrying her. There is also the little concern of a parachute jump fundraiser which Mma Ramotswe’s fiancĂ©e J.L.B. Matekoni has been recruited to participate. The ending of the novel was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed spending time in Botswana with old friends, and as usual, Mr. Smith has created an easy going and heartwarming novel that leaves behind a feeling of satisfaction and happiness.

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #6) by Alexander McCall Smith
Anchor, 2004
Fiction; 233 pgs

Although more melancholy than previous books in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies is my favorite in the series so far. The themes of the various stories throughout the book seemed to be in a similar vein, more so than in previous books. I felt that I was given a closer look into the lives of the characters, including the lead character, Mma Ramotswe, as she comes face to face with a person much better forgotten from her past. Assistant Detective Mma Makutsi continues to gain my admiration in each book as she shows off her skill at observation and assisting her friends. In this, the 6th novel in the series, Mma Makutsi takes up dancing lessons, the older apprentice quits his job to be with a wealthy older woman, and a couple of charming new characters are introduced. Mr. Smith has written another light hearted and enjoyable novel that kept me entertained and wanting to read more.

Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #7) by Alexander McCall Smith
Anchor, 2006
Fiction; 227 pgs

Author Alexander McCall Smith has written another enjoyable novel about the characters from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. In the 7th installment in the series, Mma Ramotswe and friends investigate the cause for unease in a nearby town, a doctor whose behavior is questionable, and the source behind a blackmail threat. On the personal front, Mma Ramotswe considers going on a diet and Mma Makutsi fears she’s lost her fiancĂ© when she tells him she’s a feminist. As with previous books in the series, Blue Shoes and Happiness made for a relaxing reading experience as I visited with my old friends in Botswana. The Africa that Mma Ramostwe lives in seems so beautiful. It’s hard not to love the charm of the people and the country as portrayed by Mr. Smith.

© 2015, 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, March 19, 2015

TGIF: Hopping As I Muse and Book It Through Friday (03/20/2015)

Every Thursday Deb from Booking Through Thursday asks a question which participants respond on their own blogs on Thursdays (or any day they can, thankfully for me). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.
What new book would make you spring out of your chair and run to the bookstore? (Or library, or nearest computer screen, depending on your book-delivery-method of choice.)
I still remember going to my first midnight release party. It was for the final Harry Potter book.  I was not one of those who started reading as soon as I hit the store parking lot, but I did go home that night, went straight to bed and spent the entire next day reading the book, start to finish. Then there was the time I was at the bookstore when it opened on a Tuesday, the day one of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series' books was being released (back when I read the series). I had taken the day off work in anticipation of buying and reading the book. I was sorely disappointed to find out the bookstore hadn't yet put the books out. I had to ask someone for it and was told to come back later in the day. I guess the books were still in a box in the back. I was not a happy camper, to say the least.

I haven't gone book crazy like that in years.  At least not more than a squeal and maybe a little feet stomping in glee. I rarely buy or seek out books immediately upon their release anymore.  An already overflowing TBR collection, my war on clutter (I didn't say I was winning . . .), and my tighter budget make me much less likely to buy a new release, at least not right away. I like to wait for a good deal generally, but sometimes I cave and buy it if I just can't wait any longer. Usually with the next book in a trilogy, especially if it's a final book. I do not buy books at the rate I once did. I think I am most guilty of buying earlier books in a series when I get a series book to review from a publisher or decide to buy an e-copy of a book I have in print because it is more convenient to read the book on an e-reader. And those Kindle or Nook daily deal can sometimes be irresistible . . . 

The closest I probably come though is with Jim Buthcer's Dresden Files series and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone books. They are about the only two author's whose books I must buy in hardback these days. And even then I am so behind on both series that I do not run out to get them right away.  

What new releases can't you wait to get your hands on? 

Book Blogger Hop

Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Do you read more on a rainy day or on a gorgeous day so you can be outside? (submitted by Elizabeth)
Someone at work yesterday asked which I would be willing to give up forever if I had to choose: chocolate or cheese. My immediate thought was chocolate, but then I started thinking of all the foods I eat that include cheese as a main ingredient.  My final answer has to be cheese.  Sorry, my beloved chocolate. I thought of that as I read today's question. 

I live in a relatively mild climate (although summers can be torture without an air conditioner). No snow, which means no hibernating in the winter on designated snow days. Rainy days are few and far between, but still much loved. I love the idea of spending a rainy day reading all day. It rarely happens (either no rain or I'm working), mind you, but it's a wonderful idea in theory. In contrast, I often imagine myself stretched out on a blanket in the park reading on a beautiful sunny day, a nice breeze to keep the heat bearable. It has been ages since I last did that. My daughter is not yet of an age where I am comfortable taking my eyes off her for long as she plays--whether near me or from a reasonable distance.

More often than not, I do my reading indoors, usually at night before bed or at the office during my lunch break. I read on the weekends when my daughter's favorite show is on if I have nothing more pressing to do, or sometimes when my husband and daughter are keeping each other entertained and I can slip away unnoticed.  

Ultimately, the weather rarely plays a factor in how much reading I do. Both sound like perfect reading weather options to me--if only the stars would align to make that possible.

What about you?  Do you prefer rainy day reading or being able to read outdoors?

Musing Mondays, hosted by Jenn from A Daily Rhythm, asks participants a random question every week, asking that they then post their links and visit the other participants to see what they have to say.

How often do you use your local library? Are you happy with their availability?
I love my local library. It is on the small side, but it has a marvelous children's selection, rows and rows of children's books. There is a nice size area for children and their parents to sit and read.  Just about every Saturday, we visit the library, taking advantage of the reading selection and, as of late, the air conditioning.  After a couple hours of soccer and playing at the park, it is nice to rest awhile in a cool place. It has also proven to be good shelter when the rain starts falling. 

My daughter enjoys selecting her own books to read, pulling them off the shelves and bringing them to either my husband or me, whoever she wants to read to her at that moment. I will sometimes select a few for her to read as well.  We don't always check out the books, although occasionally we do. 

The adult selection is made up mostly of popular fiction and it's not a huge selection at that. I am not sure I would always be able to find what I am looking for if I wanted something specific. The city (and county, for that matter) has quite a few library branches, however, and I imagine the inter-library loan program might help with that. 

As it is, I rarely use the library for my own purposes. I feel guilty at the mere idea of checking out books I have to return by a deadline when I have my own unread books sitting at home to read. There is another part of me that worries if my not using the library for myself is something my daughter notices and will be influenced by. I keep telling myself I will start using the library more--especially for books on my wish list (rather than buying them)--but it hasn't happened yet. 

Do you frequent your local library? What do you think of the selection there?

© 2015, 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 18, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: A Highlander's Obsession by Vonnie Davis

Paisley Munro tried not to gawk at the two broad-shouldered men in kilts as she hefted her suitcase off the luggage carousel in the Inverness Airport, located northeast of the city referred to as the capital of the Scottish Highlands. ~ First Sentence of A Highlander's Obsession

A Highlander's Obsession by Vonnie Davis
Loveswept, 2014
Romance (Paranormal); 268 pgs

While not a huge highlander romance fan, I have enjoyed a few. Throw in a paranormal element, and I'm even more likely to give it a try. I bought and read this book in preparation to read the second book in the trilogy, which I have for review in April. This can easily be read as a stand alone, for those who do not like series books or read out of order, but for the full effect, I recommend you read the books in order.

Paisley and her grandmother, Effie, have traveled from America to Scotland to attend a funeral for the reading of the will.  Effie has no idea she is set to inherit quite a bit of land, land that is precious to the local shape-shifter clan.

Paisley views her ability to hear and talk to animals as a curse rather than a gift. The only person who has ever been completely accepting of her gift is her grandmother, an eccentric women with her own magical secrets.  Paisley is stunned when she discovers that she can hear the thoughts of Creighton Matheson, the head of the Matheson family and lodge.  He is also the clan leader and has been lead to believe Paisley and her grandmother cannot be trusted.

When Creighton sees Paisley for the first time, he cannot deny the attraction. The more he gets to know her, the more he wants to trust her, and the more his inner bear demands she is his.  How will Paisley react to knowing his true nature? Why is it she can hear his thoughts? Are she and her grandmother to be trusted?  Meanwhile, Paisley fights the growing attraction she feels for Creighton. She is engaged to another man, and her sense of loyalty is strong even despite the more business like feel of their engagement.

I really liked Paisley. She does not appear to be a strong character on the outset, always pushing her glasses up on her nose (I do this too--even when I am not wearing them), but she is quite feisty when pushed. She and Creighton have good chemistry, even if everything seems to happen so fast. I liked Creighton as well; he has that alpha male protective vibe to him, which I don't mind--but what I loved most about him was his willingness to defer to Paisley and listen to her when it came to making decisions.

There was only one moment in the book in which I rolled my eyes and voiced my dismay to my husband. Something Creighton does that I personally find difficult to forgive--and which I won't give away because it'd be a spoiler.  Still, in the scheme of things, I understand, even if I don't agree with, his reasoning and am glad he ultimately realized why he was wrong. I am not sure I would have been as forgiving as Paisley at least not without a good punch in the nose.  

My absolute favorite character in the novel is Effie with her pink hair and pelican baffies (slippers). So wise and so hilarious. You can't help but love her and her eccentricities.  There's definitely more to her than what meets the eye.

This was a fun book to read. At times it was funny and at others intense given the circumstances the characters faced. While the romance between Creighton and Paisley are at the heart of the novel, there are also the matters of a curse, kidnapping, a murder attempt and issues of betrayal. There was plenty of suspense, which always makes a romance novel even better in my mind.  

Rating: * (Good +)

You can learn more about Vonnie Davis and her books on the author's website

Source: I purchased this e-book for my own reading pleasure.

© 2015, 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, March 16, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (03/17/2015)

On Saturday, we said goodbye to the last of our company. It was a big relief to have the house to ourselves again. We can finally get back into our comfortable routine. 

Sunday my daughter and I spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon at Mouse's best friend's house. We were attempting to make stepping stones out of plaster that the girls could decorate and maybe step in to capture their foot prints--or even their hand prints. I am afraid the project didn't quite turn out as well as we hoped. The dang plaster dried so fast it was next to impossible to do much with it, no matter what the instructions said. We did our best though. Luckily, each kit comes with ingredients for two stones and so both girls at least got one stepping stone out of the two planned for each. Once Mouse's stepping stone is completely dry, we will attempt to paint it and pray for the best. The girls had a fun afternoon regardless, playing in the mud, coloring, and running around the house while us mothers sat in the garden chatting and listening to the birds. You would never know it wasn't yet spring.

Mouse and her best friend playing in the garden

The thank you cards are made/written. I just need to buy postage for them and then will send them off in the mail. I enlisted Mouse's help in making them since they were, after all, for her birthday gifts. She personalized each one, selecting the shape and how to decorate them. It took a good part of an afternoon to get them all done, but it made for a fun art project. I am sure all the aunts and uncles and grandparents will be pleased. At least I hope so!

On the reading front, I am about half way through Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It's taking everything in me not to read straight through. I am trying to take my time though, having finally caught up to where my husband is.  So far, he's enjoying it. Jane Eyre has long been a favorite of mine, but it has been a good twenty years since I last read it.  I cannot express in words how much I am enjoying re-reading it. I may have squealed a few times as I came upon favorite scenes and melted at the deliciousness of the writing and in my love for Jane's character.  Then there's Helen and Mrs. Fairfax and Grace Poole.  And, of course, Mr. Rochester.  Oh, how I love this book!  

As hard as it was to tear myself away from Jane and Mr. Rochester, I thought maybe it was best to slow down my reading and let my husband again take the lead. And so I read a novella by Rebecca Chastain called Magic of the Gargoyles, which I enjoyed and will be reviewing at some point. It is an urban fantasy tale about a young woman who is enlisted in saving baby gargoyles after they have been kidnapped for evil dark purposes.  Last year I had read the author's full length novel, A Fistful of Evil, and really enjoyed it.

I also have begun reading Elizabeth Haynes's latest crime fiction novel, Behind Closed Doors, the second in the DCI Louisa Smith series. I have only just started it, and so do not have much to say about it yet.

What are you reading right now? Is it anything you would recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List. I kept this list to books I am excited about and hoping to read this coming spring all things being ideal and perfect. What is the likelihood of that though?  One can hope.  Regardless, I predict a spring full of good books!

1. The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen ~ Set during World War II, two British pilots find themselves behind enemy lines, pretending to be insane as their only hope for survival.

2. Diamond Head by Cecily Wong ~ Family saga that takes readers from China to Hawaii. Secrets, murder, sacrifice . . . I cannot resist.

3. The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy ~ I would read anything by this author. Two women's lives are interconnected despite their very different time periods, a modern tale of a woman who desperately wants a child and the story of a long ago mapmaker for the Underground Railroad. I love books that straddle both past and present.

4. Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran ~ Historical fiction set in India during the 1850's as the last Queen of India takes her people to battle against the British.

5. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman ~ The sequel to Seraphina (which I also hope to read this spring). Dragons?!  I'm there!

6. The Shattered Court: A Novel of the Four Arts by M.J. Scott ~ a fantasy novel described by the publisher as "Entangled in a court ruled by tradition and intrigue, a young witch must come to terms with newfound power and desire—and a choice between loyalty and survival."

7. A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison ~ Annie Black's past comes back to haunt her, threatening her family and the happy life she has made for herself.

8. A Touch of Passion by Bronwen Evans ~ Kidnapped for an Arab Harem, her only hope is her brother's friend who has vowed to watch over and protect her.

9. Toured to Death by Hy Conrad ~ A mother/daughter team of travel agents have the perfect murder mystery excursion planned--only, they did not anticipate a real murder to trump their fictional one.

10. At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen ~ Set in the a Scottish Highland village during World War II.

Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?  What books are on your to read list for this spring?

Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts 
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where  
participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a 
book they are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Here is a snippet from the opening of my current read, Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes:
To begin with, nothing was certain except her own terror.
Darkness, and stifling heat, so hot that breathing felt like effort, sweat pouring off her so her skin itself became liquid and she thought she would simply melt into a hot puddle of nothing. She tried crying out, screaming, but she could barely hear her own voice above the roar of the engine, the sound of the wheels moving at speed on tarmac. All that did was give her a sore throat. Nobody could hear her. 
A cold case is reopened when the young woman who had gone missing ten years ago reappears. It appears the girl's disappearance and sudden reappearance could be related to the recent assault and murder DCI Louisa Smith and her team are investigating.

Would you continue reading?

© 2015, 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.