Saturday, April 21, 2018

Audiobook Pet Peeves!

I have become a lazy reader!! Over the course of the past few years, I have found that I really enjoy listening to audiobooks. Sometimes, I prefer listening to audiobooks over actually reading books for a wide variety of reasons. Here are just a few examples of what I love about listening to audiobooks:

* Great narrators can really bring a broader depth/richness to a book that makes for a far more enriching reading experience.
* Audiobooks are great to listen to on long commutes, vacation/business travel, while exercising, doing menial household tasks, etc.
* I can easily adjust the listening speed of an Audible audio edition of a book on my Kindle, which means finishing a book faster.
* Sometimes it just feels great to have someone read to you, especially if you are feeling under the weather with a cold or flu and reading a book seems like too much work!

However, I have quite a few pet peeves when it comes to audiobooks as well.

Below are a few pet peeves I have with audiobooks:

* Some narrators are just plain awful to listen to!! I've even stopped listening to audiobooks with poor narrators.
* Poor audio quality!!
* My latest audiobook pet peeve pertains to audiobooks on compact disc... Why is it that brand new audiobooks you've purchased and are listening to for the very first time skip like crazy throughout one's listening experience??? It's not like these compact discs are scratched or anything of the sort. Yet I can't go through a single compact disc without it skipping and skipping a lot. This makes for a frustrating listening experience that I do not have to deal with when I listen to an Audible audio edition. So, it looks like I am going to have to completely faze out listening to audiobooks on compact discs altogether at some point down the line. I still have some audiobooks on compact disc to listen to, so it may be a while before I completely transition to listening to audiobooks from Audible exclusively.

Do you like listening to audiobooks? What to do like or dislike about listening to audiobooks?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Tea Leaf Fortune Cards by Rae Hepburn

I enjoy drinking tea... Organic, jasmine green tea is pretty much my all time favorite flavor of tea and sweetened with liquid stevia. However, I'll drink pretty much any flavor of tea as long as it's organic. These days, I am drinking organic chamomile tea as I have difficulty falling and staying asleep at nights... So no caffeine for me.

Additionally, I pretty much love all things tea related. Even the topic of reading tea leaves (aka tasseography) is an intriguing topic to me.

A few years ago, I came across Tea Leaf Fortune Cards by Rae Hepburn though Amazon's website and decided to purchase this set, which includes the following items:
* A 98-page, illustrated guidebook that gives a brief history of tea and tea leaf reading, the development of the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards, a brief history of traditional tea leaf reading methods, how to divine your fortune using the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards, and a glossary filled with the meanings of each card in the deck.
* Drawstring pouch for mixing the cards.
* 200 round cards, 3.25" in diameter: 182 symbol cards, 12 month cards, and 6 astral house cards. 
* Sturdy box to contain the book, cards, and mixing pouch.
I thought the 98-page, illustrated guidebook was direct and to the point. I liked the layout of the illustrated book and how it was organized. The information provided by Rae Hepburn on how to divine your fortune using the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards was direct and straight forward/uncomplicated.

I like the size and shape of the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards themselves, but I feel like the card stock used for these cards are a bit on the flimsy side. I want these types of cards to be as thick and sturdy as a deck of playing cards. Especially if a person is going to be using the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards for frequent readings for themselves and/or others. I also think the artwork for the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards is not that pretty. 

The mixing pouch (for the cards) is small, gauzy, and a very pretty golden-yellow color... But the bag looks delicate and I am concerned it won't hold up over time for its intended use... especially if the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards are used frequently for readings.

I haven't used the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards for a reading yet. So, I am unable to comment on that aspect at this time. I do not think that I'll use these cards that often. But I will do a personal reading for myself just for sure fun at some point in the future. I'm not sure how I really feel about the accuracy of things like tarot card readings, oracle card readings, etc. in predicting/foreseeing the future.

Below is a short video of the author, Rae Hepburn, talking about the Tea Leaf Fortune Cards. She also gives a quick reading as well. 

I am giving Tea Leaf Fortune Cards by Rae Hepburn a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

Unabridged Audiobook
I finished listening to the unabridged audio version of Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters and narrated by Anna Bentinck and Karen Cass. 

Listening time for Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters is 9 hours, 52 minutes

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters is a work of historical fiction that had been on my reading wish list for quite awhile. I truly enjoy historical fiction and am finally glad that I finally found the time to listen to this novel... However, with that said, I was truly disappointed with Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters. 

The premise/summary for Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters is a good one and the narrators of this novel are excellent, but the storyline and characters were a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT to me!

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters is told through chapters alternating between the past and the present, which is something I do not mind in general, if done well. In the case of this novel, I found the entire novel to be a very, very slow read with everything being so long and drawn out. I almost gave up reading Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters several times because it is so slow.

On top of that, Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters takes on topics and side stories that I felt weren't relevant to the main storyline or helped to propel the novel forward in a meaningful way. There were also odd interactions between the main characters themselves as well as between the main characters and the side characters and other issues that are too difficult to describe without giving away too much for those that have yet to read, Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase. Additionally, the ending was so abrupt! 

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters had such great reviews from readers on Amazon, that I thought this novel would be such a great one.

The following is the plot summary for Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters from Audible:
A heartbreaking and deeply compelling debut, Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase is a compulsive must-listen about thwarted love, dashed hopes, and family secrets: book-club fiction at its best.
Roberta, a lonely 34-year-old bibliophile, works at The Old and New Bookshop in England. When she finds a letter inside her centenarian grandmother's battered old suitcase that hints at a dark secret, her understanding of her family's history is completely upturned. Running alongside Roberta's narrative is that of her grandmother, Dorothy, as a 40-year-old childless woman desperate for motherhood during the early years of World War II. After a chance encounter with a Polish war pilot, Dorothy believes she's finally found happiness but must instead make an unthinkable decision whose consequences forever change the framework of her family.
The parallel stories of Roberta and Dorothy unravel over the course of 80 years as they both make their own ways through secrets, lies, sacrifices, and love. Utterly absorbing, Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase is a spellbinding tale of two worlds, one shattered by secrets and the other by the truth.
I am giving Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters a rating of 1 star out of 5 stars!

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Harry the Dirty Dog read by Betty White

I love dogs!! And I love how Betty White
reads, Harry the Dirty Dog.
Classic children's books are wonderful!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday ~ FREEBIE ~ Books by Authors I Don't Plan to Read in the Future

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader GirlTop Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Over the years I've read books by famous authors (or maybe not so famous authors) that I didn't end up enjoying. These novels turned me off in some way that I decided I preferred to not read another book written by the author again in the future.

1. Douglas Adams - I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This book seems to have a cult like following that apparently I am not in tune with. Let's just say this novel just wasn't my thing and leave it at that.
2. Ernest Hemingway - I read The Old Man & The Sea. I also tried reading Islands in the Stream on several occasions. Oh boy, I didn't find either book appealing.
3. William Faulkner - I read either As I Laying Dying or The Sound & the Fury for a college English class decades ago. I have no idea what Faulkner was trying to say in his novel. I found his writing painful to read at the time.
4. Philipp Meyer - I read his novel, The Son, a few years ago for a book club. Although I didn't dislike this novel, it felt lacking some how. It just didn't meet my expectations.
5. Mario Vargas Llosa - I read his novel In Praise of the Stepmother. What an odd novel. It was creepy.
6. Helen Oyeyemi - I read Mr. Fox and simply didn't like this novel.
7. Ian Fleming - I read Casino Royale a few years ago to see how the novel compared to the movie. I think Ian Fleming is a decent writer. I'm just not interested in reading anymore James Bond novels. As an avid book lover, I can't believe I am writing this, but I'll stick to the movie franchise version of James Bond.
8. Edith Wharton - I listened to the unabridged audio version of House of Mirth and thought it was so BORING!
9. Andre Dubus III -  I read the novel, The House of Sand and Fog, when it was an Oprah Book Club pick. I disliked it intensely. The main characters were frustrating to me. I have no desire to read any other books written by Andre Dubus III.
10. Denise Swanson - Okay, I've read lots of cozy mystery novels and there are loads of authors and novels in this genre that are duds in my opinion. Denise Swanson isn't the worst writer out there in the cozy mystery genre. But after reading two of her Scumble River Mysteries, I decided to pass on reading anymore of her novels.

Are there authors that have turned you off from reading their books in the future?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Shop Locally on Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 28, 2018!

Two weeks from today is Independent Bookstore Day!! Please support your local, independent bookstore by shopping at it as often possible.

Author, Celeste Ng, is this year's Ambassador for Independent Bookstore Day. Check out Celeste Ng's video on YouYube for Independent Bookstore Day.

Friday, April 13, 2018

50/50 Friday - Favorite/Least Favorite Short Story

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reads and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. This fun themed meme focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc). Every week a new topic will give bloggers the chance to showcase their answers.

This week's topic is picking one's Favorite/Least Favorite Short Story!

Wow, this is a really difficult topic to choose from as I've read a lot of short stories over my lifetime! I'm trying to mentally go through all the short stories I've read over the years and decide which ones fit this weeks topic the best for each category!

Best Short Story
(Click on Above link to read my review.)

Worst Short Story
(Click on Above link to read my review.)

Do you have a favorite or least favorite short story?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

Years ago, I read Jules Verne's novel, 20,0000 Leagues Under The Sea, for the very first time. I enjoyed reading, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, so much that I reread it again a few years later. 

Jules Verne's writing is so vivid, very detailed, and realistic. I felt like I was reading someone's travelogue/personal diary when I read 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I could easily imagine myself at the scene of events. If you love classics and the science fiction genre, then you have to read a Jules Verne novel at least once in your life!!

My goal had always been to read another novel written by Jules Verne after reading, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. But that didn't happen until this year when I finally decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne and narrated by Berny Clark. Listening time for The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne is 19 hours, 35 minutes.

What initially attracted me to, The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, was that Captain Nemo (a character from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) makes a small appearance in The Mysterious Island. Also, the plot for The Mysterious Island sounded intriguing, so I couldn't resist listening to the unabridged audio version of this novel.  

The Mysterious Island is divided into three parts. Essentially, this novel is about a group of five American men, who are prisoners escaping the civil war in a hot air balloon and become castaways on an uncharted island. They must colonize the island in order to survive, which is the main focus of the novel. As readers, we learn about their lives colonizing the island where mysterious events occur that the main characters cannot easily explain away. Each character has their own unique skill set that helps them survive as a team for four years on an island not inhabited by a nation of other people. 

As far as The Mysterious Island goes, it is another vividly detailed novel written by Jules Verne. It's amazing how much detail Jules Verne includes in his novels!! While reading, The Mysterious Island, I felt like I was right there with the main characters as they became familiar with their new surroundings and making a new life from scratch. At various times though, I felt like Jules Verne overly described events in way too much detail in this particular novel. I definitely felt like some of the details and events could have been watered down a bit at times for a better overall reading experience.

I also felt like the start of The Mysterious Island, which set up the main characters, and the end of the novel, which describes the main characters leaving the island, did not contain as much detail as the middle section of this novel. Additionally, I felt like the ending was wrapped up too conveniently as to how the main characters escaped the island and returned to the United States. However, that aside, I did like the main characters in The Mysterious Island, as they were all well developed and likable.

I also thought that some of Jules Verne's viewpoints/attitudes expressed through the characters were outdated, which I'm sure is due to the time period in which this novel was written. Otherwise, The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne was a really good read. I also enjoyed Berny Clark's narration of The Mysterious Island.

The following is a plot summary for The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne from Amazon:
Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Jules Verne’s masterpiece. “Wide-eyed mid-nineteenth-century humanistic optimism in a breezy, blissfully readable translation by Stump” (Kirkus Reviews), here is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog who land in a balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings-on and their struggle to survive as they uncover the island’s secret.
I am giving The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Dollar Tree Stores

Discount stores, like The Dollar Tree, are ones that I normally don't find myself shopping in at all. 

However, I've discovered that The Dollar Tree sells brand new hardback and paperback books for a $1 each, which is quite a fantastic deal if you ask me! Granted, The Dollar Tree doesn't have a huge book section... Or at least the four Dollar Tree Stores I've visited so far haven't had a large section dedicated to books. 

Furthermore, I also didn't expect that The Dollar Tree retail outlets would have such great book titles for sale. But once again, my expectations were exceeded as I've purchased 3-4 books that were on my wish list from their retail outlets. Recently, I even purchased an autographed novel at The Dollar Tree!! Like, how cool is that?!

Put quite simply, I've been impressed with the small selection of books I've purchased from The Dollar Tree. If you have The Dollar Tree near you, I say go ahead and check out their book section. You may be surprised with the selection of books they have on hand and end up some wish list books... Or at the very least, you'll discover some new to you books that will rock your world!!

Below is a photograph, which shows a small sampling of the books I've purchased from The Dollar Tree.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Friends of the Library Used Bookstore in Fort Bragg, California!

It was by pure happenstance that my husband and I discovered the Friends of the Library Used Bookstore in Fort Bragg, California this past weekend. This small hidden gem is tucked away in the Harbor District of Fort Bragg and is far from the Fort Bragg Public Library itself. 

The Fort Bragg Harbor District is an eclectic mix of restaurants, a whale watching tour business, abandoned/run down looking buildings, and other waterfront businesses that do not cater to the tourist industry. So, one would never imagine finding an FOL Used Bookstore in such a location.

However, it just so happened that my hubby and I had decided to take an evening drive through the Harbor District in Fort Bragg before sunset on Saturday evening. We found an outlet to the beach and decided to take a walk. On our drive back to where we were staying in Fort Bragg, we saw a sign that read 'Used Book Sale Friday Through Sunday 11-3'. 

So, on Sunday morning, we stopped by the book sale. I am so glad we did! I discovered two used books in great condition that were on my reading wishlist... It's always fun to find books you already want to read at FOL Used Bookstore sales!

The Book Store & Vinyl Cafe in Fort Bragg, California!!

Last weekend, my hubby and I visited Fort Bragg California for our 16th wedding anniversary! The first two days of our trip were rainy and cold, which lead us to spend more time indoors. 

We visited The Book Store & Vinyl Cafe located in downtown Fort Bragg, California. This independent used bookstore and vinyl record store is small, charming, and filled with character! I loved visiting this indie bookstore quite a bit as it had a lot of great books available for purchase. Plus, we enjoyed listening to vintage music during our visit to The Book Store & Vinyl Cafe.

The one staff member on hand was friendly and helpful. I received some great book recommendations and came away with a used edition of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. I haven't read anything written by David Grann before, so I look forward to reading it down the road.

Supporting independent bookstores is a good thing!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Little Free Library in Fort Bragg, California!

Last weekend, my husband and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary by taking a mini vacation to the coastal town of Fort Bragg, California from Thursday April 5, 2018 through Monday, April 9, 2018. It was our first time visiting Fort Bragg.

During our visit to Fort Bragg, we stayed in a charming, studio with a full kitchen and a carport, which we rented through AirBnB. The studio was located a few blocks away from downtown Fort Bragg. I loved how close we were to all the activities of downtown Fort Bragg without being disturbed by the noise of pedestrian foot traffic, vehicle traffic, etc. in the downtown area.

I also discovered a Little Free Library four blocks from where we were staying, so I was delighted in leaving three paperback books and taking two paperback books in return. I just love Little Free Libraries!!

All in all we had a fabulous stay in Fort Bragg... Although, I must admit it would have been lovelier had it not rained nonstop during the first two days of our stay. We had a lot of outdoor activities planned that we had to scale back on due to the weather. We ended up spending time indoors at a couple of museums and even an indie bookstore!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Celebrate National Library Week This Week!!

Celebrate the joys of public and academic libraries across the USA during National Library Week! Below is more information about National Library from the American Library Association:
Misty Copeland serves as 2018 National Library Week Honorary Chair 
In 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history. 
Misty is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Life in Motion and her 2014 picture book, Firebird, won the Coretta Scott King Book Illustrator Award in 2015. Her new book, Ballerina Body, an instant New York Times Bestseller, published in March 2017.
Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. Misty was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in June 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. And in 2015, she traveled to Rwanda with MindLeaps to help launch its girls program and to establish The Misty Copeland Scholarship.
The National Library Week 2018 celebration will mark the 60th anniversary of the first event, sponsored in 1958.
Learn more about the events held during National Library Week by click on the top link. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Combining Hobbies... Reading and Knitting!

Here's what I've completed on the poncho I'm making for my mom.

I love reading and I love knitting. Both of these activities have become my favorite hobbies. In the past couple of years, I've found a way to combine by love of reading and knitting by listening to an audiobook while I knit! This way I can do both of my favorite hobbies at the same time. 

During the past week, I've been listening to the unabridged audio version of The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, while working on a drop stitch poncho I am knitting for my mom for Mother's Day. 

I decided to knit the poncho using worsted weight yarn in a solid lilac color that's a perfect color for spring. Plus, my mom wears a beautiful lilac nail lacquer during the spring and summer months that will go perfectly with the poncho I am knitting for her.

I've really enjoyed listening to an audiobook while knitting the poncho I'm making for my mom.

Have you found ways to combine your favorite hobbies together so that you can do them at the same time?

Friday, April 6, 2018

50/50 Friday ~ Best/Worst Book Read in March

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reads and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. This fun themed meme focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc). Every week a new topic will give bloggers the chance to showcase their answers.

 This week's topic is my Best/Worst Book Read in March 2018.

My Best Read for March 2018
(Click on above link to read my review)

My Worst Read for March 2018
(Click on above link to read my review)

So, which books were your best and/or worst read for the month of March 2018?

Saturday, March 31, 2018

2018 First Quarter Update!!

Last December, I set several reading goals for 2018.

Below are my four reading goals set in bold.

I've read a total of 16 books so far this year
and have added the books I've read for each

category with links to my reviews for each book.

1. Read 24 physical books (not ebooks or audiobooks) that I purchased prior to May 2014.

1. Love In A Nutshell by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly
2. Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting

2. Read 12 books (any format) that I've received for FREE through Goodreads or from another source (InKitt, author, publisher, etc.).

1. All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
2. The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark
3. Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump's America edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay & Kate Harding

3. Read 12 physical books that fall into the cozy mystery genre.

4. Read 12 books (any format) that were obtained after May 2014.

1. Protected Mate by J. H. Croix
3. The Kewpie Killer by Falafel Jones
4. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
5. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
6. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
7. Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. West Cork by Sam Bungey & Jennifer Forde
9. Louisiana Longshot by Jana DeLeon
10. Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts
11. The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay

I decided to look at my reading stats for the first quarter of 2017 and realized I'd read 52 books by the end of March 2017... Wow!! Last year was definitely a huge year for me in terms of reading. 

So, how is your year in reading going so far for you? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Books That Take Place In Another Country

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader GirlTop Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The following is a list of novels I have read over the years set in foreign countries. I have enjoyed reading each of these novels very much.

1. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay - France
2. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar - India
3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer - England
4. Winter Men by Jesper Bugge Kold - Germany
5. I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith - Ancient Rome
6. The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss - Ireland
7. The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov - Russia
8. A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov  - Russia
9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol - Russia
10. A Sportsman's Notebook by Ivan Turgenev - Russia

Share with me your favorite novels set in foreign countries in the comment section below.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting

I purchased a used, 1953, hardback first edition of Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting with drawings by Anne Marie Jauss at the Lost Horizon used bookstore in downtown Santa Barbara in 2012.

Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting is in decent condition for being a 65 year old book! This book is 158 pages in length and contains a collection of eighteen folktales from around the world that focus on the theme of trees. 

My five favorite stories from Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting are as follows:

The Weeping Willow
The Wood Nymphs
The Blue Palm Tree
The Nightingale and the Cotton Tree
The Wonderful Bed

The drawings rendered by Anne Marie Jauss throughout Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting are simple and charming.

I'd originally planned to read Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting next month for Arbor Day, but I couldn't resist reading it this month.

I am giving Three Apples Fell From Heaven: Unfamiliar Legends of the Trees by Natalia Belting a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, March 23, 2018

50/50 Friday ~ Best/Worst Classic Novel

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reads and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. This fun themed meme focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc). Every week a new topic will give bloggers the chance to showcase their answers.

This week's topic is the Best/Worst Classic Novel you've read! I've read so many classics over the years that trying to narrow down my choices to the 'best/worst' novel is going to be a difficult one for me to make. 

To narrow down my choices, I'm going to select novels that are classics in American Literature.

The Best American Classic Novel I've Read

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The Worst American Classic Novel I've Read

(Click on above link to read my review.)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay and narrated by Jennifer Mendenhall (although the packaging says Kate Reading, but when you're listening to the audio cd it says Jennifer Mendenhall. Please tell me that's not confusing at all as to who the real narrator is!?!?!).

Listening time for The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay is 5 hours, 56 minutes. 

In 2012, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay (click link to the left to read my review) for a local book club. If you haven't read Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay yet, I highly recommend reading it! 

After reading Sarah's Key, I knew I wanted to read another novel by Tatiana De Rosnay... I just didn't think I'd wait until 2018 to finally do so. I chose to read The House I Loved because I came across a remaindered copy of this novel that was deeply discounted. Also, the plot summary sounded intriguing enough to give The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay a go.

The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay is set in Paris, France in the 1860s and is told primarily through the point of view of Rose Bazelet, a 60 year old widow, as she writes a of letter to her beloved, deceased husband, Armand. 

Normally, I enjoy reading historical fiction, but The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay missed the mark by a long shot. It didn't dazzle me like Sarah's Key did. There were some parts of this novel I did truly enjoy though... Like Rose Bazelet's friendship with Alexandrine, Rose's love for reading books which is something she acquired a love for late in life, and I also enjoyed Rose's tenacity as well. 

I also fully understand Rose's deep connection to her husband's family home as well because this is where she has spent the majority of her life. She has many happy memories of living out her life there... As a side note here, my husband and I lived in Santa Barbara, California for 16 years. Four years ago, my husband was about to be laid off from his job, so he had to find work elsewhere as soon as possible. I wanted to stay in Santa Barbara or the Southern California area in general as I grew up in San Diego and my husband grew up in Los Angeles. We still have family living in both areas, plus friends as well. Long story short, my husband found work in Northern California, so we made the move north. Although I've adjusted nicely to our new surroundings, I still miss living in Santa Barbara dearly and would move back there in a heartbeat. So, I understand why Rose doesn't want to leave her home or her old neighborhood.

However, the storyline for The House I Loved was slow, so very slow that it seemed to drag on at times. The outcome/ending of the novel was predictable, but abrupt The ending could have been so much better than it was. 

Additionally, Rose's character keeps repeatedly alluding to some deep dark secret she wants to share in her letter to her husband... When the secret is finally revealed it is scandalous indeed, as it creates two scandals in one... The scandal itself is a sad one as Rose has kept it to herself for roughly 30 years and still feels quite guilty about it as if the scandal was entirely her fault, but it wasn't. So, it makes for sad reading experience... I am sure the way things turned out in the end of the novel was partly due to Rose's guilt about what happened. Along with a few other factors.

The narration of The House I Loved rendered by Jennifer Mendenhall was excellent and probably what I enjoyed most about my experience of The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay.

The following is a plot summary for The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay from Amazon:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept comes an absorbing new novel about one woman's resistance during an époque that shook Paris to its very core.
Paris, France: 1860's. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a "modern city." The reforms will erase generations of history―but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. Tatiana de Rosnay's The House I Loved is both a poignant story of one woman's indelible strength, and an ode to Paris, where houses harbor the joys and sorrows of their inhabitants, and secrets endure in the very walls...
All in all, The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay just didn't come together well enough to make for a great experience. I am giving The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes Personal Items Sell Well At Auction

As a follow up to a post I made earlier this week regarding the personal effects of Sylvia Plath up for auction, I've decided to write a follow up post about the auction. 

I discovered an article from the LA Times, titled Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes rarities garner big bids in London auction by Michael Schaub. In the article, I learned that Sylvia Plath's typewriter sold for almost $46,000!

However, the following items were the big money makers at the auction:
The star of the event was a first edition of "The Bell Jar" signed by Plath, which sold for just under $123,000, followed by Plath's annotated, uncorrected proof copy of the novel, which went for $105,000.
Click on the above link to learn about some of the other personal effects that sold at the auction in London.

Monday, March 19, 2018


To the best of my recollection, I've yet to read anything written by Sylvia Plath... However, I did come across an interesting article on Lit Hub titled, FROM WALLET TO TYPEWRITER, THE EFFECTS OF SYLVIA PLATH ARE NOW FOR SALE by Rebecca Rego Barry. In the article, Rebecca Rego Barry wrote: 
On March 21, 300 lots of rare books, manuscripts, and memorabilia that once belonged to poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes will go to auction in London. Considering the celestial status of Plath, this sale promises to dazzle. It’s a very personal collection, deriving from their daughter, Frieda Hughes, who shares her concern in the auction catalog’s introduction that treasured pieces of family furniture or jewelry might be lost to history if she doesn’t ensure their future in some tangible way. An auction, she writes, will “enable others to take on the preservation and enjoyment” of these literary relics. “In identifying which items to sell, I realised that much of what I owned, redolent of my parents’ joint history, told a story; one item made sense of other items—the books and the pamphlets and the poems, signed by my mother or father, represented important aspects of their literary lives and were evidence of their powerful partnership.”
I always find it interesting to see the belongings of famous people (especially authors) go up for auction and also learn price the items end up fetching at auction when all is said and done.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Little Free Library in Alamo, California!!

This afternoon, my husband and I found a Little Free Library in Alamo, California!

We'd been having a lot of rain and colder weather here the past few days. So it was fun to take advantage of no rainy skies and leave our home to seek out this newly formed Little Free Library in Alamo.

The Little Free Library looks just like the home it is placed in front of... It's grey with white trim, which I found to be charming as I like cape cod style looking homes and the entire matchy matchy thing is too cute.

Anyway, I left behind five books and took two books. I don't need anymore books to read mind you, which I can't believe I am saying, but it is what is it! How can I resist free books? Especially if they are books I want to read!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Advance Readers' Edition ~ Paperback
Lucky me! I received an advance readers' edition in paperback of All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker in paperback for FREE through Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is a psychological thriller that had me captivated from start to finish! I did not expect this book to be as good as it is... All Is Not Forgotten just has so many layers and dimensions to it... It keeps you guessing and sitting on the edge of your seat as how the story will unfold. The ending was a surprise that I didn't see coming... But when I read the ending it all made sense. I just didn't put it all together before then.

One of the key topics/themes in All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is that 15 year old Jenny Kramer is brutally raped at a party she attends. In the aftermath, Jenny is "given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault". This 'controversial drug' used to medically erase violent memories, raises all sorts of thoughts and concerns for me... If I was a parent, would I want to mentally erase my child's violent assault completely, so he or she didn't have to needlessly suffer from PTSD? Would I want this treatment performed on me without my consent if I had suffered a traumatic event? The answer would be NO to both questions I've posed. 

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker explores the topic of  medically erasing memories in detail, which I found fascinating to read more about. See the YouTube video below of Wendy Walker discussing the memory science behind her novel. 

I also found the narrator for this novel to be a unique one as well. The entire novel is narrated by a psychiatrist named, Alan Forrester, who ends up treating Jenny Kramer in the aftermath and also treating her parents as well. Dr. Forrester is an interesting character for sure... I had a love/hate relationship with him. Dr. Forrester feels intellectually superior to his wife and comes across as cocky at times. 

Dr. Forrester doesn't official introduce himself until several chapters into this novel, which left me wondering who he was until then. I thought reading the point of view of a psychiatrist made for an interesting perspective as I had originally thought that this novel would be told through Jenny Kramer's point of view solely or alternating chapters written from Jenny Kramer's perspective and those of her immediate family members effected deeply by her assault. After reading All Is Not Forgotten, it makes perfect sense that Dr. Forrester is the narrator for this novel.

There is so much more to this novel than what I've written here in my blog post. I'm just unsure how much more to divulge without sharing spoilers to those wanting to read All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker! So, I'll stop while I'm ahead.

The following is a plot summary for All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker from Amazon:
Wendy Walker's All Is Not Forgotten begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect.
Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, struggles to pretend this horrific event did not touch her carefully constructed world.

As Tom and Charlotte seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
I am giving All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

I've also learned that Reese Witherspoon is working on turning All Is Not Forgotten into a movie... I'd love to see the movie version of this novel as I enjoyed reading the novel so much.

Below is a YouTube video of the author, Wendy Walker, talks about the memory science from her novel.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts

I listened to the unabridged Audible version of Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts and narrated by Renée Raudman. Listening time for Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts is 11 hours, 19 minutes.

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts is the first novel in the Lucky O'Toole series. Lucky O'Toole is a woman, who lives in Sin City, and works at a casino where she pretty much handles any crisis large or small... And she's great at her job!! Lucky is fun, sassy, snarky, confident, and and can handle every situation relating to the business of running a casino. She also knows where to find the skeletons and all the ins and outs of living and working in Las Vegas as only a true veteran can. 

I enjoyed listening to Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts very much. I love the character of Lucky O'Toole... As if you probably couldn't tell by now! The characters and scenarios that Lucky comes across during her typical day are wildly entertaining in this mystery novel and kept me engaged throughout this novel. 

I also liked that Lucky O'Toole is also flawed... She has an interesting mother, but I won't give away the details about it here and now. 

Lucky's love life and social life outside of work aren't much to talk about either as she is a workoholic, but that changes in the novel with a small side story of love and romance for Lucky... I enjoyed reading about Lucky's budding romance throughout the novel. The other supporting characters were fun too. 

Additionally, I enjoyed reading how Lucky solved the murder mystery too. Overall, I'd highly recommend reading Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts.

The following is the plot summary for Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts from Amazon:
Everyone Has a Hidden Talent. 
For Lucky O'Toole it's murder...solving it.
Surviving in Sin City takes cunning, a pair of five-inch heel, and a wise ass attitude. Lucky has mastered them all and has a pair of legs she uses to kick butt and turn heads.
As the Chief Problem Solver for the Babylon, Las Vegas's most over-the-top destination, mischief is in her job description. She's good at her job. She's less good at life. But who has time for a life when there's a killer on the lose?
A woman falls from a tour helicopter to the horror of the 8:30 Pirate show crowd.Was it suicide? An accident? Could she have been pushed? 
Lucky's day began with the invasion of the Adult Video Awards and Trade show convention. It got more hectic when the spouse-swapping annual event checked in. 
And if adding a body to the mix wasn't enough, Lucky's got a new suitor. Her best friend, Teddie, a female impersonator who is pressing to take their relationship to the next level. Can she really date a man who looks better in a dress? 
What happened to the woman over the pirate show? Will her sleuthing skills catch the killer and save her job?
I am giving Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

50/50 Friday ~ Best/Worst Graphic Novel/Manga You've Read

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reads and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. This fun themed meme focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc). Every week a new topic will give bloggers the chance to showcase their answers.

This week's topic is the Best/Worst Graphic Novel/Manga You've Read!

This is a tough choice for me to make as I have not read many books from the graphic novel/manga genre. The books I have read from either genre have either been really good or not to my liking at all!

The Best Graphic Novel/Manga I've read
Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
(Click on above link to read my review.)

The Worst Graphic Novel/Manga I've read
A Strange Kind of Woman, Volume 1 by Inu
(Click on above link to read my review.)