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!!

Friday, November 27, 2020

10 BOOK CLUB SUBSCRIPTION GIFTS FOR AVID READERS

 So welcome to Black Friday!! Are you looking for gift ideas for your book loving family members or bestie? Look no further! Book subscriptions may be the perfect gift to give this holiday season. I came across an article on Book Riot's website titled, 10 BOOK CLUB SUBSCRIPTION GIFTS TO TREAT YOUR BOOKISH BESTIES by Katie Moench. In the article, Katie Moench wrote the following:

Your book club has been there for you through good books and bad, and even if meetings have looked a little more virtual this year, your favorite bookish friends deserve a special gift. For readers, there’s nothing better than having a stream of new books to look forward to, so book club subscription gifts or boxes are a great choice to keep your book loving besties stocked with plenty of reading choices this winter.

Whether you’re looking to treat someone to a classic and a cup of coffee, some LBBTQ+ romance, or a service that will handpick books based on their interests, one of these book club subscription gifts is sure to be a good fit. Get some subscriptions set up for your fellow club members, and maybe yourself, and you’ll all have well-stocked TBRs by the new year!

Click on the above link to see which book club subscriptions made the list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto

 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto. This is my second read written by Banana Yoshimoto and I must say that her writing style is unique and distinct! In fact, Banana Yoshimoto's writing style is described as follows on Wikipedia:
Yoshimoto says that her two main themes are “the exhaustion of young Japanese in contemporary Japan” and “the way in which terrible experiences shape a person’s life”.

Her works describe the problems faced by youth, urban existentialism, and teenagers trapped between imagination and reality. Her works are targeted not only to the young and rebellious, but also to grown-ups who are still young at heart. Yoshimoto's characters, settings, and titles have a modern and American approach, but the core is Japanese. She addresses readers in a personal and friendly way, with warmth and outright innocence, writing about the simple things such as the squeaking of wooden floors or the pleasant smell of food. Food and dreams are recurring themes in her work which are often associated with memories and emotions. Yoshimoto admits that most of her artistic inspiration derives from her own dreams and that she’d like to always be sleeping and living a life full of dreams.

Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto is a surreal read with a focus on three different young women and their journey with spiritual sleep. Asleep is short and makes for interesting reading... But as much as I enjoyed the plot and interesting writing style by the author, it wasn't a novel I loved or would recommend as a must read novel.

Listening time for Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto is 4 hours, 47 minutes and narrated by Emily Zeller. Ms. Zeller is a good narrator and I enjoyed listening to her narrate, Asleep.

Below is the plot summary Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto from Goodreads:
The New York Daily News has called Asleep "enchanting, surreal...Yoshimoto brings readers to another powerful, atmospheric place". Demonstrating again the artful simplicity and depth of her vision, Banana Yoshimoto reestablishes her place as a writer of international stature in a book that may be her most delightful since Kitchen.

In Asleep, Yoshimoto spins the stories of three young women bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning for a lost lover, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, who has embarked on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself suddenly unable to stay awake. A third finds her sleep haunted by a woman against whom she was once pitted in a love triangle.

Sly and mystical as a ghost story, with a touch of Kafkaesque surrealism, Asleep is an enchanting new book from one of the best writers in contemporary international fiction.

I am giving Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Thanksgiving/I’m Thankful for… 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.

I am thankful/grateful that I've read the following thought provoking books this year by some amazing writers!

1. George by Alex Gino
2. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
3. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
4. Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens
5. Animal Farm by George Orwell
6. The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama
7. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
8. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
9. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
10. Missoula by Jon Krakauer

Have you read any of the books on my list?

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Bookseller - Documentary About Rare Book Dealers!

 

Over the weekend, my hubby and I watched The Bookseller, which is a documentary about rare book dealers. If you haven't seen this documentary and are a book lover, then this is a must watch. It's really engaging. 

Check out the trailer for The Bookseller above.

Friday, November 20, 2020

How to Read Shakespeare!

 


I have recently come across Lauren Wade's book vlog on YouTube and have enjoyed watching a few of the episodes in the past few weeks. 

I found Lauren's video on How to Read Shakespeare interesting for those readers that find reading Shakespeare's plays intimidating.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto


As a writer, Banana Yoshimoto, has been on the periphery of my radar for a few years. But until this year, I'd never anything by Banana Yoshimoto.

I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto and narrated by Emily Zeller.

Listening time for Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto is 3 hours, 34 minutes.

Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto is a collection of six short stories. All six of the short stories are unique and engaging. I liked them all quite a bit in their own way, but I think I prefer novels more than short stories. So, I'd like to read a full length novel next by Banana Yoshimoto.

Below is the plot summary for Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto from Audible:
Banana Yoshimoto's warm, witty, and heartfelt depictions of the lives of young Japanese have earned her international acclaim and best seller status, as well as a place among the best of contemporary Japanese literature. In Lizard, now available in Grove Press paperback, Yoshimoto deftly fuses traditional and pop culture to create contemporary portraits of love and life. These six tales explore themes of time, healing, and fate - and the journeys of self-discovery through which young urbanites come to terms with them.

In "Newlywed", an unhappily married young man deliberately misses his stop on the train, only to be questioned by a shape-shifting homeless man about the trials of his marriage. In "Blood and Water", a woman recalls how she left the village she grew up in - which was run by a New Age cult - in order to lead a fulfilling life, even against her parents' wishes. And in the title story, "Lizard", a woman who has never before felt truly secure in her life admits a deep secret to her lover - that she has the ability to heal others with her mind.

In different ways, these six stories explore what it takes to navigate the perils of the modern world as well as what it takes to reinvent one's self. Permeated by the author's own effervescent spin on magic realism, Lizard cements a special place for Yoshimoto in 20th-century Japanese fiction.

I am giving Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars. 

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

52 Podcasts For Booklovers!

Are you a book lover? Are looking to shake things up a bit? Then considering checking out a bookish related podcast or two! 

I discovered an article on Buzzfeed's website titled, 52 Podcasts For Every Type Of Book Lover by Kirby Beaton. I've only skimmed the podcast titles in the above mentioned article and what a few of them are about. Many of the podcasts sound very promising and provide a way to change up one's reading by incorporating podcasts into the mix.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

University of Iowa Virtual Book Club with Sheri Salata

 
On Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 5pm PST, I attended the University of Iowa Virtual Book Club with Sheri Salata. Read more about this event below:
Join the Iowa Women’s Leadership Network (IWLN) for a virtual book club showcasing Sheri Salata’s memoir, The Beautiful No: And Other Tales of Trial, Transcendence, and Transformation, with a special guest appearance by the author!

Salata (80BBA) is an author, speaker, and producer who worked with Oprah Winfrey for 20 years. The University of Iowa alumna’s inspirational memoir was named an Amazon best-selling new release and an Apple Must Listen audiobook.

Salata’s five-year stint as the final executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show was featured in the docuseries Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes. She also served as president of Harpo Studios and the Oprah Winfrey Network and was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Our discussion will celebrate Salata’s journey, empower readers to apply the lessons within the memoir to their future endeavors, and center around the IWLN’s mission to inspire women. Support your favorite local bookstore by purchasing her memoir and participating in this fun, interactive discussion with Salata, alumni, and friends.

I enjoyed watching this 45 minute virtual talk. Ms. Salata comes across as confident, passionate, and heartfelt. She was big on finding your joy, leading yourself, and radical self care.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Chat From the Old Cap: Joy Harjo (78MFA)

 

I am an alumni of the University of Iowa. I was very excited to attend an online virtual event titled, Chat From the Old Cap: Joy Harjo (78MFA), on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 at 1pm PST.

Joy Harjo is the current U. S. Poet Laureate and the first Native American to hold this position. Little did I know (until recently) that Joy Harjo earned her MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1978.

During the 45 minute discussion, we heard Joy Harjo read her poems Grace and American Sunrise, talk about her music as well as her two new Native American anthologies, and her experience as a student at the University of Iowa. 

Joy Harjo also gave writing advice when asked what advice she would give to those wanting to follow in her footsteps. To paraphrase, she essentially said don't follow in her footsteps... Make your own footsteps. Great advice!

Which virtual author events have you attended recently or will be attending soon?

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and narrated by Richard Armitage. I've been familiar with the term "Jekyll & Hyde" in reference to this novel and the application of using the phrase to describe a person's shift in personality from sweet to mean. But alas, I had never read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson until now.

I found the The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson to be a suspense novel... A thriller novel in fact. I also found The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde to be a tad on the slow side overall. I'm glad that I made the time to listen to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, but the best part of this novel for me was the narration by Richard Armitage.

Listening time for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is 3 hours, 7 minutes.

Below is the plot summary for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson from Audible:

Robert Louis Stevenson presents the suspenseful, eerie and captivating story of a ruthless scientist who sets out to liberate his inner demon from the firm clutches of his conscience.

Upon bearing witness to the extent of Mr Hyde's violent nature, Jekyll is horrified by his callous disregard for the welfare of others and greatly ashamed by the unstoppable nature of his ambition.

Eager to redeem himself, Jekyll sets out to capture and stop the bloodthirsty Mr Hyde, by any means necessary. However, in keeping with true gothic tradition, Dr Jekyll must now face a race against time as damning evidence is uncovered, and the investigating detectives and interested parties are brought right to his door.

Hailed by the Detective Club as 'one of the most amazing crime stories ever written', Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde was met with immediate critical approval, ensuring its success and popularity for years to come.

A highly accomplished Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson is also credited with stories of Treasure Island, A Child's Garden of Verses and Kidnapped. Arguably, however, none have contributed to English literature quite like the unique tale of Dr Jekyll and his monster, Mr Hyde.

I am giving The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

P. S. My hubby and I visited The Stevenson House in Monterey, California is April 2013!! The Stevenson House is where Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson lived in Monterey, California for three and a half months during 1879. A fantastic find!! Click on above link to read my post about our visit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Animal Farm by George Orwell

 

I finished listening to the unabridged audio version of Animal Farm by George Orwell narrated by Ralph Cosham. 

Listening time Animal Farm by George Orwell is 3 hours, 11 minutes.

This year marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of Animal Farm by George Orwell. Since I'd never read this important work of fiction, I thought I'd better go ahead and make the time to read Animal Farm and I'm glad that I read (or rather listened) to this novel.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a short, powerful read and well read by Ralph Cosham. I really enjoyed the preface to Animal Farm as it was a nice introduction to this important work.

I enjoyed the writing, storyline/plot developement and characters as well for Animal Farm by George Orwell. It's a chilling tale of how totalitarianism is a game changer in the worst sort of way! Betrayal in the worst kind of way ends this novella.

I've also learned that Animal Farm by George Orwell has been a banned book as well!

Below is the plot summary for Animal Farm by George Orwell from Audible:
George Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture, quoted so often that we tend to forget who wrote the original words. It is an account of the bold struggle that transforms Mr. Jones' Manor Farm into Animal Farm, a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal. Out of their cleverness, the pigs Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball emerge as leaders of the new community in a subtle evolution that bears an insidious familiarity. The climax is the brutal betrayal of the faithful horse Boxer, when totalitarian rule is re-established with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.

I am giving Animal Farm by George Orwell a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cain’s Jawbone - A literary puzzle solved for just third time in almost 100 years!!

I stumbled across an interesting article this morning on The Guardian's website titled, Literary puzzle solved for just third time in almost 100 years. In the article, I learned the following bit of information:

One of the world’s most fiendish literary puzzles – a murder mystery in which all the pages are out of order – has been solved for just the third time in almost a century.

Cain’s Jawbone was dreamed up by the Observer’s first cryptic crossword inventor, Edward Powys Mathers, who was known as Torquemada. First published in 1934, it invites the reader to reorder the book’s 100 pages – there are more than 32m possible combinations – and solve the murders within.

“The pages have been printed in an entirely haphazard and incorrect order, a fact which reflects little credit on somebody,” wrote Powys Mathers at the time. “The author assures his readers, however, that while it is now too late for him to remedy the ordering of the pages, it is quite possible for them, should they care to take the trouble, to re-order them correctly for themselves.”

Just two readers managed to solve the puzzle in the 1930s, Mr S Sydney-Turner and Mr W S Kennedy, both of whom won £25.

The solution was then thought to be lost, but three years ago the Laurence Sterne Trust was presented with a copy of The Torquemada Puzzle Book, and Shandy Hall curator Patrick Wildgust embarked on a mission to solve it. Once he did, the mystery was reissued last autumn by Unbound, with the publisher offering a £1,000 prize to anyone who could solve it within a year. It warned, however, that the competition was not “for the faint-hearted”, and that the puzzle was “phenomenally difficult”.
John Finnemore, British comedy writer and creator of Radio 4’s Cabin Pressure, was one of 12 entrants, and the only one to get the answer right. He said Cain’s Jawbone was “far and away the most difficult puzzle I’ve ever attempted”.

Wow, Cain's Jawbone sounds like an incredibly difficult literary puzzle to solve with 32 million possible combinations!! I wish I had known about Cain's Jawbone earlier in the year (around the time the initial pandemic lock down began) as it would have been fun staving off boredom by attempting to solve this literary puzzle during shelter in place with all that extra free time... I suppose it is never to late to begin trying to solve this literary puzzle on my own though. 

I'll let you know if I decide to move forward in trying to save Cain's Jawbone!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata

 

I received a FREE advanced reader's copy of Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata and illustrated by Marianna Raskin through the Goodreads Giveaway program. 

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata.

Cynthia Kadohata is a new to me author this year and one of her previous novels, The Thing About Luck, became the 2013 National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature.

I initially liked Saucy a lot more in the beginning than I did later in the novel. However, I enjoyed reading Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata overall. Saucy is a children's book with a girl named, Becca, as the leading character, which I enjoyed very much as I like seeing women/girls as leading characters in novels. Becca is a quadruplet and has three brothers for siblings. Becca's brothers all seem to be really good at something, but Becca feels she doesn't have any special talents like her brothers do.  

Becca, her brothers, parents and grandmother are a tight knit family and all live together in Ohio. As a family, they take nightly walks together. They soon discover an abandoned baby pig in the bushes that was very sick on one of their nightly walks. They rescue this baby pig, which survives and becomes their pet pig, Saucy. Saucy, the pig, becomes Becca's main purpose and gives her direction as she goes about caring for Saucy. In fact, the entire family falls for Saucy and her antics, but a growing pig becomes too much to care for when you do not live on a farm... So, Saucy is given to a pig sanctuary.

Eventually, we learn that Becca and her family live near a pig factory farm they didn't even know existed. Becca and her brothers sneak into the factory farm late one night without their parents knowledge. The kids are horrified by what they find at this farm and decide to rescue nine baby pigs from a horrifying life on the factory farm. One brother even snaps several photos with his smartphone, which they eventually use to make flyers and distribute within their community with help of their friends... The purpose to show the horrors of factory farming. It is eventually realized that Saucy must have come from this same factory farm and some how escaped or was disposed of because she was sick.

Becca feels good about rescuing the pigs. This seems to be her goal/talent in wanting to help animals. Who knows? Maybe Becca will eventually become a vet when she grows up?

Becca also makes up with a friend she feels guilty for abandoning and the two girls become fast friends once again. We even see a budding romance start to grow between Becca's friend and one of her brothers.

Below is the plot summary for Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata from Goodreads:
A story about a girl and her ever-growing pig, Saucy.

Being a quadruplet can make it hard to stand out from the crowd. Becca’s three brothers all have something that makes them...them. Jake has his music and dancing, Jammer plays hockey, and K.C. thinks they’re all living in a simulation and doesn’t see the point of doing much of anything. Becca is the only one with nothing to make her special.

But when she finds a tiny, sick piglet on the side of the road, Becca knows this is it. This is her thing. She names the piglet Saucy and between her own pleading and Saucy’s sweet, pink face, Becca convinces her family to take her in. Soon, Saucy is as big a part of the family as anyone else—and getting bigger. With each pound Saucy gains, the more capable she becomes of destroying the house and landing Becca in trouble.

Some tough decisions need to be made about Becca’s pet, and her search for solutions brings to light exactly where Saucy came from. Turns out, there are a lot more scared piglets out there, and saving them may take Becca and her brothers finally doing something together.
I am giving Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

 


I listened to the unabridged audio version of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata and narrated by Nancy Wu.

Listening time for Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is 3 hours, 21 minutes.

I've heard a lot of buzz surrounding Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, so I decided to give this novel a listen. I am glad I gave this novel a try as it was surprising good! I enjoyed the storyline and main character, Keiko, for Convenience Store WomanIt's an interesting novel that examines the notion of what it means to fit into society, what it means to be normal, along with examining traditional gender and societal stereotypes about relationships, etc. Convenience Store Woman is a novel that definitely makes you think about what it means to "fit in" and feel a sense of "belonging" within one's culture/community. 

Also, I found Nancy Wu to be a good narrator.

Below is the plot summary for Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata from Amazon:
The English-language debut of one of Japan’s most talented contemporary writers, selling over 650,000 copies there, Convenience Store Woman is the heartwarming and surprising story of thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura. Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but when at the age of eighteen she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of “Smile Mart,” she finds peace and purpose in her life. In the store, unlike anywhere else, she understands the rules of social interaction―many are laid out line by line in the store’s manual―and she does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a “normal” person excellently, more or less. Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. It’s almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. Keiko is very happy, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, increasingly pressure her to find a husband, and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action…

A brilliant depiction of an unusual psyche and a world hidden from view, Convenience Store Woman is an ironic and sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures to conform, as well as a charming and completely fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.

I am giving Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy ready!!