Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday: A Very Woodsy Murder / No Road Home / In the Lonely Hours / White Collar Girl


The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.

Here are three upcoming releases that caught my attention and immediately ended up on my wish list. I am looking forward to reading all of them! 

A Very Woodsy Murder
(A Golden Motel Mystery #1) by Ellen Byron

Release Date: 07/23/2024 by Kensington Cozies
“Recovering TV sitcom writer Dee Stern leaves behind punchlines for peril in a delightful whodunnit set at a remote motel in rural California that mixes a perfect cocktail of gut-busting one-liners with heart-stopping suspense!” —Lee Hollis, Author of Death of a Clam Digger

New motel owner Dee Stern has checked out of the familiar comforts in the Studio City and checked in to the quaint village of Foundgold. Running a rustic getaway in the woods sure beats LA traffic—until murder ruins the peace and quiet . . .

Down-on-her-luck sitcom writer Dee Stern is flipping the script. Twice divorced and wasting her talents on an obnoxious kids’ show, the lifelong Angeleno embraces the urge to jump in her car and keep driving. It's a road trip with no destination—until she pulls into a mid-century motel filled with cobwebs and retro charm. Nestled in the shadow of a national park, it’s a time capsule of a place that, like her, could use some work. So, in the most impulsive move of her life, Dee teams up with best friend, Jeff Cornetta—who happens to be her first ex-husband—to transform the aging ranch into the Golden Motel-of-the-Mountains, a hiker’s oasis on the edge of the wilderness . . .

But Dee and Jeff soon realize there couldn’t be two people more unprepared for the hospitality business. There’s also the panic-inducing reality of prowling bears and a general store as the only shopping spot for miles. Living and working in the middle of nowhere takes some getting used to—especially when a disrespectful guest ends up murdered! Now, with the motel duo topping the suspect list, Dee must steer clear of a meddling park ranger, face her past in show biz, and determine if the killer is a local or tourist. Because as she quickly finds out, there are many things worse than a one-star review. [Goodreads Summary]

No Road Home
by John Fram

Release Date: 07/23/2024 by Atria Books
A young father must clear his name and protect his queer son when his wealthy new wife’s televangelist grandfather is found murdered in this binge-worthy locked-room thriller from the acclaimed author of The Bright Lands—perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, Paul Tremblay, and Alex North.

For years, single father Toby Tucker has done his best to keep his sensitive young son, Luca, safe from the bigotry of the world. But when Toby marries Alyssa Wright—the granddaughter of a famed televangelist known for his grandiose, Old Testament preaching—he can’t imagine the world of religion, wealth, and hate that he and Luca are about to enter.

A trip to the Wright family’s compound in sun-scorched Texas soon turns hellish when Toby realizes that Alyssa and the rest of her brood might have some very strange plans for Toby and his son. The situation only grows worse when a freak storm cuts off the roads and the family patriarch is found murdered, stabbed through the heart on the roof of the family’s mansion.

Suspicion immediately turns to Toby, but when his son starts describing a spectral figure in a black suit lurking around the house with unfinished business in mind, Toby realizes this family has more than murder to be afraid of. And as the Wrights close in on Luca, no one is prepared for the lengths Toby will go in the fight to clear his name and protect his son. [Goodreads Summary]

In the Lonely Hours
by Shannon Morgan

Release Date: 07/23/2024 by Kensington
In a bewitchingly melancholy, thrillingly modern ghost story for readers of Eve Chase, Megan Shepherd, and Lisa Jewell, the new inhabitants of a centuries-old castle perched on a remote island in northwest Scotland must confront its tragic and terrifying history...

On a small island in a remote corner of northwest Scotland lies Maundrell castle, owned by its wealthy namesake family for centuries—until now. Edwina Nunn is shocked to learn a relative she never heard of has bequeathed the castle and its land to her. What awaits Edie and her teenage daughter, Neve, is even more startling, for the castle is home to a multitude of ghosts.

Yet there’s a strange beauty in the austere architecture and the eerie, bloody waters of Loch na Scáthanna, the Lake of Shadows. Beguiled by a frightened ghost who gazes longingly out of the castle’s windows, Edie and Neve are drawn to the legends shrouding the island and the mystery of the Maundrell Red—a priceless diamond that disappeared decades before.

Is the gem really cursed, and the cause of the family tragedies that have all occurred on Samhain—Scottish Halloween? As Samhain approaches once more, Edie and Neve race to peel back the dark secrets entwining the living and the dead—a twisted story of bitter cruelty and hidden love—or they will become another Maundrell tragedy trapped in the lonely hours . . .
[Goodreads Summary]

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


The Old(er) 
Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight those unread books on my TBR in her Books from the Backlog feature, reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!

These past few months I have been featuring books on the losing end of my TBR List Poll, all books which are on my TBR shelves. This one was one of the options in my May 2017 poll that I have not managed to get to yet.

White Collar Girl
by Renée Rosen
(2015)
The latest novel from the bestselling author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants takes us deep into the tumultuous world of 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles with the heavy price of ambition...

Every second of every day, something is happening. There’s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it’s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column.

Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley’s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan’s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there’s no guarantee she’ll remain above the fold.… [Goodreads Summary]
Have you read White Collar Girl?  Does this book sound like something you would like to read? 


© 2024, 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, July 14, 2024

Weekly Mews: the Peter Pan Musical, More Doctor Who, Good Books, & A Low Key Week in July

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.







It was another week of triple digit temperatures. I often sit in my car and read while my daughter is in her voice lesson, and I worried it would be too hot for that, but luckily, by then, the temperature had dropped to the low 90's and there was a nice breeze out. With the car windows open, it wasn't bad at all. Work picked up some this past week, but fortunately I was able to get out on time which I always feel is an accomplishment. 

Mouse and my mom spent an afternoon at the movie theater and caught a showing of Thelma. They both gave it a big thumbs up and said it was laugh out loud funny. Now I want to see it too! Anjin and I celebrated our 26th Wedding Anniversary. Look at the beautiful flowers he gave me: 


My cats enjoying some summer cat tree time

What have you been up to?

Somehow I did not manage to get in much reading this past week. I am really not sure what happened. I did finish The Berlin Letters by Catherine Reay. I enjoyed it very much. 


Now I am reading A Botanist's Guide to Society and Secrets (Saffron Everleigh Mystery #3) by Kate Khavari. I enjoyed the first two books in this historical cozy mystery series and am delighted to join Saffron and friends on her latest case. I also am continuing to read Barbara Kingsolver's Demon Copperhead, reading a couple chapters at a time each day. 

Thank you to everyone who voted in my July TBR List Poll! I am excited about all three of the options this month and look forward to reading them. But which one will I be reading this month, you ask? 


The Housekeepers by Alex Hay kept a steady lead from the start, winning with eight (8) votes. Dreadful by Caitlin Rozakis received five (5) votes and Assistant to the Villain (#1) by Hannah Nicole Maehrer got four (4) votes. I cannot wait to start reading Housekeepers! Thank you again for voting! 


What are you reading right now?


My TBR List is hosted by Michelle at Because Reading. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books from my TBR pile 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).  


We have continued our watching of Doctor Who and started the latest season at last. It was so good to see David Tennant reprise the role of the Doctor, tying up some loose ends and making way for the new Doctor played by Ncuti Gatwa to make the show his own. 


This weekend we visited the Hollywood Pantages Theatre again, this time to see the musical Peter Pan. There's nothing like being able to see a show performed live. We had a great time and enjoyed the show. 



What have you been watching lately? 

I hope you have a great week! Let me know what you have been reading!

© 2024, 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, July 11, 2024

Where Is Your Bookmark: A Peek Into The Berlin Letters & More Friday Fun



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.

East Berlin Germany
Sunday, August 13, 1961

The jangling telephone broke into her dreams.  

As Haris climbed from bed with a groan, Monica felt the cool air touch her skin. Today would be another hot day, but it wasn't hot yet. It wasn't fully light yet. It was too dark for calls or climbing from the bed. Too dark for anything but sleep. [opening of prologue of The Berlin Letters]

and 

Arlington, Virginia
Friday, November 3, 1989

While seemingly complex, codes, ciphers, cryptograms, or whatever you choose to call them, are deceptively simple. Once you crack them. [opening of Chapter One of The Berlin Letters]

The prologue opens with a phone ringing in the early hours of the morning, too early, which is rarely good. Unfortunately for Monica and Haris, there day is about to get a lot worse. And then in the first chapter, we jump to the future, to a scene that sets a different tone but is no less intriguing. What sort of code are we about to break, I wonder? 



A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Our wonderful host Freda of Freda's Voice is on a break, and Anne of My Head is Full of Books  has stepped in to host! 

My heart races. I pop up and hold my hand out to him. "I don't have the letters with me, but I'll bring them into work tomorrow. I--" The lie comes easily to my lips. "I don't feel so well."

He stands and takes my hand. He holds it a moment longer, as if he's offering me condolences or some sort of gift. I resist pulling away. "Take the rest of the day. We'll talk first thing tomorrow. Back at our offices."

"Yes, sir, Thank you." With that he escorts me back to the lobby. I stay calm and I keep my steps measured.

Until I'm out of his sight. [excerpt from 49% of The Berlin Letters] 

Sounds like a tense situation, doesn't it? I am just past this moment in the novel and am anxious to find out what Luisa plans to do next. 

The Berlin Letters is a compelling read so far, and I was disappointed that I had to work through my lunch breaks the last few days and was unable to pick it up and read more. I wasn't alive when the Berlin Wall went up, but I was for its fall. It is one of those moments that is cemented in my memory. I am enjoying the dual timelines and look forward to seeing how the author brings everything together. 

The Berlin Letters
 by Katherine Reay

Near the end of the Cold War, a CIA code breaker discovers a symbol she recognizes from her childhood, which launches her across the world to the heart of Berlin just before the wall comes tumbling down.

November 1989 —After finding a secret cache of letters with intelligence buried in the text, CIA cryptographer Luisa Voekler learns that not only is her father alive but he is languishing in an East German Stasi jail. After piecing together the letters with a series of articles her grandfather saved, Luisa seeks out journalists Bran Bishop and Daniel Rudd. They send her to the CIA, to Andrew Cademan—her boss.

Luisa confronts Cademan and learns that nothing is a coincidence, but he will not help her free her father. So she takes matters into her own hands, empties her bank account, and flies to West Berlin. As the adrenaline wears off and she recognizes she has no idea how to proceed, Luisa is both relieved and surprised when a friend shows up with contacts and a rudimentary plan to sneak her across the wall.

Alternating storylines between Luisa and her father,
The Berlin Letters shows the tumultuous early days of the wall, bringing Berlin, the epicenter of the Cold War, to life while also sharing one family’s journey through secrets, lies, and division to love, freedom, and reconciliation. [Goodreads Summary]

Does this sound like something you would enjoy? If you have read it, what did you think?


Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post where bloggers discuss a wide range of topics from books and blogging to life in general. It is hosted by Linda Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell and Jen from That’s What I’m Talking About. Join in by answering this week's question in the comments or on your own blog.
Have you kept any hobbies you started during the pandemic? 

I remember hearing about people who were able to take up new hobbies and projects during the early part of the pandemic, during the lockdown, but that was not me. I still had to work every day, including putting in lots of overtime because my office was so short staffed (not pandemic related). Schools in the state were mostly virtual at that time, and so Mouse's schooling was all online. She was in elementary school, and so I often had to juggle parenting and working at the same time on the days I was able to work from home, which was sometimes very challenging given the demands of my job. Her daycare was connected to the school and was closed--so that wasn't an option. Daycares in general were pretty scarce around that time. On the days I went into the office, my husband, who was working from home, had to do the juggling. We were lucky Mouse wasn't younger--I really felt for my coworkers and friends who had very young children and were trying to make it all work. Mouse was at least old enough to be somewhat independent. 

For fun, one of my coworkers put little masks on various figurines at her desk in the office.
 She was kind enough to add them to mine too! 
(back when I still had my own desk) 

I may not have picked up any new hobbies, but my blogging picked up a bit the first couple of years of the pandemic and I never stopped reading. Mouse still had her extracurricular activities--just virtually. She even performed virtually in a musical and ballet put on by her former dance studio! Her Girl Scout troop got very creative in the activities they did, dropping supplies for various art and science projects on the front porch, and they would have meetings via Zoom. Mouse took virtual piano lessons, attended theater and art classes online. And even attended a virtual spy camp! Mouse is really the one who got the opportunity to try out things she might not have otherwise, not me and my husband. My husband and I tried to make being cooped up fun for her. We took part in drive by birthdays and Mouse and her friends would occasionally leave little presents for each other at each others doors, and wave and chat a little from a safe distance outside. There was the occasional outdoor playdate later in the lockdown with people in our "bubble," who we knew hadn't been around anyone others and weren't sick. Our weekends and evenings didn't change much. We were still able to visit the park and take walks around the neighborhood. Mouse got to go trick-or-treating one Halloween inside our house, visiting each room where she found a stuffed animal passing out candy. While I missed my alone time which became nonexistent, one of the best benefits of that time was being able to spend more time with my husband and daughter. We were already close, but that time brought us even closer.

The rare can of Lysol was treated like royalty in our house. 
At the time it was next to impossible to find in the stores. 

My family and I have maintained certain safety precautions we began at the start of the pandemic, including wearing masks in certain high risk situations. My agency still has a pandemic protocol in place for all employees, although it isn't as strict now as it once was. I am lucky that my employer still allows many of us in my office to continue working a hybrid schedule, part of the time from home and the other part in the physical office. Staff rotate in and out of the office, so there are still not a lot of us in the office at one time (these days not because of the pandemic--it's more a space issue now). I had my own desk pre-pandemic and now I desk share with several other supervisors. While I have to go into the office more often now than I did during the lockdown, I am grateful it is still an option. My husband started working from home full-time at the start of the pandemic, which he loves (no long commute!). Mouse and I try not to feel too jealous.

Did you start any new hobbies during the pandemic that you continue today?


Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.
July is the month for reading by the pool or on the beach. What's your favorite summer beach book, and why is it suitable for a sunny day? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

For me, a beach book is a state of mind and not the book itself. Whatever I am in the mood to read is the perfect "beach read". But can we change the location, please? I rarely have access to a pool and am not really the kind of person who likes to sit on the beach under the hot sun. I love the ocean, don't get me wrong, but in more of a romantic evening walk along the water's edge or checking out the niche shops along the boardwalk kind of way. I would much prefer being in the mountains, surrounded by trees, and, even better, by a lake.  

What about you? Are you a beach person or perhaps you like the mountains like me? Do you have a favorite "beach" read? 

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


© 2024 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, July 09, 2024

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Haunting of Hecate Cavendish / There's No Murder Like Show Murder / A Certain Kind of Starlight / Mercer Girls


The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.

Here are three upcoming releases that caught my attention and immediately ended up on my wish list. I am looking forward to reading all of them! 

The Haunting of Hecate Cavendish
(#1) by Paula Brackston 
Release Date: 07/23/2024 by St. Martin's Press 
The Haunting of Hecate Cavendish is book one in New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston's new, magic-infused series about Hecate Cavendish, an eccentric and feisty young woman who can see ghosts. 

England, 1881. Hereford cathedral stands sentinel over the city, keeping its secrets, holding long forgotten souls in its stony embrace. Hecate Cavendish speeds through the cobbled streets on her bicycle, skirts hitched daringly high, heading for her new life as Assistant Librarian. But this is no ordinary collection of books. The cathedral houses an ancient chained library, wisdom guarded for centuries, mysteries and stories locked onto its worn, humble shelves. The most prized artifact, however, is the medieval world map which hangs next to Hecate’s desk. Little does she know how much the curious people and mythical creatures depicted on it will come to mean to her. Nor does she suspect that there are lost souls waiting for her in the haunted cathedral. Some will become her dearest friends. Some will seek her help in finding peace. Others will put her in great peril, and, as she quickly learns, threaten the lives of everyone she loves. [Goodreads Summary]

There's No Murder Like Show Murder
 by M.S. Greene

Release Date: 07/23/2024 by Crooked Lane Books
Tasha Weaver has seen her fair share of divas come and go while working as the costume shop head at the Eastbrook Playhouse, but her beloved theater is put at risk when the star of the show is killed in this fun but deadly debut for fans of Ellery Adams and Kellye Garrett.

Tasha Weaver is most at home in the cozy backstage world of the Eastbrook Playhouse. As the costume shop head at the charming regional theater, she’s used to watching dramatic acts of love and revenge from the shadows. But when Kurt Mozer–the insufferable Broadway reject who stars in their production of Annie Get Your Gun –is shot center stage, the spotlight turns to her.

Everyone knows Kurt was difficult to work with and after he got into a fight with both the director Marnie Mason and the artistic leader Arthur Winston, he promptly decided to quit the show. In deep financial trouble, the Eastbrook Playhouse depended on a big name like Kurt to keep afloat. With reporters coming in from the big apple to Tasha’s little corner of Connecticut, she realizes it's up to her to save their local theater and keep her community safe. After all, the show must go on… But what do you do when the killer could very well be one of your loved ones?

With the help of her friends, her long-time crush Bruno Machado, and her feline colleague Hilly, Tasha must catch a murderer before the shining lights of the playhouse go out forever. [Goodreads Summary]

A Certain Kind of Starlight
by Heather Webber

Release Date: 07/23/2024 by Forge Books
In the face of hardship, two women learn how to rise up again under the bright side of the stars.

Everyone knows that Addie Fullbright can’t keep a secret. Yet, twelve years ago, as her best friend lay dying, she entrusted Addie with the biggest secret of all. One so shattering that Addie felt she had to leave her hometown of Starlight, Alabama, to keep from revealing a devastating truth to someone she cares for deeply. Now she’s living a lonely life, keeping everyone at a distance, not only to protect the secret but also her heart from the pain of losing someone else. But when her beloved aunt, the woman who helped raise her, gets a shocking diagnosis and asks her to come back to Starlight to help run the family bakery, Addie knows it’s finally time to go home again.

Tessa Jane Wingrove-Fullbright feels like she’s failing. She’s always been able to see the lighter side of life but lately darkness has descended. Her world is suddenly in shambles after a painful breakup, her favorite aunt’s unexpected health troubles, and because crushing expectations from the Wingrove side of her family are forcing her to keep secrets and make painful choices. When she’s called back to Starlight to help her aunt, she’s barely holding herself together and fears she’ll never find her way back to who she used to be.

Under the bright side of the stars, Addie and Tessa Jane come to see that magic can be found in trusting yourself, that falling apart is simply a chance to rise up again, stronger than ever, and that the heart usually knows the best path through the darkness. [Goodreads Summary]
Do any of these books interest you? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to reading?


The Old(er) 
Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight those unread books on my TBR in her Books from the Backlog feature, reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!

These past few months I have been featuring books on the losing end of my TBR List Poll, all books which are on my TBR shelves. This one was one of the options in my May 2017 poll that I have not managed to get to yet.

Mercer Girls
by Libbie Hawker
(2016)
It’s 1864 in downtrodden Lowell, Massachusetts. The Civil War has taken its toll on the town—leaving the economy in ruin and its women in dire straits. That is, until Asa Mercer arrives on a peculiar, but providential, errand: he seeks high-minded women who can exert an elevating influence in Seattle, where there are ten men for every woman. Mail-order brides, yes, but of a certain caliber.

Schoolmarmish Josephine, tough-as-nails Dovey, and pious perfectionist Sophronia see their chance to exchange their bleak prospects for new lives. But the very troubles that sent them running from Lowell follow them to the muddy streets of Seattle, and the friendships forged on the cross-country trek are tested at every turn.

Just when the journey seems to lead only to ruin, an encounter with a famous suffragist could be their salvation. But to survive both an untamed new landscape and their pasts, they’ll need all their strength—and one another. [Goodreads Summary]
Have you read Mercer Girls?  Does this book sound like something you would like to read? 

© 2024, 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, July 06, 2024

Weekly Mews: Six Degrees of Separation (From Kairos to Charlotte's Webb) & My July TBR List Poll (Please Vote!)

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.  



I am grateful for a working air conditioner right about now. When I left the office yesterday afternoon for my drive home, it was 107F outside. Summer weather is here, which also means it's fire season and they are popping up everywhere, unfortunately. My family and I had a quiet Independence Day. We ran errands and enjoyed spending the day together. I missed the fireworks because I had to get to bed to be up early for work the next morning. 

Summer band and color guard day camp for Mouse wrapped up this past week, ending with a concert on Wednesday that was open to family and friends. The kids were wonderful and had fun. The air conditioning was out in the woodwinds practice room for most of the camp, unfortunately, but Mouse still enjoyed herself. Luckily they weren't in that room the entire time!

I surprised Mouse this week with a flower delivery

What have you been up to?

This week I was able to finish three books. I listened to J.D. Robb's Vengeance in Death (#6), narrated by Susan Eriksen. Spending time with Roarke and Eve is always entertaining, and I got to learn a little more about Roarke's past in this installment. I finished reading the final book in the Shades of Magic Trilogy, A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. It was quite an intense read. I continue to be enamored by the world Schwab has created in this series and look forward to reading The Fragile Threads of Power. In the mood for something a bit less tense this week, I also read Pulp by Robin Talley, a dual time line novel, which pulled at my heartstrings in more ways than one. It held a tension of a different sort than Schwab's book, but definitely had it's tense moments. 


I only made a little more progress in Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver this week and am about half way through at the moment. I really like the book, but I have a hardcover copy (and it's heavy) and so it tends to stay by my bedside for nighttime reading, which I didn't do much of the last few nights. I just started Katherine Reay's The Berlin Letters, which I have heard good things about. I am in the mood for a little Cold War espionage!


What are you reading right now?


My TBR List is hosted by Michelle at Because Reading. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books from my TBR pile 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).  

Please help me select my next read! I caught my husband looking askance at my overflowing bookshelves, which I am taking as a sign I need to go through my shelves again soon to make space for the newer books (although, he did tell me Thursday that I couldn't leave the bookstore without picking out a book, so he is partly to blame here). In the meantime, I selected three books from my TBR collection for this week's poll to help whittle it down some. Which one do you think I should read next? 

The Housekeepers
by Alex Hay
The night of London's grandest ball, a bold group of women downstairs launch a daring revenge heist against Mayfair society in this dazzling historical novel about power, gender, and class.

Mrs. King is no ordinary housekeeper. Born into a world of con artists and thieves, she’s made herself respectable, running the grandest home in Mayfair. The place is packed with treasures, a glittering symbol of wealth and power, but dark secrets lurk in the shadows.

When Mrs. King is suddenly dismissed from her position, she recruits an eclectic group of women to join her in revenge: A black market queen out to settle her scores. An actress desperate for a magnificent part. A seamstress dreaming of a better life. And Mrs. King’s predecessor, with her own desire for vengeance.

Their plan? On the night of the house’s highly anticipated costume ball—set to be the most illustrious of the year—they will rob it of its every possession, right under the noses of the distinguished guests and their elusive heiress host. But there’s one thing Mrs. King wants even more than money: the truth. And she’ll run any risk to get it…

After all, one should never underestimate the women downstairs.
[Goodreads Summary]

Assistant to the Villain (Assistant to the Villain #1) by Hannah Nicole Maehrer
Once Upon a Time meets The Office in Hannah Maehrer’s laugh-out-loud viral TikTok series turned novel, about the sunshine assistant to an Evil Villain…and their unexpected romance.

ASSISTANT WANTED: Notorious, high-ranking villain seeks loyal, levelheaded assistant for unspecified office duties, supporting staff for random mayhem, terror, and other Dark Things In General. Discretion a must. Excellent benefits.

With ailing family to support, Evie Sage's employment status isn't just important, it's vital. So when a mishap with Rennedawn’s most infamous Villain results in a job offer—naturally, she says yes. No job is perfect, of course, but even less so when you develop a teeny crush on your terrifying, temperamental, and undeniably hot boss. Don’t find evil so attractive, Evie.

But just when she’s getting used to severed heads suspended from the ceiling and the odd squish of an errant eyeball beneath her heel, Evie suspects this dungeon has a huge rat…and not just the literal kind. Because something rotten is growing in the kingdom of Rennedawn, and someone wants to take the Villain—and his entire nefarious empire—out.

Now Evie must not only resist drooling over her boss but also figure out exactly who is sabotaging his work…and ensure he makes them pay.

After all, a good job is hard to find. [Goodreads Summary]

Dreadful by Caitlin Rozakis
A sharp-witted, high fantasy farce featuring killer moat squid, toxic masculinity, evil wizards and a garlic festival - all at once. Perfect for fans of T. Kingfisher, K. J. Parker and Travis Baldree.

It’s bad enough waking up in a half-destroyed evil wizard’s workshop with no eyebrows, no memories, and no idea how long you have before the Dread Lord Whomever shows up to murder you horribly and then turn your skull into a goblet or something.

It’s a lot worse when you realize that Dread Lord Whomever is… you.

Gav isn’t really sure how he ended up with a castle full of goblins, or why he has a princess locked in a cell. All he can do is play along with his own evil plan in hopes of getting his memories back before he gets himself killed.

But as he realizes that nothing – from the incredibly tasteless cloak adorned with flames to the aforementioned princess – is quite what it seems, Gav must face up to all the things the Dread Lord Gavrax has done. And he’ll have to answer the hardest question of all – who does he want to be?

A high fantasy farce featuring killer moat squid, toxic masculinity, an evil wizard convocation, and a garlic festival. All at once. Dread Lord Gavrax has had better weeks. [Goodreads Summary]

Thank you for voting!


Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate of Books Are My Favourite and Best: "The meme was inspired by Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy. In his 1929 short story, Chains, Karinthy coined the phrase 'six degrees of separation'. The phrase was popularised by a 1990 play written by John Guare, which was later made into a film starring Stockard Channing." Each month, participants start with a designated book, creating a chain of books, each connected to the one before. Seeing where we end up is half the fun! 


This month's Six Degrees of Separation starting point is the International Booker Prize winner Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, which is not one I have read. It is described as "a dramatic love story that unfolds as the GDR implodes." The reunification of East and West Berlin lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall, a notable time in the world's history. This immediately brought to mind one of my current reads, Katherine Reay's The Berlin Letters, a dual time line novel set in Germany as the Berlin Wall went up overnight in 1961 and then just before its fall in 1989.

I could not help but think of one of my favorite books set during the Cold War then: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo, featuring a young Chinese American girl who falls in love with a female classmate at a time when same sex love was viewed as immoral. There is one scene in Lo's book, where the main character, Lily, finds a lesbian pulp novel in a drugstore. Across the country, a year later, Janet finds a lesbian pulp novel while shopping too; this time in Robin Talley's young adult novel, Pulp. Pulp is a dual time line novel with lesbian pulp fiction at its center, set in 1955, as a young high school graduate discovers who she is and wants to be, and in 2017 as a high school senior becomes immersed in those old novels and their history, desperately wanting to know more about the author behind her favorite one as she navigates through her own life and struggles. 
Well, I mean, it isn't as though I'd never enjoyed a book before--I loved Jane Eyre--but your book, well . . . it felt as though you'd written it just for me. [excerpt from Pulp by Robin Talley] 
Unfortunately, attempts to ban books have increased again in recent years, and most of the targeted books feature LGBTQIA+ characters or people of color, groups of people who are already sorely underrepresented. Representation in literature matters and it is explained so eloquently and from the heart by several authors in essays published in Well-Read Black Girl, edited by Glory Edim. I was familiar with several of the contributors, including Jesmyn Ward, Jacqueline Woodson, N.K. Jemisin, Tayari Jones, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and Rebecca Walker among others. 
Reading for me was a vehicle for self-exploration when real life wasn't safe. But without seeing that path in the power of story, I didn't know that it was one that existed for me. [excerpt from "The Need for Kisses" in Well-Read Black Girl by Dhonielle Clayton]
The above quote is from one of the essays included in Well-Read Black Girl by author Dhonielle Clayton. My daughter has a copy of Dhonielle Clayton's The Marvellers (Conjureverse #1), which I have been wanting to read for some time now. There's something about magical schools, that I cannot resist. Hopefully I can talk my daughter into letting me borrow her copy soon! 

In thinking about the direction to go after The Marvellers, I thought of my own favorite middle grade novels, and then I thought of the West African protector-spider from The Marvellers, which lead me to Charlotte's Webb by E.B. White, which is where my chain comes to an end. 
By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that. [excerpt from Charlotte's Webb]
I always spend a lot of time thinking about what direction to take my chains, and often come up with various options, settling on one. For the fun of it, I thought I would share a couple of the others I came up with starting with Kairos.
Have you read any of these books? What books would you put in your chain? 

New to my shelves (recent book purchases):

Heartstopper, Vol. 1 & 2 by Alice Oseman

City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo

Talismans, Teacups & Trysts by K. Starling (signed copy)

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

I hope you have a great week! Let me know what you have been reading!

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