Monday, June 18, 2018

The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn


I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn and narrated by Nicol Zanzarella. 

Listening time for The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn is 8 hours, 9 minutes.

The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn is a work of historical fiction set in the year 1764 in the village of Rantum on the island of Sylt in the North Sea.

I thought that The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn started off kind of on the slow side. In fact, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this novel very much as the main character, Maren Luersen, was a bit too headstrong, prideful, a tad spoiled, and a bit naive when it comes to love. Plus, the storyline didn't initially seem very compelling to me of a worthy read. However, the novel picks up about midway in and becomes much more interesting, thank goodness! There are twists and turns to be expected throughout the rest of the novel that make it more engaging... The ending for The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn was short and a bit abrupt, but also predictable as to how it was going to end. 

I thought this novel was well narrated by Nicol Zanzarella.

I'm not sure at this point if I will be reading the second novel in the The Island of Sylt series as I wasn't completely in love with the first book in the series.

The following is a plot summary for The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn from Amazon:
In the opening epic novel of The Island of Sylt trilogy by bestselling author Ines Thorn, a young woman must choose between love and poverty, or thrilling adventure and tormented passion. 
Germany's North Sea Coast: The Island of Sylt, 1764 
Life in the windswept village of Rantum in the North Sea is fraught with peril and hardship. Most families must rely on arranged marriage just to survive. But free-spirited Maren Luersen doesn't care for riches - her heart belongs to handsome but poor Thies Heinen. He may not have prospects or fortune to offer, but Maren knows their intense love can overcome any obstacle, and she is determined to be his bride. 
The wealthy and mysterious Captain Rune Boyse has other plans. He shocks Maren with a startling marriage proposal, and even though he can give her family a better life, her love for Thies is too powerful to deny. But when tragedy strikes, she finds herself in debt to the captain and must set sail with him on a dangerous whale hunt - with no promise of a safe return. 
If Maren survives, will life be the same back on shore? Or will her heart change course somewhere over the icy swells of the Arctic Sea?
I am giving The Whaler: The Island of Sylt, Book 1 by Ines Thorn a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, June 15, 2018

50/50 Friday - Favorite Book with a Short/Long Title




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 to select one's favorite book with a short title and also a favorite book with a long title.

Favorite Book With A Short Title
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I read this years ago before I began blogging and loved it!



Favorite Book With A Long Title
(Click on above link to read my review)
I read this book last year and loved it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel

Unabridged Audio Version
I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel and narrated by Angela Dawe

Listening time for The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel is 8 hours, 40 minutes.

I really enjoy reading historical fiction novels. So when I saw the cover for The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel, read what the novel was about, and saw there was 1900+ (mainly glowing) reviews on Amazon for The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel, I knew that I wanted to read it!! And did I mention I love the cover for this novel?? Well I do! 

The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel is set during the Prohibition Era on the eastern sea coast community of Sandy Hook. I love the main character of Freida Hope. Frieda and her younger sister, Bea, are left as orphans when their prostitute mother dies due to ill health. Both young girls are taken in by kindly fisherman named Silver, who becomes their only parent and father figure. 

Frieda Hope is a strong, independent female character who doesn't want to follow traditional female roles and become a secretary after high school until she marries a man. Instead, she wants to own her own boat and have her own a clamming business. But that dream dies when Silver sells his boat to another man leaving Frieda fuming and trying to decide what to do for work to become financially independent. Frieda apprentices as a boat mechanic and turns into a really good mechanic... But when she hears how much money rumrunners make for bringing in illegal alcohol, the lure of easy money to help take care of Silver after his stroke and her younger sister, Frieda doesn't hesitate to partake in this illegal activity. 

Lots of things happen when Frieda starts  rumrunning that make The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel an interesting read. I liked this story a lot, even if it wasn't a perfect one... A few minor things could have been answered that weren't in this novel. But mainly it was a wonderful novel that I enjoyed immensely. 

Additionally, I thought Angela Dawe made an excellent narrator for The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel.

The following is a plot summary for The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel from Amazon:
Running rum during Prohibition, she’ll risk her life—and her heart.
Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope is determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry.
Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, and is lured into a money-making team of rumrunners supplying alcohol to New York City speakeasies. Speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor, Frieda gets swept up in the lucrative, risky work—and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun.
As danger mounts and her own feelings threaten to drown her, can Frieda find her way back to solid ground—and to a love that will sustain her?
I am giving The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie



Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie is a reread for me. I read this mystery novel decades ago while I was either in high school or college. I went through an Agatha Christie reading spell during that time period and read many of her novels or short stories. 

I remember reading Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie back in the day and being quite fond of it at the time. So when I rediscovered Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie at a local Little Free Library earlier this year, I looked forward to rereading it once again.

Although it was fun to reread Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie again (I've always liked Hecule Poirot as a character), sadly I must admit that I didn't enjoy it as much the second time around. 

I felt like Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie was a bit on the slow side for the most part. It didn't pick up until the final few remaining chapters left of the novel. I also felt like some of the personalities of a few of the characters were a bit off (or dated???), like that of Judith Hastings, Captain Hastings's adult daughter. Judith is in her 20s, but I felt like Judith was too independent/defensive and wouldn't even hear of anything her father would say to her out of concern. She'd be rude and tell him off saying he had no right to say anything to her about his concerns. Plus, there was a discussion among a few of the characters in one scene that seemed to touch on the premise of eugenics, which felt kind of odd to read.

Captain Hastings seemed rather daft throughout Curtain: Poirot's Last Case. For someone who'd been working with Hercule Poirot for so many years, I would have thought he'd been able to pick up on clues a lot better than he did during Curtain: Poirot's Last Case. Instead, Captain Hastings doesn't figure much of anything out at all. It isn't until he reads Hercule Poirot's manuscript/postscript at the end of the novel that he finally understands everything. 

I have pros and cons with Hercule Poirot's manuscript/postscript that is left for Captain Hastings at the end of Curtain: Poirot's Last Case. The Pros for me are that we see the complexity of the novel and how things actually panned out. I also thought it was cool that Poirot's first and last case should be at Styles... However, it wasn't the ending I would have expected for this novel. In many ways, I felt like Agatha Christie's ending for Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie is pure genius... In other ways, I felt like it was a cop out to readers to have the novel's ending have to be explained to the readers through a written manuscript/postscript from Hercule Poirot to Captain Hastings. Not sure at this point in time how I feel about the ending of Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie. I think it will take some time to sort out just how I feel about Curtain: Poirot's Last Case's ending.

The following is a plot summary for Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie from Amazon:
The Queen of Mystery has come to Harper Collins! Agatha Christie, the acknowledged mistress of suspense—creator of indomitable sleuth Miss Marple, meticulous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and so many other unforgettable characters—brings her entire oeuvre of ingenious whodunits, locked room mysteries, and perplexing puzzles to Harper Paperbacks. The legendary detective saves his best for last as he races to apprehend a five-time` killer before the final curtain descends in Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case.
Do you reread books? Does your view of a book change over time?? 

I am giving Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

American Bookbinders Museum in San Francisco, California

Last weekend, my husband and I had fun visiting the American Bookbinders Museum in downtown San Francisco, California for the first time. 

We attended a literary event at the American Bookbinders Museum titled SF In SF. We had a blast during our time at the American Bookbinders Museum and spent roughly three hours there. We enjoyed walking through the museum looking at the current exhibit, but we look forward to returning for a guided tour of the museum in the future. The bulk of our time was spent enjoying the festivities of the event we came to attend while at the American Bookbinders Museum.

The American Bookbinders Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm. They offer guided tours of their museum on a daily basis at 11am and 2pm. Below is more information about the American Bookbinders Museum from their about page:

The American Bookbinders Museum is the only museum of its kind in North America, celebrating and exploring the culture and tools of bookbinders and bookbinding from its earliest forms through the changes and innovations of the industrial revolution.
In addition to the craft and artistry of binding, we focus on the stories of the men, women, and children who worked in binderies.
Below are a few pictures taken while at the American Bookbinders Museum.


Entrance to the American Bookbinders Museum.
One of the current displays at the American Bookbinders Museum.
One of several bookbinding devices on display at the American Bookbinders Museum
My husband standing near another piece of bookbinding equipment at the American Bookbinders Museum.
For those interested in knowing more about bookbinding, then I recommend visiting the American Bookbinders Museum.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Four Books That Awakened the Travel Bug In Me!




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.

1. A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco by Susanna Clarke ~ I now want to visit Morocco, a country I'd never thought about visiting prior to reading this book.
2. Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas ~ Okay, I love pastries, desserts, coffee, and tea... So making a culinary trip to Paris to see the major destinations + food destinations, sounds awesome to me. I can't imagine how much weight I'd gain there if I ate all the food Amy Thomas discusses in her memoir.
3. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert ~ Let's be clear here, I didn't like Eat Pray Love very much, but this book did make me want to visit all the countries Elizabeth Gilbert visited. Wouldn't be wonderful to take a year off from life and just travel the world to find oneself??
4. Tea & Bee's Milk: Our Year In A Turkish Village by Karen & Ray Gilden ~ I now also want to visit Turkey, another country I'd never thought about visiting prior to reading this book.

Monday, June 11, 2018

SF In SF - Science Fiction. San Francisco. - The Perfect Fit!

As an avid book lover, there is always a plethora of literary events and author signings in and around the San Francisco Bay Area to attend, for which I am immensely grateful. I recently learned about SF In SF - Science Fiction. San Francisco. - The Perfect Fit through author, Meg Elison's Facebook page.

As a relevant side note here, I'd wanted to see/hear Meg Elison and a few other authors speak on day two of the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival. Unfortunately, I missed day two of the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival due to unforeseen circumstances. Fortunately, for me, Meg Elison is a resident of San Francisco's East Bay Area, so I was finally able to see/hear her speak last night at SF In SF along with authors, Terry Bisson, Ellen Klages, and Lucy Jane Bledsoe at the American Bookbinders Museum in downtown San Francisco.

About 20-25 attendees came to hear moderator Terry Bisson introduce each author and then hear Meg Elison, Ellen Kluges, and Lucy Jane Bledsoe each read a bit of their writing, discuss their work, and answer questions from the audience. Afterward, each author signed copies of their books. I came away with five signed copies of books to added to my ever growing signed book collection.


Left to right: Meg Elison, Terry Bisson, Ellen Kluges, and Lucy Jane Bledsoe

The following is more information about SF In SF from their about page:
Science Fiction in San Francisco – A perfect fit. Located in the City, we host a monthly series of author readings from the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and genre literary fields, hosted by Terry Bisson. In partnership with the Balboa Theatre, we also host regular movie sneak peaks.
All events are underwritten by our sponsor, Tachyon Publications. Books are sold at author events courtesy of Borderlands Books.
Find us on Twitter at @sfinsfevents, on Facebook, and at Meetup under SF in SF Events. For more info, email Rina Weisman, coordinator, at sfinsfevents@gmail.com.
My husband and I had a blast attending our very first SF In SF event last night and I am not even a huge fan of the science fiction genre... Neither is my husband as he doesn't read many books, but he happily comes to these book events with me. We were very impressed with the SF in SF event and the venue where it was held! The staff was very friendly and so were those attending this event. My hubby and I were at the SF in SF event for approximately three hours. We arrived early and enjoyed walking through the American Bookbinders Museum before the evening's festivities began. The American Bookbinders Museum is small but fabulous museum! We look forward to returning for one of the in depth docent lead tours in the future. The best part was having front row seats and hearing the authors speak/read and having my books signed by the authors! The perfect date evening with my hubby. I'm feeling blessed!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone



I listened to the unabridged audio version of Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone and narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith over the course of two days! I really enjoyed this contemporary fiction novel immensely as it contained many elements that sucked me into the novel from start to finish. If you like books filled with dark family secrets, self discovery, and mystery, then this may be the novel for you!

Half Past is the first novel written by Victoria Helen Stone that I've ever read. Victoria Helen Stone's storytelling is good, her characters are well developed, and I enjoyed the overall pace of Half Past.

The main character, Hannah Smith, is a 45 years old woman going through a mid-life crisis. Hannah is dealing with a difficult divorce and has been laid off from a great paying job in Chicago when she moves back home to Iowa to help take care of her elderly mother with dementia. 

Hannah has always felt like the odd person out in her family and when Hannah's mom tells her “You’re not my daughter,” Hannah begins to wonder if this is the ramblings of a woman with dementia or if there is some merit to her mother's words.

Long story, Hannah discovers that the woman she has always thought was her biological mother is not really her biological mother after all and she learns this bit of information early on in the novel. This news sends Hannah on an odyssey of self discovery trying to uncover the truth of her family's past despite the fact that her two older sisters are not on board with Hannah's need to know more about her family's secretive past. This journey takes Hannah from her small town home in Iowa to Big Sur, California in search of much needed answers. And answers, Hannah, does receive! Hannah discovers more than she bargains for by the end of the novel. 

All in all, I really enjoyed Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone. There were a few little things that didn't make this novel the perfect read that I won't go into, but for the most part I truly enjoyed reading Half Past. 

As a side note, I've been to Big Sur, California and find it beautiful. I've also visited Chicago before on vacation twice. And I've lived in a small college town in Iowa. So reading this novel was fun as it touches on geographical areas I'd want to read about. Plus, the main character is close to my own age and the thought of having to one day deal with aging parent(s) in failing health may be something I have to one day deal with in the future. Although, I can't imagine having to deal with discovering and then uncovering some deep dark family secret on top of that! Wouldn't that be the pits!? 

Listening time for Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone is 7 hours, 28 minutes. Emily Sutton-Smith is a good narrator for this novel.

The following is a plot summary for Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone from Amazon:
At forty-five, Hannah Smith is at a crossroads. That’s her spin on it. The reality is she’s divorced, jobless, and moving back to her family home in Iowa to keep an eye on her mother, who’s slipping into dementia. Her return stirs up the same unnerving sense of disconnect Hannah has felt since childhood—always the odd girl out, the loner outshone by her two older sisters. Hannah knew the feelings of hurt would come back. But she never expected fear. Because when her mother looks into her eyes and whispers, “You’re not my daughter,” Hannah is beginning to believe it’s not just the rambling of a confused woman.
It’s the truth.
Now Hannah’s following the trail of a family mystery to the dark coast of Big Sur, where years ago a lie was born—and buried. As frightened as she is to unearth it, Hannah knows this is the last chance she has before her past—and all its terrible secrets—are lost forever.
I am giving Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, June 8, 2018

50/50 Friday - Favorite Book Starting with A/Z



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 topics is to share one's favorite book starting with the letter A and letter Z. Tough topic this week for me as it's difficult to recall all the books I've read that start with the letter A or Z that I've enjoyed reading over the years.

Below are my choices for this week's topic.

My Favorite Book Starting With the Letter A

The Assassination of the Archduke 
by Greg King & Sue Woolmans

My Favorite Book Starting With the Letter Z
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

Share with me in the comment section below your favorite book starting with the letter A and Letter Z.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee



I became aware of author, Bonnie Dee, last year when I read her novel, Bone Deep, on my Kindle. I loved reading Bone Deep so much, that I read it twice last year! Bonnie Dee is a really good storyteller and really enjoy the characters she creates. With that in mind, I knew that I wanted to read another novel written by Bonnie Dee in the future!

I began following Bonnie Dee's Facebook page last year. I noticed that she was hosting a few giveaways on her Faceback page for some of her novels. One of the giveaways Bonnie Dee was offering on her Facebook page was for the MP3 audio version of her novel, A Hearing Heart, which is one I had been wanting to read. Lucky me, I received an MP3 copy of A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee for FREE from the author! 

Below is my honest, unbiased review for the unabridged audio version of A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee and narrated by Natasha Soudek. 

Listening time for A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee is 11 hours, 33 minutes.

A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee is a historical, romance novel with a few erotica scenes mixed in throughout the novel. A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee takes place in a small town in Nebraska in 1902. I enjoyed the storyline, plot development, and the characters very much in this novel. Bonnie Dee is a natural born storyteller and has once again created another fabulous novel that readers will want to devour if they like reading historical romance novels with a touch of eroticism in them.

My only struggle for the audio version of A Hearing Heart was that of the narrator, Natasha Soudek. Ms. Soudek is a slow narrator with a mediocre voice. If you can bring yourself to move past the narrator for this novel, you'll enjoy the audio version very much. If you are unable to move past mediore narration in an audiobook, then definitely read A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee instead of listening to the audio version.

Below is the plot summary for A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee from Amazon:
The heart conveys messages beyond what ears can hear.
After the death of her fiancé, Catherine Johnson, a New York schoolteacher in 1902, travels to Nebraska to teach in a one-room school. When violence erupts in the sleepy town, Catherine saves deaf stable hand Jim Kinney from torture by drunken thugs.
As she begins teaching Jim to read and sign, attraction grows between them. The warmth and humor in this silent man transcends the need for speech, and his eyes tell her all about his feelings for her. But the obstacles of class difference and the stigma of his handicap are almost insurmountable barriers to their growing affection.
Will Catherine flaunt society's rules and allow herself to love again? Can Jim make his way out of poverty as a deaf man in a hearing world? And will the lovers overcome a corrupt robber baron who has a stranglehold on the town? Romance, sensuality, and adventure abound in this heartfelt tale.
I am giving A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!