Saturday, February 04, 2023

Weekly Mews: Hello, February! (A Look At What I Have Been Reading & This Month's TBR List Poll!)

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 Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently.  

January was one of those months that was achingly slow for some but flew by for me. I cannot believe it is already February. Since I last shared my weekly mews, my life has been mostly about work (it has been terribly busy and there were some difficult days--come-home-and-hug-my-daughter tight type days). 

My mom, Mouse, husband, and I visited The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture and took in the beautiful artwork there. We also went to see a local kids' theater group put on their elite performance of Disney's Descendants, which was very well done. Mouse had taken their junior class this past summer/fall and performed in a less formal version of the musical last October.  She enjoyed seeing some of the older kids who helped in her class perform on stage. Mouse also got to attend a pirate dinner theater with her Girl Scout troop. It was part of their council's annual cookie season rally. Her troop was one of a few in our district to win the #Blingyourride contest. The girls went all out decorating the outside of the truck they used to pick up all the Girl Scout cookies last weekend, kicking off the official start of the cookie season.

February will be a busy month for us. Work, of course. My in-laws are in town this weekend for a late holiday gift exchange since they weren't able to make it for Christmas in December.  And next weekend cookie booths open--so you can guess where we'll be just about every weekend after that. At least until cookie season ends.

Earlier this week, I finished reading Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer. It is officially on my list of books to reference back to. I am close to finishing Clara Coulson's Speaker of the Lost, an urban fantasy novel about two FBI agents working on  a special supernatural task force to solve a murder. 

Next up, I will be reading Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun (#3) by Elle Cosimano, I loved the first two books and keep hearing great things about the third in the series. After that, well, I could use your help!

My TBR List is 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 let you vote for my next read during that month. My review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

Help me choose my next TBR List read! Initially I was thinking romance, but I am more in the mood for a cozy historical mystery. All of these qualify in most of my reading challenges this year. Which of these three books do you think I should read next? Have you read any of them? 

The Secret of Bow Lane (Kat Holloway Mysteries #6) Jennifer Ashley
A stranger who appears on Kat's doorstep turns out to be one Charlotte Bristow, legal wife of Joe Bristow, the man Kat once believed herself married to—who she thought died at sea twelve years ago. Kat is jolted by Charlotte’s claims that not only was Joe murdered, but he had amassed a small fortune before he died. Charlotte makes the cook an offer she cannot refuse—if Kat can discover the identity of Joe's murderer, Charlotte will give her a share of the fortune Joe left behind.

With the help of Daniel McAdam, her attractive and charismatic confidante, Kat plunges into her own past to investigate. When it becomes apparent that the case of Joe’s death goes far deeper than simple, opportunistic theft, Kat and Daniel's relationship is put to the test, and Kat herself comes under scrutiny as her connection to Joe is uncovered. She must race to catch the real killer before she loses her job and possibly her life.
[Goodreads Summary]

The Deep End (The Country Club Murders #1) by Julie Mulhern
Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.

It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.

As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her.
[Goodreads Summary]

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn
London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task--saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman's noose in a week's time if the real killer is not found.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. From a Bohemian artists' colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed....
[Goodreads Summary]

Thank you for voting!

February brings to rain,
thaws the frozen lake again.
~ excerpt from "The Months" by Sara Coleridge

I have fallen a little behind in my nightly poetry reading and need to play catch up. I did, however, recently read a poetry collection I thought I would share about today.

Poetry is often about feelings for me. Find me. keep me. by Renaada Williams (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2022; 128 pgs) truly is raw and emotional. Through her poetry, she invites readers to share some of her most intimate thoughts and experiences. The poet delves deeply into themes such as sexuality, racial identity, overcoming trauma, and mental health challenges in a very genuine way. 

There is one poem about self-care which I especially liked. Self-care comes in all forms, including waiting to start tomorrow.  I think my favorite section though was "two americas". There is one section where Renaada Williams writes:
Black be pure. Black be joy. Black be scared. Black be laughter. Black be struggle. Black be happiness. Black be journey. Black be lonely. Black be gold. Black is painful. Black is beautiful. 
She goes on like this, naming different characteristics, ending with "Black be resilient" repeated over and over again, capturing the beauty and empowerment in her words. It is especially meaningful given the two Americas she is writing about in this section as she calls out racism. As a white person, my experiences may not be the same, but I could feel her passion and the truth in her words.

I highlighted quite a bit in this collection--too much to share here--but here are some of my favorite excerpts: 
blood splattered
painted on every branch of our family tree
thicker than
saws to set me free [excerpt from "two americas", find her. keep her.]
i am 
a gift
a token
they welcomed me my laughter
my entertainment my pain
my movement
but ask me
to leave my roots at the door.  [excerpt from "two americas", find her. keep her.]
and also
I got better at hiding the scars
a hopeless dove without her wings don't believe
anything or anyone
making you feel unworthy even if it's yourself! [excerpt from "records of self-discovery", find her. keep her.]
Heart-wrenching, thought-provoking and inspirational are all words I would use to describe this collection.

Let's talk about Guts by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic, 2019; 144 pgs). My daughter swears I plucked Guts off her shelf on my own, but I feel certain she told me she wanted me to read it. It doesn't really matter whose memory is the most accurate. Mouse and I  have enjoyed every graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier we've read. Mouse wasn't always so into reading, and I have Raina and her book Smile to thank for igniting that spark in her. After reading it the first time, she immediately started reading it again. Then would go on to read it multiple times after that as well. I went out and found every graphic novel like Smile I could find, wanting to see her love for reading continue and grow. She loves graphic novels and manga, and also has come to love and enjoy reading other types of books. She once told me the bigger the book the better--"because the story lasts longer." 

I'm venturing into Mouse's Corner with all this Mouse talk, aren't I? Back to Guts. Guts is the third book in the author's Smile series (the second being Sisters). The series is actually a graphic memoir, based on the author's real life. In this particular installment, Raina is struggling with school issues, worries about food and friendships, and oncoming puberty. Things many of us can relate to. I could see my daughter in the pages of the book, which makes sense given they are of a similar age (I think Raina is slightly younger in this memoir).

Guts also touches on mental health concerns, anxiety in particular. Something just about everyone deals with at some point in their life to one degree or another. Raina has suffered with anxiety most of her life. This book was a good opportunity for me to talk with my daughter about our personal struggles with anxiety, and how well we could relate to Raina. I appreciated the way the author normalized getting help for anxiety, including seeing a therapist. Something that I wish more books for children would do. Little Raina is such a sweetheart and I wanted to give her a hug more than once. I have great admiration for the author and am grateful she is sharing her story with young readers (and us older ones too). 

Mouse recently read Ravenfall by Kalyn Josephson, the first in a series, about a 13 year old girl with the the power of foreseeing death. It is not the most useful of skills. Or so she thinks up until she meets a boy who is in town looking for his missing brother and the monster that killed their parents. All I can get out of Mouse so far about the book is that "it was very good." 
I could hear her complaining to her grandmother as they walked up the path to our front door the other afternoon about how she has to wait until October for the second book to come up. I know what that's like all too well . . . 

Mouse is now reading The Keeper by Guadalupe García McCall. It is the story of two siblings, James and Ava, who recently moved with their family from Texas to Oregon. They are both learning to adjust to their new home when James begins finding mysterious letters signed by someone calling themselves The Keeper. The grown-ups think this is just another of the kids' pranks, but Ava and James know otherwise. They believe it's tied to stories of other children who had gone missing in the past and decide to investigate for themselves, afraid they might be the next victims. 


My favorite local independent bookstore is having to move after their lease was not extended. They were given a month's notice, which was then extended to two months after public outcry. That is still not a lot of time to find a new location and pack up and move--not to mention the expense of it all. The property management company says it wants to move in a new direction, but there has been speculation that it has something to do with the store's focus on LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC authors and literature, and their hosting drag queen story hours. Whatever the reason, it is sad news for the community. The owner and her staff are confident that they will find a new and better home, and, in the meantime, will continue their many book clubs, author events, and maintain their online store.  

I imagine my family and I will be visiting there again this month and next to show our support. On our last visit, this is what we added to our shelves: 

New to My Shelves
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
This Is Not a Personal Statement by Tracy Badua

New to Mouse's Shelves
Out of My Heart (Out of My Mind #2) by Sharon M. Draper
Magus of the Library, Vol. 1 by Mitsu Izumi, translated by Stephen Kohler
Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 2 by Bisco Hatori
Cursed Princess Club, Vol. 1 by LambCat

Recent E-Book Purchases
Night Angels by Weina Dai Randel
The Chemistry of Love by Sariah Wilson

What new books made it onto your shelf recently? 

I am continuing to make my way through Grey's Anatomy and have even gotten my husband and daughter interested on occasion. I am up to season 12. Wanting something a little different but not willing to leave Shondaland just yet, I started rewatching the first season of How To Get Away With Murder. I forgot how well written that show is. I am only about three episodes in right now.

My daughter expressed an interest in watching The X-Files the other day and so my husband popped in the first DVD. We have watched the first two episodes so far. My husband remembers the show like yesterday. Me, not so much. I think I remember later episodes more so.

We also recently saw the first episode of Poker Face, which is about a woman who has an uncanny ability to know when people are lying. She uses her skills to solve crimes while on the run from people who want her dead. 

As a family, we have started rewatching our old Harry Potter DVDs at my daughter's request and are up to the fourth film. This is one of those instances where one struggles with liking the art but not the artist. We do not agree or support the author of the books in her beliefs, but we have long loved the magic of the Harry Potter series.

What have you watched recently?

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  1. I voted for A Perilous Undertaking as I'm listening to it right now and I"m loving it. I didn't think I'd like it as much as the first one, but I love it.

    1. Wendy - Thank you for voting! Even if it doesn't win, I am looking forward to reading it. I am glad you are enjoying it! You can't go wrong with a Raybourn book. Thank you for visiting!

  2. I voted PErilous also although I'm a huge fan of Mulhern's books. Those are fun also. And I hope the bookstore survives and does well wherever their new location is.

    Take care this week and have a great weekend!

    1. Greg - Often times, I favor a book over the others in the poll but in this case I want them all to win. I haven't heard any new news about the bookstore, but hopefully we'll get some good news soon. Thank you for voting and stopping by!

  3. Work has been instense for me too! And I bet that seeing that performance was amazing! I hope next week will be more relaxed!

    1. Sophie - I hope things calm down for you at work. It was another busy work here. I'm so glad the weekend is here. The performance was good. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun with it too. Thank you for visiting!

  4. Thank you for sharing the poetry book. Those are powerful lines of poetry. I'm reading a lot of poetry this year. It seems to make my life so much richer.

    As a librarian, I have come to believe that there is a book for everyone that will turn on the reading light. So glad your Mouse found hers!

    I hope your bookstore finds a new, better home quickly.

    1. Deb - You are welcome. I have a hard time reviewing poetry books like that as they are so personal.

      I hope that love of reading stays with Mouse her entire life. :-)

      Thank you for stopping by!

  5. I have Night Angel on my TBR list. Hope it's good. The Chemistry of Love looks good too. Have a good week.

    1. Harvee - I hope the Night Angels will be good too. It sounds like it will be at least! Thank you for visiting!

  6. Sounds like life has been busy and fun and interesting for you guys. Hope your February is a little less busy, but with cookie season - well, hoping for great success!

    1. Kay - Cookie season is going to keep us busy, that's for sure. Thank you for stopping by!

  7. We are loving Poker Face!

    I voted for the Raybourn book. I have those on my list to read. And Mouse's book Ravenfall looks good too!

    1. Erin - We are enjoying Poker Face too! Thank you for voting! I think they all sound good and look forward to seeing which one wins. I want to give Ravenfall a try too. My daughter enjoyed it. Thank you for visiting!

  8. I'm glad mouse enjoyed the pirate dinner theater. I just ordered a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies from my girlfriend's niece, it's way too easy to eat nearly a box at a time while I'm working though lol.
    I voted for the Jennifer Ashley, I've had her books on my TBR for some time. That's sad about your fav indie bookstore. :(
    Hope work is less stressful this week and you enjoy your reading and watching. I heart the The X-Files!

    1. Naida - I was a little jealous she got to go to the pirate dinner and I didn't. LOL I have been to a medieval times dinner theater before so I imagine it's similar.

      Oh my gosh, yes! Having boxes and boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the house is torture. Especially when I'm working from home. I'm trying to be good, but I am not succeeding. LOL

      Thank you for voting and stopping by!

  9. How to Get Away with Murder is one of my favorites. The cast and writing are just so good!

    I love that those graphic novels got your daughter into reading. And now she is SO into it!

    1. Helen - I'm with you. How to Get Away with Murder is so good. I only watched the first season when it aired and have yet to watch the rest, but I hope to now that I am streaming it.

      Thank you for visiting!

  10. It's always so hard to see a book store close - and/or move - cuz a move is usually out of the neighborhood. Hope they find a new home. I voted for Raybourn since I've read several in the series and Veronica is a delightful character. Have a great week.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    1. Terrie - I was thinking that too. I hope they do find a new home, but imagine it will be farther away. Thank you for voting and stopping by!

  11. This is Not a Personal Statement looks good! Sounds like a good January. Mine went by kind of fast too. I think because I ended up spending a lot of it alone in the library again. I found a student to order girl scout cookies from this year at school. So yay! Hope you have a good week!

    1. Lisa - Doesn't it? An author I follow on FB recommended it and I thought it sounded interesting. I am glad you were able to find someone to buy cookies from! I wish we would hurry up and sell what we have here at the house so I am less tempted by them. Thank you for visiting!

  12. Whoa you have been busy. You have lots of work, family activities, reading and somehow manage to watch some tv. I voted for the Jennifer Ashley book since that gets you up to date in the series.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

    1. Anne - I really need to get caught up with that series, I know. Even if it doesn't win, I plan to read it soon. Thank you for stopping by!

  13. I had to vote for The Deep End just for the cover! Hope you have a great week. :D

    1. Lark - I like that cover too. :-) Thank you for visiting!

  14. Sounds like you have been busy! I used to watch Grey's Anatomy but haven't watched it in forever. We have been watching seasons of The Amazing Race.

    1. Cindy - I only watched the earlier seasons when they aired and it was fun to rewatch those. I am well into seasons I never saw the first time around. I may need to take a break. So many seasons. I'm starting to feel a little Grey's Anatomy'd out. My family and I watched the first season of The Amazing Race and then the one with the Holderness couple. Was that last year or the year before? I can't remember. We enjoyed it though. My daughter said she'd want to do that with her dad and I someday, but I don't think I would want to. I'm not brave enough. LOL Thank you for stopping by!

  15. I read The Deep End and really enjoyed it. So, I picked that one. I'm behind on the series though so I have to catch up at some point. Hope you have a great week!

    1. Yvonne - I have been wanting to read Mulhern's series since that first book came out. I am glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you for voting and stopping by!

  16. So many great books. Some of them are on my TBR.. hopefully I will get around to reading them one day.
    I too am watching Poker Face and enjoying it.

  17. Sorry January was so busy. Mine was slow, but fast which made for a very non-productive month, lol.

    1. Jenni - Hopefully February will be more productive for you--and me! Thank you for stopping by!

  18. I voted for The Deep End.

    This is my daughter's first year not doing Girl Scouts. I miss it, but not the cookies! Good luck with your booth!


    1. Jill - I don't know if I'm allowed to admit I don't especially like cookie season in the middle of it. LOL I'll be glad when it's over. Thank you for voting and visiting!

  19. Vicki - Sometimes busy weeks are good. They definitely make me appreciate the slower weeks more. Thank you for voting and visiting!


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