Saturday, February 29, 2020

Little Free Library Finds in Castro Valley, California!!

Over President's Day weekend, my husband and I found four new to us Little Free Libraries in Castro Valley, California. 

The number four must be this year's lucky number for me because last month we found four new to us Little Free Libraries in Livermore, California. It would be kind of nice to keep this trend up each month and find four new to us LFLs each month throughout the entire year. Nice idea in concept, but that may be a difficult one to sustain each month.

I left five books total, but only found one book that I wanted to read. Which book did I add to my 'tbr' collection? Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.

Below are photographs of the Little Free Libraries we found. The last photo is of one of the more unique Little Free Libraries I've seen.

3981 Oleander Court, Castro Valley, CA 94546 
3519 Brookdale Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546

4368 Lawrence Drive, Castro Valley, CA 94546

18240 Lamson Road, Castro Valley, CA 94546
Have you discovered any Little Free Libraries lately?

Friday, February 28, 2020

Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence


I've always admired Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for her sense of style and also as our nation's First Lady. 

I came across Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence several years ago online. I was intrigued by the summary for this nonfiction book about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's life as editor as I didn't know that much about this particular aspect of her life. 

Since I already love reading and books (especially books that also talk about books) and have always been fascinated by the iconic life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, I figured why not buy and read this book to learn more about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her life as editor? I purchased Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence prior to May 2014 where it has sat in my 'tbr' pile until now. 

I decided Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis would make a great, early read for Women's History Month and I wasn't wrong!!

I actually liked Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence a lot more than I thought I would! Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis worked the last 19 years of her life as an editor. She started out at Viking and then ended up at Doubleday for the majority of her editing career.

I though that Greg Lawrence gave a thorough and comprehensive account of Jackie's life as an editor. He not only writes a bit about Jackie's personal life, but he also discusses her love of reading and books, and most importantly Jackie's role as editor in great detail. Jackie was very passionate about the books she edited and very involved in working closely with the authors that she did over the years as editor for both publishing houses. As readers, we are given in depth insight to the books themselves that Jackie helped edit, how she came across the books she edited, and what it was like having Jackie as editor from the authors themselves.

From reading Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, it sounds like Jackie was a warm and unpretentious person in real life. It sounds like she also had a wonderful sense of humor.

I also definitely had the sense from reading this book that Jackie became an editor to have an avocation other than simply being a socialite/former first lady after the deaths of both of her husbands. She obviously didn't need a career to pay the bills as she had plenty of money. I get the sense that she became an editor due to her passion and love for reading and books. Jackie was smart, educated, sophisticated, savvy, and well connected... All stellar qualities that I'm sure helped her succeed as an editor.


Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence is a really great read and gives readers a unique insight into the publishing world and a snapshot into one area of Jackie's life.

P. S. As an additional side note, there is a section at the end of Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis titled, Books Published By Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, which lists all the book titles Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis helped to edit during her career. The list is a long one. Many of the books sound like phenomenal ones to read. Perhaps one day, I can set a goal for myself to read all of the books listed in this section! In the meantime, I'll simply be contented to read the many unread books in my personal collection.

The following is a summary for Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence from Amazon:
History remembers Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as the consummate first lady, the nation’s tragic widow, the millionaire’s wife, and, of course, the quintessential embodiment of elegance. Her biographers, however, skip over an equally important stage in her life: her nearly twenty year long career as a book editor. Jackie as Editor is the first book to focus exclusively on this remarkable woman’s editorial career.

At the age of forty-six, one of the most famous women in the world went to work for the first time in twenty-two years. Greg Lawrence, who had three of his books edited by Jackie, draws from interviews with more than 125 of her former collaborators and acquaintances in the publishing world to examine one of the twentieth century's most enduring subjects of fascination through a new angle: her previously untouted skill in the career she chose. Over the last third of her life, Jackie would master a new industry, weather a very public professional scandal, and shepherd more than a hundred books through the increasingly corporate halls of Viking and Doubleday, publishing authors as diverse as Diana Vreeland, Louis Auchincloss, George Plimpton, Bill Moyers, Dorothy West, Naguib Mahfouz, and even Michael Jackson. Jackie as Editor gives intimate new insights into the life of a complex and enigmatic woman who found fulfillment through her creative career during book publishing’s legendary Golden Age, and, away from the public eye, quietly defined life on her own terms.
I'm giving Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel


I read the uncorrected paperback proof edition of The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel in three days! 

I received The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel through Goodreads Giveaways earlier this year. Below is my honest unbiased review of The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel.

First off, let me begin by saying that The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel is the second novel I've read and reviewed by the author. I read The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (click on the link to read my review) in March 2017 and LOVED this novel... So I couldn't wait to hunker down and read The Familiar Dark

I wasn't disappointed! Amy Engel has another winner of a novel with The Familiar Dark. Engel's writing is great... Crisp and engaging from start to finish! I loved the twists and turns in this novel along with the red herrings. If you like mysteries/thrillers with dark, gritty characters, then The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel may be the novel for you! 

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel will be released March 31, 2020.

The following is a plot summary for The Familiar Darkby Amy Engel from Goodreads:
A spellbinding story of a mother with nothing left to lose who sets out on an all-consuming quest for justice after her daughter is murdered on the town playground.
Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it's better not to know.
Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother's cruel brand of strength if she's going to face the reality about her daughter's death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother's trailer for a final lesson.

The Familiar Dark is a story about the bonds of family--women doing the best they can for their daughters in dire circumstances--as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home.
I am giving The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama


I listened to the abridged audio version on compact disc of The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama (narrated by the author) for Black History Month.

I'd been wanting to read The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama for quite a while and was happy to obtain a withdrawn public library copy of it on compact disc last summer... But I didn't realize until later on that the audio compact disc was abridged! I prefer listening to unabridged audiobooks. 

The listening time for The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama is 6 hours, 10 minutes.

I love that The Audacity of Hope is narrated by Barack Obama. For whatever reason, I find his voice soothing to listen to. As far as this book goes, I liked it a lot. Obama covers a lot of different topics. He talks about family life, political life as a senator, politics, religion, race, etc. One of my favorite parts was listening to Obama talk about balancing the demands of public service and family life and also how he met his wife, Michelle. 

My only major complaint is that the audio version of The Audacity of Hope is abridged. I want to listen to a book in its entirety... not an abridgment.

The following is a summary for The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama from Audible:
In July 2004, Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. Now, in The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama calls for a different brand of politics: a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the "endless clash of armies" we see in Congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of "our improbable experiment in democracy". He also speaks, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.
At the heart of this audiobook is Senator Obama's vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. Underlying his stories about family, friends, members of the Senate, and even the president is a vigorous search for connection: the foundation for a radically hopeful political consensus.
A senator and a lawyer, a professor and a father, a Christian and a skeptic, and above all a student of history and human nature, Senator Obama has written a book of transforming power.
I'm giving The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke



Black Water Rising by Attica Locke is the second novel I've read by the author. I've had a used hardback edition of Black Water Rising by Attica Locke in my 'to be read' pile since 2013. 

I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Black Water Rising by Attica Locke and narrated by Dion Graham as the hardback edition I had had issues with the spine making it difficult to read.

Listening time for Black Water Rising by Attica Locke is 13 hours, 52 minutes.

The audio version for Black Water Rising by Attica Locke was a BIG mistake!! UGH, Dion Graham was a poor narrator!! I almost gave up listening to Black Water Rising several times due to his poor narration of this novel. Not to mention the cheesy music (or should I say MUZAK??) played between chapters.

It was also very difficult to get into to Black Water Rising. Initially I couldn't figure out if that was because I was so turned off by the narration and music or if I just didn't like the writing/plot or a combination of both. 

I persevered and continued listening to Black Water Rising, when suddenly the storyline and plot finally picked up around chapter eleven. The rest of this novel was interesting and reasonably good despite the bad narration. The ending was soft in my opinion though.

I don't plan to read anything else written by Attica Locke. Reading two of her novels was enough for me.

Below is the plot summary for Black Water Rising by Attica Locke from Amazon:
Jay Porter is hardly the lawyer he set out to be. His most promising client is a low-rent call girl, and he runs his fledgling law practice out of a dingy strip mall. But he’s long since made peace with his path to the American Dream, carefully tucking away his darkest sins: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.
Houston, Texas, 1981. It’s here that Jay believes he can make a fresh start. That is, until the night he impulsively saves a drowning woman’s life – and opens a Pandora’s Box. Her secrets put Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family, and even his life. But before he can get to the bottom of a tangled mystery that reaches into the upper echelons of Houston’s corporate power brokers, Jay must confront the demons of his past.
I am giving Black Water Rising by Attica Locke a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!