Monday, January 30, 2023

When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel

 


I listened to the unabridged audio version of When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel and narrated by Steven Jay Cohen

I essentially stumbled upon When Germs Travel on Chirp when it became one of Chirp's limited time audiobook deals. I decided to give this nonfiction book a try despite the fact that I'm still squeamish around anything epidemic or pandemic related due to the Covid-19 pandemic... But my fascination to learn more about six epidemics that invaded America was the major impetus to listen to When Germs Travel.

Tuberculosis, Bubonic Plague, Trachoma, Typhus, HIV/AIDS, and Cholera are the six epidemics discussed in much detail in their own individual chapter within When Germs Travel. Not only do we learn about each disease, but also a lot of the history on how each disease traveled into America and more. Sometimes, the historical information provided was a bit much. Also, a better narrator could have been chosen for When Germs Travel. Who wants to listen to a flat, monotone reader?

Below is the summary for When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel from Goodreads:

The struggle against deadly microbes is endless. Scourges that have plagued human beings since the ancients still threaten to unleash themselves; new maladies are brewing that have yet to make their appearance in the headlines; lethal germs employed as weapons of warfare and terrorism have reemerged as a worldwide menace. Regardless of their mode of attack, microbes exist to multiply, thrive, and find new hosts; they cross national boundaries and social classes, attacking without prejudice.

Now medical historian and pediatrician Howard Markel, author of Quarantine! (“Engrossing . . . Meticulously documented” —Sherwin Nuland, The New Republic), tells the story of six epidemics that broke out during the two great waves of immigration to the United States—from 1880 through 1924, and from 1965 to the present—and shows how federal legislation closed the gates to newcomers for almost forty-one years out of fear that these new people would alter the social, political, economic, and even genetic face of the nation.

Markel writes about tuberculosis today, the most serious public health threat facing the contemporary world. He writes about bubonic plague and how it came to this country in the early twentieth century; about trachoma in the years before World War I; about Ellis Island and how an East European rabbi was diagnosed and treated for the dreaded eye infection; about typhus fever and an epidemic on the Texas-Mexico border in the aftermath of Pancho Villa’s revolution; and about AIDS, the Haitian exodus, and the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

Markel explains how immigration in the twenty-first century is characterized by porous borders, rapid travel, and scattered destinations. While more than 75 percent of all immigrants during the first great wave of immigration came through New York Harbor, transportation today allows travel to all parts of the United States from the farthest reaches of the globe, giving public health physicians little opportunity to definitively diagnose infectious diseases that can incubate silently in a traveler, making the spread of epidemics far more than a theoretical concern.

Markel looks at our nation’s response to the pathogens present in our midst and examines our foolhardy attempts at isolation and our vacillation between demanding a public health system so punitive that it worsens matters rather than protects and settling for one that is too lax; how we are fascinated with all things infectious and then hardly give microbes a second thought; how the United States, a country that since its inception has prided itself on being a nation of immigrants, continues its tradition of blaming newcomers for its physical and social ills; and how globalization, social upheaval, and international travel render us all potential inhabitants of the so-called Hot Zone. Finally, Markel puts forth a plan for a globally funded public health program that could stop the spread of epidemics, help eradicate certain diseases, and protect us all.

I am giving When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Walled Garden by Robin Farrar Maass


I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Walled Garden by Robin Farrar Maass and narrated by Elizabeth Klett earlier this month. I must admit I was initially captivated by cover art for The Walled Garden, which I think is a lovely book cover. 

When I looked past the cover art for The Walled Garden and read the summary for this novel, I knew I wanted to read this novel! I enjoy reading novels that fall into the historical fiction and mystery genres that also contain a touch of romance in them. 

The Walled Garden has a lovely premise and storyline. However, I didn't like three of the minor characters and some of the over the top, dramatic behavior of a few of the other characters in this novel. I also suspected what the 'mystery' was well before it was revealed at the end by the author. Otherwise, a decent read for the most part.

Listening time for The Walled Garden by Robin Farrar Maass is 10 hours, 22 minutes and is well read by Elizabeth Klett.

Below is the summary for The Walled Garden by Robin Farrar Maass from Goodreads:

American grad student Lucy Silver arrives in England hoping to solve a longstanding literary mystery, write her dissertation, and finish her graduate studies in a blaze of academic glory. But as Lucy starts to piece together the correspondence between her late grandmother and Elizabeth Blackspear, the famous poet and garden writer who’s the subject of Lucy’s dissertation, she discovers puzzling coded references in the letters—and when an elderly English aristocrat with a secret connection to Elizabeth offers Lucy access to a neglected walled garden on his estate, the mystery deepens.

As spring turns to summer in Bolton Lacey, Lucy finds herself fighting the Blackspear Gardens’ director’s attempt to deny her access to vital documents in the archives . . . and trying not to fall in love with an attractive Scottish contractor.

In the midst of this turmoil, she stumbles upon an illicit plot to turn the historic gardens into a theme park, and becomes determined to stop it. As she races against time to save the gardens, Lucy’s search for the truth about Elizabeth’s life leads her to a French convent where she uncovers explosive evidence that will change her life and the lives of everyone around her, ultimately revealing a home—and an inheritance—more incredible than anything she could ever have imagined.

I am giving The Walled Garden by Robin Farrar Maass a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next, post happy reading!!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

 


For those that have followed my blog over the years, you already know that I am a fan of historical fiction novels.

I've had The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin in my 'to be read' pile for a number of years now and finally decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of this historical fiction novel earlier this month.

I had high hopes for The Fortune Hunter as the storyline sounded interesting. I didn't know much about Empress Elizabeth of Austria (aka Sisi) before the novel, but her comparison to Princess Diana had me curious about her as a character in The Fortune Hunter. I was also curious about how the love triangle between Sisi, Captain Bay Middleton, and Charlotte was going to play out in this novel as well... Additionally, I was also attracted to The Fortune Hunter as I'd heard good things about Daisy Goodwin as a writer. So, I had looked forward to reading The Fortune Hunter.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with The Fortune Hunter overall. Although, both Charlotte and Empress Elizabeth of Austria (aka Sisi) were strong willed women and quite accomplished in their fields of interest, which I admired. However, Empress Elizabeth of Austria (aka Sisi) came off as vain, shallow, entitled, controlling, and insecure, while Charlotte Baird, a young lady of good standing and promising photographer, was a fun character to read about in The Fortune Hunter.

Captain Bay Middleton, the third main character in this novel, is a military man and one of the finest horseman in England. Captain Middleton doesn't come from money. He is well known as a ladies man among many social circles and it grew tiresome hearing everyone refer to Captain Middleton amongst themselves and to Captain Middleton's face what a ladies man he was.

Captain Middleton came off as a complete cad and gold digger after trying to win both the affection of Charlotte and also Empress Elizabeth of Austria (aka Sisi). Captain Middleton had already wooed a woman of high standing and wealth, whom had become pregnant with his child... She terminated her relationship with Captain Middleton as she was married and didn't want the social scandal associated with a married woman becoming pregnant with her lover's baby... Instead, she makes her pregnancy seem like the natural occurrance between herself and her husband.

There are a lot of twists and turns in The Fortune Hunter. But I found this novel not to my liking. Many of the characters and plot twists seemed shallow or contrived. I think I'll pass on reading anything more written by Daisy Goodwin.

Below is the summary for The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin from Goodreads:
Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as "Sisi," is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse. Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.
I am giving The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, January 27, 2023

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

 


I enjoyed listening to the unabridged audio version of These Women by Ivy Pochoda and narrated by Bahni Turpin and Frankie Corzo.

These Women is a contemporary work of fiction set in South Los Angeles with a focus on marginalized women. These Women is told from the perspective of five different women through five different sections featuring the unique voice of each of the five women in this novel. 

I liked the way These Women unfolds because the voice of each of the five women helps to propel the plot forward and identify the identity of the serial killer by the end of the novel. I liked These Women for the most part as it is different from most of the novels I normally read. However, I was able to figure out who the serial killer was before it was revealed, which was a little bit of a disappointment.

Feelia is definitely my favorite character in These Woman. She's sassy and her character really pops. Feelia is a former prostitute who had survived a brutal throat slashing from the man who would decades later be caught as the local serial killer. Feelia is the only known victim to survive her brutal attack. The sad part is that the police don't even try to search for, nor apprehend the man who had attacked Feelia... The police don't have much sympathy for prostitutes as they view Feelia's attack as just the hazard of being a prostitute.

The following is a book summary for These Women by Ivy Pochoda from Goodreads:
n West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

I am giving These Women by Ivy Pochoda a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

New to Me Authors I discovered 2022!


I read 99 books in 2022... Most of the books I read 2022 were audiobooks. I actually listened to more books than read books in 2022, which is a first for me I'm pretty sure. Many of the books I read in 2022 were written by authors I'd never read before 2022.

Below are the top ten new to me authors I read in 2022:

1. Margaret Walker - Jubilee
2. Peter Swanson - The Kind Worth Killing
3. Helen MacDonald - H is for Hawk
4. Sarah McBride - Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality
5. Diana Rowland - My Life As a White Trash Zombie
6. Xio Axelrod - The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
7. Rudolfo Anaya - Bless Me, Ultima
8. Glen Duncan - The Last Werewolf
9. Elizabeth Day - Magpie
10. S. T. Gibson - A Dowry of Blood

Have you read any of the above authors or books? Which new to you authors did you read in 2022? Share with me in the comment section below!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

 


News of the World by Paulette Jiles is a novel that had been in my 'to be read' pile for a number of years, until this year. I am happy that I finally decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of News of the World by Paulette Jiles and narrated by Grover Gardner.

I'd heard many great things about News of the World from other readers and of course, that this novel was a National Book Award Finalist for fiction... But I wasn't sure if I'd like it due to the hype and the fact that westerns are generally not my go to genre.

Let's just say that I was pleasantly surprised by News of the World. It's very well narrated by Grover Gardner. I enjoyed the main character, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, the best. I also liked the other main character of Johanna as well, however not as much as the character of Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd. The characters and storyline were both well developed in News of the World and this novel contains a very tidy ending.

Listening time for News of the World by Paulette Jiles is 6 hours, 42 minutes.

Below is the summary for News of the World by Paulette Jiles from Goodreads:

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.
I am giving News of the World by Paulette Jiles a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Don't Look For Me by Wendy Walker

 


The first novel I read and reviewed by Wendy Walker was All Is Not Forgotten back in March 2018. I loved reading All Is Not Forgotten, as it was an excellent and thought provoking read. 

I've wanted to read another novel by Wendy Walker ever since then. I discovered the unabridged audio version of Don't Look For Me by Wendy Walker and narrated by Therese Plummer on Chirp Books as one of their limited time deals, so I couldn't resist downloading and listening to this mystery/thriller.

I loved the suspense and tension built by alternating each chapter from the point of view of Molly Clarke followed by the point of view of her daughter, Nicole. I literally couldn’t wait to see how this novel played out. I ended up finishing this novel within 48 hours. 

Overall, Don’t Look For Me, is a great book…. However around 90% into this novel there is a plot twist that I didn’t see coming. This plot twist didn’t sit well with me. Nor did this plot twist resonate well with me either as to how the plot would unfold. Other than this detail, I thought that Don't Look For Me was a great read.

Below is the plot summary for Don't Look For Me by Wendy Walker from Goodreads:
One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life. The car abandoned miles from home. The note found at a nearby hotel. The shattered family that couldn't be put back together. It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over. She doesn't want to be found. Or at least, that's the story. But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?

The night Molly disappeared began with a storm, running out of gas, and a man in a truck offering her a ride to town. With him is a little girl who reminds her of the daughter she lost years ago. It feels like a sign. And Molly is overcome with the desire to be home, with her family—no matter how broken it is. She accepts the ride. But when the doors are locked shut, Molly begins to suspect she has made a terrible mistake.

When a new lead comes in after the search has ended, Molly's daughter, Nicole, begins to wonder. Nothing about her mother's disappearance makes sense.

Nicole returns to the small, desolate town where her mother was last seen to find the truth. The locals are kind and eager to help. The innkeeper. The bartender. Even the police. Until secrets begin to reveal themselves and she comes closer to the truth about that night—and the danger surrounding her.

I am giving Don't Look For Me by Wendy Walker a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, January 23, 2023

New to Me Little Free Library in San Ramon, California!

 

7524 Northland Ave, San RamonCA 94583

Yes, I still love finding new to me Little Free Libraries! This is the first new to me Little Free Library of 2023 in San Ramon, California! It was a very cute LFL find filled with an abundance of books. I left two books and took two books.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

My 11 Least Favorite Reads During 2022!



Overall, I'd say that I enjoyed most of the books I read in 2023 were pretty wonderful... However, 11 books out of the 98 books I read this year I gave a 1 or 2 star rating out of 5 stars as follows:

1. Partials by Dan Wells - I'd read/heard a lot of wonderful things about this young adult/apocalypse novel (also the 1st book in a series). So, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Partials. I didn't like, nor do I understand the hype for this novel. The characters and storyline were so one dimensional. I almost gave up on finishing this novel it was so bad, in my opinion.

2. Wolf by Jim Harrison - I wanted to branch out and try a new to me author. After I finished listening to this novel, I was like what the hell did I just listen to? Wolf was so weird/strange and all over the place. Wolf felt very stream of consciousness to me.

3. Ozoni and Onsens by Steph Gennaro - This is a short story/novella. I didn't find the storyline or characters that engaging. 

4. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton - I listened to the audio version of this novel for a mystery/thriller virtual book club I joined this year. Although, I enjoyed the unique premise of this novel, it was 17 hours, 4 minutes long and had TOO MUCH going on to keep track of throughout the novel. The ending I didn't like, nor did I see the twist for this novel's ending either.

5. MatchMater Paranormal Dating App: The Complete Series by Laura Greenwood - Cheesy paranormal romance series. Need I day more?

6. Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera - Intriguing storyline that sounded like a promising one to me. In the end, I thought it was okay overall... very forgettable.

7. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones - I so wanted to LOVE this novel. Again this was another novel I'd heard great things about, but it didn't live up to the hype for me.

8. Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson - I'd listened to A Dowry of Blood by the same author earlier in the year, which I really enjoyed. So, I decided to give this novel by the same author a try. Meh, it wasn't as rewarding as the first novel was.

9. Miss Kane's Christmas by Caroline Mickelson - A Christmas themed read in time for the holiday season that makes for an easy read. I didn't care for it much - too shallow/superficial for my taste.

10. Caught Witch Handed by Catherine Waltan - Another one of those novels with an overall mediocre storyline and over the top cast of characters. It wasn't my type of book. I'll skip the rest of the series.

11. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I've read  a three things written by
 F. Scott Fitzgerald. Let's just say, I don't understand the appeal of his writing and leave it at that.

Did you come across any books that didn't make the cut with you in 2022?

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - FREEBIE - My Top TEN Reads From the Second Half of 2022!!!

 



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Top 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 are my top ten favorite reads during the second half of 2022!!  Have you read any of the books in my Top Ten Tuesday post? Let me know in the comment section below!

1. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
2. H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald
3. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
6. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
7. Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
8. The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrik Svensson
9. Where the Lost Dogs Go: A Story of Love, Search, and the Power of Reunion by Susannah Charleson
10. 
10 Landmark Supreme Court Decisions and How They Impact Your Life by David L. Hudson

How was your year of reading in 2022?