Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bookplates --- Do you use them?

Bookplates come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and designs. I've never used bookplates on any of the books in my permanent collection before. However, I recently decided to make the big leap and have some custom printed bookplates made to order for some of my books... Plus, I thought it would be fun to blog about my bookplate buying experience.

I purchased 24 custom bookplates from the Creative Crabbe storefront on I chose the Gradiant Lady Bookplates in a turquoise/pink combination, as you're allowed to chose which colors you want to use as well the text used on the bookplates themselves... i.e. 'From the Collection of' , 'From the Library of, ' or 'Ex Libris' if preferred + your name.

The bookplates I ordered arrived today in the mail. They look nice and I am happy with them. I look forward to using them in my books.

The following picture is an example of the bookplate style I ordered from Creative Crabbe. I'm not Marisa Anderson... This was the name shown in the product's photograph.

Do you use bookplates? If so, are they ones you handmade for yourself?  Or did you have custom ones made? Or did you buy blank bookplates where you filled in your name in the space provided?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book'em Mysteries Bookstore in South Pasadena, California

I love reading mystery novels, especially those that are of the cozy mystery variety. I recently learned of an independent bookstore in South Pasadena, California called Book'em Mysteries and knew I would have to make a visit to check to checkout their storefront. Last Friday afternoon was my opportunity to make a visit to the Book'em Mysteries Bookstore.

I found Book'em Mysteries Bookstore to be a quaint, well stocked mystery/thriller themed bookstore that has been in business for 22 years now!! I loved this bookstore's layout, the extensive selection of both new and used books and very friendly staff. You may also find many books signed by the author for sale as well at the Book'em Mysteries Bookstore.  

Book'em Mysteries is easy to locate and they have plenty of free parking in a lot adjacent to the building which houses their storefront. Book'em Mysteries Bookstore is open Tuesdays through Sundays and closed Mondays and holidays. They offer various author signing events, so checkout their website by clicking on their highlighted name in the 1st paragraph to view both their store hours and their upcoming author signing events.

While I was visiting the Book'em Mysteries Bookstore, I purchased a used copy of Denise Swanson's cozy mystery novel, Murder of a Bookstore Babe, for 50% off the cover price. I've started reading Murder of a Bookstore Babe this week & it'll be the 1st novel I've read by Denise Swanson. 

I enjoyed my time spent at Book'em Mysteries... I hope you do too!

Until my next post happy reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books." Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bookish Quote of the Day!

"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting." Edmund Burke

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Book Club Cookbook

I now want to purchase The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman & Vicki Levy Krupp, which will be released on March 1, 2012. It sounds like a fun compilation of recipes for a unique sounding cookbook... I love reading books and think it would be fun attempting to make recipes of the dishes mentioned in the novels I've read to date!

 According the the book description found on Amazon:
Whether it's Roman Punch for The Age of Innocence, or Sabzi Challow (spinach and rice) with Lamb for The Kite Runner, or Swedish Meatballs and Glögg for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, nothing spices up a book club meeting like great eats. Featuring recipes and discussion ideas from bestselling authors and book clubs across the country, this fully revised and updated edition of the classic book guides readers in selecting and preparing culinary masterpieces that blend perfectly with the  literary masterpieces their club is reading. The Book Club Cookbook will add real flavor to your book club meetings!
  • Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper (Brian Fitzgerald's Firehouse Marinara Sauce)
  • Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone (Almaz's Ethiopian Doro Wot and Sister Mary Joseph Praise's Cari de Dal)
  • Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Annie Barrows's Potato Peel Pie and Non-Occupied Potato Peel Pie)
  • Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See's Deep-Fried Sugared Taro) The Book Club Cookbook will add real flavor to your book club meetings!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Women Wine & Words Book Club

I am a woman and even though I'm not a wine drinker, I do love to read & discuss books with other avid readers. I recently discovered that a local bookstore here in Carpinteria called The Curious Cup Bookstore, hosts a monthly book club called Women Wine & Words on the 4th Thursday of each month at 7pm. The Women Wine Words Book Club meets promptly for refreshments, socializing & to discuss the book of the month. 

This month the novel, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, was chosen to be read & discussed by book club members. What a phenomenal book!! Sarah's Key is well worth the read despite the sad topic... I found myself crying at some of the events/scenes described in this novel. I wrote about my thoughts pertaining to Sarah's Key & posted them to my blog yesterday if you'd like to read more details about my thoughts on the novel.

Yesterday evening, twelve women attended the Women Wine & Words Book Club meeting. The discussion of Sarah's Key amongst book club members was lively and engaging. I really enjoyed listening to everyone's thoughts on this novel and sharing my own thoughts as well.  It was my 1st time attending the Women Wine & Words Book Club & I really enjoyed discussing Sarah's Key with this group of ladies.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

J.K. Rowling to Publish A New Novel For Adults!

According to an Associated Press article written by Hillel Italie, entitled J.K. Rowling has deal for new novel for adults, I read the following news :
The author of the mega-selling "Harry Potter" series has an agreement with Little, Brown in the United States and Britain to release her first adult novel, the publishers announced Thursday. The title, release date and details about the book, long rumored, were not announced. A neighbor of Rowling's in Edinburgh, author Ian Rankin, tweeted Thursday that he thinks Rowling has written a mystery novel.
I can't wait to see what J.K. Rowling has in store for us adult readers! Granted, I admit that I have never read any of the the Harry Potter novels, but I am still very curious to see what J.K. Rowling has in store for us adult readers!

I am also curious to see if J.K. Rowling can make the crossover from being known as a successful children's author to a successful adult author as well. This topic was also touched upon in Hillel Italie's article (see link above for full story):
The Potter books had an enormous following among readers of all ages and she is widely credited with revealing to publishers that children's books were no longer just for the young. Meyer's vampire novels and Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy also have caught on with both parents and kids. Meyer herself wrote an adult book, "The Host," a best-seller in 2008.

Perhaps J.K. Rowling's new novel for adults will be a huge success and her transition from children's author to adult author will go smoothly. Only time will tell. I simply wish Ms. Rowling the best of luck in her journey ahead!

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Book Cover
I recently finished reading the novel, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and was captivated by the storyline from start to finish!! On Amazon's website, the description of Sarah's Key is given as follows:
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

I had never heard anything about the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup until reading Sarah's Key. I found myself crying after reading some of the chapters in this book as it is heartbreaking to read about what happens.

Tatiana de Rosnay is a gifted storyteller. I enjoyed reading the short chapters written with each one alternating between Sarah's life in 1942 as we see the world through her eyes as she endures the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup and Julia's present day life in 2002 as she researches the events of Vel' d'Hiv Roundup and Sarah's life. 

The chapters continue to alternate between Sarah and Julia's lives until halfway through Sarah's Key, before the story solely shifts to Julia's life and her quest to find out what happens to Sarah.

Watch the following YouTube video, where Tatiana de Rosnay speaks with the Jewish Book Council about her novel Sarah's Key and why she wrote it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey turned 50 this year!

I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey for a contemporary literature class in high school and enjoyed reading it at the time. It's been awhile since I've read the novel and seen the movie based on the novel. 

I learned from an online article in Flavorwire that:
"Kesey was inspired to write his novel while working as a nurse’s aid in the psych ward of the Menlo Park Veteran’s Hospital in California in 1960. Most of the characters in his book are based on people who were institutionalized during his time there."
Listen to an NPR audio clip about Ken Kesey and his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

"The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all." Voltaire

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Book Published About The FIAT Dynasty

I stumbled across an online book review published on the USA Today site entitled Book review: Tale of Fiat empire and the family behind it by Kerry Hannon that caught my attention. In Hannon's article I read about the new book entitled Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler and The Power of a Dynasty by Jennifer Clark. Hannon writes:
The engine of author Jennifer Clark's narrative is the saga of the Agnelli family and how their tenacity and long-term investment vision have kept the Fiat brand on the road since it was founded by Giovanni Agnelli in 1899 as Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, or FIAT.
For Clark, a former bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, the story is first and foremost a smart insider take on how the Italian carmaker was able to win control of Chrysler and revive one of Detroit's Big Three automakers.

Normally, I could care less about reading anything regarding cars. The only exception to this rule has been when I'm on the market to buy a car and want to read any information pertinent in helping me make a smart choice in my buying decision.... But, buying a new car isn't something I do very often and I'm not currently on the market for a new car now. 

So, why has this book caught my attention? Two reasons really:

1) When I was a youngster, my mom bought a brand new 1979 FIAT 2000 convertible in the baby blue color with tan leather interior. I remember thinking the car was cute and hip at the time. 

The only major drawback was that the FIAT 2000 my mom owned was unreliable and broke down frequently. The FIAT brand has had a bad rap in the past due to unreliability issues, earning FIAT the dubious acronym of "Fix It Again Tony". 

2) I've often wondered if the FIAT models on the market today are more reliable than of those in the past? This is due in part because I think the new 2012 FIAT 500 is so adorable!

It would also be interesting to read how FIAT has helped to bail out  Chrysler. So, yes, I think Jennifer Clark's new book, Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler and The Power of a Dynasty, would make good reading material. Will I rush out and purchase a copy? Not at this time as the book seems kind of pricey and besides, I currently have way too much to read as it is. Perhaps I can find a copy of Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler and The Power of a Dynasty at the public library at some point.

P.S. I found the following YouTube video where Jennifer Clark, the author of Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler and The Power of a Dynasty, talks about her book. Great video clip.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The World's 20 Most Beautiful Libraries!

I recently made a post to my blog about the world's 20 most beautiful bookstores, so when I discovered 20 of the World's Most Beautiful Libraries complete with pictures on the Oddee website. I couldn't resist sharing the link with you all! All of these libraries look fabulous. It's difficult to pick a favorite library from this list when I could envision myself becoming lost in a book at any of these locations. Enjoy the link! Until next time, happy reading.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cotton Fabric Book Covers

I recently made my first purchase on Etsy for two colorful, fabric book covers and each one will fit a standard sized mass market paperback book. I am really happy with my purchase as the book covers are well constructed and fit mass market books nicely. So, I'm looking forward to using them for years to come!

Usually, I use a bookmark inside the book I'm reading as a reminder of where I left off. However, I've enjoyed using fabric book covers in the past, as I kind of find them fun to use, pretty to look at and a nice change of pace from using a standard bookmark. In fact, I still have two other fabric book covers that I've been using for years now. 

I purchased my new book covers from Gail Straka's Etsy storefront called Quilt Sew Cover. In addition to making paperback book covers, Ms. Straka also makes iPad sleeves, passport covers, checkbook covers and many other additional items. Check out her Etsy site to see a nice assortment of quality made items for sale.

Do you use book covers for your books? If not, do you make use of a bookmark or some other item to hold your spot inside a book?
I like the lined interior that matches the color of the outer pattern.

I enjoy the wider bookmark that is sewn inside this book cover.

Thank you card from seller.

Until my next post, happy reading and have a great day!

Books in My New Book Covers!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shelf Awareness, A Book Newsletter Subscription!

I learned about Shelf Awareness from an email I'd received through the wonderful organizers at World Book Night

Shelf Awareness publishes two different newsletters. One newsletter is geared towards the general reader, like myself, and the other one is for those that work in the book industry. The Shelf Awareness site describes their newsletters as follows:
Shelf Awareness: Enlightenment for Readers, our new newsletter, appears Tuesdays and Fridays and helps readers discover the 25 best books of the week, as chosen by our industry experts. We also have news about books and authors, author interviews and more.

Shelf Awareness: Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade, which we've been publishing since June 2005, provides booksellers and librarians the information they need to sell and lend books. It appears every business day and is read by people throughout the book industry.

Visit the Shelf Awareness website to sign up for their free newsletter. I signed up to receive their newsletter and was able to select which genres I like to read from the most. I'm assuming I'll only be sent newsletters with books that fall into one of the genre categories I've chosen. I'm looking forward to reading their upcoming newsletters. Let the journey begin!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kinokuniya Bookstore in Costa Mesa, California!

Last Sunday afternoon, I visited the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Costa Mesa, California. The Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore chain founded in 1927 with its first storefront in Tokyo. According to Wikipedia:
 Kinokuniya is the largest bookstore chain in Japan, with 56 shops around the country, in cities such as Osaka, Kyoto and Sapporo. Overall, it has more than 80 stores in Japan and overseas.
Its first overseas store opened in San Francisco in 1969. Several other bookstores have since opened in the United States, in cities including Los Angeles and New York. It then ventured into the Asia-Pacific market, opening its first store in Singapore (Liang Court Store) in 1983. Shops in Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand followed suit. In 1996, Kinokuniya launched the first outlet in Australia, located in Sydney's Neutral Bay. It later moved to its present location in George Street in the CBD.
Since 2000, Kinokuniya in the US has capitalised on the growing popularity of anime by stocking both English- and Japanese-language manga, as well as other anime-related paraphernalia. The New York City branch in Rockefeller Center was the best-known, encompassing, lengthwise, an entire city block. A new store has recently opened on Avenue of the Americas, near Bryant Park, replacing the old store, which closed at the end of 2007.
The Costa Mesa storefront is in a nice sized location in a quaint strip mall just off the 405 Freeway.
KinoKuniya Storefront in Costa Mesa
I'm unable to speak or read Japanese, but I was nonetheless intrigued by the prospect of visiting the Kinokuniya storefront and encountering an entire bookstore filled with mostly books, magazines, etc. published in the Japanese language. Aside from books and magazines, one may find origami paper, blank journals, small toys, and character goods (i.e. anime figures).

There was a small selection of books published in English. I was most amused with some of the English language book titles in stock at the Kinokuniya Bookstore. I saw the following book titles there: How to Poo at Work, How Do You Light a Fart?, The Penis Name Book and Hello Kitty Must Die. Who comes up with these book titles and book topics? They certainly do grab ones attention, don't they?

I enjoyed perusing the Kinokuniya Bookstore. I'm now look forward to browsing a Russian language bookstore in the future!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, California!

The Last Bookstore is a unique, independent bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. I learned about this bookstore from an article published on Flavorwire titled, "The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World". So, I couldn't resist the urge to make a quick side trip to The Last Bookstore this past Sunday morning on my way down to a family function in Orange County.

Spring Street
Let's start off by saying that making any kind of pit stop in downtown Los Angeles usually isn't my thing. Downtown LA is quite gritty/seedy, raw, very urban and not a place I'd rather hangout in (especially at night) if given the choice. However, with that said, there are some sites in downtown LA that are true gems and worth the drive.... One of them being The Last Bookstore!

The Last Bookstore Storefront!

The Last Bookst
The Last Bookstore is currently located on the ground floor of a high rise building and former bank location on the corner of South Spring & 5th Streets. The physical space for The Last Bookstore is amazing! The interior floor space of The Last Bookstore contains many Greek looking columns, a high ceiling with elaborately detailed architectural elements and a 10,000 square foot floor plan, which offers comfy leather chairs and sofas to sit on while enjoying the ambiance. There also many uniquely decorated mannequins throughout the bookstore plus an amazing sculpture composed of books hanging near the store's entrance/exit!
Mannequin Art!!

The Last Bookstore is open 7 days a week and they buy and trade all sorts of Books, DVDs, CDs, and Records! Yes, you read right, records! They have a large area dedicated solely to records for sale for those diehard record collectors! The Last Bookstore also recently opened a coffee & tea bar. They also offer many different kinds of special events and the special events occur on an almost daily basis. The special events range from author readings/events to open mic night and even music events and also an ongoing Skillshare event, which is a peer to peer teaching platform. Pretty cool, right?

Used Record Section
Where is my favorite spot in The Last Bookstore? The small enclave just inside the entrance of the store containing  a copious amount of new and used, hardback and paperback books on sale for a dollar each! I couldn't resist buying two paperback books priced at a dollar each, despite my goal of not buying anymore books for the rest of this calender year. What did I purchase? I snagged a brand new copy of Mexico by James Michener and a gently used collection of short stories all involving a science fiction/mystery theme, entitled Whatdunits by Mike Resnick, editor. Both books look like promising reads.

I also really liked the cash wrap area, which was a large counter with old, used hardback books framing the area that made it look like the entire area was made solely from stacked hardback books.

My Book Purchases + Free Bookmark
My final thoughts? The Last Bookstore is an amazing place and worth a visit. Is it worthy of a spot on the top 20 most beautiful bookstores of the world? The jury is still out for me on this one, but it is worthy most definitely of a visit.

The Last Bookstore's phone is: 213.488.0599. 
Their email address is: 
Finally, you can follow/like them on Facebook:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Romantic Love Letters Between Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning

Romantic love letters between between Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning goes digital... Just in time for Valentine's Day! In an Associated Press article entitled, Love letters of Barrett, Browning go online, written by Denise Lavoie, Lavoie writes:
WELLESLEY, Mass. (AP) — "I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett..."
So begins the first love letter to 19th century poet Elizabeth Barrett from her future husband, fellow poet Robert Browning.
Their 573 love letters, which capture their courtship, their blossoming love and their forbidden marriage, have long fascinated scholars and poetry fans. Though transcriptions of their correspondence have been published in the past, the hand-written letters could only be seen at Wellesley College, where the collection has been kept since 1930
But beginning on Tuesday, Valentine's Day, their famous love letters will become available online where readers can see them — just as they were written — with creased paper, fading ink, quill pen cross outs, and even the envelopes the two poets used.
The digitization project is a collaboration between Wellesley and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which houses the world's largest collection of books, letters and other items related to the Brownings.

It should be interesting to read some of the love letter between this famous couple. Denise Lavoie goes on to add in her online article that "The digitized letters will be made available free online through Baylor's digital collections". Click on above link to read the full article!

Happy Valentine's Day to All!

I hope your Valentine's Day is filled with love, peace, happiness and much joy today and everyday of the year!

I wanted to share a book I enjoyed reading several years ago for Valentine's Day. The book's title is Chicken Soup for the Couple's Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victore Hansen, Mark & Chrissy Donnelly, & Barbara De Angelis. There are several heart-warming short stories of love in this book that are worth reading! 

What's your favorite love inspired book for Valentine's Day?

However, you decide to spend your Valentine's Day, I hope you're doing something you love!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

15 Famous Authors’ Beautiful Estates

Have you ever wondered where famous authors have lived? Flavorwire, an online cultural news website, featured an article by Emily Temple titled 15 Famous Authors’ Beautiful Estates. All the homes featured in this article look fabulous. Wouldn't it be fun to have a look inside each home to see what it looks like?

I think I'd most want to visit Mark Twain's Home & Museum, in Hartford, Connecticut the most out of all of them. I've seen his home featured on a television program and it looks like a phenomenal place to visit. I've also heard that Mark Twain wrote many of his novels in his home in Hartford and the home is haunted!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bookish Quote of the Day!

"It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitation, with assurance, admire what is beautiful." Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Book Den Bookstore in Downtown Santa Barbara, California!

Last Sunday afternoon, I visited The Book Den after attending a matinee theater event in downtown Santa Barbara, California. The Book Den is a charming new & used bookstore just a half block off of State Street on Anapamu Street. The Book Den describes itself on its "About the Book Den" page as:
Nestled half a block off State Street, Santa Barbara`s main shopping street, The Book Den has been serving the literary needs of Santa Barbara residents and visitors alike for nearly eighty years. We stock tens of thousands of new, used and out-of-print books in a clean, bright and well-organized store. We`re mainly a large, general antiquarian bookstore, meaning we stock books on most subjects, from Art and Literature through History and the Sciences. And we stock books of all ages, from this year`s literary break-through to books centuries old.
The Book Den offers various author signing events and they also buy books for cash or for store credit. You may find their author signing events by clicking on their store name at the top of this post, which will take you to their home page. To find out more about their book buying terms, click on Selling books to The Book Den.

The Book Den is open 7 days a week. Store hours Monday through Saturday are open from 10AM to 6PM and on Sunday they are from 12PM to 5PM. You may contact The Book Denby phone at (805) 962-3321. You can also like The Book Den on Facebook!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Grayson by Lynne Cox

I recently finished reading Grayson by Lynne Cox and found this nonfiction book to be a very magical tale of a chance encounter between a 17 year old, long distance swimmer and a baby gray whale off the coast of Seal Beach, California. This encounter stayed with the author her entire life and it's a tale I am sure not soon to forget myself!

I am impressed not only with Lynne Cox's swimming prowess, but also her unique & engaging storytelling as she recounts her encounter with Grayson, the name she gives the baby gray whale. I especially loved Lynne's positive attitude throughout this book and can see why she has become the successful woman and swimmer that she has become today.

I know it is still early in the year, but so far, Grayson has been the best book I've read so far this year! Grayson is a short, fast & engaging read. If you're an animal lover, are fond of great storytelling and enjoy the nonfiction genre, then this may be the next book for you to read!

I'm giving Grayson a rating of 10 stars out of 10 stars. Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Calico Cat Bookshop in Ventura, California

Last Saturday afternoon, my husband & I enjoyed visiting downtown Ventura, California for a couple of hours. While we were there, we stopped by The Calico Cat Bookshop in the heart of downtown Ventura, California. The Calico Cat Bookshop is a small, quaint bookstore where used and rare books are both bought and sold.

The Calico Cat Bookshop Store Front
The Calico Cat Bookshop opened its doors in 1975 and was given the name due to the calico cat that inhabited the store for some years. According to their website, "The Calico Cat Bookshop is reminiscent of a classic European bookstore, with secondhand and collectible books, all in good condition."

Interior shot of The Calico Bookshop
Leather Bound Books
I enjoyed my time spent at The Calico Cat Bookshop. The staff seemed friendly enough and spent a nice amount of time answering customer questions. It was a busy afternoon in their shop and I was happy to see that there were plenty of customers perusing the bookshelves of an independent bookstore!

I saw many interesting books for sale, but resisted buying any more books to add to my collection!

Lastly, I'd like to add that you may find a few book titles from The Calico Cat Bookshop for sale online at both & Visit The Calico Cat Bookshop link above and you will discover a tab on their website called "Find A Book", which will link you to the books that they are selling on both &

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prince Charles leads Dickens 200th celebrations

Who would've guessed that Prince Charles, heir to the English throne, would be leading the Dickens 200th celebration by laying wreath at Dickens' grave?

But Prince Charles isn't the only one to turn out to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. US actress Gillian Anderson did a reading from Dickens' work and English actor Ralph Fiennes made an appearance at a special ceremony where Dickens was buried. According to an article written by Mike Collett-White for Reuters titled "UPDATE 2-Prince Charles leads Dickens 200th celebrations" :
The event marked the largest gathering of Dickens' descendants, with over 200 family members attending.
"This bicentenary should help renew our commitment to improving the lot of the disadvantaged of our own day," said the Dean of Westminster, John Hall, referring to Dickens' preoccupation with inequality and poverty.
I'm so glad to read about all the world wide media attention surrounding the anniversary of such a beloved writer!! It sure beats reading about the usual media fare these days!

Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens!!

Charles Dickens is one of Britain's many beloved and well know authors. Today marks his 200th birthday. 

Are you a fan of Dickens' writing? If so, you may be interested in taking an interactive online quiz to test your knowledge of his works to find out how much you really know! Unfortunately, I didn't fair so well on the quiz as I haven't read many novels written by Charles Dickens. I've read both Great Expectations (for a high school English class) & A Christmas Carol (in middles school) and I enjoyed reading them both equally at the time.

Do you have a favorite Charles Dickens novel? Please share which one is your favorite and why. Are you reading any of his novels this month on honor of his 200th birthday? I don't plan to read any of his novels at this time only because I already have so many other books to read.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Ten Favorite Books

1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
2. A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
3. The Master & Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov
4. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingolver
8. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
9. Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice by Mark Plotkin, Ph.D.
10. Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin

Above are some of my favorite books listed in no particular order of preference. I like them all equally for different reasons. It was actually difficult for me to choose my ten favorite books as I've read so many splendid books to date. My list of favorite books does change over the course of time due to changing tastes and as I continue to read/discover new books. 

Tell me your favorite reads!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Book Barge --- A Floating Bookstore

Approximately, six months ago or so,  I learned about  The Book Barge, which is a unique floating bookstore in the United Kingdom that sails through the canal ways. What a unique sounding bookstore! An article was written about The Book Barge in the The Guardian called A bookshop going places by Lee Rourke. Rourke writes in his article:
The Book Barge was indeed a floating bookshop on a canal boat (57' Cruiser Stern) in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

It is the brainchild of Sarah Henshaw. "By setting up on a canal boat," she explained, "we hope to promote a less hurried and harried lifestyle of idle pleasures, cups of tea, conversation, culture and, of course, curling up with an incomparably good Book Barge purchase." I was immediately sold. But why a canal boat? "I hoped that by creating a unique retail space, customers would realise how independent bookshops can offer a far more pleasurable shopping experience than they're likely to find online or on the discount shelves at supermarkets."
Some day I'd enjoy riding The Book Barge myself! Click on links above to learn more about this unique bookstore!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Polish Poet & Nobel Laureate, Wislawa Szymborska Dies at Aged 88

Wislawa Szymborska passed away in her sleep from lung cancer on February 1, 2012. Polish president, Bronislaw Komorowski, has called Wislawa Szymborska Poland's "guardian spirit".
Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel Prize for her poetry in 1996. The Nobel Committee described her "as the 'Mozart of poetry' but with 'something of the fury of Beethoven' – and by an Italian newspaper as the 'Greta Garbo of World Poetry'" writes Alison Flood for the United Kingdom's newspaper The Guardian in an article titled Wislawa Szymborska, 'Mozart of poetry', dies aged 88. Alison Flood went on to further write in her article about Wislawa Szymborska, saying the following:
She took the Nobel in 1996 despite having published only 200 or so poems: she was praised by the committee for her poetry "that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality".
In her Nobel speech, she spoke of the extraordinary nature of life, of how she would love to tell Ecclesiastes that "'There's nothing new under the sun': that's what you wrote, Ecclesiastes. But you yourself were born new under the sun", and of how, "in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone's existence in this world."
Despite her popularity, Szymborska shied away from the public spotlight telling The Guardian in 2000 that "there's simply too much fuss about myself".

Some of Wislawa Szymborska's published books of poetry may be found for sale on

To learn more about Wislawa Szymborska, read the Los Angeles Times article, Wislawa Szymborska dies at 88; Nobel-winning Polish poet, by Elaine Woo.

Brooklyn Poet Timothy Donnelly wins $100,000 Poetry Prize

I'd never even heard of Brooklyn poet Timothy Donnelly before.... That is until a couple of days ago when I read that he had been given the annual $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award from the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California for his second book of poetry, The Cloud Corporation

I agree with what writer David Orr wrote in his article for NPR titled, "Flush Poets Society: Donnelly's 'Cloud Corporation' Wins Six-Figure Prize", that the words "poetry" and "money" are rarely found in the same sentence. I've always assumed that poets don't earn a lot of money for their writing which is unfortunate if they are talented at their craft. Orr goes on to further write:
The Kingsley Tufts Prize is given to a poet in mid-career (Donnelly is 42), which means that it's usually going to someone with three or four books under his or her belt. But The Cloud Corporation is Donnelly's second book. His first, Twenty-Seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit, was published in 2003, after which Donnelly did something all too rare in the poetry world: He took his time.
Learn more about Timothy Donnelly by reading the following links:

Publishers Weekly Interview 
Timothy Donnelly's 6 Favorite Contemporary Poets

Poetry isn't something I read (or even write) all that often. Do you have a favorite poet? Share your favorite poet!

My favorite poet is Maya Angelou. I've seen her and her speak at the University of Iowa where she'd received an award and also at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara. Maya Angelou is an amazing and captivating speaker. She recites poetry and even sang in one of her speaking engagements. I love her writing!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The World's Most Beautiful Bookstores?

You be the judge!! I discovered a post on Flavorwire regarding their take on the "The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World" and from the pictures posted to their website, I couldn't agree more.  W-O-W, the bookstores featured look FABULOUS!! 

Being the bookstore lover and avid reader that I am,  I would now love to visit each and every one of the bookstores mentioned... And since I've already visited Bart's Books in Ojai, California, I'd only have 19 more bookstores left on the list to visit.

Hmmm, I wonder if my hubby would go for a vacation revolving around visiting bookstores?? I guess it wouldn't hurt to ask, right? ;-)

Have you visited any of the bookstores featured in Flavorwire article and if so, which ones? Was the bookstore really all that beautiful and worth visiting in your opinion? Which of the bookstores mentioned would you most want to visit?  

I think I'd most want to visit the Cafebreria El Pendulo bookstore in Mexico City, Mexico or the Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto Portugal the most. 

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I've already visited Bart's Books in Ojai, California and it is definitely worth the visit. In fact, the entire town of Ojai is a nice destination come to think of it. 

Last month, I made a post featuring Bart's Books, so check it out if you haven't done so already!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Storybundle, A New eBook Website!

Yesterday, I learned from my hubby about a new eBook website called Storybundle.Com and it looks like a promising new website. Basically, the StoryBundle website describes itself as follows:

You know those indie video game bundles where you pay what you want for a batch of quality titles? We're like that, but for ebooks. We give you a handful of ebooks (about five or so) for a low price that you choose, all DRM-free, delivered to your ereader.
We only choose quality independent authors so you can be sure what you're buying is good. Plus, you decide how much these books are worth.Great reads delivered cheaply without killing a single tree? That's something everybody can feel good about. We're StoryBundle, and we're coming soon.
After digging deeper, I've learned that StoryBundle is being launched by Jason Chen, who has spent the past six years as managing editor of LifeHacker

StoryBundle has yet to launch. However, you may submit you're email address on their website for further details/information.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Amanda Hocking's $2 Million Cinderella Story!!

Barbara Hernandez recently wrote an article entitled "Self-Published Authors Still Rarely Make the Jump to Publishing Houses" for Mediashift, where she spotlights in her article that self published authors are rarely signed by major publishing giants. Amanda Hocking appears to be the exceptions to this rule. Barbara Hernandez wrote the following:
Amanda Hocking, a 27-year-old independent author who sold more than a million copies of her books, signed a reported $2 million-plus, four-book deal with St. Martin's Press earlier this year, making her an indie success story. The news of her book deal flooded the Internet, sparking reports that publishers are looking for the next Hocking.

But Hocking wasn't a passive participant in the process. She sent numerous queries, manuscripts and book proposals to traditional publishers and agents, only to be turned down repeatedly. Hocking was also a prolific author with nine self-published titles to her name and her popular Trylle Trilogy, had already been optioned for a motion picture. According to her blog, she even had an editor, cover artist and acted on feedback from publishers and agents. By the time she was offered a contract by St. Martin's she had negotiated foreign language rights in Hungary and sold 1 million copies of her books.
Amanda Hocking has become quite the media sensation!! I am excited to learn of her success story. (Click on Amanda's highlighted name at the start of this paragraph to read her blog.) Amanda Hocking has no formal training as a writer and has only completed two semesters at a local community college. This goes to show you that formal training as a writer and a college education are definitely not needed to succeed in becoming a successfully published writer. 

I'm not even sure creativity can be taught. You either have it or you do not. One can hone their skills over time, but perseverance,  motivation, and the belief in ones ability can take one a long way to reaching their dreams. Learn more about Amanda Hocking by listening to an interview with her found on NPR.