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

TBT Review: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 

if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TBT review date: January 29, 2015

Publisher's description

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

On the surface, Ordinary Grace is the story of the murder of a beautiful young woman, a beloved daughter and sister. At heart, it’s the story of what that tragedy does to a boy, his family, and ultimately the fabric of the small town in which he lives. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, it is a moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

My review

“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 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. I'm sure my enjoyment of Ordinary Grace benefited from my love of the Harper Lee classic. This book was, though, at it's core, a who-dun-it - an enjoyable one at that. Some "conclusions" were pretty obvious from the start but many twists and turns took you by surprise.

The father, Nathan, was an almost unbelievably gracious and forgiving man, while the mother, Ruth, played foil with great emotional instability. Probably 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 tough issues. Yet, he was flawed in very real, authentic ways.

The one distraction for me was the layout of the town. I don't think the author used a real town or a map of his imaginary town or he was bad at describing directions of things. Many times I found myself "lost" in town (no, the trestle is the OTHER WAY!). Or a description that something was past of 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 on. 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" the books I read, these discrepancies were jarringly noteworthy as I read.

All and all, an engaging read. This was a book club selection for me and not something I would have likely picked up on my own.


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


Friday, March 17, 2017

Kids' Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Purrfectly Bookish: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive income 
if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: May 10, 2011
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher's description


Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

My review


I read this as a read-aloud to my daughter. After recently finishing Furthermore, it was difficult not to compare the two since they both were heavily influenced by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This book, in many ways, is far more like Alice though since the main character, September, is a "real" girl from Omaha whereas Furthermore's world is not Earth/ours.  

The iconic Alice in Wonderland "stumbled" onto Wonderland.  In... well, this book (I'm not going to name its uber long title each time I reference it), September is a "ravished" child, i.e., she was invited by a resident of Fairyland to go and she accepted. These distinctions, along with a third 'changling" category, make a difference in how a child in Fairyland is treated and how they might get back home (or not) and how they might ever return again to Fairyland again (or not).  Without giving away too much, therein lies the heart of this tale. Given the five books plus a prequel in the Fairyland series, you can guess some of September's future in Fairyland. 

It is a very colorful world and an extraordinarily confusing place. September is a "chosen one" of sorts, come to help free Fairyland from the tyrannical reign of a girl not unlike September herself, the Marquess. September is faced with many choices along the way that could have led her to just a jolly romp in Fairyland or could lead her to peril, adventure and possibly greatness. In the end, she chooses her new friends above all else and that path definitely leads her on adventure. 

There are some moments of grave peril in the book but September keeps a pretty cool head about her. I think even a sensitive child will be able to manage the dangers in the book without too much fear... they just need to keep on reading or listening a while longer.  Not danger or peril, but a sad tale in the book is what was most upsetting to my 9 yo daughter and she did need some extra snuggles after that part.

My daughter and I really enjoyed this book. I think it makes a great read aloud but I also think kids could navigate this book on their own successfully. Miss R is excited to read the next book in the series.  I would recommend it for ages 8 to 10ish. Children generally like to read about characters a little older and September is 12. This can be a tight rope to walk at this age and I think the author made September realistically 12 while keeping the content appropriate for the 8-10 yo reader. At nearly 70,000 words, it is on the long side for a middle grade book but you often see this in fantasy books in order to accomplish good world building. World building is well done in (deep breath) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I recommend it!


Miss R's review


The girl is in a land where there were basically no rules, but the Marquess changed that. The Marquess wanted the land to be safe for all the children who went to Fairyland. She sent September on a quest but wanted September to fail. 

I really liked September and A-through-L (Ell). I also liked Saturday and the Green Wind. September was very creative, even in the saddest parts. Saturday was a scaredy-cat but he still was very nice and helps save the day. A-through-L has a really creative name and he also is a wyvern and very smart (but only on anything from letters A to L).  The Green Wind I liked because he was green and very comforting to September. He also has the Leopard of Little Winds, a flying cat. 

It was a good book. It was a little sad at parts near the end. It was cheery after that though. I would recommend it to anyone who likes adventures and who doesn't really mind just a small section of sad. 




Thursday, March 16, 2017

TBT Review: The Sound of Glass by Karen White

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

The Sound of Glass by Karen White
Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW
Publication date: May 12, 2015
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TBT review date: May 12, 2015

Publisher's description


The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret. 

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.

My review


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

You may have noticed that I've been pretty hard on the last couple realistic fiction books I reviewed. Well, that ends here. In fact, I've had a hard time thinking of anything really critical to say about The Sound of Glass. Karen White has created a wonderful set of characters, broken and flawed, but so very worthy of compassion. [NOTE: a downside to throwback reviews is the references that now don't make sense! The "pretty hard on the last couple" comment is from 2015... not current.]

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 current time, there is Merritt, a 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 is the owner of the grand Southern home that is the backdrop to the story. She was the grandmother of Merritt's recently deceased husband and 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 story line with a very complex set of characters and 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 (even and most 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, but, having lived in Alabama for 15 years (Loralee's home state), I can say she is completely believable - a steel magnolia, indeed. 

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 a central theme of this book, there are no scenes graphically depicting it. There are references to what happened - a hand broken in a car door, being held under water - 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 most about the victims finding themselves again and being strong. 

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys women's lit, realistic fiction and books set in the South. The book also has a big mystery element to it 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 Merritt uncovering his secrets and revealing her own. Be sure to keep a box of tissues handy! 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Happy Caturday #6

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
TOE BEANS!


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


Ginger Blue from Norman, OK, USA
So pretty!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kids' Review: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

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

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher's description


In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.

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, 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 bring up with your kids. This is not a light and fluffy read but I recommend it nonetheless. This is exactly the sort of 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 but at the end, it's the not 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 too come and help Jackson that much. It's only when an imaginary friend's real friend needs help that they can come help them. I think it was a really cute book. I loved Crenshaw the cat.

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


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 Catu...