Saturday, June 23, 2018

Did You Know That Arthur Conan Doyle Helped Solve A Real Life Murder Case?

In a recent Publisher's Weekly article, I learned about a new nonfiction book titled, Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox, that is being released on June 26, 2018. 

In the Publisher's Weekly article titled,  The Time Arthur Conan Doyle Helped Solve a Real Murder Case by Margalit Fox, I read the following information:
It was one of the most sensational crimes—and most scandalous wrongful convictions—of the 20th century, a case that would be known as the Scottish Dreyfus affair. It involved a savage murder, stolen jewels, an international manhunt and a wily maidservant who went to her grave knowing far more about the killing than she would ever disclose. 
Even more remarkably, it involved the world’s foremost writer of detective fiction, playing real-life detective on a case in which the stakes could scarcely be higher—a case, he wrote, that was a “disgraceful frame-up, in which stupidity and dishonesty played and equal part.”
I found it fascinating to learn that Arthur Conan Doyle helped solve a real life murder case!

Click on the link above to read the full article.

Reading Quote of the Day!!

Friday, June 22, 2018

I've Been Rereading Books Lately!

I don't reread books all that often. However, this month, I've found myself having reread two novels. I reread Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie earlier this month and more recently, I've finished rereading The Selkie Spell (Seal Island Trilogy) (Volume 1) by Sophie Moss.

I first listened to the unabridged audio version of The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss back in 2014 and loved it! I always knew that I wanted to listen to the other novels in Sophie Moss's Seal Island Trilogy, but it wasn't until recently that I downloaded the two remaining novels in this trilogy. 

I'd forgotten quite a bit of the plot details for The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss, so I decided to listen to this novel again before starting volumes two and three of the Seal Island Trilogy

I am so happy that I listened to The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss again as I found it to be just as enjoyable the second time around. I look forward to listening to the rest of the Seal Island Trilogy.

Which books have you reread recently?

Monday, June 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

I thought this novel was well narrated by Nicol Zanzarella.

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

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

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, June 15, 2018

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

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

This week's topic is to select one's favorite book with a short title and also a favorite book with a long title.

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

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Whisky Sea by Ann Howard Creel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until my next post, happy reading!

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case by Agatha Christie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until my next post, happy reading!

American Bookbinders Museum in San Francisco, California

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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

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

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

Monday, June 11, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, June 8, 2018

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

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

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

Below are my choices for this week's topic.

My Favorite Book Starting With the Letter A

The Assassination of the Archduke 
by Greg King & Sue Woolmans

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

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

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Hearing Heart by Bonnie Dee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Silent Book Club

I learned about The Silent Book Club yesterday evening through the ChitChat Forum on Bookcrossing when another Bookcrosser wrote about their experience participating in a Silent Book Club Meet-Up over the weekend. 

The Silent Book Club sounds delightful!! So, I thought I'd take a look at their website and make a post about it here on my book blog for other readers to discover.

I learned the following information about The Silent Book Club from their website:
Silent Book Club started in 2012 with a couple of friends reading in companionable silence at our neighborhood bar. We loved books, and reading with friends, but most of our previous attempts at book clubs had fizzled out.

Often with traditional book clubs there's the scramble to finish the assigned book, and the pressure to have something smart to say. Wouldn't it be great to have a book club where you could just enjoy books, friends, and wine—without any homework?
We started Silent Book Club because reading with friends is awesome. We love hearing about what people are reading (often in their other book clubs) and we think it's important to put down our phones and be social. Real, live, breathing-the-same-air social, not hearting-you-on-Instagram social.
Have you heard about The Silent Book Club before? Is this a book club you'd consider participating in? If you have attended a Silent Book Club meet up, please share your experience below in the comment section.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, June 1, 2018

50/50 Friday - Best/Worst Read in May

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 Book Read in May 2018

The Best Book Read in May 2018
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
(click on above link to read my review)

The Worst Book Read in May 2018
Choose by Ryan C. Thomas
(click on above link to read my review)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and narrated by Saskia Maarleveld

Listening time for The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is 15 hours, 6 minutes.

I am a fan of historical fiction novels, so I eagerly downloaded The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and began listening to this novel. 

I was hoping that The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was going to be an excellent read, especially with all the wonderful ratings of it I discovered on Amazon's website. However, I felt that the The Alice Network overall was a slow read the first half to two-thirds of it before it picked up the pace.

I also enjoyed listening to Saskia Maarleveld narrate The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

I enjoyed the premise of The Alice Network along with chapters  alternating between the viewpoints of the two leading female characters, Charlie St. Clair and Eve Gardiner. Each chapter weaves the past and present until the time line converges into the current time line set in the novel. I did find the story line for The Alice Network to be a bit predictable for the most part. But there were a few surprises, which was pleasant to discover. A couple of the scenes seemed far fetched, but I'll chalk it up to creative license. 

I found it a tad annoying that the discussion/reference of girls being easy/sluts if they slept around and became pregnant prior to marriage in various parts of the novel early on because it seemed to be brought up a quite a few times. Fine make the point that this how people felt during this time period, but move on! Instead, the topic seemed to surface during the first half (roughly) of the novel. I also disliked that Charlie kept repeatedly referring to her pregnancy as her 'little problem' throughout the early part of the novel... Again, I found it really annoying to keep hearing this phrase a lot during (roughly) the first half of the novel.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is overall a decent read. By the end of The Alice Network, I did like it, but it was not a novel I loved. It wouldn't be a novel that I would highly recommend.

The following is a plot summary for The Alice Network by Kate Quinn from Amazon:
In an enthralling new historical novel from national best-selling author Kate Quinn, two women - a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 - are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
It's 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
It's 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades and launches them both on a mission to find the matter where it leads.
I am giving The Alice Network by Kate Quinn a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Viet Thanh Nguyen ~ Interview on YouTube!

Last month, I briefly met author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California. He was really nice to meet in person. I'm so thrilled to now have a signed copy of his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Sympathizer!

Above is a an interview with Viet Thanh Nguyen speaking about his novel and also his experience as a refugee.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Author Signings... The Author I've Met the Most in Person

I've been blessed to see many authors speak in person at various author signing/speaking events at literary festivals and independent bookstores.

Looking back on all the author events I've attended over the years, I realize that I've seen author, Amy Stewart, three times since I've moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. 

I first became acquainted with Amy Stewart's writing when I read her nonfiction books, Wicked Bugs and Wicked Plants, years ago and loved them.

So, I couldn't resist attending the 2015 Bay Area Book Festival and two other events where Amy Stewart spoke about her books, The Drunken Botanist and the first two novels in the Kopp Sisters Series. Having books signed by the author is always a good thing in my book!

Is there an author you've seen/heard speak more than once in person?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Choose by Ryan C. Thomas

I listened to unabridged version of Choose by Ryan C. Thomas and narrated by John Cormier. This a novella that falls in to the thriller/suspense and horror genres. Listening time for Choose by Ryan C. Thomas is 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Choose by Ryan C. Thomas started off with action right from the beginning and sucks the reader in right away. I thought the story was interesting enough to see this novella through to the very end even if the middle section had some weak details. However, it was listening to the last 20 minutes of Choose by Ryan C. Thomas that had my eyes rolling... The plot seemed too unbelievable, fantastical, cheesy, and left me from giving this novella a 3 star rating.

The following is a plot summary for Choose by Ryan C. Thomas from Amazon:
Mr. Baker's normal life is turned upside down when he is visited by a mysterious cowboy one day. With a gun to his head, Mr. Baker is given until midnight to make a drastic choice. Either kill his wife, or kill his daughter. If he doesn't choose one, the cowboy will kill them both. Mr. Baker has only a few hours left to figure out what the hell is going on. If he can't solve the mystery, people are going to die.
I am giving Choose by Ryan C. Thomas a rating of 1 star out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

How to Start a Heartsong Journal ~ AKA An Encyclopedia Of You!!

I use to keep a journal/diary from the time I was in junior high school until 2008. In fact, I made fairly regular journal/diary entries through that time period. I'd never meant to stop keeping a journal/diary, but certain life events happened. So, I was essentially forced to stop keeping a journal/diary. 

I'd always meant to start keeping a journal/diary again, but for whatever reason that hasn't happened. I guess I lost my momentum or rhythm of making journal/diary entries.

But I may have discovered a way to ease my way back into keeping a journal that sounds like a lot of fun. It's called a Heartsong Journal. I learned about keeping a Heartsong Journal from an article I read on Buzzfeed's website titled, How To Start A Heartsong Journal, AKA An Encyclopedia Of You by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. In the article, Rachel Wilkerson Miller wrote the following:
The best way I can explain a heartsong journal is that it’s basically an “encyclopedia of you.” It’s a special notebook, separate from your day-to-day journal/diary/notebook, where you can write the meaningful things that are really close to your heart, and that you want to reference again and again.

To make your own heartsong journal, you just need a notebook you love and a pen! Here are the sorts of things you might want to include in your heartsong journal:
Your Myers Briggs resultsYour love languageYour go-to self care ideasCompliments or kind words that you want to rememberPoems and quotes that speak to your heartPrayers, meditations, or mantras that move youThings you like about yourselfRecipes that nourish your body and spiritA deep dive into your natal chartNotes on your favorite crystals or essential oils
Essentially, anything that matters to you may be kept inside your Heartsong Journal to refer back to on a regular basis.

Click on the above link to read the entire article about making a Heartsong Journal by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. 

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, May 25, 2018

My Favorite Author Meeting Experience To Date!

Me with author, Thomas Steinbeck,  in November 2011

In 2011, the year before I began blogging, my husband and I had the wonderful of opportunity of meeting Thomas Steinbeck (eldest son of legendary author and Nobel Prize for Literature winner, John Steinbeck) at Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara, California in November 2011 at an author book signing event. This wasn't the first time we'd met Thomas Steinbeck in person, but I'll get to that in a moment.

I've been blessed to meet several authors in person at either author signing events at independent bookstores or at book festivals. However, briefly meeting Thomas Steinbeck twice in person happens to be one of my most memorable and favorite author meeting experiences ever and I'd yet to read any of his books at the time I met him!! 

What made meeting Thomas Steinbeck in person so rewarding was how personable and nice he was. He took a lot of time speaking with each person who came to meet him at Chaucer's Bookstore and then signed copies of his novels for each fan. Above is a picture of me with Thomas Steinbeck at Chaucer's Bookstore the evening he came to sign books in 2011.

My husband and I also briefly met Thomas Steinbeck and his wife, Gail, at an event called Speaking of Stories at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California. One of Thomas Steinbeck's short stories was being read that evening along with several other short stories written by other writers. It just so happened (unbeknownst to my husband and me at the time) that both Thomas Steinbeck and his wife were sitting in the audience right next to us. We only discovered that they were sitting next to us when an announcement was made at the start of Speaking of Stories. It was a delight speaking with them both briefly during the intermission.

Sadly, Thomas Steinbeck passed away in August 2016 at age 72.

Which author or authors have you met in person that have made a positive impression on you?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

I listened to the unabridged audio version of I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon and narrated by Jane Collingwood and Sian Thomas.

Listening time for I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon is 13 hours, 3 minutes.

I'm familiar with the Romanov dynasty and the final demise/assassination of last Tsar of Russia and his family (Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children). 

I'm also somewhat familiar with the history of Anna Anderson, as the woman who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. Anna Anderson claimed to have survived the communist assassination attempt on her life to escape Russia and became Anna Anderson.

So, with that in mind, I was very interested in reading I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon to discover how Ariel Lawhon would interweave the lives of the final days of the Russian Imperial Family and the life of Anna Anderson to make a cohesive story.

All I can say is that Ariel Lawhon is a terrific writer! I really enjoyed listening to I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon and felt that the narrators, Jane Collingwood and Sian Thomas, did a wonderful job narrating this historical novel. I also enjoyed listening to the author, Ariel Lawhon, discuss why she chose to write this novel and how she came about writing it at the end of the novel.

I loved how I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon came together as a novel. Especially, the alternating chapters that entwine the past and present together as told through the eyes of Anna Anderson and Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. 

I was captivated from start to finish with I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon. I found myself looking forward as to where this novel would lead me with regards to the Anna Anderson/Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia story. I was not disappointed with the way in which this novel unfolded.

The following is the plot summary for I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon from Amazon:
"Compelling and utterly fascinating...drifts far into the mysterious lives of Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson." (Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours)
In an enthralling new feat of historical suspense, Ariel Lawhon unravels the extraordinary twists and turns in Anna Anderson's 50 year battle to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov. Is she the Russian Grand Duchess, a beloved daughter and revered icon, or is she an impostor, the thief of another woman's legacy?
Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survives. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.
Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital, where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans 50 years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
I am giving I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Favorite Little Free Library To Date!

As many of my blog readers know, I enjoy visiting Little Free Libraries whenever I am able to find the time to do so. 

I frequently try to visit as many new to me Little Free Libraries as I can and spread my love for reading far and wide. It's always fun to find these new to me Little Free Libraries and blog about my experience in finding them with my blog readers as each Little Free Library has its own unique charm and style that make them fun to find.

Most Little Free Libraries I've found have a good selection of books on hand, which makes exchanging books loads of fun.

However, I must admit that my personal favorite Little Free Library to date is located in Solana Beach, California. I've visited this particular Little Free Library (at 453 Lirio Street) approximately five times and it always contains a fabulous selection of books to choose from whenever I visit it.

Do you leave/exchange books at Little Free Libraries? Do you have a favorite Little Free Library you like visiting the most? Let me know in the comment section below!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

I recently read the hardback edition of Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Less by Andrew Sean Greer won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which was the main reason I ended up choosing to read this novel in the first place. Additionally, I've never read a novel by Andrew Sean Greer before, so that was another reason I chose to read Less.

I thought Less by Andrew Sean Greer was a good read overall, but not a great one... Yes, I liked the story, the premise of the novel, and most of the characters... But Less by Andrew Sean Greer will soon become unmemorable to me in the long run. 

The following is a plot summary for Less by Andrew Sean Greer from Amazon:
Who says you can't run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?
ANSWER: You accept them all.
What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.
Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.
A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as "inspired, lyrical," "elegiac," "ingenious," as well as "too sappy by half," Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.
I am giving Less by Andrew Sean Greer a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Today is my birthday!!
My hubby surprised me and purchased an
Audible membership as one of my birthday gifts.
Gotta hand it to my hubby for knowing
what to give me as a birthday gift.

I look forward to listening to some fantastic
audiobooks for the remainder of the year! 
I've chosen to start listening to 
I Am Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon.

I've been binge listening to I Am Anastasia 
by Ariel Lawhon. I'm 33% into this
historical fiction novel so far! It's a
good novel thus far. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti

Paperback ~ Memoir
I read the paperback edition of Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti, which is a book that has been on my wish list for a while.

I first became acquainted with Jessica Valenti's writing when I read and reviewed her book, Full Frontal Feminism, (click on the link to the left to read my review of Full Frontal Feminism) back in January 2014. I think that Full Frontal Feminism is a good, basic introductory read for newbies wanting to know more about feminism... But for those of us with more knowledge of feminism, then please take a pass on Full Frontal Feminism.

"Sex Object" initially seemed like an odd title for a memoir for someone who isn't a super model or porn star... However, I fully understand that women are treated like sex objects in our society and I suppose for a book title, "Sex Object", is appropriate as any book title in this context.

I think the introduction of Jessica Valenti's memoir was probably the most enjoyable thing I liked about her memoir. The rest of Jessica Valenti's memoir wasn't good at all in my opinion. In fact, I am surprised that Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti was named 'NPR Best Book of 2016'!

Yes, unfortunately, women are and have been viewed as sex objects in our society, which is extremely dehumanizing and derogatory to women to say the least. 

I also feel that it was extremely brave of Jessica Valenti to come forward and describe her negative experiences of the various ways in which she was objectified by men in society. However, I wasn't completely sympathetic to her plight. I don't think Ms. Valenti deserved to be treated like a sex object or any other woman for that matter. However, there was behavior I felt Ms. Valenti did engage in at various points in her life as an adult that caused negative outcomes... I felt these series of negative outcomes could have been prevented or at least mitigated had she exercised better judgment on her part.

The following is the publisher's summary for Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti from Amazon:
New York Times Bestseller
“Sharp and prescient… The appeal of Valenti’s memoir lies in her ability to trace objectification through her own life, and to trace what was for a long time her own obliviousness to it…Sex Object is an antidote to the fun and flirty feminism of selfies and self-help.” – New Republic
Hailed by the Washington Post as “one of the most visible and successful feminists of her generation,” Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a memoir thatPublishers Weekly calls “bold and unflinching,” Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes on women’s lives, from the everyday to the existential. From subway gropings and imposter syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood, Sex Object reveals the painful, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City.

In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, Sex Object is a profoundly moving tour de force that is bound to shock those already familiar with Valenti’s work, and enthrall those who are just finding it.
I am giving Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti a rating of 1 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!