Friday, April 03, 2020

Weekly Mews: Bookwanderers, Rainbows, and My April TBR List Poll (Please Vote!)

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by 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 The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants discuss what they are reading and other bookish topics. 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.   I am linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently. 


As I write this I am sitting on my couch with my daughter cuddled up next to me, playing a game on her tablet. My tortie cat is attacking my foot playfully (thank goodness I am wearing thick socks!), while my other one is napping peacefully at the end of the couch. My husband will be walking in any moment with the pizza. We are going to catch up on the most recent episode of The Masked Singer. I love these quiet evenings with my family. Will you join me?

New to the Shelves:


In early March, I picked up a copy of Pages and Co.: The Bookwanderers by Anna James while visiting Barnes and Noble. My last physical visit to a bookstore for a long while, I am afraid.  As a book lover, I couldn't resist. It is about an 11 year old girl whose mother disappeared and is being raised by her grandparents who own a bookshop. She loves to escape into books--and soon the characters of her favorite classics start visiting her in the bookshop.


I pre-ordered paperback copies a couple books awhile ago (when I was spending my gift cards) and one came in this past month. I am so excited! It is Laurie Halse Anderson's Shout. Her young adult novel Speak is one of my all time favorites, and a book I have a very personal connection to. Shout is a memoir written in free verse, which delves into the author's childhood trauma and the significance it had on her writing, as well as other aspects of her life.

Have you read either of these or anything else by the authors? If so, what did you think? What books have you added to your shelves recently? 


What I Am Reading: I am embarrassed to say I am still making my way through Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I am closer to being done than I was last week, at least. I blame it partly on my working part of the week from home this week. I usually read during my lunch break, and, considering my lunch break at home was spent with my husband and daughter and I had to work through my lunch breaks at the office, there was not much reading getting done. I am sure the other part is that I have not completely regained my reading mojo.

What I Am Watching: More Vampire Diaries and Elementary. Nothing really noteworthy, I am afraid.

Off the Blog: This week was the start of my new work schedule, working part of the week from home and the other in the office. It went well overall, with a few minor kinks. It was hard going into the office the second part of the week though. As I was getting ready for my first day back, I caught myself as I was putting on my lipstick. What was I doing?! I have to wear a face mask in the office! No lipstick needed.

Mouse's dance classes started on Zoom this week as well. She is not terribly enthusiastic about having to take classes via a screen, but it is better than nothing. Rehearsals for the summer ballet and musical (which will likely be postponed) are also supposed to start up again this month.

As predicted, the governor announced all schools in the state will be closed for the rest of the academic year. My daughter was really sad to hear the news. She misses her friends and teacher. The teacher is busy getting Google Classroom set up and plans to have that officially under way April 13th. I will be grateful for the additional educational support when it comes. My husband and I are doing what we can, but with both of us working full time during the week, and her being so young still, I wish we could do more for her. I cannot imagine what it is like for working parents that have even younger and multiple children at home right now, trying to juggle it all. She's getting a good lesson in how to be self-sufficient, at least!

My computer of nine years has started showing serious signs it is ready to be laid to rest. My hard drive isn't long for this world. All the files have been backed up, and while I am hoping it can hang on for a while longer, I also know it may go at any moment (please don't be while I am using it--like right now!).

We decorated for Easter this past weekend. And this past week Mouse created some giant eggs to put in the window for neighbors who may go on an Egg Hunt. This weekend we will be decorating  flowers and butterflies for the Christmas Easter tree.

 A glimpse of part of the rainbow on our walk


Here is what I finished reading in March:
  • Well-Read Black Girl ed. by Gloria Edim
  • The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
  • The Five Year Plan by Carla Burgess
  • Go Away, Unicorn! by Emily Mullock
  • No News is Good News (Ivy + Bean, #8) by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall
  • In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
  • Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna and Loren Long
  • Ivy + Bean Make the Rules (#9) by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall
Mouse recently rediscovered The Book With No Pictures in her personal library. We read it three times in a row one evening; my husband, Mouse, and I, each reading it to each other. Go Away, Unicorn! is one Mouse picked up at her most recent school book fair. It's really cute. We continue to enjoy the Ivy + Bean books. We still have two more to go before we are caught up with the series. I reviewed both The Five Year Plan and In Five Years earlier this month, both were enjoyable reads. One a cute romance and the other a fiction novel about love, loss and self-discovery. I also read Well-Read Black Girl, a collection of essays written by several women authors of color, which was amazing.

My reading really suffered this past month. I expected it would given all we had planned. Mouse's birthday, dance rehearsals, spring break, and family coming in from out of town. I did not expect to get much reading done. The month went into an entirely different direction (no family visit, cancelled rehearsals, and a kind of extra long spring break that still hasn't ended)--and still, not much reading. I am hoping April will be better. And if my computer survives, hopefully I will be able to blog more too.

Tell me what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your March


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

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




April is National Poetry Month. Did you know the newest book on my TBR shelf, Shout, is a memoir in verse? I love that! I am really excited about this month's three choices. They are all books I have been wanting to read for a long while. They are all also novels written in verse. Will you help me select the one I read this month in honor of National Poetry Month?


A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (2014)
Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.

Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her. [Goodreads Summary]
Sometimes I think our family lives and breathes dance, which is one of the reasons I knew I had to read A Time to Dance. I am also very curious about the bharatanatyam dance form. I have seen a couple of You Tube videos, and it's beautiful. This novel promises to be heartbreaking and inspiring. Veda could have given up on dancing altogether, but she doesn't.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (2018)
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent. [Goodreads Summary]
I still remember the first time I got to see slam poetry performed in person, a piece on women's history. I was mesmerized and loved every minute of it. I know first hand the comfort putting words to a page can bring, especially when it seems like the world is against you. I cannot help but want to know more about Xiomara and hear what she has to say.


Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)
For all the ten years of her life, Ha has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by...and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Ha and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Ha discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape...and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next. [Goodreads Summary] 

Of all three of these, this one has been on my TBR the longest. I am not sure why I have not read it. The Vietnam setting, particularly the time period, call to me. If you have read my blog before, you probably know my father was a Vietnam War Veteran, and I find myself drawn to books set in and around that war. I also like to read novels about the immigrant experience, which is often full of hardship and hope.

What do you think? Do any of these appeal to you? Which one should I read next?



Thank you for voting! I hope you all have a wonderful week. Stay safe and well.  Happy Reading!


© 2020, 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, March 31, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday: Saving Paradise/Little Family/The Secrets of Love Story Bridge/The Book of Koli



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!

Saving Paradise (Pono Hawkins #1) by Mike Bond (Mandevilla Press, 2012)
When a beautiful journalist drowns mysteriously off Waikiki, Hawaii, Special Forces veteran Pono Hawkins, now a well-known surfer and international correspondent for surfing magazines, soon gets embroiled in trying to find out why she died. What he quickly learns makes him a target for murder or life in prison as a cabal of powerful corporations, foreign killers and crooked politicians places the blame on him. Haunted by memories of Afghanistan, and determined to protect the Hawaii he loves from dirty politics tied to huge destructive energy developments, Pono turns to Special Forces buddies and his own covert skills to fight his deadly enemies, trying both save himself and find her killers. Alive with the sights, sounds and history of Hawaii, SAVING PARADISE is also a deepy rich portrait of what Pono calls the seamy side of paradise, and an exciting thriller of politics, lies and remorseless murder. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I am sure I selected this one to add to my TBR pile because of the Hawaiian setting. Pono's status as a veteran probably also played a part in that decision. This sounds like the kind of book I would have passed along to my dad if he were still alive--after I finished reading it, that is. 

Have you read Saving Paradise? Does it sound like something you would enjoy reading? 


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.


Little Family by Ishmael Beah
Release Date: April 28, 2020 by Riverhead Books
A powerful novel about young people in a conflict-scarred land, struggling to replace the homes they have lost with the one they have created together.

Hidden away from a harsh outside world, five young people have improvised a home in an abandoned airplane, a relic of their country’s chaos. Elimane, the bookworm, is as street-smart as he is wise. Clever Khoudiemata maneuvers to keep the younger kids—athletic, pragmatic Ndevui; thoughtful Kpindi; and especially their newest member, Namsa—safe and fed. When Elimane makes himself of service to the shadowy William Handkerchief, it seems as if the little family may be able to keep the world at bay and their household intact. But when Khoudi comes under the spell of the “beautiful people”—the fortunate sons and daughters of the powerful—the desire to resume an interrupted coming of age and follow her own destiny proves impossible to resist.

A profound and tender portrayal of the connections we forge to survive the fate we’re dealt, Little Family marks the further blossoming of a unique global voice. 
[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: When I first came across the book, Little Family, I vaguely recognized the author's name. Ishmael Beah is also the author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, which won a lot of praise when it came out. Just from the description of Little Family, I already find myself feeling a connection with its cast of characters, this family by choice, not by blood drawn together by circumstance and need.


The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick
Release Date: April 28, 2020 by Park Row
A single father gets an unexpected second chance at love in the heartwarming new novel from the author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.
It’s summer in the city and passions are soaring along with the temperature—for everyone but Mitchell Fisher, who hates all things romance. He relishes his job cutting off the padlocks that couples fasten to the famous “love story” bridge. Only his young daughter, Poppy, knows that behind his prickly veneer, Mitchell still grieves the loss of her mother.

Then one hot day, everything changes when Mitchell courageously rescues a woman who falls from the bridge into the river. He’s surprised to feel an unexpected connection to her, but she disappears before he can ask her name. Desperate to find out her identity, Mitchell is shocked to learn she’s been missing for almost a year. He teams up with her spirited sister, Liza, on a quest to find her again. However, she’s left only one clue behind—a message on the padlock she hung on the bridge.

Brimming with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and a sparkling cast of characters, The Secrets of Love Story Bridge follows one man’s journey to unlock his heart and discover new beginnings in the unlikeliest places. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I am not sure what it is about this book that makes me think of spring, but it does. Given today's climate, this feel good book sounds like it will be a perfect escape. A bit of mystery and romance makes a great combination.


The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy #1) by M.R. Carey
Release Date: April 14, 2020 by Orbit
Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don't get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don't venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn't know is - what happens when you aren't given a choice?

The first in a gripping new trilogy, The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and Annihilation[Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I read and enjoyed M.R. Carey's The Girl With All the Gifts, and when I saw the author's new title was up for release in a couple weeks, I was immediately interested. I am curious about Koli, what kind of person he is and just what will happen when he leaves those walls that have kept him safe for so long. 


Do any of these books interest you? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to reading?


© 2020, 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, March 29, 2020

Weekly Mews: The Reality of Now

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by 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 The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants discuss what they are reading and other bookish topics. 


I am having a hard time focusing on anything for long--reading, writing, even blogging. I go to work, come home, and just want to vegetate on the couch, cuddling with my daughter, and watch television. I am afraid to go to the stores. When a package is delivered, I take extra precautions when opening it and have left several in my garage, just sitting there unopened, hoping by the time I get to them, any virus will be dead. We have gotten pizza a couple nights, but for the most part, my husband cooks something. Finding things at the store is still so hard. We can really only go in the evenings or on weekends--and by then all the shelves have been picked over by the early birds. I have suggested to my husband we have groceries delivered, but I think he likes getting out of the house now and then since he is now working completely from home. We finally found someone who had tissue in stock online--and ordered some. It should arrive late next week. We are down to our last box. God forbid we use the precious toilet paper as a substitute which we also have not been able to find in any local stores.

I haven't been sleeping well. I find myself crying more frequently, sometimes multiple times a day for seemingly no reason, and often feel heaviness and pressure in my chest. My anxiety is through the roof. I've been trying to stay away from the news (which I get online mostly, and word of mouth since we don't have television channels that carry the news), but it is hard to avoid completely. Especially when I am at work. We are moving to work part of the time at home, at least. I will be working from home two days and then in the office the rest of the week starting this week. I would prefer to be working from home every day, safe at home with my family, but I will take what I can get. The joy of being an essential employee. . .

I know I am one of the lucky ones. I still am able to work and my job doesn't have me working face to face with the public. Some of my colleagues do not have that luxury. My manager has thinned us out enough (rotating who works at home or in the office) so that we can better practice social distancing in the office.

My husband, Anjin, is working from home for the time being, which has been a life saver for us. He also is an essential worker, and so it could have played out quite differently if he still had to go into the office. He is able to stay home with our daughter. Last week was his first week working from home. We had come up with a makeshift academic plan for Mouse, and she has managed well under the circumstances. My husband does not have a lot of flexibility in terms of how much he can work with her, so she's had to work independently for the most part. I am so grateful though that he has been able to do what he can. He has kept such a level head through all of this, helping me stay grounded, and taking lead with my daughter's education.

This past Friday Mouse was able to connect with her class via Zoom, and, from the sounds of it, the district is setting up classes via Google Classroom. Hopefully we will hear more about that soon. The teachers from her school arranged for a car parade Friday morning that drove through the students' neighborhoods, teachers and students cheering and waving to each other as the parade went by. I was able to arrange with a neighbor a couple doors down to keep an eye on Mouse while she was waiting for the parade to go by since Anjin could not leave the house and I was at work. Mouse was able to ride her scooter around our cul de sac with the neighbor's sons--keeping adequate social distance, of course.

Starting tomorrow, Mouse's dance classes and rehearsals will be done via Zoom. She is not too thrilled about the idea, if I am honest. It isn't the same, I know. Part of what she loves about her classes is being able to be among her friends. Hopefully once they get up and running, she will settle into the routine. I think it will do her good--get her moving more and have some contact with the outside world, even if in an unconventional way.

Through all of this, I am trying to be gentle with myself. The lack of control, the constant uncertainty, the fear and worry for loved ones, all of it and more, is exhausting. It takes a toll on the mind and the body. I do my best to keep it under control so that it does not affect my work or my daughter. I know that isn't entirely possible though--and I have to be okay with that. Some days (or hours) are better than others.

Humor helps some. When I can read, that does as well. I do a lot of re-framing and am trying to get back into writing. Writing down my feelings and thoughts helps. I have been trying to encourage my daughter to journal along side with me, but so far that hasn't worked. She did like my idea of writing letters to Earth while we are on a trip to Mars, cut off from everyone. I also find taking walks around the neighborhood helps. Some of our neighbors have put stuffed bears in their windows (we have too) so kids can go on "bear hunts" with their families.

I am intent on making Easter fun for my daughter as she keeps talking about it. Something to look forward to, at least. Our Easters have always been rather quiet. We aren't church going people. For Mouse is it more about waking up to find plastic eggs full of toys and candy hidden all over the house and yard. That we can do!

On the health front, we are all doing well--mostly. Mouse's and my allergies are ever present. My wrist is not bothering me anymore. I somehow pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder, however, that is giving me a lot of trouble. It's hard to get comfortable. It does seem to lessening some, which is promising.

I would like to think my blogging will increase (as will my reading), but I make no promises. I hope all of you are safe and well and hanging in there as best you can!


What I Am Reading: I am about half way through Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Any other time, I probably would have loved the book, but right now it is probably not the best fit. I can only take the mama drama is small doses. I should have long ago picked something else up to read, but I have not been able to motivate myself to do even that.

Mouse and I are reading Sticks & Stones (Upside-Down Magic, #2) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins. We hadn't realized it was the second book in the series, which kind of explains why we were a bit lost in the beginning. We are not too far in at this point, but are enjoying it.

What I Am Watching: I started on season seven of Vampire Diaries. As a family, we have been watching a lot of Elementary--we are on the second season. I have also been catching some of the Christmas Hallmark movies. I even have the Christmas tree lights turned on (yes, our tree is still up--just not decorated) and the gas fireplace on to help set the mood. I finally saw the movie Ready Player One. It is a lot different from the book, of course, but I still enjoyed it.. Oh, and the Harry Potter movies. Mouse and I have been re-watching them. There's nothing like getting lost in the world of Harry Potter.

What I Am Grateful For: I am grateful for my family and this extra time with them, even if the conditions and reasons are not ideal. I am grateful to the friends who stepped into help with Mouse when I need them the most the week before last. I am grateful for our relatively good health. I am also grateful my husband and I are still working. I am grateful, like so many others, for all those essential employees who are doing their best under such trying circumstances. I am grateful for the sound of the birds singing outside and bears in windows.


How are you all holding up during these difficult times? What have you been up to? What are you reading? 



 I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!

 Even my cats at the office are taking precautions
(one of my coworkers went around putting masks on our inanimate friends 
to help add some humor to the current crisis.)

My cubicle mate at work


© 2020, 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, March 15, 2020

Weekly Mews: School Closures, Social Distancing & Birthday Cake

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by 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 The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants discuss what they are reading and other bookish topics. 


Friday afternoon the order came down that all schools in our county close for at least the next three weeks. Given all the other schools in the state and country that had been closing it was just a matter of time really, but it still felt sudden. My husband also got word from his supervisor that he and his coworkers will be working from home until early April. There are still some things that need to happen before he can start that transition, but it will be taking place before the end of this week. As far as I know, I will continue to go into work as usual. My mom is supposed to be traveling down to stay with us for awhile and help with Mouse, but she's got a cold and we're waiting to hear what her doctor says about her visiting given the circumstances.  Everyone's being advised to practice social distancing for the time being to try to slow the spread of the virus. It's all a bit crazy out there right now.


This past week we celebrated Mouse's birthday. We had a small family celebration one evening and brunch with a couple of friends another day. I think she would tell you she's had a good birthday overall!

On to what I have been reading!


In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (Atria, 2020; Fiction; 266 pgs)
Twenty-five. That's the number I count to every morning before I even open my eyes. [Opening]
I've always been waiting, haven't I? For tragedy to show up once again on my doorstep. Evil that blindsides. [excerpt from 81%]
I recently finished reading In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, which I enjoyed. It is about a woman who falls asleep the night of her engagement and has a premonition five years into the future--only she was in a different apartment and appears to be engaged to someone else. She almost convinces herself it is a dream when she actually meets the guy from the premonition. If you are thinking romance, it is not one. But it is sort of a love story in its own way. I could relate to the main character in her penchant to plan and always be prepared. She is thrown for a loop, however, by not only the premonition, but events that follow, her emotions all over the place, and must really take a look at who she is and what she wants in her life. I did not expect In Five Years to be the tearjerker it turned out to be. And while the novel felt a bit predictable much of the time, when it came to the ending . . . well, it really made the book for me.


The Five Year Plan by Carla Burgess (HQ Digital, 2020; Romance; 555 pgs)
'How did you get invited to this exhibition, Orla?' Emma turns to look at me, her loose black hair streaking back from her face as the wind howls down the street towards us. [Opening] 
Before that I read The Five Year Plan by Carla Burgess, which definitely fell into the romance category. Two very different people: a ambitious young journalist who knows just what she wants and has a plan to get there; and an adventurous photojournalist who lives in a tent and takes life as it comes. Neither is interested in a committed relationship when they meet, but they fall in love--and then go their separate ways; their futures headed in two completely different directions. Several years later they meet again and their feelings for each other are as strong as ever. I really liked Aiden and Orla early on: the easy way they talked to each other and how well they complimented one another. I was not as impressed with Aiden years later, however. I imagine he was coming from a place of hurt feelings and so should cut him some slack, but I thought at times he was unkind to Orla and should have given her the benefit of the doubt. One minute he was mad at her and accusing her of not being honest with him (she was confused about her own feelings), and the next, when she asks him to tell her what was wrong, he refused and told her to let him know when she figured it out. I don't know why that bothered me so much. But it was moments like that that that annoyed me about him. Still, I did enjoy The Five Year Plan overall. It was funny, especially in  those early years, and quite charming.


How are you all holding up during these difficult times? What have you been up to? What are you reading? 


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

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





It was no surprise given your comments which book would come out on top in this month's poll! Little Fires Everywhere received 9 votes and 6 went to The Magicians. Twelve of you voted for the winner, Big Little Lies. I am a couple chapters in now and dying to know what happened and to whom! Somehow I have managed to avoid all spoilers to the book since it first came out.


Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
A murder . . . a tragic accident . . . or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.
But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. [Goodreads Summary]

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


© 2020, 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.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Weekly Mews: Illness,Injuries, Good Books, & My March TBR List Poll (Please Vote!)

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by 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 The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants discuss what they are reading and other bookish topics. 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.   I am linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently. 


Happy March everyone! I really do not want to talk about the American Primary Elections or COVID-19, both topics which seem to be all a lot of people want to talk about out there. It is not that they are not important. Only that I need to tune them (and other worldly concerns) out for a little while for my sanity's sake.  Instead, join me in my happy place--at least for a little while, will you?

New to the Shelves:


Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

I am so excited about Downstairs Girl! I told myself I wouldn't buy a copy, but my will power failed me that day. Murder at Half Moon Gate and Plotting for Murder are books that have been on my wish list a while now--given that I have later books already on my TBR pile. I am back-filling my collection, you could say. And Inherit the Stars is another wish list book that's price was too good to pass up this time around. All four I used gift cards for (I have been hoarding quite a stash, actually), and so no money out of my pocket. Always a plus.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? What books have you added to your shelves recently? 


What I Am Reading: I am nearing the end of The Five-Year Plan by Carla Burgess, a sweet British romance novel. I had actually meant to start In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, but accidentally grabbed the wrong title. It worked out well though. I am enjoying my time with Aiden and Orla. Perhaps I will follow up with In Five Years . . .

What I Am Watching: I have been watching The latest season of The Masked Singer with my family, and am watching the first season of The Runaways. It got off to a slow start, but so far I am enjoying it. I have made it to season 6 of The Vampire Diaries. Much of season 5 I had not seen before, although I had seen the previous seasons. I have mixed feelings about the show at this point, but I am enjoying it still, if not as much as the earlier seasons.

I really want to see the documentary series The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, which I know will have me in tears for all six episodes. It will be a difficult series to watch, and will hit closer to home than I will probably like, but I have heard it is a must see, especially for those of us on the front lines working with abused and neglected children.

Off the Blog: We have been sick. My husband and I both had colds and sinus trouble this past month. The entire family is still struggling with our allergies. Mouse was on antibiotics for a short while there due to an infection. My husband's knee is giving him trouble, and I hurt my hand/wrist. The pain comes and goes, depending on how much I baby it--unfortunately, it is my dominate hand and so it doesn't get as much rest as it probably needs. I can't put much weight on it, holding anything for long is next to impossible,  and sometimes the pain is quite intense.

Rehearsals are going well for Mouse. She gave a Hip Hop class a try this past month,  but ultimately we decided it was just too much to add on to our already packed schedule right now. The Girl Scout Cookie sale is going well. She will not make her goal--not even close--but honestly, I didn't expect her to given past years' sales. That isn't me being pessimistic. Just reality. The Cookie Season will be wrapping up mid-March as well as her school coding club coming to an end. Mouse has enjoyed learning how to code, and I think would be interested in doing more of it at some point in the future.

Mouse has a birthday coming up very soon. My baby is going to be nine! I look at her, and I just cannot believe how old she is now. It doesn't seem possible so much time has passed by already. She is really excited about her special day.


Here is what I finished reading in February:
  • Stars Beyond (Stars Uncharted, #2) by S.K. Dunstall
  • Mimi Lee Gets a Clue (A Sassy Cat Mystery, #1) by Jennifer J. Chow
  • Doomed to Dance (Ivy + Bean, #6) by Annie Barrows & Sophie Blackall
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  • What's the Big Idea? (Ivy + Bean, #7)
  • Big News! (Emma is on the Air, #1) by Ida Siegal
  • Amelia Bedelia Means Business (#1) by Herman Parish & Lynn Avril
  • The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty
  • The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright & Jim Field
  • The Deep by Alma Katsu
I enjoyed my February reading. I excitedly dived into Stars Beyond, the second in the Stars Uncharted series, and was not disappointed. I discovered a new cozy series featuring a precocious cat that I look forward to reading more of in the future (Mimi Lee Gets a Clue). Then there was Alma Katsu's The Deep, which had so many elements I love in a novel. But my favorite of all was my February TBR Poll winner, Dear Martin. I think my favorite of the books I read with Mouse was Big News! by Ida Siegal. I hope we are able to continue with the series.

I neglected my blog for much of the month, only posting here and there. I did not get around to visiting many of your blogs, for which I am sorry. Part of it was due to my busy schedule, and a bigger part due to my hand/wrist injury. I wish I could say March will be much better, but it will be an even busier month--and I really need to work at resting my wrist (wish me luck with that one).

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


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

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




Are you someone who likes to see the movie/television show before reading the book or do you prefer to read the book first? Or does it not matter? I am definitely a read the book before seeing the screen version kind of person. Most of the time (there are always exceptions).  There are quite a few movies and television shows I have not yet watched because I want to read the book first. Which means I have missed out on a lot of great movies---and shows.

My three options this month are all books that have been turned into television series. Please help me choose which one I should start with! Have you read any of these?

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia's.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak. [Goodreads Summary]

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
A thrilling and original coming-of-age novel for adults about a young man practicing magic in the real world.
Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.
He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.
At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price. [Goodreads Summary]

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
A murder . . . a tragic accident . . . or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.
But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. [Goodreads Summary]


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


© 2020, 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, March 03, 2020

Can't Wait to Read Wednesday: Dreams Underfoot/The Sea Glass Cottage/The Mountains Sing/Murder at the Mena House



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!


Dreams Underfoot (Newford #1) by Charles de Lint (1993)
Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the grey harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: Charles de Lint has long been hailed one of the trailblazers of modern fantasy and I have yet to read any of his work. I added this to my TBR collection after hearing so many good things about it. I am still anxious to give his work a try.


Have you read anything by Charles de Lint? Does it sound like something you would enjoy?


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 Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
Release Date: March 17, 2020 by HQN Books
The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a car accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: RaeAnne Thayne is one of my favorite romance authors and so when I came across this title, I immediately put it on my wish list. I enjoy stories involving multiple generations of women who must come together and let go of their secrets. Thayne has a way with bringing her characters to life and the issues these women face sound so real and relevant. This sounds like it will be a good one. 


The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
Release Date: March 17, 2020 by Algonquin Books
With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: The time period and setting are enough to get my attention on their own. This being a multi-generational tale described as being "steeped in language and traditions" also is a big draw for me. From the country to the culture to the story of a family . . . I imagine this one will have me in tears long before the end. 


Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer
Release Date: March 31, 2020 by Kensington Books
Well-heeled travelers from around the world flock to the Mena House Hotel--an exotic gem in the heart of Cairo where cocktails flow, adventure dispels the aftershocks of World War I, and deadly dangers wait in the shadows . . .

Egypt, 1926. Fiercely independent American Jane Wunderly has made up her mind: she won't be swept off her feet on a trip abroad. Despite her Aunt Millie's best efforts at meddling with her love life, the young widow would rather gaze at the Great Pyramids of Giza than into the eyes of a dashing stranger. Yet Jane's plans to remain cool and indifferent become ancient history in the company of Mr. Redvers, a roguish banker she can't quite figure out . . .

While the Mena House has its share of charming guests, Anna Stainton isn't one of them. The beautiful socialite makes it clear that she won't share the spotlight with anyone--especially Jane. But Jane soon becomes the center of attention when she's the one standing over her unintentional rival's dead body.

Now, with her innocence at stake in a foreign country, Jane must determine who can be trusted, and who had motive to commit a brutal murder. Between Aunt Millie's unusual new acquaintances, a smarmy playboy with an off-putting smile, and the enigmatic Mr. Redvers, someone has too many secrets. Can Jane excavate the horrible truth before her future falls to ruin in Cairo . . . and the body count rises like the desert heat? [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: A historical mystery set in Cairo! This sound sounds right up my alley. 


Do any of these books interest you? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to reading?


© 2020, 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, February 25, 2020

Can't Wait to Read Wednesday: The Garden of Evening Mists/The Henna Artist/A Murderous Relation/Darling Rose Gold



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 Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (2011)
Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice “until the monsoon comes.” Then she can design a garden for herself.

As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all? [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: This book landed on my TBR shelves a few years ago after I read a review by fellow blogger Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit. I have read a number of World War II related books over the years, and while I find myself growing more picky about which ones I pick up, this one still appeals to me given its themes and how different it is from other World War fiction I have read.


Have you read The Garden of Evening Mists? If so what did you think? Does this sound like something you would enjoy reading?


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 Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Release Date: March 3, 2020 by Mira
Lakshmi Shastri has spent years carving out a life for herself as a henna artist after fleeing her abusive husband and backward rural village for the Rajasthan capital. Well-versed in apothecary and the miraculous properties of herbs, her services (the effects of which are far more than just aesthetic) are highly sought after by upper-caste women, and Lakshmi’s success brings her within inches from her, and her country’s, ultimate goal: total independence. That is, until the past she has so desperately tried to run from comes knocking at her door... [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: Overcoming one's past can be quite the struggle, and sometimes it follows us no matter how hard we try to escape it. I am already rooting for Lakshmi and want her to have the future she deserves. 


A Murderous Relation (Veronica Speedwell #5) by Deanna Raybourn
Release Date: March 10, 2020 by Berkley
Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l'Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.

Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper--and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore's high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family--and it's up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it's too late for all of them. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I have yet to read any of the books in this series, but this is a good reminder that I need to. I cannot believe book five is coming out already. I have some catching up to do. From the time period to the great things I have heard about this historical mystery series, I just know I will love it.


Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Release Date: March 3, 2020 by Berkley
Mothers never forget. Daughters never forgive.

In her compulsive, sharply-drawn debut, Stephanie Wrobel peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships.

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she's forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling...

And she's waited such a long time for her mother to come home. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: Not too long ago there was a news story about a woman who suffered from Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy, subjecting her daughter to medical tests and surgeries and the like, convincing everyone her daughter was seriously ill. When I read the description of this novel, I immediately thought of that story. I can't resist a straight from the headlines thriller.


Do any of these books interest you? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to reading?


© 2020, 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.