Sunday, April 22, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase

"Do you want everyone to hear us?" ~ Opening of Hooked on a Phoenix


Hooked on a Phoenix (Phoenix Brothers #1) by Ashlyn Chase
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2018
Romance/Fantasy; 352 pgs
Source: Review copy provided publisher via NetGalley for an honest review

Looking for a quick read, I came across Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase on my e-reader. I enjoy a good shapeshifter romance and had yet to read one featuring a phoenix before. From what I can tell, this is the first in a spin-off series, and my first by the author.

Our hero is firefighter Gabe Fierro, a man who is determined to never marry or be involved in a serious relationship due to a guilt over a past experience. The heroine in this story, Misty Carlisle, is the younger sister of Gabe’s best friend, who had a big crush on Gabe when she was growing up. Gabe has been asked by his friend to watch over Misty while the brother is away on military duty. Gabe takes this duty very seriously. He hasn’t seen Misty in quite a while, and when he walks into the bank where she is working to check up on her, he is blown away by the beautiful grown woman he finds she’s turned into. A bank robbery, stuck in a locked vault, and a shared kiss, Gabe and Misty stumble right into romance almost immediately. Gabe tries to ignore his feelings and keep it platonic, but finds he cannot resist Misty’s charms.

What I liked: I liked both Gabe and Misty and feel they were well suited for each other. Gabe is a stand up person who will do anything for his friends and family. Misty has a strong head on her shoulders, is independent but also knows when to ask for help. I generally do not like it when characters are not honest about their feelings with one another, but considering how little the two knew each other in this case, despite their obvious attraction to one another, I can understand their hesitation to open up to each other. There was the occasional misunderstanding, particularly the obvious one: Gabe not wanting to pursue a relationship out of fear of repeating the past, and Misty thinking he wasn’t interested as a result.

Misty has health issues that seem to grow worse as the novel wears on. It is not often you see a heroine with a chronic illness in a romance novel, and I was glad to see it here. Yes, even knowing this is a paranormal romance and the likelihood of her being “cured” or something similar would beyond high.

What I didn’t like: We get a little Phoenix action, with “little” being the operative word here. I was hoping for more, especially given this is a paranormal romance novel. There is also my issue with the side story line involving Misty and her immediate supervisor. Maybe it is because I like intrigue in my romance novels that this bothered me. I just felt like that particular story line did not live up to its potential. 

 At the risk of giving away the end, I am going into spoiler alert mode now, so be warned. Highlight the below text if you want to read on. I had a big issue with the twist at the end. As I mentioned before, I was expecting Misty to get her cure given the type of novel this is, however, I wasn’t too happy with the way it came about. Gaia, creator of everything, makes an appearance and offers Misty a job as a modern muse (which would mean an automatic cure). The modern muse of motherhood. Seriously?! Misty gets pregnant by Gabe during their first sexual encounter, and hasn’t even given birth yet. She has no experience as a parent, working with kids, or anything having to do with raising them. She just doesn’t seem like the best choice to take on such a big role right out of the  gate. Maybe Gaia thinks all you need is common sense and a big heart, which Misty does seem to have. Still. Even as the mother of a seven year old, I don’t think I’m qualified for that kind of position. I am assuming Gaia knows something I do not know. It just didn’t work for me.

Hooked on a Phoenix did turn out to be a fast read liked I hoped. Unfortunately, it was that last part of the novel that pretty much ruined an otherwise entertaining, even if not perfect, book for me.


You can learn more about Ashlyn Chase and her books on the author's website She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


© 2018, 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, April 17, 2018

Wishing for Wednesday: Only Human



Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to 
spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. 


Only Human (Themis Files, #3) by Sylvain Neuvel
Release Date: May 1, 2018 by Del Rey Books

World War Z meets The Martian in the explosive follow-up to Sleeping Giants (“One of the most promising series kickoffs in recent memory”—NPR) and Waking Gods (“Pure, unadulterated literary escapism”—Kirkus Reviews).

In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this one: First I have to read the first two books in the series, which I would really like to do. And then I can read this one. I have heard such great things about this series. I hope to get to it soon.


Have you read any of the books in this series? 
What upcoming releases are you looking forward to?


© 2018, 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, April 16, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

A faint chime tugged me out of sleep. ~ Opening of One Fell Sweep 


One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3) by Ilona Andrews
NYLA, 2016
Science Fiction/Fantasy; 340 pgs
Source: I purchased a copy for my own reading pleasure.

Initially, I did not think I would like One Fell Sweep as much as I did the first two books in the series, but I was wrong. I loved this one just as much, if not more.

Dina is always on the lookout for her parents, innkeepers like herself who disappeared along with their inn years ago. Hers and her brother’s search for them has come up empty so far. She still waits and hopes that one day someone who comes by her inn will see her parents’ photo and give away some hint of what may have happened to them. Meanwhile, Dina has an inn to run, catering to other worldly beings humans wouldn’t believe really existed. She is also trying to help her friend, Sean, a werewolf, who has seen and been through too much. Post-Traumatic Stress of the variety only a soldier would truly understand.

When a messenger delivers word of a plea for help from Dina’s sister and niece, she drops everything to go to their rescue. Traveling to a planet where no respectable person (or alien) would go, Dina, Aided by Sean and her vampire friend, Dina might have a fighting chance of saving them.

On top of that, Dina has taken in a new guest, a very rare species on the verge of extinction called a Hiru. He asks Dina for help in getting his people safely to a new planet. It would mean her collecting certain individuals and bringing them all together in one place. In exchange, the guest offers Dina something she wants more than anything. An answer that might lead her to her parents.

Unfortunately, a tribe of religious mercenaries is hell-bent on killing every last member of the Hiru. They believe it is a direct way to reach Heaven. Dina, of course, can’t let that happen. Pitted against one of the worst enemies she has ever faced, Dina will need all of her strength and magic and the aid of her inn, Gertrude Hunt, along with the help of her friends to defeat them.

There were several moments of breath holding, a cry out loud or two (my daughter reassured me everything would be okay), and there would have been a lot of nail-biting if I were a nail biter. I even shed a few tears, especially near the end.

I continue to be in awe of all Dina can do. And I am definitely on team Dina and Sean. I enjoyed getting to know Dina’s sister and her niece, Helen. I wouldn’t want to go against that little girl! I appreciated how Arland, the vampire, stepped in for the girl and how he was willing to give Maud her space. I can understand Maud wanting nothing to do with the vampires ever again given what she’s been through. But I do hope she’ll give Arland a chance.

Can I just say how much I love Gertrude Hunt? I want to live there! I want to be able to shape the rooms just as I want them as well.

As with the previous books, there is humor mixed in with this high tension novel. It’s such a fun series and I am dying to read more.


Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team. For more information about the authors and their books, visit their website.

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Weekly Mews: My New Kindle & April TBR Poll Winner!

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about.


Today will be a busy day for us--lots of running around. I am looking forward to a lazy day tomorrow. Hopefully I can do some of that catching up on my blog (and commenting) that I keep saying I will do. It has been a crazy few weeks with no end yet in sight.

My mom got home safely and her surgery yesterday went well from all reports. I couldn't be there for her, but the waiting room was full of family and friends who could. She is home now and resting. We should hear from the doctor in a few days.  From what I heard this morning from my brother, my mom is already up and trying to do things around her house.  She isn't one to stay down for long--even when she should be resting! Thanks again for all your prayers and kind thoughts!

My back is still giving me a bit of trouble. I mostly am having to be careful with how I bend and how much I carry. I made the mistake last night of loading the laundry basket up too much with clean clothes and then carrying it up the stairs. It made for a rough night and little sleep.

My Oasis arrived in the mail early this week! I haven't actually used it yet, other than to set it up. I want to start with the "right" book. It's more compact than I imagined it to be, but I love the feel of it in my hands. I think I am going to like it quite a bit!

 Front Cover

 Back Cover

Inside

What I Am Reading: I really struggled early in the week with what to read next (too many choices!). I kept going with Les Misérables and War and Peace as a result. That isn't a bad thing, of course, but I don't want to get too far ahead. I am really enjoying both now, so it is not hard to do.

I started on Jean Johnson's Dawn of the Flame Sea and am now nearly done with it. I do not know what I expected, but it wasn't what I got. The jury is still out on this one. The book got off to an interesting start though. It is lagging right now though, so I hope something happens soon to pick things up.

What I Am Watching: I am caught up with The Walking Dead, but will likely not get to see the season finale until later next week (I do not watch television live very often). I missed all of last season of Fear of the Walking Dead, but do plan to watch the third season anyway. If only for Morgan. I also have been watching Timeless, which I kind of like, but am still on the fence about--just as I have been since the show first aired. Why do I keep watching, you ask? It has everything to do with the history aspect. I am not at all thrilled about the current turn of events in the show though.

Tell me about what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your week? Do you have anything planned for this coming week?

*

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 




It was a close race, but it looks like The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor won with 12 votes to The Girl Who Came Home's 11 votes. A Memory of Violets only received 4 votes in the end. I am really excited to be jumping into a Hazel Gaynor novel, and look forward to reading The Girl From the Savoy. It does sound good! Thank you to all who voted in this month's poll!



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



 What is good for a doll and a cat is good for a dog (my mom's) too.


© 2018, 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, April 11, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

A man walked into a darkened room, moving on silent feet. ~ Opening of Sweep in Peace


Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2) by Ilona Andrews
NYLA, 2015
Science Fiction/Fantasy; 257 pgs

Sweep in Peace is the second book in the Innkeeper Chronicles. For those who do not know, Dina is an Innkeeper, and Gertrude Hunt is her Inn. She takes in wayward travelers from other worlds, protecting human beings from knowing just how big their world really is—aliens, other planets and all. She is reluctant to say yes when approached by an Arbitrator who shows up on her doorstep, asking her to host a peace summit. She is desperate, however, with bills to pay and in need of the guests who will help keep Gertrude Hunt alive. All other inns have turned the Arbitrator down, a sign of just how dangerous and impossible peace between the three warring factions will be.

Opening her doors to the Hope-Crushing Horde, Vampires and the Merchants of Baha-char, Dina takes her chances. It is a big task that she is not sure she is up to, but feels as if she has no other choice. Hiring a disgraced but talented chef, Dina does what she can to prepare and hopes her guests will not murder each other.

Sweep the Peace offered an even closer look at the world Ilona Andrews’ has created in their series. The three factions are fighting over a planet, having been at war for years with no end in sight. The death toll on all sides is high. The Horde and Vampires want complete control over the planet and the merchants want to establish a colony of their own as well as set up trade. All seems rather hopeless, and Dina is at a loss of what to do.

Tension was even higher in Sweep in Peace than it had been in the first novel, and at times it got quite dark, given the subject of war and the strife. Some might suggest that fantasy or science fiction is too “out there” or not real enough, but it is often closer to reality than we may want to believe. Perhaps not in creature or character, but in overall message and conflict. And that would be true in this instance. I liked the “human” side that the authors provide in Sweep in Peace. A reminder of all that is lost in war.

True to form, the book was lightened with humor inserted here and there (and more literary references, which I adored). I liked the various twists in this one, unexpected most of them, and appreciated the bond between inn and innkeeper even more. And, yes, you guessed right. I immediately went on to read the third book in the series.

Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team. For more information about the authors and their books, visit their website.

© 2018, 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, April 10, 2018

Wishing for Wednesday: Before Mars



Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. (Based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.)

Before Mars (Planetfall #3) by Emma Newman
Release Date: April 17, 2018 by Ace
After months of travel, Anna Kubrick finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth--and she'll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team.

But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can't remember writing. She unpacks her wedding ring, only to find it has been replaced by a fake.

Finding a footprint in a place the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn't as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind? Regardless of what horrors she might discover, or what they might do to her sanity, Anna has find the truth before her own mind destroys her.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I am hooked on this world Emma Newman has created and am already pulled into this one just from the description. What is going on?! I am curious about Anna and the situation she finds herself in. I must find out.


Does this interest you too?
What upcoming releases are you looking forward to? 


© 2018, 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, April 09, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl.


This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is the Books I Loved But Will Never Re-Read (submitted by Brandyn @ Goingforgoldilocks).  I have a rule about not keeping read books around the house that I do not intend to re-read one day. However, my problem is so many end up on my "maybe re-read" list. Which is why my bookshelves are overflowing still. The truth is though that I am not much of a re-reader when all is said and done. No matter what I tell myself. Other than picture books, I can count on one hand the number of books I have actually re-read in my life time.

After much thought and consideration, I came up with the following five books that I seriously doubt I will ever re-read again, but which I loved for one reason or another.

1.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov ~ The beauty of this book is in the writing which is just gorgeous. But the subject matter makes me physically ill. I doubt I would ever be able to sit through this one again.


2.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn ~ Even with all the flack this novel receives and my guessing most of the twists ahead of time, it was a fun read, and I really enjoyed it. I doubt I could read it again though as it is one of those books that seems to go over better when you don't know for sure what to expect.


3.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova ~ This was a well-written and poignant book that hit close to home. Too close to home. Once was enough. I cannot even bring myself to watch the movie.

4.

Push by Sapphire ~ Do you remember when this first came out? The movie brought the book out of obscurity. My heart ached for Precious, and I wanted so much to scoop her up and give her a hug and make her life so much better than it was and make her believe she was worth it. This was a gut-wrenching story. I made everyone around me read it the year I read it. I don't think I could re-read it though. 


5.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley ~ This book spoke to my very core, and it will hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. It is a case of my not being able to separate the artist from the art, however. I do not think I will ever be able to re-read this book. It certainly won't hold the same magic for me. It will always be tainted with the author's actions during her lifetime. Child sexual abuse is never okay.


What books have you loved that you will never read again?


© 2018, 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, April 08, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Brutus was dead. ~ Opening of Clean Sweep


Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1) by Ilona Andrews
NYLA, 2012
Science Fiction/Fantasy; 235 pgs
Source: I purchased this copy for my personal reading pleasure.

 You just have to tell me a book is by wife and husband writing team Ilona Andrews, and I know I will want to read it. It doesn’t really matter what it is about. Still, the Innkeeper Chronicles would have caught my attention even without the authors’ name attached. This fantasy/science fiction mash-up sounded irresistible.

Dina Demille seems like just your average person running a bed and breakfast in a small Texas town. When neighborhood pets start winding up dead, killed by a possible wild animal, Dina focuses her attention on the new resident in neighborhood, Sean Evans. Could he be behind the attacks? Dina will protect her neighborhood at all costs. Armed with a rather deadly broomstick and accompanied by her adorable Shih Tze, Dina is an Innkeeper, her home a way station for travelers from other worlds. She is tasked with caring for her guests and protecting theirs and the inn’s secrets.

Sean Evans may be new to town, but he has made the small Texas town his home and will do whatever it takes to protect his territory. Dina pegged him for a werewolf right away, and despite his initial protestations, he does finally admit to it. Dina and Sean reluctantly join forces to find out figure out who or what is threatening their idyllic neighborhood.

Then vampires arrive on the hunt for the predators that are lurking in Dina and Sean’s backyard—and the situation only grows more complicated from there. Dina must stand her ground and find a solution fast.

This series is just plain fun! It’s full of magic, a sentient inn, humor, literary references, werewolves, vampires, and otherworldly travel. I loved Dina and Sean and Beast and even the inn’s permanent guest, Caldena, who was both amusing and frightening.

In Clean Sweep, we learn how attached Dina is to the Inn itself, how the two provide each other with strength and magic. Dina grew up in an inn, both her parents being innkeepers before they mysteriously disappeared several years ago. Dina and her brother searched everywhere for them, but are uncertain of their fate. While her brother still searches, Dina knew the time had come to put down her own roots, and so she brought a dormant inn back to life. The Inn, Gertrude Hunt, is as much a character as Dina, and I wish I could explore her hallways and rooms.

Sean Evans had never known his own ancestor’s history, believing all his life he was some sort of aberration of a human. Dina opens his eyes to the truth, about his parents’ origins and how that tied into who he is, and the pieces begin to fall into place.

I admit I hadn’t paid too much attention to the description and so had really only been expecting fantasy—and so was pleasantly surprised when it turned out there was a very firm science fiction thread in the novel as well. It added to the richness of the world Ilona Andrews created.

Tensions were high, the humor spot on, and with a bit of romance on the side, Clean Sweep had me from the opening lines, and I couldn’t wait to dive into the second book once I finished this one, and that's just what I did.


Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team. For more information about the authors and their books, visit their website.


© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Weekly Mews: Easter Loot & April's TBR List Poll

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by the great Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently. 

I hope April has gotten off to a good start for all of you! Mouse has been enjoying her spring break and spending time with her grandmother. We had to replace our garbage disposal this week, which wasn't quite as easy as it first looked like it might be. The old one took a lot of effort to finally remove. You never realize how reliant on modern conveniences you are until you cannot use them. The in-laws are in town this weekend to celebrate Mouse's birthday. It is a month late, but they had a prior commitment and with my mom's cancer treatment up in the air at the time, it just seemed better to postpone the family celebration. Mouse, of course, didn't mind once I explained to her that this meant her birthday would last all that much longer--and she'd get more party time.

My Kindle Paperwhite, Charlotte, had a little accident about a week and a half ago. My hairbrush fell on it and cracked the screen. It's a decent size crack, I'm afraid.  I can still read on it, but after much thought, I finally decided that it might be time to put those Amazon gift cards I have been hoarding to use. I love my Paperwhite and considered getting a new one, but ultimately decided to give the Oasis a try. So, in the next couple of weeks I should have it in hand. I am most excited about the ability to alternate between reading and listening to books. Ask me in a few months if I actually use the feature, will you? Now to think of a name!

Life should be getting back to normal here this next week, and then you will hopefully start seeing me around the blogosphere a bit more. That is the plan anyway.


New to My Shelves: 

Easter Bookish Loot:
Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation by Mindy Johnson
(Anjin's book) 

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard 
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

Gift Card E-Book Purchases:
Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell, #1) by Jenn Bennett

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1) by Zoraida Córdova

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante (Maggie Hope, #6) by Susan Elia MacNeal

What I Am Reading: I dove into A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle earlier this week, and finished reading it Thursday night. I last read it when I was in elementary school, and so my memory of it was next to nothing. I have not yet seen the movie, but I want to. I hear it is different, which isn't surprising.


I have also been spending time catching up with Les Misérables and War and Peace (at least for the time being). I was trying to put my daughter to sleep one night and thought she might enjoy my reading a bit about Cosette as Cosette goes into the forest at night for water, and meets Jean Valjean for the first time.Three chapters later, she was still not sleepy, but I decidedly was. I haven't read further yet knowing she wants me to read more to her. I read a bit more of War and Peace to her as well. The part where Rostov comes home on leave from the war.  She keeps asking for more, and I hate to say no . . . I'm going to make a Classics reader out of her yet!

Next up I think I will start the classic The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. It seems to be calling my name the loudest.

What I Am Watching: I had been watching the new American Idol season and am not all that impressed. Going back and forth between that and The Voice, I definitely know which show fits my tastes more. And so I am done with American Idol, I think.

I have not had a chance to watch this past Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead yet, so I have some catching up to do. I accidentally read a couple spoilers though, although I do not think they will impact my viewing of the episode when I get to it. I am anxious to see how the season will wrap up in the next couple weeks. I have heard rumors of Morgan moving to the Fear of the Walking Dead show, which I missed the second season of. I might have to give Fear another try just for that reason if it is true.

My daughter discovered My Babysitter is a Vampire, and so we have been watching that. The title still confuses me a bit. It's a cute show though.

What I Am Worried About: My mom will be having surgery this next week. Thank you for your continued good thoughts and prayers. It really does mean a lot. On a more minor note, my back is giving me trouble again. Hopefully a little extra caution and care will help with the pain, and I will be back to normal soon.

What I Am Looking Forward To: Life getting back to a somewhat more predictable pattern. And Disneyland, which is still upcoming.

What I Am Grateful For:  Family and such supportive friends (like you!) and coworkers. I am also grateful for Ghirardelli chocolate, especially the dark chocolate ones filled with raspberry, and ice cold water.



Tell me about what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your week? Do you have anything planned for this coming week?

*

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 




I had wanted to dive into Hazel Gaynor's historical fiction work long before having read her and Heather Webb's Last Christmas in Paris this past fall, but just haven't managed to. Now seems the perfect time! But which book should I start with? Please help me decide!


The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor
A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman...
Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . .

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about the Titanic that she's harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Inspired by true events,
The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy's impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants. [Goodreads Summary]

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart. [Goodreads Summary]


The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor
Presenting a dazzling new historical novel … The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.

Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind? [Goodreads Summary]



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


© 2018, 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, April 05, 2018

Where Is Your Bookmark? (A Peek Into A Wrinkle in Time & My Best/Worst March Reads)

I will likely be finishing A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle before the day is out--or at the latest, this weekend. Even with a house full of company. I will find a way. Somehow. I am so close! This is actually a re-read for me, although it's been so long since I last read it, it might as well count as the first time. It is one of my husband's childhood favorites, and I quite enjoyed it too (even if I liked The Wind on the Door better).



A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the wonderful Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.
It was a dark and stormy night.
In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground.  
My thoughts: Such a famous first line, and one I imagine most have heard of before even if you might not have known where it came from. I love this opening. I can just picture it in my mind and feel the storm building outside.


A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.

The trees were lashed into a violent frenzy. Meg screamed and clutched at Calvin, and Mrs. Which's authoritative voice called out, "Qquiett, chilldd!"
Did a shadow fall across the moon or did the moon simply go out, extinguished as abruptly and completely as a candle? There was still the sound of leaves, a terrified, terrifying rushing. All light was gone. Darkness was complete.Suddenly the wind was gone, and all sound.  [page 56]

My thoughts: You would almost think that page 56 is close to the beginning of the book, the way the theme of the storm has continued to this point, wouldn't you? I assure you though, much has happened, and something even bigger is about to occur. Can't you just feel it coming reading this passage?


What do you think? Have you read this childhood Classic? Does this sound like something you would be interested in reading? 

*

Everyone has a favorite and then we also have something we dislike. Like a coin, there are two sides to every question. Each week, Carrie at The Butterfly Reads and Laura from Blue Eye Books ask participants to list what they like and don't like about that week's topic.


This week's topic is Best/Worst Read in March.


While I still found it entertaining, Ashlyn Chase's Hooked on a Phoenix didn't quite work for me when all was said and done.



On the other hand, my favorite read of the month was The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez. It was an emotional and poignant novel about two immigrant families in the United States.


What was your favorite and least favorite books read in March? 


© 2018, 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, April 04, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal

There will always be England! ~ Opening of The Prime Minister's Secret Agent 


The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (Maggie Hope Mystery #4) by Susan Elia MacNeal
Bantam, 2014
Fiction/Historical; 306 pgs

It had been awhile since I last visited with my favorite World War II British spy, Maggie Hope. I had not planned to dive into The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent when I did, but I needed a new book to start, and it was the one that caught my attention.

This is the 4th book in the Maggie Hope series by Susan Elia MacNeal. Maggie got her start as one of many secretaries for Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Having grown up in America, raised by an aunt, Maggie feels more at home in England, the home country of her father. Having proven to be quite resourceful and observant when she breaks a German code involving a devious plot, Maggie earned her way up the chain into Secret Agent status. Now, however, after experiencing the war first hand, Maggie is teaching future spies in Scotland, trying to push down the memories of the recent past.

While each of the books in the series can be read alone, I highly recommend reading them in order. Each one builds on the other, and details about Maggie’s life are revealed along the way that play a major role in each of the novels. While normally I try to avoid giving away too much in past books, I am going to risk it here. If you plan to read the series, starting with book one, you might want to stop reading now.

Much of the first part of the book is centered on Maggie as she struggles with Post Traumatic Stress. She’s hardened herself, numbing herself to much of what goes around her. She contemplates the worth of continuing to live. She is in a very dark place. And really, it is no wonder given all she has experienced over the last few years. Against her own desires, Maggie is ordered by her superior to visit her friend and former roommate who is performing in Edinburgh. There is nothing like murder to draw someone out of their funk, and it does just that for Maggie when she witnesses the death of a dancer on stage. Maggie puts all of her energy into finding out who was behind the poisoning, which may now be inadvertently killing her friend.

The novel is divided into three different threads. There is Maggie’s plot line, of course. There is Clara, the Nazi spy (and Maggie’s mother) who is facing death in a short amount of time unless she opens up about what she knows. And then the countdown to December 7, 1942, when the United States is finally drawn into World War II. The Japanese are planning their attack on Pearl Harbor, an attack that might not have been a big surprise if red tape, misogyny and political and branch rivalries hadn’t gotten in the way. It was one of those tense story lines in which I know what will happen, and yet I was practically biting my nails in suspense just the same.

Big Spoiler Section (highlight to read): I found it particularly interesting that over the course of the novel, Maggie never gave in to see her mother, even with her mother promising to reveal Nazi secrets only to Maggie. I imagine a face off is coming, but I hold Maggie in high esteem for putting her mother off after everything. Clara doesn’t deserve the time of day. Of course, it doesn’t help that the reader knows Clara doesn’t want to see her daughter due to guilt or devotion. It is hard to feel sympathy for such a manipulative and devious woman.

I am so glad I dove into The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent when I did. I enjoyed every minute of my visit with Maggie Hope, and look forward to visiting again soon.

To learn more about Susan Elia MacNeal and her books, please visit the author's website.


 © 2018, 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, April 03, 2018

Wishing for Wednesday: Speakeasy & On a Cold Dark Sea



Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. (Based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.)


Speakeasy by Alisa Smith
Release Date: April 10, 2018 by Thomas Dunne Books
In this literate and action-packed historical thriller, set during World War II, a plucky code-breaker fights to keep a deadly secret as her Bonnie-and-Clyde past threatens to catch up with her.

Thirty-year-old Lena Stillman is living a perfectly respectable life when a shocking newspaper headline calls up her past: it concerns her former lover, charismatic bank robber Bill Bagley. A romantic and charming figure, Lena had tried to forget him by resuming her linguistic studies, which led to her recruitment as a Navy code-breaker intercepting Japanese messages during World War II.

But can Lena keep her own secrets? Threatening notes and the appearance of an old diary that recalls her gangster days are poised to upset her new life.

Whom can she really trust? Is there a spy among the code-breakers? And who is it that wants her dead?
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read it: This actually was published last year by an independent publisher in Canada, but now is being put out by Thomas Dunne. It's the first I have heard about it, and just from the description, I am sure you can guess why I want to read it. World War II. Code breaking. Bonnie and Clyde type past. Secrets. This one has my name written all over it.

*

On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell
Release Date: April 10, 2018 by Lake Union Publishing
On April 15, 1912, three women climbed into Lifeboat 21 and watched in horror as the Titanic sank into the icy depths. They were strangers then…

Con artist Charlotte Digby lied her way through London and onto the Titanic. The disaster could be her chance at a new life—if she hides the truth about her past. Esme Harper, a wealthy American, mourns the end of a passionate affair and fears that everything beautiful is slipping from her grasp. And Anna Halversson, a Swedish farm girl in search of a fresh start in America, is tormented by the screams that ring out from the water. Is one of them calling her name?

Twenty years later, a sudden death brings the three women back together, forcing them to face the impossible choices they made, the inconceivable loss, and the secrets they have kept for far too long.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read it: This time of year often seems to bring out my love for historical fiction, and how can I resist a novel about three women who survived the Titanic, coming together decades later, and having to face a secret they've kept all that time? You are right. I can't.


Do either of these sound like books you might be interested in reading?
What upcoming releases are you looking forward to? 


© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Weekly Mews: March 2018 in Review

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by the great Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently. I am linking up to Nicole of Feed Your Addiction's Monthly Wrap-Up Post, where any book bloggers who write monthly wrap-up posts can link up and visit other bloggers to see what they have been reading. 



Spring is definitely here. I can feel it in the air. Yesterday was a beautiful day. The high was 89F. Luckily this Easter Bunny knows filling eggs with chocolate that will be is a no no this time of year. We do not have any big plans for Easter, although this Easter Bunny has everything ready for baskets and the egg hunt in the morning. After that, it will likely be a typical day in our house. If you celebrate, I hope you have a nice Easter!

March did not turn out quite out as originally planned, although we had enough advance notice that it did not feel like it all that much. My two week break from blogging was semi-productive. Mouse was sick for the first week, and I was sick for the second week. And now Anjin finds himself under the weather. Add to that our spring allergies . . .On the fun side, we celebrated Mouse's birthday early on in the month, had a visit from my brother and his wife mid-month, and my mom just got into town this past week. I got to see some of the photos from my mom's trip to Greece, and hear about what a great time she had. While I couldn't participate in the March For Our Lives because of a prior commitment, my mom and a good family friend were able to. I was with them in spirit, you can be sure. I loved seeing the crowds of people join together for such a good cause. My mom's dog's health took a turn for the worse recently, and while the medication seems to be working, we are still keeping a watchful eye on her for any more seizures. She's an older dog and the timing couldn't be worse with my mom due to go in for surgery again the second week in April.

Rehearsals for the Wizard of Oz got off to a good start, and Mouse is enjoying her new classes, especially musical theater. Fundraising for the show is in high gear too. I really hate fundraising, but it's a necessary evil. Shows and activities are not free, after all. Report cards came out. Mouse got to go horseback riding with her Girl Scouts troop. The day horse camp was one of the activities the girls wanted to spend their cookie money--that and Disneyland, which we will be doing in April. Mouse's dance studio generously donated a teacher and a classroom and gave the Girl Scout troop a free dance lesson in March as well for one of our meetings. Mouse, of course, was excited to show off her dance studio to her friends. Mouse's school Open House was this past week--and she got an opportunity to take me and her grandmother on a tour of her classroom. I had to take a little quiz to see if I knew my daughter's favorites. I missed a couple, including her favorite book. I guessed Maggie and the Monster. She put War and Peace (she likes it when I read excerpts to her at bedtime).

The new supervisor started in mid-March. I and another supervisor have been tasked with training him. Hopefully having him on board will bring us some relief after having been so short staffed the last couple months.

I hope to get to comments and visiting blogs in the next week or so. It is hard to do when my mom is in town and with my in-laws coming next weekend, my computer time is extremely limited. Thank goodness for the schedule ahead feature for blog posts!

My reading in March was about average for me. The reading fever of the first two months of the year seems to have subsided. I decided to knock off some of the paranormal romance novels that have been lingering on my Kindle because I knew they would be quick and easy reads. I finished the last of my Going Postal Mail books for this round, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I also made sure to read March's TBR List winner, which many of you voted for.

Here is what I read in March:
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
  • Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase
  • My Tempting Highlander by Maeve Greyson
  • My Seductive Highlander by Maeve Greyson
  • The Storm King by Brendan Duffy
The Book of Unknown Americans is probably my favorite book read in March. The Storm King comes in at a close second. I loved that the weather here was somewhat stormy as I read it--it added to the atmosphere for The Storm King quite nicely! My least favorite is probably Hooked on a Phoenix, but it was entertaining overall. My reviews of all three are still to come.

Book Reviews Posted in March (but not necessarily read in March):
Non-Book Review Posts in March:
New to My Mouse's Shelves in March (you can thank her birthday and the school book fair)


Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine by Herman Parish & Lynne Avril
Fancy Nancy: Oodles of Kittens by Jane O'Connor & Robin Preiss Glasser
The Fish with the Deep-Sea Smile by Margaret Wise Brown
Dear Girl, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal & Holly Hatam

Raggedy Ann in the Magic Book by Johnny Gruelle, illustrated by Worth Gruelle

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin and Steve Antony

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
When Sophie Thinks She Can't... by Molly Bang

The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate (The Princess in Black #5) by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Katie Fry, Private Eye #1 by Katherine Cox & Vanessa Brantley-Newton
A Paw-some Mystery (Barbie and Her Sisters in the Great Puppy Adventure) by Mary Man-Kong Space Princess (Barbie Star Light Adventure)

Barbie Video Game Hero Code Racers by Elisabetta Melaranci, Federica Salfo & Francesco Legramandi

And then because I couldn't help myself (for me):

Crimes Against Magic (Hellequin Chronicles #1) by Steve McHugh

A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1) by Steve McHugh

Hexed Detective: An Uncanny Kingdom Urban Fantasy by Matthew Stott & David Bussell

What I Watched: I may not have been able to read while sick, but I managed to watch the second season of Dark Matter. I also am in the middle of the second season of Jessica Jones. My daughter and I have started re-watching Mia and Me, a part live action, part animated show about a teen girl facing various obstacles in her real life and then stepping into the shoes of an elf and solving problems there as well. We also have been watching the television show Spirit Riding Free, which we both love. We haven't actually seen the movie the show is a spin-off of yet, but one of these days I am sure we will.

Those of you who watch The Walking Dead, how are you feeling about this season so far? The Saviors latest "weapon" is sure a doozy! 

What I Am Grateful For:  My mom's safe arrival for her spring visit. I am also grateful for the generosity of the dance studio directors for opening their doors for our Girl Scout troop--they are a great group all around. The fun time we had at the horse ranch. The girls had a blast. And I love seeing Mouse so happy. And I appreciate my boss's willingness to cover for me so I can attend Mouse's award ceremony at school this past week.

What I Am Looking Forward To: Disneyland with Mouse and her Girl Scout troop in April. Life getting back to some semblance of order in another week or two.


Challenge Update:

#COYER Winter Switch ~ The challenge ended on the 9th of March, and I did better than I anticipated. I completely forgot to link any of my book reviews to the website though--which seems to be a common problem for me. Oh well. I am satisfied with how it turned out just the same.
What's In A Name Reading Challenge ~ I still stand at only having read one book for this challenge. I probably should work on this one more.

The Grand World of Books Reviews Bingo ~ I am sure I can cross some books off of this list, but I just haven't had time to fit what I have read into the categories. Hopefully I can do that by next month's wrap up.

Unruly Reader Bingo ~ See above comment.

2018 Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge ~ I have read the first three Innkeeper Chronicle novels by Ilona Andrew so far, which fit into this challenge. I plan to post my reviews soon.

2018 Discussion Post Challenge ~ I have only managed to post one discussion post so far this year. I have ideas. I just need time to write the posts!

2018 Blog All About It Challenge ~ I have been able to stay on top of this one. This month I wrote about Favorite Scents.

Les Misérables Read-Along ~ I understand now why many people seem to get stuck on Waterloo. Yeah. I would too if I wasn't determined to read this book. I was so relieved when I saw Thenardier's name pop up at the end of the Waterloo section. A connection to the rest of the book! I am now about two chapters ahead in my reading.

War and Peace Read-Along ~ Although I am a bit behind, I find myself enjoying my time with War and Peace these days.  I still do not have all of the characters straight, but several stand out to me now and I find myself interested in their stories. Surprisingly, I am most enjoying the scenes on the battle field and with the soldiers. Although I was really curious to see whether a particular proposal would be accepted or not--and I thought it was perfect the way that one played out. I'm anxious to get back to those characters and find out what the fallout is going to be. My daughter has become a fan of War and Peace. She says because there is a prince and princesses. A good friend of mine suggests it might have more to do with the fact that my daughter enjoys my reading to her--and sharing my own books with her. While I am not reading the entire book to her, I do read passages to her at bedtime.


How did your March shape up reading and life wise? What was your favorite book you read in March? I hope you all have a wonderful April! Happy Reading!

Mouse's Birthday Cake

 Unicorn in a box

 Glow in the dark miniature golf

Cuddling with the baby


 Mama and her 6 week old

Horse Painting. Literally. 

Grooming Rambo as he makes a funny face for the camera

Riding Rambo 


 © 2018, 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.

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