Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!!!

This weekend is a holiday here in the USA known as Memorial Day. Or more accurately, Monday is Memorial Day, making it a three day holiday weekend for many folks. 

For those of you that do not live in the USA, "Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces." (Source Wikipedia)

For me, Memorial Day Weekend usually marks the time of year when the weather finally begins warming up and begins to feel more and more like summer each passing day... Even though it isn't officially summertime here in North America until June 21st. Today
the weather was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18.9 degrees Celsius) with a real feel of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or 22.2 degrees Celsius).

Today, my hubby and I spent a few hours at a local beach here in Carpinteria called Jelly Bowl Beach. We enjoyed our time spent at the beach along with many other beach goers who also seemed to be enjoying their time spent sunbathing, swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, paddle boarding, and so on.

Usually, the two of us enjoy taking a walk on the beach and spending time looking at the tide pools during low tide, but not today. Instead, my hubby and I enjoyed kicking back in our beach chairs and hanging out together. During our stay at the beach, I read 30 pages of The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean, while my hubby listened to podcasts.

I actually enjoy reading at the beach, although it isn't something I do all that often. Where do you like to read most?

What are you reading this holiday weekend?? Tell me about what you're reading!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday #2 ~~ Intriguing Book Titles

Last weekend, I found myself visiting a bookstore with my husband, which is no big surprise as I love visiting bookstores.

During our visit to one bookstore, I came across many captivating book titles that stopped me in my tracks and had me thumbing through their pages to learn more about what these books had to offer!

Here's the short list of books (in no particular order of importance) I came across: 
1. Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human by Jesse Bering

2. Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man by Brian McGrory

3. Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals by Con Slobodchikoff

4. Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz

5. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

6. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

7. Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall 

8. Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock

9. The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Keen

10. Why There's Antifreeze in Your Toothpaste: The Chemistry of Household Ingredients by Simon Quellen Field

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 7.0 May 13th - 19th --- A Week In Review!!

First of all, my apologies for not blogging sooner than today. I've been out of town for over a week visiting family & was without reliable internet access to write posts regarding my reading stats while I was away from home.

I did accomplish some reading during the past week, but not as much I normally accomplish during a regular week as I was spending more time having fun with family.

On Day 1, I spent roughly 60 - 70 minutes reading. During this time, I was able to start and finish reading 'Nosebleed', which is a 72 page children's novel by Ged Maybury. 'Nosebleed' was an awesome novel to read and I'll write a review regarding 'Nosebleed' later this week.

On Days 2, 4, 5, & 6, I started and finished reading an eBook titled, 'Mystral Murder' (The Julie O'Hara Mystery Series) by Lee Hanson, which was just okay. 'Mystral Murder' is a mystery novel that takes place on a cruise ship, which sounded interesting to me at the time. It's an easy, breezy novel to read and I liked the main character, Julie O'Hara.

On Days 6 & 7, I began and continued reading 'Castle Cay', which is another mystery novel in The Julie O'Hara Mystery Series by Lee Hanson. 'Castle Cay' is actually the 1st novel in The Julie O'Hara Mystery Series. I'm roughly 45% into this novel and am too pooped to continue reading the remaining 30 odd minutes remaining of the Bout of Books 7.0 Read-A-Thon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Making Rounds with Oscar by Dr. David Dosa

Oscar is Extraordinary!!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Making Rounds with Oscar by Dr. David Dosa!!

I must preface by saying that when I first heard about 'Making Rounds with Oscar', I thought this book was going to be just another book about a cat... I love cats by the way, but I couldn't have been more wrong about what this book encompasses.

Yes, Oscar is the star of the show and he does capture our hearts throughout  'Making Rounds with Oscar'... But there is so much more going on in this book other than Oscar's extraordinary skills to give comfort.

We also read about geriatrician, Dr. David Dosa, who works with elderly patients who have dementia. Through reading 'Making Rounds with Oscar', I felt Dr. Dosa to be a thoughtful and compassionate doctor who cares deeply about his patients, their family members, and the staff who he works with at Steer House.

In an article titled Dr. David Dosa Profiles Cat Who Predicts Deaths In New Book by Ray Henry for the Huffington Post, Ray Henry writes the following:
"People actually were taking great comfort in this idea, that this animal was there and might be there when their loved ones eventually pass," Dosa said. "He was there when they couldn't be."
Dosa, 37, a geriatrician and professor at Brown University, works on the third floor of the Steere House, which treats patients with severe dementia. It's usually the last stop for people so ill they cannot speak, recognize their spouses and spend their days lost in fragments of memory.

He once feared that families would be horrified by the furry grim reaper, especially after Dosa made Oscar famous in a 2007 essay in the New England Journal of Medicine. Instead, he says many caregivers consider Oscar a comforting presence, and some have praised him in newspaper death notices and eulogies.

"Maybe they're seeing what they want to see," he said, "but what they're seeing is a comfort to them in a real difficult time in their lives."
Click on above link to read the full article. It's a good one.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading 'Making Rounds with Oscar' by. Dr. David Dosa. It was an amazing book to read.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Margaret Atwood Writes About Dreams

I've always enjoyed reading short stories and novels written by Margaret Atwood. So, when I came across an article Ms. Atwood wrote for the NYR Blog titled My Psychic Garburator, I couldn't wait to read and share it with you!

In the article, My Psychic Garburator, Ms. Atwood writes at length about dreams, which I found fascinating. Especially, when Ms. Atwood wrote about the best 'writing dream' she ever had:
The best writing dream I ever had was in the mid-Sixties. I dreamt I’d written an opera about a nineteenth-century English emigrant called Susanna Moodie, whose account of her awful experiences, Roughing It In The Bush, was among my parents’ books. It was a very emphatic dream, so I researched Mrs. Moodie, and eventually wrote a poem sequence, a television play, and a novel—Alias Grace—all based on material found in her work. But that sort of dream experience is rare.
Ms. Atwood writes plenty of other interesting things about dreams. Click on the link above to read more of what Ms. Atwood has to say about dreams and writing!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New Bookstore to Open Its Doors in Downtown Santa Barbara

Exciting news!! A new independent bookstore called Granada Books will be opening in downtown Santa Barbara on June 20, 2013.

Two days ago, I read an online article in The Independent titled New Bookstore Opening Downtown by Barney Brantingham. In his article, Mr. Brantingham writes the following:
Two years after Borders and Barnes & Noble closed in downtown Santa Barbara, a new bookstore is poised to open June 20.

Owners of the independent Granada Books opened its door for tours Thursday (no best-sellers or even shelves yet) at 1224 State Street, a few doors from the Granada Theatre.

“I’m doing it out of love for the community I love and for the arts of Santa Barbara,” co-founder and financial backer Emmett McDonough told The Independent. Co-founder is community activist Sharon Hoshida, former director of the UCSB Women’s Center.
I'm looking forward to visiting this bookstore after it opens next month! I love independent bookstores!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

S is For Silence by Sue Grafton

Abridged Audio Version
I must admit that I haven't read all of Sue Grafton's published novels in her 'alphabet series' featuring private investigator, Kinsey Millhone.... Let alone read the novels in chronological order. 

However, I will gladly add that I've really enjoyed reading the novels I've read in the 'alphabet series' thus far. 

My latest read, has been listening to the abridged version of S is For Silence by Sue Grafton and read by Judy Kaye.  

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to 'S is For Silence', even if it is the abridged version. The storyline is captivating and keeps you guessing to the very end as to whodunnit

I also enjoyed the well developed cast of characters in this novel as well. Kinsey Millhone is one of my favorite female sleuths... She's one tough cookie and is realistically portrayed as a believable private investigator. 

I'm also impressed at how well Sue Grafton is able to keep the
'alphabet series' fresh and exciting for her avid fans and readers alike. You know it's gotta be tough to keep one's novels exciting after writing twenty-three books in the 'alphabet series' to date (W is For Wasted will be released later this year in September and is the 23rd book in the 'alphabet series')!

I would also like to compliment Judy Kaye for doing such a lovely job reading 'S is For Silence'. Her performance as a dramatic reader for 'S is For Silence', put another dimension to this novel which really made the characters and storyline stand out.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Harper Lee Sues Agent Over Copyright

In an article published in The Guardian, titled Harper Lee sues agent over To Kill a Mockingbird copyright by David Batty, Mr. Batty writes:

Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has sued her literary agent for allegedly duping her into assigning him the copyright on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, Lee says Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's long-time agent, Eugene Winick, took advantage of her failing hearing and eyesight to transfer the rights on the book, which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and became an Oscar-winning film.

The 87-year-old says she has no memory of agreeing to relinquish her rights or signing the agreement that cements the purported transfer.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee a few years ago for the very first time. I was saddened to hear the above news. 

Click on above link to read the full story.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Moonlit Mind by Dean Koontz

I recently listened to the unabridged audiobook of The Moonlit Mind by Dean Koontz on compact disc. This was my first experience reading (or should I saw listening to??) anything written by Dean Koontz. 

I've been aware of Dean Koontz as an author who writes suspense/thriller novels for many years now, but oddly enough, I had never made the time to read any of his novels even though I enjoy reading novels from the suspense/thriller genre.

Then, I came across the unabridged audio version of 'The Moonlit Mind' by Dean Koontz online and decided to buy and listen to it. Well, um, let's just say that I wasn't really impressed with the storyline. 'The Moonlit Mind' wasn't all that suspenseful, nor very thrilling for that matter. 

As a novel, 'The Moonlit Mind' was just okay. The best part about it was the fact that it was an unabridged audiobook AND that Peter Berkrot did an excellent job reading 'The Moonlit Mind'. Otherwise, I wasn't all that impressed with 'The Moonlit Mind'.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

Wicked Bugs Hardcover Edition
Last year, I read Amy Stewart's book Wicked Bugs and thoroughly enjoyed reading it! 

So, when another Bookcrosser started a bookray for Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart, I signed up to read and ray this book forward to next reader on the list!

I loved the way in which Wicked Plants is organized into small bite sized tidbits of information that both delight and captivate as well as educate readers about the plants that fill our world. Some plants are poisonous, some are painful, and others are downright destructive or simply a nuisance.

I enjoyed reading the Deadly Dinner segment in Wicked Plants (pages 37-41). In the Deadly Dinner segment, I learned that cashews are related to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac... "The nut itself is perfectly safe to consume, but if it comes into contact with any part of the shell in harvest, it will give the person who eats it a nasty rash." (page 40) 

I also learned from the Deadly Dinner segment, that corn can cause niacin deficiency --- aka pellagra. (page 39)

I also enjoyed discovering that Burdock (page 218-219) inspired Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, to create Velcro!

The Stinging Tree native to Australia is one painful plant I hope to NEVER encounter (pages 167-168)!! It's difficult to imagine that "simply brushing up against this plant results in unbearable pain that may last up to a year. In some cases, the shock of the pain can be so great that it brings on a heart attack." (page 167)

Needless to say, I learned a lot from reading Amy Stewart's book Wicked Plants! I hope you have the chance to read it some day.

The following is a YouTube video of the author, Amy Stewart talking about some of the plants mentioned in her book Wicked Plants. Enjoy watching the video!