Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins

Victorian Ghost Short Story
I listened to the a short story titled Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins and narrated by actress, Gillian Anderson.

Listening time for Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins is 1 hour, 38 minutes.

I was able to download Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins to my Kindle for FREE from Audible.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins.

Aside from being FREE, one of the reasons I chose to listen to Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins is because actress Gillian Anderson narrates this short story. I'm not a huge Gillian Anderson fan, but figured that as an established actress, Ms. Anderson would do a really good job of narrating Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins. Let's just say I wasn't all that impressed with Ms. Anderson's performance and leave it at that.

As far as the story/plot go for Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins, I thought this classic short story was okay. It was kind of suspenseful as to what was going on, but nothing to write home about as this short story was a bit on the slow side for me.

The following is a plot summary for Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins from Audible:
Mrs Zant has recently lost her beloved husband, and while walking in the Kensington Gardens, the spot where she and her deceased husband declared their love for each other, she feels his presence trying to warn her of some coming danger.
Mr Rayburn witnesses it all, and he'll have to fight his own incredulity regarding the supernatural and his gut feeling that the disturbed young woman is telling the truth.

Brought to life by Golden Globe Award-winning actress Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Mrs Zant is the perfect Victorian ghost story.
I am giving Mrs. Zant and the Ghost by Wilkie Collins a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos



I listened to the Audible edition of Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos, which is narrated by the cast of the stage play.

Listening time for Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos is 2 hours, 10 minutes.

I was able to download Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos for FREE to my Kindle from Audible.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos.

The best part of this audio edition was the narration performed by the cast of the stage play!! I also enjoyed the premise of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and how it was executed in a series of letters. The toughest part initially was trying to keep the names of the various characters straight! Overall, though I liked Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos, but didn't love it.

The following is a plot summary for Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos from Audible:
From the sumptuous private drawing rooms of 18th-century Paris to the decadent estates and chateaus of the French countryside, La Marquise de Merteuil and Le Vicomte de Valmont hatch a long-distance plan of vengeance and seduction.
Valmont is determined to conquer the famously pious Madame de Tourvel, whose husband is abroad on business. However, Merteuil has other plans. She enlists his involvement in the seduction of a young convent girl, Cécile Volanges, the wife-to-be of the Marquise's former lover. But as they race toward the culmination of their plans, events start to spiral out of control, and they realise that they might not be as in control of their hearts as once they thought.
Starring:
Madame de Volanges: Adjoa Andoh
La Présidente de Tourvel: Elaine Cassidy
Cécile Volanges: Morfydd Clark
Le Chevalier Danceny: Edward HolcroftMarquise de Merteuil: Janet McTeer
Vicomte de Valmont: Dominic West
Madame de Rosemond: Una Stubbs.
I am giving Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson

Short Story
I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson and narrated by Nicola Barber.

Listening time for The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson is 1 hour, 53 minutes.

I was able to download The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson to my Kindle for FREE from Audible.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson.

I enjoyed listening to this well narrated story. The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson is fun and engaging. I thought the writing was good... I also thought the story and characters were well developed. My only complaint is the cliffhanger ending!

The following is a plot summary for The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson from Audible:
The New York Times best-selling author of the Peter and the Starcatcher and Kingdom Keepers series, Ridley Pearson, brings us the stirring digital prequel to the Lock and Key series, which reimagines the origins of the rivalry between Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty.
In The Gadwall Incident, listeners get a glimpse into James' life a mere 24 hours before the tipping point - before life as he knows it changes irrevocably and his childhood slips into the shadows. Listeners will come to know the dangers that surround the Moriartys before James and Moria are sent off to the hallowed halls of Baskerville Academy, where they first meet the insufferable, inexhaustible Sherlock Holmes. It's a tale full of intrigue and false starts and daring getaways, one that will leave listeners desperate to know what's next.
I am giving The Gadwall Incident by Ridley Pearson a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor

Holiday Themed Short Story
Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor is a holiday themed short story I was able to download to my Kindle for FREE from Audible.

Listening time for Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor is 1 hour, 5 minutes.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor.

I like Christmas holiday themed reads, so was delighted to listen to the unabridged audio version of Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor and narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis. I enjoyed the story, characters, and plot for Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor. Lucy Price-Lewis was a good narrator for this short story.

Below is the plot summary for Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor from Audible:
It’s Christmas, and Jenny Checkland is beset with problems. The vicar, who really should know better, has asked to borrow Marilyn the donkey for the nativity play, thereby unleashing chaos on the already chaos-laden Frogmorton Farm. 
Will Marilyn survive her bath? Will anyone survive Marilyn’s bath?
Robbed of her role as the Virgin Mary, what revenge is the angel Gabriel plotting? Why is that sheep so fat? 
Will Charlie ever get to say his one line? Can Marilyn be prevented from eating the baby Jesus? Where is Thomas, who promised he would be there? And worst of all - will Russell, lost on the moor in a blizzard, make it back in time for the birth of his first child? Or even at all?

Another chance to meet the characters from the best-selling novel The Nothing Girl as they navigate the complexities of the local nativity play in their own unique fashion.
I am giving Little Donkey by Jodi Taylor a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mid August Update

I usually only make quarterly updates on my reading stats... But this month, I decided to do something different and make a mid-month update!

I have been binge listening to a lot of audio listens this month... In fact, I've finished listening to a combination of 16 books, short stories, and podcasts this month. Most of what I have listened to this month have been entertaining and most of them have been free downloads from Audible.

The thing of it is this, I am now really behind on writing reviews of what I've listened to this month. I have a total of 11 reviews to write... But instead of wanting to write reviews, I just want to listen to more audiobooks or read books!!

How is your month in reading going for you?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Bout of Books 20 Sign Up Post

Bout of Books

I am once again thrilled to be participating the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon!! I can't remember how many Bout of Books Read-A-Thons I've participated in to date. All I know is that I simply enjoy participating in this fun, low pressure read-a-thon. 

I hope you'll join me in participating Bout of Books 20! Below, you'll learn more about this fun and exciting read-a-thon:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Until my next post, happy reading! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Window Man by Louise Millar

Unabridged Short Story from Audible
I listened to The Window Man by Louise Millar and narrated by Clare Corbett. 

Listening time for The Window Man by Louise Millar is 25 minutes.

I was able to download The Window Man by Louise Millar to my Kindle for FREE from Audible. Below is my honest, unbiased review for The Window Man by Louise Millar.

The Window Man by Louise Millar is a relatively well-written short story that falls into the suspense/thriller genre. I liked the storyline, plot, and main character a lot. I just wish this short story was a bit longer and a bit more flushed out... If it had been flushed out a bit longer, perhaps I would have liked it that much more.

I thought Clare Corbett did a wonderful job narrating this short story.

The following is more about The Window Man by Louise Millar from Audible:
The Window Man is the first story in the Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #1 collection. Enjoy it for free, exclusively in audio!

Blade-sharp and pared to the bone, these original stories by best-selling, award-winning female crime writers will lure you to the dark side. Fifteen perfectly twisted tales with a measure of evil, a dash of horror, and a dose of humour. Expect the unexpected....
I am giving The Window Man by Louise Millar a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner

Unabridged Short Story
I listened to the unabridged audio version of The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner and narrated by Kirsten Potter.

Listening time for The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner is 1 hour, 47 minutes.

This the first time I've read or listened to anything by Lisa Gardner that I can recall. I really enjoyed listening to The 7th Month as it is really well narrated by Kirsten Potter. The writing by Lisa Gardner is tight and well done. The 7th Month is filled with a good story line and plot twists that keeps a reader interested in this short story from beginning to end. I look forward to reading more books by Lisa Gardner in the future.

The following is a plot summary for The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner from Audible:
In Lisa Gardner’s first-ever short story following 13 best-selling novels, "The 7th Month" takes listeners between the books and into a day in the life of Boston Detective D. D. Warren.
In her seventh month of pregnancy, D.D. should be taking it easy. Instead, she accepts a small consulting role on the set of a serial-killer film shooting in Boston. D.D. figures she’ll be useful to someone for at least one night, serving as a police expert and making a little extra money in the bargain. It seems like a simple task—until the previous film consultant, a former Boston cop, is found beaten to death. Suddenly D.D.’s date with Hollywood gets serious.
Extremely pregnant, on the trail of a killer, and surrounded by a hundred and four murder suspects in the middle of a graveyard, D.D. must quickly unravel a tangled web of lies. As another cast member is attacked, D.D. realizes that like it or not, her priorities have changed—and her last desperate hope is that she can catch a killer before she and her unborn baby face mortal danger.
Packed with the suspenseful storytelling that has turned Gardner’s novels into New York Times best sellers, "The 7th Month" reveals new insights into a beloved series heroine.
I am giving The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch

Audible Audio Short Story
I listened to A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch and narrated by
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, which is a short story I was able to download for FREE to my Kindle from Audible!

Listening time for A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch is 29 minutes.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch.

This wasn't one of my favorite recent listens. The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, is decent enough. But the storyline for this short story wasn't that engaging for me. I think this short story could have been so much better if it has been longer and filled with more details.

The following is a plot summary for A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch from Audible:
Somewhere amongst the shadowy stacks and the many basements of the British library, something is very much amiss - and we're not talking late returns here. Is it a ghost, or something much worse? PC Peter Grant really isn't looking forward to finding out....
I am giving A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post happy reading!

The Mephisto Club (Rizzoli & Isles #6) by Tess Gerritesen

Unabridged Audiobook On Compact Disc
I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Mephisto Club (Rizzoli & Isles #6) by Tess Gerritesen and narrated by Kathe Mazur.

Listening time for The Mephisto Club (Rizzoli & Isles #6) by Tess Gerritesen is 11 hours, 14 minutes.

This is the first time I've read or listened to anything by Tess Gerritsen that I can recall. After listening to the unabridged audio version of The Mephisto Club, I'm sure it won't be the last time I read anything by Tess Gerritsen. I really enjoyed this novel immensely as it is well developed, well paced, and filled with interesting characters and plot design to keep one engaged from start to finish.

Kathe Mazur is also a really good narrator. I look forward to listening to her narrate other books in the future as well.

The following is a plot summary for The Mephisto Club (Rizzoli & Isles #6) by Tess Gerritesen from Audible:
Evil exists. Evil walks the streets. And evil has spawned a diabolical new disciple in this white-knuckle thriller from New York Times best-selling author Tess Gerritsen.
PECCAVI. The Latin word is scrawled in blood at the scene of a young woman's brutal murder: I HAVE SINNED. It's a chilling Christmas greeting for Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, who swiftly link the victim to controversial celebrity psychiatrist Joyce O'Donnell, Jane's professional nemesis and a member of a sinister cabal called the Mephisto Club.
On top of Beacon Hill, the club's acolytes devote themselves to the analysis of evil: Can it be explained by science? Does it have a physical presence? Do demons walk the earth? Drawing on a wealth of dark historical data and mysterious religious symbolism, the Mephisto scholars aim to prove a startling theory: that Satan himself exists among us.
With the grisly appearance of a corpse on their doorstep, it's clear that someone, or something, is indeed prowling the city. The members of the club begin to fear the very subject of their study. Could this maniacal killer be one of their own, or have they inadvertently summoned an evil entity from the darkness?
Delving deep into the most baffling and unusual case of their careers, Maura and Jane embark on a terrifying journey to the very heart of evil, where they encounter a malevolent foe more dangerous than any they have ever faced...one whose work is only just beginning.
I am giving The Mephisto Club (Rizzoli & Isles #6) by Tess Gerritesen a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Happy Reading to You!!


Free Little Library in Lafayette, California #2

Not my best picture with the shadow hoovering over my face!
Last Sunday, my husband and I visited Lafayette, California. During our brief visit to Lafayette, California, I was able to visit two different Little Free Libraries... I love visiting Little Free Libraries and I try visiting as many of them as I can. I also try to visit as many new to me Little Free Libraries as I can. It's fun seeing what each individual library looks like in person. 

I ended up leaving a total of five books between both Little Free Libraries we visited in Lafayette, California.

Do you enjoy visiting Little Free Libraries? I've only visited Little Free Libraries in California and would love to visit Little Free Libraries on other states across the nation.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Little Free Library in Lafayette, California #1

Last Sunday, my husband and I visited Lafayette, California. During our brief visit to Lafayette, California, I was able to visit two different Little Free Libraries... I love visiting Little Free Libraries and try visiting as many of them as I can. I also try to visit as many new to me Little Free Libraries as I can as it's fun seeing what each individual library looks like in person. 

I ended up leaving a total of five books between both Little Free Libraries we visited in Lafayette, California. I came away with one free book that's been on my reading wishlist for awhile now... A novel titled, Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple from the Little Free Library on Hough Avenue.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Essential Books For Runners!


I'm not a runner, but I have two family members who are avid runners. These two individuals compete regularly in either marathons or trail races. 

Because these two family members are really into running and training for their races, it makes gift giving shopping for them really easy... Especially when it comes to buying them books to read about running!

I discovered an article on the Healthy Living website titled, 9 Books Every Runner Should Read. It looks like some really good book titles are listed for runners. So, if you're a runner and a reader or know someone who is, then check out this article!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Top Ten Authors I Still Want to Meet in Person!

I've had many wonderful opportunities to meet more authors in person than I can recall over the years at indie bookstore author signings events and literary festivals. I've enjoyed each and every one of these experiences! I look forward to attending more author signing events in the future.

With that said, there are still so many authors I'd love to met in real life and have them sign copies of their books for me. Here's a quick list of the top ten authors I'd like to met in person:

Margaret Atwood
Diana Gabaldon
Tamar Myers
Robin Lafevers
Barbara Kingsolver
Jerry Spinelli
Geraldine Brooks
Gloria Steinem
Louise Hay
Marjane Satrapi

Which authors would you most like to meet in person?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Roar by Nicole Trope

Audio Short Story
Roar by Nicole Trope is a short story that I was able to download for FREE from Audible. Roar is narrated by Susan Strafford. Listening time for Roar by Nicole Trope is 31 minutes.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Roar by Nicole Trope.

First off, I enjoyed listening to Susan Strafford narrate Roar as she has a lovely voice.

Roar by Nicole Trope deals with domestic abuse and a mother who only wants to protect her baby from her abusive husband. Roar is well written and worth a read.

The following is a plot summary for Roar by Nicole Trope from Audible:
A short story for fans of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve. Step into the fragile domestic world of Roar and discover the unforgettable voice of Nicole Trope, best-selling author of The Secrets in Silence, Three Hours Late and The Boy Under the Table.
The baby sleeps peacefully, filled with milk and contentment. The man on the bed breathes his way into the darkness, filled with rage. Was there ever really a choice?
From the queen of searing family drama and suspense comes a short story about the fierce bonds between mother and child, the things we sacrifice to protect the ones we love and the desperate choices we make when there's nowhere left to run.
I am giving Roar by Nicole Trope a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Which Punctuation Mark Are You? (Quiz)

Alrighty then, it's time for some weekend fun!! Take the following quiz to discover Which Punctuation Mark You Are

And just in case you were wondering, when I took the quiz, my results said I was a colon. What a hoot!!

Friday, August 4, 2017

50/50 Friday --- Best/Worst Book Read in July



50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reads and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. This fun themed meme focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc). Every week a new topic will give bloggers the chance to showcase their answers.


This week's topic is the Best/Worst Book Read during the month of July.


Best Book Read In July
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
(Click on link above to read my review)



Worst Book Read In July
Walking On Eggshells by Lyssa Chapman
(Click on link above to read my review)





So, which books were your best and worst reads for July 2017?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How Slow Reading Is Actually A Good Thing!!

Being a speed reader may not always be such a good thing. Read why that is in an article published on Bustle's website titled, 7 Reasons Slow Reading Is Actually A Good Thing, Because Being A Speed Reader Is Overrated by Kerri Jarema. In the article, Kerri Jarema wrote the following:
Yes, there are tons of cool things about being a fast reader, most importantly always being able to avoid spoilers, but in fact, reading on the slower side of spectrum can actually be super beneficial for you both mentally and intellectually. So the next time you have flashbacks of learning who died in the latest Harry Potter book before you got to the chapter or are feeling down on yourself for always being the last in the book club to finish the book, check out the seven reasons why you're reading style is awesome below.
Most of the perks associated with reading more slowly that are mentioned in the above article are pretty intuitive. I felt like I didn't really gain anything new information wise. Kerri Jarema's article is simply a reminder for me that reading more slowly is more beneficial than reading more swiftly.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder


I listened the unabridged audio version of The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder and narrated by Dan Bittner and Khristine Hvam. Listening time for The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder is 11 hours, 12 minutes.

I received The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder for FREE through the Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for a honest, unbiased review.

I'm a huge audiobook fan, so I was excited to begin listening to this unabridged audiobook. Grant Ginder is also a new to me author and I enjoy discovering new to me authors.

Wow, this audiobook was different from how I thought it was going to be! I thought The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder was good. I liked it, but didn't love it. The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder spotlights a single family and how dysfunctional they all are. Grant Ginder definitely does a fabulous job of creating a dysfunctional family in all their glory as they reunite for a wedding.

My favorite character in The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder was Eloise and my least favorite was Mark.

Listening to an interview with Grant Ginder at the end of the audio production was wonderful as I always enjoy learning about about their inspiration for writing a book.

The following is a plot summary for The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder from Goodreads:
Paul and Alice’s half-sister Eloise is getting married! In London! There will be fancy hotels, dinners at “it” restaurants and a reception at a country estate complete with tea lights and embroidered cloth napkins. 
They couldn’t hate it more.
The People We Hate at the Wedding is the story of a less than perfect family. Donna, the clan’s mother, is now a widow living in the Chicago suburbs with a penchant for the occasional joint and more than one glass of wine with her best friend while watching House Hunters International. Alice is in her thirties, single, smart, beautiful, stuck in a dead-end job where she is mired in a rather predictable, though enjoyable, affair with her married boss. Her brother Paul lives in Philadelphia with his older, handsomer, tenured track professor boyfriend who’s recently been saying things like “monogamy is an oppressive heteronormative construct,” while eyeing undergrads. And then there’s Eloise. Perfect, gorgeous, cultured Eloise. The product of Donna’s first marriage to a dashing Frenchman, Eloise has spent her school years at the best private boarding schools, her winter holidays in St. John and a post-college life cushioned by a fat, endless trust fund. To top it off, she’s infuriatingly kind and decent.
As this estranged clan gathers together, and Eloise's walk down the aisle approaches, Grant Ginder brings to vivid, hilarious life the power of family, and the complicated ways we hate the ones we love the most in the most bitingly funny, slyly witty and surprisingly tender novel you’ll read this year.
I am giving The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Calling All Writers!! 20 Podcasts About Writing!!

Are you a writer in need of creative inspiration or need other writing advice while penning your novel, but don't have the time or money to attend a writer's workshop? 

Then checkout a fabulous article I came across on Bustle's website titled, 20 Podcasts About Writing That Will Have You Penning A Bestselling Novel In No Time by E. Ce Miller. In the article, E. Ce Miller writes the following:
Writers get their inspiration from all sorts of places — real life, current events, favorite books, other writers, their own imagination, and more recently: podcasts. Podcasts about writing have been around practically as long as podcasts themselves have been, (with the longest-running writing podcast on this list airing for the first time in 2005!) and they’re the perfect dose of advice, inspiration, and motivation — especially for working writers on the go. Because let’s face it: while most of us aspiring and/or working writers would love to pause our daily lives in favor of losing ourselves in a writers’ workshop for weeks, months, or even years at a time, for many writers that’s not so realistic. These podcasts — as helpful as a creative writing workshop itself, in many ways — might be the next best thing. (With the added bonus of not having to worry about your GPA and your muse showing up in a timely manner.)
Best of luck to you in writing that best selling novel. Good luck! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

RIP ~~ Sam Shepard

I remember seeing Sam Shepard as an actor in several movies first before I realized he was a very successful playwright. 

I eventually saw a production of Sam Shepard's play 'Buried Child' (which won a Pulitzer Prize) with my husband at a local playhouse in Santa Barbara years ago.

I came across an article on Bustle's website titled, 11 Sam Shepard Quotes That Will Inspire You To Live A Creative, Honest Life by Emma Oulton. In the above article, Emma Oulton wrote the following:
The celebrated playwright and Oscar-nominated actor Sam Shepard died on Thursday at his home in Kentucky. The news broke on Monday, when a spokesman for Shepard's family announced that Shepard had passed away at the age of 73, in the presence of his family, due to complications from Lou Gehrig's disease. Shepard has left behind a powerful legacy: alongside the films and theater productions that he starred in and contributed to, he also graced the world with his many unique and inspiring observations.
Shepard was an award-winning playwright, having won an impressive three Pulitzer prizes, so it's not exactly surprising that he knew how to spin a turn of phrase. He is considered by many to have been a defining theatrical voice, bringing to life characters struggling to understand their identity and their place in the world. It is this that made him so beloved by many, and why his words of wisdom will continue to be treasured. 
I hope Sam Shepard's plays will continue to inspire and delight the next generation of playwrights and audiences alike. 

2017 High Summer Readathon Wrap Up Post

I had loads of fun participating in the 2017 High Summer Readathon! I was able to accomplish a lot of reading during this annual two week event held by Seasons of Reading.

I finished two reads that I had begun reading prior to the start of the 2017 High Summer Readathon as follows:

1. Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters by John Steinbeck
2. The Dead of Sanguine Night by Travis Simmons


I had a total of 100 pages combined from both books left to read and was happy to have finished them both during the 2017 High Summer Readathon.

Additionally, I started and finished four books during the 2017 High Summer Readathon as follows:

1. Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
2. Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli
3. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
4. Walking On Eggshells by Lyssa Chapman

I also started an unabridged audiobook book titled, The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder. I had listened to 66% of this audiobook by the time the 2017 High Summer Readathon ended last night. I look forward to finishing this audiobook in the next day or two. 

So, be on the look out for a book review coming soon for The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Walking On Eggshells by Lyssa Chapman

Hardback Book Edition
Years ago, I can remember watching a few episodes of the reality television series 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' and seeing Dog's daughter, 'Baby Lyssa' on the show

When Lyssa Chapman came out with her memoir in 2013 titled, Walking On Eggshells, I was curious about her memoir, so decided to finally read it this year.

Knowing a little bit about Lyssa Chapman's life already from watching 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' reality television show and reading other news sources... So, I wasn't expecting to gain too much new information about Lyssa Chapman's life from reading her memoir. 

Walking On Eggshells by Lyssa Chapman didn't provide much new to me information. Yes, I did learn a few new things from reading her memoir that were a revelation, but overall much of what I read were things I already knew about her. 

Yes, Lyssa Chapman's life is sad and tragic in more ways than one. She experienced neglect as a child, her parents divorced and were either addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Lyssa was sexually molested as a child, she was bullied in school and exposed and given drugs as a tween/teen like pot and cocaine from her mom, and she lived in poverty most of her young life. Lyssa also had no real boundaries and/or good adult role models growing up. Lyssa pretty much ran wild, especially when she went to live with her mom in Alaska. It ends up that Lyssa started having sex around the age of 12 years old for the first time with an older teenage boy. She was even gang raped by a group of older boys. Lyssa eventually became pregnant at age 14 by a man 10 years older than she was and she was in love with this man... Lyssa had her daughter, Abbie, the day after her 15th birthday and decided to keep and raise, Abbie. This meant that Lyssa dropped out of school in the 9th grade in order to raise her daughter. Lyssa's drug and alcohol addiction escalates and so does her poverty as she is abandoned by both of her parents and most of her family off and on during the time she becomes pregnant and has her daughter. Lyssa also repeatedly makes bad choices after having her daughter, which in many ways is expected as she has no good role models. 

So, these are some of the high level highlights of what one reads about in Walking On Eggshells by Lyssa Chapman. I think you now have a brief snapshot of the tragic and dysfunctional life Lyssa Chapman had growing up. 

However, I felt that Lyssa Chapman paints herself too much in the role of victim throughout her memoir. Yes, I think her parents were negligent in their duties as parents based on Lyssa's account in her memoir and should have done more to protect her during her childhood and teenage years.... But as Lyssa grows older and keeps repeating the same bad behaviors like slipping back into a life of drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex, she keeps using excuses as to why that kept happening.... I am not saying that a person can't slip up and back slide, as it happens to the best of us. But it seemed to me that Lyssa keeps using a lot of excuses that grew old reading about in her memoir. Especially when Lyssa kept saying that she wanted a better life for herself and her daughters (Lyssa married, had a 2nd daughter, and divorced, which was also written about in her memoir.).

Overall, I wasn't very impressed with Lyssa Chapman's writing even though Lyssa had a co-writer helping her write her memoir. There was a lot of repetition in her life's story. Plus, I felt like many areas of Lyssa's life were very watered down and could have been written about in more detail. Then again Lyssa only has a 9th grade education, so expecting a well written memoir from her just may have not been possible.

The following is a blurb about Walking On Eggshells by Lyssa Chapman from Amazon:
From one of the stars of A&E’s hit reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter comes an empowering memoir that can inspire others to break the cycle of abuse and forge happiness out of extreme adversity.
As a child, Baby Lyssa’s parents divorced and left her neglected. Things only got worse from there. Walking on Eggshells reveals Lyssa’s nightmare journey from mental and physical abuse to removal from school and confinement at home, flight from protective services, and teen pregnancy. Despite it all, and against incredible odds, Lyssa found her faith. She also found her way out of the spiral of bad decisions and even worse luck to build a healthy relationship with her mother and father and forge a rewarding, positive life with God.
An astonishing true story of one young woman’s trek from poverty and abuse to fulfillment and stardom, Walking on Eggshells is heartrending, powerful, and inspiring.
From one of the stars of A&E’s hit reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter comes an empowering memoir that can inspire others to break the cycle of abuse and forge happiness out of extreme adversity.
When most little girls play house, they might imagine two happy parents with several well-behaved children, pretty rooms, flowers in the yard, and a white picket fence near the sidewalk. Me? I just wanted parents who could stand to be in the same room with each other. . . . From my youngest days I always knew that God had something better in store for me, that He had a better life waiting for me. —from the Introduction
The ninth child of bounty hunter Duane Chapman, twenty-five-year-old Lyssa Chapman has overcome an upbringing that can only be called tragic. In her piercing memoir, she shares the details of her harrowing life and her faith journey and offers advice and solutions for readers who feel overwhelmed by their own dysfunctional circumstances.
I am giving Walking On Eggshells by Lyssa Chapman a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Books On Illness & Loss That Will Give You A New Perspective On Life

I came across another wonderful article on Bustle titled, 11 Books About Illness And Loss That Will Give You A New Perspective On Life by Kerri Jarema. In the article, Kerri Jarema wrote the following:
What do we talk about when we talk about grief and loss, illness and death? For the most part, I think many of us try not to think or talk about grief and loss it at all. We push aside the fears we all have of losing loved ones, or finding ourselves at the receiving end of our own life-altering news, and we push forward. In many ways, it's the only way to live. But for these memoirists, looking illness, death and loss in the face, diving into it, exploring it deeply and unflinchingly, with heart and humor and, yes, fear, was how they came to reconcile their life in the face of ultimate loss. And for those of us left behind to read them, these memoirs offer words of sadness and but also of hope, showing us what life and legacy really means.
Last year, my husband's father died due to an aggressive form of lymphoma. It was a very difficult time for us as my father-in-law's initial prognosis when he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2013 was very favorable that he'd overcome it with treatment. In fact, at one point the cancer he had even went into remission... But unfortunately, an aggressive form of lymphoma came back. 

My father-in-law was a wonderful human being... Very kind and loving. I still miss his presence very much.

Reading one of the books mentioned in the above article, I am sure would put a new perspective on life. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Here's What to Read When You've Been Diagnosed A Mental Or Chronic Illness

Being diagnosed with a mental or chronic illness can be scary and daunting! I came across an interesting article on Bustle's website (I love their website for bookish related news) titled, 15 Books To Read When You've Been Diagnosed With Mental Or Chronic Illness by Kristian Wilson. In the article, Kristian Wilson wrote the following:
The period immediately following your diagnosis with a lifelong condition manifests as a whirlwind of emotions that can be difficult to navigate for even the most-well-supported individuals. To help you through this trying time, I've got 15 books to read when you've been diagnosed with a mental or chronic illness.
In February 2009, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder, Behçet's disease, one of those illnesses that you have to explain to most people you meet, because they've never heard of what you've got. Later that year, my doctor diagnosed me with anxiety, depression, and IBS. I sank into a very dark place as it dawned on me that I would be taking multiple medications for the rest of my life — no small ordeal when you're a 19-year-old college student.
I wish I had had these books when I was first diagnosed with Behçet's. They're just the kind of thing I needed to recognize that my response to the news was nothing to be ashamed of. Check out my recommendations below, and share the books you read after you were diagnosed with mental or chronic illness with me on Twitter!
Click on the very top link to discover which books made the list. Interestingly enough, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating'by Elisabeth Tova Bailey made the list of books. I read this book earlier this year and loved it! It's a great read whether you have an illness or not.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Paperback Edition
The Vegetarian is written by South Korean writer Han Kang and The Vegetarian is also the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

WOW, Wow, wow, The Vegetarian by Han Kang is an impressive novel to read!! 

To be honest, initially I wasn't even sure if I wanted to read The Vegetarian by Han Kang for a couple of reasons... 1. The Vegetarian by Han Kang sounded like it might have been too violent, sad, depressing, and/or surreal/artsy book for me based on reading the plot details and some reviews I'd read online. 2. When a novel like The Vegetarian by Han Kang has won a major literary prize, like the Man Booker International Prize, one sometimes expects great things from a novel, which leads to high expectations that may or may not be met during the course of reading such a novel. 

In the end, I finally decided to read The Vegetarian by Han Kang and I am very glad that I did read this novel! Han Kang's writing is beautiful, rich, vivid, eloquent, and sparse all at the same time. I thought that Deborah Smith did a wonderful job of translating this novel into English.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a difficult novel to summarize in some ways... The back book cover says the following about The Vegetarian: "A beautiful, unsettling novel in three acts, about rebellion and taboos, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul." 

And it's true this novel is told in three acts. The central character of The Vegetarian is Yeong-hye, a woman, who becomes a vegetarian after having a dream that no one seems to be able to identify with at all. Yeong-hye takes becoming a vegetarian to the extreme and is eventually committed to a psychiatric hospital. We primarily learn about Yeong-hye's life through the way others see her and rarely from Yeong-hye's own point of view. The Vegetarian by Han Kang is told through the point of view of Yeong-hye's husband in act one, the point of view of Yeong-hye's brother-in-law (her sister's husband) in act two, and finally, the last point of view comes from Yeong-hye's older sister, In-hye, in act three. 

In many ways The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a very sad and depressing novel. It deals with mental illness, patriarchy and the rebellion of the traditional patriarchy in society, violence, eroticism, and sex against one's will.

Quite honestly, Yeong-hye's husband is a complete ass. It sounds like he only likes and marries Yeong-hye because she's a docile, typical, woman who won't rock the boat and does everything he wants without question. When she goes down the extreme road of becoming a vegetarian (a vegan really as she won't eat meat or anything that comes from an animal), becomes an insomniac, etc. her husband does nothing to try solving the issue and seems put out by her behavior and how it impacts his life negatively. Eventually, he divorces Yeong-hye and makes the entire issue her family's problem. 

In the second act, Yeong-hye's brother-in-law, an unsuccessful artist, suddenly starts having erotic fantasies about Yeong-hye and essentially takes advantage of her mental instability by having sex with her and filming it with a video camera.

In the third and final act of The Vegetarian, we read In-hye's point of view about her sister, Yeong-hye, which seemed to be the most enlightening section for me and also the most challenging section to read. In fact, I found the last ten pages of this novel to be the most emotionally charged pages to read. In-hye has always been the character who has been portrayed as a pillar of strength. But in the last section she is filled with guilt and anger over her sister's state of mind and how Yeong-hye ended up the way she did. In my opinion, In-hye seems to think that if she could have protected her sister from their father, as well as Yeong-hye's husband, and her own husband, then maybe Yeong-hye would have ended up being okay. By the end of the novel, it also appears that In-hye's mind may be slipping down the same slippery slope as her sister's mind... It seems like In-hye may also be giving up on life too.

My favorite line/quote from The Vegetarian by Han Kang is "Why, is it such a bad thing to die?" from page 157.

The following is a plot summary for The Vegetarian by Han Kang from Amazon:
Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.

Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang is my 109th read for 2017. I am giving The Vegetarian by Han Kang a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli

Paperback Edition
Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli is the 8th novel I've read by Jerry Spinelli... I hope I haven't forgotten about any of Spinelli's other novels I've read in the past 7 years.

Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli isn't my favorite novel written by Jerry Spinelli that I've read since I first discovered Spinelli's writing in 2010. But after reading Smiles To Go, I felt that it turned out to be a much better read than I initially thought it was going to be.

I loved the message that Jerry Spinelli conveys in Smiles To Go. Main character, Will Tuppence is a 9th grader and he takes life way too seriously... He never laughs out loud and he has his life planned to the dot... But life doesn't always go as planned and Will has to reassess life as it throws him some major curve balls. Will Will be able to make adjustments to life's curve balls?? Or will he flounder?? 

Favorite characters from Smiles To Go are Korbet Finn, who is a five year old boy and has a crush on Will's little sister, Tabby.... I love Korbet's tenacity! He is repeatedly rejected by Tabby, but will not be deterred in his love for her! Initially, I didn't like Tabby Tuppence, Will's younger, 5 year old sister. Tabby is a pain the behind for most of this novel and seems rather bratty for the most part. It isn't until towards the end of the novel when tragedy strikes, that my view of Tabby shifts to a more positive one of her.

The following is a plot summary for Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli from Amazon:
Ninth grader Will Tuppence is in control.
He plans everything obsessively, from the perfect stargazing night with his crush, Mi-Su, to the regular Saturday-night games of Monopoly with his friends. He's even planned his entire adulthood: career as an astronomer; mint condition, black 1985 Jaguar XJS/12; two kids. . . .
But everything changes the day Will learns one startling fact: protons—those tiny atomic particles, the building blocks to the building blocks of life—can die. The one thing that was so certain in this world to Will has an expiration date.
And Will's carefully planned-out life?

Not so certain, either.
I am giving Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Love Reading and Writing?? Become A Volunteer For A Literary Organization!

I love promoting reading and writing!! So when I discovered an article on Bustle this morning titled, 7 Literary Organizations For Volunteers Who Love Reading And Writing by Melissa Ragsdale, I couldn't resist learning about the volunteer opportunities at literary organizations. 

In the article, Melissa Ragsdale wrote the following information in her article for Bustle:
Being a reader and being a good citizen often hand-in-hand. If you're a reader looking to make an impact, you're in luck because there are so many great literary organizations that need volunteers just like you! By working together, book-lovers can use reading and writing to improve our communities and touch the lives of others.
There is so much important work that can be done by volunteering at a literary organization. Many of these organizations are only possible because of the work done by volunteers, and any task you do is immensely helpful. (And usually fun!) You can read with students, and help encourage blooming young writers. You can pitch in at events, or help organize resources. With your unique skills and preferences, you have something special you can bring to the table, and the world will be better for it.
No matter where you are, there's an organization nearby that can use your help. And if it's hard to leave your house, you're isolated, or you're constantly on-the-move, you'll see that many of these organizations are also looking for work that can be done remotely, such as video editing or help with their website.
So, go ahead and click on the top link to learn more!! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Roxane Gay's memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Roxane Gay speak at the Bay Area Book Festival earlier this year. I find her to be a thoughtful and thought provoking speaker, writer, and scholar.

I have yet to read Roxane Gay's memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, but it sounds like an amazing read in more ways than one. 

On that note, I actually came across a well written article on Bustle about Roxane Gay's new memoir titled, Roxane Gay's "Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body" Is A Different Kind Of Success Story by Marie Southard Ospina. In the article, Marie Southard Ospina wrote the following:
"I try not to be prescriptive in how readers approach my work," author and scholar Roxane Gay tells Bustle in an interview. "But I do hope people walk away from this book with a greater understanding that we all live in the world, and in our bodies, differently. Those differences should be understood with empathy and treated with respect." Gay is referencing her recently released book, Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body. In 304 pages, this hardcover chronicles much of the author's personal history, with particular emphasis on the cultivation and evolution of her fatness. It is, all at once, a raw, personal journey and a relatable piece of literature for those othered because of the shape and size of their figures alone.
Although Gay has, from the get-go, wanted it to be clear that Hunger "is a memoir, not a manifesto," and that she is "only one voice," there are irrevocable parallels between her story and those of many individuals living in noticeably large, imposing bodies.
Gay doesn't sugarcoat the realities of fatness: Of being the blunt of every joke on television, of receiving poor medical care because a doctor cannot see beyond a number on a scale, of being heckled by passerby, of the struggle to find well-fitting or even simply nice clothing, of being treated as a beast and not a person, or filling oneself to the brim with self-hate through it all.
I am glad that Roxane Gay isn't sugarcoating the realities of 'Fatness' and sharing her thoughts and views on the subject matter.

My favorite passage from Marie Southard Ospina's article is the following one:
Gay's deconstruction of fatphobia is subsequently a success, and an encouragement to others, for not framing the body as the prime problem. The problem is the prejudices that allow fat bodies to be hated, to be mocked, or to be dehumanized entirely. The body is not the villain of the story. The villains are the institutions and individuals who insist on framing it as such. It isn't rolls of flesh that are disgusting. It's the fact that we are made to feel unworthy of our personhood because of them.
As human beings, I think we all need to be treated with respect, dignity, and understanding, whether we're fat or not... I think it's tragic that people who are overweight have been marginalized, frowned upon, bullied, and/or dehumanized due to their weight/fatness. I think that our society's perception and treatment of extremely over weight people needs an overhaul. 

Click on the very top link to read the full story.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Most Beautiful Libraries In Every Single State

Ah, I like libraries! How about you? Do you like libraries too? Then checkout the following article I discovered on Bustle titled, The Most Gorgeous Libraries In Every Single State, Just In Time For Your Book-Themed Road Trip by Emma Oulton. In the article Emma Oulton wrote the following:
Anyone who loves books will be able to confirm that libraries are the happiest places on Earth. I mean, it's a whole building full of books that you can read for free — what could be better than that? It's always good to support your local library, so if you haven't already, I definitely advise you to get a library card right now — but if you fancy a road trip, why not go visit the best library in your whole state? (Of course, for some lucky people, one of these will be your local library. Oh, if only...)
These 50 libraries are some of the biggest, the prettiest, and the most unusual across the country. Some of them are old and bursting with history; some of them are fresh and modern, with unique architecture that wouldn't look out of place in one of the futuristic sci-fi books they contain. As well as being packed to the brim with books, many of these libraries often host events from book clubs to author readings to career development evenings — so if you get your timings right, your visit could be extra special. But no matter when you go, you'll notice something magical in the air from the moment you step through the door: the smell of old books, the silence of people engrossed in a story, and the fact that each and every one of these libraries is run by enthusiastic book-lovers passionate about making books more accessible to more people. So go and take a look!

Yes, these libraries look amazing! And yes, I now want to take a road trip to see to see them!