Monday, January 17, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is the 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To. On the plus side, it means I have some good reading ahead of me! 

Sparks Like Stars
 by Nadia Hashimi

An Afghan American woman returns to Kabul to learn the truth about her family and the tragedy that destroyed their lives in this brilliant and compelling novel from the bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its ShellThe House Without Windows, and When the Moon Is Low.

Kabul, 1978: The daughter of a prominent family, Sitara Zalmani lives a privileged life in Afghanistan’s thriving cosmopolitan capital. The 1970s are a time of remarkable promise under the leadership of people like Sardar Daoud, Afghanistan’s progressive president, and Sitara’s beloved father, his right-hand man. But the ten-year-old Sitara’s world is shattered when communists stage a coup, assassinating the president and Sitara’s entire family. Only she survives.

Smuggled out of the palace by a guard named Shair, Sitara finds her way to the home of a female American diplomat, who adopts her and raises her in America. In her new country, Sitara takes on a new name—Aryana Shepherd—and throws herself into her studies, eventually becoming a renowned surgeon. A survivor, Aryana has refused to look back, choosing instead to bury the trauma and devastating loss she endured.

New York, 2018: Forty years after that fatal night in Kabul, Aryana’s world is rocked again when an elderly patient appears in her examination room—a man she never expected to see again. It is Shair, the soldier who saved her, yet may have murdered her entire family. Seeing him awakens Aryana’s fury and desire for answers—and, perhaps, revenge. Realizing that she cannot go on without finding the truth, Aryana embarks on a quest that takes her back to Kabul—a battleground between the corrupt government and the fundamentalist Taliban—and through shadowy memories of the world she loved and lost.

Bold, illuminating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, Sparks Like Stars is a story of home—of America and Afghanistan, tragedy and survival, reinvention and remembrance, told in Nadia Hashimi’s singular voice.  [Goodreads Summary]

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers
Paris, 1925: To enter the Secret Circus is to enter a world of wonder-a world where women tame magnificent beasts, carousels take you back in time, and trapeze artists float across the sky. But each daring feat has a cost. Bound to her family's strange and magical circus, it's the only world Cecile Cabot knows-until she meets a charismatic young painter and embarks on a passionate love affair that could cost her everything.

Virginia, 2005: Lara Barnes is on top of the world-until her fiancé disappears on their wedding day. Desperate, her search for answers unexpectedly leads to her great-grandmother's journals and sweeps her into the story of a dark circus and a generational curse that has been claiming payment from the women in her family for generations. [Goodreads Summaary]

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who's left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she's not alone. For more than a decade she's been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette's worst fears are realized--someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up. 
[Goodreads Summary]

Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo
A mesmerizing novel in verse about family, identity, and finding yourself in the most unexpected places—for fans of The Poet X, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, and Jason Reynolds.

Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her white suburban town, which feels both dangerous and familiar. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself.

Until she doesn’t. As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry.

This book is a story of mothers and daughters, of friends and enemies, of journeys and homecomings, and of realizing that sometimes the person you’re meant to be has been staring at you in the mirror all along. [Goodreads Summary]

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptism. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to come and collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers. Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked backed.

Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power. [Goodreads Summary]

The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry
 by C.M. Waggoner

A charming historical fantasy with a tender love story at its core, from the author of Unnatural Magic.

Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins.

At first Delly thinks the danger is exaggerated, but a series of attacks shows there’s much to fear. Then she begins to fall for Winn, one of the other bodyguards, and the women team up against a mysterious, magical foe who seems to have allies everywhere.
 [Goodreads Summary]

Chapter and Curse (Cambridge Bookshop #1) by Elizabeth Penney
In Elizabeth Penney's Chapter and Curse, Molly Kimball is used to cracking open books . . . but when a poetry reading ends in murder she must use her skills to crack the case.

Librarian Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina, need a change. So when a letter arrives from Nina’s Aunt Violet in Cambridge, England requesting their help running the family bookshop, they jump at the chance.

Thomas Marlowe―Manuscripts and Folios, is one of the oldest bookshops in Cambridge, and―unfortunately―customers can tell. When Molly and Nina arrive, spring has come to Cambridge and the famed Cambridge Literary Festival is underway. Determined to bring much-needed revenue to the bookstore, Molly invites Aunt Violet’s college classmate and famed poet Persephone Brightwell to hold a poetry reading in the shop. But the event ends in disaster when a guest is found dead―with Molly’s great-aunt’s knitting needle used as the murder weapon. While trying to clear Violet and keep the struggling shop afloat, Molly sifts through secrets past and present, untangling a web of blackmail, deceit, and murder. [Goodreads Summary]

The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore
In this thought-provoking and sensitive novel, inspired by the true story of a Louisiana leprosy hospital where patients were forcibly quarantined, acclaimed author Amanda Skenandore tells an extraordinarily timely tale of resilience, hope--and the last woman who expected to find herself in such a place...

1920s Los Angeles: Socialite Mirielle West's days are crowded with shopping, luncheons, and prepping for the myriad glittering parties she attends with her actor husband, Charlie. She's been too busy to even notice the small patch of pale skin on the back of her hand. Other than an occasional over-indulgence in gin and champagne, which helps to numb the pain of recent tragedy, Mirielle is the picture of health. But her doctor insists on more tests, and Mirielle reluctantly agrees.

The diagnosis--leprosy--is devastating and unthinkable. Changing her name to shield Charlie and their two young children, Mirielle is exiled to rural Louisiana for what she hopes will be a swift cure. But the hospital at Carville turns out to be as much a prison as a place of healing. Deaths far outnumber the discharges, and many patients have languished for years. Some are badly afflicted, others relatively unscathed. For all, the disease's stigma is just as insidious as its physical progress.

At first, Mirielle keeps her distance from other residents, unwilling to accept her new reality. Gradually she begins to find both a community and a purpose at Carville, helping the nurses and doctors while eagerly anticipating her return home. But even that wish is tinged with uncertainty. How can she bridge the divide between the woman, wife, and mother she was, and the stranger she has become? And what price is she willing to pay to protect the ones she loves? 
[Goodreads Summary]

The Library of the Dead 
(Edinburgh Nights #1) by T.L. Huchu

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu's The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh's darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She'll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen...

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh's dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl's gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone's bewitching children--leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It's on Ropa's patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She'll dice with death (not part of her life plan...), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She'll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa's gonna hunt them all down. 
[Goodreads Summary]

Talk Bookish to Me 
by Kate Bromley

Inspiration can come from the most unlikely - and inconvenient - sources.

Kara Sullivan’s life is full of love - albeit fictional. As a best-selling romance novelist and influential Bookstagrammer, she’s fine with getting her happily-ever-after fix between the covers of a book.

But right now? Not only is Kara’s best friend getting married next week - which means big wedding stress - but the deadline for her next novel is looming, and she hasn’t written a single word. The last thing she needs is for her infuriating first love, Ryan Thompson, to suddenly appear in the wedding party. But Ryan’s unexpected arrival sparks a creative awakening in Kara that inspires the steamy historical romance she desperately needs to deliver.

With her wedding duties intensifying, her deadline getting closer by the second and her bills not paying themselves, Kara knows there’s only one way for her to finish her book and to give her characters the ever-after they deserve. But can she embrace the unlikely, ruggedly handsome muse—who pushes every one of her buttons—to save the wedding, her career and, just maybe, write her own happy ending?
 [Goodreads Summary]

Have you read any of these? What 2021 releases were you unable to get to this past year that you were excited to read?  

© 2022, 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, January 15, 2022

Weekly Mews: A Bookstore Run, Leg Cuddles & Good Books

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Sunday Salon (TSS) hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz  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 It's Monday! What Are you Reading? hosted by Kathryn of Book Date where readers talk about what they have been, are and will be reading.

I am linking up 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. 

It was an ordinary week in my life over all. The highlight was a trip to to the local dance store in town to get Mouse fitted for new pointe shoes. We stopped by Barnes and Noble on the way home since it's in the neighborhood. Mouse and I both found a couple books we were interested in reading. To be honest we found a lot more than that, but settled on just two for each of us, taking advantage of their sale. We evidently missed the rain while we were in the store, too busy browsing the shelves and tables of books. We ordered hot chocolate at the store's café before heading home. 

More people called out of work this week due to illness. We were able to get permission to have most staff work from home exclusively for the time being to further limit the amount of people in the office at one time. As a supervisor, I am still required to go in for my designated week, but at least there will be very few others in at the same time.

We had opted out of the Girl Scout cookie rally which is being held this weekend at the Los Angeles Zoo. From the sound of it, the rest of our troop did too. The new cookie season starts in another week for our area. I am not sure yet how that will look for the girls--whether they will be doing booths at the local stores or not.  If they do, it will mean jam packed weekends with dance and rehearsals thrown in. 

Most of the holiday decorations have been put away but the tree is still up. I hope to get it down this weekend. There have been years we have left it up for months, decorating it for other holidays and the seasons. I do not think it came down at all in 2020. 

Nina has not laid on anyone since she was a kitten, and so everyone got quiet, watching her (but pretending not to) as she made her way onto Anjin's leg and slowly settled in for a brief nap.

New to the Shelves 

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys 
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo 
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Mouse's pick)
The School of Good and Evil (#1) by Soman Chainani, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno (Mouse's pick)

Have you read any of these books? What books did you add to your TBR this week? 

Reading Then

This past week I finished reading book seven, White Witch, Black Curse, in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. I think it's my favorite in the series so far. 

Reading Now

I am loving Circe by Madeline Miller and will likely finish early this next week. I have officially set my bookmark a few pages into The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, which I plan to read over the course of the year. I made a tiny bit more progress in Dressed For Freedom: The Fashionable Politics of American Feminism by Einav Rabinovitch-Fox and hopefully by next week I will be able to say I am half way through. Although I am finding it slow going, it is  interesting. I especially like how the author discusses how economics and race intersect with fashion throughout the twentieth century. 

Up Next in Reading

I worry that anything I pick up next will not live up to the high I will be in when I finish Circe. Perhaps The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, which will be so different and has received equally high praise. Or perhaps I will go with a mystery like The Maid by Nita Prose. We will see which way my mood takes me.

What I Have Been Watching

After hearing so many people mentioning the coming of the third and final season of The Discovery of Witches, I decided to give season one a try. I am about three episodes in so far. My husband has even watched a bit with me. I read the books so long ago, I am afraid the details escape me. It is probably for the best though as I can enjoy the show without making constant comparisons. We also have been catching up with The Wonder Years, which we just love. 

© 2022, 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, January 13, 2022

Where Is Your Bookmark: An Exiled Goddess & Earthquakes

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.

When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. [opening of Circe]

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.

The halls would echo with her furious screams and the great gods would come to whip me, but I would welcome them, for every lash upon my skin would be only further proof to Glaucos of my love. [pg 56 of Circe]

I am nearly halfway into Madeline Miller's Circe, which I am absolutely loving. Why did I wait so long to pick this one up?! 
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child - not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power - the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. 
[Goodreads Summary]

What do you think? Does this sound like something you would enjoy?

Connect Five Friday is a weekly meme where readers share a list of five books, 
read or unread, or bookish things, that share a common theme. 
Hosted by the  Kathryn of of Book Date.

As I was considering Connect 5 topics for this week, a small earthquake rattled the house and I had my topic! Living in California, earthquakes are somewhat common place. Most of them go unnoticed. I have been through two bigger ones so far in my lifetime: the Loma Prieta earthquake (aka San Francisco earthquake) of 1989 and the Northridge earthquake in 1994. I still remember exactly where I was and how I felt at the time of both. The anniversary of the Northridge quake is coming up next week and got me thinking of books I have read or want to read featuring earthquakes. The first three books are ones I have read while the other two are books I want to read. 

1. Silver Bough by Lisa Tuttle
~ When an earthquake causes a landslide on the only road into and out of town, the visitors and residents of Appleton find themselves cut off from the rest of the world. Suddenly things around Appleton begin to change; myths become reality and the ancient magicks of the area reclaim the land. Ashley, Kathleen, and Nell have front row seats to the events that are about to unfold in the lazy coastal town of Appleton. The fate of the town lies in the destiny of one very special golden apple.

2. All Stories Are Love Stories for Elizabeth Percer ~ This novel takes place just before, during and after two catastrophic earthquakes in San Francisco, sparking fire and devastation. At the novel's center are three characters: Max, a twenty-nine year old who is going through the motions of living, let down by those he loved the most; Vashti, who has made a fresh start after the deaths of her daughter and husband, and who has never stopped loving Max; and Gene, a Stanford geologist who is afraid of losing the one person he loves most in the world. All three of their lives will converge as they face their pasts, come to terms with their present, and do what they can to survive.

3. Smile by Raina Telgemeier  ~ This is a coming of age graphic memoir about navigating middle school, dealing with dental drama, boy confusion, mean girls and living through a major earthquake. My daughter has read this one a million times just about, so of course I had to read it too.

4. The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner ~ I have not gotten to this one yet, but it is on my TBR pile and is one of my must read books of the year. 
Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin's silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin's odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn't right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear. [Goodreads Summary]

5. Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu
~ This is a recent addition to my wish list. I thought it would be a good one for both me and my daughter.
In the spirit of A Place to Belong, this remarkable novel-in-verse examines the aftershocks of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 through the eyes of a young girl who learns that even the smallest kindness can make a difference.

March 11, 2011 An earthquake shakes Japan to its core. A tsunami crashes into Japan’s coast. Everything changes.

In the aftermath of the natural disasters that have struck her country, eleven-year-old Maya is luckier than many. Her family didn’t lose their home, their lives, or each other. But Maya still can’t help feeling paralyzed with terror, and each aftershock that ripples out in the days that follow makes her fear all over again that her luck could change in an instant.

As word of the devastation elsewhere grows increasingly grim—tens of thousands have perished—it all seems so huge, so irreparable. Already flinching at every rumble from the earth, Maya’s overcome with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. How can her country ever recover, and how could anything she does possibly make a difference?

Before Maya can extend a hand to others, she must dig deep to find the hidden well of strength in herself in this sweeping, searing novel that shows even small acts can add something greater and help people and communities heal.
[Goodreads Summary]

Have you read any novels featuring earthquakes you would recommend I read? 

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

© 2022 Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Bookish Mewsings: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton & The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

I am surrounded by forgotten women. ~ Opening of The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba 

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba (The Cuba Saga #4) by Chanel Cleeton
Berkley, 2021
Fiction/Historical; 384 pgs
Source: NetGalley (all opinions are my own)

The year is 1896. Cuba is in turmoil as revolutionaries fight for their freedom. Newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer are feuding, trying to see who will end up on top. Caught up in it all are three women, each with their own roles to play.

The novel is based on the real life Evangelina Cisneros, who was unjustly imprisoned at 18 years old and dreamt of a Cuba free of Spanish oppression. Her cause was picked up by newspapers, Hearst’s headline calling her “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba”, in hopes of drawing the U.S. into Cuba’s war for independence. Then there is journalist Grace Harrington  who wants nothing more than to make her mark in journalism just like Nellie Bly. As a woman in a traditionally male profession, she has an uphill battle to climb, always having to prove herself worthy of getting the headline. When she is assigned to cover Evangelina’s story, she knows this could be her big break. Meanwhile, Marina Perez, a courier secretly working with the Cuban revolutionaries, is trying to reunite with her husband and protect her young son safe and fed under appalling conditions.

It was actually Marina’s story which I found the most interesting of the three threads, although I enjoyed all three. Chanel Cleeton’s main characters are all strong women who each are struggling for causes they believe in and have to face difficult decisions along the way. This is a time in history I know little about, and so I found myself doing a little side research as I read. Reading about how events played out in the novel and in reality was fascinating. Chanel Cleeton clearly did her research and wove it into a beautiful and powerful story. How have I not read anything by this author before? I will definitely be reading more of her work now.

The enigma arrived in the afternoon post, sealed, smudged, and devastating. ~ Opening of The Rose Code

The Rose Code
by Kate Quinn
William Morrow, 2021
Fiction/Historical; 646 pgs
Source: NetGalley (all opinions are my own)

World War II is over and Princess Elizabeth is about to marry Prince Phillip. Three former friends are about to come together again because of an encrypted letter.

Seven years earlier, three women met for the first time at Bletchley Park, each with the common purpose to break German military codes and protect England during the war. There is Osla who longs to be more than the society debutante everyone believes her to be and whose skill in German earns her a position translating decoded secrets; then there is Mab, who may have grown up in poverty but is determined to make something of herself despite old hurts and wrongs done to her, who works on the code-breaking machines; and finally Beth, a local village spinster who thought her life would never amount to much but becomes one of the few female cryptanalysts. Their friendship was torn apart by loss, betrayal and the secrets they carry.

Kate Quinn seems to have a gift for picking out the most interesting aspects of history during this era and spinning a great story.  As I often do, I couldn’t help but look up bits of history as I read to compare the truth to the fiction and it was fun picking out the characters based on real people from the fictional. Okay, and so maybe I wanted to know the fate of a couple of characters. The novel is rich in history while at the same time being entertaining and a fascinating read. I loved the details and depth of the characters. The dual time lines works well—the 1947 characters reliving their time at Bletchley Park during the war while at the same time facing new challenges and an old enemy.

I really enjoyed getting to know Mab, Beth and Osla. Each of the women have strong storylines, no one being more interesting than the other. Although, I have to say Beth’s after war story in particular is heart wrenching. I still get angry thinking about the way she was treated.

While much of the novel describes life at Bletchley Park and the work the women and their compatriots did there, there is also the overreaching story arc of a traitor in their midst—the reason they come together again—to put an unsolved mystery to rest. The last part of the book is a race against the clock and quite tense as everything comes together—and to a head. I enjoyed my time with these characters as I read The Rose Code and look forward to reading more by Kate Quinn.

Have you read either of these books? If so, what did you think? 

© 2022, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl.

The Top Ten Tuesday topic this week is the Most Recent Additions to My TBR. Here's a peek at my recent finds:

The Classified Dossier: Sherlock Holmes & Count Dracula
by Christian Klaver
The first in a stylish new series, in which the worlds of Sherlock and the uncanny collide.

Sherlock Holmes is dead. His body lies in a solitary grave on the Sussex Downs. But Dr. Watson survives, and is now given permission to release tales in Sherlock's 'black box', those cases that are, dear reader, unbelievable - for their subject matter is of the most outré and grotesque nature.

Beginning with 'The Adventure of the Lady's Finger', Holmes and Watson discover a dark, uncanny world beyond their imagining. It starts with a victim whose flesh reacts adversely to silver and sunlight, whose blood does not thicken when exposed to oxygen. And then a Transylvanian nobleman arrives at Baker Street demanding Holmes's assistance in the kidnapping of his beloved wife, Mina. [Goodreads Summary]

Demon Riding Shotgun
by L. R. Braden

Possessed by a demon since she was eleven years old, Mira Fuentes maintains a fragile alliance with the snarky soul who shares her body. Together they hunt down unstable Rifters-- demon-controlled humans bent on causing chaos in the mortal realm. But when a routine hunt leads to a powerful Rifter with plans for Baltimore, Mira quickly finds herself in over her head and at the top of the city's Most Wanted.

Recently retired from the PTF after losing his partner, Ty Williams now works for the Baltimore PD and keeps his distance from cases involving magic. But when a person dies of clearly magical causes and the PTF doesn't have any agents to spare, Ty is the closest thing the department has to an expert. Saddled with a new partner he doesn't want and a mountain of self-doubt, it's his job to track down a suspect who looks suspiciously like the one-night-stand he brought home from the bar last night.

Mira will have to set her trust issues aside and enlist the help of a man determined to uncover her secrets if she hopes to learn the identity of the demon's host and prevent the human race from becoming meat puppets for the denizens of the Rift. 
[Goodreads Summary]

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle
by Matt Cain
Albert Entwistle is a private man with a quiet, simple life. He lives alone with his cat Gracie. And he’s a postman. At least he was a postman until, three months before his sixty-fifth birthday, he receives a letter from the Royal Mail thanking him for decades of service and stating he is being forced into retirement.

At once, Albert’s sole connection with his world unravels. Every day as a mail carrier, he would make his way through the streets of his small English town, delivering letters and parcels and returning greetings with a quick wave and a “how do?” Without the work that fills his days, what will be the point? He has no friends, family, or hobbies—just a past he never speaks of, and a lost love that fills him with regret.

And so, rather than continue his lonely existence, Albert forms a brave plan to start truly living. It’s finally time to be honest about who he is. To seek the happiness he’s always denied himself. And to find the courage to look for George, the man that, many years ago, he loved and lost—but has never forgotten. As he does, something extraordinary happens. Albert finds unlikely allies, new friends, and proves it’s never too late to live, to hope, and to love.
[Goodreads Summary]

Dear John: Love and Loyalty in Wartime America by Susan L. Carruthers
Are "Dear John" letters lethal weapons in the hands of men at war? Many US officers, servicemen, veterans, and civilians would say yes.

Drawing on personal letters, oral histories, and psychiatric reports, as well as popular music and movies, Susan L. Carruthers shows how the armed forces and civilian society have attempted to weaponize romantic love in pursuit of martial ends, from World War II to today. Yet efforts to discipline feeling have frequently failed. And women have often borne the blame.

This sweeping history of emotional life in wartime explores the interplay between letter writing and storytelling, breakups and breakdowns, and between imploded intimacy and boosted camaraderie. Incorporating vivid personal experiences in a lively and engaging prose – variously tragic, comic, and everything in between – this compelling study will change the way we think about wartime relationships.
[Goodreads Summary]

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful adventure set in California's San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.
[Goodreads Summary]


Seven-Year Witch (Witch Way Librarian Mysteries #2) by Angela M. Sanders
Finding your feet in a new job isn't always easy. That goes double for Josie Way, who's settling in as Wilfred, Oregon's, new librarian--and has just discovered she's a witch. But will her fledgling powers be enough to save her from a spell of murder?

While Josie develops her witchcraft with the help of letters left by her grandmother, there are other changes happening in her new hometown. A retreat center is being built at the old mill site, and rumor has it that the location is cursed. That piques Josie's interest almost as much as Sam Wilfred, handsome FBI agent and descendent of the town's founder...

When Sam's soon-to-be ex-wife, Fiona, goes missing at the same time that a bloodied weapon is found, Josie enlists her witchy insight, and her cat familiar, to clear Sam's name. But then the mill project's architect is found dead, and it's clear that someone has been drawing up a vicious plan. Now Josie will have to divine her way out of fatal mischief, before this deadly trouble turns double...
[Goodreads Summary]

The Circus at the End of the Sea by Lori R. Snyder
A vibrant and enchanting debut novel about an orphan girl who discovers a magical circus, perfect for fans of Kelly Barnhill and Rebecca Stead!

Maddy Adriana knows that magic is real. All her life, her heart has pulled her towards things too perfect to be ordinary. One day, that tug leads her to a magical street circus, hidden in plain sight among the canals and boardwalks of Venice Beach.

For the first time in Maddy’s life, she finally feels like she belongs. But the circus is in grave danger. Maddy will need to confront the frightening side of magic, as well as her own deepest fears, if she’s to have any hope of saving the place she dreams of calling home.

This unforgettable debut shows readers the magic of following your heart and finding where you belong.
[Goodreads Summary]

The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai Randel
In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, two people from different cultures are drawn together by fate and the freedom of music...

1940. Aiyi Shao is a young heiress and the owner of a formerly popular and glamorous Shanghai nightclub. Ernest Reismann is a penniless Jewish refugee driven out of Germany, an outsider searching for shelter in a city wary of strangers. He loses nearly all hope until he crosses paths with Aiyi. When she hires Ernest to play piano at her club, her defiance of custom causes a sensation. His instant fame makes Aiyi's club once again the hottest spot in Shanghai. Soon they realize they share more than a passion for jazz—but their differences seem insurmountable, and Aiyi is engaged to another man.

As the war escalates, Aiyi and Ernest find themselves torn apart, and their choices between love and survival grow more desperate. In the face of overwhelming odds, a chain of events is set in motion that will change both their lives forever.

From the electrifying jazz clubs to the impoverished streets of a city under siege,
The Last Rose of Shanghai is a timeless, sweeping story of love and redemption. [Goodreads Summary]

How to Book a Murder (Starlit Bookshop Mystery #1) by Cynthia Kuhn
Perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Kate Carlisle, in award-winning author Cynthia Kuhn’s series debut, small-town bookseller and literary event planner Emma Starrs is out to close the book on a killer intent on crashing the party.

To help save her family’s floundering Colorado bookstore, Starlit Bookshop, newly minted Ph.D. Emma Starrs agrees to plan a mystery-themed dinner party for her wealthy, well-connected high school classmate Tabitha Baxter. It’s a delightful evening of cocktails and conjecture until Tabitha’s husband, Tip—hosting the affair in the guise of Edgar Allan Poe’s detective C. Auguste Dupin—winds up murdered.

In a heartbeat, Emma and her aunt Nora, a famous mystery writer, become suspects. Emma is sure the party’s over for Starlit events, until celebrated author Calliope Nightfall, whose gothic sensibilities are intrigued by the circumstances, implores the bookseller to create a Poe-themed launch event for her latest tome. Throwing a bash to die for while searching for additional clues is already enough to drive Emma stark raven mad, but another shocking crime soon reveals that Silvercrest has not yet reached the final chapter of the puzzling case.

Someone in this charming artistic community has murder on the mind, and if Emma cannot outwit the killer, she and her beloved aunt will land behind bars, to walk free nevermore.
[Goodreads Summary]

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.

But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.

A stunning debut from a powerful new voice, 
Kaikeyi is a tale of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come. [Goodreads Summary]

Have you ever read any of these books? If so, what did you think? What books recently made it onto your TBR pile?

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