Monday, November 19, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Of all of my many murders, committed for love and for better reasons, the first was the most important. ~ Opening of Jane Steele

Jane Steele by Lynday Faye
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2016
Fiction (Historical); 416 pgs
Source: Gift from my husband

My husband gave me this book for Christmas one year after seeing it on my Christmas list. It had gotten good reviews and the tie-in to Jane Eyre was a sure sell for me. I hoped I would like it, but admit I was a bit weary given it was a twist on one of my all-time favorite novels.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved this novel from the story itself to the references to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It is obvious Lyndsay Faye is paying homage to the original. This satirical take on the classic Jane Eyre could not have been more perfect. It is witty and charming, dark and suspenseful, and ever so dramatic with just the right amount of romance.

Jane Steele's life mirrors that of her favorite literary character in many ways. Only not so much in others, as Jane Steele will point out to the reader. Written in an autobiographical style, Jane often references Bronte's novel, comparing herself and her life to that of the novel's heroine. Orphaned at a young age, Jane finds herself at the mercy of an aunt who hates her and a lecherous cousin. Seeking escape, she agrees to attend a boarding school where life couldn't be more worse. After an unexpected turn of events, she and a friend flee to London where they do their best to get by. There may be a body or three--maybe more---that are left behind in Jane's wake. She isn't one to suffer being a victim easily, nor does she like to see those she cares about taken advantage of.

Jane has long seen herself as a sort of bad seed, on the path to hell for sure. She is guilty of murder and has little regret. When making a living as a writer of macabre "last confession" sold on the street, she comes across an ad for a governess at the very house she had once lived as a young girl. She had been led to believe the estate was hers by birthright and comes up with a plan to reclaim what should have been hers. And so on to Highgate House she goes under an assumed identity, taking up a post as the governess for a young Indian girl adopted by the master of the house, Mr. Thornfield, a former army doctor recently home from the Sikh Wars.

Jane soon learns that not everything is as it seems at Highgate House, the Sikh butler, Sardar Singh, is more than he appears, and there are secrets--dark secrets--that Jane is determined to uncover. The more she learns, the closer she and Mr. Thornfield grow. But with her past and his secrets, is it possible for them to find their happily ever after like Jane Eyre found with her Edward Rochester?

I was captivated by Lyndsay Faye's novel from the very first line and soon smitten with Jane Steele and her tale, even as cold as she could seem at times. The historical detail and the literary references make this novel all the better. I had not known much about the Sikh Wars before reading the novel, admittedly, but I soon found myself wanting to know more. I loved the more feminist twist on the Jane character and appreciated the research Faye went into to capture the time period so well.

While some may not appreciate a serial killing version of a beloved character, I was quite taken with this homage to one of my favorite novels. I look forward to exploring more of Lyndsay Faye's work.

For more information about the author and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

© 2018, 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, November 18, 2018

Mouse's Corner, The Sunday Edition: Nutcracker Preparation & Bedtime Reading

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by the great Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently.

The Nutcracker rehearsals are in full swing. My husband and I have been putting together and restoring props while Mouse takes to the dance floor in rehearsals. Nerves are setting in the closer we get, with only four weeks left before showtime. Only two of her costumes have come in, and we are waiting for three more.

Mouse Costume 

Baby Doll Costume

New to Mouse's Shelves:

The first six books in the Aaron Blabey The Bad Guys series (Scholastic Book Order)

Goldie Blox Ruins Rules the School
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
Millions, Billions, & Trillions: Understanding Big Numbers
Night Sky
(Scholastic Book Order)

ish (Gift from Grandma)

What Mouse is Reading: In going through her bookshelf the other night, Mouse pulled a book off her shelf and asked her dad to read it to her. I flipped out. Well, more inwardly than outwardly. I was quick though to say that wouldn't happen. I told them both that I wanted to read the book to her. I had never read it before, and had been looking forward to reading it with Mouse. I just had expected it to be in another year or two. That book? Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. We have been reading a chapter a night just about, sometimes two. Mouse and I are both loving it. And yes, I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. We have just reached the chapter in which Anne goes to Sunday School.

Mouse reading Ada Twist Scientist to me

What Mouse is Watching: Mouse has discovered the Netflix show Brainchild, which even her dad and I have gotten into. It's a show about fun scientific facts. 

I hope you all had a great week! What have you been up to? What are you reading? 

Happy Reading!

© 2018, 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, November 14, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Secret Language of Cats by by Susanne Schötz

Humans and cats: two different species with a common language that bridges the divide between them--is such a thing even possible? ~ Opening of The Secret Language of Cats

The Secret Language of Cats: How to Understand Your Cat For A Better, Happier Relationship 
by Susanne Schötz, translated by Peter Kuras
Hanover Press, 2018
Nonfiction; 272 pgs

My love for cats is obvious by just one look at my blog. And so when I was asked if I was interested in reviewing The Secret Language of Cats as part of the TLC tour, it did not take long for me to say yes. I grew up with dogs and was well into adulthood when I took in my first cat. I have had cats in my life for just over sixteen years now. I think I am fairly good at guessing some of what my cats want by the sounds they make and their body language and behavior. I am by no means an expert though.

In Susanne Schötz's novel I found both validation and also new insight into my cats and the various sounds they make. Dr. Schötz has the advantage of being a linguist, with an ear for variations in sound quality, syllables, melodies and prosody. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, and has extended her interest in human phonetics to that of cats. Her interest in cat sounds and language grew from her love for cats as well as her love for research. As I read her book and even after, I find myself listening more carefully to the sounds my cats are making, trying to discern some of the detail in the sounds they make. It isn't easy for someone with an untrained ear, but hopefully with time it will get easier.

Cats and humans do not share the same language, and while research has shown cats do have common identifiable sounds, there is variation between cats. While some sounds are universal, others may not be. Cultural, geographic and breed-based differences exist. Just how much cats pick up from their humans and to what degree they adjust their language to be understood by us is still under investigation, but the belief is that this does occur.

I liked that the author went into detail about cat behavior along with the different sounds they may be making. The two go hand in hand and can make the difference in what a cat may want or be trying to convey. The author also gave concrete examples of a variety of situations, many of which are based on her experiences with her own cats.

Dr. Schötz is as methodical in her research as she can be. She understands that studying cat language is a challenge in and of itself. I appreciated her techniques and preference for conducting any research in a cat's natural setting, not to mention putting as little stress on them as possible. No labs or invasive medical procedures were used. Simply the home environment and recording devices--and lots of time. You cannot expect a cat to purr contently in while in a stressful laboratory, after all.

Dr. Schötz hopes that her research will not only give us a better understanding of cat language, but also how that understanding can improve our relationships with cats both on the home front and in such areas as animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sanctuaries.

Towards the end of her book, Dr. Schötz talks a little about her current project, Meowsic, which deals most specifically with using cats in animal therapy. While dogs tend to be the go to animals because of their high train-ability and excellent noses, cats have proven to be good companions too.

Although at times a bit dry due to the detailed descriptions and breakdown of the various vocalizations a cat can make, I enjoyed Dr. Schötz's The Secret Language of Cats and found it to to be a fascinating read. Perhaps some of what I have learned in this book will improve my own relationship with my cats.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Secret Language of Cats on the TLC Book Tours route!

Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.  Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.

© 2018, 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, November 13, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#23)

The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (Plume 2006)
When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs--eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother--goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I have had this one my shelf since 2008, when the second book in the series came out (I have that one too). I have heard wonderful things about this book and author. 


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

Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Gallery Books
Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.
 [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: The name Josephine Baker is enough to draw me in. What an amazing woman! I am looking forward to reading this one quite a bit.

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
Release Date: December 11, 2018 by MIRA
Till death do us part. 
When they fell in love back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke joked that they were so brilliant, together they could plan the perfect murder. After fifteen rocky years of marriage, they had better hope they’re right. 
Their young son Jacob’s principal is accused of molesting a troubled student. It’s a horrifying situation—and the poison spreads rapidly. One night before bed, Jacob tells Natalie he is a victim, too. In that moment, her concept of justice changes forever. Natalie decides the predator must die. 
To shelter Jacob from the trauma of a trial, Natalie concocts an elaborate murder plot and Will becomes her unwilling partner. The Clarkes are about to find out what happens when your life partner becomes your accomplice—and your alibi. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I cannot even imagine what Natalie must be feeling when she learns what happened to her son. Murder wouldn't be far from my mind either (although I don't think I could carry it out).

His Dark Magic (Northern Circle Coven, #1) by Pat Esden
Release Date: December 11, 2018 by Kensington Books
Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle's real motives, as well as Devlin’s . . .

Now Merlin's demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin's uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can't defeat—and a passion that could destroy her. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: A witch, a coven, fighting an ancient evil . . . I want to be a part of this!

Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?

© 2018, 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, November 11, 2018

Sunday Mews: November TBR List Poll Winner & Culling the Bookshelves

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. 

What I Am Reading:  I have mostly been reading Tolstoy's War and Peace as I waited for my November TBR List poll to close this weekend. I actually finished all of November's reading assignment and am now ready to begin the epilogues, which will bring me to the end. I will tell you more about what Mouse and I are reading in my next Mouse's corner. I think it will make several of you happy. I can already hear the "I told you so's."

What I Am Watching: A lot of  Odd Squad and Mission Force One thanks to my daughter. Mission Force One is a spin-off of Disney's cartoon Miles in Tomorrowland. Last weekend we joined several of our friends from the dance studio to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. We all enjoyed it. There was quite the applause and cheering when Misty Copeland came on screen from our group.

Off the Blog: This past week took a lot out of me emotionally. With work, the mid-term elections, mass murder, wildfires, and a pesky cold (which I will take any day over murder and fire), I just wanted to pull the blanket over my head and stay in bed. Our friends and family are safe, thankfully.

I spent the weekend going through mine and my daughter's bookshelves, organizing books, and pulling out ones to give away. I managed to get some Christmas shopping done. And we all now have new shoes (which were long overdue). Two of Mouse's Nutcracker costumes came in, and I got the list of accessory and hairstyle requirements, which always stresses me out some. Tickets are officially on sale! I wish you could all come.

My donation pile

Mouse's donation pile

Laundry baskets make comfy resting spots:

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Sunday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

Looks like Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry won with 6 votes! I am oh-so-ready for a Christmas themed book right now, and this one sounds perfect. Thank you to all who voted!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!

© 2018, 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.