My blog is about the books I'm reading, the independent bookstores I visit, the author and book events I attend, and any bookish related things I come across in the months and years to come!
Monday, March 20, 2023
Little Free Library at The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California
On the morning of St. Patrick's Day, my husband and I visited The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California. The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a 3.5 acre botanical garden, which features "a collection of climate-appropriate plants from around the world."
We spent about an hour at The Ruth Bancroft Garden soaking up the sunshine and loving the slightly warmer weather after recent rainstorms hit our region. There's nothing better than spending time in nature. For me, botanical gardens, parks, and other green spaces (or the beach) are such relaxing places to unwind and restore one physically, mentally, and emotionally.
During our visit to The Ruth Bancroft Garden, we discovered a new to us Little Free Library. I was able to leave a hardback edition of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan for the next person to find and enjoy reading.
Have you found any Little Free Libraries lately?
Friday, March 17, 2023
Happy St. Patrick's Day ~ Celebrate Irish Authors!
I came across an article titled, Irish Authors: The 30 Best Irish Writers published on the No Sweat Shakespeare website. In the article, I read the following:
The Irish are a nation of writers. Ireland is a small country with a small population, so the number of writers who have achieved universal fame is incredible. Among the most famous Irish writers, they have produced some of the most renowned and significant works of literature in the English language. Here is a list of some of the most prominent Irish writers of the last four centuries, with a message to us from each one, ordered by their date of birth.I enjoyed reviewing the list of Irish authors presented in the above mentioned article. I am familiar with many of the authors mentioned, but have only read works written by roughly five of the writers mentioned definitively... However, I may have read something written by three of the other writers listed as well. Perhaps, it's high time I read something written by Edna O'Brien, James Joyce, and a few of the other Irish writers listed in the above article.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Throwback Thursday - Rediscovering A Few of My Bookish Blog Posts from 2012!
January 1, 2012 is when I created and started posting to my blog, Captivated Reader. Recently, I found it fun to stroll down memory lane and review my blog posts made during 2012. I didn't have many followers back then, but I was proud of the fact that I'd made a bookish related post each day of the year. Talk about dedication! My purpose for blogging on a daily basis was to create the habit of posting on a regular basis about all things book related.
Click on the links below to view and read my posts!
1. Books Wrapped In Human Skin - Yes, can you believe it? There are actually books wrapped in human skin! I posted about this topic on Halloween day in 2012.
2. Rules For Bookstore Flirting - Again, another fun article!
3. What Makes A Memoir 'Great'? - Love reading memoirs? See if you agree with the author of this article on what makes a memoir 'great'.
4. DIY Book Purse Craft Project! - Calling all crafters!! If you like bookish themed craft projects this may be the perfect diy project for you!
5. The Early Jobs of 24 Famous Writers - Check out this article to learn what some famous authors did for work.
6. Do these books REALLY make ONE undateable?? - What do you think?
7. Make Your Own Accordion Books!! - Another crafty project for book lovers! Go ahead and have fun with making your own accordion book.
8. Factoid of the Day! - Interesting publishing factoid.
9. The Old Man & the Sea by Hemingway Stop Motion Video! - A new spin on Hemingway's classic novel.
10. After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print. - With advent of the internet and Wikipedia, this was bound to happen.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp
Bertrand Russell wrote that mathematics can exalt “as surely as poetry.” This is especially true of one equation: ei(pi) + 1 = 0, the brainchild of Leonhard Euler, the Mozart of mathematics. More than two centuries after Euler’s death, it is still regarded as a conceptual diamond of unsurpassed beauty. Called Euler’s identity or God’s equation, it includes just five numbers but represents an astonishing revelation of hidden connections. It ties together everything from basic arithmetic to compound interest, the circumference of a circle, trigonometry, calculus, and even infinity. In David Stipp’s hands, Euler’s identity becomes a contemplative stroll through the glories of mathematics. The result is an ode to this magical field.
Friday, March 10, 2023
The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton
I enjoyed listening to the unabridged audio version of The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton and narrated by Devon O'Day. I'd initially received the paperback edition of this novel for free from the Goodreads Giveaways program, but I decided I'd rather listen to it on audiobook... So I purchased the novel on sale through Chirp's website. I'm glad that I did!
The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton is a work of contemporary fiction/women's fiction set in the South... Primarily, in Sweet Bay, Alabama and also partially set in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Although, I enjoyed this novel, the narration, storyline, and characters, I wasn't as enamored as other reviewers seemed to be with The Hideaway. I was expecting to be wowed by this novel due to all the five star reviews I've seen. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed The Hideaway... it's just that it wasn't perfect. There were a few flaws in terms of plot details that didn't seem quite plausible. Or ones that were simply glossed over or resolved quickly that could have been flushed out a bit more for a tad more realistic read.
Below is the publisher's summary for The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton which I discovered on Chirp's website:
When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back to her small hometown of Sweet Bay, Alabama, she must face family secrets and difficult choices. In the South, family is always more complicated than it seems.
After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering her grandmother’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.
Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.
Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.
When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.
I am giving The Hideaway by Lauren K Denton a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Monday, March 6, 2023
ChatGPT Has Authored or Coauthored Over 200 Books on Amazon!!
According to a Reuter's article, ChatGPT launches boom in AI-written e-books on Amazon by Greg Bensinger written on February 21, 2023:
There were over 200 e-books in Amazon’s Kindle store as of mid-February listing ChatGPT as an author or co-author, including "How to Write and Create Content Using ChatGPT," "The Power of Homework" and poetry collection "Echoes of the Universe." And the number is rising daily. There is even a new sub-genre on Amazon: Books about using ChatGPT, written entirely by ChatGPT.
It's kind of amazing that AI has come along way in that AI can now write or cowrite books. It makes me wonder how well written these books actually are. Not that I'll be rushing out to purchase and read a book written/cowritten by ChatGPT.
How do you feel about the plethora of eBooks flooding Amazon's website that are being written or cowritten and published by ChatGPT?
Lastly, the above YouTube video discusses the topic of ChatGPT and the eBooks it has written/cowritten that are now available on Amazon.
Friday, March 3, 2023
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Throwback Thursday - 12 Novels Written By Women That Are Worth The Read!!
Below are twelve novels written by women that I've read and reviewed here on my blog. Each of the novels are extremely well written. I enjoyed reading each of them and would enjoy reading them again as they're all thought provoking in one way or another.
Additionally, all of these novels would make great book club reads as I think each novel would generate loads of discussion among book club readers.
Click on the links below to read my review of each of the following novels listed should you care to read/learn more about each novel and why I liked reading it.
1. All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
2. Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry
4. Asking For It by Louise O'Neill
5. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
6. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
7. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
8. The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
9. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
10. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel King
11. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
12. The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel
Have you read any of the above novels? Did you like them as much as I did? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Vaccinated by Paul A Offit M.D.
I listened to the unabridged audio version of Vaccinated by Paul A Offit M.D. and narrated by Tim Dixon.
There's a lot, and I mean a lot, of information packed within this nonfiction book. I learned so much by listening to this audiobook. If you're at all interested in learning more about vaccines and medical science, then this is definitely the book for you!
Vaccinated by Paul A Offit M.D. is part biography of Maurice Hilleman and part history of vaccines and the communicable diseases they were created to help save lives. The science behind vaccines and the various researchers who created these vaccines makes for fascinating reading. The ups and downs of trying to create vaccines to saves lives was also fascinating to read about in Vaccinated as things didn't always go smoothly.
As a side note, before listening to Vaccinated by Paul A Offit M.D., I had no idea who Maurice Hilleman was. Little did I know that Hilleman "was responsible for developing more than 40 vaccines, including measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, and rubella." (NIH National Library of Medicine). Suffice it to say, Maurice Hilleman is not a household name, yet his vaccines have saved countless lives.
Below is the publisher's summary for Vaccinated by Paul A Offit M.D. found on Chirp's website:
Respected physician Paul Offit tells a fascinating story of modern medicine and pays tribute to one of the greatest lifesaving breakthroughs—vaccinations—and the medical hero responsible for developing nine of the big fourteen vaccines which have saved billions of lives worldwide.
Maurice Hilleman’s mother died a day after he was born and his twin sister was stillborn. Believing that he had escaped an appointment with death, he made it his life’s work to see that others could do the same. The fruits of his labors were nine vaccines that practically every child receives, everyday miracles of modern medicine that have eradicated some of the most common—and devastating—diseases, including mumps and rubella.
Offit, a vaccine researcher himself who co-invented the rotavirus vaccine, befriended Hilleman and, during the great man’s final months, interviewed him extensively about his life and career. Those conversations are the heart of Vaccinated. In telling Hilleman’s story, Offit takes us around the globe and across time, from the days of Louis Pasteur, to today, when a childhood vaccine can protect women from cervical cancer and stop a deadly pandemic like Covid-19. Yet these preventative treatments have come under increasing attack from both the left and right, and the anti-vaxxer movement that began with false reports over autism is growing at an alarming rate, threatening society’s well-being, and especially those whose conditions prevent them from being vaccinated.
Offit makes an eloquent and compelling case for Hilleman’s importance, arguing that his name should be as well-known as Jonas Salk. Vaccinated reminds us of the value of vaccines and the power of science to save lives and protect our well-being.
I am giving Vaccinated by Paul A Offit M.D. a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Book Tag: 5…4…3…2…1…
Monday, February 27, 2023
Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, NY
Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, NY is owned by author, Emma Straub. The above LifeHacker video discusses how Books Are Magic is thriving in the era of Amazon.
Friday, February 24, 2023
Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
I've had the signed paperback edition of Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay ever since attending the Bay Area Book Festival in 2017 where I heard Roxane Gay speak at an in person event. Despite the fact that I've been wanting to read Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay for years, I've kept putting it off until this year when I finally listened to the audio version! One of the reasons I've put off reading Bad Feminist is because I don't normally gravitate towards nonfiction essays despite the fact that I enjoy Roxane Gay's writing. However, nonfiction essays worked in my favor while listening to Bad Feminist this month. Each nonfiction essay was relatively short in length. I was able to enjoy each essay as it was presented and then come back for more when I was ready for the next essay as time permitted with my busier schedule this month.
I liked this collection of nonfiction essays by Roxane Gay. I don't think there was a bad essay in the bunch. Although, of course, there were some essays I enjoyed more than others. The essays seemed to run a diverse range of topics, which I enjoyed. I actually learned a lot about Roxane Gay... Like the fun factoids that Roxane Gay is a competitive Scrabble player, loved the Sweet Valley High series as a youngster, and her favorite color is pink.
Below is a summary for Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay from Chirp's website:
A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched cultural observers of her generation
In these funny and insightful essays, Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better, coming from one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.
I am giving Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Throwback Thursday - Favorite Memoirs I've Read and Reviewed on My Blog
I didn't realize how many memoirs I've read and reviewed over the years here on my blog until I did a search!! I've always enjoyed reading memoirs and biographies throughout my entire life... I just didn't think I'd read so many.
There were so many great memoirs to chose from that I'd rated 4 stars or higher. However, I chose to stick to ten of them to keep my list from overflowing.
I've listed the ten memoirs below in no order of importance. I've added links to each review I've written should you decide you'd like to read what I enjoyed about each memoir.1. Toni Tennille: A Memoir by Toni Tennille
2. A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston
3. Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama
5. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
6. Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland
7. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
8. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
9. My Life On The Road by Gloria Steinem
10. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Do you like reading memoirs and biographies? Have you read any of the above memoirs? Do you have a favorite memoir or biography? Please share in the comment section below.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Meet Cute Romance Bookshop in San Diego, CA
If you love reading books from the romance genre, then visiting Meet Cute Romance Bookshop in San Diego, California may be the independent bookshop you need to visit next!!
Meet Cute Romance Bookshop looks awesome! They have author events and even a book podcast. Visit the Meet Cute Romance Bookshop website for more information regarding their book podcast, author events, store hours, and more.
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston
I've had Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston on my radar for quite sometime. I finally decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston and narrated by Robin Miles for Black History Month.
I am so happy that I finally listened to Barracoon as this work of nonfiction is of historical significance and an engaging listen. While listening to Barracoon, I discovered that Zora Neale Hurston was also an anthropologist as well as the popular writer we know today. She interviewed Cudjo Lewis, one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade from Africa, in 1927 and again in 1931.
Below is the summary for Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston from the Chirp website:
A major literary event: a never-before-published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God that brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States.
In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.
In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.
Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.
I am giving Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Friday, February 17, 2023
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn is a novel that had been on my reading wishlist until recently. I recall learning that Sharks in the Time of Saviors was one of Barack Obama's favorite novels in 2020. The title of this magical realism novel was catchy enough to capture my attention initially and the plot sounded captivating. So with that said, it was an easy decision to add Sharks in the Time of Saviors by to my ever growing reading wishlist.
I listened to the unabridged audio version of Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. The audio version is narrated by four different narrators, which I thought was great as each narrator brought their own voice to the character they read for in the novel.
I really liked Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. The storyline was well laid out, the characters strong and distinct, and each chapter featured a point of view of one of the main characters... However, we only hear from Augie Flores' (the father) point of view in the last chapter... Whereas the rest of the chapters are told from the points of view of the other immediate family members.
Below is the plot summary for Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn from Chirp's website:
Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawaiian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn. In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, 7-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends. Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods - a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy. When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawaii - with tragic consequences - they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.
I am giving Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Throwback Thursday - Revisiting Books I've Read
The following nine novels are ones that I've read in recent years and found to be thought provoking reads. Many of the following novels fall into the historical fiction genre... Twain's novel is an American classic. Butler's novel features time travel. And Beatty's novel features satire.1. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
2. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
3. The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian
4. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
5. Jubilee by Margaret Walker
6. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
7. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
8. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
9. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
40 Acre Wood Bookstore in Lexington, TX
40 Acre Wood Bookstore in Lexington, Texas is another independent bookstore that I would love to visit in the future. I loved learning about 40 Acre Wood Bookstore and its amazing owner, Heidi Frazier!
Lexington, Texas is a small town without a public library. Heidi Frazier, the proprietor of 40 Acre Wood Bookstore, makes it a priority to promote reading. In fact, each child that visits 40 Acre Wood Bookstore receives a free book! Watch the above video to learn more.
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
March of the Mammoths 2023 Readathon Event Announcement!
Until yesterday, I'd never even heard of the March of the Mammoths Readathon before!! The term 'mammoth' refers to books with 800 pages or longer in length.
The goal of this readathon is to read a book that's 800+ pages in length. This is a stress free reading challenge where one can read one (or more) 800+ page book(s) during the month of March. You don't even have to finish reading the book you chose during the month of March... That's how stress free this readathon is!!
I use to read 500+ page books regularly many moons ago, but typically read books that are less than 400 pages these days. Sadly, I have many lengthy books that I want to read, but have postponed reading them for shorter books.This year, I've decided to participate in the March of the Mammoths by listening to the audio version of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and narrated by actress, Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Below is a YouTube video with more information about the March of the Mammoths 2023 Readathon.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Monday, February 13, 2023
California State Library Parks Pass Program
How did I not know about the California State Library Parks Pass program that came out roughly 10 months ago until this past weekend?
California Public Libraries and California State Parks have joined forces to make going outdoors more accessible to all Californians by providing free day use parking passes available to check out from your local public library. These passes allow entry to over 200 participating state parks! Watch the above video as well as checking out the California Department Parks and Recreation website for more information.
Sunday, February 12, 2023
Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America by Chris DeRose
I enjoy reading nonfiction books about American history and true crime. Last year, when I first learned about Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America by Chris DeRose and narrated by Traber Burns through Chirp's website, I decided to buy a copy of this audiobook based on the publisher's summary.
I had high hopes for Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America by Chris DeRose, but I was quickly disappointed by the audio production and the narration of this book. The narrator sounded like he was speaking in a tin can and I didn't enjoy the narrator's reading style for Star Spangled Scandal.I almost gave up on listening to Star Spangled Scandal several times. But I kept going as I was interested learning about this aspect of American history. However, with that being said, I tuned out routinely due to the narration and audio quality. I also thought Star Spangled Scandal wasn't that engaging in spots... Parts of Star Spangled Scandal felt a bit too sensationalistic to me and other parts were decent enough like most of the trial coverage. I may have had an overall more enjoyable experience reading this book instead of listening to it.
Below is the summary for Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America by Chris DeRose from Chirp:
The year is 1859 and Congressman Daniel Sickles and his beautiful wife Teresa are the toast of Washington, DC society. President James Buchanan is godfather to their daughter. Philip Barton Key, US Attorney for the District of Columbia (and the son of Francis Scott Key), is one of the couple’s closest friends—so close, in fact, that he often escorts the beautiful Mrs. Sickles to social events when the congressman is too busy.
Revelers in DC are accustomed to the sight of the congressman’s wife with the tall, Apollo-like Philip Barton Key, who is considered “the handsomest man in all Washington society … foremost among the popular men of the capital.” Then one day Congressman Daniel Sickles receives an anonymous note about his wife and Key, setting into motion a tragic course of events that culminates in a bloody confrontation in the street that leaves one man dead and the other charged with murder. This is the riveting true story of the murder and historic trial that shocked 19th century America, now brought to vivid life by historian Chris DeRose with the help of Mrs. Sickles’ writings and other primary sources.
I am giving Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America by Chris DeRose a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Verbatim Books in San Diego, CA
I so want to visit this independent bookstore!! Verbatim Books is exactly what a bookstore is supposed to be like.
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Cactus Book Shop in San Angelo, TX
I love independent bookstores quite a bit. I discovered the following video footage from YouTube for a neat looking indie bookstore in San Angelo, TX called Cactus Book Shop and run by Felton Cochran. Cactus Book Shop specializes "in Texana/Western Americana and Elmer Kelton Books."
I've never been to Texas before, but I would love to visit the Cactus Book Shop and other wonderful independent bookstores in Texas.
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Exit by Belinda Bauer
Felix Pink is retired. Widowed for more than a decade and a painfully literal thinker, he has led a life of routine and is, not unhappily, waiting to die a hopefully boring death. He occupies himself volunteering as an Exiteer-someone who sits with terminally ill people as they die by suicide, assisting with logistics and lending moral support, then removing the evidence so that family and friends are not implicated in the death. When Felix lets himself into Number 3 Black Lane, he’s there to perform an act of kindness and charity: to keep a dying man company as he takes his final breath. But just fifteen minutes later, Felix is on the run from the police-after making the biggest mistake of his life. Now his routine world is turned upside down as he tries to discover whether what went wrong was a simple mistake-or deliberate, a murder. With a novel that is part murder mystery, part coming-of-old-age story-however short that future may be—Belinda Bauer continues to redefine the boundaries of crime fiction. With the compassion and dark humor of Jonas Jonasson and the twisted thriller plotting of Rear Window, Exit is a novel listeners will not soon forget.
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Book and Bed in Tokyo, Japan!!
I adore independent bookstores, especially unique indie bookstores. I've read about bookstores with cafes inside them, book bars, outdoor bookstores and more. I've even been to a few unique indie bookstores over the years myself.
I've recently read about a bookstore in Tokyo, Japan called Book and Bed, that is both a bookstore and a hostel! This place sounds/looks interesting and I would even like to visit Book and Bed sometime down the road.Below is a short, 75 second video I watched via YouTube about Book and Bed. Enjoy!
I also discovered the online images below of the interior of Book and Bed for those that don't want to watch the above video.
Monday, February 6, 2023
The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre
I don't remember where or when I first learned about The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre, but this contemporary fiction novel has been on my reading wishlist for a while. I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre and narrated by Andrea Izzy Anthony.
First off, I am glad I finally listened to The Ghostwriter. However, it wasn't entirely what I expected it be based on the plot summary. I was expecting it to be more of a thriller. It does have a bit of a mystery to it, but The Ghostwriter falls more into the psychological fiction genre rather than the thriller genre.
I must say that the main character of Helena Ross is one of the most memorable main characters I've read in a long time. She's also one of my least favorite main characters too. Helena Ross is a complete pain in the butt towards everyone. Helena's a control freak. She is obsessed with making rules that MUST be followed without question and a stickler for following the rules of others. She seems to suffer from ocd. She's a germaphobe. She's also become somewhat of a recluse. Helena's also not very friendly, to the point of being rude.Helena Ross is a very successful, bestselling author. She also has terminal cancer and is given three months left to live. She's also lost both her husband and her daughter. (And it should be noted here that Helena's personality mentioned above, is what it is prior to her cancer diagnosis and loss of her husband and daughter.) Helena wants to write one last book that proves to be one kicker of a book... But she can't write it alone due to her cancer diagnosis and treatment. This is where the ghostwriter comes in to help Helena write her finally, most urgent book.
I thought the characters were well developed for The Ghostwriter. I loved the start of the novel and the ending as well. The middle section stretched out a bit too long. Or maybe the middle section seemed a bit slower than the start and ending of the novel? By the end of the novel, we as readers do find some sympathy for Helena as her life hasn't been an easy one.
Overall, I enjoyed The Ghostwriter and I would recommend it to other readers.
Listening time for The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre is 9 hours, 26 minutes.
Below is the plot summary for The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre from Chirp:
Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. Everyone believed me.
I wasn’t surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.
Now, I have one last story to write. It’ll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.
They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.
I am giving The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Saturday, February 4, 2023
Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright
I listened to the unabridged audio version of Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright and narrated by the author. Listening time for Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright is 9 hours, 54 minutes.
I really enjoyed listening to Madeleine Albright read her book, Fascism: A Warning, as she did a great job of bringing the information to life in her book through her narration. I enjoyed the discussion on what fascism is as well as learning more about various fascists throughout history. Plus, there is a discussion on the mechanisms that make it possible for fascism to thrive. Overall, Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright is a good book. If you are interested in learning more about the topic of fascism, then this may be the book for you.
Below is the summary for Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright from Amazon:
A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of the most admired public servants in American history, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of stateI am giving Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
A Fascist, observed Madeleine Albright, “is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.”
The twentieth century was defined by the clash between democracy and Fascism, a struggle that created uncertainty about the survival of human freedom and left millions dead. Given the horrors of that experience, one might expect the world to reject the spiritual successors to Hitler and Mussolini should they arise in our era. Fascism: A Warning is drawn from Madeleine Albright's experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her distinguished career as a diplomat to question that assumption.
Fascism, as she shows, not only endured through the twentieth century but now presents a more virulent threat to peace and justice than at any time since the end of World War II. The momentum toward democracy that swept the world when the Berlin Wall fell has gone into reverse. The United States, which historically championed the free world, is led by a president who exacerbates division and heaps scorn on democratic institutions. In many countries, economic, technological, and cultural factors are weakening the political center and empowering the extremes of right and left. Contemporary leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are employing many of the tactics used by Fascists in the 1920s and 30s.
Fascism: A Warning is a book for our times that is relevant to all times. Written by someone who not only studied history but helped to shape it, this call to arms teaches us the lessons we must understand and the questions we must answer if we are to save ourselves from repeating the tragic errors of the past.
Until my next post, happy reading!!
Friday, February 3, 2023
Little Free Library is Launching an Indigenous Library Program!!
Little Free Library is launching the Indigenous Library Program this spring. The new program will distribute LFL book-sharing boxes to tribal lands and other Indigenous communities. Boxes will be shipped to volunteer stewards for free and will come with two sets of books — one set will feature 25 books written and/or illustrated by BIPOC authors and another 25 books will center Indigenous people.
The new program has an advisory group consisting of educators, authors, and librarians, most of whom are Indigenous, all of whom have a long history serving Indigenous communities. The program aims to “strengthen community, inspire readers, expand easy book access, support positive literacy outcomes, and make little free libraries available in high-need locations serving Indigenous peoples.”
What an exciting new program to promote literacy and so much more within the indigenous community!!
Thursday, February 2, 2023
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
I've have had Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez in my 'to be read' pile since December 2017. I am happy that I was finally able to listen to the unabridged audio version of this historical fiction novel!
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez was also my 8th and final read during the month of January 2023. Wench is set in the USA in the 1800s prior to the Civil War. The focus of this novel is on the lives of four female slaves and their relationship as mistresses to their white masters. Wench also focuses on the intricate relationship each of the female slaves has with each other during the time they spend in Ohio on vacation with their white masters... And I wouldn't really call it a 'vacation' as these women still had to work, but not as hard as they normally would on the southern plantations where they lived.
Each of the four female slaves have certain privileges afforded to them as mistresses to their white masters, but it's a tenuous one. The women are still treated as property and treated less than equal to whites. Lizzie, for instance, lives in the Big House, is taught to read, and the children she has with her white master are given privileges other slave children are not. Lizzie is also able to acquire special favors for other slaves from the master due to her relationship with him as his mistress... Yet, Lizzie's master won't grant a provision in his will that would allow his children with Lizzie to be set free should he pass away. Also, Lizzie is not completely free to do what she wants and the threat of punishment if she steps out of line is real... Lizzie is also treated in many ways that are unthinkable despite the special privileges she is given by the her master.Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez offers a lot to ponder. It's a well paced read with a good storyline. I also enjoyed Quincy Tyler Bernstine's narration of Wench.
Below is the plot summary for Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez from Goodreads:
wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English "wenchel," 1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.
Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat's lofty white cottages provide the desired privacy which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they share developments in their own lives. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory-but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.
To run is to leave behind everything these women value most-friends and families still down South-and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances-all while they are bearing witness to the end of an era.
An engaging, and wholly original novel, WENCH explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.
I am giving Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next, post happy reading!!
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Top Ten NonFiction Books I Want to Read In Honor of Black History Month
1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
2. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
3. Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston
4. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
5. Surviving The White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll
6. Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis
7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
8. Feminism Is for Everybody by Bell Hooks
9. This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
10. Wandering In Strange Lands by Morgan Jerkins
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
The History of the Bible: Explore 2,000 Years of Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Impact by David Zachariah Flanagin
Explore the 2,000-year impact of the most-read book ever written.I am giving The History of the Bible: Explore 2,000 Years of Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Impact by David Zachariah Flanagin a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.
The Bible’s importance can hardly be overstated: Jesus and the earliest Christians shaped their self-identity from its pages, medieval monks spent countless hours meditating on the sacred words, and reformers have been inspired by its radical message to speak the truth of the Gospel. While its message has unified believers through the centuries, debates about biblical interpretation have also caused divisions among the faithful.
This 24-lecture audio course, taught by award-winning professor Zach Flanagin, guides you through over two millennia of biblical interpretation. You will explore the most important ways people have read the Bible in ancient history and in modern times.
After looking at how early Christians inherited scriptural approaches from Judaism, you will explore the tradition of allegorical interpretation in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Next, you will survey the important movements of scholasticism, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Enlightenment, which led to profound debates about the nature of the authority of the Bible and the Church. Finally, you will consider the current state of biblical interpretation, where many different voices are being heard.
Monday, January 30, 2023
When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel
I listened to the unabridged audio version of When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel and narrated by Steven Jay Cohen.
I essentially stumbled upon When Germs Travel on Chirp when it became one of Chirp's limited time audiobook deals. I decided to give this nonfiction book a try despite the fact that I'm still squeamish around anything epidemic or pandemic related due to the Covid-19 pandemic... But my fascination to learn more about six epidemics that invaded America was the major impetus to listen to When Germs Travel.
Tuberculosis, Bubonic Plague, Trachoma, Typhus, HIV/AIDS, and Cholera are the six epidemics discussed in much detail in their own individual chapter within When Germs Travel. Not only do we learn about each disease, but also a lot of the history on how each disease traveled into America and more. Sometimes, the historical information provided was a bit much. Also, a better narrator could have been chosen for When Germs Travel. Who wants to listen to a flat, monotone reader?
Below is the summary for When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel from Goodreads:
The struggle against deadly microbes is endless. Scourges that have plagued human beings since the ancients still threaten to unleash themselves; new maladies are brewing that have yet to make their appearance in the headlines; lethal germs employed as weapons of warfare and terrorism have reemerged as a worldwide menace. Regardless of their mode of attack, microbes exist to multiply, thrive, and find new hosts; they cross national boundaries and social classes, attacking without prejudice.
Now medical historian and pediatrician Howard Markel, author of Quarantine! (“Engrossing . . . Meticulously documented” —Sherwin Nuland, The New Republic), tells the story of six epidemics that broke out during the two great waves of immigration to the United States—from 1880 through 1924, and from 1965 to the present—and shows how federal legislation closed the gates to newcomers for almost forty-one years out of fear that these new people would alter the social, political, economic, and even genetic face of the nation.
Markel writes about tuberculosis today, the most serious public health threat facing the contemporary world. He writes about bubonic plague and how it came to this country in the early twentieth century; about trachoma in the years before World War I; about Ellis Island and how an East European rabbi was diagnosed and treated for the dreaded eye infection; about typhus fever and an epidemic on the Texas-Mexico border in the aftermath of Pancho Villa’s revolution; and about AIDS, the Haitian exodus, and the early years of the AIDS epidemic.
Markel explains how immigration in the twenty-first century is characterized by porous borders, rapid travel, and scattered destinations. While more than 75 percent of all immigrants during the first great wave of immigration came through New York Harbor, transportation today allows travel to all parts of the United States from the farthest reaches of the globe, giving public health physicians little opportunity to definitively diagnose infectious diseases that can incubate silently in a traveler, making the spread of epidemics far more than a theoretical concern.
Markel looks at our nation’s response to the pathogens present in our midst and examines our foolhardy attempts at isolation and our vacillation between demanding a public health system so punitive that it worsens matters rather than protects and settling for one that is too lax; how we are fascinated with all things infectious and then hardly give microbes a second thought; how the United States, a country that since its inception has prided itself on being a nation of immigrants, continues its tradition of blaming newcomers for its physical and social ills; and how globalization, social upheaval, and international travel render us all potential inhabitants of the so-called Hot Zone. Finally, Markel puts forth a plan for a globally funded public health program that could stop the spread of epidemics, help eradicate certain diseases, and protect us all.
I am giving When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!