Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#21)

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!

Flower Net (Red Princess #1) by Lisa See 
(Random House, 2007)
In the depths of a Beijing winter, during the waning days of Deng Xiaoping’s reign, the U.S. ambassador’s son is found dead–his body entombed in a frozen lake. Around the same time, aboard a ship adrift off the coast of Southern California, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Stark makes a startling discovery: the corpse of a Red Prince, a scion of China’s political elite.

The Chinese and American governments suspect that the deaths are connected and, in an unprecedented move, they join forces to see justice done. In Beijing, David teams up with the unorthodox police detective Liu Hulan. In an investigation that brings them to every corner of China and sparks an intense attraction between the two, David and Hulan discover a web linking human trafficking to the drug trade to governmental treachery–a web reaching from the Forbidden City to the heart of Los Angeles and, like the wide flower net used by Chinese fishermen, threatening to ensnare all within its reach.
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I love Lisa See. I was first introduced to her writing with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I was so excited to find out she wrote a mystery series. I searched high and low to find them, including this one. And yet there it sits. Still on my shelf unread. One of these days . . . 

Searching for Someday (Searching For #1) by Jennifer Probst (Simon & Schuster, 2013)

Kate has given up on love—at least for herself. She is both blessed and cursed with the ability to sense a romantic connection between two people—a gift that her family passed down for generations. When Kate launches her own matchmaking company, Kinnection, with her two best friends in a cozy New York town, she has to put aside her own romantic disasters to make her business a success.

But when a furious man stalks into her office and accuses her business of being a scam, Kate is given the ultimate challenge to prove herself. Slade puts himself in her hands and asks Kate to find him love. Enraged at his arrogance but stubbornly eager to prove herself, Kate agrees, dedicating herself to the journey of finding him love... only to find herself falling for him along the way.
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I read a review somewhere of this one and, being that I was opening myself up to read more romance than I had in years, I thought this one sounded good. It still does. 


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 Mortal Word (Invisible Library, #5) by Genevieve Cogman
Release Date: November 27, 2018 by Berkley/Ace
A corrupt countessspy in dangerAnd an assassin at large 
he fifth title in Genevieve Cogman's witty and wonderful Invisible Library series, The Mortal Word is a rollicking literary adventure.

Peace talks are always tricky, especially when a key diplomat gets stabbed. This rudely interrupts a top-secret summit between the warring dragons and Fae. As a neutral party, Librarian-spy Irene is summoned to investigate. She must head to a version of 1890s Paris, with her assistant Kai and her detective friend Vale, where these talks are fracturing. Here, she must get to the bottom of the attack – before either the peace negotiations or the city go up in flames.

Suspicions fly thick and fast and Irene soon finds herself in the seedy depths of the Parisian underworld. She’s on the trail of a notoriously warlike Fae, the Blood Countess. However, the evidence against the Countess is circumstantial. Could the killer be a member of the Library itself? [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: There isn't a question that I will read this. Oh my gosh, you guys! I love this series. I cannot wait for this one.

Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets (A Guilded Age Mystery) by Rosemary Simpson
Release Date: November 27, 2018 by Kensington
In Gilded Age New York, heiress Prudence MacKenzie and ex-Pinkerton Geoffrey Hunter investigate crimes that take them from the slums of Five Points in lower Manhattan to the Fifth Avenue mansions of society's elite. In the late nineteenth century, women are particularly vulnerable . . .


Childbirth can be dangerous even for the wealthy. So when opera singer Claire Buchanan shows Prudence and Geoffrey a postmortem cabinet photograph of her deceased twin sister and newborn niece, they express sadness but not surprise. The popular black-bordered portraits are the era's way of coping with the devastating losses that plague every family. What makes this death different is that Claire is convinced Catherine and her child were murdered.

Prudence's friend is haunted by a sense of her sister's lingering presence, and by the conviction that her dead twin is demanding justice. Catherine's widower, Aaron Sorensen, is a cold, controlling man who swiftly remarried. Now his second wife is already pregnant and may be in terrible danger. In order to discover the truth and find evidence of Sorensen's guilt, Geoffrey will delve deep into his past while Prudence casts herself as his next victim—putting her own life at grave risk . . . [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: So I might have stopped reading right after the mention of Pinkerton, even if an ex-agent, and decided this deserved a place on my wish list. Prudence sounds pretty cool herself and I do love a good historical mystery.

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, October 28, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Samhain Secrets by Jennifer David Hesse

"You know there's no such things as ghosts!" ~ Opening of Samhain Secrets 

Samhain Secrets (Wiccan Wheel Mystery, #4) by Jennifer David Hesse
Kensington, 2018
Crime Fiction (Cozy/Paranormal); 352 pgs
Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

While each of the books in the series can be read by themselves and out of order for the main mystery's sake, there are overreaching themes that might be better followed if the series is read in order. One of those themes comes together in this fourth book of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries, featuring vegan Family Law Attorney Keli Milanni. Keli has made junior partner in her law firm, but is still trying to find her place there. She is always on the go, busy as ever, and having a hard time juggling her work and personal life. She even feels out of sorts when it comes to her spiritual life. And now the body in the morgue belongs to her long lost aunt, who she has always looked up and admired but knew so little about.

For all Keli’s belief in spells and witchcraft, she doesn’t put much stock into the existence of ghosts. One of her clients swears her house is haunted, and Keli points to every rational reason to explain away the occurrences the woman is experiencing, including rescuing a stray cat living in the woman’s basement. Keli herself is beginning to experience some unexplained phenomena, and begins to question her own thoughts on the matter. Is her Aunt Josephine trying to send her a message? Could her aunt be helping her find the clues that will lead to the murderer? And perhaps this will reveal some of Josephine’s secrets from the past. As an environmental activist, she has lived off the grid for quite some time and even her closest friends know little about her.

Seemingly small pieces of the puzzle from earlier books in the series begin to fit together in a more cohesive story about just who Aunt Josephine was. The reader does not need to read the previous books to get the full picture as the author does a good job of laying it all out in this book. Still, it was nice to be able to read about it from the beginning.

I liked Keli from the start, but she feels more like an old friend now. She has a good heart and a good moral compass. I continue to adore Mila, Keli’s friend and fellow Wiccan. It is through her, Keli is learning that she does not have to walk the Wiccan path alone. Crenshaw, the other junior partner in the law firm Keli works for began as someone I would want to avoid, but, I swear, he surprises me every book and I warmed even more toward him in this one. For someone so stuffy and seemingly critical, he really steps up to the plate when needed.

This series has continued to get better with each book, and this one is no different. I still find myself wanting to shake some sense into Keli at times—will she ever learn not to walk (or climb) into dangerous situations, especially without back-up? Probably not. I can live with that.

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.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Poetry Corner: The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace

Warning 1:

this is not a fairy witch tale. ~ Opening of The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One

The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One (Women Are Some Kind of Magic #2) by Amanda Lovelace
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2018
Poetry; 208 pgs
Source: E-Copy provided by Publisher via NetGalley

Sometimes the title is enough to make me want to read a book, and it was in this case. When I first saw mention of this collection of poetry, I knew I would read it. I even ran out and bought a copy of the first book in the poet's Women Are Some Kind of Magic series, The Princess Saves Herself In This One. That one is on my TBR stack, which I will be reading and sharing with you at a later date.

The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One is not about witches, not exactly. It is about women. It is about how women are oppressed, marginalized, and judged--and about their strength and resilience.   This collection is full of emotion. Rage, but not guilt. No shame. Empowerment and ownership of who we are. I had to remind myself it was one voice, one poet, writing the words. When I read the words out loud and in my head, they were the voice of many.

While historically more women accused of witchcraft were hanged than burned at the stake, the theme of burning witches is ingrained in our culture. Throughout this collection, Lovelace uses that imagery to make a powerful statement--through matches and flame and ash.

I loved the homages throughout to other books or characters. It was something that called out to the reader in me.

Here just a sampling of the poems in the collection that spoke to me:

they scratched it
out of the history books.

but on all the
great innovations

you will find
scorch marks

in the shape of
a woman's 


do not forget
we need to be
the history books

- women are libraries about to burst. [pg 38]

a corset
around us,

the strings
& pulled

as if
a new 

until we
cut them

pull out

we will
never discover
who we
 truly are.

- unlearn this normalized self-hatred. [pg 88]


have to be
this twisted 

let us
until it grows
into sisterhood.

we'll sprinkle
lavender seeds
into our
old wounds
until we're finally

h e a l e d.

-  your sisters are not your enemies. [pg 117]


your body
is made up
of mostly

your body
is made up
of mostly 

wherever you go,
you leave behind
puddles of words in your wake.

collect the
integral pieces
of yourself
call the
words back.

you deserve
to be whole again.

- the sign you've been waiting for II. [pg 156]


you are
the fire
& tomorrow
you will be
the sea

& they'll
have no choice
but to hear your siren song.

- amanda lovelace [pg 185]

What do you think? Do any of these poems speak to you? Have you read any poetry lately?

© 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, October 25, 2018

Where Is Your Bookmark? (A Peek Into Magic Slays & and Halloween Bookish Fun)

In between my War and Peace reading (I reached page 1000!), I have finally picked up Ilona Andrews Magic Slays and am loving it (is anyone really surprised though?). It is the fifth book in the Kate Daniels series.

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.
The ringing of the phone jerked me from my sleep. I clawed my eyes open and rolled off my bed. For some reason, someone had moved the floor several feet lower than I had expected, and I fell and crashed with a thud. 
A blond head popped over the side of the bed, and a familiar male voice asked, "Are you okay down there?"

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.
Andrea held out her hand. "You'll jinx it."
I put the camera into her hand and crouched, trying to get a look at the floor under the body. 
"No drip?" Andrea asked. 
"Nope. You smell anything? Decomp, blood . . . " 
She wrinkled her nose. "Cayenne pepper. The place reeks of it. It drowns out everything else."  [page 56]

My thoughts: I am so glad to be diving back into this series again. It is one of my favorites!

What do you think? Does this sound like a book you would be interested in reading? 

Originally hosted by Books by Proxy, Friday Face Off is now hosted by the fabulous Lynn of  Lynn’s Book Blog. Participants are asked to feature two more more covers of the same book with the week's assigned theme, and pick a favorite. 

This week the theme is a book whose Trick or treat – A Halloween inspired cover

Nothing says Halloween quite like Dracula. It took me years to read the book as I was not impressed with any of the movies. But Bram Stoker's Dracula was an entirely different matter. I loved it.

I am really bad at the having-to-pick-a-favorite part. Several of these covers appeal to me, from the artwork to the photos. They all capture the mood of the book in their own ways. I was particularly drawn to these two covers below, one blue and the other read. It is the background that caught my eye. There is a scene in the novel that jumped out at me when I read the novel initially and both of these scenes depict the image I have in my head. They capture the isolation and Gothic feel so well, I think.

If I have to pick a favorite, I am going to go with this one:

Which cover do you prefer? 


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 Scary Book/Movie You Want to Read/Watch

I have heard wonderful things about Shirley Jackson's novels and with the recent release of the television series, The Haunting of Hill House, my interest in the book with the same title has only intensified. I have not read or watched it. Yet. Both are definitely on my must read/watch list!

What scary book do you want to read? What scary movie would you like to watch? 

© 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, October 23, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#20)

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 Awakening of Ren Crown (Ren Crown, #1) by Anne Zoelle (2012)
In a world where layers of magic create worlds on top of our own, a girl desperately hunts an elixir for death. Through the hallowed halls—and criminal underworld—of the magic world's most elite institution, time and glittering evil stalk her steps.

Animated creations, enchanted gadgets, and marvelous machines vie with the students themselves: mischievous engineers, diabolical tacticians, battle-hardened warriors, and terrifying roommates. But even amidst an eclectic and powerful student body, there is something off about Ren's magic...and the wrong people have started to notice.

Where art comes alive and the bonds of destiny are forged, Ren will find the answer to who and what she is.

A secret inside a secret world.

The series: The Ren Crown series is a New Adult and College Fantasy series that deals with art magic, magical science, and technology.
The Awakening of Ren Crown is the start of an epic adventure featuring a protagonist who would rather be diligently working in her lab than saving (or ending) the world -- but who will do anything to protect her family and friends. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this one: I am not sure how long this has been sitting on my Nook bookshelf or even how I came to find it. I enjoy reading fantasy and the school setting is definitely appealing. The protagonist sounds like my kind of person.  


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.

A Dangerous Duet by Karen Odden
Release Date: November 6, 2018 by William Morrow
This dazzling new Victorian mystery from USA Today bestselling author Karen Odden introduces readers to Nell Hallam, a determined young pianist who stumbles upon the operations of a notorious—and deadly—crime ring while illicitly working as the piano player in a Soho music hall. Perfect for readers of Tasha Alexander, Anne Perry, and Deanna Raybourn.

Nineteen-year-old Nell Hallam lives in a modest corner of Mayfair with her brother Matthew, an inspector at Scotland Yard. An exceptionally talented pianist, she aspires to attend the Royal Academy; but with tuition beyond their means, Nell sets out to earn the money herself—by playing piano in a popular Soho music hall. And the fact that she will have to disguise herself as a man and slip out at night to do it doesn’t deter her.

Spending evenings at the Octavian is like entering an alternate world, one of lively energy, fascinating performers, raucous patrons—and dark secrets. And when Nell stumbles upon the operations of an infamous crime ring working in the shadows of the music hall, she is drawn into a conspiracy that stretches the length of London. To further complicate matters, she has begun to fall for the hall owner's charismatic son, Jack, who has secrets of his own.

The more Nell becomes a part of the Octavian’s world, the more she risks the relationships with the people she loves. And when another performer is left for dead in an alley as a warning, she realizes her future could be in jeopardy in more ways than one. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: As you may know, I have a soft spot for historical mysteries and this one appeals to me on many levels. From the crime ring to Nell having to disguise herself as a man--you know I can't resist that!

Pulp by Robin Talley
Release Date: November 13, 2018 by Harlequin Teen
In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.
Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.

In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: This dual time line novel sounds like a novel that is not to be missed. I want to know more about Janet and Abby and hear their stories.

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, October 21, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Jennifer David Hesse's Midsummer Night's Mischief/Bell, Book & Candlemas/Yuletide Homicide

The intruder knew it was wrong to be there. ~ Opening of Midsummer Night's Mischief

Midsummer Night's Mischief (Wiccan Wheel Mystery, #1) 
by Jennifer David Hesse
Kensington, 2016
Crime Fiction; 352 pgs

Occasionally I go on a series binge, and my most recent one was Jennifer David Hesse’s Wiccan Wheel Mysteries featuring attorney Keli Milanni. The first in the series is Midsummer Night’s Mischief. As Summer Solstice approaches things seem to be going relatively well on the work front for Keli. She’s just landed a big case, involving a heirloom worth millions, when suddenly things take a turn for the worst. Her client is found murdered, the Shakespearean heirloom is stolen, and the family is blaming her, putting her job on the line.

I know something about the Wiccan religion, but not a lot, and so it was interesting to get a glimpse of it through Keli’s eyes. It’s presented in a much more realistic way than most of the paranormal cozies I have read featuring witches which lean more heavily in the fantastical direction. In a society that ostracizes those who practice Wicca or other non-traditional religions, it is no wonder Keli tries to keep her own beliefs and practice a secret. Even her best friend does not know.

Midsummer Night’s Mischief introduces several characters who will appear over the course of the series, including Crenshaw, a rather proper and formal sort of lawyer who also works at Keli’s firm. There’s Farrah, Keli’s best friend—the kind of best friend  I always wish I had--who would drop everything and come running when Keli calls. There is also Wes, the photographer, part-time bartender, who Keli feels a distinct attraction to. Wouldn’t you know it that just as Keli gives in to her feelings, Wes becomes one of the suspects in the murder investigation. She does not really know much about him, but she hopes he won’t turn out to be the killer. My favorite character of all, even over Keli though, has to be Mila, the owner of the New Age gift shop in town. Wouldn’t I love to be her friend too?! 

While not an all-around nail-biting suspense novel, Midsummer Night’s Mischief did have some intense moments and it kept me guessing for a while. I think I suspected a number of characters (so many have believable motives), although I kept coming back to the same one. I liked that the detective assigned to investigate the crime seems like a smart and decent. This was a fun mystery overall, and I could not wait to dive into the next book in the series. Which I obviously did right away. 

*                    *                    *

The energy in the air was palpable. ~ Opening of Bell, Book & Candlemas

Bell, Book & Candlemas (Wiccan Wheel Mystery, #2) 
by Jennifer David Hesse
Kensington, 2016
Crime Fiction; 352 pgs

Time flies in Edindale, Illinois although it feels like just yesterday I just finished reading the first book in Jennifer David Hesse’s Wiccan Wheel Mystery series. Talk about taking it up a notch! Hesse certainly does just that in this second installment. Maybe it had something to do with the focus on my favorite character in the series, Mila, but, even then, this one seemed more action packed, suspenseful, and had me guessing pretty much to the end. There was also more description of Wiccan beliefs and traditions, which I appreciated.

Moonstone Treasures, Mila’s New Age gift shop, has been the recent target of vandals.  Threats and accusations of witchcraft have Mila on edge. And no wonder. Keli wants to help her friend, but is very protective of her secret—that she is a practicing Wiccan. Mila has never applied pressure to Keli to join her coven, but makes sure Keli knows she will always be welcome. Keli is joined again by her ever faithful friend, Farrah, and the two do what they can to find out who could be behind the threats and rumors. Could the vandalism of Moonstone Treasures be related to recent burglaries of businesses in the area? Or could it be the real estate agent or a secretive client who is hoping Mila will be scared off and sell?

It was easy to see why Keli would get herself involved in this investigation given her friendship with Mila. She cooperates with the police for the most part, although she has a penchant for picking up evidence and sticking it in her pocket, I have noticed. Again we meet Detective Rhinehart, who tolerates Keli better than I think most police officials might. He is ever the professional though.

In Bells, Book & Candlemas, we get to see another side of Crenshaw that we hadn’t seen before, a more theatrical side. I am still not sure what to make of him to be honest, but he is growing on me. Then there is Wes, with whom Keli hasn’t spoken to in a while—a surprise given how close the two seemed to be getting in the last book. We soon learn why, however—another mystery solved.

I really liked how everything came together in this novel and the growth our heroine has gone through from the beginning of the first novel to the end of this second one.

*                    *                    *

"Blackmail?" ~ Opening of Yuletide Homicide 

Yuletide Homicide (Wiccan Wheel Mystery #3) 
by Jennifer David Hesse
Kensington, 2017
Crime Fiction; 320 pgs

I love how the titles of all the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries coincide with Wiccan holidays. For Wiccans Yuletide is a time to celebrate rebirth. Yuletide Homicide is the third in the series, this one taking on the subject of politics, blackmail and, murder. Keli is teamed up with fellow attorney Crenshaw Davenport III to look into the blackmailing of a wealthy businessman who is running for mayor of Edindale. Keli can think of a million reasons why someone might want to blackmail someone like Edgar Harrison given his reputation. When Keli discovers his body at the hotel where the company Chirstmas party had been held the night before, the threat level rises. It turns out Mr. Harrison isn’t the only one being blackmailed.

With an ex-boyfriend showing up in town unexpectedly—and then disappearing, and her boss, who obviously hasn’t told Keli everything, telling her to drop her investigation, Keli must know more. Detective Rineheart deserves some sort of award for his patience and tolerance of Keli. Or maybe he knows she’ll solve the crime faster. Although I suspected who was behind everything in this one, I did not know the motive until it was revealed.

I like Keli, but she does not always have the best judgement, and too often finds herself in situations she could have easily avoided if she had been more cautious. This was another fun book in the series. I like that Keli’s best friend and boyfriend are now aware of her religion—it makes things easier for Keli, no doubt, in that she no longer has to keep such an important part of who she is from these two important people in her life. Yuletide Homicide was a great addition to the series. 

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.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mouse's Corner, Sunday Edition: OC Children's Book Festival

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.

We recently attended the OC Children's Book Festival with Mouse's Girl Scout troop. We had a chance to wander around and attend a few of the talks at the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) stage. It was a lot of fun. I just wish we had been able to stop and chat with a few more of the authors at their booths. It was a beautiful day for a book festival.

With the ease of access to the internet by children today, teaching cyber safety is even more important than it ever has been before. As a parent, I want to know the best ways to protect my daughter, and I also want her to know how to navigate the internet safely on her own.

Once a Girl Scout herself, author and teacher Kimberly Franklin invited our Girl Scout troop to help with her Max and the Mouse Safe in Cyberspace presentation, along side the author's granddaughters. The girls learned the ABC's of online safety and were each given a copy of the book. Kimberly Franklin even offered to arrange to come speak with the troop at one of their upcoming meetings! After the talk and the girls had earned their Cyber Safety Certificates, we gathered outside for autographs and pictures.

Author Kimberly Franklin and her amazing granddaughters, Lunabelle & Cassandra-Jadel

Mouse & author Kimbery Franklin

We had a little time to spare before attending the next couple of presentations we hoped to see. Some of the girls went off to have lunch, while others wandered through the festival. 

Animal and Nature Stage

John Archambault singing his book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Author Donna Zellers signing her book Witches Ball for Mouse

Mouse fell in love with author Laura Knight whose presentation of her two books Spot: A Sea Pup's Survival Guide and Kid Astronaut: Space Adventure, was quite a hit with the girls. Kid Astronaut especially caught Mouse's attention. A choose your own adventure story written in screenplay form, it was right up Mouse's alley. We met up with the author at her booth later that afternoon and she took the time to read more of her book with Mouse. Kid Astronaut was the first book Mouse could not wait to read when she got home. 

Author Laura Knight

The big event of the day was getting the opportunity to meet astronaut and artist, Nicole Stott. The room was crowded, with people standing up along the walls. Ms. Stott talked about her background and what led her to where she is today. She mentioned that research has shown that boys can look at anyone, no matter their gender, and see themselves striving toward whatever goal they set their minds to. Girls, however, tend to look for the women in the crowd. That's one of the reasons she puts herself out there and talks about her experiences. So girls can see what is possible--and perhaps aim even higher.

Instead of lecturing to the group, Ms. Stott opened the floor to questions right away. Hands shot up, especially among the children. We learned it takes the shuttle 8 1/2 minutes to get into orbit, what the astronauts ate in space, what life was like on the space station, what it felt like to be weightless and how it felt when returning to earth. She talked about her experience water painting in space.  She also told us that plans are being made for humanity to set up camp on the moon--or rather in a moon cave. Ms. Stott discussed how well the astronauts from around the world worked together on the space station no matter the country they came from.

Astronaut Nicole Stott

Mouse ended her day at the festival with a couldn't-pass-up jump in a bounce house. And then it was time to head home.

New to Mouse's Shelves:

Surprisingly, we only came home with four books from the book festival. I let Mouse take the lead, otherwise, I would have probably come home with a lot more.

Witches Ball by Donna Zellers, illustrated by Jack Rogers
Superhero Kids: Saving and Investing Book by Hugh Nguyen, illustrated by Maruf Hasan
Max and the Mouse Safe in Cyberspace by Kimberly Franklin, illustrated by Justine Armentrout

Some of the books Mouse has read this month (along with Amelia Bedelia, Rainbow Magic, and ABC  Calendar Mysteries):
Part-Time Princess by Part-time Princess by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cambria Evans
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
Dog on a Frog by Dog on a Frog? by Kes Gray, Claire Gray, Jim Field
Creepy Carrots! by Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
Fancy Nancy: Fancy Day in Room 1-A by Jane O'Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser & Ted Enik
Pet Parade by Daisy Meadows
You're Safe With Me by by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry
Splat the Cat: I Scream for Ice Cream by Rob Scotton, Laura Driscoll & Robert Eberz
A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young
Camilla, the Cupcake Fairy by Tim Bugbird

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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#19)

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 Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
(Ballantine, 2014)
For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: I fell in love with The House at the End of Hope Street and meant to read this one as soon as it came out. Only, it has ended up sitting on my shelf waiting instead. Doesn't this sound delightful? I am sure I will enjoy it!

No Humans Involved (Otherworld #7) by Kelley Armstrong
(Bantam Spectra, 2007)
In her acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series, bestselling author Kelley Armstrong creates a present day in which humans unwittingly coexist with werewolves, witches, and other supernatural beings. Now, in this spellbinding new novel, a beautiful necromancer who can see ghosts must come to terms with her power—and with an evil she never thought possible.

It’s the most anticipated reality television event of the season: three spiritualists gathered together in one house to raise the ghost of Marilyn Monroe. For celebrity medium Jaime Vegas, it is to be her swan song—one last publicity blast for a celebrity on the wrong side of forty. But unlike her colleagues, who are more show than substance, Jaime is the real thing.

Reluctant to upstage her fellow spiritualists, Jaime tries to suppress her talents, as she has done her entire life. But there is something lurking in the maze of gardens behind the house: a spirit without a voice. And it won’t let go until somehow Jaime hears its terrible story. For the first time in her life, Jaime Vegas understands what humans mean when they say they are haunted. Distraught, Jaime looks to fellow supernatural Jeremy Danvers for help.

As the touches and whispers from the garden grow more frantic, Jaime and Jeremy embark on an investigation into a Los Angeles underworld of black magic and ritual sacrifice. When events culminate in a psychic showdown, Jaime must use the darkest power she has to defeat a shocking enemy—one whose malicious force comes from the last realm she expected. . . .

In a world whose surface resembles our own, Kelley Armstrong delivers a stunning alternate reality, one where beings of the imagination live, love, and fight a never-ending battle between good and evil.  [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: I seem to be stuck in the middle of quite a few series (I can't stop myself from starting new ones, what can I say?) I have enjoyed this series quite a bit and need to get back to it. I bought a copy of this book when it first came out in hardback. 


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.

Deadly News (A Britton Bay Mystery #1) by Jody Holford
Release Date: October 30, 2018 by Lyrical Underground
Former Army brat Molly Owens is ready to put down roots, and the picturesque seaside town of Britton Bay on the Oregon Coast seems like the perfect place for it. Especially when she lands a job as editor of the local paper. But she’s got one colleague who’s very bad news . . .

As an experienced journalist, Molly is eager to bring the struggling Britton Bay Bulletin up to speed. But when she pushes Vernon, one of her less welcoming reporters, to dig a little deeper into the story of a prominent local family, the man ends up dead. The fact that he wasn’t well-liked makes finding the killer extra complicated. The lists of suspects range from his ex-wife to his own son to Molly’s boss, who has a secret of his own. But when Molly’s attempts to sleuth out the truth result in her receiving frightening threats, the trouble is just beginning . . .

The one bright spot is Molly’s newfound flirtation with Sam Alderich. The sexy mechanic is used to taking things apart and piecing them back together, and between the two of them they just might be able to solve this deadly puzzle—if Molly can survive peaceful small-town life long enough . . .
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: If the cute puppy on the cover isn't enough to pull me in, it certainly might be the fact that the heroine is a military brat--something I can relate to. This cozy mystery sounds like fun, and I look forward to reading it.

The Ice Maiden by Sara Sheridan
Release Date: November 1, 2018 by Severn House
As she stows away on a ship bound for Antarctica, a young woman uncovers a shocking betrayal. 
1842. Stranded on Deception Island in the South Atlantic, her whaling captain husband lost at sea, Karina is destitute and desperate. Disguised as a cabin boy, she stows away on a British ship. But Karina is about to get a nasty surprise. 
As she grows closer to ship's surgeon Joseph Hooker, Karina and the rest of the crew find themselves pushed to the limits both physically and emotionally as conditions worsen onboard. Engulfed in the chillingly hostile Antarctic landscape, something extraordinary happens - and Karina's story becomes intertwined with some of the 20th century's bravest Polar explorers ... [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: A woman who disguises herself as a boy, betrayal, Antarctica, and stuck in a dire situation . . . . I must know how it all plays out! 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Release Date: November 6, 2018 by Jimmy Patterson Books (Little, Brown & Company)
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read it: I admit the trigger warning which includes sexual abuse gives me pause, but the premise of this new fantasy novel has me wanting to read it just the same. I want to know more about Lei and see her win in the end (I sure hope she wins!). The Malaysian influence on this fantasy novel also is a draw for me.

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, October 14, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Diving Pool by Yōko Ogawa

It's always warm here: I feel as though I've been swallowed by a huge animal. ~ Opening of The Diving Pool

The Diving Pool: Three Novellas  by Yōko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
Picador, 2008 (originally published 1990)
Fiction (Short Stories); 164 pgs

This was my first experience reading this author. I have had this little slip of a book sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, but am just now getting to it. I have mixed feelings about each of the stories. The first with the same title as the collection, The Diving Pool, about a girl with a crush on her foster brother, took me by surprise in the cruelty of the main character. She is the only child to parents who run the Light House, an orphanage. She has seen children come and go from the home, never quite feeling the sense of family life—or that of a home—she wishes she could have. Something normal. She is lonely and bitter. And at times jealous. Jun, the boy she has a crush on, has lived at the Light House for a number of years, the two growing up together in a sense. As Aya secretly watches Jun, sneaking into the pool where he dives every day, observing him at home and plotting to run into him at various times where they can be alone, she does not realize that Jun is also aware of her. He sees how she treats others and knows she visits the pool where he dives. I was satisfied with the way this story was wrapped up, but overall found it disturbing and at times difficult to stomach.

The second story titled Pregnancy Diary was interesting to say the least. An unmarried woman is living with her sister and her husband. She keeps a diary of her sister’s pregnancy, noting the moment the pregnancy was announced to her sister’s behavior and habits during the pregnancy. The woman records her own feelings of discontent and even disgust and eventual retaliation. The story takes a dark turn, just as the first one did, and the reader cannot help but wonder what is real and what isn’t. Not to mention what it is behind the disturbing thoughts and actions of the narrator.

The final story in this trilogy of novellas, Dormitory, is about a woman waiting for word from her husband about their pending move out of the country. She is feeling restless and lonely when approached by a young cousin setting off to college. He needs a place to stay, and she recommends the old dormitory in which she had once stayed. When she first takes her cousin to meet the landlord of the building, I could not help but feel sorry for the landlord. Armless and with one-leg, he has managed to get along on his own for many years, and yet it is clear he is lonely and his health his beginning to fail. The young wife returns to the dormitory under the guise of wanting to visit her cousin (who is never there), and often falls into conversation with the landlord. He tells her the story of a missing student, the subsequent police investigation, and the decrease in interest in his dormitory by students that followed. The story then takes a weird turn, which I have come to expect from Ogawa. Would this turn into a mystery to be solved or a horror story? I wasn’t sure. The ending was a surprise, and I am still not sure what to make of it.

I imagine each reader could take something different away from these three stories. There is a lot left open for interpretation. When all is said and done, my favorite is probably the first story, even despite how disturbed I was by it, only because I seemed to have a better handle on what that story was about. Did I like this collection? I am not sure I can say yes. Not exactly. These three stories will definitely stay with me awhile though. Haunting, indeed.

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

© 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.