Sunday, December 09, 2018

Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry

It was the first day of December in Salem, Massachusetts, my hometown. ~ Opening of Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry


Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Murder, #7) by Carol J. Perry
Kensington, 2018
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 371 pgs
Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Lee Barrett loves her job as the new field reporter for WICH-TV in Salem. While on assignment to interview the head of the city's Holiday Walk Committee, Lee finds him dead at his desk. Lee evidently is not new to murder investigations (after all, this is the 7th book in the series), but it does not make stumbling on a dead body any easier. Putting her investigative reporter skills to good use and piecing together her psychic visions, Lee sets out to find a murderer and uncover the cause of some unusual occurrences she has begun to observe.  Can she do it before too many more bodies pile up and before the big blizzard comes to town? 

Bells, Spells, and Murders is my first introduction to Lee Barrett, Aunt Ibby and their perceptive cat O'Ryan. I enjoy a good paranormal cozy mystery, and I am happy to say this was a good one. A reporter makes a good protagonist in the mystery genre. They have the perfect excuse for interfering in a police investigation--not only to get to the bottom of the crime for justice sake, but also to get their scoop. Lee Barrett is a likeable character: conscientious, good at her job, and clever. Her romantic relationship with a police detective gives her a bit of an edge, even if he is not as forthcoming with information as she might like. 

The paranormal element in the novel is definitely there, but is not overwhelming. Lee has visions that offer her clues, but the clues are often unclear. There is also an appearance or two by a witch who reads Tarot cards. And, of course, O'Ryan's helpful direction now and then. It is all subtle enough that I do not think either particularly lended to the solving of the crime, and so for those who may not care as much for the paranormal, you still might enjoy this cozy.

This made a great holiday read, given the holiday time setting, as Lee gets in some of her Christmas shopping, picks out her tree, and does stories on various holiday events around Salem. I enjoyed going along with Lee and her camera woman as they carried out their various assignments. I liked the mystery itself--the occasional twist and the resolution was satisfying, even if not a complete surprise. Bells, Spells, and Murders was an entertaining read, a perfect way to ring in the Christmas season! 


For more information about the author and her books, visit her 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.

December's TBR List Poll Winner!

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 Sunday 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 is a tie! Now that I have officially finished my two big year long reads, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Hugo's Les Misérables (both in the same week!), I am okay with this outcome. I can dedicate the rest of the year to lighter reads. So I say, bring it on!

It was a close race. The losing book, Wishing Cross Station by February Grace, got five votes while the other two each received six.

The winners are:


A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
and

 
A Brazen Curiosity (Beatrice Hyde-Clare Mysteries, #1) by Lynn Messina
Thank you to all who took the time to vote! 


© 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, December 04, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#26)



The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!


Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002, Harper Collins)
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: I have long wanted to read this book, and it has been sitting on my shelf for years now. I have loved everything I have read by Gaiman so far and this sounds like such a fun creepy read. My daughter tried to watch the movie once and got scared so didn't finish it. She wants me to hurry up and read the book so she can try the movie again, this time with me. 

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The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.



The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye
Release Date: January 8, 2019 by G.P. Putnam Sons
The new and exciting historical thriller by Lyndsay Faye, author of Edgar-nominated Jane Steele and Gods of Gotham, which follows Alice “Nobody” from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland’s the Paragon Hotel.

The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers–burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new “family” of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.

Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web? [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: After reading and falling in love with Jane Steele, I will read anything Lyndsay Faye writes. It helps that this book sounds really good too! A bit of history mixed in a thriller? I must read this one!


A Literal Mess by J.C. Kenney
Release Date: January 8, 2019 by Lyrical Underground
The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert...

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . . [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: It's hard to resist a cozy featuring anyone in a profession related to books. And I definitely can't resist a cat named Ursula.



Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?


© 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, December 02, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

The ringing of the phone jerked me from my sleep. ~ Opening of Magic Slays


Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5) by Ilona Andrews
Berkley Publishing, 2011 
Fantasy; 308 pgs
Source: Gift from my husband

It has been too long since I last read a Kate Daniels' novel. Way too long. I admit I felt a little lost at first, but soon found my footing again. Oh, how I love this series! Kate is trying to get her private detective agency off the ground, but without much success. It doesn't help that her mate is the Beast Lord, Curran, whose bad side no one wants to get on. When a call comes in from Atlanta's premier Master of the Dead, Kate's is wary. He needs her help catching a vampire who is on the loose. And then another client walks through her door--an unexpected client whose business Kate sorely needs. Kate takes the case despite the reservations of her friend and new-hire Andrea. Faced with a major threat to all those who possess magic, Kate is working against the clock to save the imperfect world they live in. It means bringing together groups of people who would rather see each other dead. Will she be able to pull it off?

The reader gets more of a glimpse into Kate's backstory, particularly of her mother and father's relationship. It sheds a lot of light into how Kate became the Kate we know today. We also see more of Julie in this fifth book in the series, and her story line is particularly heartbreaking. It's yet another example of the messed up world the characters in the series live in.

I am a big fan of Kate and Curran as a couple. The two have such good chemistry. And although Kate still sometimes doubts Curran's  true feelings for her (can we blame her with her past?), he does seem to really love her and is willing to support in her in (just about) anything. Kate is not a woman who needs to rely on a man for survival though, which is something I love about her character.

Magic Slays was a good reminder of why I fell in love with this series in the first place. It is intense, full of action, witty and a page turner. There were some definite sad moments, a few revelations, and occasional sighs of relief. Things really heat up for the characters, and it was good to see so many come together in this one. I will not be waiting so long to read the next in the series. Not after the ending in this one. 


For more information about the husband and wife writing team, Ilona Andrews, and their books, visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook.


© 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, December 01, 2018

Sunday Mews: Happy December & December 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 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.  



Happy December! I have my holiday cards almost ready for mailing, our tree still isn't up (haven't  found the time!) nor our Christmas lights, half of the Christmas shopping is done, and The Nutcracker is in two weeks. I know this time of year is busy for most of you as well as we make our way towards the end of the year. It always comes so quickly! I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!

New to My Shelves: 

I broke down and used one of my birthday gift cards and picked up these gems which had been on my wish list for a long while:

The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery, #1) by Gigi Pandian

Mind Games (The Disillusionists, #1) by Carolyn Crane


The Unleashing (Call of Crows, #1) by Shelly Laurenston


Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1) by Zen Cho

A Grave Calling (Bodies of Evidence, #1) by Wendy Roberts
A Grave Search (Bodies of Evidence, #2) by Wendy Roberts


The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic, #1) by Patrick Weekes (for my husband)

What I Am Reading: I have not started a new book yet after finishing my last one. I will be diving back into War and Peace and Les Misérables most likely though. This is the final month for both read-alongs. I was thinking maybe one of my holiday-themed reads might be in order. Something that is good for a distracted mind to focus on.

What I Am Watching: I was able to take a week off from work over my daughter's Thanksgiving school break, and so took the opportunity to see the new Grinch movie. Mouse and I both enjoyed it. We also saw Wreck It Ralph Breaks the Internet (my husband was able to come with us to see this one). I asked Mouse which she liked better (or if she liked them both the same),  and she did not hesitate by naming Wreck It Ralph Breaks the Internet. When I asked her what she liked about it, I was surprised by her answer. I expected something like "when Vanellope meets the princesses" or "when Vanellope steals Shank's car". Instead, she said it was because the movie made her feel a wide range of emotions--"happy and sad and happy all over again"--I guess she really is my daughter (even if she does not like peanut butter).

Off the Blog: November got off to such a rough start: the mas shooting at a nightclub, deadly wildfires which later led to flooding toward the end of the month. Add in all the busy with The Nutcracker and the rehearsals. My mother-in-law's surgery went well the middle of the month, and we drove up to visit her, my father-in-law and brother-in-law for Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law was moved to a rehab center during our visit and was released home Friday. It will be a long recovery process, but she's feeling very positive. My own mother made the 8 hour drive down for a quick visit for my great aunt's 90th birthday celebration this weekend. She will be returning home soon and then will be back in a couple weeks for a longer visit, this time bringing her furry companion, Allie. We are all curious to see how our kitten does with a dog in the house. I did a bit of fall cleaning in Mouse's room and other various areas she's taken over in the house while on vacation. It was quite the chore, and I feel so accomplished!

 I dumped her bins on our kitchen table as I sorted the stuff in them, separating out donations,throw-aways, and organizing what we were going to keep. This is just a taste of the battle I faced.

 The table after I was nearly finished. 

Much better.

Here is what I finished reading in November:
  • The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schötz
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  • Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry
November was another poor showing for me numbers wise.  To be fair, I did manage to stay on target for both of my year long read-along books, War and Peace and Les Misérables. I even got ahead in Les Misérables. I imagine it will be much the same this next month as I am determined to finish both before the year is out. Although maybe taking on two big classic chunksters at once was not the wisest idea, I have no regrets. I have enjoyed both quite a bit. Even my blogging and blog visiting suffered this month. It is a very busy time for my family, and add in the holidays, well, I suppose it was a given. At least I managed to finish my November TBR List poll winner. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to going back and reading the earlier books in the series. And I finally got my daughter to give The Wizard of Oz a try on our drive north for Thanksgiving. We listened to the audio version and everyone enjoyed it.


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

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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 Sunday 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 considered not doing a poll this month given everything going on and how little time I will likely have on the computer this month, but this is one of my favorite features, and I just can't help myself. Going through my TBR piles, these are the three that immediately popped out at me: all short and on the lighter side. (And aren't the covers pretty?)


A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.
[Goodreads Summary]

Wishing Cross Station by February Grace
"Don’t stay a moment longer than you have to. Don’t say too much. Don’t pollute the timeline."

When nineteen-year-old college library page Keigan Wainwright is sent to pick up a private donation of books for the school’s collection, he has no idea where one of those books will take him, or what it will take from him.

Retracing a powerful man’s footsteps through the past, Keigan finds himself caught in the same dangerous trap: falling in love with a woman he was never meant to know, and uncertain he will ever find his way home. [Goodreads Summary]






A Brazen Curiosity (Beatrice Hyde-Clare Mysteries, #1) by Lynn Messina
Twenty-six-year-old Beatrice Hyde-Clare is far too shy to investigate the suspicious death of a fellow guest in the Lake District. A spinster who lives on the sufferance of her relatives, she would certainly not presume to search the rooms of her host's son and his friend looking for evidence. Reared in the twin virtues of deference and docility, she would absolutely never think to question the imperious Duke of Kesgrave about anything, let alone how he chose to represent the incident to the local constable.

And yet when she stumbles upon the bludgeoned corpse of poor Mr. Otley in the deserted library of the Skeffingtons' country house, that's exactly what she does. [Goodreads Summary]


Have you read any of these? Which one do you think I should read this month?





Thank you for voting! I hope you all have a wonderful week! 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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

Washington Irving got it wrong. ~ Opening of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel


The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo
St. Martin's Griffin, 2018
Fiction/Fantasy/Historical; 416 pgs
Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Although I will not be doing a formal write up of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I did reread it before diving into The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. I thought it would be a nice segue from one book to the other. I was reminded how beautiful Irving's writing is, not to mention just how eerie his tale is. It has long become canon in American literature.

For those new to the story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is about a school teacher, Ichabod Crane, who arrives in Sleepy Hollow to teach. He has little means, and relies on the kindness of his pupils' families and other families in the area to put him up and provide him with sustenance. He meets the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel and the brawny Brom Van Brunt, who is known for causing mischief and strife. Ghost stories are nothing new to Sleepy Hollow, and that of the Headless Horseman is one of the most famous. Ichabod Crane is about to find that out first hand.

Author Alyssa Palombo builds on the original tale, writing a novel from the perspective of Katrina Van Tassel. Her love for music and books matches that of Ichabod Crane's who has come to stay in Van Tassel home as he begins his assignment of school teacher in their town. He has little to offer the beautiful young woman other than music lessons and good conversation. She falls for him nonetheless, even knowing her father might not be a fan of the match. Brom, the son of a neighboring farmer, is much more to her father's tastes. Katrina and Brom were once childhood friends, but a falling out over a friend of theirs is not something Katrina is willing to forgive at all. Brom, however, has long loved Katrina and wants to make her his wife. Would he do anything to make that happen? When Ichabod disappears on All Hallow's Eve night, Katrina begins to wonder. Or is the legend of the Headless Horseman really true as the signs suggest?

I confess it took me a bit to get into Alyssa Palombo's novel. I found myself watching the first few episodes of Sleepy Hollow, risking getting the television show's characters images stuck in my head. Fortunately, that didn't happen. It did help in getting me more in the mood for the novel, however. And I soon found myself caught under Palombo's spell.

When I first heard about this novel and considered accepting it for review, I noticed mention of the romance being a main focus. And in a way it is. The romance between Ichabod and Katrina kicks off quickly. The heat between the two characters and their frequent trysts was much like two young lovers who cannot keep their hands off each other. Katrina, raised as an only child in one of the wealthiest families of Sleepy Hollow, is a bit spoiled and immature. Over the course of the novel, however, her character does grow. This is not a romance novel, however, as the reader will come to see.

I enjoyed the ghost stories Katrina relates throughout the novel, particularly to Ichabod in the first half of the book. I have always enjoyed historical ghost stories, and these were no different in just how compelling, sad and creepy they could be.

Of all the characters in the novel, I was most taken with Charlotte Jansen, Katrina's best friend. Rumor has it she is a witch, given her uncanny ability of foresight. Set in a time when witchcraft is more than frowned upon, Charlotte and her mother, the town healer, are very careful in what they do and say. She proves to be a faithful friend to Katrina and stands by her side throughout, even when she does not agree with the choices Katrina makes.Katrina herself soon discovers a use for a little magic, and her own natural abilities.

While The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel got off to a shaky start for me, it ended strong, and overall I can say I enjoyed the novel. With a bit of mystery, romance, a coming of age story, and just the right amount of creepiness, this was an entertaining historical novel. 


For more information about the author and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on 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, November 27, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#25)



The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!


Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (2009, Little, Brown & Company)
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village--they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men--her own "Siete Magníficos"--to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.

Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: I met the author a few years ago at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and purchased an autographed copy of this book to read. I still haven't managed to get to it. I am still intrigued by the premise, and know I need to make time for this one soon.

*

The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.


The Gown by Jennifer Robson
Release Date: December 31, 2018 by William Morrow
From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: Historical fiction, with dual timelines about ordinary people doing great things has always been a draw for me. Plus, I have read other books by Jennifer Robson and enjoyed them quite a bit.



Nightchaser (Endeavor, #1) by Amanda Bouchet
Release Date: January 1, 2019 by Sourcebooks/Casablanca
Captain Tess Bailey and her crew of Robin Hood-like thieves are desperate and on the run. Pursued by a vicious military general who wants them dead or alive, Tess has to decide if she can trust Shade Ganavan, a tall, dark and arrogant stranger with ambiguous motivations.

Shade Ganavan had oodles of arrogance, oodles of charm, and oodles of something that made me want to kick him in the nuts.

What Tess and Shade don’t know about each other might get them killed…unless they can set aside their differences and learn to trust each other—while ignoring their off-the-charts chemistry. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: There's just something about science fiction novels featuring a group of do good thieves . . . I am looking forward to giving this one a try.



Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?


© 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, November 25, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

For Gilene, spring was the season neither of rain nor of planting, but of suffering. ~ Opening of  Phoenix Unbound 


Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire #1) by Grace Draven
Ace Book, 2018
Fantasy; 400 pages
Source: E-Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Set in a time and world in which slavery and sacrifice are a way of life for many. Betrayed by one of his own clansmen, Azarion was sold into slavery where he has earned a reputation as the fiercest of gladiators. His patience and perseverance are about to pay off, however. Gilene has a gift for illusion--and for controlling fire. For years, her village has made her their annual sacrifice. The empire has no idea she is the same woman sacrificed by the village each year. She expects this year to be no different. Only, Azarion knows her secret. He is able to see beyond her disguise and plans to use her to gain his own freedom and reclaim the birthright of his clan. 

This is my first novel by Grace Draven, and I was impressed with  the detail of her world building and the depth of her characters. Both Gilene and Azarion are hardened by their life experiences, not trusting anyone, and bent on their own survival. I really felt for Gilene and her situation. She really was between a rock and a hard place. Wanting to protect her family, resentful of the position she's been put in by the villagers, and suddenly all that is threatened by Azarion. While I did not completely agree with Azarion's methods, it was easy to understand why he turned to blackmail to get what he wanted. He had been tortured for years by the Empress, forced to kill in fights, and betrayed by his own clansman. He longed to return to his family and right the wrongs done to him. 

I was most taken by the two characters plight and their evolving relationship. I would be lying if I did not have a little problem with the growing love between them. Fortunately it was not something that burst forth from the first page. While Azarion realized his attraction to the young woman sooner in the book, it took a long while for Gilene to acknowledge her own growing feelings for him. Considering their positions--that Azarion was basically holding Gilene against her will--I wasn't sure how to feel about the two growing closer. I reminded myself of their situations and the type of world they lived in. And I appreciated that the author did not gloss over their circumstances and addressed it head on. 

Grace Draven had me completely immersed in her characters and their plights. I wanted so much for both Gilene and Azarion to succeed in their goals and find the peace they deserved. Phoenix Unbound is a dark fantasy that left me wanting to know more about the world Draven has created. I was held in suspense, found myself tearing up at the end, and cannot wait for more.  I hope future books will shed more light on Gilene's powers. I feel like her story is only beginning.


For more information about the author and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.


© 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, November 20, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#24)



The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!


The Impersonator (Roaring Twenties, #1) by Mary Miley (2013, Minotaur Books)
In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family's vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he's found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he's wrong. Orphaned young, Leah's been acting since she was a toddler.

Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she's let go from her job, Oliver's offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There's only one problem: Leah's act won't fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie's disappearance.

Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I love a good mystery involving an impersonator, and this likely landed on h shelf for that very reason. Vaudeville, bootleggers and gangsters? Sounds like a lot of fun! 

*

The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.


Wine and Punishment by Sarah Fox
Release Date: December 18, 218 by Kensington Books
In the first in an engaging new mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox, the owner of a charming literary pub finds her fresh start on the rocks thanks to a case of murder.

Booklover Sadie Coleman knows that in life, as in fiction, the right setting can make a world of difference. The small town of Shady Creek, Vermont, seems like the perfect place to start over after losing her Boston job to a merger and her relationship to her ex’s gambling addiction. She’s bought and redecorated the old grist mill pub, transforming the Inkwell into a cozy spot where tourists and regulars alike can enjoy a pint or a literary-themed cocktail, or join one of several book clubs.

Little by little, Sadie is adjusting to the rhythms of her new home. Fall in Shady Creek is bookmarked by the much-anticipated Autumn Festival, complete with a pumpkin catapult competition and pie bake-off. Unfortunately, the season also brings an unwelcome visitor—Sadie’s ex, Eric, who’s angling for a second chance . . .

Before Sadie can tell Eric to leave, he’s found dead near the Inkwell. When the local antique shop catches fire on the same night, it’s clear the town is harboring at least one unsavory character. Now, with her Aunt Gilda, her friend Shontelle, and the pub’s patrons all in the mix, Sadie must uncover the truth . . . before a killer declares last call. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: As you know, I cannot resist a cozy featuring a fellow booklover--and a literary pub to boot? I cannot wait to give this series a try!



Strawberry Hill by Catherine Anderson
Release Date: December 31, 2018 by Berkley
Newcomer to the sheriff's department Erin De Laney knows next to nothing about wilderness patrols, but she's also never been one to back down from a challenge. So when a rude and stubborn cowboy takes her by surprise on her first day patrolling the mountain trails as a part-time ranger, she lets him have it.

Wyatt Fitzgerald doesn't consider his deafness a disability and he doesn't want special consideration from anyone--least of all, a spoiled city girl like Erin. He prides himself on his ability to read lips and when she confronts him, Wyatt sees no reason to volunteer to her that he's deaf.

But there's no escaping each other in the small Oregon town, especially once Erin seeks him out to make amends. Wyatt gave up on dating long ago, but the written correspondence he and Erin begin to share speak to him like nothing else ever has. Out of their tentative truce blossoms a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime love if he's willing to give her his heart and make her his. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: Sometimes I am in the mood for a little romance, and I have enjoyed one of Catherine Anderson's novels before. I like that this one features a deaf hero--something you do not see often enough in romance fiction today. 



Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?


© 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, November 19, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Of all of my many murders, committed for love and for better reasons, the first was the most important. ~ Opening of Jane Steele


Jane Steele by Lynday Faye
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2016
Fiction (Historical); 416 pgs
Source: Gift from my husband

My husband gave me this book for Christmas one year after seeing it on my Christmas list. It had gotten good reviews and the tie-in to Jane Eyre was a sure sell for me. I hoped I would like it, but admit I was a bit weary given it was a twist on one of my all-time favorite novels.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved this novel from the story itself to the references to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It is obvious Lyndsay Faye is paying homage to the original. This satirical take on the classic Jane Eyre could not have been more perfect. It is witty and charming, dark and suspenseful, and ever so dramatic with just the right amount of romance.

Jane Steele's life mirrors that of her favorite literary character in many ways. Only not so much in others, as Jane Steele will point out to the reader. Written in an autobiographical style, Jane often references Bronte's novel, comparing herself and her life to that of the novel's heroine. Orphaned at a young age, Jane finds herself at the mercy of an aunt who hates her and a lecherous cousin. Seeking escape, she agrees to attend a boarding school where life couldn't be more worse. After an unexpected turn of events, she and a friend flee to London where they do their best to get by. There may be a body or three--maybe more---that are left behind in Jane's wake. She isn't one to suffer being a victim easily, nor does she like to see those she cares about taken advantage of.

Jane has long seen herself as a sort of bad seed, on the path to hell for sure. She is guilty of murder and has little regret. When making a living as a writer of macabre "last confession" sold on the street, she comes across an ad for a governess at the very house she had once lived as a young girl. She had been led to believe the estate was hers by birthright and comes up with a plan to reclaim what should have been hers. And so on to Highgate House she goes under an assumed identity, taking up a post as the governess for a young Indian girl adopted by the master of the house, Mr. Thornfield, a former army doctor recently home from the Sikh Wars.

Jane soon learns that not everything is as it seems at Highgate House, the Sikh butler, Sardar Singh, is more than he appears, and there are secrets--dark secrets--that Jane is determined to uncover. The more she learns, the closer she and Mr. Thornfield grow. But with her past and his secrets, is it possible for them to find their happily ever after like Jane Eyre found with her Edward Rochester?

I was captivated by Lyndsay Faye's novel from the very first line and soon smitten with Jane Steele and her tale, even as cold as she could seem at times. The historical detail and the literary references make this novel all the better. I had not known much about the Sikh Wars before reading the novel, admittedly, but I soon found myself wanting to know more. I loved the more feminist twist on the Jane character and appreciated the research Faye went into to capture the time period so well.

While some may not appreciate a serial killing version of a beloved character, I was quite taken with this homage to one of my favorite novels. I look forward to exploring more of Lyndsay Faye's work.


For more information about the author and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.


© 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, November 18, 2018

Mouse's Corner, The Sunday Edition: Nutcracker Preparation & Bedtime Reading


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.


The Nutcracker rehearsals are in full swing. My husband and I have been putting together and restoring props while Mouse takes to the dance floor in rehearsals. Nerves are setting in the closer we get, with only four weeks left before showtime. Only two of her costumes have come in, and we are waiting for three more.

Mouse Costume 

Baby Doll Costume

New to Mouse's Shelves:


The first six books in the Aaron Blabey The Bad Guys series (Scholastic Book Order)

Goldie Blox Ruins Rules the School
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
Millions, Billions, & Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers
Night Sky
(Scholastic Book Order)

ish (Gift from Grandma)

What Mouse is Reading: In going through her bookshelf the other night, Mouse pulled a book off her shelf and asked her dad to read it to her. I flipped out. Well, more inwardly than outwardly. I was quick though to say that wouldn't happen. I told them both that I wanted to read the book to her. I had never read it before, and had been looking forward to reading it with Mouse. I just had expected it to be in another year or two. That book? Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. We have been reading a chapter a night just about, sometimes two. Mouse and I are both loving it. And yes, I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. We have just reached the chapter in which Anne goes to Sunday School.

Mouse reading Ada Twist Scientist to me

What Mouse is Watching: Mouse has discovered the Netflix show Brainchild, which even her dad and I have gotten into. It's a show about fun scientific facts. 


I hope you all had a great week! What have you been up to? What are you reading? 

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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schötz

Humans and cats: two different species with a common language that bridges the divide between them--is such a thing even possible? ~ Opening of The Secret Language of Cats


The Secret Language of Cats: How to Understand Your Cat For A Better, Happier Relationship 
by Susanne Schötz, translated by Peter Kuras
Hanover Press, 2018
Nonfiction; 272 pgs

My love for cats is obvious by just one look at my blog. And so when I was asked if I was interested in reviewing The Secret Language of Cats as part of the TLC tour, it did not take long for me to say yes. I grew up with dogs and was well into adulthood when I took in my first cat. I have had cats in my life for just over sixteen years now. I think I am fairly good at guessing some of what my cats want by the sounds they make and their body language and behavior. I am by no means an expert though.

In Susanne Schötz's novel I found both validation and also new insight into my cats and the various sounds they make. Dr. Schötz has the advantage of being a linguist, with an ear for variations in sound quality, syllables, melodies and prosody. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, and has extended her interest in human phonetics to that of cats. Her interest in cat sounds and language grew from her love for cats as well as her love for research. As I read her book and even after, I find myself listening more carefully to the sounds my cats are making, trying to discern some of the detail in the sounds they make. It isn't easy for someone with an untrained ear, but hopefully with time it will get easier.

Cats and humans do not share the same language, and while research has shown cats do have common identifiable sounds, there is variation between cats. While some sounds are universal, others may not be. Cultural, geographic and breed-based differences exist. Just how much cats pick up from their humans and to what degree they adjust their language to be understood by us is still under investigation, but the belief is that this does occur.

I liked that the author went into detail about cat behavior along with the different sounds they may be making. The two go hand in hand and can make the difference in what a cat may want or be trying to convey. The author also gave concrete examples of a variety of situations, many of which are based on her experiences with her own cats.

Dr. Schötz is as methodical in her research as she can be. She understands that studying cat language is a challenge in and of itself. I appreciated her techniques and preference for conducting any research in a cat's natural setting, not to mention putting as little stress on them as possible. No labs or invasive medical procedures were used. Simply the home environment and recording devices--and lots of time. You cannot expect a cat to purr contently in while in a stressful laboratory, after all.

Dr. Schötz hopes that her research will not only give us a better understanding of cat language, but also how that understanding can improve our relationships with cats both on the home front and in such areas as animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sanctuaries.

Towards the end of her book, Dr. Schötz talks a little about her current project, Meowsic, which deals most specifically with using cats in animal therapy. While dogs tend to be the go to animals because of their high train-ability and excellent noses, cats have proven to be good companions too.

Although at times a bit dry due to the detailed descriptions and breakdown of the various vocalizations a cat can make, I enjoyed Dr. Schötz's The Secret Language of Cats and found it to to be a fascinating read. Perhaps some of what I have learned in this book will improve my own relationship with my cats.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Secret Language of Cats on the TLC Book Tours route!


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.  Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.





© 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.