Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 End of the Year Wrap Up Post!!

 

I can't believe we've reached the end of 2020!! In some regards this year has flown by so fast... At other times, 2020 time passed by so very slowly. What a strange year we've had with the COVID-19 pandemic turning life upside down as we know it, wildfires raging along the west coast of the US and other natural disasters, civil unrest throughout the nation at times, and an interesting presidential election year to name a few of the events that have occurred this year here in the US.

I set my 2020 Reading Goals on December 31st of 2019 as follows:
My goal is to read 52 books in 2020. All 52 books to be read will come from my current 'to be read' pile. No specific titles at this time have been decided upon. However, I do plan to read 13 books that I've acquired through Goodreads Giveaways, 13 books that I acquired prior to May 2014, and the 26 remaining books will be chosen at random from my 'tbr' pile... These could be books added  to my collection after May 2014, more of my older books acquired prior to May 2014, or more books I acquired through Goodreads Giveaways.

I have reached and surpassed my 2020 reading goals!! I read or listened to a total of 90 books this year. Below is a small snapshot of what I read and reviewed here on my blog.

Goodreads Giveaways books as follow:

1. Where the Lost Girls Go by R. J. Noonan
2. The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
3. A Killer Kebab by Susannah Hardy
4. The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic
5. The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman
6. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
7. Ain't She A Peach by Molly Harper
8. The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman
9. The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama 
10. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
11. Assualt and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz
12. The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
13. Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata

Books read that were acquired prior to May 2014 as follows:

1. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam
2. The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger
3. The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee
4. The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
5. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
10. Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot by Staci Mendoza & David Bourne
11. Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou
12. Room by Emma Donoghue
13. Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest

Books read that were acquired May 2014 or later as follows:

1. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
2. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
3. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
4. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani
5. Letters From Skye by Jessica Brockmole
6. Smaller and Smaller Circles by F. H. Batacan
7. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
8. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
9. Becoming by Michelle Obama
10. The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz
11. Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke
12. Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins
13. Snipped in the Bud by Kate Collins
14. Night of the Living Dandelion by Kate Collins
15. Conversations With Black: 13 People, 1 Body by Bill Puett, Ph.D.
16. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
17. The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
18. Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens
19. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
20. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
21. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
22. The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull
23. 
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
24. George by Alex Gino 
25. Romanov by Nadine Brandes 
26. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
27. Animal Farm by George Orwell
28. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
29. Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto
30. Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto
31. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
32. The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories by Yukiko Motoya
33. The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
34. Tempting the Tiger by Sennah Tate
36. The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson
37. Cubed: The Puzzle of Us All by Erno Rubik 

Additionally, I listened to another 27 audiobooks
that I was able to download from Audible, but didn't
find the time to review here on my blog.

Did you meet your 2020 reading goals?

Tell me about your favorite reads, your least favorite
reads, the books that surprised you the most,
or whatever else you want to share about
what you read this year in the comment section below.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson



After reading 
Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson, I decided it was high time to read another book written by Shirley Jackson as I'd been meaning to read another one of her books after I'd read and reviewed Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House in October 2016. 

So, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson and narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir.

Listening time for The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson is 3 hours, 9 minutes.

I enjoyed listening to this nonfiction book about the Salem witch trials of 1692 to 1693. Ms. Jackson did a phenomenal job of bringing these events to life and keeping the topic interesting and engaging. I was surprised to learn that The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson was written for young readers. 

I would recommend The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson to anyone wanting to learn a detailed, historical account of the Salem witch trials.

Below is the publisher's summary for The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson from Audible:
A detailed account of one of the strangest and most shocking episodes in American history, written by the author of "The Lottery".

Stories of magic, superstition, and witchcraft were strictly forbidden in the little town of Salem Village. But a group of young girls ignored those rules, spellbound by the tales told by a woman named Tituba. When questioned about their activities, the terrified girls set off a whirlwind of controversy as they accused townsperson after townsperson of being witches. Author Shirley Jackson examines in careful detail this horrifying true story of accusations, trials, and executions that shook a community to its foundations.
I am giving The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Audible Originals I've Listened to in 2020, BUT Didn't Write Reviews For This Year



As a member of Audible, members are usually able to download two Audible Originals for free from a select list chosen by Audible each month. This year though, members were about to download several of the curated Audible Originals each month.

This year I listened to the following Audible Originals on my iPad, but I never got around to writing full reviews for them mainly due to time constraints and CRPS flare ups. 
So, instead of writing a full review for each Audible Originals I listened to in 2020 for free, I'll simply give my rating next to each title.

1. Interview With The Robot by Lee Bacon 3/5 stars
2. The Half-Life of Marie Curie by Lauren Gunderson 4/5 stars
3. Break Shot: My First 21 Years by James Taylor 3/5 stars
4. Certain Woman of an Age by Margaret Trudeau 3/5 stars
5. Malcolm and Me by Ishmael Reed 2/5 stars
6. The Real Sherlock by Lucinda Hawksley 3/5 stars
7. Alone with the Stars by David R. Gillham 4/5 stars
8. Agent 355 by Marie Benedict 4/5 stars
9. History of Bourbon by Ken Albala 3/5 stars
10. The Mountain and the Sea by Kwame Dawes 2/5 stars
11. Nut Jobs: Cracking California's Strangest $10 Million Dollar Heist by Marc Fenell 4/5 stars
12. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion 2/5 stars
13. Thicker Than Water by Tyler Shultz 2/5 stars
14. Sheryl Crow: Words + Music by Sheryl Crow 4/5 stars
15. Half Light by Tayari Jones 3/5 stars
16. Yard Work by David Koepp 3/5 stars
17. The Flying Flamingo Sisters by Carrie Seim 4/5 stars
18. One More Round by Alice Clayton 3/5 stars
19. I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright 3/5 stars
20. Hold Your Breath by Wendy Walker 3/5 stars
21. The Gentleman From Peru by Andre Aciman 3/5 stars
22. Alanis Morissette: Words + Music by Alanis Morissette 3/5 stars
23. Decorum at the Deathbed by Josh Malerman 3/5 stars
24. Playing to Win by Michael Lewis 3/5 stars
25. Parsnips in Love by Porochista Khakpour 3/5 stars
26. Dead Acre by Rhett C. Bruno & Jaime Castle 4/5 stars
27. Caffeine by Michael Pollan 4/5 stars

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - My Eleven Favorite Books of 2020



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Top 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.

At the end of each calendar year, I find it very difficult to select my top ten favorite books that I've read because I usually end up reading so many really good books throughout each year.

Below are my top ten favorite books for 2020 in no particular order of preference.

1. George by Alex Gino
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
3. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
4. The Parrot Who Owns Me by Joanna Burger
5. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
6. The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
7. Missoula by Jon Krakauer
8. Jackie As Editor by Greg Lawrence
9. The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman
10. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
11. Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

What are your favorite books read for 2020? Did you have a difficult time selecting your top ten favorite reads for this year?

Monday, December 28, 2020

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

 

I recently listened to the unabridged audio version of Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson and narrated by Erin Bennett.

Listening time for Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson is 7 hours, 29 minutes.

I was able to download Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson for FREE from Audible.

Below is my honest, unbiased review for Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson.

Oh, my word!! Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson is the surprise read of 2020 for me. I listened to this nonfiction book on a whim this month and LOVED every single second of it! I didn't expect to love this book so much.

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction is methodically well written and is organized into eight main sections, which highlight different subgenres of horror and speculative fiction. Each of the eight sections offers short chapters that highlight different notable women authors that fall into that particular section by giving an author biography, notable works written by each author not to be missed, along with the names of authors with similar works/writing, and a quote. 

I am familiar with quite a few of the women authors mentioned in Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson. However, there are many more new to me women authors mentioned in Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson that I now have a long list of new to me authors/books to read in the future.

Below is the publisher's summary for Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger from Audible:
Satisfy your craving for extraordinary authors and exceptional fiction: Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales, from Frankenstein to The Haunting of Hill House and beyond.

Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Coltor, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales.

Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories.
I am giving Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tempting the Tiger by Sennah Tate

 

I downloaded the ebook edition of Tempting the Tiger by Sennah Tate for FREE from Amazon. Below is my honest, unbiased review of this ebook.

Tempting the Tiger by Sennah Tate is the first book in the 'Palm Haven Shifter' series and is a paranormal romance featuring a witch (Sarah) and a human/tiger shapeshifter (Sloan).

Tempting the Tiger by Sennah Tate is a super fast read and is approximately 185 pages in length... The setting revolves around Sarah, a shy, book obsessed librarian and the library where she works. Sloan becomes the new, sexy library director... But there is something about Sloan that Sarah doesn't trust. Sexual tension is high between Sarah and Sloan from the start of this ebook, but turns predictable from the get go. The predictability, insta-love between the main characters, and the plot left me wanting more substance from this book. 

Below is the plot summary for Tempting the Tiger by Sennah Tate from Goodreads:
Sarah is more than just a curvy, book-obsessed librarian… she’s a lady with secrets. Magical secrets that cannot be revealed, especially to the sexy new Director of her beloved library. She’s got way too much going on in her life to be checking out the boss, much less investigating the strange phone calls he keeps getting that he won't explain…

Sloan has a few furry secrets of his own -- shifting into a tiger, for instance -- but he can’t seem to keep anything from Sarah. The sexy little witch stirs his imagination and fills his dreams. With a lot of flirting and a little time, Sloan’s pretty damn sure he’ll lure Sarah into his bed.

Suddenly Sloan’s loyalties are thrown into question when the interests of the pack involve Sarah’s destruction, and time quickly becomes his enemy. All he wants is to get Sarah to take her hair down, show her how good it can feel to let loose…

Only Sloan might be the one to lose his tightly-held control, and it just might spell disaster for his clan… or his love.
I am giving Tempting the Tiger by Sennah Tate 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura and narrated by Charlie Thurston. Fuminori Nakamura is a new to me Japanese writer and his novel, The Thief, is a thriller. 

I was pleasantly surprised by The Thief as I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. The writing and storyline are both good... and the plot is character driven. I even enjoyed the narration by Charlie Thurston as well. The Thief wasn't perfect by any means. The ambiguous ending to this novel was the main issue for me... I've seen plenty of other authors use the same exact kind of ambiguous, opened to interpretation tactic to end their novel and it isn't one of my favorites. Otherwise, The Thief was a pretty decent overall.

Listening time for The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura is 4 hours, 1 minute.

Below is the plot summary for The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura from Audible:
The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly that sometimes he doesn't even remember the snatch. Most people are just a blur to him; nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections....

But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life and offers him a job he can't refuse. It's an easy job: tie up an old rich man and steal the contents of a safe. No one gets hurt.

Only the day after the job does he learn that the old man was a prominent politician, and that he was brutally killed after the robbery. And now the Thief is caught in a tangle even he might not be able to escape.
I am giving The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Out of Print - Documentary Trailer

 

Out of Print, a 55 minute documentary, came out in 2013. I'd never heard of it until recently and decided to go ahead and watch it. I enjoyed watching this documentary about the printed word.

Out of Print is narrated by Meryl Streep and "draws us into the topsy-turvy world of words, illuminating the turbulent and exciting journey from the book through the digital revolution. Jeff Bezos, Ray Bradbury, Scott Turow, Jeffrey Toobin, parents, students, educators, scientists – all highlight how this revolution is changing everything about the printed word – and changing us."

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya

 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories by Yukiko Motoya, which is a collection of eleven short stories narrated by various voice performance artists.

Listening time for The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya is 5 hours, 9 minutes.

This year, I've explored works written by a few new to me Japanese writers and Yukiko Motoya is one of them. The title of her short story collection, The Lonesome Bodybuilder, definitely captured my attention, so I gave it a try.

All of the short stories in The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya were rather bizarre in my opinion. The best short story of the bunch was probably 'An Exotic Marriage'. This collection of short stories just wasn't my favorite. I'll skip on reading anything else written by Yukiko Motoya.

Below is the plot summary for The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya from Audible:

A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique - which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon - until an old man shows him they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won't come out of the fitting room - and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices her husband's features are beginning to slide around his face - to match her own.

In these 11 stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien - and through it, find a way to liberation. The Lonesome Bodybuilder is the English-language debut of one of Japan's most fearlessly inventive young writers

I am giving The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Hope Santa Brings

 



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Top 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 have way more books I want for Christmas this year than can be imagined! So it was difficult narrowing down my book choices. Below (in no order of importance) are the books I'd like to receive this year from Santa Claus.

1. Bertie: The Complete Prince of Wales Mysteries by Peter Lovesey
2. The Wrong Kind of Woman by Sarah McCraw
3. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
4. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
5. Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
6. Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawaii Strong Washburn
7. The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
8. Wobble to Death by Peter Lovesey
9. Rick by Alex Gino
10. An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten


Share with me the books you'd like to receive this year for the holidays in the comment section below.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest

 

I read Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest. This is an ebook, 54 pages in length, and a work of nonfiction. If you are a Jane Austen Fan and/or curious about what it was like for a woman living during Britain's Regency era, then this short read is perfect for you!

I loved how this ebook was set up as its focus is on women and their life within a Regency era home; room by room. Lots of relevant quotes from Jane Austen's novels pop up throughout Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest to help substantiate the content that the author sets forth about life for women during the Regency era. 

I certainly enjoyed learning more about women's lives during the Regency era. Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest is a delightful read! 

Below is the summary Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest for from Amazon:
Behind Jane Austen's Door takes you on a tour of a Regency house, room by room, to explore the delicate challenges and the beautiful lives of Jane Austen's women.

Jane Austen did not place her stories in castles or on the battlefields, but in that one building so important to Elizabeth and Elinor: a home of their own.

What was life like for Jane Austen’s women in the home? From drawing room diva to mother, wife and savvy housekeeper, Jane Austen's women lived fascinating lives in their homes. Behind Jane Austen's Door is a gentle 14,500 words, perfect for a few hours relaxing reading.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Entrance Hall

The Drawing Room

The Dining Room

The Breakfast Room

The Dressing Room

The Bedroom

The Kitchen

Conclusion

A Quick Guide to Jane Austen’s Regency World
I am giving Behind Jane Austen's Door by Jennifer Forest a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Room by Emma Donoghue

  

I've had Room by Emma Donoghue in my 'to be read' pile since March 2012. I've been wanting to read this book for years... especially upon learning it was being made into a movie a few years ago. I meant to read Room by Emma Donoghue before watching the movie as I prefer reading a book prior to seeing the movie version of said book. 

Long story short, I saw the movie version of Room before actually reading it. So I kept putting off reading Room ever since then as I don't enjoy reading a book as much after seeing the movie. Why? Mainly because I feel like watching the movie spoils the book for me. Yet, I have no problem watching the movie based on a book after reading the book. Go figure! Anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

Anyway, back to my review of Room by Emma Donoghue. I thought Room was really well written by the author. Room is told through the eyes of Jack, a 5 year old boy, who lives inside a room (it's a shed really) with his mother. It's only the two of them and they have no access to the outside world... Jack's Ma was kidnapped at age 19 while away attending college. She has been held by her captor, Old Nick, for 7 years and repeatedly raped. Jack is the by product of this rape and she raises him alone with intermittent visits made by her captor, Old Nick. 

Jack has no real concept of real life outside room. For him life is normal inside room. It becomes excruciatingly painful just how unreal/abnormal life is for both Jack and his mother as the plot unfolds. Life becomes especially difficult when Ma hatches a daring plan which would allow them both to escape the clutches of 'Old Nick'.

After Ma and Jack escape room, we read the difficulties they both have to adjusting to life outside after being cooped up inside room for so long. Jack, although very smart and intelligent as he knows how to read, write, and perform simple math at 5 years old, is stunted in many other ways other children his age are not... And Ma is dealing with the trauma done to her. It's a big adjustment for them both being in the real world. Emma Donoghue captures all the nuances of their new life outside room brilliantly. 

I had difficulty reading many parts of this novel due to the subject matter and the detail in which it is written by the author. I can't even begin to fully comprehend what it would be like to undergo such an ordeal as Ma and Jack lived through while inside room.

Below is a summary for Room by Emma Donoghue from Goodreads:

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience—and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough ... not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

I am giving Room by Emma Donoghue a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, December 18, 2020

8 BOOKS ABOUT MAGICAL AND MYSTERIOUS LIBRARIES!!

Do you enjoy reading books about magical and mysterious libraries? Books about these types of libraries sound like a great way to escape from reality to me!

Check out the following Book Riot article titled, LIBRARIES MOST MYSTERIOUS: 8 BOOKS ABOUT MAGICAL AND MYSTERIOUS LIBRARIES by Megan Mabee. The eight books listed in Megan Mabee's article sound like fun ways to escape into the world of magical and mysterious libraries!!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

 

Yes, yes, yes, to listening to my one and only Christmas themed book of the year! I have never actually read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens until this year as I've become very well acquainted with the storyline over the years due to watching various plays and/or movies based on this Dickens classic. 

This year, however, I decided to finally listen to the unabridged audio version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and narrated by Tim Curry... This year has been quite a doozy of a year due to the pandemic among many other things, which has left me feeling a bit of bah humbug around the holidays as we aren't celebrating the holidays with family and friends in the usual way this season.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It's a nice, quick holiday read with a pertinent message that is still captivating today a 150+ years later!

Listening time for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is 3 hours, 31 minutes. I thought Tim Curry did an excellent job of narrating A Christmas Carol.

Below is the plot summary for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens from Audible:
This version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, masterfully narrated by Tim Curry, was available for a limited time last year, and now it's back. This one-of-a-kind performance puts a unique spin on a treasured classic, and served as the inspiration for the exciting new line of Audible Signature Classics, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Elijah Wood, and Heart of Darkness with Kenneth Branagh. Tim Curry performs this timeless holiday story in a deliciously dark tone, returning it to its Dickensian roots with a vivid imagining of Victorian London and just the right touch of outrageous fun.

A Christmas Carol has constantly been in print since its original publication in 1849, and has been adapted for stage, television, film, and opera. It has often been credited with returning the jovial and festive atmosphere to the holiday season in Britain and North America, following the somber period that emerged during the Industrial Revolution.

The story opens on a bleak and cold Christmas Eve as Ebenezer Scrooge is closing up his office for the day. As the story progresses and Christmas morning approaches, Scrooge encounters the unforgettable characters that make this story a classic: Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and, of course, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

I am giving A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

MIT Press Live! Presents: Women of Science Tarot


Yesterday morning, I attended yet another wonderful virtual author event hosted by MIT Press from 9:30am to 10:30am. This virtual event was titled MIT Press Live! Presents: Women of Science Tarot.

During this hour long event, the moderator spoke with with Nadja Oertelt and Allan Lasser of Massive Science, the creators of the Women of Science Tarot Deck. I enjoyed listening to Nadja Oertelt and Allan Lasser discuss the creation of the Woman of Science Tarot, answer questions, and perform two tarot readings using the major arcana only.

Below is a summary for Women of Science Tarot from MIT Press:

A tarot deck that features inspirational women of science on the minor arcana cards, plus a guidebook with scientist biographies and other information.

The Women of Science Tarot Deck is a card game that helps us tell stories about our future based on principles of science. Each major arcana card features a fundamental scientific concept like extinction, diversity, or gravity. The 56 minor arcana cards feature inspirational women who have changed the course of STEM. The lively illustrations are by neuroscientist and comic artist Matteo Farinella. For readers new to tarot or those who want to learn more about women in STEM, accompanying the deck is a guidebook with biographies of all the women featured on the cards as well as information about the major arcana cards.

The MIT Press and Massive Science are proud to offer a feminist tarot deck that values diversity and representation.The set includes a tarot deck of 76 cards, measuring approx. 2.75" x 4.75" x 0.95", and a printed paperback gameplay guidebook of approx. 93 pages, approx. 4" x 6" x.45, " packaged in a custom two-piece rigid box.

During the MIT Press Live! Presents: Women of Science Tarot, there was no flip through of the entire Woman of Science Tarot deck. I was very curious as to what the entire tarot deck looked like. I discovered a YouTube video, which is not associated with MIT Press or Massive Science to view what this tarot deck looks like in its entirety. Watch the following video to see what the Women of Science Tarot looks:


I think the Women of Science Tarot deck looks really cool, but it definitely isn't your traditional looking tarot deck. I still think it looks cool though for its uniqueness alone and decided to order a deck for myself as an early Christmas gift.

Last thoughts... I'm kind of surprised that MIT Press would publish a tarot deck!! This doesn't seem like something they would be interested in publishing. But maybe the 'Women of Science' part is what grabbed their attention. The Women of Science Tarot deck is kind of a novel mash up of joining the topics of science/women scientists and tarot together though.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Virtual Author Events I've Attended in 2020



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.

This year has been unprecedented due to the pandemic. In person author events and book festivals had been canceled. However, I'd been able to attend several virtual author events this year. Not all of them I ended up blogging about here on my book blog. 

Below is my list of favorite virtual author events I've attended in 2020.

1. Gregory Maguire - Talked about his new novel, A Wild Winter Swan. This event was hosted by The Silver Unicorn Bookstore. This virtual event was my favorite author event thus far to date in 2020. 

2. Joy Harjo - Chat From The Old Cap @ the University of Iowa. Joy Harjo spoke about her experience attending the University of Iowa and her writing career + more.

3. 
Sarah Weinman - Virtual book launch for book Weinman's new book, Unspeakable Acts. Sarah Weinman spoke about her new book with Casey Cep.

4. Catherine Adel West - Read It With BookClubbish - I enjoyed hearing Catherine Adel West talk about her debut novel, Saving Ruby King.

5. Margaret Atwood in conversation with Ann Patchett was an awesome virtual event to attend. Margaret Atwood always has interesting and intelligent things to say and share.

6. Alex Gino - Live with Banned Books Week... Alex Gino talked about his banned book, George, which I enjoyed reading earlier this year.

7. T. Jefferson Parker & Glen Erik Hamilton - Hosted by Murder By The Book. Awesome event! I learned a lot about authors and their writing/books.

8. 
The Brontes vs. Jane Austen: A conversation with Finola Austin & Natalie Jenner Hosted by Wellington Square Bookshop, was a wonderful virtual event... Especially if you are a fan of the Brontes and/or Jane Austen.

9. Gail Tsukiyama in conversation with Karen Joy Fowler, where Gail Tsukiyama discussed her latest novel, The Color of Air.

10. Lastly, I was able to hear US Representative Eric Swalwell discuss his book,
Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Darcie Wilde Virtual Event hosted by Murder by the Book

 

Darcie Wilde is a new to me author as of this year. I've yet to read any of her novels, but I am excited to read her Rosalind Thorne Mysteries series in the future.

I learned about Darcie Wilde's Rosalind Thorne Mysteries series in an article published on Book Riot's website that mentioned many book series that fall into both the historical fiction and mystery genres and Darcie Wilde's Rosalind Thorne Mysteries series falls into both genres.

When I learned that independent bookstore, Murder by the Book, was hosting a virtual author event with Darcie Wilde on Monday, December 7, 2020, I couldn't wait to learn more about Darcie Wilde and her books. I learned a lot about both topics and really enjoyed watching another wonderful virtual author event hosted by Murder by the Book.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Holiday/Seasonal Freebie



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.

Below is a list of just a few of the Christmas holiday themed reads I've read since I began blogging in January 2012! Some of them are short stories or novellas and some are full length novels. Most of them are quick reads to enjoy during the holiday season. 

Click on the links below to read my reviews of each book listed in my Top Ten Tuesday post this week.

1. Secret Santa by Sabrina James
2. Home For Christmas by Patricia Kay
3. A Very Russian Christmas by Roxie Rivera
4. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
5. Christmas Cookie Murder by Leslie Meier
6. Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks
7. The Night Collection: Silent Night & All Through the Night by Mary Higgins Clark
8. Dashing Through the Snow by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark
9. Mistletoe in Manhattan by Talli Roland
10. Vampire For Christmas by Felicity Heaton

Happy reading!!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou


I have been a huge fan of Maya Angelou's writing for decades now. In fact, I've even had the honor of seeing Ms. Angelou speak live in person twice in my lifetime and both experiences are ones that I will forever cherish.

I acquired the hardback edition of Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou in 1997 when it was first published. I can't remember now if I purchased the book for myself or if it was given to me as a gift. I do know, however, that I did read this book of biographical essays soon after it came into my possession... But for the life of me, I can't remember what I thought of this book at the time. So, I decided to reread this book once again.

Some of the biographical essays written by Maya Angelou were phenomenal in Even the Stars Look Lonesome... Some I thought weren't that enjoyable... And some were mediocre in my opinion. 

Maybe this is the reason why Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou didn't leave a lasting impact on me the first go around. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this essay collection. I just didn't love the entire essay collection as much as I hoped I would.

My favorite quote from Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou comes from her essay titled 'Art For The Sake Of The Soul' on page 132 as follows:

We must replace fear and chauvinism, hate, timidity and apathy, which flow in our national spinal column, with courage, sensitivity, perseverance and, I even dare say, "love." And by "love" I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound it encourages us to develop courage. It is said that courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue with consistency. 

Below is the summary for Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou from Goodreads:

This wise book is the wonderful continuation of the bestselling Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now.

Even the Stars Look Lonesome is Maya Angelou talking of the things she cares about most. In her unique, spellbinding way, she re-creates intimate personal experiences and gives us her wisdom on a wide variety of subjects. She tells us how a house can both hurt its occupants and heal them. She talks about Africa. She gives us a profile of Oprah. She enlightens us about age and sexuality. She confesses to the problems fame brings and shares with us the indelible lessons she has learned about rage and violence. And she sings the praises of sensuality.

Even the Stars Look Lonesome imparts the lessons of a lifetime.

I am giving Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, December 4, 2020

Peter Lovesey Virtual Gala - Live on YouTube

 

Earlier this evening, I had the lovely honor of watching the Peter Lovesey Virtual Gala - Live on YouTube, which was hosted by independent bookstore, Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas.

Quite frankly, I'd never even heard of Peter Lovesey until recently and was honored to attend this celebrated author's golden gala in his honor. Many well know authors were on hand to toast Peter Lovesey's writing and to share many fun stories about him during this virtual event.

Below is more information about the Peter Lovesey Virtual Gala - Live on YouTube from the YouTube page in which the video is linked:

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF PETER LOVESEY'S CRIME FICTION 

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of WOBBLE TO DEATH, Peter Lovesey's debut mystery. Join Murder by the Book and Soho Press in celebrating the Golden Anniversary of the Diamond Dagger Winner and MWA Grand Master with a virtual gala. Toastmakers include Louise Penny, Peter Robinson, Jeffery Deaver, Lawrence Block, and Cara Black. Peter Lovesey will announce the winner of the Peter Lovesey First Crime Novel Contest.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Gregory Maguire Author Event for A Wild Winter Swan

Gregory Maguire

 

Yesterday evening, from 4pm to 5pm, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore hosted a virtual author event featuring author, Gregory Maguire... And what an amazing virtual event this was! Kyra Wilson Cook, the event coordinator at The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, did a phenomenal job of interviewing/speaking with Gregory Maguire. I must say that Gregory Maguire was so charming and delightful to hear speak. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him share the many and varied stories about his life, his writing, his novels, and more! I think this particular virtual author event may be my favorite virtual author event of 2020 to date.

In all honesty, I've never read a novel written by Gregory Maguire before! However, I am aware of several of his novels including Wicked, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year!!

Gregory Maguire's latest novel, A Wild Winter Swan, was recently published on October 6, 2020 and of course, this novel was discussed in yesterday evening's virtual event. A Wild Winter Swan sounds like an amazing read! The inspiration for Maguire's latest novel came from one of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, The Wild Swans, which Gregory Maguire enjoyed reading as a youngster.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Aya de Leon, Annalee Newitz, Ishmael Reed, Shanthi Sekaran: Writing a New World Into Existence

 


With the pandemic raging around the world this year, many events have been cancelled and put on hold including in-person book festivals and in-store author events.

However, lucky us, many bookstores and book festivals have been able to pivot and offer live virtual author/literary speaking events via Zoom, Crowdcast, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, etc for literary fans seeking their fix!

The in-person Bay Area Book Festival was cancelled earlier this year, but the Bay Area Book Festival has hosted several virtual events this year, which has been awesome!!

I recently watched/listened to Aya de Leon, Annalee Newitz, Ishmael Reed, and Shanthi Sekaran speak about the topic of 'Writing a New World Into Existence', which was uploaded to The Official Bay Area Book Festival Video Channel on YouTube... The following quote is taken from the YouTube page connected with the video content: 
It’s been demonstrated that reading fiction increases empathy. Can it also unlock a blueprint for our future, at a moment when we need new ways of defining what’s possible? Four of Berkeley’s most visionary novelists, known for their ability to conjure exciting “future histories” with words, come together to discuss how literature and the imagination can light a bold path to progress.

Have you enjoyed watching any virtual author events lately? 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Want to Read Again

 


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Top 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 are 10 books I would like to read in no particular order of importance:

1. Queenie by Micheal Korda - I read this novel in high school in my sophomore year. This novel is fairly massive in length from what I recall and was probably one of the longest books I'd read at the time. I remember being attracted to the cover of the paperback edition as the cover looked so glamorous. Plus, the storyline was so captivating at the time. I haven't read this novel since then and I wonder if I'd find it dated now? Our tastes in books change over time too, especially from being a teenager to an adult.

2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz - I read this back in 2001 and loved it! I remember Ellen DeGeneres talking about this book and how life changing it was for her, so I decided to read it. I need to reread the principles and begin once again to apply the four agreements to my daily life.

3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck - I read this novel in 2008 for the first time and loved it. East of Eden became one of my all time favorite novels. What a classic!

4. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov - I read this novel in the early 1990s. This novel takes readers on a wild ride! What a fabulous novel and a beloved Russian classic. I'm surprised that I haven't reread it again already.

5. Animals in Translations by Temple Grandin - Wow, just, wow! This nonfiction book blew me away. Temple Grandin uses "the mysteries of autism to decode animal behavior" and gives an entirely new way to view animals.

6. The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers - I stumbled across this historical fiction novel purely by accident when I was told it was the upcoming book club selection at our local library's book club only to find out that a different novel was chosen instead. The upshot was that The Second Mrs. Hockaday was phenomenal novel!

7. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks - I think this was the third novel I read by Geraldine Brooks. It is fabulous and I would love to reread it again.

8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - I read this book for Banned Books Week in 2012 and loved it.

9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I read this classic novel for the 1st time approximately 10 years ago and loved it! I've been meaning to reread it again ever since.

10. Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King Jr. - I read this book in 2018 and feel like it is a must read for anyone wanting to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

So which books would you like to reread? Have you read any of the books I want to reread?

Monday, November 30, 2020

THE BEST GIFTS FOR FEMINISTS 2020: BOOK LOVERS EDITION!!

It's Cyber Monday!! Are you looking for gift ideas on what to buy that feminist book lover in your life for the holidays? Look no further!! I discovered an article on Book Riot's website titled, THE BEST GIFTS FOR FEMINISTS 2020: BOOK LOVERS EDITION by Kelly Jensen. In the article, Jensen wrote the following:

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or another favorite person in your life for the holidays or for a future celebration (or, you know, just because), perhaps you’re seeking out those gifts falling in the center of the “Feminist” and “Book Lovers” Venn diagram. Good news! Find below a roundup of the best gifts for feminists in 2020 and beyond. These gifts range from outstanding subscription boxes, to rad bookish feminist sweatshirts, to enamel pins, and more.
Click on the above link to see which feminist items made the list!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot by Staci Mendoza & David Bourne

I've had the hardback edition of Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot by Staci Mendoza & David Bourne in my 'to be read' pile since February 2012. I purchased this remaindered book via Amazon for the wonderfully low price of $2.76... Great buy!

So, what did I think of Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot by Staci Mendoza & David Bourne? I enjoyed reading this book much more than I thought I would. I think it makes a great coffee table book if you are a tarot lover! The dimensions for this book are as follows: 9.56 x 0.55 x 12.06 inches and 96 pages in length. Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot is a great starter book as it covers the basics for beginners... Just enough pertinent information to get one started in understanding and reading tarot cards.

Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot is a beautiful book filled with plenty of colored photographs throughout. Here's what I enjoyed most about this particular tarot book:

* It's well organized! I loved the layout of this book and how it flows from one topic to the next.

* Each card in the major arcana and minor arcana is shown via a photograph along with their meanings in the upright and reversed positions. 

* How to do tarot readings for yourself and others is explained in detail as well as how to use tarot for meditation and self-analysis.

* The reader also learns how to do three different basic tarot layouts/spreads (Celtic Cross, Romany, and Tree of Life) and when to use each of the layouts/spreads for tarot readings. Examples of each tarot layout/spread is explained in detail, a sample tarot reading with the meaning of the cards is provided and how it relates to the person you are reading tarot for.

* Additionally, there are sections that discuss the origins of tarot, how to select a tarot deck, and the astrological sign, planet, or one of the four elements that are associated with each card in the tarot deck. 

Below is the publisher's summary for Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot by Staci Mendoza & David Bourne from Goodreads:

Ideal for the beginner and illuminating for those who are already versed in the Tarot, this book will enhance your understanding of the mysteries of the cards, and help you to take control of your own destiny.

I am giving Reading and Understanding the Mysteries of the Tarot by Staci Mendoza & David Bourne a rating 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!