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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#23)



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!


Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (Plume 2006)
When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs--eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother--goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I have had this one my shelf since 2008, when the second book in the series came out (I have that one too). I have heard wonderful things about this book and author. 



*

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.



Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Gallery Books
Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.
 [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: The name Josephine Baker is enough to draw me in. What an amazing woman! I am looking forward to reading this one quite a bit.


For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
Release Date: December 11, 2018 by MIRA
Till death do us part. 
When they fell in love back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke joked that they were so brilliant, together they could plan the perfect murder. After fifteen rocky years of marriage, they had better hope they’re right. 
Their young son Jacob’s principal is accused of molesting a troubled student. It’s a horrifying situation—and the poison spreads rapidly. One night before bed, Jacob tells Natalie he is a victim, too. In that moment, her concept of justice changes forever. Natalie decides the predator must die. 
To shelter Jacob from the trauma of a trial, Natalie concocts an elaborate murder plot and Will becomes her unwilling partner. The Clarkes are about to find out what happens when your life partner becomes your accomplice—and your alibi. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I cannot even imagine what Natalie must be feeling when she learns what happened to her son. Murder wouldn't be far from my mind either (although I don't think I could carry it out).


His Dark Magic (Northern Circle Coven, #1) by Pat Esden
Release Date: December 11, 2018 by Kensington Books
Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle's real motives, as well as Devlin’s . . .

Now Merlin's demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin's uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can't defeat—and a passion that could destroy her. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: A witch, a coven, fighting an ancient evil . . . I want to be a part of this!


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 11, 2018

Sunday Mews: November TBR List Poll Winner & Culling the Bookshelves

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. 

What I Am Reading:  I have mostly been reading Tolstoy's War and Peace as I waited for my November TBR List poll to close this weekend. I actually finished all of November's reading assignment and am now ready to begin the epilogues, which will bring me to the end. I will tell you more about what Mouse and I are reading in my next Mouse's corner. I think it will make several of you happy. I can already hear the "I told you so's."

What I Am Watching: A lot of  Odd Squad and Mission Force One thanks to my daughter. Mission Force One is a spin-off of Disney's cartoon Miles in Tomorrowland. Last weekend we joined several of our friends from the dance studio to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. We all enjoyed it. There was quite the applause and cheering when Misty Copeland came on screen from our group.

Off the Blog: This past week took a lot out of me emotionally. With work, the mid-term elections, mass murder, wildfires, and a pesky cold (which I will take any day over murder and fire), I just wanted to pull the blanket over my head and stay in bed. Our friends and family are safe, thankfully.

I spent the weekend going through mine and my daughter's bookshelves, organizing books, and pulling out ones to give away. I managed to get some Christmas shopping done. And we all now have new shoes (which were long overdue). Two of Mouse's Nutcracker costumes came in, and I got the list of accessory and hairstyle requirements, which always stresses me out some. Tickets are officially on sale! I wish you could all come.

My donation pile

Mouse's donation pile

Laundry baskets make comfy resting spots:




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). 





Looks like Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry won with 6 votes! I am oh-so-ready for a Christmas themed book right now, and this one sounds perfect. Thank you to all who voted!


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.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#22)



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 Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Crown Publishing 2010)
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family — past and present — is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: Everyone was singing the praises of this one when it first came out, and I knew I just had to read it. I still haven't managed to get to it, although I still hope to read it one of these days.

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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.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Atria Books
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: I loved The Thirteenth Tale and after reading the synopsis  of this one, I knew I had to read it. I am already intrigued!


Before We were Strangers by Brenda Novak
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Mira Books
Something happened to her mother that night. Something no one wants to talk about. But she's determined to uncover her family's dark secrets, even if they bury her.

Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn't sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound--the ominous thump before all went quiet.

In the morning, her mother was gone. The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn't sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn't just difficult--he was deadly.

Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who'd rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn't whether she can uncover what really happened that night...it's what will remain of her family if she does?  [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: Doesn't this sound deliciously thrilling? I love a good story about buried secrets being unearthed. 


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 04, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

I sit on the edge of the bed waiting, the day I've feared for months finally here. ~ Opening of The King Slayer


The King Slayer (The Witch Hunter, #2)  by Virginia Boecker
Little, Brown Books for Young Reader, 2016
Fantasy (YA); 377 pgs

Elizabeth Grey was once the only female on Lord Blackwell's elite group of witch hunters, finding and meting out justice to those they found guilty of witchcraft. In the previous book, The Witch Hunter, Elizabeth suddenly found herself on the other end of the spectrum, herself accused of witchcraft. On the run and suddenly the target of all the witch hunters, Elizabeth makes some unlikely allies who came to her aid.

Although Elizabeth and her new found friends were able to come out on top at the end of The Witch Hunter, it was just the beginning of the horrors to come. With Lord Blackwell angrier than ever and more desperate for power, war is sure to come and no one is safe.

Elizabeth does not have the same strength or power she did in the previous novel, but her skills as a fighter and assassin remain formidable. She is hiding among those she once saw as the enemy of the kingdom, and there is no love loss from the witches and wizards she once had targeted. They do not exactly trust her. When her healer boyfriend begins showing the strain of being under the stigma and turns against her, Elizabeth feels she must solve this problem on her own. She must take out Lord Blackwell. She knows this will likely mean her death.

I had enjoyed The Witch Hunter quite a bit, and The King Slayer was just as good in its own way. It is much more action-packed and tense. With every decision made and step taken, the suspense builds, leaving me turning the pages as quickly as I could. I really felt for Elizabeth and the situation she was in. While I think she did not always make the wisest of choices, I could see why she made them.

It was good to see some of the returning characters and get to know them a bit better, particularly John (the healer) and Shulyer (a reverent). I wouldn't have minded a bit more time with Fifer though. An interesting twist I was not expecting was the appearance of the usurped king, who has a fairly bad reputation among the witches and wizards--and for good reason. His relationship with Elizabeth is a complex one to say the least, and it was interesting to see how the two interacted in this second novel. I admit to not liking, even hating, his character in The Witch Hunter, and I certainly did not warm to him, not even by the end of this book. Although, I do think he had changed and grown as a character. Some things though are hard to forgive.

The King Slayer takes the reader deeper into the conflict between the kingdom and the witches and wizards. The Witch Hunter was richer in world building and The King Slayer more action-packed. However, the use of magic in this one seemed more diverse and unique. I thought the power shift between some of the characters, particularly John and Elizabeth, was interesting, and added a different layer to the overall stories between the two books. 

To learn more about author Virginia Boecker and her work, please visit the author's website


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

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Sunday Mews: Wrapping Up October & My November 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.  



October was over in a blink. I feel like the month was just starting, and then it was Halloween. November is already looking like it will follow a similar path. The trimester is coming to an end, and Mouse has a five day weekend coming up, what with teacher conferences and Veteran's Day. Then the week after that, she is off for Thanksgiving break. I still have not heard whether I am approved for time off  that week (fingers crossed!), and so there may be some last minute running around to arrange for child care. My mother-in-law is scheduled to have triple bypass surgery on the 13th of November, and my mom will be driving down for a brief visit at the end of the month for my great aunt's 90th birthday celebration. Mouse's Nutcracker rehearsals have kicked into high gear with just over a month before performance time, and Girl Scouts is keeping us busy as well. I think Mouse might be coming down with a cold-although I'm hoping it is just allergies. None of us can afford to get sick any time soon.


New to My Shelves: 

Ghost of a Chance (Chintz 'n China, #1) by Yasmine Galenorn

Hex Marks the Spot (Drop Dead Witchy, #1) by Ani Gonzalez

Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb

Fan the Flames (Search & Rescue, #2) by Katie Ruggle


What I Am Reading: I am about half way through The Secret Language of Cats: How to Understand Your Cat for a Better, Happier Relationship by Susanne Schötz. (My cats are probably wondering why I am following them around all the time now encouraging them to "talk.")

What I Am Watching: I finally listened to Greg of Book Haven and began watching Riverdale. I am in the middle of the second season, I believe. I am enjoying to so far, although it has certainly taken some twists I did not see coming. I also started Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, and am loving it. I mean, witches. That says it all, doesn't it?

Several of us from the dance studio will be going to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms this weekend. Have any of you seen it yet? What did you think?

Off the Blog: As I mentioned above, October went by so fast.  Mouse and I spend a lot of time at the dance studio, between dance classes and rehearsals. We have had a few Girl Scout events scattered in here and there as well. Work has been crazy busy as it often is this time of year. On top of my regular work, I am in charge of putting together the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday schedules for our 24 hour operation, which means making time to figure out the logistics of making sure there is enough staff coverage to let as many employees possible get the time off they would like around those dates. Thank goodness for flexible staff willing to make comprises!

We stretched out Halloween for about a week. We did manage to make it to the pumpkin patch, although it was a close call what with everything else we had going on. Since the dance studio allowed the dancers to dress up for a week before Halloween, Mouse was able to put some of her old costumes to use. She and I attended her Fall Festival event at the school, which was a lot of fun. We did go trick-or-treating Halloween night. Although our small street does not really get into it, the next streets over go all out. People were out in their driveways with fires going as they passed out candy to the passersby. It was quite crowded as it always is, but everyone seems to enjoy themselves.








Here is what I finished reading in October:
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace
  • The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo
  • Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
It was another slow reading month for me. I have pretty much accepted the fact that the rest of the year will follow a similar pattern, especially if I am to finish my two biggest reads of the year, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Hugo's Les Misérables. I finished October on a high note with both, being all caught up with the read-along schedules. This past month, both books saw the death of significant characters. Another one is coming soon in Les Misérables, and I am dreading it. I hope I am in a safe place when I get to that moment.

Magic Slays was by far my favorite book read this past month--it was so nice to jump back into the Kate Daniel's series again. I did enjoy my other reading as well. I wanted to re-visit The Legend of Sleepy Hollow before diving into Palombo's novel and am glad I did.  I knew some of the complaints about The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel going in, and actually wasn't bothered by them. The second half of the book was definitely better than the first. While I think The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One will not be to everyone's taste because of the subject matter, I found it to be a very powerful  collection of poetry and am so glad to have read it. I think Lovelace's voice is one that echoes that of many women in the United States today.

This Past October In Reading Mews:

Tell me what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your October? 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 am in the mood for something Christmas-y. It is long over do. Here are my top three choices, and I could really use your help in deciding what to read next. Which sounds the best to you?


Murder in Her Stocking by G.A. McKevett ~ Hair certainly was bigger in the '80's. Even mine.  Sounds like trouble found its way to McGill, including murder. This sounds like it will be entertaining.
As the Moonlight Magnolia Agency revisits old memories on Christmas Eve, Granny Reid takes the reins back thirty years to the 1980s--back when she went by Stella, everyone's hair was bigger, and sweaters were colorful disasters. But murder never went out of style . . .

Christmas has arrived in sleepy McGill, Georgia, but holiday cheer can't keep temperamental Stella Reid from swinging a rolling pin at anyone who crosses her bad side--and this season, there are plenty. First an anonymous grinch vandalizes a celebrated nativity display. Far worse, the scandalous Prissy Carr is found dead in an alley behind a tavern. With police puzzled over the murder, Stella decides to stir the local gossip pot for clues on the culprit's identity . . .

Turns out Prissy held a prominent spot on the naughty list, and suspects pile up like presents on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the more progress Stella makes, the more fears she must confront. With a neighbor in peril and the futures of her beloved grandchildren at risk, Stella must somehow set everything straight and bring a cunning criminal to justice before December 25th . . .
[Goodreads Summary]

A Coldwater Warm Hearts Christmas by Lexi Eddings ~  I cannot resist a bookworm heroine.  I love a good holiday romance, and this one sounds like it will be fun.
It’s hard to be the new girl in town, especially around the holidays. But when the town is Coldwater Cove, Oklahoma, there are plenty of folks willing to welcome you—and lovingly meddle in your life . . .

High school English teacher Angie Holloway has been in this little Ozark hamlet for a few years, but she still feels like an outsider. And with no family of her own and single to boot, she’s rusty when it comes to opening her heart. Nevertheless, she’s been drafted to direct the annual Christmas pageant—whether she likes it or not. As for her assistant, that job’s been handed to Seth Parker. He may be smoking hot, but the brawny construction engineer is definitely not her type. After all, she loves literature, he “reads” blueprints . . .

While Angie tries to put a new spin on the show, and Seth tries to tolerate her correcting his grammar, they both resist the locals who insist on pushing them together. But when Seth finds her copy of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility—marked up with her revealing comments—he can’t resist trying to romance her using his newfound knowledge. And Angie is surprised to find that this big, handsome lug can read her like a storybook hero . . .
[Goodreads Summary]

Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry ~ A little murder around the holidays, psychic visions, and cat as a sidekick makes this a tempting choice!
Someone’s spreading deadly holiday cheer through Salem, Mass . . .

Lee Barrett has landed her dream job at Salem’s WICH-TV. As the new field reporter, she’ll be covering events live as they’re unfolding. Next on her holiday checklist is an interview with the beloved chairman of a popular walking tour through Salem’s historic districts. But it may be his ghost walking this snowy Noel season after Lee finds him murdered in his stately offices, bloody Santa hat askew.

With her police detective boyfriend working the case and a witch’s brew of suspects—including some bell-ringing Santas—Lee chases down leads aided and abetted by her wise cat O’Ryan and some unsettling psychic visions of her own. When a revealing clue leads to another dead body, not even a monster blizzard can stop Lee from inching closer to the truth . . . and a scoop that could spell her own demise this killer Christmas.
[Goodreads Summary]




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.

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