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!

© 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.

43 comments:

  1. Very interesting chain! The other chains also sound good. Well done!

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  2. Nice haul. I recommended Assistant to the Villain, since book two releases in August. I loved it. I love summer, but no air conditioning is tough. Glad Mouse still had fun.

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    1. Kimberly - Thank you for the recommendation! I am looking forward to reading Assistant to the Villain. :-) I can't imagine not having an air conditioner in this heat. A couple or so summers ago our air conditioner broke down during a triple digit heat wave and it was miserable. At least on a work day, I can escape to my office, but my husband and daughter don't have that option. Thank you for visiting!

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  3. Cute book pics, I voted for The Housekeepers. Your Six Degrees of Separation is fun, I haven't read any of those except Charlotte's Webb. I used to read the J.D. Robb books and enjoyed them.
    The flowers and vase for Mouse are pretty! Yes, I am eternally grateful for air conditioning. We've been having really hot and humid weather here for the past few weeks too. Enjoy your week ahead and happy reading!

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    1. Naida - Thank you! Nina is great about sitting still for photos, although there's not much variation in her poses. LOL I don't know if I'll ever read all the J.D. Robb books given how many there are, but you never know. I have the next book in the series in print, so not sur when I'll get to it. I hope you are finding ways to stay cool in the heat and humidity. It's been a very hot week here, but fortunately not much humidity. Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. I loved the Shades of Magic trilogy, i was surprised more people hadn't read it. I too just picked up the city of brass for summer reading material.

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    1. Idea-ist - I am surprised more people haven't read the trilogy too. It is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy The City of Brass! I wasn't familiar with it at all when I saw it at the bookstore, but it does sound good. Thank you for visiting!

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  5. Nice haul. Very interesting chain.

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  6. Interesting books! I'm glad you had a nice 4th and Mouse had a good time at camp. Stay cool!

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

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    1. Anne - We've made sure to stay indoors as much as we can! Mouse and I ran errands yesterday after work and I sure was happy to return home to a cool house! Thank you for stopping by!

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  7. Temps are out of control right now! 107 is very hot, we're in the 90s and I've been complaining all week, lol. My poor parents live in the Mojave Desert and it's up to 116 or something awful like that. Stay cool and have a great week, Wendy!

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    1. Tammy - I have a coworker who lives in Palm Springs and when he told me how hot it was there, I felt like I couldn't complain too much. LOL I hope you are staying cool too! Thank you for visiting!

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  8. It's fun to see where the chains go. I can see that you might enjoy making alternate chains. You are right about the focus of a lot of the book bans. It deeply concerns me that these groups are targeted. Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a book I hope I will read one of these days, as I've heard lots of great things about it.

    Good luck in whittling down your TBR. I think all three possibilities for July sound intriguing.

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    1. Deb - I have such fun making the chains, but I probably spend too much time trying to come up with one even one. It's hard to settle on one direction. I hope you get a chance to read Last Night at the Telegraph Club. I think you would like it. Thank you for stopping by!

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  9. A good looking haul. I had trouble voting for one. 😂

    My TBR is huge and my partner allows me to buy new books too 😂

    We are so lucky here in the UK not to have any books banned.

    Have a great rest of the weekend!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog
    My post:
    https://budgettalesblog.wordpress.com/2024/07/07/sunday-post-sunday-salon-7/

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    1. Emily - I am making you pick because I can't. LOL We are lucky to have partners who put up with our book acquisition habit. :-) Thank you for visiting!

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  10. The never ending TBR struggle is real, LOL! I hope you enjoy all the books you are able to read this month!

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  11. Ugh. 107. We get those temps regularly where I am too and it's so oppressing. I hate the summer, lol.

    Such beautiful flowers and I love the unicorn planter. I hope Mouse loved all of it.

    Have a great week!

    https://jennielyse.com/sunday-news-59/

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    1. Jenni Elyse - We do too in the summer, unfortunately. The joy of living in a desert climate. That's why I'm always so thrilled when it rains. Mouse loves her flowers and the planter. She was so surprised and touched. :-) Thank you for visiting!

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  12. That's a great chain. I loved Charlotte's Web as a child!

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    1. Helen - It is one of my childhood favorites. :-) Mouse really liked it when she was younger too. Thank you for stopping by!

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  13. I like this "Representation in literature matters". It sure does. And I love that you ended up on Charlotte's web.

    It is cold here in the national capital of Australia, so I'd like some warmth, but perhaps not 107°F! I do prefer summer, though, even if I don't like extreme heat. Keep cool.

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    1. Whispering Gums - Thank you! I worried Charlotte's Webb was too light of a novel to end with, but I really liked the fit---and ending with a favorite.

      I prefer the heat to the cold, although, as you said, perhaps not the extreme heat. Today is slightly cooler, but we had high temperatures all week so kept mostly indoors.

      Thank you for visiting!

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  14. I can't believe how hot it has been around the country. Hope you find a way to stay cool. Great books this week. I voted.

    https://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/2024/07/its-monday-what-are-you-reading-jul-8.html

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    1. Cheryl - I've been avoiding spending too much time outdoors, which has helped. :-) Thank you for voting and stopping by!

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  15. I will have to keepy eye out for the Berlin Letters, it sounds like an interesting read to add on to my books around the rise and fall of the wall. On another note I think it is one of the worst things they can do to ban books, especially books that give people a voice or a sense of belonging. Books are ways in which I constantly am learning about other people's experiences and learning I'm not alone in my own.

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    1. ClaireLouisa - If you decide to read The Berlin Letters, I hope you like it. It is a very compelling read and I am enjoying it. I feel very strongly against banning books as well. Especially, as you said, books that give people a voice or sense of belonging for the exact reasons you mention. Thank you for visiting!

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  16. Over 100 is way too hot there! Ouch. Stay near the A/C! Those flowers are really pretty .... I bet Mouse loved those. I'll have to look at The Berlin Letters ... thx for that I'd hadnt seen it before. Have a great week.

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    1. Susan - Mouse was so surprised and happy with her flowers. :-) It's a bit cooler today, but still very warm. It was triple digit weather all week, except for today. It's been a nice reprieve. I hope you like The Berlin Letters if you decide to read it! I hope you are having a good week too. Thank you for stopping by!

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  17. Wow, your temps are crazy. I thought ours was bad. You have some interesting books on your list. I hope you enjoy them. Have a great week!

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    1. Yvonne - I hope you are staying cool too! Thank you for visiting!

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  18. I can't get over how beautiful your cat is! I have a special place in my heart for torties. Our heat index today was 107. These crazy hot temperatures are lasting longer than usual. Hopefully we get some relief soon. Have a great week and stay cool! :-)

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    1. Meezan - Thank you! I love my tortie's coloring so much. I hope you are staying cool in the heat and you get some relief from it soon. Thank you for stopping by!

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  19. I absolutely loved Demon Copperhead but can see why you don’t want to read it in bed! I did the audiobook for that one.

    Jill
    http://www.allthebooksihaventread.com/

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    1. Jill - I am glad to hear you loved Demon Copperhead. It is very good! Thank you for visiting!

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  20. Omg so hot. But they allow fireworks with that fire hazard?

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    1. Blodeuedd - Some cities in the area have put on a professional fireworks show, but otherwise they are illegal due to the fire hazard. Unfortunately it doesn't stop people from shooting them off anyway. They upped the fine for them, but that hasn't proven to be much of a deterrent. Thank you for stopping by!

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  21. I loved Assistant to the Villain! I heard some people thought it was slow but I went the audio route and really enjoyed it. I've read 2 books about Katherine Reay and really enjoyed both of them. I'm looking forward to The Berlin Letters. I hope you are having a great week!

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    1. Katherine - I am really looking forward to reading it! I think you would like The Berlin Letters. This is my first by this author and I definitely want to try her other books. Thank you for visiting!

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  22. great chain(s)! i always do that as well, come up with a few chains (some half-done) and i think i will borrow the idea of posting those like you did today.. I love Last Night at the Telegraph Club as well..

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