Saturday, March 25, 2017

Happy Caturday #8

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

Daisy from Overland Park, KS, USA
Sun Cat!

Snowzie from Prairie Village, KS, USA

Maggie & Joey from Lenexa, KS, USA
Road tripping with their human, Gail

Millie from Shawnee, KS, USA

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Graceful Journey Through Small-Town Intrigue: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary GraceOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2015

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.” Ordinary Grace follows the lives of two young boys in small-town Minnesota in the summer of 1961. Death comes often that summer, and Frank and Jake find themselves more and more thrust into a grown-up world as they navigate the dynamics of their family and their town.

My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. In the sense that this book also focused on the kids' perspective in a small town in a "simpler" time, Ordinary Grace reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird. My enjoyment of Ordinary Grace benefited from my love of the Harper Lee classic. This book was, at its core, a who-dun-it - an enjoyable one. Some "conclusions" were evident initially, but many twists and turns surprised you.

The father, Nathan, was almost unbelievably gracious and forgiving, while the mother, Ruth, played foil with significant emotional instability. My favorite character was Gus, a friend of Nathan's from the war, who was constantly a rock upon which the boys could lean and a lighthouse in the dark to help Frank and Jake navigate challenging issues. Yet, he was flawed in authentic ways.

The one distraction for me was the layout of the town. The author didn't use a real town or a map of his imaginary town, or he was terrible at describing directions of things. I often found myself "lost" in town (no, the trestle is the OTHER WAY!). Or a description that something was past the edge of town, with a real sense that it was far away - tucked away on purpose - but then it was only a 5-minute car ride later. Or a bike ride in the middle of the night from the poor part of town to WAY up in the high-rent area - again, earlier depicted as far away - that takes very little time. Given how I mentally "Google map" my books, these discrepancies were jarringly noteworthy as I read.

All in all, an engaging read. This was a book club selection, not something I would have likely picked up.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy Caturday #7

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

Peaceful Fifi from Prairie Village, KS, USA

Frankie from Beaverton, OR, USA

Goo & Peapa from San Francisco, CA, USA
Mother & daughter tabby beauties

Molly & Babs from Ocala, FL, USA

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Resilience and Redemption: A Deep Dive into Karen White's 'The Sound of Glass'

The Sound of GlassThe Sound of Glass by Karen White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2015

You may have noticed that I've been hard on the last few realistic fiction books I reviewed. Well, that ends here. In fact, I've had a hard time thinking of anything critical to say about The Sound of Glass. Karen White has created a fantastic set of characters, broken and flawed but worthy of compassion.

At its core, The Sound of Glass is about an unlikely sisterhood of survivors of domestic violence. They are tied together across decades and by coincidence. Every character has tragedy in their background (or in their present). Each chapter shifts in voice between characters. In the current time, there is Merritt, the recent widow of a violent man, and Loralee, Merritt's step-mom, who is only five years older. With a voice spanning across the decades before, from 1955 to 1993, the reader hears Edith's perspective. Edith owns the grand Southern home, which is the backdrop to the story. She was the grandmother of Merritt's recently deceased husband. Merritt finds herself inheriting this old house, half a country (and, practically, a whole world) away from the only home she has ever known in Maine.

Ms. White took a rather complicated storyline with a complex set of characters. She wove them beautifully together into a story of new chances and redemptions. My favorite character was Loralee. Though all the characters in the book exhibited strength and grace (especially when they didn't believe themselves to possess either), Loralee was the one who helped build up and fortify everyone else. She had more strength, sass, and constitution in her pinky than most of us have in our whole bodies. And she did it all in lipstick and high heels. A reader who has never lived in the South may not find her character believable. However, having lived in Alabama for 15 years (Loralee's home state), she is entirely plausible - a steel magnolia.

When a book covers a trigger issue - in this case, domestic violence - I like to touch on it so readers who may be sensitive to the topic can make an informed decision. While domestic violence is this book's central theme, no scenes graphically depict it. There are references to what happened - a hand broken in a car door, being held underwater - but all references are made in remembrance or in the words of a letter. There is one first-hand account when the abusive grandson slaps Edith in one of her "flashback" chapters. This book is mainly about the victims finding themselves again and being strong.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys women's literature, realistic fiction, and books set in the South. The book also has a significant mystery element for those who like a good mystery. Both Merritt and her late husband hid secrets from each other. As such, much of the book is about Merritt uncovering his secrets and revealing her own. Be sure to keep a box of tissues handy!

I received a complimentary copy of The Sound of Glass in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Happy Caturday 11 March 2017

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, peeg, ratty or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

The late Buff from San Francisco, CA
"This dental floss is terrible!"

Sheldon from Overland Park, KS, USA

Ariel from Lee's Summit, MO, USA
Making her opinion heard.

Ginger Blue from Norman, OK, USA
So pretty!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Crenshaw: A Heartfelt Tale for Young Readers

CrenshawCrenshaw by Katherine Applegate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Year read: 2017

My review

Oh! The feels! This book will get any parent right in the feels. It is told from the perspective of Jackson as his family is going through really hard times (again!). We all want to protect our children from the harsh realities of the world, especially if those harsh realities involve our own personal finances!

Jackson knows what's going on - he's a big kid and wishes his parents would just level with him instead of trying to pretend everything is happy-go-lucky all the time. And just as things are getting really bad, fact-loving, scientist-wannabe Jackson finds his old imaginary friend, Crenshaw, has shown back up in his life.

Crenshaw turns out to be Jackson's Jiminy Cricket, helping him through a really tough time. He is a big, funny cat who always has the right advice. Jackson wishes Crenshaw away - after all, he's too old for imaginary friends - but just like a real friend, Crenshaw isn't going anywhere as long as Jackson still needs him.

This book covers some pretty dark topics for a book aimed at elementary kids - homelessness, sick parents, and hunger. It would have been hard to pull off in an age-appropriate manner without the plot device of a funny, imaginary friend. For all of Crenshaw's necessity and likeability, I still think he wasn't as refined or as integral to the story as he could or should have been. Either go with the fantasy element of an imaginary friend or not. He felt underdeveloped. I still really liked the book, though, and would love to have my own big, fluffy Crenshaw following me around.

I would recommend this as a read-aloud with your kids. There are a lot of big topics in here that kids are likely going to have questions about and will need a parent's immediate and heartfelt answers. And it's pretty scary - the idea of losing your home and a sick parent. Common Sense Media has a few talking point questions you might want to discuss with your kids. This is not a light and fluffy read, but I recommend it. This is exactly the story that helps develop empathy for others, and we need more empathy in the world - now and always.

Miss R's review

It was a pretty cool book. I like that it's kind of sad and touching. In the end, it's not the happiest, but it's pretty nice. I don't want to spoil it.

Crenshaw is a cat. I liked to imagine him as a purple cat, but he was supposed to be black and white. He tries to help Jackson be safe. He doesn't really get to come and help Jackson that much. It's only when an imaginary friend's real friend needs help that they can come to help them. I think it was a really cute book. I loved Crenshaw.

It would be good for kids who don't mind a bit of sadness in their books. It might be too much for kids who are super sensitive to sad stuff.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Shards of History: A Riveting Fantasy with a Fearless Heroine and Intriguing World-Building

Shards of History (Shards of History, #1)Shards of History by Rebecca Roland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Year read: 2015

Regarding world-building, Rebecca has done it beautifully in Shards of History. She eschews most fantasy novels' traditional Medieval Europe angle for a decidedly American Indian one. Malia is a strong heroine who must make perilous choices that fly in the face of generations of history to save her people. In Malia's world, gender roles are somewhat reversed. I say “somewhat” because the men are still the hunters and warriors, but the women are the leaders, and the men must show them full respect and deference. Malia's mother is the Clan Mother, and Malia is training to take her place.

To save her people, Malia must overcome countless obstacles, the biggest being her own people’s prejudice and fear of the creatures protecting them from grave danger. The Taakwa are so fearful of the Jegudun that anyone caught sympathizing with the winged creatures is exiled from the villages. The twist on why the Taakwa fear the Jeguden is brilliant and creates an incredibly nuanced layer to the story that Rebecca weaves magnificently. Malia must navigate generations of fear, a deranged husband, forest fires, potential exile, and her own sometimes faltering self-confidence to save her people. Ultimately, she trusts her instinct and heart, and neither leads her astray.

One interesting facet of the novel is that we hear not only Malia’s perspective but also Kushtrim’s, the leader of the Maddions (those are the bad guys), and Rasmus’s, an exile who aids Malia. Kushtrim almost becomes a sympathetic character. We rarely get to see both points of view in a struggle of opposing sides like this. When we do, the tactic often paints the bad guy as even worse than we could learn from the hero or heroine’s perspective. Still, Kushtrim’s troubles are painted with an empathetic brush. While I won’t say you’ll root for him, you definitely will find sympathy in your heart for his plight.

As with all fantasy, the author can add magic, mystery, and unusual beings to create their world. Shards of History has quite a few new and different twists that will delight and surprise many fantasy readers. However, Malia's tenacity and struggles are authentic and approachable, even for the non-fantasy reader. And for thrill seekers, be prepared to not put the book down by about two-thirds of the way through because it does not let up once the climactic action starts. It will keep you reading a little more, just a little more, just a little more - don't start it after midnight if you have an early day the next morning.

There is some language and some graphic depictions of violence. There are a few minor sexual references, and the “bad guys,” the Maddions, are not respectful of women at all. I would let my fantasy-loving 12-year-old read this book if you need an age reference. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy and enjoys a strong heroine.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WWW Wednesday 08 March 2017

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. I won't share every Wednesday but I do think it's fun to occasionally check in with what everyone is reading so be sure to share in the comments. If you share your answers on social media, be sure to link to your responses on the main site and visit some of the other contributors.

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Current: I have a couple books going at the moment. I almost always have two - one I'm reading to/with my daughter and one I'm reading for myself. With my daughter, I'm reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. For myself, I recently started on Daughter of Deaths by Christopher Mannino. It is the third and final book in the Scythe Wielder's Secret series. But I just wasn't fully in the mood for fantasy (rare, I know, but it happens). So, I've set it aside temporarily in order to read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  I liked The Husband's Secret but didn't really like Truly Madly Guilty so I'm giving this author one more shot. 


Recently finished: I finished Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson last week and shared my review. I haven't had as much time to read this week so nothing finished more recent than that.  Oh, well, I did read with my daughter during her history time yesterday. We read Tiddalick the Greedy Frog: An Aboriginal Dreamtime Story retold by Nicholas Wu.  That Tiddalick was a greedy, greedy frog! But fortunately a little eel saved the day.

Reading next:  SO EXCITED to read Shattered Fates by Rebecca Roland next. It is the third and final installment in her Shards of History series. I was part of the cover reveal last month. It isn't due out until May so I won't get to share my review with you right away, but watch for my reviews of the first two in the series on some Thursdays soon. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Charming Yet Superstitious Journey: Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston

Lost Under a Ladder (Superstition Mystery, #1)Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Year read: 2017

Are you searching for a whimsical story set in a town steeped in superstition? If so, this book might be the one for you. While some aspects may leave you scratching your head, it's worth diving into for the endearing characters and unique setting.

The story occurs in Destiny, a town where superstitions rule the day. The word "superstition" appears frequently, which can get repetitive. The author establishes early on that this town is built on superstitions. Still, the word is overused in various forms throughout the book.

The plot itself might seem a bit far-fetched at times. Rory, the protagonist, visits Destiny after her fiancé tragically dies moments after walking under a ladder. Her quest? To determine whether superstitions hold any truth. It's a daring move and not one many would make. Once she arrives in Destiny, Rory, a pet store manager in her hometown, finds herself thrust into an unexpected role. The local pet shop owner, who doesn't know Rory, asks her to manage her business while she recovers. It's a questionable decision, both by the business owner and Rory. Still, it serves as a plot device to move the story forward.

Despite the occasional clunky plot device, the characters in the book are genuinely likable. Rory's character grows on you, as do others like Justin and the quirky residents of Destiny. As the background story unfolds, you see the potential for an enjoyable series. Whether I'll continue reading the series is up in the air. Still, one more book before making a final judgment is worth considering.

In summary, while this book has its quirks, it offers an endearing cast of characters and a charming, albeit superstitious, setting that may be worth exploring further. Read it to see if it's the start of a series you'll want to follow.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monthly Wrap-Up: February 2017

My first month of returning to blogging is behind me. I'm still working out the best day-to-day schedule for me. With a busy homeschool household to run and a part-time job that often feels more like a full-time job, carving out time for anything is challenging. I consider my blog part of my "me-time" though and I otherwise have very little room for that right now. So I try hard to make the time to come here and share. I'm trying first thing in the morning for the next couple weeks right now since late at night wasn't working. Thanks for bearing with me as I find my groove! Please be sure to share any posts that interest you with friends. "Word of social media" (the modern "word of mouth"?) is still the best way to grow a following.  

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Books Reviewed 


Throwback Thursday Reviews


Kids' Book Reviews


Other Book-Related Posts

Cover Reveal of Shattered Fates and
Monthly Manly Review of The Republic of Thieves

Reading Challenge Updates

  1. Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelley
  2. Sleight of Paw by Sofie Kelley
  3. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
  4. Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard
  5. Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston

What's in a Name?  - 2 out of 6 books read
    2. A Building: Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson

    6. A title in which at least two words share the same first letter – alliteration!: Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston 

Diverse Reads Book Challenge - 0 out of 12 books read

   This challenge didn't set an exact number of books to read. I set my own goal of 12 books - one for each of the 11 categories they suggest and one "freebie". I need to get to crackin' on this one.  

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge - 18 out of 50 books read

   This is my own goal again.  Since I also read a lot of books with my kids, this is a pretty conservative goal. I might extend it next year.  

Instagram Pic of the Month

I seriously need to up my Instagram picture-taking game. In the meantime, my top picture was one sent in by a reader from St. Joseph, MO, USA of their adorable cat, Java.  ¡Yo quiero Taco Bell bag!

Most Popular Blog Post

Most Popular Book-Related Blog Post

Happy Caturday 06 March 2017

This is a book blog first and foremost, but it's also a book blog written by someone owned by cats. So every Saturday is officially Caturday here at Purrfectly Bookish. I'll share images and tales of my own kitties and any others I meet each week. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter, so you may see some sweet adoptables here too. If you have an awesome kitty, doggy, pig, ratty, or any other pet you would like to see here, you can either comment with a link to a picture or email me about sharing your cute pictures on some Caturday Saturday. 

Caturday has gone a little bit to the dogs this week! But Luna and Bodhi had to make an appearance, so it wasn't all canine.  

Luna and Bodhicitta enjoying some Cat TV together

Our Coonhound, Birdie, with her tail in a blur of wagging.

Laura from Birmingham, AL

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finding Redemption in the Woods: A Review of 'Season of Salt and Honey' by Hannah Tunnicliffe

Season of Salt and HoneySeason of Salt and Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Year read: 2015

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Frankie has just lost her husband - or rather, the man who was supposed to have already been her husband if it hadn’t been for him waiting so VERY long to propose. Frankie & Alex started dating in high school, and over a decade later, they were just in the throws of planning a wedding when Alex died in a surfing accident. Frankie runs away from the funeral to Alex’s family’s old cabin in the woods. She hopes to escape the pain of her losses -her mother and now her fiance - but instead finds a colorful cast of characters who help her find a path through her pain. Along the way, she reconnects with her sister and forms a deeper bond with her would-be brother-in-law.

The best characters in the book are the secondary characters. Frankie herself is not terribly likable. She hung on to Alex for years past when most people would have demanded a significant other to “fish or cut bait”. While at the cabin, Frankie learns that Alex kept secrets from her that shake her even more. But, honestly, with many of the descriptions of Alex, it didn’t surprise me at all and made me wonder, yet again, why on Earth Frankie stayed with him. She really lacks self-confidence in the area of Alex and her job and many other aspects, but conversely, she acts “better than thou” to her sister. Her sister was a bit of a troublemaker, but Frankie was portrayed as pretty uncaring and unsupportive of her. Frankie has spent all her life trying to be “the good one” and blames her sister for this, but ultimately, I think this is on Frankie’s shoulders. Alex, even dead, also turns out to not be a terribly likable character.

The author makes up for much of this by creating a cast of secondary characters who are all deeply caring and likable. Her sister Bella is a much stronger and caring person than Frankie gives her credit for in her own mind and memory. Alex’s brother, Daniel, turns out to be more caring and kind than Alex ever was. And the cabin neighbors, Jack, Huia, and Merriem, help Frankie in a myriad of ways. The secondary characters really redeemed the book for me. Frankie wasn’t a sympathetic person to me, and I have a difficult time continuing a book when I don’t like the main characters. She is redeemed in the end, though, thanks to the lovely friends she makes in the woods. And that redemptive nature of the book, the fact that Frankie does learn and grow, won back the book for me. I did enjoy the book and, as a big fan of camping, I had no arguments with the serene setting that the author did a magnificent job of painting in the mind’s eye.

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