Thursday, September 17, 2020

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Then and Now - A Peek Into Rules of Magic)

I had hoped to crack my current read open sooner than I actually managed to, but personal reading time seems to be in short supply these days. My daughter and I have been reading more together again (yay!) and have gotten into The Haunted Library series by Dori Hillestad Butler. We also discovered the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski, which Mouse insists we read more of--and soon.    

My personal bookmark is in The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman at the moment. I really hope I can carve out some quality reading time soon! I am enjoying what I have read so far.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. 

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. 

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse. 

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. [Goodreads Summary]



A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the amazing Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.

Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. [opening of The Rules of Magic]

Initial Thoughts: I cannot tell if it is my enjoyment of Hoffman's writing or the opening itself that has me settling in right away for a well-written story. In terms of the opening line itself, it really does seem like "once upon a time" when thinking of being able to disappear like that.With social media and technology today, it takes a lot of effort to completely disappear and start again even putting on a new persona. 




A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.


As it happened, Franny soon found herself pulled into consciousness in the middle of the night, awaking with a gasp. It was as if someone had reached into her soul and grabbed her to pull her from her sleep. Her name had been spoken, although how, and by whom, she had no idea. [excerpt from page 56 of The Rules of Magic]

My thoughts: I have had that feeling before, although I imagine it is for different reasons than it is for Franny. I wonder what woke her up? And what will she decides to find out?


Does The Rules of Magic sound like something you would like to read? What are you reading right now? 
A weekly meme in which readers look at what they were reading 
last year at this time and compare it to what they are reading now.  
Hosted by the great Maria from ReadingMaria.

In honor of Readers Imbibing Peril XV (R.I.P. XV) this year, I thought a book involving witches would be a great way to go. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I enjoy reading stories involving witches. And so at the beginning of the month, I enlisted you all to help me pick this month's TBR List book, and Alice Hoffman's The Rules of Magic won. I am not too far into it, but I have high hopes given how much I have enjoyed Hoffman's writing in the past. 

This time last year, I needed something light after reading a couple of dark reads in a row so turned to rom-com Well Met by Jen DeLuca, and what a delight it was! It is set around a Renaissance Faire, which just adds to the novel's charm. I definitely need more books like this in my life right no (Maybe the sequel, Well Played will be in my near future?). You can find my bookish thoughts on Well Met here.

 
These two books are quite a bit different from one another in terms of subject matter, although both focus some on characters carving out new paths for themselves in their lives. Having not gotten far into The Rules of Magic, it is hard to compare too much. I loved one and hope to love the other. 


What was the last book you read this past year around this time? How does it compare to your current read? Have you read Well Met? If so, what did you think?
*                    *                    *

A glimpse into what I was reading 5 years ago: 

 The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig











 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!


© 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, September 15, 2020

Waiting to Read Wednesday: The Tea Rose/ Murder at the PTA / A Wild Winter Swan / Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past


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 Tea Rose
(The Tea Rose #1) by Jennifer Donnelly (2002)
East London, 1888 - a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams. 

But Fiona's life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: This landed on my TBR pile in January of 2008. It likely came recommended or I saw it mentioned on someone's blog somewhere. My interest in historical fiction, especially one involving a caretaker who rises above that which would hold her down, is probably what drew me to The Tea Rose


Have you read The Tea Rose? Does this book sound like something you would like to read? 


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.


Murder at the PTA
(Maya and Sandra, #1) by Lee Hollis
Release Date: September 29, 2020 by Kensington
Someone is trying to turn Portland High into a school for scandal with a gossipy website called Dirty Laundry. The latest target of ruinous rumors is newly elected PTA president Sandra Wallage. After a heated meeting with outraged parents, Sandra runs into fellow school mom and private investigator Maya Kendrick, who's discovered the person behind the website. But when the women storm into the venomous gossip columnist’s office they find a lifeless body—along with a confession. Although the police rule the death a suicide, Maya suspects an injured party hung the Dirty Laundry creator out to dry. Maya already has a PI partner—but she's pregnant, and sonograms and stakeouts tend to conflict. So when Sandra volunteers for a crash course in sleuthing, Maya accepts the help. But as these unlikely partners study the clues, a killer plans to teach them a lesson . . . [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: So I admit it was the title that grabbed me first. But I do enjoy a good cozy mystery, and this sounds like it will be fun. 


A Wild Winter Swan
by Gregory Maguire
Release Date: October 6, 2020 by William Morrow
After brilliantly reimagining the worlds of Oz, Wonderland, Dickensian London, and the Nutcracker, the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked turns his unconventional genius to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans," transforming this classic tale into an Italian-American girl's poignant coming-of-age story, set amid the magic of Christmas in 1960s New York.

Following her brother's death and her mother's emotional breakdown, Laura now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a lonely townhouse she shares with her old-world, strict, often querulous grandparents. But the arrangement may be temporary. The quiet, awkward teenager has been getting into trouble at home and has been expelled from her high school for throwing a record album at a popular girl who bullied her. When Christmas is over and the new year begins, Laura may find herself at boarding school in Montreal.

Nearly unmoored from reality through her panic and submerged grief, Laura is startled when a handsome swan boy with only one wing lands on her roof. Hiding him from her ever-bickering grandparents, Laura tries to build the swan boy a wing so he can fly home. But the task is too difficult to accomplish herself. Little does Laura know that her struggle to find help for her new friend parallels that of her grandparents, who are desperate for a distant relative’s financial aid to save the family store.

As he explores themes of class, isolation, family, and the dangerous yearning to be saved by a power greater than ourselves, Gregory Maguire conjures a haunting, beautiful tale of magical realism that illuminates one young woman’s heartbreak and hope as she begins the inevitable journey to adulthood.
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: Maguire is known for his gift of re-spinning fairy tales in unique and different ways. I would like to see what he does with this one.


Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past
(A Salem B&B Mystery #3) by Traci Wilton

Release Date: September 29, 2020 by Kensington
Salem, Massachusetts B&B owner Charlene Morris is looking into a holiday hit-and-run, with a little help from her ghostly housemate . . .

Charlene's parents are in town for Christmas, and her mother is driving her up a tree. Her bed-and-breakfast's resident ghost, Jack, isn't fond of her either--and he's showing it with some haunting high jinks. But when Charlene takes her mom and dad out for dinner, the less-than-seasonal spirits take a deadly turn.

David Baldwin has just won a fortune in the lottery--and it adds a lot of drama to the charity auction he's hosting at his restaurant. When he caps off the evening by playing Santa and handing out checks to some of the attendees, the mood shifts . . . and Charlene observes mysterious tensions between David and his flashy, bleached-blonde wife, his neglected teenage son from a previous marriage, and his hostile business partner, among others. And they're only a few on the long list of potential suspects when David runs into the road and is mowed down by a fleeing motorist. Now it looks like it's going to be homicide for the holidays . . .
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: One of the many paranormal cozy mystery series that has been on my radar for quite a while now, but which I have yet to start. One of these days . . . Doesn't it sound good?!


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, September 13, 2020

My Bookish Mewsings: A Curious Beginning / A Study in Scarlet Women



I stared down into the open grave and wished that I could summon a tear.
 ~ Opening of A Curious Beginning

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
Berkley, 2015
Crime Fiction/Historical Fiction; 339 pgs
Source: NetGalley

The first in the series, A Curious Beginning introduces readers to scientifically-minded and free-thinking Veronica Speedwell. She is a woman out of her time, speaking her mind no matter the consequence and valuing her independence. She earns her own living and travels the world, and engages in romantic dalliances with no strings attached. When her aunt dies, Veronica sets off to find adventure, only to find herself drawn into an unexpected mystery when someone tries to kidnap her. Then a kindly baron who tries to help her is murdered. She still cannot imagine why anyone would target her. Joining forces with a friend of the baron's, Veronica and Stoker go on the run to not only protect Veronica, but also to find out just who is behind the plot and why. 

Just as I loved Veronica's character, I also fell for the reclusive and rather cantankerous Stoker. He and Veronica are well-matched in wit and intelligence. Stoker is a natural historian who is not so forthcoming about his past. This historical mystery was such a delight to read. I loved the banter between Stoker and Veronica, seeing the slow flame of romance grow between them, and enjoyed seeing the directions the twists and turns took me. I really like Deanna Raybourn's writing style, including her ability to make me feel like I am right there in the pages of the story. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. 


Had anyone told Honorable Harrington Sackville that the investigation into his death would make the name Sherlock Holmes known throughout the land, Mr. Sackville would have scoffed. 
~ Opening of The Study in Scarlet Women


The Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock, #1) by Sherry Thomas
Berkley, 2016
Crime Fiction/Historical; 336 pgs
Source: NetGalley

I admit I wondered if The Study in Scarlet Women was in fact a historical mystery as I initially settled into it.  The author spends quite a bit of time setting up the characters and their situations, letting us into just who and how Charlotte Holmes became the mysterious and well-renowned Sherlock Holmes (because women just didn't do that kind of thing then--not if they wanted to be taken seriously). That is not to say I did not enjoy that aspect of the novel. I did. It was just a bit slow during the first portion, but it eventually did pick up speed. 

Charlotte Holmes has never quite felt like she fit in with the other women of the upper class society she was raised around. A sharp mind, excellent memory, a wish to never marry (despite her father's most adamant wishes), nor does she want to run a household in the traditional sense. She wants to make her own way in the world as an independent woman. And so she does the only thing she can think of: ruin her reputation and run away. 

Charlotte has always been good at deduction and solving riddles. She finds she has a knack for solving crimes as well. She is the first to see connection between three seemingly separate murders, one of which has cast suspicion on her own family. With the kind-hearted widow, Mrs. Watson, a determined police inspector and and old friend, Charlotte sets out to find the real killer and clear her family name. 

I enjoyed this twist on the Sherlock Holmes canon with both Holmes and Watson being women. The opening of the novel pulled me right in--oh my gosh what a fun beginning that was! Charlotte is a formidable character, and I adored Mrs. Watson. The mystery was interesting, although sometimes it felt like it was secondary to all else that was going on in the novel. I am definitely interested in continuing with this series and seeing what Mrs. Watson and Holmes get up to next.  


© 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.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Weekly Mews: Pushing Through

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. 







What I Am Reading: I currently am reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and about to start this month's TBR winner. Last week I finished reading Don't Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross, which I really enjoyed (review to come). I finished it with a big smile on my face.

What I Am Watching: We recently watched the live action Disney version of Mulan. I had read enough about it to know it would be quite different from the animated version. There were aspects that could have benefited from being beefed up, but we all really enjoyed it.

Off the Blog:  The air quality is terrible from all the fires in the state, including the one nearest to us. My great-aunt and her partner in Washington state are having to deal with fires up their way too. Fires are blazing all over the western United States right now. My heart goes out to the fire fighters battling them, and the people and animals impacted.

As the temperature soared last weekend to 117F, we got our flu shots, treated ourselves to Diary Queen ice cream, popped popcorn and watched a movie, and enjoyed the extra day free of work and school. It was a much needed break!

This past week kind of got away from me blogging wise. This time of year is always emotional for me, it being the anniversary of my grandmother and father's death. Work was extremely busy and my daughter needed extra support with her school work. The honeymoon has passed, I think.

Dress rehearsals began this Saturday for Mouse's summer fall ballet and musical shows which will be performed live on Zoom. We cleared a spot in our dining area for her to perform. We need to make a few more preparations for it to be performance ready, but we should have everything in place by show time. I will be honest. It has been an emotional run this time around with COVID-19 and so much up in the air these past few months. All but two dancers will be performing the final shows in studio, Mouse being one of those who will not be. Our county is still under strict orders given our not yet meeting the state's benchmarks. This first dress rehearsal was rough for Mouse, being apart from everyone else. She eventually settled into it though. We had originally planned to pull her out completely, but the dance studio directors offered to let her perform from home. She's been preparing since February for this and had the disappointment of not only having to attend rehearsals via Zoom, but also having the shows postponed. And now here we are. She wants to perform, and, while we have no idea what it will look like or how it will turn out, at least she will get to see it through to the end. 

Mouse has two friends' birthday parties scheduled for this Sunday, both tea party themes. Party treats and games were dropped off at our house tonight and presents picked up. Mouse is excited about celebrating with her friends.


Speaking of birthdays. I had one this past week. My husband and daughter treated me to take out from one of my favorite restaurants, roses and cake! Remind me next year though to take my birthday off work, will you?



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). 





Thank you to everyone who voted! It was not much of a competition. Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic won with 13 votes! Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw came in second with 8 votes, and The Black Witch by Laurie Forest brought in 5 votes. 

The Rules of Magic
 (Practical Magic Prequel) by Alice Hoffman  

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. 

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. 

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse. 

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. [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.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Then & Now - And a Peek into Wonder)

Mouse is reading Wonder (Wonder #1) by R.J. Palacio for school right now, and I thought I would read along as well since I had never read it, but have been meaning to. Plus, I hear the movie is good, and I had been putting off seeing it because I had yet to read the book. 


I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. 

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. [Goodreads Summary]



A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the amazing Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.

I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. tuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go. [opening of Wonder]

My initial thought: I have heard so many wonderful things about this book that it is hard to go into it without high expectations. I do love this introduction. It lets the reader into the heart of the August, our main character, instantly. And while we may not be in his exact position with his same problems, how often have we, as children and as adults, felt out of place? There's something very relatable about August right from the very start.




A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.



"She's very pretty," Mom said.

"Yeah, I know," I answered, "We're kind of like Beauty and the Beast."

I didn't want to see Mom's reaction. I just started running down the sidewalk after the rock, which I had kicked as hard as I could in front of me. [excerpt from page 56 of Wonder]

My thoughts: I have not yet reached this point in the book yet, but I do want to know more about this girl and Auggie's feelings toward her. I really like the narrative voice in Palacio's novel. She really brings August to life.


Have you read Wonder? If so, what did you think? What are you reading today?

A weekly meme in which readers look at what they were reading 
last year at this time and compare it to what they are reading now.  
Hosted by the great Maria from ReadingMaria.

My daughter is reading more on her own these days than with me. She has also moved away from reading picture books like the one below. I am so excited that she has entered the realm of middle grade books because there are so many I have fond memories of that I hope she will read and enjoy too. But I also am excited about exploring new books with her, like Wonder.   

I am pretty sure that when I added Wonder to our personal library my daughter did not have much interest in it. I, however, really wanted this one for her (and me) because I want to expand her world. That was also the reason The Journey by Francesca Sanna ended up on my shelf, despite my daughter's not being sure about it. It was an opportunity to introduce my daughter to a way of life or experience that is different from her own. 

It was this week last year that she and I read The Journey together, the story of a young refugee girl and her family's flight from their home country in search of a new place to call home.



The artwork is really what made this book for me; the story it tells and the emotions it draws out. Admittedly, some of the darker images scared my daughter a bit, but this proved to be a great discussion starter about immigration and the plight of refugees. Wonder is proving to be its own discussion starter as well. And while it took her teacher to jump start us reading Wonder, I am grateful to finally be doing so.


What was the last book you read this past year around this time? How does it compare to what you are reading now? Have you read The Journey? If so, what did you think?
*                    *                    *

A glimpse into what I was reading 5 years ago: 













 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!


© 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, September 08, 2020

Waiting to Read Wednesday: All She Was Worth / Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings / Ties that Tether / A Pretty Deceit


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!


All She Was Worth
by Miyuki Miyabe, translated by Alfred Birnbaum
(1992)
Here is a deftly written thriller that is also a "deep and moody" (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW) journey through the dark side of Japan's consumer-crazed society. Ordinary people plunge into insurmountable personal debt and fall prey to dangerous webs of underground creditors-so dangerous, in fact, that murder may be the only way out. A beautiful young woman vanishes, and the detective quickly finds she was not whom she had claimed to be. Is she a victim, a killer, or both? In a country that tracks its citizens at every turn, how can two women claim the same identity and then disappear without a trace? [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I won a copy of All She Was Worth in a blog contest in 2008. I had forgotten about this gem on my TBR shelf. It sounds complex and dark--and utterly intriguing. 

Have you read All She Was Worth? Does this book sound like something you would like to read? 


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.


Mrs. Claus  and the Santaland Slayings
by Liz Ireland
Release Date: September 29, 2020 by Kensington
It's the first Christmas in Santaland for April Claus--but it may also be her last unless she can uncover a villain with a killer Christmas wish. . . . 

Love is full of surprises--though few compare to realizing that you're marrying the real-life Santa. April Claus dearly loves her new husband, Nick, but adjusting to life in the North Pole is not all sugarplums and candy canes. Especially when a cantankerous elf named Giblet Hollyberry is killed--felled by a black widow spider in his stocking--shortly after publicly arguing with Nick.

Christmastown is hardly a hotbed of crime, aside from mishaps caused by too much eggnog, but April disagrees with Constable Crinkle's verdict of accidental death. As April sets out to find the culprit, it'll mean putting the future of Christmas on the line--and hoping her own name isn't on a lethal naughty list . . . 
[Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: All the holiday-themed books are hitting the shelves soon, and how could I resist a mystery featuring the real Santa and Mrs. Claus?


Ties that Tether
by Jane Igharo
Release Date: September 29, 2020 by Berkley
When a Nigerian woman falls for a man she knows will break her mother’s heart, she must choose between love and her family.

At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture even after emigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping--forcing--her to stay well within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and white.

When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her growing feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother who will never accept a relationship that threatens to dilute Azere's Nigerian heritage.

Azere can't help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter. 
 [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: When it comes to choosing between love and family, things aren't as simple as we might hope--there are many complications that can come into play. I look forward to taking this journey with Azere, and seeing how she navigates this dilemma. 


A Pretty Deceit
(Verity Kent, #4) by Anna Lee Huber
Release Date: September 29, 2020
In the aftermath of the Great War, the line between friend and foe may be hard to discern, even for indomitable former Secret Service agent Verity Kent, in award-winning author Anna Lee Huber’s thrilling mystery series.

Peacetime has brought little respite for Verity Kent. Intrigue still abounds, even within her own family. As a favor to her father, Verity agrees to visit his sister in Wiltshire. Her once prosperous aunt has fallen on difficult times and is considering selling their estate. But there are strange goings-on at the manor, including missing servants, possible heirloom forgeries, and suspicious rumors—all leading to the discovery of a dead body on the grounds.

While Verity and her husband, Sidney, investigate this new mystery, they are also on the trail of an old adversary—the shadowy and lethal Lord Ardmore. At every turn, the suspected traitor seems to be one step ahead of them. And even when their dear friend Max, the Earl of Ryde, stumbles upon a code hidden among his late father’s effects that may reveal the truth about Ardmore, Verity wonders if they are really the hunters—or the hunted . . . 
 [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I am behind on this series, but when I saw this title pop up as a coming release, I knew I would want to read it. I do love a good historical mystery, and I am a big fan of Verity's.


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, September 06, 2020

My Bookish Mewsings: An Easy Death / A Longer Fall / Stars Beyond


In the morning I got Chrissie to cut off all my hair.
 ~ Opening of An Easy Death 

An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1) by Charlaine Harris
Gallery/Saga, 22018
Fantasy/Alternate History; 321 pgs
Source: NetGalley for an honest review

There was no question I would read Charlaine Harris’s Gunnie Rose series when the first book came out, having read and enjoyed some of the author’s previous work. I eagerly dived into An Easy Death and followed it up not long after with A Longer Fall, the second book in the series. The series is set in the Southwest with an alternate history timeline. The Great Depression and the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt resulted in a fractured the United States that broke off into several different countries. 

In An Easy Death, Gunslinger Lizbeth Rose is hired as guide and protection by two wizards searching for a man they believe can save the life of their tsar—or at least his blood can. Lizbeth Rose does not trust anyone who can wield magic, but she is desperate for work and money. High in action and lots of magic with a bit of romance, I was immediately drawn into the novel. Gunnie Rose may be a bit rough around the edges, but she’s sharp and thinks quickly on her feet. I liked her right away. The author’s world building is top-notch. It has a definite Old West vibe to it with a mix of the modern. Loving all things magic, I was especially interested in Eli and Paulina, the two wizards who had hired Gunnie Rose. Both were interesting characters in their own rights. Will I read the next book in the series? Absolutely!


It had been a long time since I was on a train, and I found I hadn't missed it a bit. ~ Opening of A Longer Fall 

A Longer Fall (Gunnie Rose, #2) by Charlaine Harris
Gallery/Saga, 2020
Fantasy/Alternate History; 304 pgs
Source: NetGalley for an honest review

Lizbeth Rose is hired to be part of a new crew in A Longer Fall with a mission to protect a crate as it is transported into the state of Dixie, once a part of the United States—and the last place Gunnie Rose wants to go. Of course, everything goes wrong on the mission when the crate is stolen, and Gunnie Rose teams up with an old friend to attempt to retrieve it. A Longer Fall has a slightly different feel to it than the first book in the series. This second book is set almost entirely in Dixie. Dixie has a different set of rules than Gunnie Rose is used to. White supremacy runs rampant, and there is a definite hierarchy in terms of race and gender. Jim Crow Laws evidently still apply. I did cringe near the end. White Savior-ism rears its ugly head, which is my only complaint about the novel. Although I ultimately liked An Easy Death more, A Longer Fall was quite the page turner, and I enjoyed it overall. There was plenty of action and magic with bit of romance. The world building continues to be superb. 


It might have been coincidence--the chairman of Eaglehawk Company standing in the foyer of the Grande Hotel, watching the news vid on the three-floor-high screen--but Leonard Wickmore didn't believe in coincidence.
 ~ Opening of Stars Beyond

Stars Beyond (Stars Uncharted, #2) by S.K. Dunstall
Ace, 2020
Science Fiction; 416 pgs
Source: NetGalley for an honest review

I fell in love with the the first book, Stars Uncharted, and the world building, and eagerly dove into Stars Beyond, which takes us deeper into the world sister-writing team S.K. Dunstall has created. The reader steps right back into the lives of the Another Road crew, who have barely escaped with their lives in the previous novel. In a new and better armed spaceship, the crew is still on the run from the corrupt Department of Justice agents and the company men tracking them. Captain Roystan's memory is shot and his health is deteriorating. Genemodder Nika must get that new genenod machine she's ordered, not mention find more of the transurides, if she hopes to save him. It seems simple enough. Until it isn't. A company general is bent on getting his hands on genemod apprentice Bertram Snowshoe; the evil and cruel company man Wickmore will stop at nothing to get his hands on Nika; and Agent McAlister is after Nika too, but for his own desperate reasons.  

High in tension and suspense, Stars Beyond does not disappoint.  Nika Rik Terri and Josune continue to be my favorite characters in the series, both resourceful and skilled in their crafts. I would not have minded more Josune in the novel though. I continue to be impressed with S.K. Dunstall's world building and the complexity and nuances of the world and characters they have created. 


© 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, September 04, 2020

Weekly Mews: August Wrap Up & A Witchy 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. 


New to the Shelves:

Irresistible e-book sales . . . 


The Clockwork Scarab (Stoker & Holmes #1) by Colleen Gleason
Mortal Arts (Lady Darby Mystery, #2) by Anna Lee Huber
Something Read, Something Dead (Lighthouse Library Mystery #5) by Eva Gates
Read and Buried (Lighthouse Library Mystery #6) by Eva Gates
Murders and Metaphors (A Magical Bookshop Mystery #3) by Amanda Flower


What I Am Reading: I am nearly finished with In My Attic by Lina Hansen, a quirky and fun paranormal cozy mystery, and am thinking I may dive into Don't Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross next. On my nightstand is A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter by Nikki Giovanni, a book of poetry, that I started reading recently.  

What I Am Watching: My husband and I are working our way through the fourth season of Lucifer. It's completely unbelievable, but utterly entertaining and a nice escape. We are continuing to watch the Star Wars movies. We re-watched Han Solo and Rogue One. Han Solo gets a lot of flack, but taken on its own, it's actually a fun movie. I really like Rogue One. I think it's the third time I have seen it. We also enjoyed seeing the original Star Wars movies, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, most recently. My favorite of the Star Wars movies have always been Star Wars: A New Hope, and I love how all the other movies support and play into that original film in some way. 

I recently dived back into The Originals, a vampire spin off of Vampire Diaries. I find The Originals less romantic (?) and more violent than its predecessor, but I am enjoying it. I never watched the show when it originally aired, other than the first couple of episodes.

Off the Blog: August was a month of transition as we eased out of summer break and into the new school year. It's hard to believe school has been underway for four weeks already! We are finding our new rhythm. Mouse is all signed up for the new dance season (she's taking fewer classes) and is taking a virtual music theater class through the L.A. School of Music. It's an eight week program. She attended a virtual choir camp through them the end of July, which she enjoyed. 

Virtual school seems to be going well for us. It has its drawbacks, of course. But I cannot tell you how grateful I am given some of the horror stories I am hearing from friends and family--both on the  parent and teacher side of things. We are all doing the best we can. Sometimes I catch snippets of the class and can hear the teacher's frustration at trying to keep all those students on task after he has had to repeat the same instructions again and again to make sure everyone has found their way to whatever program or app they are all using. Our district hasn't run into some of the hacking issues or outages that neighboring districts have had to deal with fortunately (knock on wood).

Mouse was not too thrilled about the video options the teacher offers for her Physical Education (P.E.) requirement, and so I offered to dance with her on her Just Dance game. It gets me up and moving too, which is a plus. We have been having fun with it--even if I am the most uncoordinated person you have ever seen trying to dance. 

Work has picked up for me considerably, and I have been put on a new project along with my usual duties. My new staff person seems to be settling in well. We have two more new staff coming in within the next week or two, and I will be sitting in a couple of interviews for another addition this coming week. The higher ups are discussing what our new normal will be--what the work-from-home/in-office rotation will look like or if it will continue 

Mouse was able to spend time with a couple of her closest friends one weekend this past month. Her dad and I have been so cautious these past five months and her two friends and their parents have been too. The girls had a blast together. Mouse and her two friends are all only children, and I am sure being able to be around other kids for even a short while must have been such a nice change from being stuck at home with just their parents for company. My husband and I enjoyed visiting with our friends in person too. We're back to isolating again for the time being, making sure everyone is healthy and stays that way. 

Fire season is well underway throughout California, and as expected, it is a bad one. It's been devastating for the land, animals, and people impacted. The air is smoky just about everywhere you go. Twenty-twenty will go down as the year everyone wished they could forget . . . 

On a lighter note:

My computer needed more personality. What's more fitting than a couple of cats? 




My grandmother celebrated her 103rd birthday this past month. While I couldn't be there (she lives on the other side of the country), several family members who live closer to her were able to celebrate with her, the first time in months she's been allowed in-person visitors (she does have a mask which appears in other pictures, just not this one).




Mouse's Summer Fall Show Costumes for the Grease Musical and Le Corsaire Ballet. This year the shows will look a lot different with no stage or live audience--at least not in-person.



The cats. A rare photo of them together.



My husband brought home a can of Lysol Disinfecting Spray after a grocery run. 
This is what happened next:




Here is what I finished reading in August:
  • Wolf Gone Bad (Stay a Spell, #1) by Juliette Cross
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Ink and Bone (Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine
  • The Library of the Unwritten (Hell's Library, #1) by A.J. Hackwith
  • Checked Out for Murder (Haunted Library Mystery, #4) by Allison Brook
I did not spend much time blogging the beginning of August, with the exception of my weekend posts. I I took a much needed break the second half of the month; and, towards the end, I actually found time to work on some reviews, polishing up some I never posted, playing catch up with those I never got to, and prepping outlines for future posts. It's still a work in progress, but I feel a like my head is a little more into the game than it has been. 

Reading wise, I still find myself straying too often from books, but I am loving what I am reading. Wolf Gone Wild was a fun and much needed escape. Ink and Bone was every bit as good as all of you said it would be. I got so much out of Kendi's How to Be an Antiracist. Oh, how I wish I could visit the Unwritten Books Wing in The Library of the Unwritten! And I enjoyed my time in Clover Ridge in Checked Out for Murder. 


And In Case You Missed It This Week

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



It is that time again! Break out those spooky reads and movies and join the Readers Imbibing Peril (R..I.P.) fun! Joining in is simple this year. Follow @PERILREADERS on Instagram and Twitter, post about what you are watching or reading using the hashtags #RIPXV and #PERILREADERS. Or if you want, share what you are reading on your blog.  Are you participating in this year's R.I.P. XV?


This month I am going with a witch theme in honor of R.I.P. XV. Which one of these three books do you think I should read next? 


Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw 
Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.
 [Goodreads Summary]


The Rules of Magic
(Practical Magic Prequel) by Alice Hoffman

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. [Goodreads Summary]


The Black Witch
(The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of rebels…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to fear.  
[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.