Tuesday, February 26, 2019

I've Had A Reading Slump This Month!!

I've had a reading slump this month for a few reasons. The first reason is I have been out of town the entire month of February visiting family. So, I've been busy spending more time having fun with family members verses reading books. The second reason I've had a reading slump is because I had three back to back books that I didn't end up finishing because they didn't keep my interest. And thirdly, the few additional books I had on hand simply ended up not sounding like books I wanted to read after all.

I'll be returning home in March. I am confident my reading mojo will return once I settle into my daily routine. I've enjoyed spending time with my family, but I've also missed reading my usual amount of books per month. Reading is a major source of entertainment for me and also a way for me to relax.

Have you had a reading slump? How have you dealt with it?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Black History Month - Misty Copeland - Principal Dancer American Ballet Company

I was blessed to see Misty Copeland dance with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in late March or early April 2012 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. She gave a fabulous performance that night!! At the time I saw Ms. Copeland dance, she was still a soloist for ABT. "On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT's 75-year history." (Wikipedia)

I still want to read Misty Copeland's memoir titled, Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Neil Gaiman teaches The Art of Storytelling Via Masterclass!

Here's another famous author, Neil Gaiman, teaching an online class through Masterclass. He teaches The Art of Storytelling.

Check out the above video trailer to see for yourself what Neil Gaiman will be teaching in his online class.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Black History Month - Ngugi wa Thiongo - Kenyan Writer

Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity of hearing Kenyan writer,  Ngugi wa Thiong'o speak at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival. Ngugi wa Thiongo  is one of the most prominent African writers today and has often been on the Nobel Prize's radar for quite sometime.

Since I had never even heard of Ngugi wa Thiongo prior to 2018, I thought it would be fitting to highlight his writing once again here on my blog! 

I still have his novel, Petals of Blood, in my 'to be read' pile at home waiting to be read!!

Black History Month - Hazel Scott - Jazz & Classical Pianist!

Hazel Scott was a jazz and classical pianist, singer, and actor. Ms. Scott was a piano prodigy and received a scholarship to Julliard at the age of 8 years old!! 

"In 1950, she became the first black person to have a TV show, The Hazel Scott Show." (Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, Hazel Scott was blacklisted after testifying before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy era.

There's an ebook out about Hazel Scott's life titled, 
Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Café Society to Hollywood to HUAC by Karen Chilton that I want to read.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Toni Morrison - Writing Advice!!

I am across an article on Lithub.com titled, “YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING.” AND OTHER WRITING ADVICE FROM TONI MORRISON by Emily Temple. In the article, Emily Temple wrote the following:
I can’t think of another writer who is quite so universally beloved as Toni Morrison. Her work is magnificent, her legacy is unimpeachable, and she reveals her brilliance at every opportunity. She also taught for many years at Princeton, and I think it’s safe to assume she knows a thing or two about nurturing young minds. So, using the relatively flimsy excuse of her birthday—Morrison turns 88 on Monday, which is also Presidents’ Day (is this a sign?)—I sifted through her interviews and speeches to find out what she thinks about writing. I’ve highlighted some of her wisdom below.
Click on the link to read Toni Morrison's writing advice.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads!

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.

Here's my top ten list of Books I LOVED with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads!

1. The Sacred Well by Antoinette May
2. Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell
3. All By My Selfie by Jo Noelle
4. Kentucky On The Rocks by Gwendolyn Grace
5. Life's Work by Willie Parker
6. The Common Secret by Susan Wicklund
7. Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World by Aja Raden
8. Orchid Fever by Eric Hansen
9. Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone
10. Black Mark's Resistance by Ebony Olson

Monday, February 18, 2019

Black History Month - John Lewis - U. S. Rep. & Civil Rights Leader

I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for U. S. Representative and Civil Rights Leader, John Lewis

The above YouTube video is of John Lewis speaking about his part/experience during 'Bloody Sunday' on Oprah's Masterclass on the OWN channel. The video footage is graphic and the message John Lewis shares is powerful. 

Thank you, Mr. Lewis, for your role in helping to peacefully fight against social injustice during the Civil Rights Movement and your continued contribution for equal rights.

The following is a quote from Wikipedia about John Lewis:
"Lewis became nationally known during his prominent role in the Selma to Montgomery marches when, on March 7, 1965 – a day that would become known as "Bloody Sunday" – Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. At the end of the bridge, they were met by Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with night sticks. Lewis's skull was fractured, but he escaped across the bridge to Brown Chapel, the movement's headquarter church in Selma. Before Lewis could be taken to the hospital, he appeared before the television cameras calling on President Johnson to intervene in Alabama. Lewis bears scars from the incident on his head that are still visible today."
I want to read the following books by John Lewis: March (graphic novel trilogy) and Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why Read The Handmaid's Tale?

I read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood decades ago. I enjoyed reading this novel and would like to read it again in the near future as I've heard that Margaret Atwood is writing a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a fabulous novel. I actually found this novel at a Little Free Library in Solana Beach, California last month. This was my first experience reading anything written by Tayari Jones and her writing is engaging and hooks you in immediately. 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is such a powerful read that gives readers a different perspective on not only marriage, but  on current racial issues, love, loss, devastation, anger, and how one's world is turned upside down in an instant when someone is falsely accused of a crime and spends time in prison as an innocent person.

The writing is phenomenal for An American Marriage and I found myself feeling a wide range of emotions while reading it as this novel makes you think about many aspects of life in a new way. 

The characters are well developed in An American Marriage and so is the plot. The bulk of the focus is on newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, as they navigate life while Roy spends time in prison for a horrific crime he didn't commit and how this effects his life, their marriage, and the entire family.

I liked many quotes from An American Marriage. Too many quotes to even begin to share here in my review. However, "What happens to you doesn't belong to you, only half concerns you. It's not yours. Not yours only."  - by Claudia Rankine was quote before the novel even started and it was very relevant to this novel.

Below is a video clip of Tayari Jones talking about the inspiration for An American Marriage.

The following is a plot summary for An American Marriage by Tayari Jones from Goodreads:
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
I am giving An American Marriage by Tayari Jones a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Why Should You Read Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Reading Shakespeare's plays can be tough going, but they are relevant today as ever! 

Check out the above video to see why reading Macbeth is worth the read.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day - 7 Novels About Love Triangles!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my blog readers! I hope you have a fabulous day today enjoying whatever you love doing... And of course spending time with loved ones as well!

I came across an article on Electric Literature titled, 7 novels About Love Triangles by Rheea Mukherjee. Love triangles make for an interesting topic for any novel or short story for that matter. 

Check out the 7 novels listed in Rheea Mukherjee's article and maybe you'll find your next read!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing Online!!

I had no idea that Margaret Atwood teaches an online creative writing class until I saw the above YouTube trailer!! There are 23 online classes taught by Ms. Atwood through Masterclass.

The above video trailer makes me want to enroll in her online class!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Are Textbooks Obsolete? Food For Thought!

I've never really thought about whether textbooks are obsolete or not before now. John Green's recent YouTube video about textbooks was really interesting. There's definitely some food for thought!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Black History Month - Spotlight - Harriet Tubman

I thought the above video was informative about Harriet Tubman's life. Now I want to read a book about her life that will give me a bit more detail.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander (DNF'd)

Paperback Edition

I enjoy reading historical fiction novels immensely. I also enjoy reading about the Romanov family/dynasty.  So, I was excited to read The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander, which I purchased from the FOL used bookstore in Carpinteria, California in November 2013. The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander is the third novel in the 'A Romanov Novel' series. I'd actually read the first two  historical fiction novels written by Robert Alexander in the 'A Romanov Novel' series  - The Kitchen Boy (which I loved reading) and Rasputin's Daughter (which was a disappointment).

I had high hopes for The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander. I wanted to love this novel. Unfortunately, I read 128 pages of The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander and decided to quit reading it altogether and move on to a more worthy book. The characters were one dimensional and flat. The writing in general felt slightly immature and juvenile to me. I felt this novel was written for a much younger audience perhaps? Let's just say I was less than captivated by my entire reading experience of The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander. Sadly for me, The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander could have been a stellar read.

Normally, I don't bother reviewing books I do not finish reading here on my blog. However, since I did finish reading more than a third of The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander, I thought I would share my feelings regarding what I did think of this novel and why I decided to quit reading it. 

Do any of you quit reading books that aren't holding your interest? What makes you quit reading a book?

Below is a book trailer for The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander that I discovered on YouTube in case you were wondering more about the plot itself.

I am giving The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander a rating of 0 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

I've read mixed reviews regarding Tangerine by Christine Mangan. The reviews have been so mixed that I wasn't sure I even wanted to read Tangerine despite the fact that it sounded like an intriguing/must read novel. However, when I came across the paperback edition of Tangerine by Christine Mangan at a Free Little Library in Solana Beach, California, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to give it a try. After all, what did I really have to lose?

If you love psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators, two female protagonists, toxic female friendships, and a novel set in an exotic locale, then Tangerine by Christine Mangan may be the next novel you'll want to read!

Overall, I enjoyed reading Tangerine by Christine Mangan. I liked the alternating chapters featuring the point of view of either Alice or Lucy. Each alternating chapter added an element of suspense as Tangerine unfolded slowly. The storyline's tension slowly builds to reveal what the 'big secret' is between Alice and Lucy that ended their friendship in college. 

Additionally, both women appear mentally/emotionally unstable/damaged in some way throughout Tangerine. Alice is the most fragile of the two women and is easily manipulated, while Lucy is a strong, confident, independent, and manipulative woman. Do I dare write that Lucy seems to be a sociopath? 

Tangerine by Christine Mangan is multifaceted. It contains elements from 19th century Gothic novels/literature with references of Jane Eyre being particularly hinted at in Tangerine. There is also the focus on such "classic Gothic tropes as tyrannical husbands" (page 311, author's note). 

Additionally, Elle magazine is quoted as saying "Fans of The Talented Mr. Ripley will love this fast-paced thriller." I was also reminded of the unstable character Glenn Close played in the movie, 'Fatal Attraction', while reading Tangerine.

The city of Tangier itself plays a major role in Tangerine and can even be considered a character as well.

I enjoyed Christine Mangan's writing style very much and her way of describing characters, scenes, and emotions. I look forward to seeing what she writes in the future.

The epilogue for Tangerine was a bit of a disappointment though... It wasn't horrible, but I felt it could have gone out with a bang instead of the mild mannered way in which it did.

The following is a plot summary for Tangerine by Christine Mangan from Amazon:
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind. 
Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.
I am giving Tangerine by Christine Mangan a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Black History Month - Roxane Gay - Author Spotlight

In 2017, I attended the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California. I was able to see Roxane Gay speak live at this event, which was a dream come true for me. I enjoyed hearing Roxane Gay speak at this event... So it was fun to rediscover the above footage and watch it again.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Black History Month - Gwendolyn Brooks - Author Spotlight

Gwendolyn Brooks was an American poet, author, and teacher. Gwendolyn Brooks won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry on May 1, 1950 for Annie Allen, making her the first African American to win a Pulitzer. 

Click on the above video link to hear Gwendolyn Brooks talk about and then recite her poem, 'We Real Cool'.