Monday, June 26, 2023

Bonnie Garmus Interview on Her "Subversive" Novel "Lessons in Chemistry" From CBS Sunday Morning


I have Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus on my ever growing reading wishlist. After watching the above video from CBS Sunday Morning, I now want to read this novel even more! 

Has anyone else read and reviewed Lessons In Chemistry yet? Is this novel as subversive as billed? Does this novel actually live up to its hype? Do let me know in the comments section below!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Angel Fire by Lisa Unger


I can't remember when I first heard about author, Lisa Unger, but she's been on my radar for a while. I finally listened to one of Lisa Unger's novels this month! 

I chose to listen to the unabridged audio version of Angel Fire by Lisa Unger and narrated by Emily Beresford. This is the first novel in the Lydia Strong series and it falls into the thriller/mystery/suspense genres. Listening time for Angel Fire is 7 hours, 53 minutes.

I was impressed with Angel Fire, especially considering it is an early work written by the author and sometimes early novels aren't always the best. I didn't find Angel Fire flawless by any means, but I did find it engaging/entertaining enough to keep me engrossed throughout much of the novel. I look forward to reading the rest of the Lydia Strong series at some point in time.

Below is the plot summary for Angel Fire by Lisa Unger from Chirp's website:

The childhood murder of Lydia Strong’s mother has turned her into a woman obsessed with bringing brutal killers to justice. The reclusive, bestselling true-crime writer and investigative consultant has made a life out of chasing monsters. And her powerful intuitions rarely fail her. When three adults - loners, drifters - go missing, no one seems to notice except for Lydia. Enlisting the help of her friend, former FBI agent Jeffrey Mark, Lydia starts an investigation of her own. But when someone raises the stakes and goes after Lydia - just as fifteen years ago when she put the FBI on the trail of her mother’s killer - the real hunt begins.

I am giving Angel Fire by Lisa Unger a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Alta Journal - California Book Club - Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Last Thursday evening from 5pm-6pm Pacific Daylight Time, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Charles Yu discuss his novel, Interior Chinatown. I listened to the unabridged audio version of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu during the Fall of 2021. I really enjoyed this novel. I was thrilled to learn that Charles Yu would be discussing his novel via Alta's California Book Club as I always enjoy hearing about an author's writing process and other tidbits they discuss with viewers/readers of their novels.

During Alta's California Book Club, John Freeman was the interviewer and he started things off with Charles Yu. Then author, Bonnie Tsui, took over and spoke with Charles Yu. See the following transcript to read what transpired during this month's California Book Club discussion.

This happens to be my first virtual book event for the 2023 calendar year. I find this kind of surprising that this is the first virtual bookish event of 2023 that I've attended as the three previous years, I ONLY attended virtual events, PERIOD, end of story. Additionally, I attended several virtual events evenly spaced throughout each year in 2020-2022.

On the other hand, with things returning to normal since the pandemic began, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised I haven't attended many virtual events this year... Well, except for the very fact that I still don't feel comfortable attending in person events at this time. I still prefer (hands down) attending virtual events. I feel like I'm the only person left on the planet that feels this way as everyone else has moved on and returned to living normally as if the pandemic never existed in the first place. 

So where do you fall on the spectrum? Have you fully returned to living life as you did before the pandemic? Or are you in some sort of hybrid situation where you have returned to some sort of modified lifestyle?

Monday, June 19, 2023

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas is a memoir that's been on my reading wishlist for a few years now. I was lucky enough to find the paperback edition of this memoir at a Little Free Library in Danville, California earlier this year. 

I began reading Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas late last month for Asian American Pacific Islander Month as Jose Antonio Vargas was born in the Philippines, but came to America in 1993 at the age of 12 to live with his maternal grandparents in Mountain View, California.

I finished reading Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas last week. I was blown away by the writing, but then again, I probably shouldn't have been as Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen is divided into three separate sections titled: Lying, Passing, Hiding. Each section contains several short, engaging, and easy to digest chapters. Dear America is a memoir at its heart... More specifically, it's about the author first discovering at the age of 16 that his green card is counterfeit!! Jose Antonio Vargas learns this bit of information when goes to the DMV to obtain a driver's permit only to learn from a DMV employee that his green card was fake. Needless to say, Jose Antonio Vargas didn't receive a driver's permit that day and he left the DMV feeling confused. After confronting his grandfather about his experience at the DMV, Jose Antonio Vargas learns that he is, in fact, in the US illegally!! From this point onward, we, the readers, learn about the author's life as an undocumented citizen, about immigration to the US, and so much more. I learned so much by reading Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas. Too much information to write about in a single blog post. I have many areas pertaining to immigration and history, which I first learned about in Dear America, that I'd like to explore further.

However, I can state that this memoir challenges readers to reexamine their views on immigration and what it means to be an undocumented/illegal citizen here in the US. Things aren't always so straight forward regarding undocumented citizens. Many of us have misguided perceptions regarding illegal/undocumented citizens and these misguided perceptions are frequently fueled by an uninformed media perpetuating misinformation. The author is a journalist and has been for much of his life, so he is able to give us the inside perspective on the media's view on immigration as well as what it's like to be an illegal/undocumented citizens.

Below is an interview of Jose Antonio Vargas from CBS News. In the interview, he discusses his memoir, Dear America, with viewers. It's an informative interview!

I am giving Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas a solid rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars. This memoir is definitely one of my best reads so far in 2023.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson


Okay, so this is my second time around listening to The Lottery by Shirley Jackson as I listened to a collection of short stories written by Shirley Jackson back in early 2021 and it was one of the best stories in the entire collection.

The Lottery is definitely worth the listen. I can fully understand why it won the O. Henry Prize Stories award in 1949. In fact, The Lottery was written in 1948 and was first published in The New Yorker magazine. The Lottery caused a very negative response from readers and some people even cancelled their subscriptions to The New Yorker due to Jackson's short story! Hate mail was even sent throughout the summer in which this short story was published. (Wikipedia is the source of most of the above bit of information I learned about The Lottery.)

If you haven't read, nor know the plot summary for The Lottery, then I'd rather not spoil it for you! Just go ahead and read/listen to it for yourself. It makes for great reading if you like short stories.

I am giving The Lottery by Shirley Jackson a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Honeysuckle Cottage by P. G. Wodehouse


Back in 2014, I listened to the audio version of My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse and reviewed this book on my blog.

Last month, I came across the free audio version of Honeysuckle Cottage by P. G. Wodehouse on YouTube and narrated by Tony Walker. So, I decided to give another book by P.G. Wodehouse a try. I wasn't disappointed! Tony Walker is a fabulous narrator and his YouTube channel offers plenty of classic stories that he narrates very well.

P. G. Wodehouse is an entertaining writer and I found Honeysuckle Cottage to be an amusing and charming read. Honeysuckle Cottage is a short listen, which I highly recommend.

Below is the summary for Honeysuckle Cottage by P. G. Wodehouse from Goodreads's website:

Hardboiled crime writer James Rodman assumes his luck is in when he inherits Honeysuckle Cottage. But there’s a catch. He also inherits his dearly departed Aunt Leila – who is determined to soften her nephew’s cynical ways, even from beyond the grave…

Click above video link to listen to Honeysuckle Cottage by P. G. Wodehouse. If you like the narration, then you can subscribe to Tony Walker's YouTube channel and listen to other free classics he narrates.

I am giving Honeysuckle Cottage by P. G. Wodehouse a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Little Free Libraries I Visited In Dublin, California Last Month

Last month, during the week of May 14th through 20th, it was Little Free Library week. So, I decided to release a bunch of books at various new to me Little Free Libraries throughout Dublin, California. My husband came along for the ride.

Most of the Little Free Libraries we found were located within various community/residential areas found around Dublin, California and had been decorated by local artists.

We found six Little Free Libraries in all. I think the first Little Free Library (Schaefer Ranch Park) had to be my favorite as I liked how it had been painted.

City Of Dublin Schaefer Ranch Park

City Of Dublin Shannon Community Park

City Of Dublin Don Biddle Community Park

City Of Dublin Alamo Creek Park

City Of Dublin Kolb Park

Located on the Corner of Aspen and Summerglen

Saturday, June 10, 2023

New to me Little Free Library in Livermore, California


Yesterday afternoon, my hubby and I enjoyed eating Thai food to go from an eatery in Livermore, California. The weather was beautiful and breezy. So, it was a perfect day to enjoy lunch outdoors at a nearby park. After lunch, we had fun playing a few rounds of the card game, 'Crazy Eights', followed by a walk.

Before we left Livermore, California, we found a new to us Little Free Library. This Little Free Library was very colorful as you can see in the photograph. I loved seeing the artificial turf on the roof of this Little Free Library.

Have you visited any Little Free Library lately?

Thursday, June 8, 2023

D. G. Wills Books in La Jolla, California


I was recently in the San Diego area visiting my parents for two weeks. We made a quick visit to La Jolla during my stay. Downtown La Jolla during the lunch hour on weekdays is hectic and parking can be difficult at times. We found a 15 minute parking spot and took it. 

I noticed an independent bookstore across the street from where we parked called D. G. Wills Books. So, I decided to walk over to take a quick peek. Wow, what a great find! D. G. Wills Books has an outdoor book section where used books are sold for a dollar each as well as an indoor section filled with both new and used books for sale. 

Due to the parking time constraint, I was only able to peruse the outdoor book space for about 5-7 minutes before hastily choosing two used children's books for the grand total of $2. 

Needless to say, I never set foot inside this bookstore because the limited time we had for parking. I did have a brief look at the interior bookstore space through the open front door and the interior space looked amazing! I will have to come back to D. G. Wills Books for a longer visit in the future.

Briefly visiting D. G. Wills Books last month was the first time I've actually visited a bookstore in person since the pandemic began! I've essentially purchased all of my books online or exchanged books at Little Free Libraries since January 1, 2020 onward until visiting D. G. Wills Books. It's amazing that it has been so long since I visited a bookstore in person!

D. G. Wills Books also has a YouTube channel, which I will have to check out as well!

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Short Reviews For Eight Short Stories I Listened to Through YouTube

1. 'The Voice In The Night' by William Hope Hodgson is a horror/suspense short story I was able to listen to for free through YouTube. I enjoyed this short story quite a bit and it is very well narrated. 4/5 stars.

2. 'The Witch Door' by Ray Bradbury is another horror/suspense short story worth a listen! I haven't read many things written by Ray Bradbury. I am usually impressed by what I have read by him. 'The Witch Door' is set in present day and involves time travel through a special door. This short story also touches upon what it means to be a 'witch' in the present day and in the past. The ending of the story leaves it to the reader what may become of the two side characters; one travels to the past and the other to the future. 3/5 stars.

3. It's been several decades since I've read anything by Anton Chekov. In fact, I can't really remember what I've read by him other than perhaps a play or two and some short stories, but which ones? I can't recall anymore. I decided to revisit Chekov's works by listening to 'The Lottery Ticket', which is a very short read. This story essentially takes us through the minds of a husband and wife on how they envision life being different for them should they have won money from a lottery ticket. 3/5 stars.

4. 'The Landlady' by Roald Dahl is a short story for adults. I am very familiar with Roald Dahl's novels for children... In fact, I've read quite a few of them over the years. But it wasn't until I became an adult that I realized that Roald Dahl also wrote things for adults as well. I decided to explore a work of shorter fiction by Roald Dahl by listening to 'The Landlady', which is a creepy, horror short story! 3/5 stars.

5. 'In Amundsen's Tent' by John Martin Leahy is a very well narrated short story. It's creepy. As much as I enjoyed the narration, I wasn't a fan of this short story. 2/5 stars.

6. 'Robot Dreams' by Isaac Asimov is a science fiction story about robots, AI, and consciousness. This topic seems relevant as ever. I enjoyed listening to 'Robot Dreams'. I think you will too. 3/5 stars.

7. 'Garg the Good' by Dominic Bowers-Mason is a fantasy short story. It is a decent listen at just over 13 minutes. This story is nicely narrated. 3/5 stars.

8. 'A Sound of Thunder' by Ray Bradbury is the best of the best of these eight short stories I listened to last month!! 'A Sound of Thunder' is in essence a tale of time travel and covers the idea/concept of the 'Butterfly Effect'... Or put another way, the idea of the 'Grandfather Paradox'... If you go back in time and one thing is changed in even the slightest way, how will that effect the future? 'A Sound of Thunder' by Ray Bradbury explores this idea in a unique way. 4/5 stars.

Monday, June 5, 2023

The Birds by Daphne du Maurier

I've seen the movie version of 'The Birds' starring Tippi Hedren and made by the legendary filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock, decades ago now. I really don't remember that much about the movie version of 'The Birds' aside from its basic premise.

In recent years, I discovered that the movie version of 'The Birds' is based on the short story written by English author, Daphne du Maurier. As a side note, I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier last year. I wasn't too impressed with Rebecca, which is billed as one of Daphne du Maurier's finest, if not more famous works of fiction.

Not to be deterred by my first experience reading something written by Daphne du Maurier, I decided to give the audio version of 'The Birds' a try and I wasn't disappointed with it. 'The Birds' is a tightly written short story, which gives off very creepy vibes with regards to social isolation and separation from society due to large groups of birds that will aggressively attack and kill all those that leave their homes. These birds will even try to find their way inside homes to attack. The psychological and emotional toll on people due to the fear caused by being cut off from the world, access to food, social interactions, not knowing what's going on, etc. makes this story all the more horrific. 

I saw parallels between this short story with that of the covid-19 pandemic. During the covid-19 pandemic, people were told to shelter in place, stay home to save lives, etc. There was loads of fear and isolation during the pandemic. Granted a pandemic caused by a virus is very much different from an attack by aggressive birds that will kill you, but the fear and isolation in 'The Birds' was captured well by the author and gave the same vibe as dealing with the fear, isolation, etc. we felt during the pandemic.

Click on the above link to listen to the audio version of 'The Birds' I listened to for FREE through YouTube.

I am giving 'The Birds' by Daphne du Maurier a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!