Tuesday, March 31, 2020

2020 First Quarter Update!!

I set my 2020 Reading Goals on December 31st of 2019 as follows:
My goal is to read 52 books in 2020. All 52 books to be read will come from my current 'to be read' pile. No specific titles at this time have been decided upon. However, I do plan to read 13 books that I've acquired through Goodreads Giveaways, 13 books that I acquired prior to May 2014, and the 26 remaining books will be chosen at random from my 'tbr' pile... These could be books added  to my collection after May 2014, more of my older books acquired prior to May 2014, or more books I acquired through Goodreads Giveaways.
I've read 19 books so far this year and am seven books ahead of schedule at this point! 

Here's the break down of my reading so far in 2020.

Goodreads Giveaways books as follow:

1. Where the Lost Girls Go by R. J. Noonan
2. The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
3. A Killer Kebab by Susannah Hardy
4. The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic

Books read that were acquired prior to May 2014 as follows:

1. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam
2. The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger
3. The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee
4. The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
5. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
6. Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence
7. Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett

Books read that were acquired May 2014 or later as follows:

1. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
2. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
3. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
4. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani
5. Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole
6. Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan
7. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
8. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Here's the further break down of the books I've read this year so far.

* 12 books were written by women and 7 by men. 

* 7 of the books are nonfiction and 12 are works of fiction. 

* 9 books fall into the mystery/thriller genre or have a mystery element to them, making mysteries/thrillers the go to genre for me thus far this year. Not that my plan was to read mostly mysteries/thrillers, it just worked out that way!

* Lots of good reads for me so far this year... Too early yet to pick my favorites.

How is your year of reading going? I hope you have read many great books to date. 

Stay safe and healthy during this time of shelter in place and social distancing while COVID-19 is going on... Hopefully, we can flatten that curve!!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Largest Chain of Bookstores in St Petersburg, Russia

Social distancing and sheltering in place is the perfect time to take virtual tours of bookstores!!

I so want to visit this bookstore in St. Petersburg, Russia some day.

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and narrated by actor, Bryan Cranston. Listening time for The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is 7 hours, 47 minutes.

The Things They Carried is a work of fiction written in essays that reads more like a memoir to me. The essays are about serving in the Vietnam war and how it effects the lives of those that served.

The following essays are the ones I enjoyed reading the most:

1. The Things They Carried
2. On The Rainy River
3. Stockings
4. The Man I Killed
5. Ambush
6. Good Form

Tim O'Brien's writing is really well done. I never thought I would enjoy reading a book about the Vietnam war as much as a I did. I usually tend to stay away from books about the harrowing effects of war.

Young men of my parents generation were drafted into the Vietnam war. My parents married in 1968 right out of high school and I was born 11 months later. Marriage and a baby were my father's way out from having to serve during Vietnam. Others were not so lucky. One of my father's close high school friends was drafted into the Vietnam war and as expected, he came back changed from the experience. I can't imagine having to fight in a war, especially one that seemed as unpopular as the Vietnam war was. 

It's also very sad to think that at 18 years of age the US Government drafted young men to fight and possibly die in combat, but these same young men were not old enough to vote until the age of 21. How was it possible that these young men were thought responsible (dispensable?) enough to fight for our country in combat, yet not allowed to vote for government officials and laws that effected the society they lived in? It wasn't until March 23, 1971, that the 26th Amendment was passed lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. 

I thought Bryan Cranston did an excellent job of narrating The Things They CarriedI also enjoyed the added bonus track at the end of The Things They Carried where Tim O'Brien reads his essay 'The Vietnam in Me', which is not part of the written version of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. 'The Vietnam in Me' recounts "the author's trip back to Vietnam in 1994, revisiting his experience there as a soldier 25 years before."

Below is the plot summary for The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien from Amazon:
This modern classic and New York Times best seller was a finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award and has become a staple of American classrooms. Hailed by The New York Times as "a marvel of storytelling", The Things They Carried's portrayal of the boots-on-the-ground experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War is a landmark in war writing. Now, three-time Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston, star of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, delivers an electrifying performance that walks the book's hallucinatory line between reality and fiction and highlights the emotional power of the spoken word.
The soldiers in this collection of stories carried M-16 rifles, M-60 machine guns, and M-79 grenade launchers. They carried plastic explosives, hand grenades, flak jackets, and landmines. But they also carried letters from home, illustrated Bibles, and pictures of their loved ones. Some of them carried extra food or comic books or drugs. Every man carried what he needed to survive, and those who did carried their shattering stories away from the jungle and back to a nation that would never understand.

This audiobook also includes an exclusive recording "The Vietnam in Me," a recount of the author's trip back to Vietnam in 1994, revisiting his experience there as a soldier 25 years before, read by Tim O'Brien himself.
Below is an author interview with Tim O'Brien talking about his book, The Things They Carried which I found to be good.

I am giving The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Fabulous Bookshops in London to Visit!!

These look like fun bookstores to visit in London!! What do you think?

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Sellout by Paul Beatty is definitely one of the most unique reads I've read in a longtime! Paul Beatty is a good writer. I can see why he won the Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Sellout in 2016... In fact, Paul Beatty is the first American to win the Man Booker Prize.

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Sellout by Paul Beatty, which was narrated by Prentice Onayemi. Listening time for The Sellout by Paul Beatty is 9 hours, 35 minutes. I loved the sound of Prentice Onayemi's voice and felt his voice was perfect for this novel. However, the audio production could have been better as you could sometimes hear the narrator inhale or exhale and sometimes hear him swallow throughout the novel.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty is a satire. It is a tightly written novel without a wasted written word. Be prepared to be dazzled when reading it. I enjoyed reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty.

The following is a plot summary for The Sellout by Paul Beatty from Amazon:
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.
Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class.  Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.
Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.
I am giving The Sellout by Paul Beatty a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next, post happy reading!!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Evolution of Science Fiction

Love science fiction? Check out this video about the evolution of the science fiction genre.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic


I chose to read The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic during Women's History Month and I am glad that I did!

I received an advanced reader copy/uncorrected proof of The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic from the Goodreads Giveaway program. 

Below is my honest, unbiased review of The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic.

I enjoyed reading The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic. This nonfiction book comes with an introduction, eight chapters, and a conclusion. Topics discussed include women and friendship, women's history, motherhood/parenting, marriage for women, women in the workforce, food and body image, identity and feminine sacrifice.

I found that The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic focuses largely on how things are for women in the US currently and the history of how things came to be for women in the USA. The conclusion chapter, which was short, is just that a conclusion. It discusses the areas we need to change in order to improve the quality of life for women. 

The following is a summary for The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic from Goodreads:
What do women want? The same thing men were promised in the Declaration of Independence: happiness, or at least the freedom to pursue it. 
For women, though, pursuing happiness is a complicated endeavor, and if you head out into America and talk to women one-on-one, as Jill Filipovic has done, you'll see that happiness is indelibly shaped by the constraints of gender, the expectations of feminine sacrifice, and the myriad ways that womanhood itself differs along lines of race, class, location, and identity.
In The H-Spot, Filipovic argues that the main obstacle standing in-between women and happiness is a rigged system. In this world of unfinished feminism, men have long been able to "have it all" because of free female labor, while the bar of achievement for women has only gotten higher. Never before have women at every economic level had to work so much (whether it's to be an accomplished white-collar employee or just make ends meet). Never before have the standards of feminine perfection been so high. And never before have the requirements for being a "good mother" been so extreme. If our laws and policies made women's happiness and fulfillment a goal in and of itself, Filipovic contends, many of our country's most contentious political issues--from reproductive rights to equal pay to welfare spending--would swiftly be resolved.
Filipovic argues that it is more important than ever to prioritize women's happiness-and that doing so will make men's lives better, too. Here, she provides an outline for a feminist movement we all need and a blueprint for how policy, laws, and society can deliver on the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all.
I am giving The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next posy, happy reading!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett

Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett is a cozy mystery novel and the first novel in 'A Booktown Mystery Series'. I've had this cozy mystery novel since October 2012 and am glad I finally read this book in an effort to read many of my older books stacked in my 'tbr' pile.

I had high hopes for Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett. At the time I'd purchased this novel, I was more into cozy mysteries than I am now. I still like reading cozy mystery novels, but not as often. Plus, as an avid reader, I was drawn to a novel about books and bookstores.

Although I enjoyed reading Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett, I didn't love it. The relationship between the main character and her older sister got old after a while. I also didn't care for the few weight/fat body image statements made with regards to women periodically dispersed throughout the novel. The ending of this novel was also a bit more violent than expected for a cozy mystery novel, which I found a bit surprising for the genre. Otherwise I enjoyed reading Murder Is Binding as the mystery itself was good. 

I don't plan on reading any further novels from 'A Booktown Mystery Series'.

Below is the plot summary for Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett from Amazon:
The streets of Stoneham, New Hampsire are lined with bookstores...and paved with murder.
When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book.
I am giving Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading.