Thursday, March 30, 2023

Throwback Thursday - 12 Works of Fiction That Exceeded My Expectations

Since I began blogging at the start of 2012, I've come across and read many novels by not so well known authors or novels written by well known authors that haven't garnered much attention. Below are twelve novels I enjoyed reading that I wanted to spotlight this week. Click on the links below to read my review for each novel.

1. The Obituary Society (The Obituary Society #1) by Jessica L. Randall
2. The Forty Fathom Bank by Les Galloway
3. Nosebleed by Ged Maybury
4. Shadow on the Sun by Richard Matheson
5. Imperfect Chemistry (Imperfect #1) by Mary Frame
6. Bone Deep by Bonnie Dee
7. Kentucky On The Rocks by Gwendolyn Grace
8. All By My Selfie by Jo Noelle
9. Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven
10. Ravens in the Rain: A Noir Love Story by Christie Santo & Jeff Santo
11. The Taster by V. S. Alexander
12. Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Have you read any of the books mentioned in my blog post today?

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards by Julian Moore


I've been interested in learning cartomancy in its various forms from tarot, lenormand, and even with regular playing cards for several years now. With this in mind, I decided to read a cartomancy book back in December 2019 that was good in many ways, but it left me with more questions on how to be more proficient on giving readings with a regular deck of playing cards.

So, I purchased the eBook edition of Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards by Julian Moore from Amazon and read it via my Kindle app. Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards by Julian Moore is 114 pages in length for the ebook edition and is worth every penny. I love most everything about this cartomancy book!! 

Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards by Julian Moore quickly dives in to learning how to read playing cards. The author asks readers to purchased two playing card decks. One playing card deck will be become a working/learning deck where you put the meanings for each suit and the meanings for each of the cards, ace through king, on the face of each card and use it as a practice deck until you become proficient with each card's meaning. Once you become proficient using your working deck, you transition to using the normal, unmarked deck. I love this idea of making a working deck to use while learning to read playing cards and to also keep as a refresher deck if you haven't given a card reading in a while.

Additionally, I loved the quizzes at the end of most of the chapters to help solidify the knowledge given in each chapter. Also, practicing card readings on ones own seems to be one of the best ways to learn how to read playing cards. 

Each chapter in Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards builds on one another to add another layer to ones understanding of reading playing cards. There are also tips given by the author as well as action steps to take to help build ones knowledge base for giving playing card readings. 

I also enjoyed reading later chapters where the author gives the meanings for three card readings, which was awesome. The last few chapters were tips on how to give playing card readings and also how to do larger card readings beyond the three card spread. The information on how to give larger card readings was a bit unclear to me. I wish photos of these spreads and a bit more detail were given about them. Otherwise I think Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards was a fabulous read on how to give playing card readings for oneself and others. I highly recommend Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards by Julian Moore as a way to learn to read playing cards.

Now to practice, practice, practice learning and giving playing card readings!!

I am giving Cartomancy - Fortune Telling With Playing Cards by Julian Moore a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Yikes, a Woman in San Francisco Has Been Asked to Remove Her Little Free Library Or Pay a $1,400 Fine!!!

I came across and read the following article published in the San Francisco Chronicle titled, S.F. bureaucrats gave woman a choice: Remove free library or pay $1,400 after one anonymous complaint by Heather Knight. In the article, Heather Knight wrote the following:
For more than a decade, Susan Meyers’ front sidewalk proved a cheerful hub in her Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood — until one anonymous grump called 311. In this city notorious for giving tremendous credence to solitary complainers — who have the right to halt housing projects, foil their neighbors’ housing remodels and stall emergency transit projects — that one call compelled a visit from a Public Works inspector.

And soon, Meyers’ adorable little library had a notice affixed to it with bright blue tape giving her two choices: Remove the bench and the library or pay $1,402 for a “minor encroachment permit.”

Even though there’s plenty of space on the wide sidewalk for people to walk, push their strollers or pass by in wheelchairs. Even though the home’s front stairs stretch farther into the sidewalk than the bench or library. Even though legions of neighbors love the setup and want it to stay.

Meyers’ neighbors have offered to create a GoFundMe to raise the $1,402 for a permit, but she doesn’t want to go that route. The 79-year-old therapist and her husband, a retired lawyer, could pay the fee, but why should they?

Public Works says the couple doesn't have to pay the fee for now while the department develops a new program to make it easier to add benches, free libraries and other neighborhood amenities, but the details of that proposal aren't yet clear.

“It’s the principle of it,” Meyers told me about getting the notice. “When you’re trying to raise spirits in a city at a very low time, that shouldn’t be punished.”

After reading the above article, I was left shaking my head at the nonsense of it all. Seriously, if both the bench and the Little Free Library referred to in the above article DO NOT encroach upon the sidewalk space AND walkers, baby strollers, and those in wheelchairs are able to use the sidewalk without being restricted in any way, then what's the problem with having the bench and the Little Free Library where they are currently located? 

Additionally, as the above article also points out, 'the home’s front stairs stretch farther into the sidewalk than the bench or library', yet the anonymous individual who reported the issue isn't complaining about the stairs apparently. 

Click on the above link to read the entire article.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Another Indie Bookstore Bites the Dust After 32 Years of Business!!

I recently came across an article published on the SF Gate's website titled, ‘A gut punch’: Two decades-old San Francisco bookshops to close by Ariana Bindman. In the article, Ariana Bindman wrote the following:
Bonnie Stuppin, one of the owners of Alexander Book Company, said the SoMa bookstore will likely shutter toward the end of April after 32 years of service. The reason, she says, is because downtown San Francisco offices aren’t nearly as packed as they used to be. “We’re not seeing enough customers to justify opening the doors and turning the lights and paying the staff to come down,” she told SFGATE.

“Our, I guess, customer base was really mostly the downtown office workers and they are gone,” she continued. Previously, SFGATE reported that there are about 150,000 fewer workers in the area, and vacant office space has hit a record high. 

Loyal customers who used to work nearby are now scattered all across the United States, Stuppin said, and though they place orders through Alexander’s online shop, it’s still not enough to keep the independent bookstore open.
I'm saddened to learn this news!! My husband and I visited the Alexander Book Company in downtown San Francisco twice before the Covid-19 Pandemic hit. The Alexander Book Company is a lovely three story bookstore with a fabulous layout, phenomenal selection of books, and pleasant staff members. I even blogged about my visit to the Alexander Book Company back in 20215. See post here. I most certainly wish they were able to remain in business for at least another 32 years!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Missing Actress Sensation by Ernest Bramah


Last year, I discovered that there are plenty of free, full-length audiobooks available on YouTube to listen to and not all of them are classics. I actually listened to quite a few audiobooks on YouTube last year and enjoyed my listening experience very much.

This month, I actually enjoyed listening to The Missing Actress Sensation by Ernest Bramah and narrated by Simon Stanhope from Bitesized Audio Classics.

The Missing Actress Sensation by Ernest Bramah is a mystery, short story from the Max Carrados series. I enjoyed this short story very much as I enjoy mysteries. 

Simon Stanhope is a good narrator and his YouTube channel, Bitesized Audio Classics, focuses on short stories from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. If these kinds of short stories are your thing, then checkout the Bitesized Audio Classics YouTube Channel.

I am giving The Missing Actress Sensation by Ernest Bramah  a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - TTT Rewind - Bookstores I'd Love to Visit!

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 the top ten independent bookstores I'd love to visit throughout the US: 

1. Powell's Books in Portland, OR

2. The Strand Bookstore in New York City, NY

3. Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, WA

4. Verbatim Books in San Diego, CA

5. Kramers in Washington, DC

6. Murder By The Book in Houston, TX

7. The Booksmith in San Francisco, CA

8. Myopic Books in Chicago, IL

9. Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

10. The Montague Bookmill in Montague, MA

Have you visited any of the above independent bookstores? If so, are they worthy of a visit? 

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.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! I hope you enjoy the day and are reading something written by an Irish writer. If you have a favorite Irish writer, please share which Irish author is your favorite in the comment section below.

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.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp

Happy Pi Day!! In honor of Pi Day, I am reviewing A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp.

With full disclosure, I did listen to the unabridged audio version of A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp and narrated by Sean Pratt last year in 2022. However, I never wrote a review of it or most of the books I read last year... In fact, I'm not even sure I wrote any book reviews in 2022.

I am NOT a mathematics savant! I am pretty much math phobic when it comes to anything beyond basic math, which is why I majored in a foreign language during college. I was only required to take one college level mathematics class, statistics, and I struggled to pass my statistics class. 

So, you may be wondering why I chose to read A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp if I have an aversion to the topic of mathematics? The simple answer is I am trying to broaden my current knowledge by learning more about things I do not know much about. In other words, broaden my horizons.

What did I think of A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp? I found it is both packed with a lot of mathematical history and mathematical concepts. I think the writing was really well done by the author... However, I was frequently overwhelmed by much of the advanced mathematical concepts and formulas presented in this work of nonfiction that my eyes began to glaze over in certain sections. I think if I was better versed in mathematics, then this book would have been more of a breeze to understand. Not that I struggled to understand the entire book or anything like that... Just certain topics discussed were difficult to follow due to my lack of advanced mathematics. 

Also, I'd recommend reading the written version of A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics instead of the audio version as I think it would be easier to follow if one sees the written formulas rather than hearing these formulas stated verbally.

I recommend A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp for those that love the subject of mathematics OR those that work as statisticians, mathematicians, or actuaries.

I think learning about the life of Leonhard Euler and his genius were my favorite parts of reading A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics.

Below the summary for A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp I discovered on Chirp's website:
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.
I am giving A Most Elegant Equation: Euler's Formula and the Beauty of Mathematics by David Stipp a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

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!!

Interesting news tidbit. In case you haven't heard about ChatGPT, it's "an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022." (Wikipedia

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. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Throwback Thursday - 12 Novels Written By Women That Are Worth The Read!!

March is Women's History Month. So for this post I've decided to do a slight twist and focus on novels (vs women's history specifically) written by women that are very much worth the read in my humble opinion.

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!!