Monday, May 20, 2019

Bout of Books 25 Wrap Up Post!!


I didn't make daily posts updating my reading progress during Bout of Books 25. However, I did have an awesome week in reading despite not doing any reading for pleasure yesterday!

I listened to a combination of 7 audiobooks, short stories, and several podcast series this past week for Bout of Books 25 as follows:. 

1. The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon
2. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
3. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
4. The Magic Shop by H. G. Wells
5. The Making of a Massacre by Ginger Thompson
6. Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col
7. Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson

Total listening time: 20 hours, 39 minutes.

I only participated in the Day 1 Challenge, which was to describe oneself in 6 words. Here's my 6 word challenge as follows: I'm a reader, knitter, and blogger.

With all the audio listening I completed last week for BOB 25, I managed to finish knitting a triangle shawl using purple ombre yarn while listening to the above items.


Purple Ombre Shawl

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson



Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson is a nonfiction podcast I was able to download to my Kindle for FREE from Audible. Listening time for Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson is 4 hours, 50 minutes. Below is my honest, unbiased review of Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson.

I enjoyed listening to these eleven diverse podcasts pertaining to various days in history that had a significant impact on the world today from the Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986, the protesting of Miss World in 1970, the black salute in the 1968 summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, to Stuxnet (malicious computer worm) in 2010... Plus, more!! 

If you are a history lover and want insight on days that changed the world, then grab Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson from Audible.

The following is the publisher's summary for Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson from Audible:
Ordinary people. Extraordinary stories. Listen to history's unsung heroes who changed the world, in this powerful documentary series. Get closer to events you may only have heard about from school books with these first person accounts of key moments in recent world history.
In each episode we explore pertinent dates from 1936 to 2010 and find out what happened through the eyes of those who were there. Crossing the globe and drawing on events in London, Mexico City and Afghanistan to name but a few we hear stories including takes from an athlete, journalist, chess player and soldier.
I am giving Days That Changed The World by Carrie Gibson a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col



I was able to download Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col to my Kindle for FREE from Audible. Listening time for Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col is 4 hours. Below is my honest, unbiased review of Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col.

Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow is an 8 episode mystery/thriller podcast. After listening to the first 2 episodes of Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col, I was loving this podcast and ready to give it a five star rating based on what I'd heard thus far. Episodes 3 through 7 were less than stellar and I was left thinking I'd be giving Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow a three star rating... But episode 8 left me put off by Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow.

So what happened??? Well, as I've already written, I felt like Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col started off really well. What ruined it for me? The sound quality for one. There were so many times in which I found it difficult to hear what was being said in this podcast as things were really muffled and difficult to hear in parts. Also, I felt like some of the plot details in episodes 3 through 7 felt contrived in an unbelievable/unrealistic way that soured the storyline for me. Additionally, episode 8 had an unbelievable ending that just ruined Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow for me altogether.

The following is a plot summary for Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col from Audible:
University student Anna Winslow has gone missing. The circumstances of her disappearance are far from ordinary, a fact that only fellow student Melissa Lopez appears to appreciate. Motivated by an unexplained and disturbing voicemail message from Anna on the night of her disappearance, Melissa's curiosity quickly turns into a deeper investigation, an obsession even, which she chronicles as a regular podcast - the very recordings that you are about to listen to. She quickly discovers that Anna was a loner with hearing difficulties and had disappeared for a week earlier in the year, only to return with perfect hearing, but with increasingly unstable behavior.
I am giving Unheard: The Story of Anna Winslow by Anthony Del Col a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars:

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Making of a Massacre by Ginger Thompson


The Making of a Massacre by Ginger Thompson is a 5 part nonfiction podcast that I was able to download for FREE to my Kindle from Audible. Listening time for The Making of a Massacre by Ginger Thompson is 2 hours, 10 minutes. Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Making of a Massacre by Ginger Thompson.

I liked listening this nonfiction podcast. It discusses the devastating effects of the drug trade at the US/Mexico border and the deadly consequences when things go very wrong.

The following is the publisher's summary for The Making of a Massacre by Ginger Thompson from Audible:
On a warm evening in a small Mexican border town, men and women started disappearing. Local officials were warned to stay away and when it was all done, up to 200 people were gone. The Making of a Massacre is five-part true story detailing how well-intentioned efforts to curtail the drug trade by the US and Mexican governments had devastating effects. Led by ProPublica’s award-winning journalist Ginger Thompson and featuring true to life performances by notable actors Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Alana del la Garza, Clifton Collins Jr. and Snow Tha Product, listeners will hear how a town was caught in the crossfire of the drug war. When you add Making of a Massacre to your library you will receive all 5 episodes, each with a runtime of approximately 25 minutes.
I am giving The Making of a Massacre by Ginger Thompson 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

The Magic Shop by H. G. Wells


I was on a classics kick this week. I decided to listen to The Magic Shop by H. G. Wells and narrated by B. J. Harrison. Listening time for The Magic Shop by H. G. Wells is 25 minutes.

The Magic Shop by H. G. Wells is a likable enough storyline/plot about a young boy and his dad who visit a magic store where they have an interesting experience with the shop owner and the magic he shows them during their visit.

Again, B. J. Harrison's narration was simply mediocre.

I am giving The Magic Shop by H. G. Wells a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde


I guess you could say I am on a classic kick of sorts. I haven't read anything written by Oscar Wilde before, so decided to give The Canterville Ghost a listen.

Listening time for The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde is 1 hour, 12 minutes.

I really enjoyed listening to The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde!! It's funny, engaging, and not what I expected for a Victorian ghost tale. I highly recommend reading or listening to this story.

The following is a plot summary for The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde from Audible:
The ghost that haunts Canterville Chase has built a marvelous career of midnight haunting. But when an American family moves in, they simply have no respect for permanent bloodstains, nightmarish chains, or ancient legends. They even throw pillows at him.
I am giving The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves


I haven't listened/read any of the tales from The Arabian Nights collection before, so I thought it might be kind of fun to listen to at least one of the stories. 

I download Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and narrated by B. J. Harrison from Audible. Listening time for Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is 1 hour, 38 minutes.

I really enjoyed the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. It contains lots of adventure that keeps the listener engaged throughout the entire short story. 

My favorite character in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is Morgiana, the female slave, as she displays all the cunning and ingenuity in this tale by repeatedly saving her master from harm. Morgiana is eventually freed for saving her master multiple times.

I thought that B. J. Harrison was a mediocre narrator. 

Additionally, there were a couple of times when a phrase in the storyline was repeated back to back, which I could only surmise was due to bad editing on the part of the production team.

I am giving Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Page to Screen Freebie - I've Seen the Movie Version, But Have Yet to Read The Book!


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 had a tough time choosing the movie 'FREEBIE' topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday post. Then it occurred to me that there are several movies I've seen based on books, but I've yet to read the book that the movie is based on! 

Below is the list of books I still want to read after watching the movie version.

1. Room by Emma Donoghue
2. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4. The Lover by Marguerite Duras
5. The Martian by Andy Weir
6. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
7. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
8. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
9. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
10. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Have you read any of the above books? If so, which one do you recommend I read first?

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon



As an Audible Member, each month members (like myself) are able to chose two FREE Audible Original audio productions from a select number of Audible Originals of their choosing. The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon was one of the selection I chose from this month's offerings. 

Listening time for The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon is 6 hours, 24 minutes. Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon.

Lee Bacon is a new to me author. The Mystery of Alice falls into the young adult genre. I enjoyed the way in which The Mystery of Alice was told through a series of video chats taken with the main character's (Emily Poe) cell phone. It was like listening to someone's video diary and such a 21st century way of telling a story... It also was a great way to help propel the story forward and to create tension, suspense, and mystery!! 

Overall, I really enjoyed The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon. It wasn't perfect though. I think the biggest issue for me is that I felt like the kids involved in this story should have been 16 or 17 years old, verses 13 years old to make the story itself a bit more realistic/believable overall. 

The following is a plot summary for The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon from Goodreads:
Thirteen-year-old Emily Poe has been given the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to attend the exclusive Audyn School in Manhattan. But to win the scholarship, she has to pass a test like nothing she’s ever experienced before: a nearly bare room, a set of strange clues, a locked door. Plus, a mysterious organization—the Leopold Foundation—is watching her every move.
But the real test has just begun. Despite the strange circumstances—in a new house, at a new school—Emily instantly bonds with fellow scholarship winner Alice Wray.
And then Alice goes missing.
Chronicling every surprising twist and turn of her search through her own private video diary, Emily sets out to find the truth behind Alice’s disappearance. Soon, she’s drawn deep into the inner circle of the Audyn School’s elite, the Nobility, who each have secrets of their own. As clues and lies mount, Emily must sort truth from fiction to solve The Mystery of Alice before it’s too late.
I am giving The Mystery of Alice by Lee Bacon a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar


As an Audible member, I quickly came across Evil Eye by playwright, Madhuri Shekar, earlier this month. Evil Eye is an Audible Original and it sounded intriguing. Evil Eye sounded too good to pass up, so I gave it a go.

Listening time for Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar is 1 hour, 38 minutes.

I was able to download Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar to my Kindle for FREE from Audible. Below is my honest, unbiased review for Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar.

Wow, Evil Eye sucks you in from the start and keeps you captivated through the end of the story! I enjoyed the storyline and the edge of your seat, nail biting suspense during this audio production. The narrators did an excellent job narrating Evil Eye. I couldn't wait to see how it all came to an end. 

Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar is definitely worth the listen!!

The following is a plot summary for Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar from Audible:
An Audible Original from Audible Theater, Evil Eye is an Emerging Playwrights Commission, written for and available exclusively on Audible.
Usha is convinced that the Evil Eye, a curse that brings continuous misfortune, was cast upon her daughter, Pallavi, in the womb. What else could have possibly left her driven, career-oriented daughter edging closer and closer to 30 without a prospective husband? Determined to set Pallavi on the right path, Usha arranges date after date with potential suitors—but after yet another setup fails, it seems her efforts are proving fruitless. But in an unexpected turn of events, Pallavi becomes her own matchmaker when she meets—and quickly falls for—Sandeep, a young Indian-American entrepreneur. And though she expects her mother will be elated with her finally finding a man, Pallavi is distraught and confused to find her mother growing increasingly suspicious of Sandeep’s motives…and his true identity.
Told through a series of phone calls and voicemails, this Audible Original penned by award-winning rising star playwright Madhuri Shekar transitions seamlessly from a light-hearted family dramedy to an unexpectedly supernatural thriller. With an endearing cast of well-rounded characters, sharp, natural dialogue, and a shocking edge-of-your-seat climax, Evil Eye is a can’t-miss tale about cultural miscommunications, family secrets, and the lingering echoes of trauma.
I am giving Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Bout of Books 25 Read-A-Thon Sign Up Post!!



I will be participating in the Bout of Books 25 Read-A-Thon next week!! I haven't done much pleasure reading during the past week, so this will definitely be my impetus to return to reading books again.

In case you've never heard of the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon before, here's a quick blurb:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, Twitter chats, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 25 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.
I hope you join me in the fun!!

2019 Bay Area Book Festival - Sunday, May 5 - Day 2

Sunday, May 5th, marked day two of the Bay Area Book Festival! It was another cold and brisk day outdoors, but that didn't deter my husband and I from enjoying another full day of festivities.

Once again, I must reiterate how thankful and grateful I am to have attended the Bay Area Book Festival this year. The Bay Area Book Festival offered another wonderful lineup of amazing author speakers and book signings on day two. 


Here's a look at how my husband and I 
spent our time on Day 2 
of the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival!


Tayri Jones, Esi Edugyan, and moderator, Caille Millner.
Event #1

The first event my husband and I attended was the Writer to Writer: Esi Edugyan and Tayari Jones event from 11am to 12:15pm, which was moderated by Caille Millner. This event was held outdoors at the San Francisco Chronicle stage in the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.

The BABF website describes this event as follows:
In our Writer to Writer series, two authors who are fans of each other’s work come together for conversation about writing and society today. Novelists Esi Edugyan and Tayari Jones both probe racial injustice in their work, and both women have received considerable praise. Edugyan’s sweeping, imaginative novel “Washington Black” was named a Top Ten Book of 2018 by the New York Times, and Tayari Jones’ “An American Marriage” was an Oprah’s Book Club pick for that same year. Edugyan uses magic realism to explore slavery and freedom in a stupendous tale that moves from Barbados to Nova Scotia to England. Jones weaves a devastating tapestry of a modern marriage wrenched apart by a discriminatory American justice system.
Despite the cold weather, this was a fun event to attend. After both authors spoke and took questions from the audience, they signed copies of their books. I didn't have my picture taken with Esi Edugyan, because I had been the first person in a long line of people waiting to have their books signed by both authors. In an effort to keep from holding up the line too long, I skipped on having my picture taken with her. However, I did have a photograph taken with Tayari Jones (below) and boy, was I having a bad hair day, lol!

Me with Tayari Jones
I loved reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones earlier this year. At the time, I never imagined that I would be hearing her speak in person and briefly meeting her at the Bay Area Book Festival this year. I now have a signed copies of her novels, Leaving Atlanta (which I look forward to reading) and also An American Marriage.

I've yet to read Esi Edugyan's novel, Black Washington. I hear great things about Black Washington, so I look forward to reading!

Some More Free Time On Our Hands...

Author Gini Grossenbacher and me!
 My husband and I had about 45 minutes before we had to be at the next author speaking/book signing event, so I revisited the Avenue of Authors again. This time around, I purchased a copy of Madam of My Heart by Gini Grossenbacher. I'd met Gini Grossenbacher briefly at a previous Bay Area Book Festival, but didn't buy a copy of her novel at that time. I love historical fiction novels, so decided to buy a copy of Madam of My Heart this year.  Madam of My Heart also has good ratings/reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, which is definitely a plus. I enjoyed meeting Gini Grossenbacher in person. The only funny thing that happened is that Gini had signed the copy of my novel "To Lina", not "To Lisa". I didn't notice this until after I arrived home Sunday evening. Oh well! Live and learn and be sure to check the details before having a photo taken.

Event #2

The second event that we attended at the Bay Area Book Festival on Sunday, May 5th was titled, A Conversation with Tayari Jones, and was held at the Freight & Salvage from 1:30pm to 2:45pm.

A Conversation with Tayari Jones had to be my favorite event of our entire weekend at the Bay Area Book Festival. My husband loved this event too and he mentioned that it was his favorite event as well. A Conversation with Tayari Jones was a fun, engaging discussion that focused primarily on An American Marriage. Other topics were discussed as well. 


I can't wait for the peeps at the Bay Area Book Festival to post a video of this particular author speaking event on YouTube, so that I may re-watch this event again online!!

As a side note/observation, I was kinda of surprised that this event with Tayari Jones wasn't entirely sold out as she's so popular! But alas, there were still quite a few open spaces left on the periphery of the Freight & Salvage.


Brooke Warner in conversation with Tayari Jones


Event #3

The last event my husband and I attended at the Bay Area Book Festival was titled, Ricanstruction: Popular Fiction and Power in Post-Maria Puerto Rico from 3:15pm to 4:30pm at The Caberet at The Marsh with authors Aya de Leon, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, and moderator Tianna Paschel.

The BABF website describes this event as follows:
Hurricane Maria has permanently altered the Caribbean. While journalists did initial reporting on the disaster, the first books to be published about the hurricane are popular fiction. NYC’s Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the creator of the superhero La Borinqueña, assembled “Ricanstruction: Reminiscing and Rebuilding Puerto Rico,” a comic anthology fundraiser to benefit survivors on the island. Berkeley author Aya de Leon’s next feminist heist book “Side Chick Nation” will be the first print novel about the hurricane. Join these two Puerto Rican writers to discuss the challenges of writing about disaster and why popular fiction has the power to bring the pueblo together around urgent issues.
I was interested in attending this specific event as it touches upon the important topic of Hurricane Maria and its devastating effects on Puerto Rico. I wanted to hear from both Aya de Leon and Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez on their viewpoints and insights on this important topic. Both authors were thoughtful in expressing their viewpoints in this discussion, so I was pleased to hear what they had to share with the BABF attendees at their event.

Proceeds for Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez will be contributed towards continued hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. I did purchase a copy of this book to be signed by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez .

Additionally, I've read Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez's comic book, La Borinqueña, back in 2017. So, I was excited to hear him speak in person and sign copies of his books at the BABF. 

I've also met Aya de Leon at previous Bay Area Book Festival events. I truly enjoyed hearing Aya de Leon speak once again at this year's Bay Area Book Festival. I wish her loads of success in the launch of her latest novel in the Justice Hustlers feminist heist series titled, Side Chick Nation, next month.


Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Aya de Leon, and moderator Tianna Paschel


Me and Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez.

Authors I missed hearing speak in person on day 2 of the BABF include:  Zoraida Córdova, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Cindy Pon. All three of these young adult writers were speaking and signing books at the same time Esi Edugyan and Tayari Jones were speaking and signing books, so unfortunately I missed hearing them at the Bay Area Book Festival.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

2019 Bay Area Book Festival - Saturday, May 4 - Day 1

I am so grateful and thankful to have attended the 5th annually Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) this year in Berkeley, California with my husband! 

I've attended the Bay Area Book Festival annually since its inception in 2015. My husband is not an avid reader or book nerd like me. However, he enjoys coming with me to various literary events as he knows how much I enjoy them. Additionally, he also likes learning new things and spending time with me, so it was fun having him with me at the BABF.

This year, the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival offered another wonderful lineup of author speaking events and book signing opportunities for book festival attendees to enjoy. The difficulty for me was deciding which author events and book signings to attend during this year's Bay Area Book Festival as so many of the events occurred at the same time or overlapping times. For instance, on the morning of Saturday, May 4th, there were ten events concurrently starting at 10am. Half of the events that began on Saturday, May 4th at 10am sounded really good, but, of course, I could only attend one of them. 

Additionally, there were other difficult decisions to make throughout the entire weekend on which events to attend at the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival as well. In the end, I am very happy with the events I attended and the books I had signed at the Bay Area Book Festival this year.

As a quick side note, the weather on Saturday, May 4, 2019 was very cool and crisp outdoors. In fact, it was pretty cool and breezy outside all day long and warm only while standing in the sunshine. I found myself under dressed for most of the day and wished I had worn more layers of clothing.


Here's a look at how my husband and I 
spent our time on Day 1 
of the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival!

Event #1

The first event we attended was the Writer to Writer: Joyce Carol Oates and André Alexis event from 10am to 11:15am, which was moderated by Lise Quintana. This particular event took place inside the auditorium of the Veterans Memorial Building.

The BABF website described this event as follows:
In our Writer to Writer series, two authors who are fans of each other’s work come together for conversation. Winner of the prestigious Windham-Campbell prize for his body of work, Trinidad-born and Ottawa-raised André Alexis sits down with National Book Award and National Humanities Medal winner, and author of over 40 novels, Joyce Carol Oates. The pair will discuss genre-bending, world-building, and their shared obsession with storytelling.
I have read a couple of books by Joyce Carol Oates and knew I couldn't pass up an opportunity to hear this legendary, literary icon speak in person. But to the best of my recollection, I'd never heard of Andre Alexis before this year's Bay Area Book Festival. After hearing Andre Alexis speak in conversation with Joyce Carol Oates, I now want to read his books. 

I really enjoyed hearing both Joyce Carol Oates and Andre Alexis speak together in conversation. I didn't take any notes of what they discussed during their talk together. I simply sat back and enjoyed the experience of hearing them in conversation. All I can say is that I really enjoyed hearing them talk together in conversation.

Andre Alexis, Joyce Carol Oates, and Lise Quintana
Afterwards, I had the honor of having Joyce Carol Oates sign two hardback books I brought with me to the BABF. I was really excited to briefly meet Joyce Carol Oates in person. To my disappointment though, another person came over and started conversing with Joyce Carol Oates virtually the entire time I was standing there having my books signed!!! How rude was that?? You can see in the picture taken of us (below) that Joyce Carol Oates wasn't even focused on interacting with me as she's looking to her left. It was disheartening to have this experience at an author/book signing event. I've had this happen a couple of times in the past at other author/book signing events... It's just plain rude that people have to jump in and interrupt an experience between an author and a fan at a literary event.

Me with Joyce Carol Oates after the Writer to Writer event as she signed my books!!

Free Time Spent As Follows:

After attending the Andre Alexis and Joyce Carol Oates event, my husband and I walked around the outdoor fair across the street from the Veterans Memorial Building. The outdoor fair took place in large park called the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. You'll find food vendors selling a variety of food, live music being performed, outdoor stages where authors will be speaking and signing their books, indie booksellers selling books, children's activities, an an avenue of authors where authors sat at booths selling and signing their books, and other bookish related booths (Libby had a booth on hand, book publishers, and a wide variety of other bookish/writing related vendors!).

I was able to met author, Patricia Bossano, at her booth on the Avenue of Authors at the outdoor fair. Patricia Bossano is a new to me author. She's written the Faerie Legacy Series, which falls into the young adult, fantasy genre. Patricia was so warm, welcoming, and genuine to visitors stopping by her booth. I really enjoyed meeting her in person and look forward to reading and reviewing her novels on my blog. Patricia Bossano was one of the authors I really enjoyed meeting in person. Below is a photograph of Patricia and I together after she'd signed copies of her novels for me.


Me and author, Patricia Bossano at the Avenue of Authors tent.
After meeting Patricia Bossano and walking around the outdoor fair, my husband and I enjoyed lunch and relaxed awhile before heading to the next author speaking/book signing event we'd wanted to attend.

Event #2

The second event we attended was titled, Beyond the Bars: Alternatives to Prison and Punishment and featured a panel of authors, Albert Woodfox, Lara Bazelon, and Tony Platt, along with moderator, Rachel Herzing. The Beyond the Bars event was held from 3:15pm to 4:30pm inside the auditorium at Berkeley City College.

The BABF website described this event as follows:
What could the world look like without prisons? What kinds of healing—what new definitions of justice—could take their place? Join University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon (“Rectify”), activist Tony Platt (“Beyond These Walls”), and Albert Woodfox (“Solitary”), one of the Angola 3 who spent decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. They look at the violent history behind mass incarceration and imagine alternatives.
OMG, this was a packed event and a very powerful one to listen to!! I can't say enough good things about what the speakers shared regarding their insights and thoughts pertaining to the topic of prison and punishment during their talk. Things have to change as our criminal justice system is broken. Additionally, we have to change how we punish those who have committed crimes.

Albert Woodfox, Lara Bezelon, Tony Platt, and Rachel Herzing.

Albert Woodfox and me after the Beyond the Bars event.
Albert Woodfox is one of the author speakers I truly enjoyed meeting the most in person during my visit to BABF this year. He's such an inspiration... A very heartwarming, personable, and genuine person. 

Event #3

The last event my husband and I attended on day 1 of the Bay Area Book Festival was titled, Noir At The Bar with the following mystery/thriller authors: Stefan Ahnhem, Cara Black, Jonas Bonnier, Kjell Ola Dahl, Heather Haven, Catherine Ryan Howard, Ragnar Jonasson,  and Jenny Rogneby. This event was moderated by author, Laurie R. King.

Noir At The Bar took place from 5pm to 6:15pm at the Freight & Salvage. The Freight & Salvage is my favorite venue at the BABF as it provides a large, comfortable indoor space to hear author events.

Noir At The Bar is a BABF favorite! This event is unique in that eight internationally known authors read their stories at this particular event. This is the first year my husband and I have attended Noir At The Bar and what a fun time we had! I've never read anything written by any of the above mentioned authors before, so it was wonderful to hear a sampling of their work. I enjoyed hearing Catherine Ryan Howard, Jonas Bonnier, Ragnar Jonasson, and Jenny Rogneby read their stories the most.

I've attended several other events where stories are read aloud when we lived in Santa Barbara, so it was a delight to attend another event like this once again.

Noir at the Bar at the Freight & Salvage.
I didn't purchase any books written by any of the authors that read their stories at Noir At The Bar. So, of course, I don't have any one on one photographs of me with any of them. 

As a side note, I do have an arc copy of one of Cara Black's novels that I need to read though... Hopefully, I'll have her novel read soon!

Authors I missed hearing speak in person on day 1 of the BABF include: Justina Ireland, Namwali Serpell, and Jamal Brinkley.

Stay tuned for my post on day 2 of the Bay Area Book Festival!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Two New to Me Little Free Library Finds in Berkeley, California!!

Last Friday afternoon, my husband and I headed to Berkeley, California to attend the Bay Area Book Festival. Once we arrived in Berkeley, we found two different Little Free Libraries. One was a planned find, the other one was purely an accidental find on one of the many footpaths in the Berkeley Hills near the Claremont Hotel and Spa.


Oakridge Footpath Little Free Library! Behind me was someone's backyard with chickens and ducks.



2164 Blake Street, Berkeley, California 94704 - I love the look of this one!
Have you found any Little Free Libraries lately?

Bay Area Book Festival ~ Sneak Preview From My Visit!

I came away with 12 signed books from the Bay Area Book Festival!!!

Last weekend (Saturday, May 4th and Sunday, May 5th) was the 5th annual Bay Area Book Festival in downtown Berkeley, California. 

I've attended the Bay Area Book Festival annually since its inception in 2015. This year, I attended the festival both days with my husband and we had a full on blast as usual! Lucky me, I attended 6 awesome author events and came away with 12 signed books by the various author during the Bay Area Book Festival (see above photograph).

In fact, there were so many amazing author talks and book signing events throughout both days of the Bay Area Book Festival (as well as an outdoor fair to visit), that it was difficult to determine which events to attend as many of these events occurred at the same time or at overlapping times... But never fear,  my husband and I made the best of our time during this annual book festival! 

I'm still pretty pooped out from attending the Bay Area Book Festival this past weekend. Plus, I am also busy doing my normal daily activities, so I will be writing about my adventures at the Bay Area in more detail in two separate posts later this week. 

In the mean time, enjoy a few photos taken during our time spent at the outdoor fair at the Bay Area Book Festival below. There was live music being performed, food vendors selling a variety of delicious foods, free outdoor author speaking events, children's activities, indie bookstores selling books, individual authors selling their novels at booths, and more.


My husband near the start of the outdoor fair.

One of the many indie booksellers at the outdoor fair.
Me standing next to one of several pop up tents at the outdoor fair.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Literary Man Óbidos Hotel


Wow, I just learned about The Literary Man Óbidos Hotel in Portugal from my husband last night. I found the above YouTube video footage of someone giving a tour of the hotel. The Literary Man Óbidos Hotel sounds/looks like a lovely place to stay if visiting Portugal.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

10 AirBnBs With Libraries to Envy!

My husband and I have stayed in three different AirBnB's to date and are about to stay in our fourth AirBnB in the very near future. 

We have enjoyed staying in AirBnBs for a variety of reasons... Like the fact that they offer unique spaces to stay in while on travel. AirBnBs are quite different than hotels in many respects. Both hotels and AirBnBs each have their own set of pros and cons, but presently, I'm enjoying AirBnBs immensely.

~ UPDATE ~

My husband and I stayed at an Airbnb in downtown Berkeley for two nights from Friday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 5th. We chose this place as it was within easy walking distance to the Bay Area Book Festival and all the downtown eateries. We felt staying closer to the Bay Area Book Festival verses commuting in daily from our home to this popular event would be the way to go for us this year. We did enjoying being within easy walking distance to the Bay Area Book Festival, BUT this was our first BAD experience with an Airbnb! The place we stayed in was dirty upon arrival, hot water would not come out of the bathroom faucet, and we didn't sleep well at night due to the loud street noise all night (sirens, car alarms, large truck and cars driving down the road at all hours, people talking loudly, etc.). So much for positive streak/run of good quality Airbnbs.


So, it was with some excitement that I discovered an article on Bustle's website titled, 10 Bookish Airbnbs With Home Libraries That Will Make You Swoon by Kristian Wilson. In the articke, Kristian Wilson writes the following:
If you're a book nerd planning your next vacation, this might be of interest: I've got 10 Airbnbs with dreamy libraries, for every type of budget.
The apartments and houses on the list below span five continents and 10 countries. If you're a reader, you probably already understand that vacation is one of the best times to catch up on your reading. Even if you have busy days of activities planned, these places can provide the perfect refuge at night. And you just might find a new favorite book among the collections of these Airbnbs.
The best thing about these library-sporting Airbnbs is the affordable rates they offer to vacationers. Prices for the 10 bookish accommodations below start at just $36 per person per night — a score for any bargain-hunter. The most expensive listing, located in Paris, goes for more than $500 per night, but can accommodate up to 11 guests, which makes it more affordable than many vacation homes you find stateside.
Even if you aren't planning a trip, these 10 spaces might just be the inspiration for your own home library or office space.
So, now I want to take a reading vacation and stay at a Bookish AirBnB with my hubby!! The Palo Alto Bookish AirBnB looks really cool and is close to where we live.... Hmmmm, this AirBnB may be worth the visit!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Broken Things by Alice Walker


Today marks the last day of National Poetry Month. I've decided to share a YouTube video of Alice Walker reading her poem, Broken Things.

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson


In 2017, I listened to and reviewed The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson, which is a podcast that basically discussed what happened when the tech industry gave the world free porn.

Because I enjoyed listening to The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson, I decided to listen to another one of Jon Ronson's podcasts titled, The Last Days of August. The Last Days of August focuses on the death of porn star August Ames, who committed suicide in 2017. It was speculated she committed suicide due to cyber bullying. The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson discusses/investigates August Ames's death.

Listening time for The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson is 3 hours, 43 minutes.

I was able able to download The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson to my Kindle for FREE from Audible. Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson. 

I enjoyed listening to The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson. It was well presented. I hadn't known who August Ames was or the details of her life and death.

The following is the publisher's summary for The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson from on Amazon:
In December 2017 the famous porn star August Ames committed suicide in a park in the Conejo Valley. It happened a day after she'd been the victim of a pile-on, via Twitter, by fellow porn professionals - punishment for her tweeting something deemed homophobic.

A month later, August's husband, Kevin, connected with Jon Ronson to tell the story of how Twitter bullying killed his wife. What neither Kevin nor Ronson realized was that Ronson would soon hear rumors and secrets hinting at a very different story - something mysterious and unexpected and terrible.

In The Last Days of August, Ronson unravels the never-before-told story of what caused this beloved 23-year-old actress' untimely death.
I am giving The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross


As an Audible member, I was able to download The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross to my Kindle for FREE earlier this year. The listening time for The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross is 6 hours, 45 minutes.

Below is my honest, unbiased review for The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross.

I had high hopes for The Darkwater Bride! I loved the dramatization of this audiobook and the great job the voice actors did for this audiobook... But honestly, that's where my love for The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross ends. The storyline and characters for The Darkwater Bride was less than stellar. If it wasn't for the the voice actors bringing The Darkwater Bride to life, I would have given up on this audiobook long before it was over.

The following is a plot summary for The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross from Audible:
Late Victorian London. When James Miller, the most respectable of Scottish businessmen, is pulled, dead, from the Thames, his daughter is drawn into an investigation which reveals a whole world of secrets and corruption. Alongside local detective Culley, Catriona’s search for her father’s killer leads all the way to the tragic truth behind the ghostly legend of The Darkwater Bride and the power of her deadly kiss.

An epic drama starring Adrian Scarborough, Claire Corbett, Freya Mayor and Jamie Glover, The Darkwater Bride combines the genres of the Victorian mystery thriller with the equally classic Victorian mode of the ghostly tale.
I am giving The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Shaman and the Angel by Elvira Baryakina

I enjoy reading historical fiction and also reading just about anything that pertains to Russia. So, when I discovered the 'Russian Treasures Series' by Elvira Baryakina, I decided to read the prequel to this series titled, The Shaman and the AngelThe Shaman and the Angel by Elvira Baryakina contains two short stories in one ebook and is approximately 34 pages in length.

I was able to download The Shaman and the Angel by Elvira Baryakina to my Kindle for FREE from Amazon. Below is my honest, unbiased opinion of The Shaman and the Angel by Elvira Baryakina.

I liked reading both The Shaman and the Angel by Elvira Baryakina, although I enjoyed The Shaman slightly more than The Angel. Both short stories gave me a taste of the author's writing style. Even though I enjoyed reading both short stories, I'm not sure I am interested enough at this time to continue reading the rest of the 'Russian Treasures Series' as I currently have so many other books to read.

The following is a plot summary for The Shaman and the Angel by Elvira Baryakina from Amazon:
The Shaman and the Angel is two heartwarming, inspiring short stories of young people who try to break the rules and uncover their true calling.

THE SHAMAN

Klim Rogov, the sole heir to the fortune of a noble family, has disappeared without a trace on April 21, 1907. His father has announced a reward for any information about his son; Russia’s finest detectives have tried to track Klim down but to no avail.

Only Klim’s fifteen-year-old cousin, Lubochka, has any idea what has happened, but she is keeping silent. There is little point trying to explain to adults the nature of the mysterious force that has commanded Klim to leave home, come what may.

THE ANGEL

If the people who knew Nina Kupina had been more thoughtful and observant, they would have figured out that this remarkable girl caused cardinal changes in the lives of everyone she met.

They called her an angel because she resembled the clear-eyed, curly-haired girls depicted on the Christmas cards. But if she was an angel, then it was an angel of turmoil who never once bothered her head with other people’s expectations.

Her reckless courage and the ambition to reach for the moon ran deep in her family. Nina’s father, Basil Kupin, was cut from the same cloth. Not surprisingly, the future that life had to offer them was full of magnificent promise but tragic consequences.
The Shaman and the Angel is a prequel to Russian Treasures, a compelling series of historical novels written by Elvira Baryakina, a master of emotionally resonant historical thrillers. For more than a decade, her sensual, highly original prose has inspired thousands of aspiring writers, making her one of the most sought-after literary gurus in the Russian-speaking world.

Now her best books are presented to the English-speaking audience who appreciates uplifting and insightful historical fiction.
I am giving The Shaman and the Angel by Elvira Baryakina a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates


I am always amazed how prolific Joyce Carol Oates is as a writer! It seems like every time you turn around she is out with a newly published book. 

Prior to reading The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, I'd only read one book written by Joyce Carol Oates. It was a collection of short stories in a book titled, The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense... I wasn't impressed with this collection of darkly written stories. I didn't quite understand the appeal of Joyce Carol Oates as a writer after reading this particular collection of her writing. 

However, I've always felt like I should give Joyce Carol Oates another chance and read something else written by her. So, I decided to read The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates.

I enjoyed reading The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates, although it was different than I expected it to be. It's a collection of essays written by Joyce Oates, which I wasn't expecting. I thought The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, would solely focus on Joyce Carol Oates's writing alone and perhaps contain snippets of autobiographical tidbits about her life.

The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art does focus on aspects of Joyce Carol Oates's writing, but this book also focuses on the writing of other authors as it pertains to the topics Oates discusses in each of the essays. This book is a much deeper read than I anticipated it to be as well. It's short and powerful.

My favorite essays in The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art were the following four essays: The Writer's Studio, "JCO" & I, To A Young Writer, and Running and Writing.

The following is the publisher's summary for The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates from Amazon:
Joyce Carol Oates is widely regarded as one of America's greatest contemporary literary figures. Having written in a number of genres -- prose, poetry, personal and critical essays, as well as plays -- she is an artist ideally suited to answer essential questions about what makes a story striking, a novel come alive, a writer an artist as well as a craftsman.
In The Faith of a Writer, Oates discusses the subjects most important to the narrative craft, touching on topics such as inspiration, memory, self-criticism, and "the unique power of the unconscious." On a more personal note, she speaks of childhood inspirations, offers advice to young writers, and discusses the wildly varying states of mind of a writer at work. Oates also pays homage to those she calls her "significant predecessors" and discusses the importance of reading in the life of a writer.

Oates claims, "Inspiration and energy and even genius are rarely enough to make 'art': for prose fiction is also a craft, and craft must be learned, whether by accident or design." In fourteen succinct chapters, The Faith of a Writer provides valuable lessons on how language, ideas, and experience are assembled to create art.
I am giving The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!