Friday, April 16, 2021

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes and narrated by the author. 

I like reading memoirs and also learning about the lives of those born and raised in different countries and cultures... And Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes fit the bill. As a side note, I am also particularly interested in Filipino culture and Filipino lives as my husband is Filipino-American. Learning about the country, people, and culture he came from is fascinating to me. Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes is written by a woman born and raised in the Philippines, so I was drawn to her coming of age memoir.

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes is a tough read as we learn about the author's family rise and fall from grace and their life of extreme riches to extreme poverty. Life turns on a dime for the author's family as the life of opulence beyond imagination goes south fast and the family is torn apart. It's a story of resilience and overcoming the horrors one is forced to live with as a child due to parents that make poor choices when difficult times come their way. 

It's really the children that seem to suffer the most when their parents make poor choices/decisions after hard times hit. But the author finds a way to overcome the lifestyle mistakes/choices made by her parents and pulls herself out of circumstance that seemed insurmountable. For that I applaud Cinelle Barnes.

Listening time for Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes is 9 hours, 1 minute. I didn't like the audio quality for this book. I also wish someone else had narrated this memoir instead of the author as I felt her reading of her own memoir was bland.

Below is a summary for Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes from Audible:
Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansion is a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it.

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth - underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family - and what it takes to grow up.

I also came across this YouTube video of Cinelle Barnes being interviewed by Nia Ita. 

I am giving Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Wanda Coleman reads her poem "Prove It Why Don't You"

Wanda Coleman (November 13, 1946 – November 22, 2013) was an American poet. and was known as "the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles".

Monday, April 12, 2021

Three New to Me Little Free Library Finds!

Earlier this month, my husband I found three new to us Little Free Libraries on April 2, 2021!

Two of the Little Free Libraries were in Danville, California and one was in San Ramon. California. I left behind nine books total at the Little Free Libraries we discovered, but didn't take any home with me. I have so many books to read, it isn't even funny!!

In Danville, California, we actually saw three wild peacocks roaming
the neighborhood where we discovered the second Little Free Library. I actually captured video footage of one of the
peacocks strutting around with plumes on display. It was quite a sight to behold!! Unfortunately, I can't seem to upload the video of the peacock.

1072 Ocho Rios Drive, Danville, California 94526

1056 Westridge Avenue, Danville CA 94526

2128 Estrella Court, San Ramon CA 94583

 Have you visited any new to you Little Free Libraries recently?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Spirit is Willing (Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery #2) by Max McCoy


I love a good cozy mystery novel! And The Spirit is Willing (Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery #2) by Max McCoy sounded like a good fit for me as it is not only a cozy mystery novel, but also mixes the paranormal element to it and is set during the 1800s for a historical fiction vibe too.

I liked the main character of Ophelia Wylde as she is no nonsense and is psychic. She is a widow, use to be con artist and does dress in men's clothing, which is unusual for the times. I also like a few of the other minor characters as well.

The writing is decent overall for The Spirit is Willing (Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery #2) by Max McCoy. Initially, I thought this cozy mystery novel started off kind of rocky as the first few chapters left me wondering where it was headed. The focus seemed to be on a variety of different characters and events that seemed to be unrelated to each other, however things changed several chapters in and the novel became more cohesive.

Below is a summary for The Spirit is Willing (Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery #2) by Max McCoy from Amazon:
In the Old West, murder is a way of life. But psychic detective Ophelia Wylde is dealing out her own brand of justice by talking to the victims . . . after they’re dead.

Ghost In The Machine

It’s one of the strangest trials in Colorado history. A “spirit photographer” is accused of fraud, and Ophelia Wylde agrees to examine the man’s ghostly portraits and testify in court. In a sealed room, she is presented with five photographs. Four are obvious fakes. But one photo—featuring a powerful politician, Jackson Miles, with a sorrowful ghost in chains behind his shoulder—is the real McCoy. When Ophelia makes contact, the spirit is in such agony that she’s unable to learn anything but his name: Angus Wright. Intrigued, Ophelia sets out to learn more about the wronged Mr. Wright and discovers he was murdered nearly twenty years ago during the Gold Rush. The politician is somehow involved, and Ophelia has to watch her step. Because the living are much more dangerous than the dead . . .
I am giving The Spirit is Willing (Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mystery #2) by Max McCoy a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Ranger, and Other Stories by Zane Grey


The western genre is one I am normally not drawn to or one I find very captivating. However, in an effort to expand my reading horizons, I decided to read something from the western genre this year. Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour are the two biggest names I know of in the western genre arena. I decided to go with a short story collection written by Zane Grey dealing with the themes of love and adventure.

I ended up enjoying the audio version of
 The Ranger, and Other Stories by Zane Grey and narrated by Robert G. Slade. There are a total of four short stories in this collection, which include the following stories: "The Ranger", "Canyon Walls", "Avalanche", and "From Missouri". Both "Avalanche" and "From Missouri" were my two favorite short stories.

Listening time for The Ranger, and Other Stories by Zane Grey is 6 hours, 50 minutes and is well narrated by Robert G. Slade.

Below is a summary for The Ranger, and Other Stories by Zane Grey from Audible:
Four tales of love and adventure in the Old West introduce a cast of characters that includes a brave Texas ranger who risks his life against avenging outlaws to rescue the woman he secretly loves; a beautiful seductress who comes between two brothers; a desperate fugitive who seeks sanctuary with a peace-loving people; and a daring young schoolteacher who journeys West to meet the man who has captured her heart.
I am giving The Ranger, and Other Stories by Zane Grey a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Ethel at 100 by Ishmael Reed


Here is another awesome poem titled, Ethel at 100, which is written and read by Ishmael Reed.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

La Conchita by T. C. Boyle


Yes, to finally reading something written by T. C. Boyle!! He's been on my radar for more than a decade now

I listened to the unabridged audio version of La Conchita by T. C. Boyle from Audible, which was narrated by the author. Listening time for La Conchita by T. C. Boyle is 29 minutes.

La Conchita by T. C. Boyle is a short story set along the central coast of California between the cities of Ventura and Carpinteria in the hamlet of La Conchita, California.

For sixteen years, my husband and I lived in Carpinteria, California. The community of La Conchita is nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean just a few minutes south of Carpinteria as you drive along the 101 Freeway southward towards Ventura.

Because I am familiar with La Conchita and the mudslide that hit this small community, I couldn't resist hearing T. C. Boyle read his short story, La Conchita. It's a fun, suspenseful and engaging short story and I am glad I listened to it.

Below is the plot summary for La Conchita by T. C. Boyle from Audible:
Gordon is a delivery driver with a predilection toward road rage, and he's on the most important delivery of his life. In Santa Barbara there's a mother of three on life support waiting for Gordon, waiting for the liver he's transporting from Los Angeles. But there's a mudslide, and cars are being swept away, people being buried in the sludge. And Gordon, who's as far from a hero as they come, has to find a way to get the liver to Santa Barbara.
I am giving La Conchita by T. C. Boyle a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars!

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

I had Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey on my reading wishlist for quite a while. I finally read the ebook edition of this novella last month during Women's History Month.

I really enjoyed reading Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey. It's described as a 'pulp western' novella by the author and is set in the USA in the near future after society has collapsed into a military state. 

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey deals with queer identity and how fascism/fascist governments can control the flow of information within a society, etc. This novella focuses mainly on queer identity and what that means for the main character, Esther Augustus. Esther is a young woman who runs away to escape being forced into an arranged marriage by her father to an older man she does not love. 

To make matters worse, Esther has witnessed the hanging of her secret lover, Beatriz. Beatriz was hung for deviance and for possession of unapproved materials prior to the start of Upright Women Wanted. Before Beatriz had been hung, she had been betrothed to the older man that Esther found herself betrothed to after Beatriz's public hanging. 

Esther becomes a stowaway on a wagon belonging to the female librarians that deliver approved reading material by the state throughout the region. These female librarians are considered to be morally upright women. Esther feels shameful about her queer identity based on the approved reading material she has read over the years about queer identity. She is hoping to become a morally upright woman like the librarians. Little does Esther know what's really in store for her. Let's just say, Esther has a change in perspective by the end of Upright Women Wanted!!

Below is a 54 minute video I discovered on YouTube where the author, Sarah Gailey, reads the 1st chapter of Upright Women Wanted. Sarah also discusses how she came to write Upright Women Wanted. I thoroughly enjoy hearing authors discuss their books/writing, so I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as I did.

Below is the plot summary for Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey from Amazon:
In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her―a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.
I am giving Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

If by Rudyard Kipling read by Sir Michael Caine


Happy National Poetry Month! I found this video of Sir Michael Caine reading his favorite poem 'If' by Rudyard Kipling and thought I'd share it to kick of National Poetry Month.