Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy Caturday #11

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. 

Ava from Shawnee, KS, USA
Ava likes her scotch neat. 

Puck and Lily from Shawnee, KS, USA
The grass sure is greener on the other side of this window...

Smoke Stack from Lone Jack, MO, USA

Penny from Lee's Summit, MO, USA

Friday, April 28, 2017

Kids' Review: A New Friend (The Adventures of Sophie Mouse #1) by Poppy Green

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

Publisher: Little Simon
Publication date: January 2015
My rating: 4 stars out of 5

Publisher's description

Springtime has arrived at Riverlake Forest! Buds are blooming on trees, and the air smells of honeysuckles. Sophie Mouse can't wait to go back to school after the long winter break. But she and her classmates are in for a surprise when they learn that they're getting a new classmate . . .

My review

I'm not even sure how I happened to pick this up at the library since it is really below Miss R's reading level, but there it was on the library shelf.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

TBT Interview: Rebecca Roland, Author of Fractured Days (Shards of History series)


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

This week's throwback is a little different. I'm resharing an interview I did with my friend Rebecca Roland leading up the release of Book 2 of the Shards of History series, Fractured Days. The third and final book, Shattered Fates, will release next month on May 23rd. 

This interview was first published on my old blog on June 15, 2015.

The interview


1. This is something I’ve always wondered about authors - did you grow up wanting to be a writer/author or is this something you found later in life? If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, has it turned out to be how you imagined it or very different?

As a kid I loved reading, and in junior high I wrote a mash-up fan fiction piece based on The Hound of the Baskervilles and Def Leppard. It was fun to write, and it entertained my friends. But I never considered being a writer until I was an adult and done with grad school (and therefore had more free time). It really sort of hit me one day that I finally had the time and the drive to do it. When I started submitting short stories and working on a novel I realized I had a lot of work to do to learn more about the craft, but I love the work I've put into it, and I love seeing how much my stories have improved over time.

2. What is your work schedule like when you are writing? Especially with a little one at home?! I can’t seem to get anything done with my two around and they are older (and more independent) than your little minion. On that note, how long does it take you to finish a novel (with all the “real life” and distractions)?

My work schedule has changed a lot as my son has grown. When he was a baby/toddler, prime writing time was during his nap. Now he's five, and he's given up his nap (sob). So I write at all sorts of weird times. Sometimes I write at night, sometimes I write while he's absorbed in a game or TV or playing, sometimes I write during my lunch break at work, and sometimes I leave the house for a coffee shop (like right now). My brain can be pretty mushy later in the day, so it helps if I already know the bones of the scene I'm working on, that way I can jump right into it when I have time.

Of course some things have to go in order to make time for writing. I hardly watch TV anymore, which isn't a bad thing. I read less than I used to, which does bug me sometimes. I think my son is almost at the point where I can try bringing my laptop to the playground and getting some writing done there, but I still feel like I have to watch him a little too much right now to make it easy for me to hold a train of thought. It does take discipline to sit at the computer and write without being distracted by the Internet, but writing time is so precious that I usually get to it without messing around too much. Sometimes I set a timer if I'm more distracted than usual and tell myself that if I write for a certain number of minutes, then I can goof around. I'm totally into bribing myself.

As far as how long it takes to finish a novel, it's taken as long as two years for one and as short as three months for another. As I've learned more about writing, my pace has gotten faster.

3. Where did the inspiration come from for the Shards of History series? 

It actually started as a short story I wrote at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. I had a couple of days to turn in a story and didn't have a clue what I would write. I had this dream one night in which there were homes built into the middle of a huge cliff with no obvious way to them. I woke up and wondered what sort of people would live in a place like that and realized that nobody human would. I came up with the Jeguduns, which are winged, wolfish creatures, and then a short story that centered around one of them. The short story felt like part of a bigger story, though, so when I got home I wrote out the rest. I love the rugged beauty of the Southwest, so I incorporated that into my story.

4. Are any of the characters inspired by people you know in real life? Which character in the book is most like you? 

Situations and personalities I'm familiar with have definitely made it into the book. I never set out to purposefully model a character after someone I actually know, unless it was some random stranger who I'll never meet again. I'm probably most like Malia. In the first book in the series, she's accused of having her head in the clouds, and that's definitely me. When I'm daydreaming, a nude marching band could pass me by and I'd never notice.

5. When you start a series, do you plan on it being a series from the start or does the story wind up building into a series as you write it? 

I didn't plan for Shards of History to turn into a series, although while I worked on it I realized I certainly had plenty of material there for one. So I wrote the first book in such a way that it could either stand alone or continue.

6. How much do you plan a “roadmap” or outline of the book before you start versus letting the characters and story develop and morph as you write?

When I started writing years ago, I wrote by the seat of my pants. I had only the vaguest idea of where a story would end up. I tried outlining, but it sucked all the fun out of the process of creating a rough draft. But with experience I've been outlining more. I have finally put together a process that works for me, takes the least amount of time, and keeps the joy and excitement in the process of writing. I do a 'character interview' where I get to know them and their motivations a bit more. Then I think about how I want the story to end. Where will the characters end up? How will they grow and change? After that I go back to the beginning and plug in the major events. And I always drift away from the outline. Sometimes I figure out something better when I get to a scene, so there's still some spontaneity.

7. What are you working on right now?

I'm working on the third book in the Shards of History series. This will most likely be the final one in the series (at least, that's what I'm aiming for). I'm about ten percent into it and having fun tormenting my characters.

8. Who is your favorite author? What about them inspires you?

I love, love, love Lois McMaster Bujold. She's written a couple of fantasy series, but I really fell in love with her space opera series about Miles Vorkosigan. Her characters are so real that I expect them to jump off the page (especially Miles, who is quite energetic, a little neurotic, and prone to getting in trouble). Miles is also extremely clever, and he's honorable. He would be the sort of friend who might drive you nuts sometimes, but he'd be the first on hand to help out. The series has ranged from the very serious (identity issues, deaths of major characters, class issues, etc) to a comedy of errors to a murder mystery, and all of them taking place in this complicated universe.

9. Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?

I typically prefer to write with some sort of caffeinated beverage and maybe snacks. I try to eat healthy, but when I'm on a deadline or particularly stressed, I'll turn to chocolate.

10. If the Shards of History series gets optioned for a film, who do you see playing Malia, Enuwal and any other main characters?

Fun question! I think Lynn Collins as she looked in John Carter would make a great Malia. I'd cast Dwayne Johnson as Dalibor. Jimmy Smits would make a great Rasmus, and a younger Benjamin Bratt could play Enuwal. In Fractured Days, Saoirse Ronin would make a great Sersha (and actually, I used a different version of the name Saoirse for the changer's name). She looks sweet, but she showed she can be intense in Hanna. Gemma Ward has the soft look I imagine for Chanwa. I like Nathalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones for Ankti. And finally, Chris Hemsworth would make a great Muvumo.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monthly Manly Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Welcome to the Monthly Manly Review. Every month, my husband Jason contributes to Purrfectly Bookish with a book review and a linky so other male readers can share as well. Whether you're a book blogger yourself - or whether some of the female readers have just convinced the men in their lives to write a review - your link is welcome!

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

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Publisher:  Anchor Books
Publication date: 1985
Jason's rating: 5 stars out of 5

Publisher's description

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

Jason's review

In anticipation of the upcoming series on Hulu, and because it had been sitting on my “to read” pile for approximately forever, I decided to finally crack open The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Handmaid is the story of Offred, a woman living in the near future in Gilead, in what was once part of the United States. Gilead is run by a extreme far right theocratic government, in which social roles (especially those of women) are strictly formalized and limited. Offred (read this Of Fred) is a Handmaid, whose role is limited to that of a reproductive vessel, assigned to powerful men to produce children, as fertility is a scarce resource in this future.

The story follows Offred through her time in the house of the Commander, and her increasingly entangled relationships with him, his Wife, a fellow Handmaid and others. Parallel is some of her backstory, from before the rise of Gilead and her attempts to escape its oppressive government.

In my opinion, there isn’t much “action” in the book, but that isn’t the point. Atwood does a masterful job building tension towards some undetermined negative end (I mean how can such a story end happily?), without the need for car chases, bombs or other Michael-Bay-esque pyrotechnics. The story here is about what happens to Offred as a human, both in her past (finding and losing love and a child) and in her present. Hope is the scarcest of resources here, and just the faint flicker of it is enough to drive the story and our protagonist towards its conclusion.

What is truly wonderful about this story is that is has aged so well. This story, if written in 2015 and not 1985, would stand up just as well. The fact that the issues facing Offred in this story still ring so true is also the most impactful thing about this book. As a woman of child-bearing age, Handmaids are treated by society as not human, but as essentially livestock, being assigned for the benefit of powerful men, and valued only for their reproductive capacities. When those are expired, Handmaids are cast aside. The roles of women in this story are so structured as to be prisons for even the most privileged among them.

Most near-future dystopian fiction I’ve read contains seeds of fantasy, a catastrophic events or series of events that allow the reader to distance themselves from the story, making it enjoyable (and often well-written) brain candy. Atwood, by contrast, keeps her vision of the near-future close enough to retain that link to non-fiction. Given the path of political discourse and human rights over the last 30 years, her story may be more unsettling now than when she wrote it.

The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t my personal dystopia, but I can see it from here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cover Reveal: Equus edited by Rhonda Parrish

Equus edited by Rhonda Parrish
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Publication Date: July 18, 2017

I love working with World Weaver Press. First of all, I love fantasy and they specialize in fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction. And secondly, they are a small independently owned book publisher that really focuses on good storytelling!  Win-win! Rhonda Parrish has already released four anthologies in her Magical Menageries series: Fae (2014), Corvidae (2015), Scarecrow (2015) and Sirens (2016). Equus will feature nineteen stories all about equines - both real and imagined.  The reader will find horses, unicorns, centaurs and other equine mythology in this installment. I'm looking forward to reading it and reviewing it when it comes out in July. In the meantime, the cover is a lovely teaser to the upcoming release. You can imagine this beautiful creature as a unicorn, a pegasus, or even just a really special horse. If you love horses and love fantasy, plan to check out this anthology when it is released.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Caturday #9

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. 

Purrfectly Bookish Happy Caturday #9

Left: Peter Parker- Spiderman aka Maow Maow (because he talks a lot)
Right: James Howlett - Wolverine aka Squeaker (because he doesn't meow he squeaks)
from Raytown, MO, USA

Purrfectly Bookish Happy Caturday #9

Kylie from Prairie Village, KS, USA

Purrfectly Bookish Happy Caturday #9

Abby & Mavis from Overland Park, KS, USA

Purrfectly Bookish Happy Caturday #9

Ruby Bean from Lee's Summit, MO, USA

Friday, April 14, 2017

Kids' Review: The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West

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

The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West
Publisher: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 
Publication Date: 1953
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Publisher's description (from Amazon on the reissued books)

Hooray, The Happy Hollisters are back! First published in 1953, these charming mystery-adventure stories, faithfully reproduced, are now available in paperback for the very first time! Written for boys and girls between the ages of six and twelve, The Happy Hollisters are wholesome books, with an accent on humor and good, clean fun. Integrity always pays off and right wins over wrong. Parents, grandparents, and teachers will love these books for their healthy celebration of life in simpler times. Kids will be thrilled with the fast-paced action and will not want to put them down. This is a perfect gift for the young reader in your life!

The adventures for the Hollisters begin as soon as they move into their new house on the shore on Pine Lake in Shoreham. First, the moving van carrying their toys and their father's important new invention disappears. Next, they learn that their house may be haunted, with a treasure hidden somewhere inside! Right away they all set out to solve these mysteries. Each one of the Hollister children - Pete (age 12), Pam (10), Ricky (7), Holly (6) and Sue (4) - plays an important role in finding clues, along with their parents who are always ready to join in on the excitement. Even Zip, the collie, and White Nose, the cat, are part of the family, and find thrilling adventures of their own. As the Hollisters explore their new town and make friends, they discover what happened to the moving van, and learn more about the mystery surrounding their new home. Excitement abounds when a secret stairway is discovered. Then, on the trail of a mysterious intruder, their chase leads them to a deserted hut on nearby Blackberry Island. Over seventy action-packed illustrations make the story- and the Hollister family- so vivid that the reader has a feeling of really sharing in on the adventures of this lovable and interesting family.

My review

How times have changed! The Happy Hollisters (Book 1) was published in 1953. Four books were published in the series that year. The series continued to be published until 1969 with a  total of 33 books in the series. The series was similar to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, both in it being a youth mystery series and in the listed author being a pseudonym. Unlike the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, which each had multiple authors all publishing under the same pseudonym, The Happy Hollisters were all written by the same author, Andrew Svenson, who modeled the Hollister family after his own family. 

There are five children in the Hollister family, ranging from ages 4 to 12 when the series starts. Its target audience was a little younger than The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew with their teenaged protagonists. I grew up reading my mother’s Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books but had never heard of The Happy Hollisters until we learned of it in my daughter’s writing curriculum. A search at the local library found nothing so I posted on Facebook to see if anyone had a copy we could read.  We were in luck!  A friend, who had grown up reading them, had recently bought quite a few of the books so she could share them with her daughter. 

Back to that “how times have changed” statement. Boy howdy! I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of letting our children run wild still like the “old days”, but the places and situations these children got themselves into with little adult supervision or intervention is just terrifying! The youngest nearly drowns at one point (unsupervised… fortunately an older sibling sees her) and then later catches her dress on fire! Two of the girls, who know they can’t canoe well, take the canoe out by themselves and are then washed up on a lake island by a storm (because, naturally, they dropped their oars).  On the island, one is nearly sucked under by quicksand (this book was apparently a little ahead of its time since the height of the quicksand trope didn’t peak until the 1960s).  

Even setting all the imperiled, unattended children aside, this book is pretty dark for a children’s book. The Hollisters had a van full of their belongings stolen when moving to their new house… and now there is an intruder paying almost nightly visits. Regularly, the children are the detectives with the parents and the police seemingly doing nothing to help solve the mystery. All this being said, I can also see where this book would be super exciting to a kid. The kids go on great (albeit dangerous) adventures and help solve a crime!  And, probably most importantly, get theirs toys back.  I imagine Miss R’s review will be very different than mine. We did read this together, which I would recommend for younger kids so you can have a conversation about why some of the choices the kids made were not the safest or best.  The series went out of print in 1983 but has been reissued in paperback and ebook starting in 2010 so even if your local library doesn’t have it, it is available again on Amazon and in many other libraries through WorldCat. 

Miss R's review

It was a good book - dark, but it has a happy ending. Like most kids' books do. I suggest it for kids who like spooky books. I wouldn't suggest reading it right before bed because it can get you a little scared. 

I liked Holly because she was pretty adventurous. I liked Pete because he was pretty cool but the downside is that he attacks his neighbor Joey who does not-nice things but he shouldn't attack him. He should use his words. I liked Ricky because , of course, he is adventurous like Holly. I liked Pam because she was super enthusiastic. I liked Sue because she was really unsafe and it was amazing how unsafe she was (can you see how sarcastic I'm being?). It worried me that a 4 yo caught her dress on fire and she almost drowned!

I recommend it to kids who like action, mysteries and dark humor.    

For more reviews of books for children and teens, check out Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, you can go to her site to leave a comment and your link .

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Monthly Wrap-Up March 2017

The end of March and beginning of April brought some serious craziness to my schedule. I thought about my blog daily!  But rarely had the mental capacity to write, prep and schedule posts. Sorry about that! I am working on clearing some things out of the schedule and off of my plate so I can take more me-time... which includes my blog!  

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

Reading Challenge Updates

I didn't tick off any books read on What's in a Name or Diverse Reads though I did add 6 books to my Goodreads Reading Challenge (books to be reviewed soon and some nonfiction books for homeschooling). 

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

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge - 24 out of 50 books read

Instagram Pic of the Month

The top Instagram picture this month is of Miss R feeding Bodhi her daily offering of lunch meat. Woe to whoever ignores Bodhi and her pleas for meats! 

Most Popular Blog Post

Most Popular Book-Related Blog Post

There was a tie! 


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher's description

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. 

My review

I was predisposed to not like Big Little Lies after having finished Truly Madly Guilty recently and thinking it was just not great. I certainly did not see what the fuss was over Liane Moriarty. I had read The Husband’s Secret several years ago for book club and liked it well enough. But Truly Madly Guilty was so off the mark, I only picked up Big Little Lies because of the recommendations of other friends and bloggers. Fortunately I was willing to give Moriarty one more chance. With Big Little Lies, I can definitely see the fuss.

Madeline, Jane and Celeste all have children starting kindergarten together and they all have “man” issues. We start the book knowing someone has been murdered. Snippets of police interviews of other parents tell the reader that the murder happened at a big fundraiser at the elementary school. These interview snippets are often hilarious and help lighten the tone of a book filled with some weighty topics. Moriarty covers single parenthood, abandonment, divorce,    domestic violence, bullying, murder, secrets, and more. 

The book’s timeline walks us closer and closer to this fateful night. Before we get there, though, we fall in love with the characters. Yes, there is a giant mystery to be solved here, but Moriarty laces so much story telling and so many other little mysteries in along the way that the book is much more than just the big mystery. 

Madeline is a busy body full of verve but with secret doubts about her own aging and parenting skills. Celeste is a beauty who seemingly has it all - wealth, gorgeous husband, darling twin boys - but who has an inner melancholy. Jane is a new single mom in town and such a young kindergarten mother that she is first mistaken for a nanny. When Jane’s son is accused of bullying, the speculations run rampant. Even Jane questions her own child’s innocence. Everyone has secrets and those secrets all come crashing out on the fateful night of the school fundraiser. The author expertly keeps the reader in suspense, carefully doling out information to keep you reading (and reading and reading - often far past your bedtime) to see who gets murdered and who does the murdering. Will your favorite character survive?  

I am really not a television watcher but I’m looking forward to revisiting the characters in HBO’s miniseries based on the book. And I plan to pick up What Alice Forgot.  Moriarty’s books were nearly taken off my TBR pile. Thankfully, I gave her one more chance and I’m so glad I did. I highly recommend Big Little Lies.