Monday, December 31, 2018

Last Sentences of 2018 (*Spoiler Warning*)

**SPOILER ALERT**

Below you will find the last sentences of the books I read in 2018. Sometimes the last sentence in the book can be the most powerful as it brings the book's journey to a close. I started keeping track of the final sentences of each book I read as an experiment to see if, at the end of the year or even years later, that last sentence would bring the feelings back again I had when I first finished each book.  Please be aware they may contain spoilers. 


*

Thus you fall asleep, and your flesh rests content against him. ~ The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams


"Zeke's gone." ~ Betrayed by Karen E. Olson


I held the future in my arms, and I would do everything in my power to see that it was a future full of love, light, and laughter.  ~ Claws for Concern by Miranda James


And I step into the light. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn


It's not perfect, but it will be. ~ Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr


My mother,
is a poem
who carried a poem
who carried a poem
 five poems
a light raised me
and now
I raise light
mother, 
mama, Yahweh,
thank you.Sunday Sugar by Q. Gibson


I guess we're heading to Berlin.Vanished by Karen E. Olson


"I will find you, I promise."Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews


The cruiser slid past us and drove into the night. Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews


Sebastian North? One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews


"Yes, this will do quite nicely."The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal


"I don't remember." A Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


Yes, they would be all right. ~ Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop


There might even be time for more than that. ~ The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman


"Nah."Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss



I will tell them all the ways I loved this country. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez


They looked forward to enjoying their love and family for the rest of it. ~ Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase


"You must trust in the Fates." ~ My Tempting Highlander by Maeve Greyson


And she could just see Granny now--laughing and vibrant, convincing Tamhas and Kismet that it was time for the next adventure. ~ My Seductive Highlander by Maeve Greyson


It's a warning, but it's also a prayer.The Storm King by Brendan Duffy


But they never learned what it was that Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which had to do, for thee was a gust of wind, and they were gone.A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


But he would caution his people to always keep an open mind, just in case. Dawn of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson



They had plenty of time to watch.Demons of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson


Which was good because Tilly would do anything for Ashlyn, anything but take her lips off Dylan's anytime soon.The Good Luck Sister by Jill Shalvis


She walks into the crowd, and then we have to crane our necks to keep her in our field of vision, because there are so many people in this city and so many of them have violet or auburn hair, many, many white women, about five foot five, who are reasonably think who walk very quickly, or who are wearing black leggings with white T-shirts, under dark but flimsy coats, and then Louise, or someone who is not Louise, turns a corner, or crosses the street, and then we do not see her. ~ Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton


Slipping her fingers between his, she allows him to lead her back to the circle as the women under the willow tree watch, hugging their babies to their chests, their eyes clouded with concern, their blankets billowing around them in the warm summer wind. ~ The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy


Well, that was all right with me.A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert


Always. The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor


"I'm so glad to be at home again!" The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


I run all the way home. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire



"Hello, brother." ~ Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf


I could not help laughing as I ran up with Daniel, ready to assist, my good fortune at having such friends surrounding me with happiness. ~ Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley



The honey flowed on, somewhere beyond the tips of my fingers. ~ "Dormitory" in The Diving Pool by Yōko Ogawa


I hope I never have to stop. Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire


Sherlock drops the letters into the fire and pauses only for a minute, before turning away and leaving for home.Alchemy by Marie S. Crosswell


"Thank goodness."The Risk of Rogues by Sabrina Jeffries


After all, life was a mystery.Midsummer Night's Mischief by Jennifer David Hesse


The last thing I remembered was the mesmerizing sensation of his metal fingers trailing up and down my naked spine, his lips at my temple, the lovely, deep rumble of his voice, whispering back, "Forever, baby." ~ Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross


I had a good feeling about the coming year. ~ Bell, Book & Candlemas by Jennifer David Hesse


"I think you should." ~ Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse 


Now that was something to look forward to. ~ Samhain Secrets by Jennifer David Hesse


Smile! ~ Smile by Raina Telgemeier


And a good place to continue on. The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker


"I think I love you!" ~ The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang


Mr. Thornfield and I are far from perfect; but we are perfect for each other, and perhaps, in the end, our chains bind us more closely than anyone who has never been a prisoner can imagine. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye


"I know you."Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven


"Faith, sir," replied the story-teller, "as to that matter, I don't believe one-half of it myself." The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving




-you are invincible.The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace


And I smiled.The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo


Looking forward to our next meeting. 

Hugh. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews


We too, are enriched. The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schötz



Maybe somebody, somewhere, some day will write that little story.Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry


Exposed to the rain and the dust, they gradually became illegible, and by now have probably faded away:
He sleeps. Though fate dealt with him strangely,He lived. Bereft of his angel, he died.It came about simply, of itself,As night follows when the day is ended. ~ Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

In the first case, the need was to renounce the consciousness of a nonexistent immobility in space and recognize a movement we do not feel; in the present case, it is just as necessary to renounce a nonexistent freedom and recognize a dependence we do not feel. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy


And it was. ~ A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews


Despite it all, Bea smiled the whole way home. ~ A Brazen Curiosity by Lynn Messina


I will always wait. ~ Wishing Cross Station by February Grace


I call it an education. Educated by Tara Westover


"I have much to show you," Lily says against Annie's mouth, and Annie would swear the blooms in the room grow, sprout new buds, and unfurl new petals. ~ "The Fae by the Lake" from Tales of the Fae by L.J. Hamlin


© 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.

First Sentences of 2018

Below you will find the first sentences of books I read in 2018.

*

Ella visited the laundry room for the first time at half past six on a Saturday morning at the beginning of March. ~ The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams


My name is Tina Adler, and I am an addict. ~ Betrayed by Karen E. Olson


I couldn't stop checking the clock on the wall nearby. ~ Claws for Concern by Miranda James


Her husband's almost home. ~ The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn


The Summer King knelt before her. ~ Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr


Along the journey
we too grew familiar to the night
 and began to love
entirely in Sunday mornings. ~ Sunday Sugar by Q. Gibson


The hacker known as Tracker moves along the sidewalk, a hoodie pulled up over his head, his eyes darting from side to side. ~ Vanished by Karen E. Olson


Brutus was dead. ~ Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews


A man walked into a darkened room, moving on silent feet. ~ Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews


A faint chime tugged me out of sleep. ~ One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews


There will always be England! ~ The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal


Anne can feel the acid churning in her stomach and creeping up her throat; her head is swimming. A Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


The sweet blood has changed things. Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop


Kostchei,

We have a problem. ~ The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman


I was going to jail.  ~ Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss


Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well. ~ The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez


"Do you want everyone to hear us?" Hooked on a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase


Ronan shifted in the saddle, wishing for the thousandth time his heritage had been different.My Tempting Highlander by Maeve Greyson


"Dammit, man!" My Seductive Highlander by Maeve Greyson


For Nate, Saturdays in the spring mean baseball. ~ The Storm King by Brendan Duffy


It was a dark and stormy night. ~ A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


Energy shimmered into view, at first forming a single rippling, wavering line, then splitting and curving into an arch. ~ Dawn of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson


Old Nandjed didn't do much weaving anymore; her age-gnarled fingers had lost most of their dexterity. ~ Demons of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson


Tilly Adams sat in the vet's office staring at the doctor in shock. ~ The Good Luck Sister by Jill Shalvis


The first part Lavinia takes Louise to, she makes Louise wear one of her dresses.Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton


Joshua.The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy


Anyone who claims there are no stupid questions has never worked in a public library. ~ A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert


In my heart, I always knew he would go; that they would all go, in the end. ~ The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor


Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. ~ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


This is a ghost story. ~ The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire



King Sref of Cavanos watches me with the deadened eyes of a raven circling a corpse--patient, waiting to devour me the second I let my guard down. Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf


The clatter of crockery on the flagstone floor broke my heart. Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley


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


There is nothing more human than the ghost story. ~ Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire


She's dreaming in the shallows of sleep. ~ Alchemy by Marie S. Crosswell


Captain Lord Hartley Corry had come to his brother Warren's Shropshire hunting lodge, Hatton Hall, to play cards, drink brandy, and do some shooting with his male friends. ~ The Risk of Rogues by Sabrina Jeffries


The intruder knew it was wrong to be there. ~ Midsummer Night's Mischief by Jennifer David Hesse



I love the smell of sex and brimstone in the morning. Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross


 The energy in the air was palpable.Bell, Book & Candlemas by Jennifer David Hesse


"Blackmail?"Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse 


"You know there's no such things as ghosts!" ~ Samhain Secrets by Jennifer David Hesse


Smile!! ~ Smile by Raina Telgemeier


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


The baby was small. ~ The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang



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


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


In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. ~ The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving


warning 1:

This is not 
a fairy witch tale

there are no 
witches. ~ The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace


Washington Irving got it wrong. ~ The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo


The ringing of the phone jerked me from my sleep. ~ Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews


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


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


In 1815, Charles Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was bishop of Digne. ~ Les Misérables by Victor Hugo



"Well, my prince, Genoa and Lucca are no no more than possessions, estates, of the Buonaparte family." ~ War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy


An icy late November breeze rustled the bare branches of the tree along the Serpentine.A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews


All through dinner Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare imagined tossing food at Damien Matlock, Duke of Kesgrave. A Brazen Curiosity by Lynn Messina


The wail and cry of the whistle. Wishing Cross Station by February Grace


I'm standing on the red railway car that sits abandoned next to the barn. ~ Educated by Tara Westover


Walking into the gallery, brightly lit with amazing art on the walls, Alice is almost glad she came. ~ "Hearts in Motion" from Tales of the Fae by L.J. Hamlin


© 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.

Books Read in 2018

[Books Read In 2018, Excluding Children's Books Read With My Daughter]

January
Williams, Beatriz - The Wicked City (2017) - Historical Fiction 
Olson, Karen E. - Betrayed (2017) - Crime Fiction/Thriller
James, Miranda - Claws For Concern (2018) - Crime Fiction/Cozy
Finn, A.J. - The Woman in the Window (2018) - Crime Fiction/Thriller
Marr, Melissa - Wicked Lovely (2007) - Fantasy/YA/Romance
Gibson, Q. - Sunday Sugar (2017) - Poetry/Nonfiction
Olson, Karen E. - Vanished (2018) - Crime Fiction/Thriller
Andrews, Ilona - Clean Sweep (2012) - Science Fiction/Fantasy

February
Andrews, Ilona - Sweep in Peace (2015) - Science Fiction/Fantasy
Andrews, Ilona - One Fell Sweep (2016) - Science Fiction/Fantasy
MacNeal, Susan Elia - The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (2014) - Historical Fiction
Lapena, Shari - The Couple Next Door (2016) - Crime Fiction/Thriller
Bishop, Anne - Marked in Flesh (2016) - Fantasy
Cogman, Genevieve - The Lost Plot (2018) - Fantasy/Crime Fiction
Weiss, Kirsten - Pressed to Death (2016) - Crime Fiction/Cozy

March
Henríquez, Cristina - The Book of Unknown Americans (2014) - Fiction
Chase, Ashlyn - Hooked on a Phoenix (2018) - Romance/Fantasy
Greyson, Maeve - My Tempting Highlander (2016) - Romance/Fantasy/Historical
Greyson, Maeve - My Seductive Highlander (2016) - Romance/Fantasy
Duffy, Brendan - The Storm King (2016) - Crime Fiction

April
L'Engle, Madeleine - A Wrinkle in Time (1962) - Science Fiction/Children's
Johnson, Jean - Dawn of the Flame Sea (2016) - Science Fiction/Fantasy
Johnson Jean - Demons of the Flame Sea (2016) - Science Fiction/Fantasy
Shalvis, Jill - The Good Luck Sister (2018) - Romance

May
Burton, Tara Isabella - Social Creature (2018) - Crime Fiction/Thriller
Molloy, Aimee - The Perfect Mother (2018) - Crime Fiction/Thriller
Gilbert, Victoria - A Murder for the Books (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #1(2017) - Crime Fiction/Cozy
Gaynor, Hazel - The Girl From the Savoy (2016) - Fiction/Historical
Baum, L. Frank - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) - Fantasy/Children's

June
McGuire, Seanan - The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (Ghost Roads, #2) (2018) - Fantasy
Wolf, Sara - Bring Me Their Hearts(#1) (2018) - Fantasy/Romance/YA
Ashley, Jennifer - Scandal Above Stairs (Kat Holloway, #2) (2018) - Crime Fiction/Historical/Cozy

July
Ogawa, Yōko - The Diving Pool (2008) - Fiction
McGuire, Seanan - Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Roads, #1) (2014) - Fantasy
Crosswell, Marie S. - Alchemy (2018) - Crime Fiction/Romance
Jeffries, Sabrina - The Risk of Rogues (The Sinful Suitors, #5.5) (2018) - Romance/Historical
Hesse, Jennifer David - Midsummer Night's Mischief (A Wiccan Wheel Mystery, #1)(2016) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
Cross, Juliette - Darkest Heart (Dominion, #1) (2018) - Romance/Fantasy
Hesse, Jennifer David - Bell, Book & Candlemas (A Wiccan Wheel Mystery, #2)(2016) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
Hesse, Jennifer David - Yuletide Homicide (A Wiccan Wheel Mystery, #3) (2017) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal

August
Hesse, Jennifer David - Samhain Secrets (A Wiccan Wheel Mystery, #4) (2018) - Crime Fiction/Cozy/Paranormal
Telgemeier, Raina - Smile (2009) - Nonfiction/Graphic Memoir
Boecker, Virginia - The King Slayer (Witch Hunter, #2) (2016) - Fantasy/YA

September
Kang, Lydia - The Impossible Girl (2018) - Fiction/Historical
Faye, Lyndsay - Jane Steele (2016) - Fiction/Historical
Draven, Grace - Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) (2018) - Fantasy

October
Washington, Irving - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820) - Horror/Short Story
Lovelace, Amanda - The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One (2018) - Nonfiction/Poetry
Palombo, Alyssa - The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: The Story of Sleepy Hollow (2018) - Fiction/Historical/Fantasy
Andrews, Ilona - Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5) (2011) - Fantasy

November
Schötz, Susanne - The Secret Language of Cats (2018) - Nonfiction
Baum, L. Frank - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) - Fantasy/Children's
Perry, Carol J. - Bells, Spells, and Murder (2018) - Crime Fiction/Cozy

December
Hugo, Victor - Les Misérables (1862) - Fiction/Classic
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace (1867) - Fiction/Classic
Matthews, Mimi - A Holiday by Gaslight (2018) - Romance/Historical
Messina, Lynn - A Brazen Curiosity (2018) - Crime Fiction/Historical
Grace, February - Wishing Cross Station(2015) - Fantasy
Westover, Tara - Educated (2018) - Nonfiction  (review pending)
Hamlin, L.J. - Tales of the Fae (2018) - Romance/Fantasy/Short Stories  (review pending)



© 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, December 27, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

In 1815, Charles Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was bishop of Digne. Les Misérables



The Wretched (Original Title: Les Misérables) by Victor Hugo, translated by Christine Donougher
Penguin Classics, 2013 (first published in 1862)
Fiction; 1433 pgs


I fell in love with the musical version of Les Misérables long before I actually saw it performed on stage. My teenage heart swelled with emotion as I belted out “I Dreamed a Dream” more times than I could count. When, as an adult, I finally was able to see the stage production, I cried as the music began, a projection of the title on the curtains. One summer during our college years, my husband-then-boyfriend and I decided to give the book a try. Neither one of us finished it. I liked the book quite a bit, I remember, but classes had resumed and the book had to be set aside. It would be over two decades before I would try again, this time determined to finish it. Nick's (One Catholic LifeLes Misérables Chapter-A-Day Read-Along provided the perfect opportunity to do so. How had I not known the book is written in 365 chapters, one for each day for a year? And so began my reading of Les Misérables.

I much prefer reading a book before seeing its screen or stage version Sometimes though, I do see the book performed on screen or stage before reading the book as was the case in this instance. Given how enamored I am with the musical, I was not sure what I would make of the book. I would be lying if I said I didn't have the soundtrack from the musical running through my head the entire time I was reading it. Even having seen the musical several times and knowing the story so well, I still found myself crying in spots, getting angry at particular characters, and even holding my breath a time or two in the more tense situations.

At its heart, Les Misérables is a novel about redemption and good overcoming bad. What makes it all the more richer is the author’s attention to detail and depth that he takes not only his characters, but also in his digressions with his own thoughts about the history, society, and the politics of the times. There was the occasion or two I found it a bit overwhelming. But in the main, I found Hugo’s writing very accessible, and I was caught up in his narrative. This was a very hard book to read just one chapter at a time, and I often would find myself reading several in one sitting not realizing I had read ahead.

I always find it intimidating to write about a classic novel. Whereas once I might have taken a more academic approach to my reading of the book, wanting to dissect it’s every nuance and theme, I am no longer that type of reader. And so you will not find a deep analysis of the book here, but rather just some general thoughts. Hugo takes on such bold themes as social misery and injustice, class division, and the internal struggles of such things as well as the inequalities. Les Misérables was a force of change during its time on the social and political front and, I believe, is still relatable today.

A big portion of the novel is narrated by the author as he weaves his own thoughts and lessons in history, culture and society hierarchies in with the stories of his characters. Being that I am a “character” reader, my favorite parts of the story tended to be when Hugo focused mostly on their comings and goings. Many of the themes conveyed in the novel can be seen in their individual and combined stories. Hugo does not leave much for coincidence in the novel, with so many of the characters and events being connected somehow, everyone and everything coming together again and again as if fated to be so. I loved that aspect of the novel. I was curious to see Hugo’s original portrayal of the characters I have come to love through song. Would I still like them? How different would they be?

In a departure from my usual review style – I am sharing some of my thoughts on the main characters (trying to avoid spoilers):


  • My heart ached for dear Fantine, whose misery in life seems so undeserved. Her dreams are dashed in an instant when she becomes pregnant out of wedlock, setting in motion a series of tragedies. The one bright spot in her life is her daughter, Cosette. Only, that soon takes a turn for the worse when she puts her young daughter in the care of a pair of inn keepers she barely knows. She trusts in the wrong people out of desperation and hope and falls victim to men’s lusts and women’s petty jealousies. She ends up giving a piece of herself away a little at a time just to survive, all the while holding onto her love for her daughter. Her story is a sign of the times of how women were treated during the time period the novel takes place.


  • Madame and Monsieur Thénardier are despicable people. These two value the dollar and the next con over their own children. There is no love lost between me and the senior Thénardiers. I might have empathized with Madame given her lot in life, but the way she mistreated Cosette and her own children was enough to smite any kind feelings I might have in her direction. The two are certainly cunning, and not people I would want to come across in the street.


  • While Inspector Javert is not a particularly sympathetic character, his inner turmoil towards the end of the book struck a chord with me and makes me feel a bit sorry for him even if he himself has little to no compassion for others. He is not an evil man. He is a law officer who believes fervently in the law and good versus evil with no gray in between. He is the epitome of a zealot, narrow-minded and unable to accept anything that may threaten his belief system.

  • Eponine is one of my favorite characters in the musical. I wondered if she would live up to my expectations in the book. I think Eponine is one of the better developed characters in Les Misérables. She, like her siblings, is a product of her environment, raised by two despicable parents. She is intelligent and cunning, and I was not sure there was much hope of redemption for her given her circumstances and how ingrained the con and street life were in her. I did feel for her—she dared to love, went against her own interests to help him, knowing what it meant and yet still hoping he might turn her way and notice her. While in my teens Fantine's “I Dreamed a Dream” was my favorite song from the musical, in later years it would move over for Eponine's “On My Own”. I heard that song so clearly as the rain fell on Paris that ever fateful day in 1832. 
  • Of all the characters in Les Misérables, both the book and the musical, little Gavroche is my favorite. The son of thieves, unloved by his parents, left pretty much to raise himself on the street, he somehow holds onto a sense of conscience and kindness. It comes out in his actions—how he cares for others and the decisions he makes. His optimism and zest for life can, I suppose, be chalked up to his youth, but I like to think it is more than that. In another life and under other circumstances, Gavroche would have done great things in his lifetime, I think. As it was, he was a bit of sunshine on the otherwise grim and dreary Paris streets.


  • It was nice to get to know Marius Pontmercy more thoroughly in the book. Although I wanted to throttle him at times, especially towards the end of the novel, I have a lot of respect for him and admiration for his resilience and fortitude. He was raised by a wealthy baron who adored him, and yet kept him at a distance. Their relationship grows contentious as Marius grows older. As he delves more into his own father’s past, a father the grandfather disapproved of, and politics come into play, Marius takes to the streets to make his own way. He proves to be a hard worker as he is headstrong, and he is a decent man over all. He believes in justice and fairness.


  • My daughter took a particular interest in Cosette and asked me to read her the early chapters in the book that pertained to Cosette as a child. She is the young orphan girl mistreated by her caretakers and saved by the kindly Jean Valjean, who she would grow up thinking of as her father. Even in the direst of living conditions, Cosette maintained a light within her that, while may have wavered at times, never went out. Jean Valjean adores and loves her—as Marius would later as well. In the musical, I feel as if we do not know her very well—although I get the impression she is close to perfection in every way. Even in the novel, as we mostly see her through Jean Valjean’s and Marius’s eyes, she wears that same halo. I think that is why I gravitate more towards Eponine’s character, who is at least flawed and seems more tangible to me. I do like Cosette, though, and I wanted nothing but the best for her. I could not help but think of Cosette’s mother, Fantine, as I reached the end of the book—how happy she would be at the turn fate had taken for her daughter.


  • Jean Valjean is the heart of Les Misérables. Jean Valjean does not appear in the novel right away. Hugo’s tale meanders a bit before then as he sets the foundation for what is to come. After being released from prison, Jean Valjean, who had been caught stealing bread for his sister's family, is met with challenge after challenge as an ex-convict. John Valjean carries on with his life as best he can, always working to atone for his past crimes. The character of Jean Valjean is a man of conscience and honor. For the bad turns he may have taken, he always strives to do the right thing. My heart broke many times over for him throughout this novel. I wanted so much for him to find the peace of mind he deserved. 
There are many other characters that get more than a passing mention in the novel as well, such as the bishop who comes to Valjean’s aide, Marius's father and grandfather, the Friends of the ABC and their leader, Enjolas, and Azelma, Eponine's sister, just to name a few. Hugo gives the reader a real sense of time and place through his characters as well as his own digressions. When I reached the end of the novel, I felt a bit out of sorts, like I was saying goodbye too soon to a longtime friend. It wasn’t because the ending left me wanting—it didn’t at all.

My family and I re-watched the movie musical version of Les Misérables this past weekend, and I was swept up by the music and songs once again. I appreciate how the musical (and hopefully the upcoming mini-series by Masterpiece Theater) captures the general essence of the book even if not all the details are the same or even present. Now that I have the book in my head, I could not help but fill in the missing backstories as I watched, wanting to explain to everyone watching what they could not know. I did not. Well, maybe a little. Yes, it’s true. I am that annoying person you want to avoid watching a movie with if I have just finished the book the movie is based on.

I tend to gravitate more these days towards books that are fast-paced because it matches my busy life. But Les Misérables is definitely a book that needs deserves to be savored. I imagine a lot of people are turned off by the size of the novel at 1,400+ pages. I know I was. I am so glad though that I stepped out of my busy life to take the year to read Hugo’s classic. It was well worth it.



© 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, December 26, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

"Well, my prince, Genoa and Lucca are no no more than possessions, estates, of the Buonaparte family." War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky
Vintage, 2001 (originally published in 1867)
Fiction; 1298 pages

After several false starts in past years, I am happy to say this time it stuck. I finished Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace earlier this month. I feel such a sense of relief accomplishment. I loved the author’s Anna Karenina, and it was enough to convince me to give War and Peace a try. I just kept getting stumped whenever I would pick it up. I tried the read-along route and reading it on my own, both to no avail. That was, at least, until this year when I heard about another read-along and decided to try again. I am not sure if anyone else actually read the book, to be honest. No one (not even me) ever commented in the group where the read-along took place other than the posted schedule and a few people saying they would join in. I seem to have mixed results with read-alongs in general, and so I suppose that’s just par for the course.

Although I cannot remember who or in reference to what book (maybe this one), I took the advice to heart that I should keep reading despite not being able to keep the characters straight because everyone and everything would eventually fall in place. And it worked! Some other advice that I know now which I wish I had known in advance was that maybe I should have skipped reading the second part of the epilogue. Chance are I would have read it anyway, but at least I would have been more prepared for it. When I finished, I found myself wondering, “That’s it? That’s how it ends?” Tolstoy writes about how history is formed and how it progresses, how individuals affect that progress, and the nature of modern history and its flaws. For the characters, the ending came in the first part of the epilogue really, and had more of an “ending” feel to it.

It is true that Tolstoy often would step away from his characters in the novel and talk about politics, culture, historical events, and share his philosophical views, all which provides an interesting framework for the book. I enjoyed reading about the war effort, the strategies and battle plans, as well as the ideologies of the time. Rarely did I find it boring. The parts of the book I particularly was drawn to involved the characters, seeing their own stories unfold and what fate held for them.

Like my other recent read, Les Misérables, War and Peace is full of characters whose lives are intertwined in one way or the other. I had no real idea what War and Peace was about when I started it, having never seen it in any of its screen adaptations, nor had I read much about it. I knew it was well loved by many, as well as a book many others were on the fence about tackling. I am so glad I read past that point that always seemed to get me stuck. I am glad I took the time to give this book another chance. Tolstoy’s writing could be a bit dry at times and repetitive—something in the translation or the writing style, perhaps. And yet, I was still drawn to the book and to the characters. Set during the Napoleonic invasion of Russia in 1812, the novel follows five aristocratic families and their friends as they navigate their lives during the war. We meet character who range from peasant to nobility, as well as soldiers of various ranks to civilians. The novel is rich in culture and history, and I found myself researching some of what Tolstoy mentions to find out more.

One of the stand out characters is Pierre Bezukhov, who was among my favorite characters. He, and many others around him, are surprised when he inherits his father’s fortune. Pierre is the illegitimate son of a count. He goes from a socially awkward outsider to being one of the most desirable, if still socially awkward, bachelors. His new found popularity and fortune only serve to make him feel more unsteady and unsure of himself. Pierre is a rather simple man who does not share the pretentiousness that so many of the upper class seem to. He is emotional more than he is rational, particularly at first. Throughout the novel, Pierre is on a sort of spiritual quest, searching for some higher meaning and trying to find his place in the world. His wife Helene is the opposite of him, shallow and an opportunist. She is very popular, especially among the men.

While Pierre tends to be led by emotion, his good friend Andrei Bolkonsky is much more rational, and he uses his intelligence to his advantage. Andrei is not one that is easy to get close to as he sometimes seems to hold himself apart, but he is nothing if not honest, and puts his all into his work, whether it be managing his estate or on the field in battle. 

Natalya (aka Natasha) Rostov is another character who is often front and center, and one I came to like quite a bit. She is both charming and somewhat naive. She did not always make the wisest of choices, letting her heart lead her on occasion. In some respects, she is on her own journey of self-discovery, much like Pierre. Natasha grows a lot over the course of the novel, experiencing both joys and pain, shaping her into the woman she will become.

There, are of course, other characters who Tolstoy lets the reader get to know at length. There is Sonya Rostov, another favorite of mine, who is the cousin of Natasha, and living with Natasha’s family as a ward. Sonya seems to have a level head and I often felt sorry for the way she was treated and the sacrifices she has to make toward the later part of the book given her station in life. There is also Andrei’s sister, Marya Bolkonsky, who long suffered under her father’s cruelty. I felt for Marya much of the time, although I did not like the way she treated Natasha in the beginning of their acquaintance. The list goes on from there.

It was hard not to be swept up into their lives: all their drama, hopes and dreams. It is said Tolstoy did not consider War and Peace a novel. It is definitely a mix of both story and essay, but interwoven so well that I cannot imagine one without the other. I will not even pretend that I know all that Tolstoy wanted to achieve with this book. I do not have the discerning eye of the scholar and am sure I missed much. There is war, romance, duels, betrayals, and misunderstandings between the pages of War and Peace. There are laugh out loud moments as well as ones that made my eyes well up with tears. Although a struggle at first, I ended up enjoying my (near) year reading War and Peace much more than I expected. Although I am not sure this is a book I will return to now that I have read it once through, I am anxious to see one or more of the screen adaptations of War and Peace


© 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.

Bookish Thoughts (Mini Reviews): A Holiday by Gaslight, A Brazen Curiosity, & Wishing Cross Station

An icy late November breeze rustled the bare branches of the tree along the Serpentine.~ Opening of A Christmas by Gaslight 

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews 
Perfectly Proper Press, 2018
Romance (Historical); 175 pgs

Sophie Appersett would like to marry someone for love, and that doesn't seem to be Mr. Edward Sharpe, who barely speaks to Sophie on their outings together. Sophie's parents need her to marry Edward, who is quite wealthy despite his humble parentage, as her father's spending has gotten out of hand. While, Sophie wants to marry for love, not out of obligation, her loyalty to her family is strong. Will the holiday at the Appersett House be enough win over Edward Sharpe?

A Holiday by Gaslight was a pleasant little historical romance set in Victorian England. Sophie has long been driven by pragmatism and logic, but when it comes to marriage, she craves romance and love. She seems to know this about herself and isn't afraid to go after what she wants. At first I was a little put off by Edward Sharpe, much like Sophie was, given his initial demeanor, but, as the reader soon learns, there is much more to him than meets the eye. He is smart, and I worried at times that Sophie was underestimating him. 

I am not sure what to make of how things played out in the end. It was certainly a twist I was not expecting. Was it for the better? I think so for Edward and Sophie. For the reader? It may have been a bit too much. Still, I did enjoy this novella overall, and would read more by Mimi Matthews.

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

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All through dinner Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare imagined tossing food at Damien Matlock, Duke of Kesgrave. ~ Opening of A Brazen Curiosity 


A Brazen Curiosity (Beatrice Hyde-Clare Mysteries #1) by Lynn Messina 
Potatoworks, 2018
Crime Fiction (Historical Cozy); 176 pgs

Beatrice is a heroine after my own heart. Shy and bookish, more invisible than not, Beatrice Hyde-Clare was taken in by relatives at a young age after her parents' untimely death. She is now 26 years old with no marriage prospects in sight--nor necessarily expected. While visiting her aunt's childhood friend and her family, Beatrice stumbles on the dead body of one of the other guests while searching for a book in the library. Also in the room is the insufferable Duke of Kesgrave. After shooing her off to bed to maintain propriety, the duke promises to take care of everything. Beatrice is shocked and none to happy to discover the Duke of Kesgrave has not been too honest about the situation. As a result, she sets out to find a murderer.

I had such fun reading A Brazen Curiosity, my first by Lynn Messina, but definitely not my last. Beatrice is not only smart, but she is also a character I found I could really relate to. Someone who is used to always doing the right thing, never stepping out of line, and yet ever observant. Like for Bea, the Duke of Kesgrave grew on me the more I got to know him. While there is no romantic match in this book for the two characters, I wouldn't mind seeing it in the future. They work well together, and I enjoyed their sometimes barbed and often playful banter. Some of the side characters in this novel are real dunces, I have to say. How anyone would so readily accept a man hit on the back of the head with a candlestick as a suicide, I do not know, but I suppose people will believe what they want to believe. Even so, this is a great little mystery and I am eager to read more in the series.

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


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The wail and cry of the whistle. ~ Opening of Wishing Cross Station


Wishing Cross Station by Grace February 
Booktrope Publishing, 2015
Fantasy/Science Fiction; 153 pgs

Upon collecting boxes of donated books for the college library he works for, Keigan Wainwright comes into possession of a particularly unusual book. One whose province is quite the mystery.  Promising to return it to its rightful place, Keigan takes on more than he bargained for. He suddenly finds himself back in time, stuck in a small town whose residents do not like strangers, and losing his heart to a young woman he knows he has no future with.

Such an interesting premise! I could not resist the mention of books, especially one so unusual that might be a key to time travel. Although more of a novella in length, the author does a good job of setting up her character of Keigan and the task he is about to undertake. Keigan seems like a decent chap and adjusts rather easily to life in the mid-1800's. He is not sure how long he will be stuck there, although likely through Christmas, but he is resourceful enough to know getting a job and a place to stay are critical. This is more of a quiet story than I expected and a rather sad one at that. I would like to have known more about Marigold, the girl from the past. Mr. Best, the jeweler, made quite an impression on me, and was probably my favorite character in the novel. I guess you could say Wishing Cross Station is a bit of a mystery as well as a love story. I do wish there had been more to it in the end. This is a story which deserves a full length book.

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.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Season's Greetings!


What a crazy month December has been! I have not had much time to spend on my computer what with the holidays upon us, Mouse's performances, and my mom's visit. I do hope to have some belated reviews up for you later this week to finish out the year.

For those who celebrate, may you have the Merriest of Christmases, and for those who do not, I hope you are having a wonderful Holiday Season. 

 Nutcracker Performance (Party Scene)

 Nutcracker Performance (Mechanical Doll)

 Nutcracker Performance (Mice Scene)

 Nutcracker Performance (Snow Queen)

 Nutcracker Performance (Arabian Dance Scene)

 Nutcracker Performance (Dragon Dance)


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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#27)



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!



Like Clockwork (#1) by Margie Orford (2006, Witness Impulse)
When a beautiful young woman is found murdered on Cape Town's Seapoint promenade, journalist and part-time police profiler Dr. Clare Hart is drawn into the web of a brutal serial killer. As more bodies are discovered, Clare is forced to re-visit memories of the brutal rape of her twin sister and the gang ties that bind Cape Town's crime rings. Is her investigation into human trafficking linked to the murders or is the killer just playing a sick game with her? [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: I had actually forgotten I had this one on my TBR shelf, but found it when I was looking through it. I tend to shy away from serial killer mysteries these days, although the human trafficking aspect is sure to still interest me. 



*

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.


Miraculum by Steph Post
Release Date: January 22, 2019 by Polis Books

The year is 1922. The carnival is Pontilliar’s Spectactular Star Light Miraculum, set up on the Texas-Louisiana border. One blazing summer night, a mysterious stranger steps out onto the midway, lights a cigarette and forever changes the world around him. Tattooed snake charmer Ruby has traveled with her father’s carnival for most of her life and, jaded though she is, can’t help but be drawn to the tall man in the immaculate black suit who has joined the carnival as a geek, a man who bites the heads off live chickens. Mercurial and charismatic, Daniel charms everyone he encounters but his manipulation of Ruby becomes complicated when it no longer becomes clear who is holding all the cards. For all of Daniel’s secrets, Ruby has a few of her own. When one tragedy after another strikes the carnival, and it becomes clear that Daniel is somehow at the center of calamity, Ruby takes it upon herself to discover the mystery of the shadowy man pulling all the strings. Joined by Hayden, a roughneck-turned-mural-painter who has recently reentered her life, Ruby enters into a dangerous, eye-opening game with Daniel in which nothing and no one is as it seems and yet everything is at stake. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: The carnival aspect has me intrigued as do the comparisons I have seen being made to The Night Circus, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Water for Elephants.  Not that comparisons can be completely trusted . . . Still, I know I want to give this one a try!


The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loignman
Release Date: January 22, 2019 by St. Martin's Press

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: One of my favorite historical time periods to read about in fiction is around and about the World Wars. This particular novel about two sisters has caught my attention as a result. A big dark secret may have something to do with it too.



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


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

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Bells, Spells, and Murders by Carol J. Perry

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

December's TBR List Poll Winner!

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

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




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

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

The winners are:


A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
and

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


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