Wednesday, October 31, 2018

10 Haunted Libraries in the USA!!

Happy Halloween Everyone!! 

I think I've found a very suitable 
topic for Halloween this year
that will appeal to book 
lovers and library fans alike...
Haunted libraries across the nation!

I found a few websites that feature 
haunted libraries, but I found the following
ten haunted libraries to be one I enjoyed 
reading the most. I would like
to visit these libraries in the future!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell

Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell is a short book to read. I loved reading every single page of this book. It's a work of nonfiction and deals with local history in Berkeley, California... More specifically it deals with the very quirky artwork found in the yards of those who reside in Berkeley, California... And let me tell you that the 'quirky artwork' isn't your run of the mill quirky stuff you might expect to find in your average neighborhood yard. No Way! This is full frontal UNIQUE and very QUIRKY artwork that one would come to expect from only those living in Berkeley, California.

I loved reading every little detail about each quirky Berkeley piece of artwork. It was the right amount of information without being overwhelming. The forward and introduction of this little book provided loads of information as well. 

My husband and I live about 45 minutes (sometimes longer depending on traffic) from Berkeley, California. Last Sunday afternoon, we decided to find four of the 'Quirky Berkeley' sites mentioned in Tom Dalzell's book in the hills of North Berkeley. And oh, what fun we had visiting the various places! We definitely look forward to viewing more of the quirky artwork on another visit to Berkeley in the future.

Site #1 Buldan Seka's Giant Ceramic Freaks - Buldan Seka is a ceramic artist originally from Macedonia, but she now resides in Berkeley California. Her front yard is filled with many of her giant sized ceramic figures. See pictures I took below of the ceramic figures.

Site #2 Bruce Dodd's Giant Orange - The Giant Orange is just down the street from the Giant Ceramic Freaks. My understanding is that the Giant Orange was once an orange stand that sold cold orange juice back in the day. I didn't take a photo of this structure as it was located down a long driveway to several residential homes. We could see the Giant Orange from the public sidewalk, but we didn't want to venture down a private driveway for a closer look/photo opportunity.

Site #3 Fredric Fierstein's Buddhist Shrine - My understanding from reading Quirky Berkeley, is that Fredric Fierstein is an electrical contractor with an interest in Asian cultural traditions. We loved seeing the Buddhist shrine in Fredric Fierstein's front yard. It is so amazing!  

Site #4 Mark Olivier's Beach Trash Art - Found beach trash was used to make several (and I mean several) beach trash art that sit in Mark Olivier's front yard or hung from the home's exterior. It's almost a bit too much to take in, but quite fantastical to see.

Below is a short YouTube clip of a couple of the 'Quirky Berkeley' places we'd still like to visit.

Below is a summary for Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell from Amazon:
When it comes to landscaping, why stop at plastic flamingos? Based on Tom Dalzell's blog of the same name, Quirky Berkeley pays tribute to the boldly imaginative artwork on display in front of, on top of, and engulfing residents' houses all over the city. With full-color photographs and a pithy wit, Dalzell shares his discoveries of the unexpected: the giant orange on Spruce Street, a house shaped like a fish, bowling balls as lawn art, enormous dachshund sculptures, and the birdhouse pyramid on Sacramento, to name just a few of the oddities. Created, installed, and maintained at great expense-not just of money, but of time and creative energy-these are all free to view, all gifts to the street. Included in every write-up are profiles of the artists, whom Dalzell is careful to portray not as stereotypical "Berzerkeleyites" but as individuals who have found their true north of exuberant self-expression. While the very uniqueness of each of these sites invites us to focus on the individual creators, the book also considers what the abundance of such art says about a community and its values. This love letter to idiosyncrasy champions the revolutionary idea that we can build a vibrant community not by demanding conformity but by celebrating difference.
I am giving Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild and narrated by Jennifer Mack and Brian Pallino. Listening time for The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild is 3 hours, 26 minutes.

The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild is the first book (novella really) in the 'Red Ledger Series' and it is a thriller. I enjoyed the narration of this book by both narrators. The characters and the storyline are good as well. 

The biggest issue for this novella is the cliffhanger ending. I am not a fan of cliffhanger endings in books, especially for books that are part of a series, as I feel like they are gimmicks to hook readers into buying the rest of books in the series. Otherwise The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild was an engaging read from start to finish.

Below is the plot summary for The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild from Audible:
He’s death for hire…
Some people measure life in hours. Days. Weeks. I measure mine in kills. A covert military mission gone wrong robbed me of my memory and any link to my past. This is my existence now. I execute and survive. Nothing more, nothing less. I was ready to write Isabel Foster’s name in my ledger of unfortunate souls until she uttered the one word that could stop the bullet meant for her. My name.
She knows my face. She knows me. She’s the key to the memories I’m not sure I want back. Now nothing is simple. I still have a job to do, and my soul isn’t worth saving. I’m not the man she thinks I am. I can’t love her. And sparing her life puts us both in the crosshairs.
I am giving The Red Ledger by Meredith Wild a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Little Free Library in Berkeley, California!

Yesterday my husband and I spent the afternoon in Berkeley California. We were there for a variety of reasons and all of them involved having fun!!

Berkeley has a plethora of Little Free Libraries. It seems like you see them everywhere you turn without really trying to seek them out. We discovered six Little Free Libraries just driving around the small area of Berkeley we visited yesterday. 

We found a really cool Little Free Library in North Berkeley up in the hills. We almost missed this Little Free Library because it was sitting in the shade and the dark paint color on its exterior made it difficult to spot as it blended in with the surrounding background (fence and home) painted the same color. I loved the wire artwork attached to the back of this Little Free Library.

I didn't find a book I liked well enough to bring home with me to read though. Next time! 

In the future, I am hoping to bring a stack of read books with me to Berkeley, California to release in various Little Free Libraries around the city. Wouldn't that be a fun adventure?

Founder of Little Free Library Dies

I am a fan of Little Free Libraries. I frequently leave books at Little Free Libraries not only within my own community, but also in other communities when on travel or making day trips. I find it really fun to find new to me Little Free Libraries and witness the creativity people having in making their individual library.

I was saddened to recently learn that Todd Bol, the founder of Little Free Library, passed away earlier this month at the age of 62 due to complications of pancreatic cancer. My heart goes out to his family during this difficult time. 

A big thank you to Mr. Bol for creating Little Free Library! I am grateful to this simple concept of sharing the joys of reading and books within one's own community.

Read more @ Founder of Little Free Library dies.

Little Free Library at The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, California!

I love the tree that has been yarn bombed in the background with neon pink yarn.
I've been wanting to visit The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek, California for a couple of years now. The garden is located on six acres of land and is free to the public. I recently discovered that a Little Free Library is located adjacent to the Children's Garden... Books and nature make for a great combination!

My husband and I finally made our first visit to The Gardens at Heather Farm last Friday afternoon. It was a perfect day to visit the gardens as the weather was gorgeous outdoors. There is a rose garden, a gazebo, a children's garden, and so on to explore during one's visitThere are also many benches placed strategically around the garden to sit on and many beautiful trees providing shade. I also enjoyed viewing the sculptures placed around the gardens as well. 

Weddings and other special events are frequently held at The Gardens at Heather Farm. Please check their calendar to make sure the garden isn't closed for the day during  the time you plan to make a visit. My husband and I arrived at The Gardens at Heather Farm on a Saturday a few weekends ago only to find that the garden was closed for the day due to a special event.

Below are a few photographs I captured during our visit to The Gardens at Heather Farm.

View of rose garden and man made lake with fountains.

Dahlias in bloom.
Partial view of the children's garden.
Roses in bloom. Love the pink and white colors.
Have you discovered any new to you Little Free Libraries lately?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Traveling Bookstore Couple!

It would be a blast to see this bookstore in real life. It's also a great concept for a bookstore.

Friday, October 26, 2018

50/50 Friday - Scary Book/Movie You Want to Read/Watch!

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.

Scary Book I Want To Read

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Scary Movie I Want To Watch

The Nun

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Act of God by Jill Ciment

Hardback Edition
I purchased the brand new hardback edition of Act of God by Jill Ciment for a dollar at The Dollar Tree store. This contemporary novel was a spur of the moment purchase for me. Seriously, how can you even pass up buying a brand new book for a dollar??

To the best of my recollection, I've never read anything by Jill Ciment before. I wasn't sure what to expect from Act of God... But sometimes these spur of the moment purchases can prove to be the best surprises. 

I enjoyed reading Act of God by Jill Ciment. Jill Cimment is an entertaining and engaging writer. She definitely has a way with words and her writing is refreshing and crisp. I also liked the author's subtle humor throughout this novel as I found myself laughing in many scenes. I liked the storyline and screwball cast of characters in Act of God. The ending of this novel was interesting, I'll give it that for sure... But I felt like the ending for Act of God was a bit abrupt and didn't quite wrap the storyline in a tidy way as there were still some unanswered questions. One can only speculate on how things turn out for some of the characters based on events that occur towards the end of the novel.

The following is a plot summary for Act of God by Jill Ciment from Amazon:
It's the summer of 2015, Brooklyn. The city is sweltering from another record-breaking heat wave, this one accompanied by biblical rains. Edith, a recently retired legal librarian, and her identical twin sister, Kat, a feckless romantic who's mistaken her own eccentricity for originality, discover something ominous in their hall closet. It seems to be phosphorescent; it's a mushroom...and it's sprouting from their wall.
Upstairs their landlady, Vida Cebu, a Shakespearian actress far more famous for her TV commercials for Ziberax (the first female sexual enhancement pill) than for her stage work, discovers that a petite Russian girl, a runaway au pair, has been secretly living in her guest-room closet. When the police arrest the intruder, they find a second mushroom, also glowing, under the intruder's bedding. Soon the HAZMAT squad arrives, and the four women are forced to evacuate the contaminated row house with only the clothes on their backs.
As the mold infestation spreads from row house to high-rise and frightened, bewildered New Yorkers wait out this plague (is it an act of God?) on their city and property, the four women become caught up in a centrifugal nightmare.
Part horror story, part screwball comedy, Jill Ciment's brilliant suspense novel looks at what happens when our lives - so seemingly set and ordered, yet so precariously balanced - break down in the wake of calamity. A novel as well about love (familial and profound) and how it can appear from the most unlikely circumstances.
I am giving Act of God by Jill Ciment a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tina Turner: By The Book from the New York Times

I've been a fan of Tina Turner's songs and singing for decades now. So, when I recently came across an article on the New York Times website titled, Tina Turner: By The Book, I knew I had to read it.

I've known for many years that Tina Turner is a devout Buddhist, so I wasn't surprised to find many of the books mentioned were Buddhist or spiritual in nature.

I was, however, surprised to learn that Tina Tuner has viewed Jackie Kennedy as a role model and has a collection of books about Jackie Kennedy.

When asked "what’s the one book you wish someone else would write?", it was also interesting to learn that Tina Turner wants her longtime friend, Mick Jagger, to write his autobiography as she says he's a great storyteller. Mick Jagger's autobiography is a book she would want to read... And she thinks others would want to read it too.

Click on the above link to read the entire article and discover more tidbits about Tina Turner's reading tastes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A New Book is Out About The LA Central Library... And the Book Sounds Amazing!

Wow, I came across a really good article on NPR's website titled, Mystery Of A Massive Library Fire Remains Unsolved After More Than 30 Years by Scott Simon. In the article, Scott Simon wrote the follow:
Susan Orlean's new book is like exploring the stacks of a library, where something unexpected and interesting can be discovered on every page. The Library Book tells the story of the 1986 fire that damaged or destroyed more than one million books in Los Angeles' Central Library.
"The fire burned for seven hours," Orlean says. "It reached temperatures of 2,500 degrees. ... A lot of firefighters who I interviewed said it was by far the most challenging, frightening fire that they've ever confronted in their careers."
Orlean uses the loss and lore of that fire to tell the living, everyday story of a great civic institution that is becoming, in a digital age, perhaps even more vital. She says the fire reminded her of the proverb that when a person dies, it's as if a library has burned to the ground.
"A host of memories and stories and anecdotes that we store in our minds disappears when someone dies," she says. "It struck me as being a wonderful way of seeing why libraries feel like these big, collective brains — because they have the memories and stories of a whole culture inside them."

In addition to destroying and damaging books, the fire also claimed irreplaceable artifacts. The library was home to manuals for every make and model of car starting with the Ford Model T, Orlean says, and to puppets from a long-gone puppet theater. People see libraries as repositories for "the flotsam and jetsam of thinking and storytelling," she says.
I never knew that there was a fire at the Central Library in Los Angeles until I discovered and read this article... To think the fire has remained unsolved for more than 30 years is amazing! I so want to read The Library Book by Susan Orlean now. This book is going on my reading wishlist.

Click on the very top link to listen to the audio interview of Susan Orlean discussing her new book on NPR.

New Little Free Library in San Ramon, California!!

I was excited to learn that a new Little Free Library had opened in my community!! 

So, this past weekend, my husband and I found this cute, blue Little Free Library in San Ramon, California. 

I left a book and found a copy of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I've been wanting to read this novel for awhile, so I am very happy that I was able to obtain a free copy.

Have you found/visited any Little Free Libraries lately?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Life's Library - New Book Club Created By Author John Green

I already have so many books to read as I am way behind on reading books in my already massive 'to be read' pile! 

Do I dare join John Green's newly created book club, Life's Library?

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold - Documentary on Netflix

I've had the documentary, 'Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold', in my Netflix watch list for the past year... I finally watched it last week and enjoyed it.

I really don't watch a lot of television. Instead preferring to read, knit, blog, spend time on the computer in general, etc. So, this is one of the main reasons it took me so long to finally make the time to watch this documentary.

To date, I've never read anything written by Joan Didion. I am aware of some of her books, but I didn't know much about her life. So, with that said, I actually learned a lot about her life from watching, 'Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold'. Joan's life is fascinating! I now look forward to reading some of her books.

Have you watched 'Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold?' What did you think of it?

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Stepford Florist by J. T. Lawrence

I read the ebook edition of The Stepford Florist by J. T. Lawrence, which is approximately 82 pages in length. I was able to download this steampunk/cyber thriller for FREE to my Kindle from Amazon. Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Stepford Florist by J. T. Lawrence.

I thought The Stepford Florist by J. T. Lawrence wasn't as good as expected based on the summary I read of it on Amazon. Plus, this short story/novella had 30 reviews and a 4+ star rating on Amazon, but I felt that The Stepford Florist by J. T. Lawrence simply didn't live up to the hype. Mediocre story, characters, and writing. Let's just say I'll be skipping on any of J. T. Lawrence's other works.

The following is a summary for The Stepford Florist by J. T. Lawrence from Amazon:
Jasmine is arrested for performing a bootleg vampire facelift in her modded-out steampunk caravan.
She’s thrilled, because it's worked out exactly as she planned.

Jasmine has mastered moonlighting.

She's a steampunk inventor, a cosmetician, and a gene-hacking florist.
And then there’s her real job: exposing evil corps and dodgy clinics.

When Jasmine, the head of Alba—an underground biopunk organisation—is tipped off that something morally dubious is happening at the city’s most luxurious high-tech spa, she takes it upon herself to investigate, and discovers a whole lot more than she bargained for.

(Warning: Contains colorful language and sex.)

This short standalone spin-off novelette is set in the near-future When Tomorrow Calls world, and introduces Jasmine, Seth and Keke, just before we meet Kirsten, the kick-ass main character in Why You Were Taken.

I am giving The Stepford Florist by J. T. Lawrence a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Flash Fiction Mix-And-Match Writing Prompts by Corrine Kenner

I purchased the paperback edition of Flash Fiction Mix-And-Match Writing Prompts by Corrine Kenner from Amazon due to the great reviews.

I have mixed feelings about Flash Fiction Mix-And-Match Writing Prompts by Corrine Kenner. Yes, this book is as described in that it provides excellent mix and match writing prompts in order to help writers come up with a storyline. The directions are excellent on how to use the book... And there are even additional writing tips, tricks, and hints at the end of the book to help hone your writing skills. I also love how well this book is organized.

However, Flash Fiction Mix-And-Match Writing Prompts by Corrine Kenner is more of a pamphlet than a book at 28 pages in length. I felt like the price of this pamphlet was steep. Additionally, I feel like you could easily find writing prompts online for free to help you become more creative in writing a story. 

Below is a summary for Flash Fiction Mix-And-Match Writing Prompts by Corrine Kenner from Amazon:
Don’t waste time waiting for story ideas to come to you. Flip through this booklet, and you can create characters and plots in seconds. Simply choose a single word or phrase from each of the five sections, in order, and then turn those selections into a sentence. It's easy, because the sections are arranged like parts of speech. Here’s a sample prompt to show you how it works. 1. descriptions (adjectives): vengeful 2. characters (nouns): historian 3. actions (verbs): steals 4. plot twists (objects): movie script 5. settings (more nouns): coffee shop Add a few articles and prepositions, and you have a premise for a story: A vengeful historian steals a movie script in a coffee shop. Look for combinations that amuse and intrigue you. Feel free to make changes, substitutions, and additions. You might find a garbage man in the list — but you’ll soon discover that your garbage man is actually a garbage woman, or a trash-picking hobo, or an environmentally sensitive vampire who sleeps in a landfill. Let your characters drive the story. You can also play fast and loose with the grammar. You’re welcome to turn nouns into verbs, or objects into adjectives. Maybe your character isn’t a ghost. Maybe he’s just ghostly. You can change verb conjugations, too. If your hero isn’t inflicting wounds, for example, maybe he’s the one being wounded. Feel free to make the most of the suggestions in this booklet. Remember that they’re starting points, not final destinations — and let them take you into a story that practically writes itself.
I am giving Flash Fiction Mix-And-Match Writing Prompts by Corrine Kenner a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

The BuzzFeed Book Club!

I came across a new online book club a few days ago in an article titled, Welcome To The BuzzFeed Book Club! by Arianna Rebolini. In the article, Arianna Rebolini wrote the following:
Hello! Are you a person who loves to read but is often overwhelmed by the task of choosing a new book? Do you have a million open tabs of book recommendation lists? Do you wish you could hire someone to pick your books out for you — is a book concierge even a thing? Do you straight-up love books and want a place to chat about them with fellow discerning, thoughtful, and enthusiastic readers?

Each month, BuzzFeed Books will select one brand-new book for members to read together.

We’ll announce the selection before it comes out so you’ll have plenty of time to preorder or reserve it at your local library.
We’ll chat about these books in the BuzzFeed Book Club Facebook group — where we’ll ask discussion questions, share our opinions, gush and rant about our favorite and least favorite characters, make plot predictions, host Q&As with the authors, and generally drop in random thoughts as we read together.
You’ll get two newsletters a month, full of exclusive content from the authors, highlights from the Facebook group, blurbs from future selections, giveaways, and more.

And each month you’ll have an opportunity to weigh in so we can tailor the book club to what you want: What kind of books do you like to read? Did you love this one or hate it? What kind of book-related features do you want to see from us?

It’ll be a blast — and it’s free!
The first book chosen for Buzzfeed's Book Club is a novel titled, Family Trust by Kathy Wang. Discussion for Family Trust by Kathy Wang will begin on November 1, 2018.

It just so happens that I received a FREE copy of Family Trust by Kathy Wang through Goodreads Giveaways. I have yet to read Family Trust though. I have a busy schedule through the end of the month. Plus, I am already reading a book at the moment... So, I'll try to read this novel before November 1st as I'd like to join in the discussion group as soon as possible.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry and narrated by Scott Brick. Listening time for Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry is 37 minutes.

As an Audible member, I was able to download Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry for FREE to my Kindle! Below is my honest, unbiased review of Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry.

I decided to listen to Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry because I was in the mood for a spooky, scary read in honor of the Halloween holiday... And a free, short story seemed to work best for me as I have not had a lot of time to devote to reading longer books this month.

Yes, Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry was a spooky ghost story, but not one I'd go out of my way to recommend to others in any way at all. The best part of Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry was Scott Brick's narration of it.

The following is a plot summary for Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry from Audible:
The fears and horrors of being a new parent take on a shocking dimension in in this heart-stopping original story, only from Audible. A young married couple, Matt and Gillian have just bought a gorgeous house located next to a lake in the Catskills. They want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city to raise their baby girl, Hope, in relative peace and quiet. When night falls, however, their dream home becomes a house of nightmares. Matt and Gillian soon learn that darkness takes many forms. And sometimes, darkness is hungry.
New York Times best-selling author and Bram Stoker Award winner Jonathan Maberry delivers a haunting Audible Original that will give listeners the Halloween creeps all year round. Scott Brick, the man with the golden voice, perfectly captures the experience of hearing a classic ghost story told around the campfire
I am giving Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Select Five Books And Buzzfeed Will Give You Some Inspirational Advice

Need some inspirational advice?

My Inspirational Quote from Buzzfeed is:

Never change for anyone but yourself!!

No one else's opinion besides your own should matter. If you want to change your hair, eat that extra slice of cake or wear that bodycon dress, then you should do it. Not everyone may agree with you and there'll be people who try to make these decisions on your behalf. But you should ignore them and just be your true self.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I've read numerous Agatha Christie novels over the years, but The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie is one that I do recollect reading before... Until now!

I enjoyed reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, even though I felt that it was slow in parts. There were many twists and turns in this novel, so I was left guessing to the identity of the murderer throughout much of this novel. It wasn't until the remaining few pages that I guessed the identity of the murderer just before it was announced!

Below is the plot summary for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie from Amazon:
Voted by the British Crime Writers’ Association as the "Best Crime Novel of all Time"
Hercule Poirot comes out of retirement in one of Agatha Christie’s ten favorite novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Then, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with an apparent drug overdose.

However the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information, but before he could finish reading the letter, he was stabbed to death. Luckily one of Roger’s friends and the newest resident to retire to this normally quiet village takes over—none other than Monsieur Hercule Poirot.
I am giving The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Happy National Dictionary Day!!

National Dictionary Day falls each year on October 16th.

Watch the following video for National Dictionary Day.

I think I'll celebrate National Dictionary Day
by learning a new word or two!

As a side note, I loved reading, 
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester,
which is about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookstores I've Visited & Loved!!

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.

I decided to put a twist on this week's Top Ten Tuesday theme and share my favorite indie bookstores that I've visited over the years instead of sharing which ones I still wish to visit in the future.

My top ten favorite indie bookstores to date (in no particular order of importance) are as follows:

1. Alexander Book Company in the heart of downtown San Francisco, California, USA.  Alexander Book Company is easy walking distance from a BART Station. It contains three stories of books!! I love the layout of this bookstore, friendly staff, plenty of new releases to choose from and also a ton of deeply discounted remaindered books.

2. Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, USA. Book Passage has three different locations (San Francisco, Sausalito, and Corte Madera). The Corte Madera location is awesome! Book Passage in Corte Madera, California is large, offers a plethora of author signings and talks (as well author events at their other locations too), conferences, and classes. Friendly staff, great selection of books, and wonderful layout.

3. Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California, USA is a beautiful bookstore. They have authors events,  and also sell pens and stationary. Vroman's Bookstore is also billed as SoCal's oldest and largest independent bookstore.

4. The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, California, USA. This a very beautiful and unique bookstore. They sell used records too. Great layout. Events take place there like book clubs, author talks, and more.

5. Bart's Books in Ojai, California, USA. I love this very unique bookstore! It's partially outdoors and has meandering bookshelves and passageways. It's a fun book store to visit and sells used books. It's one of my favorite used bookstores.

6. The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. I love this small bookstore that specializes mainly in mysteries and thrillers. They have plenty of author signing events and book clubs events as well. Plus, they have a podcast and videos on YouTube!

7. Elaine's Book Mark - The Paperback Exchange in Escondido, California, USA. This bookstore sells used books and is large for a used bookstore. This is one of my favorite used bookstores.

8. Rakestraw Books in Danville, California, USA. My favorite local bookstore at the moment. It's small, but packs a punch! Friendly staff, plenty of free parking, many author signing events, book clubs, great layout and very cute interior space.

9. Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, California, USA. If you're a fan of genre fiction such as mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and horror, then this is the bookstore for you!

10. Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Iowa, USA. I attended the University of Iowa in the mid-1990s and earned my BA in Russian in 1996. The University of Iowa is located in the heart of Iowa City... During my college days, my favorite bookstore was Prairie Lights!! This place was awesome for all my reading needs and had a cafe that served yummy pastries and espresso beverages. Even though I haven't been back to Iowa City in 22 years, I am thrilled to see this bookstore still thriving! Prairie Lights opened their doors in 1978. They still have a cafe and offer author events/readings.

Share your favorite indie bookstores with me in the comment section below!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Pizza Hut + Little Free Library = Little Free Libraries That Look Like Mini Pizza Huts!

I love visiting Little Free Libraries as often as I can, especially new to me Little Free Libraries. I recently discovered an article online titled, Pizza Hut’s ‘Little Free Libraries’ Look Exactly Like Mini Pizza Huts by Anne Ewbank. In the article, Anne Ewbank wrote the following:
WHILE STOPPING FOR GAS IN Wyoming during a recent trip, I glanced at a Pizza Hut across the parking lot and saw something surprising. Pizza Huts tend to be topped with the geometric red roof that’s become the pizza chain’s logo—it’s plastered on restaurants from Riverton, Wyoming, to Rio de Janeiro. This Pizza Hut had the iconic roof. But so did another, tiny Pizza Hut placed in front of the restaurant. Set atop a wooden post, the crate-sized structure was actually a Little Free Library, filled with books that passersby could pick up and exchange.

While the Little Free Library website offers blueprints to create basic book-exchange boxes, many builders get creative. Volunteers make Little Free Libraries shaped like birdhouses, castles, and spaceships, or themed after Doctor Who and Harry Potter. Others are made with attached benches or added greenery, and reams of Pinterest boards depict interesting designs. Contests celebrate the most creative takes.

Still, a Pizza Hut-themed Little Free Library was new to me. A few days later, in Montana, I plotted a course for a random Pizza Hut. Sure enough, there was a Little Free Library out front. Topped with the signature red roof, it was filled with magazines and classic young adult books, such as Johnny Tremain and Catherine, Called Birdy.
When I called Pizza Hut, I was informed that this was a franchisee project, rather than a national endeavor. “We were looking at ways to become involved in our markets locally,” says Lynda Carrier-Metz, the chief marketing manager of Restaurant Management Company of Wichita. In 2016, Carrier-Metz won a $10,000 volunteer grant from Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands to construct 20 book-exchange boxes in front of restaurants. According to Carrier-Metz, it came down to combining community involvement with “what people were doing already”: that is, going to Pizza Hut. “In many towns, the libraries aren’t open after 5 or 6 p.m.,” she adds. “We wanted them to come to Pizza Hut and bring their books, and get other books.”
The article goes on to share much more information, so please be sure and click on the link above to read more about how Pizza Hut decided to created several Little Free Libraries. I found the article to be fascinating and am glad that Pizza Hut has a legacy of supporting literacy.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Unabridged Audio Version
I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and narrated by Bahni Turpin. Listening time for The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is 10 hours, 43 minutes.

The Underground Railroad won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017 and was also an Oprah Book Club Selection in 2016. For these two main reasons, I decided to read this novel despite the fact that I find Oprah Book Club Selections hit or miss for me personally.

I thought the first 20% of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead started off rather slowly. I almost decided to call it quits...  But I am glad I chose to push forward as things did begin to pick up after that.

As far as the entire novel goes, I liked The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, but didn't love it. I enjoyed how the plot unfolded, the various plot twists and turns, and the use of magical realism when describing the underground railroad itself as a literal railroad that people traveled on. I enjoyed reading about the various characters found within The Underground Railroad. I also enjoyed seeing each state Cora travels to through her eyes and how she comes to experience an entirely new world of possibility and wonderment during each leg of her journey to freedom.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a difficult novel to read. The brutality of slavery, the appalling living/working conditions of life on a plantation, the thought of being considered someone else's property, being separated from one's family when a slave owner sells off your husband, children, parents, siblings, etc. on a whim, or even being considered less than equal to white people are all points touched upon while reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Colson Whitehead does do a wonderful job of weaving in the various chapters together to make a solid, credible story.

Learning about what really happened to Mabel (Cora's mother) in a chapter near the end of the novel, the chapter about Ethel's background life, and the chapters on South Carolina and about life on the Valentine Farm were some of the most riveting chapters in the novel for me to hear.

The ending of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is the type of ending that leaves it up to the reader's imagination on  Cora's fate, which is fine...  The assumption for me is that she finds freedom with the people she meets up with in the end. But I was hoping for a bit more details for the ending of this particular novel.

One of the best features of this audiobook was the narrator, Bahni Turpin. She's a phenomenal narrator!!

The following is a plot summary for The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead from Audible:
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
Like the protagonist of Gulliver's Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
Below is the author Colson Whitehead discussing The Underground Railroad.

I am giving The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead a rating of 3.5 stars out 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Maryse Conde Wins the Alternate Nobel Prize In Literature!

I came across an article on the Wall Street Journal titled, Not-the-Nobel Prize in Literature Is Announced by Brenda Cronin. In the article, Brenda Cronin wrote the following:
Maryse Condé, a chronicler of the colonial experience and its aftermath, won the New Academy Prize in Literature Friday. 
Ms. Condé was praised as “a grand storyteller” whose “authorship belongs to world literature,” according to the New Academy. The Stockholm-based nonprofit stepped in to honor a writer this year after the Swedish Academy postponed the Nobel Prize in literature.

Ann Pålsson, a Swedish publishing veteran who headed the New Academy’s four-person jury, announced the decision in the rotunda of the Stockholm Public Library.
In an interview Friday, the 81-year-old Ms. Condé said she was delighted, proud—even astonished—to have won the award. She expressed hope that the New Academy might continue its work, particularly because the organization involved librarians in choosing nominees. 
In a video played during the announcement in Stockholm, Ms. Condé said she would share the honor with the people of her native Guadeloupe. The island in the Caribbean where she was born “is known for hurricanes and earthquakes,” she said, “and now we are so happy to have been recognized for something else, for this prize.”
Congratulations to Maryse Conde! I've never heard of Maryse Conde before, so I will have to check out her books.

Bookish Quote of the Day!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax

Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax is a science fiction, erotica/romance short story 48 pages in length and is part of the 'Cyborg Sizzle Series'.

I was able to download Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax for FREE to my Kindle from Amazon. Below is my honest, unbiased review for Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax.

I liked Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax despite it being predictable and formulaic. The writing was decent and so were both the storyline and the characters. Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax has a happy ending and no major complications.

Below is the plot summary for Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax from Amazon:
He requires an Expert. She needs a hero. 
Barrel requires an Expert for the Tau Cetian orphans. He’s looking for a female who is willing to commit to a lifespan-long role, who is comfortable with moving off planet, and who, preferably, has the ability to speak the offsprings’ first language. 
Nola wants the role Barrel is offering so badly she bends a few truths. Yes, she was born off planet but she has lived almost all of her lifespan in sheltered Academies. Yes, she has learned Tau Cetian but she has never spoken with a local. Yes, she plans to follow the rules but his deep, sexy voice tempts her to rebel. 
When a fact-morphing human academic meets her battle-worn cyborg warrior, deceptions are revealed, passions flare, and circuits sizzle. Wrong seems right. Lies turn into truth. The candidate least qualified for the role becomes the one candidate Barrel can’t let go. 
Jumping Barrel is a short companion story in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is meant to be read after Releasing Rage, Breathing Vapor and Crash And Burn.
It is also a BBW Cyborg SciFi Romance set in a dark, gritty, sometimes violent universe.
I am giving Jumping Barrel by Cynthia Sax a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax

Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax is a science fiction, erotica/romance short story 45 pages in length and is part of the 'Cyborg Sizzle Series'.

I was able to download Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax for FREE to my Kindle from Amazon. Below is my honest, unbiased review for Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax.

I liked Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax despite it being predictable and formulaic. The writing was decent and so were the storyline and the characters. Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax has a happy ending and no major complications.

Below is the plot summary for Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax from Amazon:
Abducted by the warrior of her dreams.
Zip is the last of his friends to find his female, the one being meant for him. He isn’t certain she exists until he hears her voice over a transmission. A self-proclaimed systems deity, he researches his curvy little human and discovers she dreams of being abducted by a big, strong warrior. Zip plans to make his female’s fantasies come true.
Ryssa wants one gift for her birthing planet rotation—to be captured by a warrior, preferably a tall, muscular cyborg with black hair, gray skin, and brilliant blue eyes. When Zip arrives on her planet, claiming to be her male, Ryssa assumes one of her friends has ordered the experience for her, and throws herself into the encounter, losing herself in Zip’s hot kisses, sensual touch, dominant embrace.
When the fantasy fades, will their love survive?
Knowing Zip is a short companion story in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is meant to be read after Seeking Vector. 
It is also a BBW Cyborg SciFi Romance set in a dark, gritty, sometimes violent universe.
I am giving Knowing Zip by Cynthia Sax a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!