Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Inside Toronto's Most Unique Bookstore!


I love the nautical theme of this bookstore... It definitely falls into a niche category and is appropriately placed along Toronto's waterfront. It's also wonderful to see such indie bookstores thriving. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Rakestraw Books "Live at Home!" with Gail Tsukiyama



YES, Yes, yes, to attending another virtual author event online yesterday evening! I'm so thrilled that our local independent bookstore is hosting these "Live at Home!" author events to prevent myself from having cabin fever too badly.

I've wanted to read a novel by Gail Tsukiyama since the mid to late 1990s, but have not made the time to achieve this reading goal yet. Luckily, I received a paperback arc of Gail Tsukiyama's latest novel, The Color of Air, earlier this year through the Goodreads Giveaway program. 

Below is a brief biography of Gail Tsukiyama from Wikipedia:
Gail Tsukiyama is an American novelist from San Francisco, California, USA. She was one of nine fiction authors to appear during the first Library of Congress National Book Festival. Her works include Women of the Silk (1991), The Samurai’s Garden (1995), Night of Many Dreams (1998), The Language of Threads (1999), Dreaming Water (2002), The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (2007), and A Hundred Flowers (2012). She is currently writing The Color of Air, which will be released in July 2020.
Tsukiyama was born in San Francisco, to a Japanese father and a Chinese mother. She attended San Francisco State University, where she received both her Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She lives in El Cerrito, California, and works as a part-time lecturer for San Francisco State University and a freelance book-reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tsukiyama is an alumna of the Ragdale Foundation.
Last night's "Live at Home!" author event included Gail Tsukiyama reading the first chapter of her new novel, The Color of Air. This was then followed by a conversation between Gail Tsukiyama and her friend and author, Karen Joy Fowler. It was a nice discussion between good friends. I learned that it took Gail Tsukiyama roughly 7 years to write The Color of Air!! And lastly, the conversation between Gail Tsukiyama  and Karen Joy Fowler was followed by a questions and answers session by viewers.

Now that I have heard Gail Tsukiyama speak at this particular "Live at Home!" author event, I'll have to make some time to read her new novel, The Color of Air, which sounds like a wonderful historical fiction novel set in Hawaii.

All in all, I enjoyed Rakestraw Books "Live at Home!" with Gail Tsukiyama despite the audio quality not being the greatest and the video quality was also lacking a bit initially too.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


I first read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood in the mid to late 1990s. I decided to reread this novel because I've forgotten many of the novel's finer details and because I would like to read the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood titled, The Testaments, which was released last September. 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Listening time for The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is 12 hours, 6 minutes. I thought Claire Danes did an excellent job narrating The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

I am so thrilled that I reread The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I liked it more this time around than the last time I read it. Perhaps more life experience and current maturity level played a factor for liking the novel more this time than the previous one.

Margaret Atwood is a master storyteller and writer. The Handmaid's Tale is definitely a masterpiece and very chilling in terms of how backwards and controlling a society can become in the hands of the wrong people. My only complaint is the ambiguous ending to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Below is the plot summary for The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood from Audible:
"Are there any questions?" The final line in Margaret Atwood's modern classic, The Handmaid's Tale, has teased and perplexed fans since the book's original release more than 30 years ago. Now, in this Audible Original production, listeners get some of the answers they've waited so long to hear.
Featuring an all-new interview with Professor Piexoto, written by Atwood and performed by a full cast, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition is a must-listen for both fans and newcomers alike. Emmy Award winner Claire Danes (Homeland, Temple Grandin) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, where the message (and the warning) is now more timely than ever. In addition to rich sound design that honors the audio origins of Atwood's classic, the special edition also includes a brand-new afterword from the author and an essay written by author Valerie Martin (Mary Reilly, Property).
After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost everything, even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life for mere glimpses of her former freedom, and records her story for future listeners.

Whether you're a fan of the original novel or someone who has recently discovered it, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition will shock, impress, and satisfy all those who listen.
Below is video from YouTube titled, Why should you read "The Handmaid's Tale"? - Naomi R. Mercer. The video is a good overview.


I am giving The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader GirlTop Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Below is a list of 10 authors I've read the most by over the years.

1. Agatha Christie
2. Jerry Spinelli
3. Judy Blume
4. Tamar Myers
5. Kate Collins
6. VC Andrews
7. Margaret Atwood
8. Maya Angelou
9. Geraldine Brooks
10. Diana Gabaldon

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West


I received an advance reader's edition of Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West for FREE through Goodreads Giveaway program. 

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West.

Saving Ruby King is Catherine Adel West's debut novel and it was recently released on June 16, 2020. What an awesome novel Saving Ruby King is!! I love the writing, the characters, and especially reading the different points of view for each of the main characters in Saving Ruby King

Additionally, this story isn't told in chronological order, which combined with reading the different points of view of the main characters, gives this novel a multilayered feel to it. 

I like all of the characters in Saving Ruby King, but my favorite character, believe it or not, was an old church (Calvary Hope Christian Church) that shares its take on the things that have happened within its walls. Another favorite character is Alma, a minor character and church elder, who has pearls of wisdom to impart. All I can add is this is that Saving Ruby King a powerful read.

Below is an author interview of Catherine Adel West discussing her new novel.



P. S. I love the cover design for Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West. 

Below is the plot summary for Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West from Amazon:
When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it’s a devastating loss that leaves her on her own with her violent father. While she receives many condolences, her best friend, Layla, is the only one who understands how this puts Ruby in jeopardy.
Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what is the price for turning a blind eye? In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla uncovers the murky loyalties and dangerous secrets that have bound their families together for generations. Only by facing this legacy of trauma head-on will Ruby be able to break free.
An unforgettable debut novel, Saving Ruby King is a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present and the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.
I am giving Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

2020 Second Quarter Reading 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 34 books so far this year and I am 9 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
5. The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

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
8. The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey
9. The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy

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
9. Becoming by Michelle Obama
10. The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz
11. Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke
12. Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins
13. Snipped in the Bud by Kate Collins
14. Night of the Living Dandelion by Kate Collins
15. Conversations With Black: 13 People, 1 Body by Bill Puett, Ph.D.
16. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
17. The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
18. Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens
19. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
20. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Here's the further break down of the books I've read this year so far in 2020.

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

* 12 of the books are nonfiction and 22 are works of fiction. 

I've really enjoyed reading the books I've read this year so far this year. How is your year of reading going? I hope you have read many great books to date. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rakestraw Books "Live at Home!" with Rep. Eric Swalwell - Author Event


I've really missed visiting bookstores and attending author events/book signings and book festivals since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm this year and left us all sheltering in place.

I am thrilled to see many businesses pivoting by changing their business model and thriving during this difficult time by finding new ways of remaining relevant to their customers during COVID-19. 

Case in point, a local independent bookstore here in my area, Rakestraw Books, has begun having virtual author visits where one can watch live author events from home, which I think is fabulous!!

Tonight, Rakestraw Books offered  "Live at Home!" with U. S. Representative Eric Swalwell from 7:00pm to 8:00pm. So, I decided to watch this live event from the comfort of my own home. 

Eric Swalwell has served as the U.S. Representative for California's 15th congressional district since 2013, which just so happens to be the district in which I reside. Swalwell has recently come out with a new nonfiction book titled, Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump, so he spoke about his new book among other things.

The following information about Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump and the "Live at Home!" with Rep. Eric Swalwell was found on Rakestraw Books's events page:
In Endgame, Congressman Eric Swalwell offers his personal account of his path to office and how he and his colleagues resisted, investigated, and impeached a corrupt president. After the shock of the 2016 election and Trump’s inauguration (including the luncheon afterward), Swalwell, as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee, quickly became involved in pushing back against Trump’s outrageous actions as he sought to get to the bottom of foreign interference in our elections. But Republicans were in control of the investigation, and it became clear that taking back the House was essential.
Swalwell takes readers inside Congress and through the impeachment process, from Trump’s disgraceful phone call with the Ukrainian president, just one day after Robert Mueller testified to Congress, to caucus meetings and conversations with the Speaker to the bombshell public hearings and the historic vote, and then what followed next—the holding of the articles, the news of more possible witnesses, and the sham trial in the Senate. Endgame is fascinating, a gripping read by a unique witness to extraordinary events.
During this special Rakestraw Books "Live at Home!" event, Rep. Eric Swalwell will be joined in conversation by award-winning journalist Frances Dinkelspiel. There will also be time for your questions. Tickets are $30 (admits one and includes a copy of Endgame). This event will take place via CrowdCast.
What did I think of the Rakestraw Books "Live at Home!" with U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell author event? It was wonderful to finally attend my first author event of the year! Watching the event online from home was fun and different... No concern or need to wear a face mask or social distance. This online event went smoothly with no technical difficulties. But most importantly, I enjoyed hearing what U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell had to share with listeners this evening. I look forward to reading Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy


Reading make-up tutorial books are definitely books I normally do not read. However, years ago, I use to watch TLC's popular show What Not to Wear and enjoyed watching this series quite a bit. I remember thinking Carmindy, the show's make-up artist, did a great job making each contestant on the show look great with natural looking make-up. 

So, when Carmindy came out with her book, The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman, in 2007, I decided to purchase the hardback edition... Although I can't remember exactly when I purchased The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy, I've owned it for at least 7 years now and FINALLY read it this year!! 

I originally purchased The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy because I've never been a big make-up wearer. I thought I could improve upon/learn the basic techniques to applying make-up that would enhance my make-up wearing experience and gain more confidence in knowing that I was correctly applying make-up to my face.

So, onward to the review of The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy! This book is beautifully rendered. I absolutely L-O-V-E the entire layout for this book starting with the cover design and photography... if you take off the dust jacket for the hardback edition, you see cool images of various types of make-up. Additionally, the interior layout is well organized and thought out starting with the table of contents. I also loved the introduction as Carmindy shares her make-up philosophy and how she became interested in make-up. Her philosophy is a POSITIVE one as she believes in focusing on accentuating your best features by using the right products and not covering flaws with too much make-up... In fact, Carmindy doesn't believe women are flawed or need to meet any set standard of beauty. So she gives a very positive focused message, which I love! 

Each chapter of The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy focuses on something specific, whether it's learning the 5 minute basic make-up routine, to learning how to shape your eyebrows, the best make-up colors based on skin tone and eye color, how to apply make-up based on your age range, and how to take the basic look from day to night, and so much more. The instructions for make-up application are easy to follow and loads of photographs are given throughout. 

All that's left to do is practice the techniques given in The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy, which may be awhile since I'm still dealing with crps symptoms regularly.

Below is a summary for The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy from Amazon:
Good beauty advice is hard to come by these days. Women are constantly inundated with products that promise to remove wrinkles, reduce puffiness, highlight cheekbones, hide blemishes, and make them look younger, healthier, tanner, and even thinner–but do these products really work? Are they worth the time, money, and effort? Carmindy, makeup artist on TLC's popular show What Not to Wear, believes that the secret to a great look is to focus on the positive: learn how to enhance your best natural features with sheer washes of color rather than hide under layers of artificial–looking makeup. In The 5–Minute Face, Carmindy shares her beauty philosophy, offering a practical, easy, and always–successful makeup routine that works for all ages and skin types.
The steps for achieving the five–minute face–from smoothing on foundation, to slicking on lip color–are simple. But as Carmindy demonstrates, many women don't know which product is right for their skin tones, or are clueless on how to apply makeup for optimal results. Throughout every chapter, she provides valuable advice on perfecting the makeup technique that is right for your face, including product tips and accompanying "toolbox" sections that describe which tools to use with each type of makeup.
No matter what your age is, or whether you have porcelain skin or rosacea, Carmindy will help you look fabulous. In addition to the 5–minute makeover, she discusses:

•How to Get Brows That Wow: Learn what brow shape best frames your face

•What's Age Got to Do with It?: Tricks and trade secrets that keep every woman looking beautiful, from teens to women fifty and over.

•Beauty Comes in All Colors: Freckles? Blemishes? Carmindy solves the problems that make finding the perfect makeup for your skin tone difficult. Also includes tips on lash dying for those fair lashes, and lash perming for those who want permanently curled lashes.

•The 10–Minute Face: Carmindy shows how to build on the 5–minute face for special occasions. Everything from sexy dates–looking right in all white at your wedding–to the perfect look for a job interview.
Accompanied throughout by Palma Kolansky's beautiful photography, The 5–Minute Face is every woman's guide to enhancing their unique and beautiful features with the perfect makeup routine.
I am giving The 5-Minute Face: The Quick Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler



I listened to the unabridged audio version of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler and narrated by Kim StauntonKim Staunton is a good narrator and I enjoyed her narration of Kindred

Listening time for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler is 10 hours, 55 minutes.

I've heard Octavia E. Butler's name for years in the literary world, however, Kindred is the first novel I've read by the author. Kindred is a work of fiction that falls into many genres as it falls into the science fiction genre, historical fiction genre, and time travel fiction as well. 

Kindred is definitely a heavy hitting read. In fact, it's pretty graphic at times due to the violence and brutality bestowed upon African American slaves of the antebellum south. I definitely agree with the following statement from the plot summary below that reads, "author Octavia E. Butler skillfully juxtaposes the serious issues of slavery, human rights, and racial prejudice" in her novel. 

Additionally, Octavia E. Butler's writing is superb and engrossing. As a reader, I was sucked into the storyline immediately and couldn't wait to see what happened to the main character, Dana Franklin, and her husband, Kevin. I was intrigued as to how the time travel worked, what would happen to Dana each time she traveled back and forth through time, and how things would eventually work out for all those involved. Kindred is an amazing novel and explores relevant themes.

The following YouTube video explores the major themes of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.

Below is the plot summary for Kindred by Octavia E. Butler from Audible:
The first science-fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of African-American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity.
Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life.
During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she's been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.
Author Octavia E. Butler skillfully juxtaposes the serious issues of slavery, human rights, and racial prejudice with an exciting science-fiction, romance, and historical adventure. Kim Staunton's narrative talent magically transforms the listener's earphones into an audio time machine.
I am giving Kindred by Octavia E. Butler a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!