Monday, March 31, 2014

1st Quarter of 2014 Reading Update

I cannot believe that the first quarter of 2014 has come to an end already. Boy, this year has gone by so swiftly already!! 

This year has been a good one for me in terms of reading books. I've finished reading twenty-four books this quarter for an average of eight books a month, which is a lot of books for me to read so far this year. I'm hoping to continue reading a minimum of eight books a month for the rest of the year as I try to continue whittling down my overflowing 'to be read' pile. I'd love to read over one hundred books this year, so I'll see if I can squeeze in slightly more than eight books in a month to achieve this goal... Now, if I could only stop myself from buying more used books to add to my ever growing 'to be read' pile, along with reaching my reading goals, I'd be super thrilled.

Here's an interesting little factoid about my reading habits this year. Fifteen of the twenty-four books I've enjoyed reading this year, have actually been audiobooks! I've managed to listen to more books verses read them, which is definitely a first for me. Whether or not I keep listening to more audiobooks this year verses reading books remains to be seen. Only time will tell. I'll be interested to find out if I do listen to more audiobooks this year then reading books because I've never been a big audiobook fan much in the past... But in the past two to three years, I've really grown to love audiobooks. 

All I know for sure, is that last year I listened to a total of twenty-six audiobooks and that was the most audiobooks I'd ever listened to in a given year. This year, I'm actually trying to surpass the number of audiobooks I listened to last year. Ideally, I'd like to listen to thirty audiobooks this year. If I end up listening to more than thirty audiobooks, that would be great, but I'll be happy with thirty audiobooks.

I'm selecting the following three books as my favorite reads for the first quarter of 2014:

1. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert 
2. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks
3. Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee

I also attended a fabulous author signing & discussion at The Sacred Space with authors, Dr. Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay, which is my favorite event so far this year.

Which books have you enjoyed reading during the first quarter of 2014? Have you attended any interesting author signing events or book festivals?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ties That Bind by Phillip Margolin

I finished listening to the abridged audio version of Ties That Bind by Phillip Margolin and read by Margaret Whitton this evening. Ties That Bind is my first experience with something written by Phillip Margolin.

I enjoy reading or listening to thrillers. Overall, I enjoyed the plot for Ties That Bind, however I did not enjoy listening to the reader, Margaret Whitton, nor did I care for the abridgement for this novel. Margaret Whitton's voice/reading didn't enhance my listening experience and I felt that some of the voices she portrayed of certain men was really awful. As far as the abridgment goes, I felt that the abridgement of this novel wasn't very fluid. I felt that scenes changed quickly, essentially ruining the broke the flow of the storyline.

Additionally, there are a wide variety of characters in this novel, with different back stories that tie into together and with the abridgment, it was difficult to initially know who was who and how each character and their back story all fit together. This made it difficult to tune in and follow the storyline and of course, the reader for this novel didn't help ease matters, nor did the abridgment.

About halfway through my listening experience with the Ties That Bind, I had the characters squared away as to who was who and was able to follow and enjoy the storyline from there forward. Ties That Bind offers a lot of plot twists and turns that I found refreshing in away as I hadn't anticipated there would be that many in this novel. On the other hand, some of these plot twists weren't all that believable.

The following is a book description for the Ties That Bind from Amazon's website:
On the outside, Amanda Jaffe has healed from the traumatic events that concluded the sensational New York Times bestseller Wild Justice -- but inside, she's struggling to regain her self-assurance. When she is forced to represent a pimp accused of murder (a case no other lawyer will touch), her client threatens her, stirring up the trauma to such an extent that she must finally seek the help of a psychiatrist. Her opponent on the murder case, ADA Tom McCorkle, is a local hero -- he won the Heisman Trophy and secured for University Oregon its only victory in the Rose Bowl 15 years earlier -- who is embroiled in his own crisis of confidence, because his popularity is based on a lie. When two people involved in Amanda's case also wind up murdered, Amanda's investigation reveals strange links between a powerful group of men and a drug-related bloodbath many years before. They're called "The Courthouse Athletic Club" -- but who are they? -- why are they interested in a small-time pimp? -- and is it possible that their power and influence reaches all the way to the Presidency?
 I'm giving Ties That Bind a rating of 6 stars out of 10 stars. I think the reader, abridgment, and the rocky start of my listening experience is the reason for the low rating.
Until my next post, happy reading!!

Bookish Quote of the Day!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Checkout These Beautiful Hotels Inspired By Literature

Okay, it's been a stressful couple of weeks for me and I'm ready for a vacation getaway to just about anywhere!! 

While I was on the internet today I came across an article titled Book here! 14 beautiful hotels inspired by literature by Mridu Khullar Relph, for CNN. These literary inspired hotels look/sound awesome and would love to visit anyone of them.

Until my next post, happy ready!!

Statue of Limitations by Tamar Myers

11th Novel in the Series
Statue of Limitations by Tamar Myers is the 11th novel in the Den of Antiquity cozy mystery series. There are sixteen novels in the Den of Antiquity Series and at the present moment and I've now read thirteen of the sixteen novels in the series!! Three more novels left for me to read and I'll have finished reading the entire Den of Antiquity Series!! I have not read any of the books in order, except for the first novel in the Den of Antiquity Series, titled Larceny and Old Lace.

So, what did I think of Statue of Limitations?? Well, Statue of Limitations is kicked into high gear almost immediately with the murder of Marina Webbfingers occurring only a few chapters into the start of this cozy mystery novel. Abigail Timberlake Washburn's closest friend Wynnell Crawford is being charged with the murder of Marina Webbfingers. So, Abigail sets out to exonerate her best friend of this heinous crime. 

I enjoyed reading about how Abigail Timberlake Washburn goes about solving this crime and exonerating her best friend Wynnell Crawford. Tamar Myers is a witty writer that captivates her readers with her humor, fun characters, writing style and storyline. I did enjoy reading Statue of Limitations quite a bit... I did find that the ending of this novel ended rather abruptly or at least things were wrapped up to quickly for my tastes. So, my only two complaints about this particular novel is that the beginning started off to quickly and ending of it ended to quickly.

The following is a product review of Statue of Limitations I found on Barnes & Noble's website:
Abigail Timberlake Washburn, petite but feisty proprietor of Charleston's Den of Antiquity antiques shop, stopped speaking to best friend and temporary decorating partner Wynnell Crawford a month ago -- after questioning her choice of a cheap, three-foot-high replica of Michaelangelo's David to adorn the garden of a local bed-and-breakfast. But now Wynnell has broken the silence with one phone call ... from prison! It seems the b&b owner has been fatally beaned -- allegedly by the same tacky statue -- and Wynnell's been fingered by the cops for the bashing. But Abby suspects there's more to this well-sculpted slaying than initially meets the eye, and she wants to take a closer look at the not-so-bereaved widower and the two very odd couples presently guesting at the hostelry. Because if bad taste was a capital crime, Wynnell would be guilty as sin -- but she's certainly no killer!

I'm giving Statue of Limitations an 7 stars out 10 stars rating.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

Unabridged Audiobook Read by the Author.
I will admit that I wasn't a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert's book Eat, Pray, Love... I wanted to love Eat, Pray, Love because I'd kept hearing how fabulous it was. However, while reading it a few years ago, I found that it wasn't the book for me. I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert did a lot of whining/complaining throughout the book... Especially, during the first one third of the book. 

Believe it or not though, I actually enjoyed the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love, more than I enjoyed reading the book itself, which is a first ever for me. I usually always like the book so much more than the movie adaptation of the book.

So, if I didn't enjoy reading Eat, Pray, Love, why did I decide to listen to the unabridged audio version of Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

Well, there were two reasons that I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert. The first reason being that a fellow Bookcrosser was actually offering to share her copy of Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage with me, so I decided to take the opportunity to listen to this unabridged memoir and then pass it on to another listener. The second reason I chose to listen to the unabridged audio version of Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert was because I was curious to learn a how a skeptic makes peace with marriage. 

I'm actually really glad that I didn't let my intense dislike of Eat, Pray, Love dissuade me from listening to Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, because I really enjoyed listening to it.

Below is the book overview on the Barnes & Noble website of Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage:
At the end of her bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert fell in love with Felipe, a Brazilian-born man of Australian citizenship who'd been living in Indonesia when they met. Resettling in America, the couple swore eternal fidelity to each other, but also swore to never, ever, under any circumstances get legally married. (Both were survivors of previous horrific divorces. Enough said.) But providence intervened one day in the form of the United States government, which—after unexpectedly detaining Felipe at an American border crossing—gave the couple a choice: they could either get married, or Felipe would never be allowed to enter the country again. Having been effectively sentenced to wed, Gilbert tackled her fears of marriage by delving into this topic completely, trying with all her might to discover through historical research, interviews, and much personal reflection what this stubbornly enduring old institution actually is. Told with Gilbert's trademark wit, intelligence and compassion, Committed attempts to "turn on all the lights" when it comes to matrimony, frankly examining questions of compatibility, infatuation, fidelity, family tradition, social expectations, divorce risks and humbling responsibilities. Gilbert's memoir is ultimately a clear-eyed celebration of love with all the complexity and consequence that real love, in the real world, actually entails.
What I enjoyed about Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage is how it is the way in which this memoir unfolds. I felt that Elizabeth Gilbert does a great job of sharing her thoughts about marriage. Ms. Gilbert also does a great job of sharing her personal history of marriage and that of Felipe's history of marriage with us as well as how they both came to the idea of marrying one another.  

Ms. Gilbert also does a wonderful job of writing about the history of marriage in western culture. Along with sharing the history of some of her family members' marriages.

I also enjoyed reading about Elizabeth Gilbert and Felipe's experience living overseas while waiting to be able to return to the USA. During their life abroad, Gilbert speaks with other women from Asian cultures about their marriages/married lives, which I found interesting.

I'm giving Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert a rating of 9 stars out of 10 stars. I may even be inspired to read more books written by Elizabeth Gilbert in the future after reading Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. I was really impressed with this entire memoir of marriage and love.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Press One For Yes by Falafel Jones

eBook Edition
I recently finished reading an eighty-six page novella titled Press One For Yes by Falafel Jones. This novella marks the third published work I've read by Falafel Jones and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more books by Falafel Jones in the future! 

I was actually able to download Press One For Yes for Free to my Kindle from Amazon!! Free books are always a plus in my book!! Just because I receive a book for free though, it doesn't affect my thoughts/views about the content. :-)

Press One For Yes is a quick read and can be easily read in a single day. I enjoyed the storyline, characters, and the fast pace of Press One For Yes. It had me guessing how the storyline would end. I love engaging reads like this one! 

My only minor complaint is that some of the scenarios the lead character of Jake finds himself in seem a little far fetched. Otherwise Press One For Yes is an excellent read.

The following is a book description from Amazon's website for Press One For Yes:
Now, something different from Falafel Jones, a near future, suspense novella (22,000 words).  
Reality TV exploded in the year 2000. Soon after, interactive TV let viewers control the action. No one even blinked in 2016 when the USA closed conventional polls in favor of TV remote controls, computers and smartphones.  
When college student, Jake Gillespie, scores an internship in the agency that runs the elections, he’s thrilled. Then, he discovers that someone inside is actually running the elections.  
After he learns the secret, Jake fixes a local vote. He hopes the outcome will keep his girlfriend from leaving town. He’s wrong.   
Now that the Tobacco lobby is putting in the fix on the next presidential election, Jake wants to clear the air but if he does then his own crime will be exposed.
I'm giving Press One For Yes a rating of 7 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Worth the Wait by Cindy A. Christiansen

eBook Novella
I recently read the eBook version of Worth the Wait by Cindy A. Christiansen, which is a short novella under a hundred pages in length. 

Worth the Wait, is a prequel to the "A Merchant Street Mystery" series. I felt that it was an okay read. Not great a read, nor an atrocious one either... Just the middle of the road as far as story lines go....

The following is the basic synopsis for Worth the Wait, which I found on the author's website:

Dependable Adele Abberley is tired of seeing to everyone else’s responsibilities, including running the family antique store, taking care of her dad, and tending her brother’s two boys. When idealistic Kipp Waterbury drops by her antique store, will his romantic nature help her to view the world in a brand new light? Will the secrets they find hidden in an antique Victorian chair encourage her to stop trying to please everyone and please herself instead?
I felt that the characters of both Adele Abberley & Kipp Waterbury were nicely developed along with the rest of the characters presented in Worth the Wait. I also liked the romantic tension between Adele & Kipp and also the drama and minor mystery that unfolded and was solved during this storyline. 

What, I didn't like was the ending of Worth the Wait as it left you hanging as to what happens next. Now, as the reader, you're forced to buy the next installment of the "A Merchant Street Mystery" series to find out how things will turn how between Adele & Kipp. I dislike it when authors leave readers hanging on like that at the end of a storyline... Essentially, the author is forcing you to buy the next installment to find out what happens next. I felt like Worth the Wait was written as a 'teaser' to suck readers into "A Merchant Street Mystery" series. Worth the Wait was (maybe still is) a free download on Amazon, but the rest of the books in the series are not free.

*** Spoiler Alert *** for the next paragraph:

I also didn't like how Adele is suckered into babysitting her brother & sister-in-law's children all the time and taking care of the family antique business because her brother is always flaking out all the time. She has essentially given up her dreams of becoming a nurse because she is always taking care of everyone else's needs and not her own needs or dreams. Then her family makes her feel guilty if she wants go back to school to become a nurse or date whomever she wants to date. I'm hoping she grows a spine and learns some balance. Yes, be there for your family, but don't let them ruin your life in the process. Find the balance in helping your family and yourself. 

I'm giving Worth the Wait a rating of 5 stars out of 10 stars. I'm not interested in reading any further books in the "A Merchant Street Mystery" series by Cindy A. Christiansen.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Finds # 31

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...

Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

This week I've added four used book titles to my ever growing 'to be read' pile!

1) The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart (Hardback) was given to me by another Bookcrosser as I had it on my reading wishlist. I've read Wicked Bugs & also Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart. Both were good books, so I am looking forward to reading The Drunken Botanist.

2) Death of a Rug Lord by Tamar Myers (Paperback)

3) Gilt by Association by Tamar Myers (Paperback)

4) Baroque and Desperate by Tamar Myers (Paperback)

All three cozy mystery novels mentioned above, by Tamar Myers, are part of her 'A Den of Antiquity Mystery'. They are the last three remaining novels I have left to read in this series before I've read the entire series. Yay!!

So, which books have to added to either your reading wishlist or reading pile this week??

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Read Books About Banned & Dangerous Books

Hmmm,  I found an intriguing article on Flavorwire titled Books About Banned and Dangerous Books by Alison Nastasi. I love reading banned books! So, when it comes to reading books about banned and dangerous books, I'd say that I'm game to the idea of reading one. What about you??

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

16 Audiobooks Read by Celebrities

It's no big surprise to those who been following my blog that I've become a HUGE fan of audiobooks! I've always enjoyed listening to audiobooks here and there over the years. But it wasn't until around 2012 that I really started listening to audiobooks more frequently. 

In fact, I've listened to more audiobooks this year than read books so far! I've become a somewhat 'lazy reader' you could say, because I actually enjoy listening to audiobooks while making and eating meals and doing other tasks. It's kind of fun being read to verses being the one doing the reading. 

I love listening to well done audio recordings and am always on the lookout for well read audiobooks. If the narrator of an audiobook doesn't give a very good dramatic reading or has a terrible reading voice, I quit listening to an audiobook altogether and move on. It's happened before. Not very often though, thank goodness. 

Yesterday, I discovered an article on Buzzfeed titled 16 Audiobooks Read By A-List Celebrities by Ashley Perez, I couldn't wait to discover which A-List Celebrities read which books! I now have a few more audiobooks to add to my 'listening' wishlist.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Books to Read If You're A "House of Cards" Fan!!

Ok, I admit it!! I'm a fan of the television series "House of Cards" on NetFlix starring Kevin Spacey & Robin Wright. I've already watched and loved the first two seasons and am looking forward to watching season three when it comes out in February 2015.
The funny part is that I normally could careless about anything that is 'politically inspired'... But, for some reason "House of Cards" is appealing to me.

Until season three of "House of Cards" comes out, I've discovered some politically inspired book titles for "House of Cards" enthusiasts needing a fix until season three comes out. Checkout the following article on Buzzfeed titled 23 Books Every Fan Of “House Of Cards” Should Read by Lincoln Michel for more details!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks About His Books

With Pi Day happening last Friday, I thought I'd stay with a science/geeky related book topic post. Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium. In the above video, Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about his books.

My hubby and I had the honor of hearing Neil deGrasse Tyson speak in Santa Barbara, California in May of 2013 at the Granada Theatre. We enjoyed hearing what he had to share.

UPDATE: As a side note, Neil deGrasse Tyson is the only astrophysicist I know of with a song written and sung about him. Check it out below!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Read Why E. B. White Wrote 'Charlotte's Web'

I came across an article titled Read E. B. White's Poignant Explanation For Writing Charlotte's Web by Robert T. Gonzalez. In the article, Gonzalez writes:
One of the greatest children's books ever written, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web is notable not just for its lovely prose but for its masterful handling of themes on death and dying. In a letter written to his editor a few weeks before the book's publication, White explains why a peculiar truth about farms makes them such appropriate spaces for exploring the concept of death, and how this moved him to write the book in the first place.
Click on the top link to read E. B. White's letter to his editor!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day!!

So, it's pi day! I couldn't resist sharing the following article with you from the Huffington Post titled, Happy Pi Day! 6 Of Your Favorite Authors' Favorite Pie Recipes. In the article, I read the following:
Today, March 14, or 3/14, is National Pi Day. If you're up for it, you could celebrate by searching for the end of pi (hah!), or attempting to discern a meaningful pattern in the number's decimal representation. Alternatively, you could make or eat delicious pie.

It seems that most American authors who we think of as belonging to the canon had an affinity for the flakey, fruity dessert. Ernest Hemingway and Willa Cather had pie recipes of their own, and Jack Kerouac mused about its richness while romping across the Midwest. Ralph Waldo Emerson was known to enjoy eating pie for breakfast. When others refused to partake in his strange habit, he'd ask, perplexed, "What else is pie for?"
Check out which authors and their favorite pies are listed in this article, but clicking on the link above!! Celebrate Pi Day by baking and eating a pie!!

Splendor in the Glass by Tamar Myers

9th Novel in the Series
Splendor in the Glass by Tamar Myers is the 9th novel in the Den of Antiquity Series. There are a total of sixteen novels in the Den of Antiquity Series written by Ms. Myers and I've now had the pleasure of reading twelve of the sixteen novels that comprise this wonderful cozy mystery series. 

I've enjoyed reading most of the novels in the Den of Antiquity Series as they are fun and engaging novels to read dealing with antiques and of course, murder! I love Ms. Myers wit and humor and of course, the lead character, Abigail Timberlake Washburn. 

I haven't read the Den of Antiquity Series in chronological order, except for reading the first novel in the series, but every novel I've read since then has been out of chronological order. I have not felt that reading this series out of order has hindered my reading experience as each novel is a stand alone novel.
I only have four more of the novels left to read in this series before I finish it off.

Splendor in the Glass was another wonderful read and was great escape for me. I do enjoy reading cozy mystery series and the Den of Antiquity Series is one I've certainly been captivated with over the past few years. I love antique owner and amateur sleuth, Abigail Timberlake Washburn, as  she's a funny and likeable character with eccentric friends and family. She always seems to find herself in a spot of trouble --- A murder will happen & she'll have to help solve it in order to clear her name or help clear someone else's name.

In Splendor in the Glass, I didn't guess who the killer was until near the end of the novel, which was great! I loved all the red herrings and things that happened to Abigail Timberlake Washburn along the way.

The following is a plot description of Splendor in the Glass from the author's website:
Murder is a Glass Act

Antique dealer Abby Timberlake Washburn is thrilled when the Mrs. Amelia Shadbark--doyenne of Charleston society--invites her to broker a pricey collection of Lalique glass sculpture. These treasures will certainly boost business at the Den of Antiquity, and maybe hoist Abby into the upper crust--which would please her class-conscience mom, Mozella. no end. Alas, Abby's fragile dream is soon shattered when Mrs. Shadbark meets a foul, untimely end. And as the last known visitor to the victim's palatial abode, Abby's being pegged by the local law as suspect Numero Uno. Of course there are other possible killers--including several dysfunctional offspring and a handyman who may have been doing more for the late Mrs. S than fixing her leaky faucets. But Abby's the one who'll have to piece the shards of this deadly puzzle together--or else face a fate far worse than a mere seven years of bad luck!
I am giving Splendor in the Glass a rating of 7 stars out of 10 stars!

Until my next post, happy reading!

The Most Engaged Library Users = Biggest Tech Users

I came across an enlightening article about library users titled Turns out most engaged library users are also biggest tech users by Bridget Shirvell. In the article, Shirvell writes the following:
It wouldn’t be a leap to theorize that the expanding role technology plays in American lives would lead to the demise of public libraries. After all, so many other industries, including the one that’s bringing you this article, continue to struggle in the digital age.

When it comes to libraries, though, that theory would be wrong. A new study from the Pew Research Center found that more than two-thirds of Americans are actively engaged with public libraries. The report examines the relationship Americans have with their libraries and technology. Dusty, worn books versus sleek new computers, tablets or smartphones may seem like unlikely companions, but it’s really all about information.

“A key theme in these survey findings is that many people see acquiring information as a highly social process in which trusted helpers matter,” Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and a main author of the report said. “One of the main resources that people tap when they have questions is the networks of expertise. Even some of the most self-sufficient information consumers in our sample find that libraries and librarians can be part of their networks when they have problems to solve or decisions to make.”
Hmm, this article sort of surprised me... I guess I just never thought of big time tech users as being the most engaged library users.

Friday Finds # 30

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...

Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

This week I've added six new books to my reading stack as follows:

1. The Genius by Jesse Kellerman (Used audiobook I purchased from the FOL Used Bookstore in town. It was withdrawn from the local library.)

2. Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'Dell (New paperback, I actually read this novel in the 6th grade and remember liking it at the time. I don't remember all the details of this novel, so thought I'd give it another read as an adult!!)

3. Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer (I learned about this novel and the rest of the Bloody Jack Series from a local postal worker, who is enjoying this series.)

4. The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay*

5. The Second Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay*

6. The Third Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay*

* I purchased these three novels at an author signing and book discussion last Sunday afternoon at The Sacred Space in Summerland, California!! These three paperback novels are part of the Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series. I look forward to reading them. :-)

Read about my experience at the author signing & book discussion at the following link

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dr. Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay Book Signing & Discussion

This beautiful setting is near The Sacred Space parking area

Last Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite places on Earth, The Sacred Space, in Summerland, California, for a book signing and discussion with Dr. Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay in regards to their Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series.

Beautiful Garden Sculptures

Before I write about my experience at the book signing and discussion, let me start by sharing with you how peaceful, blissful, and tranquil The Sacred Space is to visit... It's truly a special and amazing space created by owners, Jack & Rose Herschorn. I cannot say enough positive things about The Sacred Space. It's a very inviting space to visit. The staff and owners are welcoming and friendly. You're offered tea to drink during your  visit to The Sacred Space. It is my understanding is that The Sacred Space is a former 1940s home, which was transformed into a beautiful storefront filled with unique treasures for sale and surrounded by exquisite gardens, a koi pond, a small waterfall and peaceful places to sit and enjoy being in nature. Written words cannot do justice in describing this special place, so I've added a pictures I've taken of the gardens during prior visits.

Entrance to The Sacred Space

I've been coming to the Sacred Space for several years now and have attended many of the talks, books signings and other special events held there over the years. I'll continue to do so in the years to come as I find The Sacred Space to be a sea of tranquility. To learn more about The Sacred Space, click on the link at the start of my post to visit their website. Additionally, please click on the following link to read an article titled: Oprah Winfrey Finds a Sure Thing in Summerland’s Sacred Space.

Now it's time to discuss the Dr. Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay Book Signing & Discussion at The Sacred Space!! I've never read anything written by Dr. Gay Hendricks before, but knew that he's a 'relationship expert' and  writer of several best-selling, nonfiction books. Many of the books Dr. Gay Hendricks has co-authored with his wife. Kathlyn Hendricks.

Air Plant
What I didn't know was that Dr. Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay have written a series of mystery novels called the Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series. So, far this series includes a 121 page novella titled 'The Broken Rules of Ten' and three full-length novels titled 'The First Rule of Ten', 'The Second Rule of Ten', and 'The Third Rule of Ten'.

I was thrilled to purchase all three, full-length mystery novels in the Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series and have them autographed by both Dr. Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay. 

After the book signing, both Dr. Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay gave a 30 minute discussion about how they met and started writing the Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series together. Along with how the Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series came into existance, along with their writing process and so on. The discussion was followed by a brief question and answer session where both authors answered questions from the audience. 

My view of the lush garden & serene waterfall while relaxing at one of several private sitting areas.

I had a fabulous experience meeting both authors and hearing them speak about their writing process and about the Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series. I'm thrilled to now have my own signed copies of the first three novels in the Tenzing Norbu Mystery Series. I look forward to reading them. I only wish I had remembered to have my picture taken with both authors while attending this event!! 

Until my next post, happy reading!

Dr. Gay Hendrick & Tinker Lindsay speaking at The Sacred Space.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coolest Places to Read in the World!!

I love reading in public places and interesting spaces!! How about you? I came across an article on the Huffington Post website titled The Coolest Places On Earth To Read A Book. I think all of the places they've mentioned look like great reading spots, but the Hotel La Cupula Hammock, Copacabana, Bolivia sounds the most interesting place to read to me!!

Which place on Earth is your favorite place to read?? Two places come to mind for me... Reading on our living room sofa or at the beach on warm day while sitting in a comfy beach chair.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spilt Milk by Chico Buarque

I listened to the unabridged version of Spilt Milk by Brazilian writer Chico Buarque and read by Buck Schirner. 

I've been trying to expand my reading horizons by reading novels by authors I'm unfamiliar with and/or may not have even heard of before... Chico Buarque definitely falls into to this category for me, as I hadn't heard of him before until very, very recently... As in a the last couple of weeks.

I'm also trying to read novels from writers from other countries and cultures that I'd normally not read books from... I can't recall reading any other novels written by Brazilian writers, so reading Spilt Milk is another first for me.

The following is an overview of Spilt Milk by Chico Buarque on Barnes & Noble's website:
From world-renowned Brazilian writer Chico Buarque comes a stylish, imaginative tale of love, loss, and longing, played out across multiple generations of one Brazilian family. At once jubilant and painfully nostalgic, playful and devastatingly urgent, Spilt Milk cements Chico Buarque’s reputation as a masterful storyteller.

As Eulálio Assumpção lies dying in a Brazilian public hospital, his daughter and the attending nurses are treated—whether they like it or not—to his last, rambling monologue. Ribald, hectoring, and occasionally delusional, Eulálio reflects on his past, present, and future—on his privileged, plantation-owning family; his father’s philandering with beautiful French whores; his own half-hearted career as a weapons dealer; the eventual decline of the family fortune; and his passionate courtship of the wife who would later abandon him. As Eulálio wanders the sinuous twists and turns of his own fragmented memories, Buarque conjures up a brilliantly evocative portrait of a man’s life and love, set in the broad sweep of vivid Brazilian history.
First off let me say that Buck Schirner did an awesome job of narrating Spilt Milk. After listening to this novel, I can't imagine any other reader giving such an outstanding dramatic performance as Buck Schirner gave in Spilt Milk.

Spilt Milk is a very interestingly and uniquely written novel. In Spilt Milk, the character of Eulálio d’Assumpção narrates the entire novel in what appears to be the longest monologue of all time... So, we only know what's going on in this story through the eyes of a 100 year old man laying in a hospital on his deathbed.

Eulálio d’Assumpção seems somewhat lucid at the start of this novel (if you can call him lucid as he's dying on his deathbed, in pain, and is given morphine), but his narration fades fast as he has his ups and downs... Eulálio d’Assumpção talks endless about his life and rants about his experience at the hospital to whomever will listen to him. 

Eulálio d’Assumpção's memory is failing as he bounces around from subject to subject telling his life's story. He often repeats the same stories and retells them in different ways. He is also delusional (seeing his mother in the hospital for example). Also, Eulálio d’Assumpção stories about his wife's life make for interesting reading... I can't figure out how she really died. One moment it seems like she could have had tuberculosis, leprosy, or even a std. How she dies exactly is uncertain or least to me it is. So, for me, Eulálio d’Assumpção is an unreliable narrator. I also don't even know if he is actually speaking to his caregivers at the hospital when I hear him talking to caregivers and other visitors or if he just thinks he is.

So, I think Spilt Milk is an unique novel because we actually are able to hear a story narrated by someone dying in a hospital who is elderly, delusional, and may not have the best memory of his life events at this point in time. I think Chico Buarque captures the very essence of his main character and relays the events of Eulálio d’Assumpção's life in a believable and engaging way to readers.

I'd give Spilt Milk a rating of 7 stars out of 10 stars.

I usually forget to add interesting or favorite quotes I find inside books I read. This time around, however, I did remember to add a memorable quote from Spilt Milk which is: "Memory is a vast wound."  

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

With the time change last night (springing ahead an hour), this quote feels very appropriate!! I'm tired this morning!! I had a busy day yesterday and went to bed well after midnight... I've been awake since 9am this morning, but am already wanting a nap! Maybe, I should just read a book?! ;-)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cheers to Authors & the Independent Bookstores They Love!!

You have to love it when, an author like James Patterson "has been donating grants to independent bookstores in need across the county." Way to go, James Patterson!! In the following article titled James Patterson and 11 Other Authors Who Love Independent Bookstores, I learned the following:
Move over, Avengers, there’s a new superhero in town. Over the last year, bestselling author James Patterson has been donating grants to independent bookstores in need across the country—based on a quick application process on his website that can be submitted by owners, authors, or simply frequent readers. He’s pledged to donate $1 million over the course of the next year; currently, he’s given away $267,000 to 54 bookstores.

“The future of books in America is at risk,” Patterson shared with Publishers Weekly. “The government will protect the automobile industry and the banking industry, but not books.” Patterson isn’t the only author speaking out about the importance of indies. Here are 11 authors talking about their favorite local bookstores.
I enjoyed learning which independent bookstores various authors love! It delighted me to read which indie bookstores author Thomas Steinbeck loves. I had the wonderful opportunity to met author, Thomas Steinbeck (son of legendary writer John Steinbeck) twice at book signings and have had him autograph three of his novels for me at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara! He's an enjoyable author to meet in person as he really takes the time to not only sign your copy of his books, but also spend time speaking with each person one on one. 

I discovered that both Chaucer's Bookstore & Tecolate Bookstore are Thomas Steinbeck's favorite indie bookstores according to the article mentioned above. Both bookstores are located in Santa Barbara and both are quite lovely places to visit. I've written reviews of my experience visiting both bookstores on my blog!

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Which Books Are On Your Reading 'Bucket List' of Must Reads??

Okay, I don't know about you, but I have a boatload of books I want to read during my life time... Zillions of them if truth be told! Since I currently have over 200 unread books in my personal collection alone, I'll stick with the books I most want to read from my massive to be read pile for now.

Here's a shortlist of books I currently have on hand that I most want to read in no particular order of importance:

1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
3. The Room by Emma Donoghue
4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstein
5. The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
6. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
7. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
8. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
9. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
10. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
11. The Parrot Who Owns Me by Joanna Burger
12. Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
13. The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander
14. Leap of Faith by Queen Noor
15. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
16. The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly
17. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
18. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
19. Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom
20. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
21. Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, From Myth to Reality by Helen Scales
22. Cassandra's Sister by Veronica Bennett
23. High Voltage Tattoo by Kat Von D
24. Down to a Soundless Sea by Thomas Steinbeck
25. In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck
26. The Silver Lotus by Thomas Steinbeck
27. Tolstoy & the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch
28. Newton & the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson
29. What the Do Knows by Cat Warren
30. Fordlandia by Greg Grandin
31. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
32. Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love & the Search For Home by Kim Sunee
33. The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Reread)
34. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam
35. An Eagle Named Freedom by Jeff Guidry
36. The Devil's Company by David Liss
37. The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman
38. A Skating Life by Dorothy Hamill
39. Hippolyte's Island by Barbara Hodgson
40. S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
41. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade: A Novel by Diana Gabaldon
42. Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon
43. The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
44. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
45. Wild Nights by Joyce Carol Oates
46. Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence
47. Illustrado by Miguel Syjuco
48. Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger M.D.
49. Vaccine by Arthure Allen

50. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Oy vey, what a list!! My tastes in subject matter is quite eclectic and it isn't so short after all. This list is by no means comprehensive. I could probably continue listing another 50 book titles, but I won't bore you. I still have a massive list of books I want to read that aren't in my personal collection. So, many books to read, so little time!

So tell me, which books are on your reading 'bucket list' of must read books?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman & Karen Mack

If you enjoy reading novels from the chick lit genre, then you'll probably enjoy reading A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman & Karen Mack.

I finished listening to the unabridged audio version of  A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman & Karen Mack yesterday... As a side note, I think I've listened to more audiobooks this year than read physical books... I've become such a lazy reader, which isn't really a bad thing in my book...But, I digress!

As I already mentioned, A Version of the Truth falls into the chick lit genre, a genre I rarely read. I thought that A Version of the Truth was well read by Tanya Eby. In fact, Tanya Eby's dramatic reading of A Version of the Truth is one of the things I most enjoyed about my experience with this particular novel.

Over all I'd say I enjoyed my experience with A Version of the Truth. I didn't love this novel, I didn't hate it either, but felt it was simply a middle of the road type of read. A great novel to read or listen to while commuting, while on vacation, or simply an easy, breezy novel to entertain you and pass the time with. At times, I felt some of the characters were superficial and needed more depth... Other moments from this novel had me reflecting on what the authors were trying to convey and other scenes had me laughing out loud.

My favorite character was Sam, the lead character's pet parrot, who was a riot with his potty mouth and crazy antics! 

The lead character Cassie Shaw was also an interesting character. At times I loved her character and found myself rooting for her. At other times, I found myself annoyed with what seemed like whiny behavior on her part or when she wouldn't speak up for herself to others/say what was on her mind.

The following is an overview of A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman & Karen Mack from the Barnes & Noble website:
From the critically acclaimed authors of the #1 Los Angeles Times bestseller Literacy and Longing in L.A. comes the ultimate story for late bloomers of every exotic shade. And a quirky young heroine with a knack for reinvention and a flair for the unexpected no reader will ever forget.

Thirty, newly single, and desperately in need of a paycheck, inveterate bird-watcher Cassie Shaw finds herself doing something that goes against all her principles. She lies on a résumé to land a job and finds herself employed at an elite university working for a pair of professors as unique as the rare birds she covets. One of them is the sexy, handsome, cheerfully aristocratic expert in animal behavior Professor William Conner. Under his charismatic tutelage, Cassie begins her personal transformation into the person she was meant to be while meeting the kinds of people she has never met before. But when your entire future and your unlikely new career teeter on an unbearable untruth, the masquerade can’t go on forever. And when Cassie steps out from behind her mask it will transform her life—and the lives of those around her—forever.
All in all, I give A Version of the Truth a rating of 6.5 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Are People Spending Less Time Reading??

I came across an article on I09 titled Does anybody read books the right way any more? by Charlie Jane Ander. In the article, Ander writes the following:
And I'm not talking about paper versus digital. I'm talking about curling up with a good book, for hours. Sitting in a hammock, or in a chair by the fire, just totally pulled into a book. Is the long, totally focused book-reading session a thing of the past — and does this mean we're getting less immersed in our stories?  

We've never had more distractions keeping us from focusing totally on a book as we have today — in fact, sometimes it feels like half the non-fiction books published in a given week are bemoaning how distracted and overwhelmed with input we all are nowadays. But there are also plenty of signs that the way we're reading books is changing. Not because of e-books, per se — e-book readers do a good job of replicating the experience of reading a book on paper — but because our lives and relationships with technology are changing.
In this article Ander poses some really good questions like the following ones: "Are people spending less time reading?", "Is the amount of time per reading session going down?", "Does it make any difference if people use audiobooks instead of text?", and "Is reading a book like going into trance, or playing music?" I actually found reading the information provided for each question in the article to be interesting and thought provoking.

I enjoyed reading this rather lengthy article about whether people are reading less these days or not. The author sites several statistics from various studies to make her point. I particularly enjoyed learning about a 1988 study done by Victor Nell in Ander's article.
You can read Victor Nell's study, published in 1988, here — Nell argues that there's something called "ludic reading," which is basically reading for pleasure. Anything can be a vehicle for "ludic reading," even "a torn scrap of newsprint," but fiction is most often the focus. Nell did five different studies of what happens when you read for pleasure — and he did find that you slow down, but also that skilled readers "move freely between bolting text and savoring it," depending on whether they were at one of the good parts in the story. And he found some evidence that "ludic reading" causes cognitive changes in habitual readers.
I hope you find this article as engaging and thought provoking as I did! Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

25 Websites For Literature Lovers

I recently discovered an article on Flavorwire titled The 25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers by Jason Diamond. In the article, Diamond writes:
It’s an interesting relationship that book lovers have with the Internet: most would rather read a physical book than something on an iPad or Kindle, and even though an Amazon purchase is just two or three clicks away, dedicated readers would rather take a trip to their local indie bookstore. Yet the literary world occupies a decent-sized space on the web. Readers, writers, publishers, editors, and everybody in between are tweeting, Tumbling, blogging, and probably even Vine-ing about their favorite books. In case the demise of Google Reader threw your literary Internet browsing into a dark void, here’s a list of 25 book sites to bookmark.
I found this article to be a great resource for me as I discovered many new book sites for literature lovers that I look forward to perusing in my free time. I hope you find a few gems among them too. Click on above link to learn more!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Movies Adapted From Books

Last night, my hubby and I watched some of the Oscars on television. We haven't watched the Oscars in many, many years as I find the Oscars rather boring to watch personally. 

Plus, I haven't seen any of the movies that had been nominated for an Oscar this year, so watching the Oscars was sort of meaningless to me... But my hubby was interested in seeing the Oscars this year and I wanted to spend time with him, so ended up watching the Oscars off and on with him throughout the evening. 

Watching the Oscars did have me wondering which movies I have enjoyed watching that were adapted from books I've read. The following is a very short list of the movies that I have enjoyed watching that were adapted from books I've already read:

The Help
Silence of the Lambs
Red Dragon
Sarah's Key
The Color Purple
Eat, Pray, Love (I actually liked the movie better than the book)
Tuesdays With Morrie (I actually liked the movie better than the book)

There are plenty of great movies adapted from books that I've enjoyed watching over the years. But I haven't read the book; only seen the movie version. Or I've read the book, but not see the movie adaptation. Or I've simply did not liked the movie version of the book I've read.

Which books have you read that were made into movies that you enjoyed seeing as well as reading?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee

I recently listened to the unabridged audio version of Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee and read by Christopher Lane.

I enjoyed listening to Steinbeck's Ghost for several reasons as follows:

* It was well read by Christopher Lane. I love well done dramatic readings and Christopher Lane does not disappoint.

* Great storyline and well developed characters. I enjoyed all of the characters, but I especially liked the character of Hilario (aka Hil).

* It contains a mystery and I love a good mystery.

* I'm a John Steinbeck, so was drawn to this novel due to its title and storyline. I wasn't disappointed because the story takes place in Salinas, California and features some of the characters mentioned in a few of Steinbeck's novels. The leading character, Travis, even spots the ghost of John Steinbeck writing his novels in his former home.

* I love public libraries, so was thrilled to see that a public library was a major part of the storyline. I loved that Lewis Buzbee highlighted how important librarians and reading books from the library are within a community in Steinbeck's Ghost. Libraries, in real life, have faced budget cuts over the years and in Steinbeck's Ghost the Salinas Library faces closure... With community support rallying around the Salinas Library, will the library be saved??

* I also enjoyed reading how the leading characters of Hil and Travis, teenage boys, are both inspired and empowered to help save the Salinas Library.

Steinbeck's Ghost is a novel for kids aged 10+, but I enjoyed reading this book even though I'm an adult.

I'm giving Steinbeck's Ghost a rating of 8 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!