Thursday, April 30, 2020

Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke and narrated by Will Patton. Wayfaring Stranger is the first novel in the 'A Holland Family' series.

Listening time for Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke is 13 hours, 6 minutes.

Prior to listening to Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke, I'd listened to and reviewed two previous novels by James Lee Burke - Crusader's Cross by James Lee Burke and Rain Gods by James Lee Burke. Both novels were narrated by Will Patton and both novels were excellent.

So with that in mind, I was excited to listen to Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke. However, when all was said and done, I wasn't that excited about this novel. I loved the characters for Wayfaring Stranger as James Lee Burke is great at creating interesting characters. The storyline wasn't all that compelling to me. The plot had too much emphasis on the good verses bad motif for my liking. Additionally, the writing for Wayfaring Stranger felt formulaic.

As always, Will Patton is an excellent narrator. I could listen to just about anything he narrates.

The following is a summary for Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke from Audible:
From "America’s best novelist" (The Denver Post): a sprawling thriller drenched with atmosphere and intrigue that takes a young boy from a chance encounter with Bonnie and Clyde to the trenches of World War II and the oil fields along the Texas-Louisiana coast.

It is 1934 and the Depression is bearing down when 16-year-old Weldon Avery Holland happens upon infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after one of their notorious armed robberies. A confrontation with the outlaws ends as Weldon puts a bullet through the rear window of Clyde’s stolen automobile. Ten years later, Second Lieutenant Weldon Holland and his sergeant, Hershel Pine, escape certain death in the Battle of the Bulge and encounter a beautiful young woman named Rosita Lowenstein hiding in a deserted extermination camp. Eventually, Weldon and Rosita fall in love and marry and, with Hershel, return to Texas to seek their fortunes. There, they enter the domain of jackals known as the oil business. They meet Roy Wiseheart - a former Marine aviator haunted with guilt for deserting his squadron leader over the South Pacific and Roy’s wife, Clara, a vicious anti-Semite who is determined to make Weldon and Rosita’s life a nightmare. It will be the frontier justice upheld by Weldon’s grandfather, Texas lawman Hackberry Holland, and the legendary antics of Bonnie and Clyde that shape Weldon’s plans for saving his family from the evil forces that lurk in peacetime America and threaten to destroy them all.
I'm giving Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke a rating of 2.5 stars out of 5 stars. I will not continue reading the rest of the 'A Holland Family' series.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Secret Library Inside a Bed & Breakfast Inn!!

A friend of mine sent me a link to this online article titled, There’s a Secret Library That Opens Up When You Pull a Special Book in This Hotel Room by Sara Barnes. In the article, Ms. Barnes wrote:
If you visit the “100 Years of Hollywood” room at the Bella Vista Bed and Breakfast in Coloma Lotus, California, you’ll find that there’s something extra as part of your stay. The homey accommodation is equipped with a hidden quarter that you can only access by opening a special book on the bookshelf and pulling it open from there. Marc B├Ąchtold, a content creator for tourism and hospitality, revealed the room’s secret while staying there as a guest. His video makes it look every bit as charming as it sounds.
This well-appointed accommodation is comfortable sans the secret room, but its addition adds cozy whimsy to a getaway. While the main room is inspired by old Hollywood, the extra space has a different vibe. “The hidden room is a two-story library with a winged back chair, large picture window, and art gallery wall,” B├Ąchtold explains to My Modern Met. Together, the rooms offer striking views of the South Fork American River and the hotel grounds, which feature ponds, streams, waterfalls, and more.
Click on the above link to watch a video and see a pictures of “100 Years of Hollywood” room at the Bella Vista Bed and Breakfast in Coloma Lotus, California. I would love to visit this place in the future with my husband.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

New Little Free Library in San Ramon, California

801 Ladera Corte, San Ramon, California 94583

My husband and I have been pretty much home bound with the shelter in place happening currently due to COVID-19. We've only left our home to grab the mail every few days, take out the trash to the dumpster in our complex, walk around our neighborhood for fresh air and exercise, and on rare occasions make runs to the supermarket for essential goods that we couldn't get delivered to our front doorstep. 

However, last Sunday the weather was sunny, warm, and beautiful outdoors here in San Ramon, California. We wanted to make a brief outing that wasn't just walking around the neighborhood. I soon discovered that a new Little Free Library had popped up in our community, so we headed over to find it. I left 5 books inside this new and very cute Little Free Library. I didn't bother with taking any books home with me. I have way to many books to read or listen to as it is. I'm trying to reduce my book stacks.

Yes, I'm wearing a face mask! No, I'm not sick. I'm simply following the recommended protocols/rules and keeping safe by wearing a face mask in public as needed. Plus, we're required to carry a face mask with us at all times even when we're outdoors. Definitely interesting times we're living in. Stay safe everyone.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey

I've had The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey in my 'to be read' pile since January 2012. I purchased a used paperback copy of this mystery novel at the FOL Used Bookstore in Carpinteria, California. In an effort to read many of the older, unread books in my collection, I decided to read this book next!! I like mystery novels, so it was an easy decision to read this novel next.

The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey is the 7th mystery novel in the 
The Rei Shimura Series. I enjoyed the premise behind this mystery novel and the happy ending for this novel. The writing is done well enough by the author. BUT the interactions between many of the characters and the sometimes superfluous drama created by the author was a major turn off to me.

The following is a summary for The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey from Amazon:
The seventh book in Sujata Massey's Agatha and Macavity Award–winning mystery series is a witty, suspenseful story that takes its young sleuth into the Washington DC restaurant world.
A dazzling engagement ring and the promise of a fresh start bring antiques dealer and sometime sleuth Rei Shimura to Washington, DC. But just as she's starting to settle down –catching up with a long–lost cousin and undertaking a lucrative commission furnishing a trendy Japanese restaurant nearby – things begin to go haywire. First, her cousin vanishes from the restaurant's opening–night party, and then Rei is drafted to help find a Japanese war bride who disappeared 30 years earlier.
The search for both missing women becomes suspiciously linked, and along the way, Rei faces truths about herself that may change her destiny – if she lives long enough.
I am giving The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey a rating of 2 stars our of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz

I'm always on the look out to be a better, healthier version of myself from improving my sleep, exercising more, stressing less, eating better and healing/stabilizing my complex regional pain syndrome (crps). With that in mind, I chose to read the paperback edition of The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz as I wanted to explore what this book had to offer in terms of improving my diet and overall health based on this book's summary. 

In all honesty, I sometimes find it difficult in deciding whether to review health and diet related books I read here on my book blog. I'm not a doctor, registered dietitian, nutritionist, or other qualified health professional, which is part of my hang up/lack of desire in reviewing books online that pertain to health and diet. I'm a book reader and book reviewer, so of course, I want to review what I read and post book reviews here on my blog. So, my review of The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz is just that a book review, not an endorsement or recommendation to try a certain diet. I leave health and diet recommendations up to the medical professionals to do. This has me wondering though, do other bloggers hesitate reviewing heath and diet related books on their blogs?

So, onward with my book review! Overall, I'm not sure how I feel about the content of The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz... or if this particular diet would be a good fit for me to try. 

Below are a few of the pros and cons for me regarding The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz.

Pros For Me:

* Well organized book divided into 7 major sections with several chapters covering pertinent information the authors wanted readers to know about The Body Ecology Diet within each of the major sections.
* Short, bite sized chunks of information to absorb and understand within each chapter with bold headings that make it easier to refer back to a particular section within a chapter when needed.
* Recipes in the back of the book to help one start eating meals that are Body Ecology Diet approved.

Cons For Me:

* The Body Ecology Diet seems fairly restrictive.
* There seems to be a lot of rules/things to remember in following the Body Ecology Diet. Maybe over time one would easily master the diet, but it seems like a lot to learn in the beginning.
* I'm not onboard with some of ideas needed to follow the Body Ecology Diet.
* The author heavily promotes a lot of her own products to use/consume during the Body Ecology Diet. These products may be excellent products and convenient to purchase, but the author plugging her own products felt like a lot of self promotion to me and another way to make money.
* This book was originally published in the mid-1990s and revised in 2011. So the content/writing felt a bit dated.

Below is a summary for The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz from Amazon:
If you’re experiencing discomfort, fatigue, or other symptoms that won’t go away no matter what you do or how many doctors you see, chances are you’re one of the millions unknowingly suffering from a systemic fungal/yeast infection, "the hidden invader." The result of an imbalance starting in your internal ecosystem, this can be a key factor in headaches, joint and muscle pain, depression, cancer, food allergies, digestive problems, autism, and other immune-related disorders. The Body Ecology Diet reveals how to restore and maintain the "inner ecology" your body needs to function properly, and eliminate or control the symptoms that rob you of the joy of living. Tens of thousands of people have already benefited from the Body Ecology way of life—Donna Gates shows you, step-by-step, how to eat your way to better health and well-being . . . deliciously, easily, and inexpensively! In this book, you will learn how to: use seven basic universal principles as tools to gain mastery over every health challenge you may encounter; focus on your inner ecology to create ideal digestive balance; conquer cravings with strategies for satisfying snacking and for dining away from home; and plan meals with dozens of delectable recipes, an array of menus, and detailed shopping lists.
I am not giving The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates with Linda Schatz a rating like I normally would for other books I've read in the past.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

How Margaret Atwood is making sense of the COVID-19 pandemic

I enjoyed listening to this author interview
with Margaret Atwood. Her take on the COVID-19 pandemic
is interesting and enlightening.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Becoming by Michelle Obama and narrated by the author.

Listening time for Becoming by Michelle Obama is 19 hours, 3 minutes.

In case you haven't already heard, Becoming is former First Lady Michelle Obama's memoir. I really, deeply, truly, loved this memoir from start to finish... And one of my favorite features was hearing Michelle Obama narrate her memoir. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama has a prologue, which is then followed by three sections titled, 'Becoming Me' (covers Michelle Obama's early life), followed by 'Becoming Us' (covers Barack and Michelle Obama's early life together), and lastly 'Becoming More' (covers the Obamas' life in the White House) and finally Becoming concludes with an epilogue.

I loved the pace and tone for this memoir. Michelle Obama gives enough detailed information about the various aspects of her life without skimping on the details, but she never goes overboard with too much detail either. Becoming is a nicely balanced memoir focusing fairly equally on Michelle Obama's life from her childhood on the south side of Chicago through the last day spent in the White House and everything in between. I felt Michelle Obama was candid and genuine in the telling of her life. She comes across as a confident, strong, caring, and compassionate woman. 

Below is a summary for Becoming by Michelle Obama from Audible:
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As first lady of the United States of America - the first African American to serve in that role - she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the US and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites listeners into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it - in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations - and whose story inspires us to do the same.
I am giving Becoming by Michelle Obama a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

I received an advanced uncorrected paperback proof copy of The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman through the Goodreads Giveaway program. 

Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman.

I first began reading The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman in June of 2019, but kept putting put off finishing it for other books until this year. My initial beef with this novel was I couldn't stand the secondary character of Bear Bavinsky. Bear Bavinsky is an artist on the level of one of the great masters and he is a major narcissist/jerk! Bear Bavinsky is a womanizer and is married several times throughout this novel. We learn by the end of the novel that Bear has a total of 17 children by several different women. He isn't a good husband or father for that matter as everything always revolves around him.

The main character for The Italian Teacher is Charles 'Pinch' Bavinsky. Pinch (Charles's nickname) is Bear Bavinsky's son. The novel is primarily about Pinch's life from early boyhood in the 1950s until his death in 2010. The Italian Teacher is told mainly from Pinch's point of view. Pinch stands in the shadow of his father's greatness trying to make something of his own life. Pinch's parents divorce early on in the novel. Additionally, Pinch's mom, Natalie, is a minor artist (potter) in her own right, but she comes across as scatterbrained and worn down trying to raise her son on her own. Pinch continually tries to garner his father's love, attention, and approval throughout much of his life to no avail as Bear rebuffs any attempts at closeness or to even show any kind of genuine fatherly love/affection. Bear remains distant and aloof, never giving much praise or attention to Pinch or any of his children that I can tell. 

Interestingly enough though, Pinch becomes his father's favorite child as Pinch appears to be the only one of Bear Bavinsky's children to have direct access to their father in Bear's later years. Additionally, Pinch is the only child to inherit anything from their father's estate upon Bear Bavinsky's sudden death. This sets Pinch at odds with his half siblings. Essentially, Pinch becomes his dad's favorite child because he kowtows to his father's whims.

Tom Rachman is a good writer. There are lots of unexpected twists and turns in The Italian Teacher, especially the last half of the novel. Pinch may never have become the person he expected/wanted to become, but he does become successful in his own unexpected way by the end of the novel.

P. S. I love the colorful cover art for The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman.

The following is a plot summary for The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman from Amazon:
A masterful novel about the son of a great painter striving to create his own legacy, by the bestselling author of The Imperfectionists.
Conceived while his father, Bear, cavorted around Rome in the 1950s, Pinch learns quickly that Bear's genius trumps all. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy of his father's attention--first trying to be a painter himself; then resolving to write his father's biography; eventually settling, disillusioned, into a job as an Italian teacher in London. But when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father's legacy--and make his own mark on the world.

With his signature humanity and humor, Tom Rachman examines a life lived in the shadow of greatness, cementing his place among his generation's most exciting literary voices
I'm so glad that I finally finished reading this novel, even if I was initially put off by Bear Bavinsky's personality and Pinch's wimpiness. I am giving The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 star.

Until my next post, happy reading!!