Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Memories


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.

I had a very difficult time selecting my favorite bookish memories!! I have so many of them that I've collected over the years, especially the past ten years.Click on the links below to read/view my blog posts featuring my favorite bookish memories. Happy reading & enjoy!!

1. Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California in person annually 2015-2019. In person book festivals are a blast! The Bay Area Book Festival is such a fun festival!! Each time I've attended the Bay Area Book Festival in years past, I've shared a detailed post about my experience at the festival that particular year. You can find my numerous posts by doing a search on my blog.

2. Stanley Mosk Library & Courts Building in downtown Sacramento, California in April 2019. My hubby and I enjoyed taking a free self guided tour of this place during the weekday and loved the architecture!

3. Bart's Books in Ojai, California - A unique indoor and outdoor independent bookstore not to be missed!!

4. Little Free Libraries - I am an avid fan of Little Free Libraries and have found several of them throughout California. I actively seek them out within my own community and nearby communities too... 
And believe me there doesn't seem to be a shortage of them popping up everywhere these days!

Plus, when my husband and I have taken vacations in the past (or short day trips), where I'll seek out Little Free Libraries on our trip. Each Little Free Library is so unique. I have fun exchanging books at Little Free Libraries. Half the fun is discovering which books I'll find inside them. I've actually found many wishlist books inside Little Free Libraries.

Hopefully, one day soon, I can find Little Free Libraries in other states as well. I write posts about my Little Free Library adventures. So feel free to do a search on my blog if you would like to read a post or two of my Little Free Library adventures.

5. Dr. Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay Book Signing & Discussion at The Sacred Space in Summerland, California... I loved attending this event, especially due to the event location as The Sacred Space is exquisite!

6. 
The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, California 2012!! Wow, I can see why everyone raves about this bookstore. It's definitely a unique bookstore and has a lot of space to peruse for sure... During my visit many moons ago, I enjoyed the discounted book section, vintage records, coffee stand, and plenty of events for the avid reader to attend. I'd love to revisit this bookstore once again in the future.

7. The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California in 2015. If you are a John Steinbeck fan, then this place is a MUST see museum to visit. Down the street from the National Steinbeck Center is the former home of John Steinbeck and is now a restaurant.

8. The Stevenson House in Monterey, California in 2013. This is where author Robert Louis Stevenson lived for a short time during a visit to the USA. I loved the garden in the back of the building.

9. Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site in Danville, California. US Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill lived and worked in Danville, California where he wrote some of his most memorable plays. I enjoyed the free guided tour of his home.

10. 
Thousands Of Books Given Away At A Contra Costa County Library in 2019!!! I was there and it was a blast to walk away with 25 FREE withdrawn library books!

I hope you enjoyed my top ten list this week. Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

 

I read an reviewed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones in February 2019. I really enjoyed reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. I have been meaning to read another one of her novels ever since then.

I'd heard good things about Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones from another book blogger who enjoyed reading this novel and has similar reading tastes as myself. So, earlier this month, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones and narrated by Rosalyn Coleman Williams and Heather Alicia Simms.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones is an interesting read. The story revolves around the lives of two women married to the same man. The second wife and her daughter know about the existence of the first wife and daughter, but the first wife and daughter do not know about the existence of the second wife and daughter. The second wife and daughter live in secret due to the bigamist nature between the second wife and her husband, who is also married to his first wife.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones is told in two parts. Part one is told through the eyes of Dana Lynn, the daughter of Gwen, the second wife, and her husband, James. Part two is told through the eyes of Chaurisse, the daughter of the first wife, Laverne, and her husband, James. 

The different perspectives of both Dana and Chaurisse couldn't be more at odds, yet eerily the same in some regards. Dana has pretty much always known about her father and his other wife and daughter. Dana and Gwen have even gone out of their way to spy on the first wife and daughter. Whereas Chaurisse and Laverne have no clue about the second wife and daughter.

It becomes a story of the haves and the haves not in this story as the novel unfolds over time until the devastation and destruction occurs towards the end of the novel when everything cracks wide open... Sure there seems to be a silver lining for James and his first wife and daughter... But for Dana and Gwen it's open to interpretation.

I liked Silver Sparrow, but honestly, I didn't like it as much as I did An American Marriage.

Below is the publisher's summary for Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones from Audible:
Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, Silver Sparrow revolves around James Witherspoon's two families - the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters - the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle - she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another's lives. At the heart of it all are the two lives at stake, and like the best writers - think Toni Morrison with The Bluest Eye - Jones portrays the fragility of these young girls with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women, just not as their mothers.
I am giving Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Seized by Suzanne Ferrell

 

Seized by Suzanne Ferrell is a novella and the third installment of the 'Edgars Family' series by Suzanne Ferrell. I enjoyed listening to this novella... It's short and sweet. I enjoyed the characters, plot, and romantic suspense aspects of Seized by Suzanne Ferrell. I'm looking forward to listening to the next installment in the 'Edgars Family' series by Suzanne Ferrell.

Below is the publisher's summary for Seized by Suzanne Ferrell from Audible:

They hit a rocky patch Dave and Judy Edgars have always loved each other - they've been married 10 years and have three kids. But ever since Dave, a SWAT team member, was shot on duty Judy can't control the intense fear that grips her every time he heads out to work. It puts a strain on their relationship. Dave knows she's scared, but damn it she knew he was a cop the day they met. His patience is wearing thin. Until the tables are turned....

One icy winter night, Judy, an operating room nurse, is called into work. She's taken hostage by a crazed gunman with an agenda. Now with Judy's life in danger and the SWAT team deployed elsewhere, Dave must face the same fear his wife does on a daily basis. Terrified he will lose her, he and his law enforcement family race to save Judy and stop her captor's plans.

I am giving Seized by Suzanne Ferrell a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Hunted by Suzanne Ferrell

 

Hunted by Suzanne Ferrell is the second novel in the 'Edgars Family' series by Suzanne Ferrell. I read and reviewed Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell in May 2018, which is the first novel in the 'Edgars Family' series. I liked Kidnapped by Suzanne Ferrell well enough, so I decided to move along and listen to the second novel in the series, Hunted by Suzanne Ferrell.

I enjoyed listening to the unabridged audio version of Hunted by Suzanne Ferrell. Hunted is well narrated by Paul Boehmer. I liked the plot/storyline for Hunted by Suzanne Ferrell... The romance was good, even it was a bit over the top in terms of 'instalove'.

Below is the publisher's summary for Hunted by Suzanne Ferrell from Audible:
The second book in the Edgars Family Romantic Suspense series.

In one fiery explosion Katie Myers' witness protection cover is blown. Unable to trust the Marshals who've been responsible for her safety, she's on the run from the cult leader she put on death row. In desperation she forces a near stranger at gunpoint to help her hide.

By-the-book patrolman Matt Edgars is shocked when the woman he's come to rescue points a gun at him and demands he help her leave a crime scene. The stark terror in Katie's beautiful eyes has him breaking rules for the first time in his career.

With a hit man on their trail, Matt must break down the walls Katie has built to guard the secrets of her past. If not the cult leader will fulfill his prophecy and take the one woman Matt has ever loved to the grave.
I am giving Hunted by Suzanne Ferrell a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Taster by V. S. Alexander

 


I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Taster by V. S. Alexander and narrated by Carol Monda. Listening time for The Taster by V. S. Alexander is 11 hours, 58 minutes.

I honestly forget how I initially discovered The Taster by V. S. Alexander. I think I may have read a review of this historical fiction novel written by another book blogger and decided to add The Taster by V. S. Alexander to my reading wishlist as it sounded like a good read.

For the most part, I really enjoyed The Taster by V. S. Alexander as historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. The Taster by V. S. Alexander is set in Germany during World War II. The main character is Magda Ritter is a young woman living in Berlin with her parents. Due to the increased bombings of Berlin by Allied Forces, Magda's parents send her to live in Bavaria with her relatives for safe keeping.

Magda's aunt and uncle are staunch Nazi party supporters and Magda's aunt expects her to either work for the Reich or marry and produce healthy, strong children for the Reich. Magda end up securing a position as one of several young women trained to taste the Fuhrer's food to make sure it isn't poisoned before he consumes it... Hence, these women are potentially sacrificing their lives to save the Fuhrer's life.

Madga isn't into party politics or even a fan of Hitler, but she manages to keep her feelings to herself and lives an insular life inside Berghof, Hitler's mountain retreat. It was very interesting to read about Magda's life as a taster for the Fuhrer and life inside 
the Fuhrer's inner circle. Lots of interesting plot details make this novel a captivating read for the most part. 

The only major complaint I have with The Taster by V. S. Alexander is with either chapter 22 or chapter 23. I felt that one aspect of the plot development/plot twist didn't seem very credible to me... I'd mention the specific detail, but hesitate in doing so as I do not want to provide any potential spoilers to future readers of this novel. Additionally, the author seemed a bit over the top about some sentiments that seemed to be a bit overly dramatic. Otherwise, The Taster by V. S. Alexander was a good read.

I also didn't like the narration for The Taster. The accent Carol Monda used sounded like a fake German accent. Plus, the narrator mispronounced the same set of words repeatedly, which was annoying.

Below is the plot summary for The Taster by V. S. Alexander from Audible:
Amid the turbulence of World War II, a young German woman finds a precarious haven closer to the source of danger than she ever imagined - one that will propel her through the extremes of privilege and terror under Hitler's dictatorship.

In early 1943, Magda Ritter's parents send her to relatives in Bavaria, hoping to keep her safe from the Allied bombs strafing Berlin. Young German women are expected to do their duty - working for the Reich or marrying to produce strong, healthy children. After an interview with the civil service, Magda is assigned to the Berghof, Hitler's mountain retreat. Only after weeks of training does she learn her assignment: she will be one of several young women tasting the F├╝hrer's food, offering herself in sacrifice to keep him from being poisoned.

Perched high in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof seems worlds away from the realities of battle. Though terrified at first, Magda gradually becomes used to her dangerous occupation - though she knows better than to voice her misgivings about the war. But her love for a conspirator within the SS and her growing awareness of the Reich's atrocities draw Magda into a plot that will test her wits and loyalty in a quest for safety, freedom, and, ultimately, vengeance.

Vividly written and ambitious in scope, The Taster examines the harrowing moral dilemmas of war in an emotional story filled with acts of extraordinary courage.
I am giving The Taster by V. S. Alexander a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Tutor by Bonnie Dee


I've read and reviewed two other novels written by Bonnie Dee here on my blog; both of which I enjoyed very much. I've been meaning to read more of Bonnie Dee's works ever since.

With that in mind, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Tutor by Bonnie Dee and narrated by Ruri Carter. The Tutor by Bonnie Dee is a combination of three major genres (historical fiction, Gothic romance, and gay fiction), which made for an interesting, enjoyable listening experience overall.

Leading character, Graham Cowrie worked as a typesetter before coming across an advertisement to be a tutor for 9 year old twin boys at an estate in Yorkshire, England. He fakes his background and references to obtain the teaching position as he has never taught before. Graham comes from a working class background versus being from the upper class society, which plays into his doubts as to whether he can pull off being a credible tutor.

Becoming adjusted to life as a tutor starts out fairly rough for Graham due to many factors. The twin boys have lost their mother to a tragic death and also the master of estate, Sir Richard, isn't exactly a friendly figure at the start of the novel... Additionally, the rest of the household staff members aren't very welcoming towards Graham. Also, the eerie and foreboding sensations of otherworldly entities that seem to haunt the estate make it difficult for Graham to adjust to his role as the new tutor to the twin boys.

Despite Graham's rocky start and doubts about his ability to be a good tutor to the boys, Graham soon makes headway with the boys. He also makes headway with their widowed father, Richard, as both Graham and Richard begin an lurid affair halfway into the novel.

Then there is the evil spirit/presence that haunts the estate and the people that live there, which Graham picks up on early in the book and tries to figure out what exactly is happening. Graham has a feeling this evil spirit/presence has something to do with the death of Richard's wife and why the boys act so strangely towards their father since their mother's death.

For me, The Tutor by Bonnie Dee was a very predictable and very formulaic read. In the end, everything works out for the best and there is a very happy ending for all involved. If you want a lightweight read to pass the time, then The Tutor by Bonnie Dee is a decent read.

Listening time for The Tutor by Bonnie Dee is 7 hours, 30 minutes. 

Below is the plot summary for The Tutor by Bonnie Dee from Audible.
Gothic romance with a twist.

Elements of The Sound of Music, The Enchanted Garden, Jane Eyre, and "true" ghost hunting shows make this story feel familiar. Gay love makes it unique.

Seeing an ad for a position at a Yorkshire estate, typesetter Graham Cowrie decides to make an upward career move by passing himself off as a tutor. How hard can it be to teach a few subjects to a pair of nine-year-old boys? But on his arrival at the ancient house, he finds the staff creepy, the twins odd, and the widowed master temporarily absent.

His first meeting with brooding, stern, but oh-so-attractive Sir Richard doesn't go well, but with no other prospects vying for the teaching position, Graham manages to keep it. His mission soon becomes clear: break down the walls of reserve both father and sons have erected, and attempt to bridge the gap between them.

But strange sounds, sights, and experiences keep Graham on edge until he finally admits the Hall is haunted by two entities with very different agendas. Graham works to appease one and combat the other, while protecting the broken family he's grown to care for.
I am giving The Tutor by Bonnie Dee a rating of 2.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Buffalo Bayou by Tom Abrahams

 



I like crime thrillers, so I thought I'd give this new to me author Tom Abrahams a try as his novel Buffalo Bayou sounded intriguing. Plus, Tom Abrahams was being recommended to the fans of Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, and James Patterson. So, I figured why not give this noir crime thriller a try?

Buffalo Bayou by Tom Abrahams is a very dark novel set in Houston, Texas. I found the writing good, but can't say this is a must read for fans of Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, and James Patterson mainly because I can't recall reading anything written by Karin Slaughter or James Patterson... And I haven't read enough of Michael Connelly's works to know if this novel would be a firm fit for his fans.

Buffalo Bayou by Tom Abrahams is an interesting read... I liked it and it kept my attention overall. The two best features I liked about Buffalo Bayou by Tom Abrahams are ones that I feel would be spoilers for those that would like to read this novel. So that puts a damper on being able to state what I liked best about this read.

Below is the plot summary for Buffalo Bayou by Tom Abrahams from Audible:
Detective John Druitt is new to homicide. His first case is a young woman found in an urban bayou. He immediately sees clues that lead him places he doesn't want to go. But his own demons may be the clue to solving the mystery of the woman's death. And as the case widens, so do his new partner's suspicions about his past and motivations.

Buffalo Bayou is a dark, psychological thriller perfect for fans of Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, and James Patterson.
I am giving Buffalo Bayou by Tom Abrahams a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, November 22, 2021

An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo

 

With the month of November being Native American Heritage Month, I decided it would be a very worthwhile endeavor to read at least one book written by a Native American. 

I've been interested in reading a book of poetry written by Joy Harjo for sometime now. Reading a collection of Ms. Harjo's poetry seemed especially pertinent considering that she is the current Poet Laureate of the United States and is the first Native American to hold this esteemed position. 

As a quick side note, I had the honor of hearing Joy Harjo speak virtually last November through the University of Iowa's 'Chat From the Old Cap' event where I learned that Joy Harjo earned her MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1978. This virtual event was awesome and further sealed the deal in my resolve to read something written by Joy Harjo.

So, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo and narrated by the author. I prefer hearing poetry read aloud (especially by the author) verses reading it myself as I feel hearing poetry read aloud is more powerful.

I liked many of the poems written and read by Joy Harjo, but three of the poems that stood out were 'Granddaughters', 'For Those Who Would Govern', 'Advice For Countries, Advanced, Developing and Falling'.

Below is a YouTube of Joy Harjo reading 'For Those Who Would Govern':


Listening time for An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo is 1 hour, 41 minutes.

Below is the publisher's summary for An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo from Audible:

A stunning new volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, informed by her tribal history and connection to the land.

In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Joy Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and “one of our finest - and most complicated - poets” (Los Angeles Review of Books), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.

I am giving An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox

 

I first learned and blogged about Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox back in June 2018. This nonfiction book has been in my reading wishlist ever since until earlier this month, when I finally made the time to listen to the unabridged audio version.

I enjoyed listening to Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox, which was well narrated by Peter Forbes.

Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox is well organized and engaging. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

Listening time for Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox is 7 hours, 41 minutes.

Below is the publisher's summary for Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox from Audible:
“A wonderfully vivid portrait of the man behind Sherlock Holmes...Like all the best historical true crime books, it’s about so much more than crime.” (Tana French, author of In the Woods)

A sensational Edwardian murder. A scandalous wrongful conviction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the rescue - a true story.

After a wealthy woman was brutally murdered in her Glasgow home in 1908, the police found a convenient suspect in Oscar Slater, an immigrant Jewish cardsharp. Though he was known to be innocent, Slater was tried, convicted, and consigned to life at hard labor. Outraged by this injustice, Arthur Conan Doyle, already world renowned as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, used the methods of his most famous character to reinvestigate the case, ultimately winning Slater’s freedom.

With “an eye for the telling detail, a forensic sense of evidence and a relish for research” (The Wall Street Journal), Margalit Fox immerses listeners in the science of Edwardian crime detection and illuminates a watershed moment in its history, when reflexive prejudice began to be replaced by reason and the scientific method.
I am giving Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World's Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Little Free Library Find in Lafayette, California

 


Over the weekend, we had beautiful, warm, and sunny weather
here in San Francisco's East Bay.
With that in mind, my husband I briefly visited Lafayette,
California, where I was able to leave four
books at a new to me Little Free Library.

Too bad I was unable to take a great photograph of
this Little Free Library. There was a Tesla parked at the
curb in front of the Little Free Library making it difficult to 
take a good photograph of the Little Free Library.

I didn't take any books with me in exchange for the ones
I'd left inside this Little Free Library as there wasn't much
of a selection to choose from.

Have you discovered any new to you Little Free Libraries?