July& August Book Haul (+ bonus pictures of other kittens and a mama cat)

I might have left out a book or two :/ I don’t think I did, but I have this feeling that I missed one.

Anyway, this whole summer was ah-maze-ing for me and acquiring books. Like, I found so many deals! It was magical.

july august haul

Left stack, from top to bottom: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katerine Arden // The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers // Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher // The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike // John Dies at the End by David Wong // Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye // Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck (review here)

Right stack, from top to bottom: Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill // White Teeth by Zadie Smith // Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh // Fun Home by Alison Bechdel // Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle // The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry // The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher // The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff


And now what you’re really here for…the cats!

mama cat

So, we think this is the mom of our two babies. Our best guess is that she was trying to move all her babies because they were getting more mobile, but the two little shits we found had squirmed into places she couldn’t get to.

Anyway, there are 3 others outside with her, but I could only get pictures of these two. (I touched both of these a couple of nights ago and holy crap you guys, the cream one is like petting a freaking cloud! So. Soft! And brave. She…I think…faced me and put herself between me and her two siblings until they decided I was harmless and climbed over her haha.)

striped kittenwhite kitten

How freaking cute are these? The other one looks a lot like the top one, but more grey than brown.

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First Lines Fridays: September 1st

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


It was dawn, and the zombies were stumbling through the parking lot, streaming toward the massive beige box at the far end. Later they’d be resurrected by megadoses of Starbucks, but for now they were the barely living dead. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

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What it’s about:

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


I remember when this came out, and I knew I had to read it. I eventually bought it when the Kindle edition was on sale, and then it got sucked into the bottomless pit that is my collection of e-books :/ But it’s been on my mind a lot recently, so I’m thinking of starting it soon.


Have any of you read it? What did you think of it?

Must Read Mondays: August 28th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


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Garden Spells; links to goodreads

When I read it: July 2014

Genres: magical realism; fantasy; romance

Recommended for: If you liked the movie (or book), Practical Magic, or if you generally enjoy magical realism, check this out.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 

 


What it’s about:

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.


I adored this book, and I think it was my first Sarah Addison Allen read. I actually put off reading any of her books for a while because they were compared to Practical Magic, which I liked, but didn’t love (I thought the movie was better, I’m sorry). In my opinion, Sarah Addison Allen’s books are way better and I recommend them anytime I come across someone else who enjoys magical realism.

It’s been a few years, so the specifics of this book are kind of faded in my memory, but I still think about the Waverly family all the time, and I’ll probably re-read this at some point.

 


If you’ve read this one, what did you think of it? And if you’ve read some of her other books, what’s your favorite?

 

Book Review: Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck

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cover; links to goodreads

Genres: fiction

Why I read it: I won a copy in a goodreads giveaway

Who I’d recommend it to: People who like quick reads with hope, second chances in various forms, and like/don’t mind reading about restoring historic houses.

 

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5 stars)

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


What it’s about:

People keep a house alive, not the other way around. Alex Proctor has seen the truth of this in every empty, rundown property she s bought and renovated since her divorce almost three years ago. She s also experienced the thrill of making each one into a home.

Her newest project is a dilapidated, century-old house just a few blocks from Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. Time and neglect, along with rats and raccoons, have ravaged it inside and out. Only Alex can see the beauty of what it once was and might become again. In just a few weeks by the time the cicadas make their scheduled reappearance after seventeen years underground the house should be ready to sell. In the meantime, there are construction disasters, and surprises, to contend with.

Amid overgrown grounds and rooms brimming with debris, Alex finds treasures pocket doors, hardwood floors hidden beneath layers of linoleum and grime and carved initials that reveal a long-ago love story involving Alex s elderly neighbor, Elsie, and another cicada summer. At the same time, Alex finds herself searching for a way to reconcile her new life with lingering feelings for her ex-husband. For so long she felt sure that moving on was the only option, but maybe this house, and everything she s learning in it, could give Alex room for a second chance . . .


Review:

I entered a giveaway for this because I’ve been in a massive multi-genre slump most of the year, so I’ve been looking for more books that aren’t the kinds of stories I usually read. This definitely fit the bill, because it’s not at all the kind of book I would normally read.

What hooked me first about the description was the house. I have a weird fascination with architecture and home renovation and the like. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail the house and repairs received, but I feel like it might get tedious for people who don’t care at all about stuff like that. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a lot of info-dumping throughout the entire book, but it was important to the story and had more page time than I expected.

The cicada theme wasn’t too cheesy or in your face, which I liked. It was obvious, throughout the book, but done well. Cicadas (well, some kinds, I think) emerge every 17 years, very briefly. They come out, mate, lay eggs, and then die. The nymphs (baby cicadas) hatch, eventually burrow underground, and then emerge in another 17 years. This cycle of rebirth, while not following the 17 years of cicada cycles, was still very much an underlying theme in the form of second chances for different people throughout the book.

I liked Alex most of the time, and I felt for her. She was dealing with so much and I think she handled it all as best she could. The description isn’t lying when it says there were disasters and surprises during the renovation of the house. I remember more than once groaning and actually saying, “Oh, come on!” Despite the couple of issues I had with Alex and some choices she made, I was rooting for her. My biggest issue came with the way the book ended. I won’t say what happened, just that I was hoping for something different. I didn’t hate the ending, though, I was just a little disappointed with it. (I think a lot of people will probably be happy with it, though.)

 

This was a light, easy read, and I think it would make a great beach read if you’re the kind of person who goes to the beach.

First Lines Fridays: August 25th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

26892110
What it’s about:

A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe. 
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
 
Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.  

After all, she was a normal American herself once.   

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father. 

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.  

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. 

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own. 

But Carolyn has accounted for this. 

And Carolyn has a plan. 

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


I vaguely remember when this came out, and the description hooked me enough to keep it on my radar, but I wasn’t sure enough to buy it right away. A few months ago, the Kindle edition was on sale and I grabbed it after reading a few pages in the sample. I’m still in this never-ending multi-genre slump, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to eventually getting to it.


If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it 🙂

First Lines Fridays: August 11th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


Fairies will not be rushed. I know this now; know I must be patient. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

 

32600721What it’s about:

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


This was another goodreads giveaway win for me, and I’m so excited! I’ve always been fascinated by the Cottingley fairies story, and I’ve read a lot about it online over the years.

(I was actually supposed to start this last month and review it for release day on the 1st of August, but the unexpected ER visit and surgery kind of threw off my reading schedule :/ )

First Lines Fridays: August 4th

first-lines-fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

The Rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!

 


“If home is where the heart is, the house at 4723 Maple Street was in dire need of a cardiologist. 


 

 

Interested? Keep reading to find out which book this is from.

 

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Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck

32920018

book cover; links to goodreads

What it’s about:

People keep a house alive, not the other way around. Alex Proctor has seen the truth of this in every empty, rundown property she s bought and renovated since her divorce almost three years ago. She s also experienced the thrill of making each one into a home. 

Her newest project is a dilapidated, century-old house just a few blocks from Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. Time and neglect, along with rats and raccoons, have ravaged it inside and out. Only Alex can see the beauty of what it once was and might become again. In just a few weeks by the time the cicadas make their scheduled reappearance after seventeen years underground the house should be ready to sell. In the meantime, there are construction disasters, and surprises, to contend with. 

Amid overgrown grounds and rooms brimming with debris, Alex finds treasures pocket doors, hardwood floors hidden beneath layers of linoleum and grime and carved initials that reveal a long-ago love story involving Alex s elderly neighbor, Elsie, and another cicada summer. At the same time, Alex finds herself searching for a way to reconcile her new life with lingering feelings for her ex-husband. For so long she felt sure that moving on was the only option, but maybe this house, and everything she s learning in it, could give Alex room for a second chance . . .

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


This isn’t really the kind of book I usually reach for, but I came across it on goodreads, thought it sounded like something I might like, and entered a giveaway and won. I’ve been reading a lot of books that aren’t my usual genres lately, so I’m looking forward to this one and hope it’s good.