Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

The parcel was wrapped in brown paper and tied with an unblemished silk ribbon. ~ Opening of Paris Time Capsule

Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey
Lake Union Publishing, 2015
Romance; 290 pgs

From Goodreads: 
New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down. 
Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family? 
As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.
Imagine learning that you have inherited the estate of a person you have never heard of before. Imagine traveling to Paris to find out just what that estate might be, learning it is an Époque apartment, one that even the stranger's family had not known about. New York photographer Cat Jordan is intrigued and flummoxed, not sure she should accept such an inheritance given the stranger's daughter and grandchildren are still alive. Cat decides she cannot accept the inheritance, not without first understanding what exactly the tie is between this Isabelle de Florian and her own grandmother--why exactly this Frenchwoman left her estate to Cat. Isabelle de Florian's grandson, Loic, wants to know the truth too, and together he and Cat begin their search for answers.

Oh, what a dream come true this would be! Even though I haven't exactly had this dream . . . Still. Imagine! I quite enjoyed this lovely story in all its historical intrigue and fairy-tale-esque charm. Loic, of course, is good looking, but also extremely nice and ever the gentleman. I liked him from the start. I liked Cat too, but I do wish she had a little more back bone. She seemed a bit too passive. She worried at times that she was intruding on the de Florian family by wanting to know more about the woman who first owned the apartment, Marthe de Florian and her daughter Isabelle, seeming to forget her own tie to it--through her grandmother. Didn't she want to know more about her own grandmother and what part she played?

It was obvious the attraction Loic felt for Cat and she for him, even despite her commitment to a well to do business man back in New York. Cat had long sworn she would not fall into a marriage like her own parents, wanting a marriage in which her opinion and desires would be respected. Even from the very first page, I knew he was the wrong man for her. 

I loved the setting of the novel, the descriptions of France, the countryside, the city, the villages . . . I longed to be there myself, standing in Cat's shoes. It was so obvious she was in her element there, and I quickly grew fond of Loic and his family.

A mystery and a romance, Paris Time Capsule, was both romantic and intriguing. I was completely fascinated by the look back in history, during the Belle Époque and later, the Nazi's occupation of France and how it tied to Cat and Loic in the present.  Even more fascinating is that the apartment at the heart of this story, the one belonging to the granddaughter of Marthe de Florian, is real, having been discovered in 2010. While the majority of the story in this novel is complete fiction, it does make one wonder at the possibilities.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. I do wish Cat had shown more insight into her relationship with Christian, especially in the end, but I cannot complain about the outcome. It was just how it should be.

To learn more about Ella Carey and her book, please visit the author's website. She can also be found on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

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

Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. I purchased a copy of this book myself.

© 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, September 21, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (09/22/2015)

I am currently reading Art Taylor's On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories.  It's the story about a small time criminal who falls for one of his hold up victims. The two are determined to lead a straight life, only it doesn't quite work out that way.  "From screwball comedy to domestic drama, and from caper tale to traditional whodunit, these six stories offer suspense with a side of romance—and a little something for all tastes."

First Two Paragraphs of On the Road with Del & Louise:

I hadn't been thinking about killing Delwood. Not really. But you know how people sometimes have just had enough. That's what I'd meant when I said it to him, "I could just kill you," the two of us sitting in his old Nova in front of a cheap motel on Route 66--meaning it just figurative, even if that might seem at odds with me sliding his pistol in my purse right after I said it.

And even though I was indeed thinking hard about taking my half of the money and maybe a little more--literal now, literally taking it--I would not call it a double cross. Just kind of a divorce and a divorce settlement. Even though we weren't married. But that's not the point.

Teaser from 10%: 

Find yourself a solid man--that's what my mama always said. A simple man too, the simpler the better. "Hitch yourself to a dreamer," she warned me more than once, wagging that finger of hers, "and
his dreams are gonna become your nightmares, Louise. Mark my words."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

What are you reading at the moment?  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 Fall TBR. There are quite a few great sounding books coming out this fall season, not to mention older books I have been wanting to read. I am terrible at sticking to any TBR lists I make (although I didn't do too badly with my summer list--eight out of ten is good, right?).  So, really, this is more of a list of books I want to read fall, but I make no guarantees.


Owl and the Japanese Circus by  Kristi Charish ~ This is the first book in a series featuring an antiquities thief. In this book, Owl breaks her rule of not taking any supernatural jobs to work with a dragon who promises to help her get rid of the pack of vampires that want her dead. As if I need to get into another series. I've heard good things about this one and am anxious to dive in.


Hidden by Karen E. Olson ~ The first in a series about a retired hacker in hiding who is drawn back into the life. The author is among my favorite crime fiction authors, and I can't resist reading anything she's written.


White Collar Girl by Renée Rosen ~ The cover is what first drew me to this novel, but what's inside is irresistible. This is a novel about a female journalist in the 1950's. Relegated to the Society Pages, she wants only to make a name for herself.


Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes ~ Because I love this author and cannot believe I have not yet read this book. This is one of Haynes' stand alone novels about a police analyst who finds her neighbor's body decomposing next door. No one seems to care--except her.


When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi ~ A novel about a woman whose husband is murdered by the Taliban flees with her children across Europe, only to be separated from her teenage son. This sounds like a book that will pull at my heartstrings.


The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan ~ This particular novel is about a hospice nurse working with a dying and rather bitter World War II veteran. On the home front, her husband has just returned home from Iraq and is going through his own private hell, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another emotional read, I imagine.


The Uninvited by Cat Winters ~ This one has been on my radar for awhile now, and I am looking forward to reading it. It's been getting good reviews from fellow bloggers. Set in 1918, it is the story of a young woman who sees the ghosts of loved ones, usually warning her of more death to come.


Settled Blood by Mari Hannah ~ The second in the DCI Kate Daniels series in which Kate investigates the murder of a young girl. I enjoyed the first in the series quite a bit and have been meaning to get to this one for awhile now.


The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev ~ Ria chose her acting career over love, a fact that left Vikram angry and bitter. When the two meet again at a family wedding, they must face their past choices, secrets and all. Another case of a cover drawing me in. This sounds like a fun book, one that will be light but hopefully with depth to it.


Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen ~ In my quest to read everything by Austen, I am taking the slow road. I have yet to read this gem, although I have seen the movie.

Have you read any of these books? Do you plan to?  What is on your fall TBR list?

© 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, September 16, 2015

Beyond the Books: My Favorite Food & the Rewards of Being a Book Blogger

Every Thursday Karen of KissinBlueKaren hosts Beyond the Books, at which time participants are given a topic and asked to write about it on their own blogs. They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Today Karen's Beyond the Books topic is about my favorite food, or share a recipe.

I'm like a teenager. My favorite food is pizza. Just a plain cheese and pepperoni pizza. I'm boring that way. I also like ice cream. And brownies. And pasta. Oh, cheese enchiladas too. A great snack might be a warm tortilla with melted butter and cinnamon. Or cinnamon toast fingers. Yum. I can't leave out chocolate, especially dark chocolate. None of foods are especially healthy, I know.

For a irresistible brownie recipe, check out Sally's Baking Addiction recipe for Chewy Fudgy Homemade Brownies.

What is your favorite food?
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.

What is most rewarding about being a book blogger? (submitted by Elizabeth)
The most rewarding part of being a book blogger is being able to share all my bookish thoughts, eccentricities, and tidbits about life with all of you. Many of you know the reason I began my blog, in part, as a more public journal of my reading. Before I had only kept my notes to myself and sometimes shared them with my online book groups. I hadn't realized just how awesome a community of book bloggers was out there. Being able to interact with other crazed readers like myself is definitely my favorite part of blogging, and what keeps me hanging around. You have introduced me to books and authors I would not have known about otherwise. You understand my love for books like no one else in my life does, and you don't judge me when a book makes me cry like there was no tomorrow. You get my literary jokes and can appreciate my bookish quirks. I appreciate the time we spend together, both here on my blog and on your blogs or other forums where we can share in our love for books.  A part of all of that too are the friends I have made through blogging. We support each other through difficult times in life--even those unrelated to books. So, for me, the most rewarding part of book blogging is being a part of such a great community.

What do you find the most rewarding about being a book blogger?

 © 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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: Drop Dead Punk by Rich Zahradnik

The great headlines of other newspapers were always to be despised.  ~ Opening of Drop Dead Punk

Drop Dead Punk by Rich Zahradnik
Camel Press; 2015
Crime Fiction; 254 pgs

I was quite smitten with Coleridge Taylor in  Last Words, and was glad for the opportunity to read and review Rich Zahradnik's second book in his series, Drop Dead Punk. I can just imagine this is a mystery series my dad would have enjoyed, Coleridge Taylor being his kind of guy. Not to mention the time period, mid-1970's.

With the newspaper business already having taken a hit with the advent of television, and a city that is falling apart at the seams in near financial ruin, times are tense in 1975 New York City.  Crime reporter Coleridge Taylor is more concerned about the city's crime than he is the city's financial woes though.  When he comes across the scene of a murder of a police officer by a homeless man not known for being violent or a criminal, Taylor smells something fishy and decides there may be a bigger story there than at first meets the eye.  He would be right. The partner of the dead cop, Samantha Callahan, has two strikes against her. Not only is she a woman in a male dominated profession, she is also being blamed for his death--why didn't she back him up when he came across the mugger? Taylor cannot resist an underdog nor a good story, and so he and Samantha join forces to uncover what really went down.

Taylor's investigation is complicated by more personal issues: his broken heart and the financial state of the newspaper he works for. He doesn't know how much longer he will have a job.

Drop Dead Punk is high in intensity and intrigue. This series is set in a time when leg work and in person interviews are the best way to get answers, and Taylor does a lot of that. With each lead Taylor gets, the more complicated the mystery becomes--and the more danger he finds himself in. There is nothing light about this mystery. It is a very dark time in history and the corruption and crime Taylor is up against is very serious.  I found my pulse racing during some of the tight spots Taylor found himself in, and hoping he would make it out okay.

Coleridge Taylor continues to be one of my favorite crime reporters in a series. He is ambitious and yet also has a strong sense of right and wrong. He believes in finding the truth and reporting the truth, qualities I admire. I appreciated how these values came into play over the course of the novel, not always being easy to maintain, especially the more dire the outlook for Taylor on both a professional and personal level. He is a complex person, like any of us, really.

Zahradnik captures well the time period, both in tone and atmosphere: from the city politics to the financial downward spiral of one of the biggest cities in the country, to the impact it had on all levels of society. He also takes us into the heart of the punk scene of the mid-1970's, with its anti-establishment values and rock music scene. I felt like I was right there in the thick of it.

I thoroughly enjoyed Drop Dead Punk. Author Rich Zahradnik has written another intriguing historical mystery that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I look forward to reading more by him in the future.

To learn more about Rich Zahradnik, and his work, please visit the author's website.

Source: Review copy provided by the author for an honest review.

© 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, September 14, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (09/15/2015)

This past week was quite fun. We had been planning a mini vacation for months now, with plans to put our annual passes to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure to good use for at least a couple of those days. My husband surprised me with reservations at a nearby hotel room so we wouldn't have to make the trek home late at night and could be right at the gate when the park opened the next day. My daughter was ecstatic to say the least. We chose two of the hottest days of the summer to spend at the park. Over a hundred degrees with a thunderstorm overhead that first day. The second day was just plain humid and hot, still over a hundred degrees out. The crowds were not too bad, however, which was nice. We snuck back for one ride the day we headed home. The Haunted Mansion had been closed for revisions the two days we were at the park, and we didn't want to leave without being able to ride it. It's all dressed up for Halloween and Christmas now.

 Mouse Twirling with Princess Ariel

Paradise Pier at Disney's California Adventure

Saturday saw the beginning of Mouse's new Tumble and Dance class.  Two of her school friends are also in the class with her. The girls had a fun time.

Parker got his staples taken out last week, and has been doing well since his surgery. The tumor was cancerous, but the doctor believes she was able to remove it all. I was told the likelihood of recurrence is high given the type of tumor it was. We'll be keeping a close eye on him from here on out and rushing him in if he develops even a tiny bump.  Poor kitty. He is eating and getting around like his old self, although wishing we would hurry up and take the cone off him.

At the moment, I am reading the third book in Vonnie Davis' Highlander's Beloved Series, Bearing It All, which features the third Matheson brother, Ronan. The novel opened with a bang when the main female character parachutes from a drone, landing on top of Ronan in his bear form (he's a shapeshifter like his brothers).

I am also reading The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig, which was a gift from my daughter. As my husband explains it, he asked Mouse if she had any ideas about what she wanted to get me for my birthday last week. She said she wanted to get me a "real" book (not an e-book, in other words), with no pictures, and that had blue in the cover (my current favorite color). My husband proceeded to go to my wish list on Amazon and found Lauren Willig's The Other Daughter, a book recommended by Katherine from I Wish I Lived in a Library. My husband picked the book, in part, because he thought it held a sort of irony given the subject matter and who it was from. Set in Post World War I England, this is the story of a governess who learns her childhood was built on a foundation of lies, her father not truly being dead, and her parents not ever having married. He, in fact, had been married to someone else and fathered another child.

First Paragraphs of The Other Daughter:

"Can we go look, can we go look, can we go look?" Eight-year-old Amelie tugged at Rachel's hand, pulling her toward the stairs.

"I don't see what the point is of looking at a party you can't go to," said thirteen-year-old Albertine crossly.

Teaser from page 22

"You're not dying of some terrible disease, are you?"

Alice looked at her in confusion. "No. Why?"

"I was trying to think what the third blow might be. That's only two so far. Troubles are meant to come in threes." Her voice was too fast and too high. Rachel took a deep breath and reached for another broken biscuit. "It's an inalterable law of nature. Isn't that whay Mrs. Spicer always said?"

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

What are you reading at the moment?  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 a freebie, and so I chose Top Ten Books I Just HAD To Buy... But Are Still Sitting On My Bookshelf Unread. I am ashamed to say I have many more than just these ten books on my shelves yet to read that have been languishing there for years. Many more, in fact. The covers are linked to the Goodreads pages for each book if you want to know more about them.


Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ~ I bought a copy of this book immediately upon finishing the author's Half a Yellow Sun, which I loved. If this is half as good as the other, it will be amazing. So why am I waiting?


Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen ~ I know I will love this book when I do read it. At least I hope I will.  I have no excuse for not having read it yet. It's not even very long.


Mansfield Park by Jane Austen ~ I bought this book  knowing I would read it. I loved the other books by Jane Austen I have read. Then why haven't I read this one yet?


The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett ~ This was the talk of the town when it first came out, and I knew I just had to read it too. It's extremely short, and I could probably finish it in no time.  And yet, there it sits . . .


The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George ~ A former coworker was a fan of Margaret George's books and recommended her to me. She suggested I start with The Memoirs of Cleopatra, which I bought, but never got around to reading. At nearly 1000 pages in length, the book is a bit intimidating.


Chocolat by Joanne Harris ~ This book comes highly recommended, and then after hearing the author speak on a panel at  a book festival one year, I decided I needed to read it (and everything else she has written). I own several of her books, including this one. I still haven't read it (or her other books).


The Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb ~ I was very excited about reading this series, especially given how highly recommended it came by friends. Then my husband read it and didn't care for it. It shouldn't bother me. There are plenty of books I love that he doesn't care for. Still, it has kept me from pulling this off my shelf to read.


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini ~ The Kite Runner is one of my all time favorite books to read and I know I will love this one just as much, if not more. I just know it.  Is that why I haven't read it yet?  Or is it fear of disappointment because my expectations are too high?


Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami ~ I think my failure to pull this off my TBR shelf and read it has more to do with the intimidation factor. I was eager to read it when I first heard about it, but the more I heard about it, the more I began to wonder if it is something I would like.  What if it's way over my head?


Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani ~ I haven't always wanted to read this book and series, but enough people talked it up that I decided I might as well give it a try. It has survived two major book cullings, so obviously I am still interested in reading it.  Someday.

What books did you just have to buy and yet still haven't managed to read?

© 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, September 13, 2015

From the Archives: Nonfiction 2006

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 some of my reviews from 2006:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Nonfiction; 343 pgs

In April of 1960, there were approximately 190 people on death row in the U.S.A. In January of 2006, that number has risen to about 3,700. Mr. Capote’s book, In Cold Blood, is considered one of the most riveting true crime novels ever written. It is the story of two men who brutally murdered a family in the family’s Holcomb, Kansas farmhouse in November of 1959, the investigation and the trial, which eventually led to their deaths by hanging in 1965. Based on interviews with the two murderers and careful research, Mr. Capote’s rendition of the events that took place in the two men’s lives was gripping and heartbreaking. Despite my wanting to see justice served for the nightmarish crimes the two men committed, I could not help but feel sorry for them on some level. Mr. Capote was able to produce empathy for them in the way he told their stories, although not taking away the desire for them to face the consequences of their actions. Mr. Capote’s vivid descriptions of time and place throughout the book brought the story into the here and now. It was well written and definitely worth reading. The book reads like a novel and is even more haunting because the events that took place are true. 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Scribner, 2005
Nonfiction/Memoir; 288 pgs

In The Glass Castle, the author, Jeannette Walls, decided to share the story of her childhood, a story she kept secret for many years. She was raised by loving and eccentric parents: an artist/teacher mother and an inventive and alcoholic father. The family constantly struggled with poverty, moving from town to town, avoiding bill collectors, and eventually settled in a small West Virginian town. Jeannette Walls and her siblings had a difficult childhood, scavenging for food, basically taking care of themselves, and fighting off bullies, including sexual predators. This is the story about the Walls’ family’s strength, endurance and love for each other as they struggled to survive, each in their own way. The Glass Castle was a touching memoir and Jeannette Walls is an example of how a “bad” childhood can lead to a good life.

Maybe Baby by Lori Leibovich ed. 
Harper, 2006
Nonfiction; 263 pgs

I am constantly being asked if I have children, and, when I reply in the negative, the follow-up is generally the question of when. I am surrounded by people with children at work, both new parents and parents anxious to get that last child out of the roost. For most of them, despite the struggle parenthood offers, they say it is worth it—a must have experience for any person. And then there are the couple of people I know who are steadfast in their decision not to have children. In my view, there is nothing wrong with either choice. It’s a very personal one—and certainly not an easy one to make in many instances.

Maybe Baby is a compilation of essays by 28 writers who “tell the truth about skepticism, infertility, baby lust, childlessness, ambivalence, and how they made the biggest decision of their lives.” This book appealed to me because of the subject matter. In a society where more and more women and men are choosing not to have children, there is still a stigma against those who make that choice. And for those who have children, the balancing act of maintaining relationships, juggling a job and finances, and trying to be a good parent create a big challenge and is life changing. One aspect that I found quite interesting was the difference of parenting in other countries and cultures. It makes one wonder if perhaps the American culture itself doesn’t add to the stressors of being a parent today. 

I found Maybe Baby to be engrossing, entertaining and thought provoking even despite it not being my typical read. I am still not sure where I stand in regards to whether I want to have a child, but I do know that whatever decision I make will be the right one for me. [As you may know, my husband and I did finally decide we wanted to have a child, and it was the right choice for us. I still stand by my belief that whether to have children or not--and how many--is a personal choice.]

© 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, September 10, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

It was far from silent in the dark wood. ~ Opening of The Garden Child 

The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson
Midnight Ink, 2015
Crime Fiction; 336 pgs

Catriona McPherson's The Child Garden has a bit of a Gothic feel to it, set in a small Scottish town steeped in history and charm. Gloria Harkness has always lived in the area and knows it well.  Now she resides in the centuries old home of Miss Drumm, taking care of the place and Miss Drumm's dog and cats, and rocking the old stone in the garden for luck or to keep evil at bay, Gloria isn't sure. Both Miss Drumm and Gloria's teenage son live in a care home not too far away, a home that once was an alternative school for children that closed down after the death of one of its students several years before.

There is a darkness and foreboding throughout the novel, which heightens the intensity and heavy atmosphere in the book. From the pouring rain at night, a near accident, the overgrown woods and an unexpected visitor at her door, Gloria's simple, and yet complicated life is about to change in a way she cannot imagine. 

Stig Tarrant is scared and unsure of what to do. A call from an old classmate has him racing in the direction of the old school he once attended for answers. When his path crosses Gloria's, the two old friends put their heads together only to find themselves deep in a web of deceit and possibly murder. Neither are eager to go the police for their own reasons, but Gloria is determined to get to the truth--not only for her sake, but for Stig's especially.  And it might be fun to live as if she's in one of those books she loves to read so much while she's at it.

Neither Stig or Gloria are particularly young, which endeared the characters to me even more, being that I'm not much younger than they are. They are not particularly beautiful people either, at least not on the outside. I liked that about them too. Gloria nor Stig are perfect, each with their insecurities and selfish moments, each wanting to do the right thing just the same. Always first and foremost in Gloria's mind is her son, who is special needs. She wants most of all to protect him and keep him out of harm's way.

As the story unfolds, Gloria uncovers many different versions of the "truth" and must find a way to piece it all together.  What is obvious is that there seems to be a connection between the alleged suicide of the boy all those years ago at the school and the fate of the other former students, including Stig and an unexpected person close to her.  There were many twists in the story as more information came out, and I found myself suspecting a few different people as I read, some more than others.

I loved the attention given to the more supernatural stories Miss Drumm insisted were true--about the devil's bridge, the rocking stone, and the hallowed places. It gave the novel a sense of otherness, and yet the author does a good job of keeping the story grounded in reality. For those who do not like ghost stories, have no fear. This is not one of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Child Garden. I love the book references given Gloria's love for books. And I liked the overall feel of the novel, the characters for their depth and struggles, and the overall story, which was both entertaining and, well, disturbing.

To learn more about Catriona McPherson, and her books, please visit the author's website.

Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

© 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, September 07, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (09/08/2015)

I am nearly finished reading Fredrik Backman's My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, which I featured last week. This week I received The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, a selection from my Postal Book Group.  I had actually been considering starting the audio version of this one, and so it was good timing. I have not yet begun either the paper copy (or e-copy because I have one of those too) or the audio version, but I have heard wonderful things about this little story. If you click on the cover, you will be led to a summary of the novel on Goodreads.

First Paragraph of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (which is a long one!):

On the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow, and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor's notes. "Island Books, approximately $350,000.00 per annum in sales, the better portion of that in summer months to folks on holiday," Harvey Rhodes reports. "Six hundred square feet of selling space. No full-time employees other than the owner. Very small children's section. Fledgling online presence. Poor community outreach. Inventory emphasizes the literary, which is good for us, but Filky's tastes are very specific, and without Nic, he can't be counted on to hand-sell. Luckily for him, Island's only game in town." Amelia yawns--she's nursing a slight hangover and wonders if one persnickety little bookstore will be worth such a long trip. By the time her nails have hardened, her relentlessly bright-sided nature has kicked in: of course it's worth it! Her speciality is persnickety little bookstores and the particular breed that runs them. Her talents also include multi-tasking, selecting the right wine at dinner (and the corrdinating skill, tending friends who've had to much to drink), houseplants, strays, and other lost causes.

Teaser from 17% on my Kindle

A.J. has never changed a diaper in his life, though he is a modestly skilled gift wrapper. Back when Nic was alive, Island used to offer free gift wrap at Christmas, and he figures that diaper changing and gift-wrapping must be related proficiencies.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

I admit, at first I wasn't too sure about the opening. The run down of how the bookstore is doing as a business could easily have become boring, and yet by the end of the first paragraph, I was ready for more.

And the teaser, well, it gave me a good chuckle.

What are you reading at the moment?  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 my Top Five Finished Series I Have YET to Finish Reading. This topic took a little research on my part because most of the series I read are still ongoing, and many of which I am not caught up with yet. The five below are all series I enjoy very much and am looking forward to completing--yet with a tinge of sadness that they have come to an end. I only came up with five, but there are probably more I am overlooking. (I purposefully left out authors who have died that I could easily have listed: Agatha Christie, P.D. James, and Arthur Conan Doyle, for starters, all who wrote series I would like to complete at some point.)

1. Kim Harrison's Hollows Series ~ Urban Fantasy series set in Cincinati, Ohio about a bounty hunter witch, Rachel Morgan.

2. Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld Series ~ Urban Fantasy series that has a whole cast of characters, many of the books focusing on different women from the same world.

3. Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles featuring Victoria Gardella Grantworth (which has a new spin off I'm not counting as part of the series) ~ Urban Fantasy series featuring a very fiesty Victorian lady who slays vampires on the side.

4. Jeff Lindsay's Dexter Morgan Series - Perhaps you have heard of the HBO series? This is the book series the character of Dexter is based on. I actually began reading the series before the television show came out--but somehow I have not gotten around to completing the series yet. I have seen the entire television series though.

5. Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files Series - This really is more of a fiction series than a mystery one. It's about a family of private investigators. It's both comic and serious. And I'm cheating with this one because it's really just the end of Isabel's narration of the books per the author. Another character is slated to become the focus down the road.

What finished series do you plan to read to completion? I imagine at least a few of you will list ones I completely forgot that should be on my list . . .

© 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, September 06, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski

We are sitting at a table in a restaurant. ~ Opening from The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski
University of Iowa, 2014
Poetry; 146 pgs

A blurb from the publisher about The Lovers Set Their Spoons Down:
In the fifteen stories that comprise this collection—some short as breaths, two of them novelettes—Slomski writes with a keen eye about relationships. About the desires that pull us together and the betrayals that push us apart. About jealousy, obsession, loneliness and regret—the byproducts of loving someone that keep us awake at night.
The above description describes this literary fiction collection well. The author delves into the mundane and ordinariness of life while capturing the desires, feelings and thoughts of those in relationships in such a way as to make the reader share in the characters' experiences. Writing wise, I thought this collection was well done, and at times beautiful.  I only wish there had been more hope in the occasional story, even if not happy endings exactly. This is perhaps more my personal preference though than a reflection on the book. I prefer a variety and at times the sameness in terms of tone of the stories had me setting the book down so I wouldn't become too melancholy. As it was, each story left me feeling a bit sad and contemplative, some more than others.

Among my favorites was the title story, which, with the very first paragraph I felt the sense of awkwardness of the situation the characters were in--a woman sitting down for a meal with her  husband, her husband's former lover and her boyfriend. Written in almost a play like format, the reader gets an idea of just how awkward everyone must feel, especially the narrator. The narrator's eyes keep returning to another couple dining in the same restaurant--an interesting juxtaposition to her own situation.

Another favorite was "Iris and the Inevitable Sorrow, or The Knock at the Door" if only because of the title. I rarely copy quotes down, but I really liked what Mirek, Iris's neighbor, says after Iris's boyfriend leaves her for another woman:
"Being alone is not so terrible. You can have more charge of your life when you are alone. Not complete charge--no one can have that--just more." His spoon made a soft chime when he set it against his saucer. "But first you must stop being in love." (pg 68)
Admittedly, this was one of the longer stories and so there was more time for the story to develop and come together more fully. This one took a turn in the end I had not expected.

I also really liked the second story in the collection, the brief story titled, "The Chair". In this story, there is much that isn't said, but which the reader gets a feel for by the seller's behavior. My heart went out to him, wondering who it is he had lost (perhaps his wife?) that has brought him to that moment--because it so obviously isn't just the chair. For me, this is the story in which the author's writing really shined.

Perhaps the story that hit me the hardest was one titled, "Before the Story Ends". My journal notes on this story simply read: "I have no words. This one brought tears to my eyes, touching me too close to home." It was the final story in the collection and perhaps the most powerful. At least for me.

There were other stories I liked as well, one about a widow who visits the same cafe every day, another story about a couple of shoppers who cannot stop bickering over the last box of soap, and ones about missed opportunities and regrets, betrayal and distrust, and about lives just passing by.

I wasn't as enamored with other stories, feeling like I missed something or didn't quite understand what I was supposed to be getting from them. I find that with short story collections like this though--not every story resonates with me the way others might.

Some of these stories had a more surreal feel to them while others were more down to earth. I liked the variety, even if I wish it hadn't been so sad over all. The author is able to say much in just a few words, especially when it comes to conveying emotion and tone. This is a skill I admire in a writer and isn't always so easily mastered. I think readers who enjoy literary fiction in its short form or character studies would most be drawn to this collection.

To learn more about author Heather A. Slomski and her work, please visit the author's website. You can also find her Goodreads

Source: Many thanks to Laura of Booksnob for sharing this book with me through our postal bookclub! 

© 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, September 02, 2015

Beyond the Books: Those Who Inspire and Library Sales

Every Thursday Karen of KissinBlueKaren hosts Beyond the Books, at which time participants are given a topic and asked to write about it on their own blogs. They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.

Today Karen's Beyond the Books topic is about my favorite teacher and mentor and why.

I hate this question any time it is asked. I have such a hard time thinking of an answer. I never really had a favorite teacher. Even in my work, I cannot say I have had just one mentor. I picked up lessons and advice to live by from a variety of people over the years, but not one in particular stands out above the others. After spending days trying to decide how best to approach today's topic, four people in particular stood out in my mind as having inspired me, who I think highly of, and admire, and would like to emulate in some way. Mostly because I value what they stand for and admire how they chose to live their lives. True, a couple are not real. But the voices behind them are.

Eleanor Roosevelt

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously.”

“I believe anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.”

“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.”

Maya Angelou

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude about it."

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."

"We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay -- and rise!"

"I am a Woman
Phenomenal Woman, that's me."

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud."

Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling)

"It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities." ~  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” ~ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." ~ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." ~ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

"Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it." ~ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Doctor Who

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” ~ The Eleventh Doctor

“Books! The best weapons in the world!” - The Tenth Doctor

"Let me tell you about scared. Your heart is beating so hard -- I can feel it through your hands! There's so much blood and oxygen pumping through your brain, it's like rocket fuel. Right now, you could run faster and you could fight harder. You can jump higher than ever in your life. And you are so alert, it's like you can slow down time. What's wrong with scared? Scared is a super power! It's your super power!" - The Twelfth Doctor

"We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be" - The Eleventh Doctor

 “Some people live more in 20 years than others do in 80. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.” — The Tenth Doctor

How about you? Do you have a favorite teacher or mentor?

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.

What time of the year does your library have its library sale? (submitted by  Elizabeth)
My local library sells books during their business hours year round. There's a room in the library full of books patrons can purchase. I am ashamed to admit I have never been in that room nor have I ever actually purchased a book from our library (although I have donated hundreds of books to them). By the time I started visiting the library regularly, I had mostly stopped buying paper books. If I buy a paper book now, it's usually one I am looking for specifically. I seem to be more prone to impulse buy e-books these days.

Do you frequent your library sales?

 © 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.