Friday, December 31, 2021

End of the Year Wrap Up Post

 

I can't believe we've reached the end of 2021. This year has gone by fairly swiftly despite the fact we're still in a worldwide pandemic and life hasn't fully returned to normal. 

Good news on the reading front for me! I met or exceeded most of my 2021 Reading Goals in all areas except for one. Click on above link to read my original post stating my 2021 reading goals.

This year, I accomplished the following:

* I read a grand total of 107 books in 2021. My original goal had been to read only 60 books this year, so I happily exceeded my reading goals for 2021.
* I read 5 trilogies in 2021. So, I met my goal of reading 5 trilogies this year.
* My goal had been to read 15 books I'd received for FREE through the Goodreads Giveaway program. I ONLY read 7 books from this category, so I didn't reach my original reading goal for this category.

I read a lot of books that were on my reading wishlist this year: 

1. Flygirl by Sherri L Smith
2. Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding
3. The Taster by V.S. Alexander
4. 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
5. Euphoria by Lily King
6. Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer
7. The Seance by John Harwood
8. The Wolf Hunt Trilogy by Jeff Strand
9. Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven
10. The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus
11. Hearts In Darkness by Laura Kaye
12. Love in the Light by Laura Kaye
13. Toni Tennille: A Memoir by Toni Tennille

I've also read many new to me authors like Ursula K. Le Guin, Gary D. Schmidt, and Xhenet Aliu... Or other books written by authors I've enjoyed reading in prior years like Allen Eskens or Jules Verne.

Overall, I had a great year of reading during 2021. How'd you do this year in terms of reading? Did you met your reading goals? What are reading goals for 2022?

Thursday, December 30, 2021

First Quarter 2022 Reading Goals


Here's my tentative reading lineup for the 1st quarter of 20221! I say 'tentative' because I usually end up making some changes along the way in terms of what I end up actually reading.

In 2022, I'll also be trying to reduce my plethora of physical books and move them along to Little Free Libraries for others to enjoy reading... This means I'll also attempt to minimize the amount of ebooks or Audible books I usually enjoy reading throughout the year in an attempt to move some of my physical books along to other readers. I REALLY LOVE listening to audiobooks, so scaling back on listening to books is going to take some diligence on my part.

Hopefully, I will not be buying or acquiring any new books as gifts in 2022. Good luck with this goal as I have a book addiction problem! 

Anyway, all the books in the photo above start with the word 'the' interestingly enough. Additionally, I have a couple of books I started this year that I will most likely finish in early 2022 as I probably won't have enough time to finish reading them this year.

Have you started planning your reading goals for 2022? 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Best Books I Read In 2021

 


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 read so many wonderful books in 2021. It was difficult to narrow down my choices to just ten books I LOVED this year. In fact, I had 15-20 books that made my list. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep them all for this week's TopTen Tuesday post. 

Below is my list of favorites reads for 2021. Click on the links below to read my review of each book.

1. Looking For Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore

2. The Little Book of Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting by Joe Gillard

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

4. Changing Laws: Politics of the Civil Rights Era by Judy Dodge Cummings

5. Mimi Gets A Clue by Jennifer J. Chow

6. Pandora's Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong by Paul A. Offit MD

7. The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

8. Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt

9. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

10. Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
Happy reading to all in 2022!!

Monday, December 27, 2021

My Ten Least Favorite Reads of 2021

I don't know about you, but each year there are always a few duds in terms of books I end up not liking very much. 

Some of the books that I end up not liking very much are a surprise because I've enjoyed reading books written by the author in the past. Or maybe I've heard a lot about a particular book or author and feel the author or their book don't live up to the hype. Or for other reasons... like branching out and trying new to me authors, etc. and not enjoying the book I've chosen to read.

Anyway, below are the top ten books I've read in 2021 that I didn't enjoy all that much. Click on the links to read my review of each book to learn more.

1. Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan 

2. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

3. The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus

4. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

5. Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

6. Brat: An '80s Story by Andrew McCarthy

7. Dolly by Susan Hill

8. A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

9. The Tutor by Bonnie Dee

10. Peril in Pensacola by Lucy Quinn

Have you read any of the above books? If so, what did you think of them?

Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable by Dan Gable

 


I am a University of Iowa graduate!! During my time at the University of Iowa, Dan Gable was the head coach for the wrestling team. I wasn't big into wrestling during my college days... However, Dan Gable was and still is a very legendary figure in the world of wrestling. Gable won a gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany while on the US men's wrestling team. In 2020, Dan Gable was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Plus, he has received many other accolades.

I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable because of Dan Gable's legendary fame and his ties to my alma mater. I enjoyed listening A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable by Dan Gable. It reads like a series of short stories about Dan Gable's life to include stories from his childhood and his early family life. How Dan Gable became a wrestler. Gable's older sister's rape and murder at the hands of a neighbor. Gable's college days as a wrestler, plus Gable's climb to the Olympics, and his life as a coach at Iowa. I enjoyed learning about his philosophy as a coach and his personal life. A good overall read. 

My only major complaint about A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable by Dan Gable is that I didn't care for the narrator's voice for this book.

Below is the publisher's summary for A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable by Dan Gable from Amazon:

What does it take to be an Olympic gold medalist and to coach a collegiate team to 15 NCAA titles? In A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable, famed wrestler and wrestling coach Dan Gable tells engaging and inspiring stories of his childhood in Waterloo, Iowa; overcoming the murder of his sister as a teenager; his sports career from swimming as a young boy, to his earliest wrestling matches, through the 1972 Olympics; coaching at the University of Iowa from the Banachs to the Brands; life-changing friendships he made along the way; and tales of his family life off the mat. A celebration of determination, teamwork, and the persevering human spirit, A Wrestling Life captures Gable's methods and philosophies for reaching individual greatness as well as the incredible amount of fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from working as part of a team.

I am giving A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable by Dan Gable a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Friday, December 24, 2021

Murder by Other Means (The Dispatcher, #2) by John Scalzi

 


In 2016, I listened to and reviewed The Dispatcher by John Scalzi and narrated by Zachary Quinto. It was my first experience with anything written by John Scalzi. I really liked The Dispatcher a lot. So when I discovered that a follow up book titled, Murder by Other Means (The Dispatcher, #2) by John Scalzi, had been written and it was also narrated by Zachary Quinto, I decided to give it a listen.

Zachary Quinto is an excellent narrator... However, the plot, characters, and storyline for Murder by Other Means, just didn't do it for me.

I had high hopes for Murder by Other Means since I enjoyed The Dispatcher so much. But as I've already mentioned, I simply felt let down by this one.

Below is the publisher's summary of Murder by Other Means (The Dispatcher, #2) by John Scalzi from Amazon:

Welcome to the new world, in which murder is all but a thing of the past. Because when someone kills you, 999 times out of 1,000, you instantly come back to life. In this world, there are dispatchers - licensed killers who step in when you’re at risk of a natural or unintentional death. They kill you - so you can live.

Tony Valdez is used to working his job as a dispatcher within the rules of the law and the state. But times are tough, and more and more Tony finds himself riding the line between what’s legal and what will pay his bills. After one of these shady gigs and after being a witness to a crime gone horribly wrong, Tony discovers that people around him are dying, for reasons that make no sense...and which just may implicate him.

Tony is running out of time: to solve the mystery of these deaths, to keep others from dying, and to keep himself from being a victim of what looks like murder, by other means.

I am giving Murder by Other Means (The Dispatcher, #2) by John Scalzi a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

RIP - Joan Didion


Such sad news to learn of Joan Didion's passing due to complications of Parkinson's disease at age 87.


I've only read one of Joan Didion's books. I would really like to read more of her books in the coming years.

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

 


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

What Reading Does To Your Brain with Merphy Napier

 

As an avid reader, you don't have to convince me there are positive benefits of reading and how it effects the brain for the better.

However, in case you aren't an avid reader or would like to share the positive benefits of reading on the brain, then the above YouTube video is for you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Hope Santa Brings/Bookish Wishes


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Top Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Below are ten books I'd enjoy Santa bringing me for Christmas this year!

1. The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
2. Litani by Jess Lourey
3. The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman
4. Last Chance Texaco: Chronicles of an American Troubadour by Rickie Lee Jones
5. The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
6. Mimi Lee Reads Between the Lines by Jennifer J. Chow
7. Mimi Lee Cracks the Code by Jennifer J. Chow
8. In the Line of Fire by R. J. Noonan
9. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
10. Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day

Which books are you hoping for this year's holiday season?

Monday, December 20, 2021

Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman


I read the hardback edition of Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman. At first, I must admit that I was a bit leery about reading this nonfiction book as I'm a bit of a germaphobe. In fact, I thought I'd be too creeped out by some of the information provided by the author about the common cold that I almost didn't read this book at all.

However, I must admit that I found this book fascinating and intriguing. I couldn't put it down! I enjoyed the writing and how the book was organized, which made for the seamless understanding of how the cold virus works and the science/research to date about the common cold virus itself. There is also information provided within this Ah-Choo! on what works and doesn't work in helping to ease cold symptoms, plus recipes, and more.

Below is a three minute video I discovered on YouTube of the author, Jennifer Ackerman, discussing products that don't work to aid in healing a cold and things that do help.



Below is the publisher's summary for Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman from Amazon:
Some colds are like mice, timid and annoying; others like dragons, accompanied by body aches and deep misery. In AH-CHOO!, Jennifer Ackerman explains what, exactly, a cold is, how it works, and whether it's really possible to "fight one off." Scientists call this the Golden Age of the Common Cold because Americans suffer up to a billion colds each year, resulting in 40 million days of missed work and school and 100 million doctor visits.

They've also learned over the past decade much more about what cold viruses are, what they do to the human body, and how symptoms can be addressed. In this ode to the odious cold, Ackerman sifts through the chatter about treatments-what works, what doesn't, and what can't hurt. She dispels myths, such as susceptibility to colds reflects a weakened immune system. And she tracks current research, including work at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, a world-renowned center of cold research studies, where the search for a cure continues.
I am giving Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit and narrated by Luci Christian Bell.

Listening time for Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit is 2 hours, 47 minutes.

After hearing all the hype regarding Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, I finally gave it a shot. I didn't enjoy this short read of essays as much as I thought I would. 

First off, I thought the entire book would be one long essay about men explaining things to the author, but it wasn't. There were several essays about different topics all pertaining to feminism in some way. The essay about 'Men Explaining Things to Me' was even different than expected, but still good. The rest of the essays gave food for thought, although a couple of them reiterated things I'd already learned in the past. This collection of essays was decent, just not as good as I'd hoped they'd be.

Below is the publisher's summary for Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit from Amazon:

In Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit takes on the conversations between men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't. The ultimate problem, she shows in her comic, scathing essay, is female self-doubt and the silencing of women. Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of 14 books about civil society, popular power, uprisings, art, environment, place, pleasure, politics, hope, and memory, most recently The Faraway Nearby, a book on empathy and storytelling. She is a Harper's Magazine contributing editor.

I am giving Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next time, happy reading!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) by Julie Berry


In March 2019, I listened to and reviewed the unabridged audio version of Wishes & Wellingtons by Julie Berry and narrated by Jayne Entwistle. It had been my first experience with anything written by Julie Berry and I'd thoroughly enjoyed Wishes & Wellingtons. I looked forward to reading another novel written by Julie Berry in the future.

Purely by happenstance, I discovered that a sequel to Wishes & Wellingtons titled, Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) by Julie Berryhad been published earlier this year. Since I enjoyed Wishes & Wellingtons so much, I looked forward to the continuation of this series.
I wasn't disappointed with my decision!
 Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) by Julie Berry is wonderfully rendered and well narrated by Jayne Entwistle.

Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) by Julie Berry is a book for children set in Victorian England and contains adventure and fantasy elements in its plot. I love the characters for Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2), especially the main character, Maeve Merrit, as she is a feisty, adventurous girl and an overall fun character.

The writing, plot, and storyline are once again well done by Julie Berry for Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2). I liked the continuation of the storyline from the first novel in the series and how Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) takes readers to new places. 

I certainly enjoyed listening to Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) by Julie Berry and I think young readers will too.

Below is a summary for Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) by Julie Berry from Audible:

Now that Maeve Merrit has surrendered Mermeros, the djinni she found in a sardine can, she expects her life in London will be dull as dirt. Mermeros, however, has other plans. Maeve’s friend Tommy, a former orphan, has been adopted by Mermeros’s newest owner. When Tommy’s new father tries to use one of his wishes, he and Mermeros go missing - and without a guardian, Tommy will be forced back to the orphanage.

Maeve, Tommy, and their friend Alice embark on an adventure full of magic, danger, and flying carpetbags to rescue Tommy’s father and the djinni they’ve grown to love. But will they come to their rescue before Mermeros’ fabled wishes fall into the wrong hands?

I am giving Crime and Carpetbags (Wishes and Wellingtons, #2) by Julie Berry a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, December 17, 2021

bell hooks - Feminist author, critic and activist has died at age 69


Although I have not read anything written by bell hooks, I would like to read a couple of her books in the future. 

Even though, I am familiar with many of the book titles bell hooks has written, I knew very little of her personal life until reading a couple of online obituaries written about her. 

In an NPR article titled, Trailblazing feminist author, critic and activist bell hooks has died at 69, I learned the following:

In a 2000 interview with All Things Considered, hooks spoke about the life-changing power of love — that is, the act of loving and how love is far broader than romantic sentiment. "I'm talking about a love that is transformative, that challenges us in both our private and our civic lives," she said. "I'm so moved often when I think of the civil rights movement, because I see it as a great movement for social justice that was rooted in love and that politicized the notion of love, that said: Real love will change you."

She went on: "Everywhere I go, people want to feel more connected. They want to feel more connected to their neighbors. They want to feel more connected to the world. And when we learn that through love we can have that connection, we can see the stranger as ourselves. And I think that it would be absolutely fantastic to have that sense of 'Let's return to kind of a utopian focus on love, not unlike the sort of hippie focus on love.' Because I always say to people, you know, the '60s' focus on love had its stupid sentimental dimensions, but then it had these life-transforming dimensions. When I think of the love of justice that led three young people, two Jews and one African American Christian, to go to the South and fight for justice and give their lives — Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner — I think that's a quality of love that's awesome. ... I tell this to young people, you know, that we can love in a deep and profound way that transforms the political world in which we live in."

Click on the above link to read the entire article. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

 

I've had the The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood in my 'to be read' pile for almost four years now. I am glad that I finally listened to the unabridged audio version of this novel, which was well narrated by Hillary Huber.

Listening time for The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood is 9 hours, 50 minutes.

The Knitting Circle is the first novel I've read by author Ann Hood. I am a knitter (on hiatus currently), so I was initially drawn to this novel for the sheer fact that this novel focused on knitting, a knitting circle, and the restorative way in which knitting works as therapy for those dealing with loss, depression, and more. It's true that knitting can provide a source of comfort as well as build camaraderie among those in a knitting circle. I've read quite a few articles on the benefits of knitting itself... But I digress. 

In The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood, we find the main character of Mary Baxter in a deep state of grief over the loss of her young daughter, Stella, to meningitis. Mary is barely functioning beyond the basics. Her grief over the loss of her daughter is palpable. Essentially the grief is effecting Mary's daily life and her relationship with her husband and others. 

It isn't until Mary's mother urges her to take up knitting near the start of the novel, that Mary finally relents and takes up knitting reluctantly. From there we learn more about Mary throughout the rest of the novel and also about the rest of the knitters in the knitting circle she joins. Each person we meet that is part of the knitting circle is currently or has dealt with loss, grief, or adversity in some way and is some how helped by the restorative nature of learning to knit and communing with others in knitting as a group. 

By the end of The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood, we see every one of the characters in a new light. Mary has changed for the better... And we also discover the reason behind why Mary's mom was so distant with her throughout most of Mary's life.

Below is the publisher's summary for The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood from Amazon:
After the loss of her only child, Mary Baxter finds herself unable to read or write, the activities that used to be her primary source of comfort. She reluctantly joins a knitting circle as a way to fill her lonely days―not knowing it will change her life. As they teach Mary new knitting techniques, the women in the circle also reveal their own secrets of loss, love, and hope. With time, Mary is finally able to tell her own story of grief, and in so doing finds the spark of life again.
I am giving The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post happy, reading!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Murder bt the Book Hosts - Jeffrey Deaver in Conversation with Riley Sager Virtual Author Event!!


This month has been a fun month in terms of attending virtual author events! This past Friday evening, I was able to hear Jeffrey Deaver in conversation with Riley Sager... And what a great conversation it was! We learned a lot about Jeffrey Deaver's writing process and I mean a lot about his writing process, which was cool.

I've read a couple of things written by Jeffrey Deaver, but nothing yet by Riley Sager. I do have Riley Sager's novel, Home Before Dark, in my 'to be read' pile, which I'll read hopefully sooner rather than later

Thank you, Murder by the Book, for hosting these wonderful virtual author events!

Monday, December 13, 2021

RIP - Anne Rice

 

Such sad news to learn of Anne Rice's passing due to complications from a stroke this past weekend. She wrote more than 30 novels during her lifetime and is such a beloved author to her fans. 

I've only read two or three of her novels back in the 1990s and will have to read a few more of them in the future.

I read the following New York Times article titled, Anne Rice, Who Spun Gothic Tales of Vampires, Dies at 80 by Neil Genzlinger. In the article, Neil Genzinger wrote the following:
Anne Rice, the Gothic novelist best known for “Interview With the Vampire,” the 1976 book that in 1994 became a popular film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, died on Saturday at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 80.

Her son, Christopher Rice, wrote on social media that the cause was complications from a stroke.

Ms. Rice was a largely unknown writer when she turned a short story she had written in the late 1960s into “Interview With the Vampire,” her first published novel. It features a solitary vampire named Louis who is telling his life story to a reporter, but Ms. Rice said the tale was her story as well.

“I really got into the character,” she told The New York Times in 1988. “For the first time, I was able to describe my reality, the dark, gothic influence on my childhood. It’s not fantasy for me. My childhood came to life for me.”

The article goes on to to chronicle more about Anne Rice's life.

Here's an interesting side note to add to my post. In my early days as a newbie blogger, I'd made a post featuring Anne Rice's rerelease of her 'Sleeping Beauty' trilogy. Suddenly, I had a huge spike in terms of traffic to my blog with several page views of my blog post featuring the news that Anne Rice was rereleasing her 'Sleeping Beauty' trilogy along with a few comments to the blog post itself. Come to find out, Anne Rice had featured or shared my post on one of her social media platforms (or was it her blog???), I was floored and grateful.

Murder by the Book Hosts Laura Bradford in Conversation with Cynthia Kuhn Virtual Author Event!!

 

This month has been a fun month in terms of attending virtual author events! This past Thursday evening, I was able to hear Laura Bradford and Cynthia Kuhn discuss their recently released cozy mystery novels. Each author has come out with first novels in new cozy mystery series and both novels sound divine!

I read a novel written by Laura Bradford in the past, but Cynthia Kuhn is a new to me author. I look forward to reading more books by Laura Bradford in the future as I enjoyed reading the one and only novel I've read written by her to date... Plus, I now want to read novels by Cynthia Kuhn as well after hearing both authors discuss their work.

Thank you, Murder by the Book, for hosting these wonderful virtual author events.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan


I read the advance reader's copy of Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, which is the first novel in the 'Something Dark and Holy' trilogy. This is a young adult novel that falls into the dark fantasy genre.

I received my copy of Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan for FREE through the Goodreads Giveaway program. 

Below is my honest, unbiased review of Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan.

I had HIGH HOPES for Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan based on the fact that the likes of well known authors such as, Robin LaFevers, Stephanie Garber, and Rosamund Hodge, gave glowing remarks for this novel. Additionally, the storyline sounded excellent and engaging. So with that in mind, how could I resist reading Wicked Saints?

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan started out engaging enough and looked like a promising read. I enjoyed the premise of this novel, but the execution wasn't great. The characters and plot fell flat, especially towards the end of Wicked Saints. Not much dimension either for the characters or the plot. 

Occasionally, the storyline wasn't very clear... And at times, I felt like the storyline was repetitious. Like how many times can the main character, Nadya, express distrust for Malachiasz, among other things? After a while, I didn't care about the plot, the story, or the characters and simply wanted to finish reading Wicked Saints. Ugh!! 

Needless to say, I will not read any of the other novels in the 'Something Dark and Holy' trilogy by Emily A. Duncan.

Below is the publisher's summary for Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan from Amazon:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.
I am giving Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan a rating of 1 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding

 


Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is another book that has been on my reading wishlist for quite a while. I'm glad I finally listened to the unabridged audio version of this nonfiction book about the topic of rape/sexual assault and 'rape culture'.

Rape is one of the most under reported violent crimes, if not the most under reported violent crime. Even if the crime of rape is reported, the number of cases that eventually make it to trial are slim. Slimmer still is an actual felony conviction of the perpetrator.

I've read at least one other nonfiction book (Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer) about the topic of rape/sexual assault and other online statistics about rape/sexual assault itself and the information isn't pretty. The fact that most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, that most perpetrators of sexual assaults are often repeat offenders, and women between the ages of 12-34 make up the largest demographic of sexual assault victims is truly disturbing.

When I came across Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding, I knew I wanted to read this book. I want to feel empowered as a woman and learn what I can do about the alarming rise of 'rape culture'.

I enjoyed learning more about the topic of 'rape culture' from Kate Harding's book, even if it is a difficult topic to read about due to the  violent nature of sexual assaults and the fact that so many perpetrators go unpunished for their crimes. 

Harding's writing is excellent and her writing style is straight forward and no nonsense. Each chapter in Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It is well organized and very written.

Despite the difficult subject matter of 'rape culture', I thoroughly enjoyed listening Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding. I do hope someday in the not so distant future 'rape culture' will be a thing of the past.

Kate Harding points out in the last chapter of her book the forward progress made in ending 'rape culture'. We still have a long way to go in ending 'rape culture'. Harding offers several resources available for survivors of sexual assault throughout her book, especially in the last chapter. 

Much of the sexual assault resources Kate Harding shares in the last chapter are largely geared towards college students and a younger demographic in general... I can understand why much of the information shared in the last chapter was centered on those in a younger age range/demographic. College campuses and younger people make up the highest demographic of those that are sexually assaulted. In fact, RAINN reports that "Women Ages 18-24 Are at an Elevated Risk of Sexual Violence" (3x-4x higher than other age groups). Additionally, Kate Harding, herself, was a victim of sexual assault during her freshman year of college.

I'd like to emphasize that ,YES, there is something for everyone in the last chapter in terms of sexual assault resources and that's a wonderful thing. We can all gain new insight on how to end 'rape culture' and find resources for helping those that have been victims of sexual assault.

Listening time for Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is 8 hours, 55 minutes. Additionally, Erin Bennett narrated this book wonderfully,

Below is the publisher's summary for Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding from Audible:

From Congressman Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" gaffe to the high school rapists of Steubenville, Ohio, to the furor at Vanderbilt, sexual violence has been so prominent in recent years that the feminist term "rape culture" has finally entered the mainstream. But what exactly is it? And how do we change it?

In Asking for It, Kate Harding answers those questions in the same blunt, no-nonsense voice that has made her a powerhouse feminist blogger. Combining in-depth research with practical knowledge, Asking for It makes the case that 21st-century America - where it's estimated that out of every 100 rapes only five result in felony convictions - supports rapists more effectively than victims. Harding offers ideas and suggestions for addressing how we as a culture can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

I am giving Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my nest post, happy reading!!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Exposed (Edgars Family #5) by Suzanne Ferrell

 


I listened to the unabridged audio version Exposed (Edgars Family #5) by Suzanne Ferrell and narrated by Paul Boehmer. 

Listening time for Exposed (Edgars Family #5) by Suzanne Ferrell is 9 hours, 22 minutes.

Exposed (Edgars Family #5) by Suzanne Ferrell is my first read for the month of December 2021. I've been enjoying the 'Edgars Family' series quite a bit. I am glad I listened to the 5th novel in this series as it has been the best one so far in my opinion. 

If you like romantic suspense as a genre, then the 'Edgars Family' series may be the right series for you.

Below is the publisher's summary for Exposed (Edgars Family #5) by Suzanne Ferrell from Audible:
US Marshal Frank Castello is on medical leave and feeling restless. While at his friends' wedding, he finds himself attracted to Sydney Peele. Problem is, the cute, sassy blonde is the photographer for the wedding. Frank hates photographers. They're a hazard to his profession, especially when he's on witness protection duty.

Sydney Peele is intrigued by the grumpy Marshal at her friend's wedding, even when the big, sexy man begrudgingly offers to take her home afterwards. Her pleasure is short lived when her home and life is literally going up in flames. Her brother had been staying at her home, and there is no sign of him anywhere. When Sydney goes into a state of frozen shock, finely honed instinct has Castello rushing her from the scene to safety at his home.

A visit to the fire scene the next day confirms his suspicions, when the firemen on the site confirm it a case of arson. As Frank and Sydney search for answers about who might've started the blaze, questions arise about her brother, also a photographer. Was he responsible for the fire? Or has he exposed his sister to something far more sinister?
I am giving Exposed (Edgars Family #5) by Suzanne Ferrell a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3) by Darren Shan

Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3) by Darren Shan is the third installment of the 'Cirque du Freak' series, which is a young adult series featuring vampires and other nonhuman creatures living among human beings. I listened the unabridged audio version of this novel, which is wonderfully narrated by Ralph Lister.

Listening time for Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3) by Darren Shan is 4 hours, 45 minutes.

I've enjoyed the first three novels in the 'Cirque du Freak' series quite a bit. Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3) by Darren Shan is also a good read. I liked the characters, the writing, and plot development throughout Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3). As much as I enjoyed Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3), I felt that it wasn't as good as the two previous novels in the series.

Below is the publisher's summary for Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3) by Darren Shan from Audible:

Half-vampire Darren and his new friend are on the hunt for a monster in the third installment of New York Times best-selling Saga of Darren Shan series.

Darren, the vampire's assistant, gets a taste of the city when he leaves the Cirque du Freak with Evra the snake-boy and Mr. Crepsley. When corpses are discovered - corpses drained of blood - Darren and Evra are compelled to hunt down whatever foul creature is committing such horrendous acts. Meanwhile, beneath the streets, evil stalks Darren and Evra, and all clues point to Mr. Crepsley. Can they escape, or are they doomed to perish in the tunnels of blood?

I am giving Tunnels of Blood (Cirque du Freak #3) by Darren Shan a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - FREEBIE - My Ten Year Blogiversary Is Coming Up!!

 

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.

My ten year blogiversary for Captivated Reader is coming up on January 1, 2022!! I can't believe I've been blogging this long... Time surely has flown by faster than expected. 

I remember what an ordeal it was to even get started with keepinga  book blog. I'd wanted to have a blog for a few years prior to starting Captivated Reader, but I wasn't sure what to blog about initially. All I knew at the time was that I wanted my blog to be about a specific topic/subject as I didn't want to have a blog that covered everything and the kitchen sink that left readers trying to figure out what the theme was for my blog. I also wanted to post frequently to my blog to keep readers coming back.

After some deliberation, I chose to blog about books and anything bookish related. I never expected to blog this long or enjoy blogging as much as I have the past decade.

Below I decided to share some of the books I've reviewed over the past decade... The following books reviewed and shared below are ones that had me saying or sharing a lot more about them in my reviews than I thought I would. 

Click on the links below to read my reviews of each book.

1. The Little Book of Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting by Joe Gillard

2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

3. Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

4. Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence

5. Tangerine by Christine Mangan

6. Dracula [Audible Edition] by Bram Stoker

7. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum (Editor)

8. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

9. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

10. Room by Emma Donoghue

11. Quirky Berkeley by Tom Dalzell

Happy reading!!

Monday, December 6, 2021

Vanished (Edgars Family #4) by Suzanne Ferrell

 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Vanished (Edgars Family #4) by Suzanne Ferrell and narrated by Paul Boehmer.

Vanished (Edgars Family #4) by Suzanne Ferrell was the 12th and final book I read during November 2021. I've enjoyed playing catch up on the Edgars Family series as they are fun, romantic suspense novels that keep one engaged from start to finish. 

I liked the characters and the plot for Vanished (Edgars Family #4) by Suzanne Ferrell. The main characters, Luke and Abigail, are fun and well developed. The writing is solid for this novel... And Paul Boehmer has been the narrator for this entire series thus far and does another great job narrating this novel.

Listening time for Vanished (Edgars Family #4) by Suzanne Ferrell is 8 hours, 44 minutes.

Below is the publisher's summary for Vanished (Edgars Family #4) by Suzanne Ferrell from Audible:

The fourth book in the Edgars Family Romantic Suspense Series They had a history....

Five years earlier Luke Edgars and Abigail Whitson met at FLETC, the training center for government agents. It was instant dislike. She thought him an arrogant, showoff flirt, he thought it would be safer for everyone if she stayed behind her analyst's desk. She's in trouble....

Now Luke's world turns sideways when he finds Abby standing in the middle of a bloody crime scene and the victim has vanished. He needs to protect her....

Luke realizes that not only does Abby need his help to find her friend, but the friend has put Abby in the crosshairs of a dangerous group who will stop at nothing to hide their secrets.
I am giving Vanished (Edgars Family #4) by Suzanne Ferrell a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, December 3, 2021

Virtual Author Event - Darcie Wilde Discusses A Counterfeit Suitor - Hosted by Murder by the Book

 


I had fun watching the 'Darcie Wilde Discusses A Counterfeit Suitor' virtual author event, which aired live on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. This lovely virtual author event was hosted by Murder by the Book.

I first heard Darcie Wilde speak last year at a virtual author event hosted by Murder by the Book. At that time, Darcie Wilde was a new to me author and she had recently released the 4th novel in the 'Rosalind Thorne Mystery' series.

I was intrigued by the the 'Rosalind Thorne Mystery' series, so decided to listen to the first two audiobooks in the series earlier this year. I really enjoyed both books a lot and need continue listening to the rest of the novels in this series.

Have you attended any in person or virtual author events recently?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Virtual Author Event - Amanda Flower in Conversation with M.V. Byrne - Hosted by Murder by the Book!

 

I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed attending virtual author events since the pandemic started last year. In person events, have just been too dicey for me to consider at this time.

Murder by the Book, an independent bookstore in Texas, has hosted several fun and exciting virtual author events. 

Yesterday evening, I watched 'Amanda Flower in Conversation with M.V. Byrne' discuss their latest cozy mystery novels. Both authors are new to me. I enjoyed becoming acquainted with their books through this virtual author event.

Have attended any in person or virtual author events recently?

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

 

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier was my favorite fictional read during the month of November! I'd been meaning to read something written by Tracy Chevalier for a few years now as many readers seem to love her novels... It was just up to me to decide on which one of her many novels to read first. 

I happened to discover the paperback edition of The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier at a Little Free Library a couple of years ago, so my decision was made for me on which one of Tracy Chevalier's books to read first.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier is so engaging and well paced! I loved the writing, the storyline, and the characters for this novel. Honor Bright, the main character, along with Belle Mills and Mrs. Reed were my favorite characters in this novel.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier is a multilayered novel. This historical fiction novel is set in the 1850s in Ohio. Honor Bright leaves England on a voyage with her sister, Grace, to the United States as Grace is to be married to her English fiance, Adam, who has moved to the United States. The voyage isn't a smooth one for Honor as she becomes seasick and remains seasick the entire voyage to America. Then Honor's sister, Grace, dies from yellow fever as the two sisters make their way to Ohio by land to meet up with Adam in Ohio. This leaves Honor adrift on her own in a foreign country by herself to make the rest of her way to Adam. 

Initially, I'd found it odd that Honor left her parents home (parents whom she loved) to go with her sister to America. However, we, as readers, learn that Honor was 'jilted' by her fiance, Samuel, for another woman outside their Quaker faith. Honor found this event difficult to deal with and to then also face those within her community over her loss. So, Honor ends up traveling overseas with her sister, Grace. Even after Grace passed away near the start of The Last Runaway, Honor decides to remain in America instead of returning to England to be with kin. I found myself wanting to know what would happen to Honor Bright and her future as she was now set adrift in an unknown land... And what a tale her story is!

Honor Bright is a Quaker and she lived within a Quaker community in England with her family. She then (of course) moves to another Quaker community near Oberlin, Ohio.

Honor loves to quilt and is admired for her sewing and quilting skills. As readers, we become familiar with Honor's thoughts, feelings, and the difficulties she experiences as she adjusts to her new life in America. Just how out of sorts Honor feels to be in a new country with strange people, but making the best of it as she goes along.

We also learn about the Quakers themselves and their beliefs. We read about slavery and its impact on America along with how divisive slavery is between the Northern states and the Southern states. The Underground Railroad is brought to life and the injustices of slavery itself. Honor is thrown into the mix as an outsider looking in and trying to make sense of the various points of view on slavery. She encounters those that are against slavery and are helping with the Underground Railroad efforts... Plus, we see those that are pro-slavery and hire slave catchers to catch runaway slaves attempting to flee to Canada.

All the while, Honor Bright has met up with her deceased sister's fiance, Adam, and it is an awkward initial meeting... Adam had no idea Honor was joining Grace on her voyage to America as he hadn't received Grace's letter stating Honor was coming with her. Honor goes to live with Adam and that becomes a difficult situation for a variety of reasons I won't spell out here.

Honor eventually meets Jack Haymaker through the Quaker church and marries him. He's a young man around the same age as Honor and is a dairy farmer living with his widowed mother and younger sister. Jack's mother doesn't take to Honor and makes life difficult for Honor. Honor helps the runaway slaves and this is one of the reasons Honor's mother-in-law takes a disliking to her.

Honor is forbidden to continue helping runaway slaves by her mother-in-law as it puts their lives at risk with a new law that had been recently enacted. The new law states that those that help runaway slaves may be fined for their actions, which means they could lose the family farm and their livelihood. This drives a wedge between Honor and her new family as Honor wants to help the runaway slaves flee to freedom. Slavery runs against her principles. 

These are but a few of the highlights from The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. There are many more details to this novel that I have not covered in this review.

Below is the plot summary for The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier from Amazon:
New York Times best-selling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring and At the Edge of the Orchard, Tracy Chevalier makes her first fictional foray into the American past in The Last Runaway, bringing to life the Underground Railroad and illuminating the principles, passions, and realities that fueled this extraordinary freedom movement.

Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker, moves to Ohio in 1850 - only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape. Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality.

However, Honor is drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, where she befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.
I am giving The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!