Thursday, November 29, 2018

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

I discovered author, Natalie Baszile, earlier this year when I listened to an episode of Pen & Place (a podcast). The Pen & Place podcast showcases the real world places that inspired each author's work. After listening to the Pen & Place episode featuring Natalie Baszile, I knew I had to read her novel, Queen Sugar!

I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile and narrated by Miriam Hyman. I downloaded it from Audible. Listening time for Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile is 13 hours, 42 minutes.

I really enjoyed listening to this novel! I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and storyline very much... And my listening experience was only enhanced by Miriam Hyman's superb narrating skills.

I liked that Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile was not only an entertaining read, but one that made you think as well. Racial issues/injustices play a large role in Queen Sugar in many different forms. How this effects the different characters is played out in different ways that are still so very relevant in lieu of today's current issues. 

I also liked how the main character, Charley Bordelon, starts her life over by moving to rural Louisiana from Los Angeles with her daughter and becomes a sugarcane farmer after inheriting the farm from her father. Charley faces many challenges and adversities in becoming a sugarcane farmer that go way beyond being a woman and an African American... But the fact that, Charley overcomes many difficult challenges and makes the best out of one bad situation after another showed grit and determination. She never gave up, when it would have been so easy to do just that early on in this novel... Reinvention, perseverance, and a lot of hard work + luck all played a hand in helping Charley become a successful sugarcane farmer. Charley finds a team of experienced people to help her succeed in sugarcane farming. Plus, the start of a budding romance makes the novel fun to read as well.

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile is also filled with a cast of colorful characters not to be missed. I liked most of the characters in Queen Sugar... Prosper Denton had to be my character hands down... And Ralph Angel was my least favorite character in Queen Sugar.

The following is a plot summary for Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile from Audible:
A mother-daughter story of reinvention - about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana.
Why exactly Charley Bordelon's late father left her 800 sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her 11-year-old daughter, Micah, say good-bye to Los Angeles.
They arrive just in time for growing season but no amount of planning can prepare Charley for a Louisiana that's mired in the past: as her judgmental but big-hearted grandmother tells her, cane farming is always going to be a white man's business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley must balance the overwhelming challenges of her farm with the demands of a homesick daughter, a bitter and troubled brother, and the startling desires of her own heart.
Penguin has a rich tradition of publishing strong Southern debut fiction - from Sue Monk Kidd to Kathryn Stockett to Beth Hoffman. In Queen Sugar, we now have a debut from the African American point of view. Stirring in its storytelling of one woman against the odds and intimate in its exploration of the complexities of contemporary southern life, Queen Sugar is an unforgettable tale of endurance and hope.
I am giving Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Margaret Atwood is Writing a Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale!!

Exciting news for Margaret Atwood fans! Ms. Atwood is a writing a sequel to her famous novel, The Handmaid's Tale. The sequel is expected to be published in September 2019 and has the title of Testaments. 

I read The Handmaid's Tale years ago now. It's a novel I'd like to reread before the sequel comes out as I'd like to read Testaments.

For more information, check out the Huffpost article titled,
Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Getting A Sequel by Nina Golgowski.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Literary Holiday Cards

If you are still looking for the perfect holiday cards, look no further... Check out these literary holiday cards to show of your sense of literary style and holiday flair ~ 15 Literary Holiday Cards That Will Have The Readers In Your Life Seriously Feeling The Spirit Of The Season by Melissa Ragsdale.

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

"I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much. It means to me now--only that place where the books are kept."

John Steinbeck

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving ~ 2018!

Wishing all of my blog readers a
very Happy Thanksgiving today!
I hope you are having a fabulous time
spending it with those you love.

I also hope you're also able to find
some time to relax and read a bit today as well.

But whatever you do today to celebrate
Thanksgiving, I hope it is an enjoyable one
for you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Top Twelve Tuesday - Thanksgiving/Thankful Freebie -- Mystery Novels I Read That Were Better Than Expected!

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 like reading mystery novels quite a bit. It's always risky business trying out new to me authors from the mystery genre. Below are some mystery novels that surprised me in a good way from mystery authors I took a chance on!

1.The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
2. Louisiana LongShot by Jana DeLeon
3. Deadly Readings by Laura Bradford
4. Murder and Moonflowers by Leslie Leigh
5. Lye in Wait by Cricket McRae
6. The Beekeeper by Juliet Moore
7. Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts
8. Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke
9. Swan Song by Lee Hanson
10. The St. Valentine's Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth Crabtree
11. Life's A Beach And Then You Die by Falafel Jones
12. May Day by Jess Lourey

Friday, November 16, 2018

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot

I first learned about Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot in February of this year. I'd read great things about Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot in the articles I'd discovered online. So, I decided to buy a hardback copy of it in March. 

Additionally, Sherman Alexie wrote a glowing introduction for Heart Berries: A Memoir. The afterward features Joan Naviyuk Kane interviewing Terese Marie Mailhot about Mailhot's memoir... And both Roxane Gay and Lidia Yuknavitch praised Heart Berries: A Memoir

November is Native American Heritage Month here in the USA. With that in mind, I decided it was time to read Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot as the author is Native American and grew up on the Seabird Island First Nation reservation in British Columbia.

I was excited to read Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot. I was expecting great things from this memoir from all the praise I'd read about it. Sadly, reading Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot was a huge disappointment to me. I wanted to love this memoir. Listening to various interviews of the author talking about her memoir, Heart Berries, has me appreciate the message she has to share in her memoir... But Heart Berries: A Memoir in and of itself, simply didn't do it for me.

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot is written in chapters that read like essays and are epistolary in nature. This memoir also felt very 'stream of consciousness' in nature to me as well.

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot also felt raw to me. I do like many of the sentences and paragraphs that impart very vivid imagery that does make one pause and give thought to what the author is saying in her memoir. Additionally, I felt like the way in which Heart Berries is written was at times depressing, very depressing. At other times, I felt it was frustrating to read Heart Berries as I felt it was too artistic and took too long for the author to make her thoughts and feelings known... And at other times, I didn't understand what the author was trying to say at all. For example, the last chapter in Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot titled, Better Parts, left me wondering what the author was trying to impart to readers. 

Below is a video of Terese Marie Mailhot speaking about the idea of role models.

When all is said and done, I felt like Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot was simply an okay read. I am giving Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Items/Merchandise I’d Like to Own

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. More bookcases, PLEASE!! I've run out of shelf space and have books hiding under my bed, on my night stand, and just about everywhere else imaginable in my home.

2. Book ends for book shelves to keep books standing upright.

3. More magnetic bookmarks as I prefer these to regular bookmarks.

4. Book scented candles sound intriguing... However, I'm pretty particular/sensitive about scents/smells in general (I can't wear perfumes or other scented products any more), so it would have to be a smell I like and also a smell that doesn't give me a headache either.

5. Socks or tee shirts with either bookish quotes or book covers on them would be fun to wear.

6. Personalized bookplates.

7. Bookish jewelry made in sterling silver.

8. A subscription to a book club/box!! In all fairness, I've recently signed up for John Green's new book club, Life's Library, and am waiting for the first bundle to ship on December 4th of this year. I can't wait to receive the first box filled with the novel we'll be reading and the additional merchandise provided! You have through the 16th of this month to sign up to receive the first book club shipment. There's a physical subscription and a digital one as well. Click on the above link to read more.

9. A reading journal! Sure I have a blog and am also on Goodreads. I leave a digital version of my book reviews in both places, but it would be fun to go old school and keep a physical reading journal.

10. A bookish themed phone case for my iphone!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Between Then and Now by Zoe York

Between Then and Now by Zoe York is a short, contemporary romance read and is approximately 66 pages in length. I was able to download the ebook edition to my Kindle for FREE from Amazon! Below is my honest, unbiased opinion of Between Then and Now by Zoe York.

Between Then and Now by Zoe York is the first read in 'The Wardham Series'. It's a very quick contemporary romance read with decent characters, plot, and pacing throughout the entire story. I enjoyed the writing and storyline, but felt like this was your average romance read. I doubt I will be reading the rest of 'The Wardham Series', since I wasn't overly wowed by Between Then and Now.

Below is the plot summary for Between Then and Now by Zoe York from Amazon:
Their story didn’t start with a fairytale romance. Their marriage wasn’t chosen for love. But they still chose each other...time and again.
Romance is the last thing on Ian's mind. He's juggling two jobs, his kids are crazy and every time he gets close to his wife, she snaps at him. Communication has never been their strong suit, and now their physical connection is fizzling as well. 
Carrie knows she's being too hard on her husband, but eight years ago she had a one-night stand that turned into a lifetime of diapers and dinners. She can't shake the feeling that she wants more. Too bad she has no idea what that might be.
Between Then and Now is a standalone novella in The Wardham Series. 5 chapters, 16,000 words. Also includes an excerpt from the next book in the series.
I am giving Between Then and Now by Zoe York a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith

I'm only very, very vaguely familiar with Patti Smith's life as a singer-songwriter, poet, and visual artist... I can only name one song that she has sung. I'm also familiar with her memoir, Just Kids by Patti Smith, by title only as I've never read her memoir. I've recently learned learned that her memoir won the National Book Award in 2010 for nonfiction.

With that said, I decided to listen to Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith, which is a live audio performance of Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village in New York. I felt like this was my opportunity to learn more about Patti Smith through her singing intermixed with her stories. I am glad that I took the time to listen and discover more about Patti Smith's life through stories she shared and hear her sing, but ultimately I wasn't wowed by what I heard. I just thought the entire program presented in Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane was okay. I think if you are a Patti Smith fan, you'd probably love Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane.

As an Audible member, I was able to download Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith for FREE this month. The above paragraph expresses my honest and biased opinion of Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith.

Listening time for Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith is 1 hour, 23 minutes.

The following is more about Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith from Audible:
Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane features live audio of performances captured over three evenings in September of 2018 at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, woven into a single, one-of-a-kind audio event. Pioneering artist and writer Patti Smith commands the stage to perform original spoken-word stories from her life, interwoven with the music of her beloved catalogue, played live by Smith, her son and daughter–Jackson and Jesse Paris Smith–and longtime collaborator Tony Shanahan. What transpires is a personally revelatory showcase, an intimate portrait of an icon, focusing on family and taking stock of a near to 50-year career devoted to artistic integrity.
I am giving Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Haunting of Hill House - Netflix TV Series

I read the novel, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, back in October 2016. I liked the novel, but didn't love it. 

Nonetheless, when I discovered that Netflix had created a television series based on the The Haunting of Hill House, my husband and I decided to watched the series... Especially, since we'd heard great things about the series from other people who have watched the series!

Let me state upfront for the record, that the Netflix series, 'The Haunting of Hill House', is nothing like the novel it is based on. So, if you've read the novel and have yet to watch the Netflix series, you've been forewarned that the series doesn't follow the novel's plot.

With that said, we did enjoy watching season one of 'The Haunting of Hill House' on Netflix. The actors do a fabulous job in this series. I loved the cinematography for this series as well as the special effects. Plus, the storyline was well done even if it didn't follow the novel.

I've heard there is season two in the works for 'The Haunting of Hill House', which I find difficult to imagine. I felt like the ten episodes wrapped up the storyline pretty nicely. So, I can't imagine where they could possibly go for season two and beyond without the series becoming unrealistic. In other words, I feel like everything that needed to be said in Netflix's series, 'The Haunting of Hill House' was said during season one... Nothing else needed to be added. Leave the storyline be and move on.

For those of you who have read then novel, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and seen the Netflix series, 'The Haunting of Hill House', what are your thoughts about both the novel and the series?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

I purchased the hardback edition of The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy at the Friends of the Library Used Bookstore in Fort Bragg, California in April 2018. I'd heard good things about this memoir, but had never heard of Ariel Levy before discovering her memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply.

I am so glad I read The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy. Her writing is just as amazing as I expected it to be from someone who writes for The New Yorker magazine. 

Ms. Levy writes early on in her memoir that as a child she was "domineering, impatient, relentlessly verbal, and as an only child, often baffled by the mores of other kids." 

Books were also something Ms. Levy enjoyed very much as a youngster and she decided early on in her life that she wanted to become a writer... "That, I thought, was the profession that went with the kind of woman I wanted to become: one who is free to do whatever she chooses." 

The above quotes set up the initial tone and feel at the start of the memoir as it unfolds to reveal the unconventional life Ariel Levy goes on to live. I loved reading how Ariel Levy goes after the life she wants to live. She becomes a successful writer, travels the world, meets the love of her life, and decides to start a family... Just when you think life is going perfectly for her, the bottom drops out. 

Life isn't always perfect. You may never obtain everything you desire in life. But everything happens for a reason, right? 

With candor, Ariel Levy writes about her life and the resiliency that inevitably follows in the aftermath of tragedy. 

After reading The Rules Do Not Apply, I was surprised to read other reviewers write that they thought the author was a 'Drama Queen' or a 'Narcissist'. I didn't sense any of that at all about the author from reading her memoir. 

The following is a summary of The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy from Amazon:
All her life, Ariel Levy was told that she was too fervent, too forceful, too much. As a young woman, she decided that becoming a writer would perfectly channel her strength and desire. She would be a professional explorer—“the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” Levy moved to Manhattan to pursue her dream, and spent years of adventure, traveling all over the world writing stories about unconventional heroines, following their fearless examples in her own life.
But when she experiences unthinkable heartbreak, Levy is forced to surrender her illusion of control. In telling her story, Levy has captured a portrait of our time, of the shifting forces in American culture, of what has changed and what has remained. And of how to begin again.
I am giving The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, November 5, 2018

3 Books On The History Of Voting Rights

With the midterm election tomorrow, it seems more important than ever to vote in tomorrow's election. I've already voted via absentee ballot. However, my mind is still on the election and am curiously awaiting to find out the results of the midterm elections. 

In the meantime, I've come across an article about 3 books on the history of voting rights that look like they would make for great reading. I discovered the following article on Bustle titled, 3 Books On The History Of Voting Rights & Why It's More Complicated Than #GoVote by Maddy Foley. In the article, Maddy Foley wrote the following information:
It's become a common refrain on social media: You counter a post about a mass shooting, a police shooting, or threat of a devastating executive order with "VOTE" or #GoVote or "Oh my god please, I'm begging you, vote." It absolutely makes sense. According to CNN, voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election was at a 20-year low. Even in 2008, considered a high point for the country's voting history, only about 64 percent of eligible voters punched a ballot. But despite its public persona — voting as a right, not a privilege, voting as ugh, so easy, so simple — voting has long been an act clung to tightly by certain populations. And for others, it's often been held out of reach. These three books on the history of voting rights will explain why it's more complicated than #GoVote.
The history of voting in the United States is a deeply fractured story, one frequently punctuated by racism, classism, and sexism. Americans often learn in school about the suffrage movement of the 1920s. It's an easily teachable moment in history — of course women should have the right to vote! But it's also, in part, a story of white women succeeding on the backs of disenfranchised African-American women.
The Voter Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, is often heralded as a crowning achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. After all, it made illegal the common practice of denying or suppressing votes within minority communities. But Americans often lose sight of its course after the 1960s. We forget that a major provision, which kept a watchful eye over areas with a history of racially-motivated voter suppression, was deemed unconstitutional in 2013 by the Supreme Court.
Even today, voter identification requirements have sufficiently snuffed out eligibility for entire communities. Poll closures, combined with a lack of public transportation, physically bar people from casting their votes. Gerrymandering, the re-drawing of political boundaries to give a certain political party a numerical advantage, have stolen the voice of counties and states across the country. And we forget that for certain communities, the idea of fulfilling a civic duty for a country with policies and politicians who systematically chip away at your humanity isn't exactly a selling point.
Click on the very top link to view the three books about the history of voting rights!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey and narrated by Kevin T. Collins and Natasha Soudek. Winter's Guardian is the first novel in a series and is a paranormal romance that deals with supernatural beings like vampires, werewolves, and angels. Winter's Guardian is also the last novel I read during the month of October.

Listening time for Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey is 5 hours, 56 minutes.

I didn't care much for the narrators for Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey. I felt like Natasha Soudek narrated too slowly and Kevin T. Collins narrated too swiftly. Also, there were times while listening to this novel being narrated that it was difficult to figure out which characters were speaking because of the narration, which made for a confusing read at times.

I like paranormal romance novels generally, but I didn't enjoy how juvenile/immature the storyline and/or characters seemed to be at times. Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey seemed more geared to young adults or for those in college than older adults.

Also the ending for Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey, was so so... And because Winter's Guardian is the first novel in a series, the ending purposely hooks you into wanting to read the next novel in the series... This isn't necessarily a bad thing if you want to read the next novel in the series. But quite frankly, I am not interested in reading the rest of this series after reading Winter's Guardian.

The following is a plot summary for Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey from Audible:
When Winter started university with her best friend, Alex, she didn't expect to find herself in the middle of a supernatural war. Who knew saving a stray wolf could earn you the alliance of the pack?
To make things more complicated, the broody and very attractive Jaxson is tasked with keeping her safe from the growing vampire threat in town. It's a shame he can't stand her and enjoys irritating the hell out of her.
When she finds out her new boyfriend has his own secrets, can she trust anyone anymore?
What happens when you get yourself stuck in the middle of a war?
This is a reverse harem book series. Seventeen+ listeners only.
I am giving Winter's Guardian by G. Bailey a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith

I listened to the unabridged audio dramatization of the graphic novel, 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith, which was narrated by a cast of voice actors. 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith is the first read for the month of November as I started and finished it on November 1st.

Listening time for 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith is 1 hour, 3 minutes.

I purchased 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith for 99 cents from Audible as it was their Daily Deal on Halloween this year. It falls into the horror genre and a perfect scary read for Halloween!! I'd never heard of the graphic novel 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith before. I loved that this was a dramatization as it was like listening to a radio show/program, which added a fun dimension to this audio edition. I thought the entire program was nicely done. I enjoyed the storyline and the characters very much as well. 

So, if you enjoy the horror genre and vampires, then this may be the read for you.

The following is the plot summary of 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith from Audible:
An all-new, full-cast dramatization of the classic graphic novel.

The isolated town of Barrow, Alaska, is plunged into darkness for a month each year when the sun sinks below the horizon. As the last rays of light fade, the town is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires bent on an uninterrupted orgy of destruction. Only Barrow's husband-and-wife sheriff team stand between the survivors and certain destruction. By the time the sun rises, will they pay the ultimate price - or worse?
I am giving 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

Friday, November 2, 2018

50/50 Friday - Best/Worst Read in October!

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.

Best Read in October 2018

Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell
(Click on above link to read my review.)

Worst Read in October 2018

Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry
(Click on above link to read my review.)

Which books were your best/worst reads
during the month of October 2018?