Friday, October 30, 2020

The Other Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James


I received an uncorrected proof copy of The Other Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James through the Goodreads Giveaways program. This is the first novel I've read by Simone St. James.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Other Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James.

The Other Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James is a work of historical fiction set in London, England in 1925. This novel also falls into the mystery genre as well and offers a romance (plays a small part in the novel). I love that The Other Other Side of Midnight incorporates my two favorite genres - historical fiction and mystery, which made for a fun read.

Simone St. James's writing is good. I liked the major characters, plot development, and how the plot unfolds throughout this novel. I did find that the storyline was a bit slow in some parts though, but overall the storyline is engaging for the most part. 

The murderer was a complete surprise that I didn't see coming, which I guess is a good thing in a way... However, I felt the murderer's backstory and why he/she did it wasn't developed as much as I would have liked it to have been.

Below is the summary for The Other Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James from Goodreads:
London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

I'm giving The Other Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

10 of the Best Historical Mystery Series for Your Reading Pleasure!

I must admit that I love reading both historical fiction novels and also mystery novels. Combine the two genres and create a series of books with a central main character and I will be thrilled! 

So, when I came across an article this morning on Book Riot's website titled, 10 HISTORICAL MYSTERY SERIES by Chris M. Arnone, I excitedly looked forward to discovering some new to me book series!!

I wasn't disappointed with what I discovered in Chris M. Arnone's article. I haven't read any of the books mentioned in any of the ten book series listed. Additionally, I am only vaguely familiar with three of the book series by name mentioned Chris M. Arnone's article and the remaining seven book series are new to me.

If you're looking to start reading a new book series that falls into both the historical fiction and mystery genres, then click on the above link to learn more.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Read in Color: Announcing Little Free Library’s Diverse Books Initiative

 I recently learned about Little Free Library's new initiative called Read In Color

Read in Color is a new initiative bringing diverse books to Little Free Library book-sharing boxes around the world. Kicking off in the Twin Cities, Read in Color will distribute books that provide perspectives on racism and social justice, celebrate BIPOC and LGBTQ voices, and incorporate experiences from all identities for all readers.

We believe everyone should be able to see themselves in the pages of a book. We also know that books can be a window into experiences that are different from our own. By reading diverse books, we can increase understanding, empathy, and inclusion.

Are you ready to Read in Color?

To learn more about Read in Color initiative and to sign the Read in Color pledge, click the link above!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Four New to Me Little Free Libraries in Solana Beach, California

 So, I spent roughly 6.5 weeks in San Diego, California with my parents as an escape from the major fires and smoke that ravaged the San Francisco Bay Area/Northern California regions recently. 

It was a wonderful reprieve to getaway from the smoke and bad AQI for awhile and spend quality time with my parents.

Below are four photographs of new to me Little Free Libraries I discovered with my mom. We just happened to drive around a particular neighborhood and voila, we found four Little Free Libraries. How cool is that?

Have you found any Little Free Libraries lately?

Monday, October 19, 2020

Little Free Library in San Diego, California + Harper's Topiary Garden


My mom and I visited Harper's Topiary in downtown 
San Diego at the end of September, which was so cool to see in person!!
So what exactly is Harper's Topiary? 
I'm glad you asked!
Harper's Topiary is a topiary garden located in a residential neighborhood,
is very easy to find, and is free to view.
Harper's Topiary is part of someone's personal garden
and located on private property.
What a great way to make use of one's yard space 
with unique landscaping. 
See panoramic photo below.

After visiting Harper's Topiary, my mom and I
I discovered a Little Free Library right on the border to
this property and the next property. So, I'm not exactly sure
which physical address the Little Free Library belongs to.
The good news is that we had books with us to leave at this
Little Free Library. 

See above photo of my mom standing
next to the Little Free Library. 
The Little Free Library is just to the right of
Harper's Topiary.

Harper's Topiary - 3549 Union St, San Diego, CA 92103

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

I received an uncorrected proof paperback copy of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman through the Goodreads Giveaways program for FREE.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

I basically chose to read Norse Mythology for two main reasons:

1) I was not all that familiar with Norse Mythology; other than knowing the names of four of the Norse gods/goddesses. 

2) Neil Gaiman seems to have a huge fan base and is almost a god himself in the writing/literary world.

However, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman fell flat, in my opinion. I didn't enjoy the stories much as I found them to be boring and formulaic in nature. 

As far as Neil Gaiman's writing goes, I'm not crazy about it. Norse Mythology is the third encounter I've had with Gaiman's writing and I'll take a pass on reading anything else written by him.

Below is the plot summary for Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman from Goodreads:
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor's hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
I am giving Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama


I received an uncorrected proof in paperback of The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama through the Goodreads Giveaways program for FREE earlier this year. I've wanted to read a novel by Gail Tsukiyama since the mid to late 1990s, so I was thrilled to finally read one of her novels this year!

Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama.

I truly enjoyed reading The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama!! The Color of Air is a work of historical fiction set in Hilo, Hawaii. It's a very atmospheric read weaving many elements of island life for Japanese-Americans whose lives are tied to working on the sugar plantations or fishing for a living. The eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano near the start of the novel plays a large role in the novel as well.

I enjoyed reading about the lives of the main characters Daniel, Koji, and Mariko as well as those of the supporting characters too. Gail Tsukiyama's writing is really good. I love the short, tight chapters and the juxtaposition of past and present in The Color of Air.

Below is the plot summary for The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama from Goodreads:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Women of the Silk and The Samurai's Garden comes a gorgeous and evocative historical novel about a Japanese-American family set against the backdrop of Hawai’i's sugar plantations.

Daniel Abe, a young doctor in Chicago, is finally coming back to Hawai'i. He has his own reason for returning to his childhood home, but it is not to revisit the past, unlike his Uncle Koji. Koji lives with the memories of Daniel’s mother, Mariko, the love of his life, and the scars of a life hard-lived. He can’t wait to see Daniel, who he’s always thought of as a son, but he knows the time has come to tell him the truth about his mother, and his father. But Daniel’s arrival coincides with the awakening of the Mauna Loa volcano, and its dangerous path toward their village stirs both new and long ago passions in their community.

Alternating between past and present—from the day of the volcano eruption in 1935 to decades prior—The Color of Air interweaves the stories of Daniel, Koji, and Mariko to create a rich, vibrant, bittersweet chorus that celebrates their lifelong bond to one other and to their immigrant community. As Mauna Loa threatens their lives and livelihoods, it also unearths long held secrets simmering below the surface that meld past and present, revealing a path forward for them all.
I am giving The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz

I received a finished paperback copy of Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz through the Goodreads Giveaways program for FREE.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz.

Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz is cozy mystery novel set in Seattle, Washington. It's the first novel in 'A Spice Shop Mystery' series. I really enjoyed the plot, storyline, characters, and flow of this cozy mystery novel. I didn't guess whodunnit and why until the very end, which is a definite plus in my book. 

My favorite part of Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz was the setting of Seattle, Washington and Pike Market Place more specifically. I briefly visited Seattle, Washington 12 years ago in 2008 and loved visiting Pike Market Place as well as the Space Needle with my husband. 

Below is the plot summary for Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz from Goodreads:
The Agatha Award-winning author of Crime Rib is proud to introduce Pepper Reece, the owner of the Seattle Spice Shop who thinks she can handle any kind of salty customer—until a murderer ends up in the mix…

After leaving a dicey marriage and losing a beloved job in a corporate crash, Pepper Reece has found a new zest for life running a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are the talk of the town, and everyone stops by for a cup of her refreshing spice tea, even other shopkeepers and Market regulars. But when a panhandler named Doc shows up dead on the store’s doorstep, a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, the local gossip gets too hot for Pepper to handle—especially after the police arrest one of Pepper’s staffers, Tory Finch, for murder.

Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but she refuses to do anything to curry favor with the cops. Convinced her reticent employee is innocent, Pepper takes it on herself to sniff out some clues. Only, if she’s not careful, Pepper’s nosy ways might make her next on the killer’s list…
I am giving Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Romanov by Nadine Brandes


I love reading historical fiction. I am also fascinated by almost anything pertaining to the Romanov Dynasty. So with that said, I couldn't pass up listening to the unabridged audio version of Romanov by Nadine Brandes and narrated by Jessica Ball.

Listening time for Romanov by Nadine Brandes is 11 hours, 2 minutes.

I truly enjoyed listening to Romanov by Nadine Brandes. It has a great storyline, good writing and plot development as well as good characterization. Romanov is told through the point of view of Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, about the last days of the Romanov family. This novel also contains an alternative ending to what may have happened to the family. So kudos to the author for creativity.

Romanov by Nadine Brandes falls into not only the historical fiction genre, but the young adult genre as well. There is also strong romance elements contained within Romanov, which made for a fun read.

Below is the plot summary for Romanov by Nadine Brandes from Audible:
My name is Anastasia.... The history books say I died.... They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad...and he’s on the other.
I am giving Romanov by Nadine Brandes a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer


I finished listening to the unabridged audio version of Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer in August of this year. The contents presented within Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town made my skin crawl and my blood boil. I knew going in that this nonfiction book was going to be a rough read based on the topic of rape. But just how rough was an entirely different matter altogether.

Rape is such an ugly crime. It’s also one of the most unreported violent crimes (if not the number one unreported violent crime) in the United States. To make matters worse, rapes that are reported rarely make it to trial. Additionally, women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most likely demographic to be be raped. Other statistics regarding rape are simply appalling as well.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town is the first book I've read by Jon Krakauer. It is a well written book. I enjoyed how the content was presented and look forward to reading more books written by Jon Krakauer.

Below is a summary for Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer from the author's website:
Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, home to a highly regarded state university whose beloved football team inspires a passionately loyal fan base. Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

In these pages, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. These stories cut through abstract ideological debate about acquaintance rape to demonstrate that it does not happen because women are sending mixed signals or seeking attention. They are victims of a terrible crime, deserving of fairness from our justice system. Rigorously researched, rendered in incisive prose, Missoula stands as an essential call to action.
I am giving Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I've Read With Super Long Book Titles

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.

Below are 10 books I've read with super long book titles.

1. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

5. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

6. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

7. The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts by Siân Rees

8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

9. The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World by Greg King and Sue Woolmans

10. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch

Monday, October 12, 2020

George by Alex Gino



I read George by Alex Gino for Banned Books Week 
last month as this middle school
novel has been the number one banned book in recent years.

George by Alex Gino is a phenomenal novel!
The writing is marvelous, poignant, and timely. 
The storyline is very engaging.
I love the characters for this novel.
George by Alex Gino deals with LGBTQ themes.
In fact, many of the top ten most recently challenged books
have LGBTQ themes to them.

Below is the summary for George by Alex Gino from Goodreads:

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.

George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part... because she's a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte—but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

I am giving George by Alex Gino a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!