Friday, May 25, 2018

My Favorite Author Meeting Experience To Date!

Me with author, Thomas Steinbeck,  in November 2011

In 2011, the year before I began blogging, my husband and I had the wonderful of opportunity of meeting Thomas Steinbeck (eldest son of legendary author and Nobel Prize for Literature winner, John Steinbeck) at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara, California in November 2011 at an author book signing event. This wasn't the first time we'd met Thomas Steinbeck in person, but I'll get to that in a moment.

I've been blessed to meet several authors in person at either author signing events at independent bookstores or at book festivals. However, briefly meeting Thomas Steinbeck twice in person happens to be one of my most memorable and favorite author meeting experiences ever and I'd yet to read any of his books at the time I met him!! 

What made meeting Thomas Steinbeck in person so rewarding was how personable and nice he was. He took a lot of time speaking with each person who came to meet him at Chaucer's Bookstore and then signed copies of his novels for each fan. Above is a picture of me with Thomas Steinbeck at Chaucer's Bookstore the evening he came to sign books in 2011.

My husband and I also briefly met Thomas Steinbeck and his wife, Gail, at an event called Speaking of Stories at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California. One of Thomas Steinbeck's short stories was being read that evening along with other several other short stories written by other writers. It just so happened (unbeknownst to my husband and myself at the time) that both Thomas Steinbeck and his wife were sitting in the audience right next to us. We only discovered that they were sitting next to us when an announcement was made at the start of Speaking of Stories. It was a delight speaking with them both briefly during the intermission.

Sadly, Thomas Steinbeck passed away in August 2016 at age 72.

Which author or authors have you met in person that have made a positive impression on you?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon



I listened to the unabridged audio version of I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon and narrated by Jane Collingwood and Sian Thomas.

Listening time for I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon is 13 hours, 3 minutes.

I'm familiar with the Romanov dynasty and the final demise/assassination of last Tsar of Russia and his family (Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children). 

I'm also somewhat familiar with the history of Anna Anderson, as the woman who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. Anna Anderson claimed to have survived the communist assassination attempt on her life to escape Russia and became Anna Anderson.

So, with that in mind, I was very interested in reading I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon to discover how Ariel Lawhon would interweave the lives of the final days of the Russian Imperial Family and the life of Anna Anderson to make a cohesive story.

All I can say is that Ariel Lawhon is a terrific writer! I really enjoyed listening to I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon and felt that the narrators, Jane Collingwood and Sian Thomas, did a wonderful job narrating this historical novel. I also enjoyed listening to the author, Ariel Lawhon, discuss why she chose to write this novel and how she came about writing it at the end of the novel.

I loved how I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon came together as a novel. Especially, the alternating chapters that entwine the past and present together as told through the eyes of Anna Anderson and Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. 

I was captivated from start to finish with I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon. I found myself looking forward as to where this novel would lead me with regards to the Anna Anderson/Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia story. I was not disappointed with the way in which this novel unfolded.

The following is the plot summary for I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon from Amazon:
"Compelling and utterly fascinating...drifts far into the mysterious lives of Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson." (Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours)
In an enthralling new feat of historical suspense, Ariel Lawhon unravels the extraordinary twists and turns in Anna Anderson's 50 year battle to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov. Is she the Russian Grand Duchess, a beloved daughter and revered icon, or is she an impostor, the thief of another woman's legacy?
Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survives. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.
Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital, where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans 50 years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
I am giving I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Favorite Little Free Library To Date!

As many of my blog readers know, I enjoy visiting Little Free Libraries whenever I am able to find the time to do so. 

I frequently try to visit as many new to me Little Free Libraries as I can and spread my love for reading far and wide. It's always fun to find these new to me Little Free Libraries and blog about my experience in finding them with my blog readers as each Little Free Library has its own unique charm and style that make them fun to find.

Most Little Free Libraries I've found have a good selection of books on hand, which makes exchanging books loads of fun.

However, I must admit that my personal favorite Little Free Library to date is located in Solana Beach, California. I've visited this particular Little Free Library (at 453 Lirio Street) approximately five times and it always contains a fabulous selection of books to choose from whenever I visit it.

Do you leave/exchange books at Little Free Libraries? Do you have a favorite Little Free Library you like visiting the most? Let me know in the comment section below!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Less by Andrew Sean Greer


I recently read the hardback edition of Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Less by Andrew Sean Greer won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which was the main reason I ended up choosing to read this novel in the first place. Additionally, I've never read a novel by Andrew Sean Greer before, so that was another reason I chose to read Less.

I thought Less by Andrew Sean Greer was a good read overall, but not a great one... Yes, I liked the story, the premise of the novel, and most of the characters... But Less by Andrew Sean Greer will soon become unmemorable to me in the long run. 

The following is a plot summary for Less by Andrew Sean Greer from Amazon:
Who says you can't run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?
ANSWER: You accept them all.
What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.
Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.
A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as "inspired, lyrical," "elegiac," "ingenious," as well as "too sappy by half," Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.
I am giving Less by Andrew Sean Greer a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me!!


Today is my birthday!!
My hubby surprised me and purchased an
Audible membership as one of my birthday gifts.
Gotta hand it to my hubby for knowing
what to give me as a birthday gift.

I look forward to listening to some fantastic
audiobooks for the remainder of the year! 
I've chosen to start listening to 
I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon.

I've been binge listening to I Am Anastasia 
by Ariel Lawhon. I'm 33% into this
historical fiction novel so far! It's a
good novel thus far. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti

Paperback ~ Memoir
I read the paperback edition of Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti, which is a book that has been on my wish list for a while.

I first became acquainted with Jessica Valenti's writing when I read and reviewed her book, Full Frontal Feminism, (click on the link to the left to read my review of Full Frontal Feminism) back in January 2014. I think that Full Frontal Feminism is a good, basic introductory read for newbies wanting to know more about feminism... But for those of us with more knowledge of feminism, then please take a pass on Full Frontal Feminism.

"Sex Object" initially seemed like an odd title for a memoir for someone who isn't a super model or porn star... However, I fully understand that women are treated like sex objects in our society and I suppose for a book title, "Sex Object", is appropriate as any book title in this context.

I think the introduction of Jessica Valenti's memoir was probably the most enjoyable thing I liked about her memoir. The rest of Jessica Valenti's memoir wasn't good at all in my opinion. In fact, I am surprised that Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti was named 'NPR Best Book of 2016'!

Yes, unfortunately, women are and have been viewed as sex objects in our society, which is extremely dehumanizing and derogatory to women to say the least. 

I also feel that it was extremely brave of Jessica Valenti to come forward and describe her negative experiences of the various ways in which she was objectified by men in society. However, I wasn't completely sympathetic to her plight. I don't think Ms. Valenti deserved to be treated like a sex object or any other woman for that matter. However, there was behavior I felt Ms. Valenti did engage in at various points in her life as an adult that caused negative outcomes... I felt these series of negative outcomes could have been prevented or at least mitigated had she exercised better judgment on her part.

The following is the publisher's summary for Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti from Amazon:
New York Times Bestseller
“Sharp and prescient… The appeal of Valenti’s memoir lies in her ability to trace objectification through her own life, and to trace what was for a long time her own obliviousness to it…Sex Object is an antidote to the fun and flirty feminism of selfies and self-help.” – New Republic
Hailed by the Washington Post as “one of the most visible and successful feminists of her generation,” Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a memoir thatPublishers Weekly calls “bold and unflinching,” Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes on women’s lives, from the everyday to the existential. From subway gropings and imposter syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood, Sex Object reveals the painful, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City.

In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, Sex Object is a profoundly moving tour de force that is bound to shock those already familiar with Valenti’s work, and enthrall those who are just finding it.
I am giving Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti a rating of 1 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day ~ Name Your Favorite & Least Favorite Mother in Literature!



Happy Mother's Day!!
Wishing you a fabulous day today and every day!!

Please share with me in the comment section below
Your Favorite & Least Favorite Mother in Literature.

My Favorite Mother in Literature is:
Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables
by Lucy Maud Montgomery

My Least Favorite Mother in Literature is:
Cathy Ames from East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Books With My Favorite Color On the Cover (or In the Title)


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.


There are a few colors I truly love! So, I am not sure I really have a favorite color. I guess it depends on my mood. However, the color turquoise is definitely one that is a top color choice for me and one I gravitate towards frequently.

Below are ten book titles that contain the word 'turquoise' in it. I have not read any of these books before... Buy maybe I should!


1. The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard by Kristin Schell
4. Turquoise: A Chef's Travels in Turkey by Greg Malouf & Lucy Malouf
6. The Turquoise Mask by Phyllis A Whitney
7. Turquoise Girl by Aimee & David Thurlo
8. Under A Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter
9. The Turquoise Lament by John D. MacDonald
10. Defending Turquoise by John Ellsworth

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell



I listened to the unabridged audio version of Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell and narrated by Paul Boehmer. Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell falls into the thriller/romance genre.

Listening time for Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell is 9 hours, 10 minutes.

I enjoying listening to Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell and thought it was well narrated by Paul Boehmer. It's a good thriller/romance novel to pass the time with if you're looking for something fun.

The characters and storyline were really good, but not great. I loved the main characters of Samantha Edgars and Jack Carlisle and their sizzling romance... Even if the way they fell in love happened in unusual circumstances and happened way to fast... Instalove! As much as I enjoyed Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell, I'm sure it will be forgettable for me over the long haul.

Below is the plot summary for Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell from Audible:
Book One in the Edgars Family Romantic Suspense Novels
A Man in Desperate Need
FBI Agent Jake Carlisle is in deep trouble. While undercover he's been shot, but he's not sure if it's the crooks or local cops behind it. Worse, if he can't get help fast, two lives will be lost - his and that of the young witness, a boy whom he's sworn to protect. On the run from both the police and the Russian Mafia, Jake will do anything to save the child at his side, even something illegal. In desperation he kidnaps a nurse from a hospital parking lot.
A Woman at the Edge of Despair
ER nurse Samantha Edgars has been living in an emotional vacuum since the death of her daughter. Abandoned by her husband not long afterward, she struggles just to get through each day, but now all she wants is for the pain to stop and to finally be at peace with her child. Mentally and physically exhausted following a difficult shift, she walks through the hospital's dark parking lot lost in her own thoughts. Suddenly she's jolted from her stupor when she's bound, gagged, and tossed into the back of her car.
Danger on Their Heels
When they arrive at her home, she's terrified and forced to tend to a bleeding FBI agent and his injured witness. But Samantha quickly learns the rogue agent and orphaned boy need more than just her professional skills. With a menace bearing down on them, she must learn to trust Jake - and her heart - if they're all going to survive.
I am giving Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars. 

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, May 4, 2018