Monday, May 31, 2021

Murder By the Book: Carolyn Haines in Conversation with Jess Dylan


I enjoy reading cozy mystery novels. However, I've never heard of cozy mystery writers Carolyn Haines and Jess Dylan. So, with this in mind, I decided to watch Murder By the Book's live author event with Carolyn Haines in Conversation with Jess Dylan on Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 5pm PDT.

I really enjoyed watching this virtual author event and learned a lot about each author. I'll look into their novels.

Murder By the Book: Carolyn Haines in Conversation with Jess Dylan is the 5th virtual author event I've seen during the month of May 2021.

Below is a video of Carolyn Haines in Conversation with Jess Dylan which was hosted by Murder By the Book.

Have you attended any author events recently?

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders MD


I received a paperback copy of Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders MD through the Goodreads Giveaways Program.

Below is my honest, unbiased review for Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders MD.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders MD. It's a work of nonfiction dealing with medical mysteries, which made for a captivating read.

I especially enjoyed how neatly organized Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders MD is. Each of the five page nonfiction medical mysteries featured unusual medical complaints made by patients which fell into one of eight various subsets/topics - Fever, Abdominal Pain, Headache, Not Being Able to Breathe, It's All In Your Head, Passed Out, Rashes, or Feeling Weak.

Each story was a short, bite sized read, which was engaging and to the point. I found all of the stories interesting and I learned a lot of facts about medicine that I never knew before reading this book. This is the perfect book to read if you like reading about medical mysteries. Additionally, if you are short on time or are waiting for an appointment, etc. then this book helps to pass the time nicely.

Below is a summary for Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders MD from Amazon:
As a Yale School of Medicine physician, the New York Times bestselling author of Every Patient Tells a Story, and an inspiration and adviser for the hit Fox TV drama House, M.D., Lisa Sanders has seen it all. And yet she is often confounded by the cases she describes in her column: unexpected collections of symptoms that she and other physicians struggle to diagnose.

A twenty-eight-year-old man, vacationing in the Bahamas for his birthday, tries some barracuda for dinner. Hours later, he collapses on the dance floor with crippling stomach pains. A middle-aged woman returns to her doctor, after visiting two days earlier with a mild rash on the back of her hands. Now the rash has turned purple and has spread across her entire body in whiplike streaks. A young elephant trainer in a traveling circus, once head-butted by a rogue zebra, is suddenly beset with splitting headaches, as if someone were “slamming a door inside his head.”

In each of these cases, the path to diagnosis—and treatment—is winding, sometimes frustratingly unclear. Dr. Sanders shows how making the right diagnosis requires expertise, painstaking procedure, and sometimes a little luck. Intricate, gripping, and full of twists and turns, Diagnosis puts readers in the doctor’s place. It lets them see what doctors see, feel the uncertainty they feel—and experience the thrill when the puzzle is finally solved.
I am giving Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries by Lisa Sanders MD a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Being A “BOOK BUTLER” Is A Real Thing

 Who knew that being being a Book Butler is a real thing?? I came across an article yesterday morning on Book Riot's website titled, BEING A “BOOK BUTLER” IS A THING — TELL ME WHERE TO SEND MY RESUME by Abby Hargreaves. In the article, Abby Hargreaves wrote the following:

Travel + Leisure reported that one hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida, has a “Book Butler” on call for their temporary tenants to get on-demand book delivery.

Readers who too often finish a book before their trip is over or forget to pack a book in the first place, rejoice! Guests of the Ben West Palm can now simply dial “0” to request a delivery to their hotel room. The bookish fun continues with a customized tasseled bookmark and, if the guest is feeling peckish, they can order a “Book Bite.” Book Bites offer reader-guests with an additional sensory experience with their books: small plates of food paired specifically to their title of choice. Meanwhile, the delivered book is for keeps, if the guest wants. Otherwise, it may be donated to the West Palm Beach Library Foundation, which supports the library and its offerings. Guests who return to the Ben West Palm will enjoy new selections seasonally.

The Ben West Palm partners with the Palm Beach Book Store to make this bookish dream a reality for guests who love reading. It’s the perfect special offering for this hotel, too, which was inspired by writer Byrd Dewey’s nearby estate, Ben Trovato. Other literary features appear in the hotel, including secret sliding bookcases and an art piece depicting Dewey made of books. Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the Ben West Palm is one of over 170 independent hotels that boast singularity. Marriott states, “Each [hotel] is a product of passion and a personal realization of its individual founder’s vision, making each hotel singular and special: Exactly Like Nothing Else. Hand-selected for their inherent craft and distinct perspectives on design and hospitality, Autograph Collection hotels offer rich immersive moments that leave a lasting imprint.” I don’t know about you, but complimentary book delivery to my hotel room certainly counts as something that would leave a lasting imprint on me.

Having a Book Butler sounds like a perfect service for a hotel to offer for its guests if you ask me!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Filipino Award-Winning Graphic Novel, Trese, Becomes a Netflix Series!!

I recently learned through reading an article titled, Pinoy graphic novel is now a Netflix serieson Business World's website that the  graphic novel, Trese by Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo, is a new anime series to be released on June 11, 2021 via Netflix.

In the above mentioned article, I learned the following information:
Trese is a crime/horror graphic novel about a detective who solves supernatural crimes which are often connected with creatures from Philippine mythology. The Original Anime series — directed by Jay Oliva and written by Tanya Yuson, Zig Marasigan, and Mihk Vergara — is set in Manila where these mythical creatures live in hiding amongst humans, and where detective Alexandra Trese finds herself going head-to-head with a criminal underworld comprised of malevolent supernatural beings.
I now want to both read the 'Trese' series and watch the new series when it comes out next month on Netflix. The online reviews sound great for this award winning graphic novel/comic series.

Below is the trailer for Trese from Netflix.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Lincoln Obsession: The Author of Manhunt Chases Down His Own Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson

I was able to download The Lincoln Obsession: The Author of Manhunt Chases Down His Own Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson for FREE from Audible.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of The Lincoln Obsession: The Author of Manhunt Chases Down His Own Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson.

I have mixed feelings about The Lincoln Obsession by James L. SwansonOn the one hand, I enjoyed learning about author, James L. Swanson's obsession with Abraham Lincoln and also more details about the life and assassination of Abraham Lincoln. On the other hand, I kind of felt like The Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson was boring at times and also a plug for Swanson's book, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. Overall, The Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson was a good listen.

Listening time for The Lincoln Obsession: The Author of Manhunt Chases Down His Own Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson is 3 hours, 39 minutes and narrated by the author.

Below is a summary for The Lincoln Obsession: The Author of Manhunt Chases Down His Own Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson from Audible:

With an entirely fresh take on presidential history, James Swanson, author of the New York Times best-selling, Edgar Award-winning Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, shares the story of his lifelong obsession with the murder of America’s most revered president and the frantic hunt for his assassin.

The renowned Lincoln scholar treats listeners to an Audible Originals "walking tour" of the people, places, events, and artifacts that tell the story of those horrible days in April 1865. Taking listeners behind the scenes of his research, Swanson discusses the origins of his boyhood passion for Lincoln, including his first visits to Springfield, Illinois, and Ford’s Theatre as a high school student; accounts for John Wilkes Booth’s movements during the manhunt; reveals how he authenticates Lincoln blood relics; and offers details about historic sites that remain little known or obscure.

Swanson describes the intrigue he continues to pursue—the women who aided Booth, lingering questions about other conspirators, and a timeline for both Lincoln and the conspirators the night of April 14, 1865.

The Lincoln Obsession is a uniquely personal look at how historical places and relics will forever shed new light on the first presidential assassination in America.
I am giving The Lincoln Obsession: The Author of Manhunt Chases Down His Own Lincoln Obsession by James L. Swanson a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Stay Tuned (Unsettling #3) by Jeffrey Deaver


I've read or listened to 2-3 of Jeffrey Deaver novels in the past. So when I came across a free download for Stay Tuned (Unsettling #3) by Jeffrey Deaver and narrated by Zoe Chao on Audible, I decided to give this short work of fiction a listen.

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Stay Tuned (Unsettling #3) by Jeffrey Deaver.

At approximately 52 minutes in length, I thought Stay Tuned (Unsettling #3) by Jeffrey Deaver was an engaging work of short fiction that was well narrated and fun to listen to. I enjoyed the storyline, characters, and twist to this tale.

Below is a summary for Stay Tuned (Unsettling #3) by Jeffrey Deaver from Goodreads:

Amanda and Charlie are spending their first weekend away in months. They’ve rented a luxurious vacation house on Lost Valley Lake. Swimming, bicycling, and romance are the order of the day, and all is good. That is, until someone - or something - appears on the shore across the lake, just as the sky turns gray and the water chill and choppy.

When the apparition, or whatever it might be, grows closer and closer, it soon becomes clear that there are certain types of evil that you can’t protect yourself from with locked doors and windows.

And perhaps you can’t protect yourself from them at all.

I am giving Stay Tuned (Unsettling #3) by Jeffrey Deaver a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Author Talk with Jennifer J. Chow on Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines Hosted by the New York Public Library

Last Wednesday, May 19, 2021 from 3pm to 4pm PDT, I was able to attend a virtual author talk featuring author Jennifer J. Chow

Ms. Chow was on hand to give a short reading from her latest cozy mystery novel, Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines (this is the second novel in 'A Sassy Cat Mystery' series), followed by a discussion of her writing, answering audience questions, and so on.

I was interested in this virtual author event for two main reasons: 

1. I enjoy reading cozy mystery novels. AND
2. I currently have the first novel in 'A Sassy Cat Mystery' series titled, Mimi Gets A Clue, in my 'to be read' pile. I'm hoping to read Mimi Gets A Clue later on this year before moving on to the second novel in the series.

I really enjoyed listening to Jennifer J. Chow discuss her latest novel last week. 

Have you enjoyed attending any author events recently? If so, share with me which author event(s) you've attended recently by leaving me a comment below.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt


Gary D. Schmidt is a new to me author this year. He's an English professor at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is also the author of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, which is a Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book. 

I was recommended Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt by one of my former, undergraduate college professors that I still keep in touch with over 26 years later. I have been recommended several excellent books by forementioned professor and all of the books he has recommended to me over the years have been really good reads.

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt is a young adult novel, which contains many layers and nuances to it that made for a great read. So many life lessons and interesting turn of events occur within Just Like That, that it made for a captivating and engaging read from start to finish. 

I loved the writing, the storyline, and characters for Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt. I look forward to reading more books by Gary D. Schmidt in the future.

Below is the plot summary for Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt from Amazon:
In this poignant, perceptive, witty novel, Gary D. Schmidt brings authenticity and emotion to multiple plot strands, weaving in themes of grief, loss, redemption, achievement, and love. Following the death of her closest friend in summer 1968, Meryl Lee Kowalski goes off to St. Elene's Preparatory Academy for Girls, where she struggles to navigate the venerable boarding school's traditions and a social structure heavily weighted toward students from wealthy backgrounds. In a parallel story, Matt Coffin has wound up on the Maine coast near St. Elene's with a pillowcase full of money lifted from the leader of a criminal gang, fearing the gang's relentless, destructive pursuit. Both young people gradually dispel their loneliness, finding a way to be hopeful and also finding each other.

I am giving Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Brass by Xhenet Aliu


I listened to the unabridged audio version of Brass by Xhenet Aliu narrated by Thérèse Plummer and Lauren Fortgang.

Although Brass was published in 2018, Xhenet Aliu is new to me author this year. I'd recently heard about Brass in the past month or so and decided to pick up this contemporary fiction novel based on its reviews. I wasn't disappointed! This novel is both well written and well narrated. Each chapter is told from either Elsie's point of view or that of her daughter, Luljeta's point of view, which I enjoyed. I loved the characters and the storyline for Brass. At it's heart, Brass is a story of mother/daughter relationships and a relationship with oneself. The ending for Brass is open ended, which I usually dislike, but the ending works well for Brass.

Listening time for Brass by Xhenet Aliu is 9 hours, 30 minutes.

Below is the plot summary for Brass by Xhenet Aliu from Audible:
A waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naïve, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams - and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another. Now it’s the place they can’t seem to leave. Elsie, herself the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants, falls in love quickly, but when she learns that she’s pregnant, Elsie can’t help wondering where Bashkim’s heart really lies, and what he’ll do about the wife he left behind.

Seventeen years later, headstrong and independent Luljeta receives a rejection letter from NYU and her first-ever suspension from school on the same day. Instead of striking out on her own in Manhattan, she’s stuck in Connecticut with her mother, Elsie - a fate she refuses to accept. Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined.

Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story.

I am giving Brass by Xhenet Aliu a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Chaucer's Bookstore Virtual Author Event with Sara Dykman Discussing Her New Book ~ Bicycling With Butterflies

 On Thursday, May 13, 2021 from 6pm to 7pm PDT, I attended another virtual author event hosted by Chaucer's Bookstore in Santa Barbara, California!!

I love butterflies and learning more about these beautiful creatures, so listening to Sara Dykman talk about her nonfiction book, Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration.

I learned so much from watching this virtual author event about the monarch butterflies and their migration path. 

Below is a video of Sara Dykman discussing her 10,201 mile journey following the migration of the eastern monarch butterfly.

Sara Dykman is the founder of beyond­ - "Monarch Watch is a nonprofit educational outreach program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration." (Quote is from the Monarch Watch 'about us' page)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Babar's Yoga For Elephants by Laurent De Brunhoff

As a toddler, my mother read Babar books to me and I loved them! To this day, I still love elephants a lot. 

My mother gave me the hardback edition of Babar's Yoga For Elephants by Laurent De Brunhoff, when it was first published for the nostalgic factor... Yes, this book is written for children. I love the artwork, cute story, and mostly, I love the images of Babar doing various yoga poses and how we humans can perform each yoga pose too.

I am giving Babar's Yoga For Elephants by Laurent De Brunhoff a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

I enjoy reading mystery novels and I also enjoy reading classics for the most part. I've been wanting to read The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett for a few years now and lucky me, it falls into the hard-boiled mystery genre and is a classic novel too.

I listened to the unabridged audio version of the The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and narrated by William Dufris. Too be very honest, I was disappointed with The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. I didn't care much for the story, the characters, or the writing. I'm glad I finally got around to listening to this novel, but would not recommend it. I won't bother reading another novel by Dashiell Hammett in the future.

As far as narrators go, William Dufris wasn't the greatest. He was a bit over the top in performing the various voices for each character.

Listening time for The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett is 7 hours, 5 minutes. 

Below is a the plot summary for The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett from Audible:
Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade is hired to locate a client's sister by tailing the sister's companion. Spade's partner Miles Archer takes on the assignment, and quickly both Archer and the man he was shadowing are murdered. As Spade pursues the mystery of his partner's death, he is drawn into a circle of colorful characters, and they are all after a legendary statuette of a falcon that had long ago been made for King Charles of Spain. Encrusted with jewels, it is worth a fortune. Missing for centuries, it resurfaced in 1921, when it was covered in black enamel to disguise its true value.

The Maltese Falcon is the definitive masterpiece of the hard-boiled detective genre. Humphrey Bogart immortalized tough-guy Sam Spade in the classic 1941 film.

I am giving The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens


Last year, I learned about author Allen Eskens from another book blogger I follow (Dorothy @ The Nature of Things) and am grateful to have found another great writer I enjoy!! So thanks to great bloggers like Dorothy who share great book reviews with avid readers.

So with the above said, I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens and narrated by R. C. Bray last month. The Deep Dark Descending is the 3rd novel in the Max Rupert series and I loved this novel from start to finish! If you enjoy tightly written thrillers that you can't put down, then this is the thriller for you! 

As a side note, I have not listened to/read the 1st two novels in the Max Rupert series by Allen Eskens, but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not starting with the 1st novel in the series. In other words, The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens reads pretty much like a stand alone novel.

Listening time for The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens is 8 hours, 35 minutes. My only complaint with this audiobook was that I wasn't a huge fan of R. C. Bray as a narrator... He's good, but not great.

Below is a summary for The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens from Audible:
Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife's death, even when he believed that a reckless hit and run driver was the cause. But when he learns that in fact she was murdered, he devotes himself to hunting down her killers. Most of his life he had thought of himself as a decent man. But now he's so consumed with thoughts of retribution that he questions whether he will take that last step and enact the vengeance he longs for.

On a frozen lake near the US-Canadian border, he wrestles with a decision that could change his life forever, as his hatred threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent a career bringing to justice.
I am giving The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Virtual Author Event with Molly Ball, author of Pelosi & Hosted by BookShop West Portal Bookstore


There are quite a few Nancy Pelosi biographies on the market currently... And it just so happens that journalist, Molly Ball, wrote one of these biographies titled, Pelosi, last year. Molly Ball spoke with KQED's Marisa Lagos in a virtual author event hosted by Bookshop West Portal on Thursday, May 6, 2021 from 6pm to 7pm.

I enjoyed this lively discussion between Molly Ball and Marisa Lagos about Nancy Pelosi. Molly Ball had a lot to share about Nancy Pelosi including her personal life and what a life force Pelosi's mother was, which I found fascinating.

Have you attended any interesting virtual events lately?

Friday, May 7, 2021

Heather McGhee ~ Virtual Author Event Hosted By UCSB Arts & Lectures


I love attending author events and with the ongoing pandemic, it's been fabulous attending live virtual author events!!

I enjoyed hearing Heather McGhee speak virtually through UCSB Art & Lecture's Race to Justice series on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 from 5 to 6pm. Ms. McGhee is the author of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together and she is also an advocate and public policy expert.

Heather McGhee conversed with UCSB professor and director of the Center for Black Studies Research, Dr. Sharon Tettegah. I enjoyed hearing how racism effects us all and why we need to work together for the greater good of the nation as a whole to end racism. 

Learning more about Heather McGhee's background and life was also very fascinating and enlightening. I am thankful to have attended such an important and timely topic.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - My Ten Most Recent Reads

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.

Check out my recent reads below! Links are for 8 of the 10 books I've reviewed so far. Enjoy and happy reading!

1. Babar's Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff - As a toddler, my mom tells me that I loved the Babar books and would have her read them to me frequently at bedtime. I don't remember much about the storyline for the Babar books now, but should reread them for posterity sake. However, I did recently read 
Babar's Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff, which was published in 2006. Cute illustrated children's book on how to do various yoga poses.

2. The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens - I discovered Allen Eskens last year from another book blogger. His writing is fabulous and The Deep Dark Descending is an excellent thriller. I loved it!

3. Splintered by A. G. Howard - Love this young adult novel, which is a Alice In Wonderland retelling. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

4. Such A Quiet Place by Megan Miranda - Contemporary fiction ARC. I didn't like the author's writing. I felt like Megan Miranda was too busy trying to manipulate the reader by trying to get them to feel a certain way or creating a certain atmosphere that felt forced to me. This feeling left me wanting to ditch the novel several times, but I carried onward hoping for a satisfying ending that didn't come.

5. 35 Tips For Writing A Brilliant Flash Story by Kaye Linden - Tips on writing flash fiction and flash nonfiction.

6. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne - Love this classic novel, which felt like both a travelogue and a scientific exploration. I enjoyed the main characters of Otto Lidenbrock and his nephew, Axel. I loved the fantastic things they discover while traveling to the center of the Earth too.

7. Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes - Coming of age memoir set in the Philippines.

8. The Spirit Is Willing by Max McCoy - Cozy mystery novel set in the 1800s with paranormal elements.

9. Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey -Western pulp fiction/LBGTQ novella. Excellent read!

10. You Are the Guru by Gabrielle Bernstein - Nonfiction self-help book. I love the 6 different messages and exercises to use in order to help one through difficult times.

My reading tastes as you can see are varied!