Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Debut Novels I Enjoyed Reading

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

I normally do not keep track whether a novel I am reading is a debut novel or not... Sometimes I find out about a debut novel by other readers or through media hype. So, I had to dig deep to find ten debut novels I read, enjoyed and reviewed here on my blog.

Click on the links below to read my review of each novel.

1. The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

2. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West

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

4. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

5. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

6. The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian

7. Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

8. The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull

9. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

10. Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera

Monday, July 22, 2024

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of All Systems Red by Martha Wells, which is narrated by Kevin R. Free. I wasn't a fan of Kevin R. Free's narration of this work, so probably won't seek out other books he has narrated.

Listening time for All Systems Red by Martha Wells is 3 hours, 17 minutes making it a very quick read for me!!

All Systems Red by Martha Wells is short, science fiction novella that's been on my reading wishlist since 2018 or 2019. I was thrilled to have finally listened to All Systems Red recently as I was intrigued by the storyline.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells has a lot of positive reviews and seems to be really well received by many readers. All Systems Red also won both the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella and the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella. So with its intriguing storyline, the fact that it had won two major literary awards and had been nominated for other literary awards, and is well liked by readers, I wanted to read All Systems Red

What I loved about All Systems Red is that it is told through the perspective of a cyborg who has been able to override its original programming and is essentially autonomous. However, its creators do not know this and the cyborg (who calls itself, Murderbot) still works as a SecUnit, a security unit, that has been designed to to protect humans on research missions. I enjoyed reading how human like Murderbot seems to be in many ways, especially after more time spent interacting with other human beings. Murderbot actually loves watching soap operas, which I found humorous. I also loved the world building for All Systems Red as well as the character interactions and how the humans respond to the cyborg once they find out it is autonomous.

However, with all the hype and accolades surrounding, All Systems Red, I was hoping to love it as much as other readers did. But, alas, I didn't love it like I hoped I would. This doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy reading All Systems Red. I did like it, but just didn't love it.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells is also the first book in a series. I do not intend to continue reading the series.

Below is the publisher's summary for All Systems Red by Martha Wells, which I found on Chirp's website:

All Systems Red is the first tense science fiction adventure novella in Martha Wells’ series The Murderbot Diaries. For fans of Westworld and Ex Machina. All Systems Red by Martha Wells begins The Murderbot Diaries, a new science fiction action and adventure series that tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. It appeals to fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie’s Imperial Raadch series, or Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self-discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans. In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid - a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

I am giving All Systems Red by Martha Wells a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Visiting San Diego? Checkout These Independent Bookstores!

I lived in the San Diego, California area for roughly 14 years of my life. I attended junior high school, high school, and part of my college years there. In fact, my parents still live in North County in a small coastal town. So, San Diego, in general, has a soft spot in my heart.

So when I came across an article on San Diego Magazine's website titled, The Best Independent Local Bookstores in San Diego, I couldn't resist reading the article.

I've only been to the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Claremont. In fact, I visited the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore back in 2015 with my husband and we enjoyed our visit there. See my review of the Mysterious Bookstore here.

I look forward to visiting several of the other indie bookstores mentioned in the above article during future visits to San Diego.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham

 


I listened to the unabridged audio version of Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham and narrated by Emily Lawrence

Listening time for Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham is 9 hours, 56 minutes.

Crow Flight is Susan Cunningham's debut novel and it falls into the young adult romance genre... But also features science and computer science/computer programming as well. For a debut novel, Crow Flight is a really good novel. Overall, I really enjoyed the storyline, the plot details, writing, and main characters for Crow Flight. Crow Flight was the right mix of romance without being cheesy and also it featured a confident, smart, leading female teenager in Gin. I liked all of the main characters; Gin, Hannah, and Felix.

As much as I enjoyed listening to Crow Flight, it wasn't perfect. You knew something bad was coming up ahead in the storyline with regards to Felix's father and his shady dealings from all of the hints being dropped early on in the novel. It was also easy to figure what Felix's dad did that was so shady early on in the novel as well... You just had to sit back and let all play out. So, predictability for Crow Flight was a major issue for me. 

Additionally, I felt like Gin needed to speak up more to Felix about how she felt in their relationship during the second half of Crow Flight. I kind of thought Gin was too passive in letting things unfold the way they did between her and Felix without question. So, this was the other issue I had with the novel.

Otherwise I thought Crow Flight was a good read. I'd still recommend this novel to someone with an interest in crows, computer programming, and young adult romance reads.

Below is the publisher's summary for Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham, which I found on Amazon's website:
The curious flight patterns of crows lead a teen computer programmer down a path of mystery and romance.

Gin trusts logic a little too much. She even designs programs to decide what to eat and how to spend her time. All that changes when she's paired with a new transfer student, Felix, on a computer modeling assignment to explain certain anomalies in the behavior of crows.

Speaking of anomalies, why is Gin so disappointed that Felix isn't a match for her in the dating app she’s designing with local gamers?

As she enters Felix's world and digs further into the data behind crow behavior, Gin uncovers a terrible secret. And the wrong decision could equal disaster squared...

I am giving Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

New to Me Little Free Library Finds in Danville, California!!

Woodranch Clubhouse

As many of my blog readers already know, I love Little Free Libraries!! I try to find as many new to me Little Free Libraries as I can. Plus, revisit ones that I love.

On Sunday evening, my husband and I visited two new to us Little Free Libraries in Danville, California. One was at a neighborhood clubhouse and the other one curbside in front of a home.

I left behind five books in total, but I didn't bring any used books home with me as none of the choices at either Little Free Library caught my interest.

Have you discovered any new to you LFLs or revisited ones you've already discovered previously? Let me know in the comment section below!

172 Alta Vista Way, DanvilleCA

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things I Loved About Overkill by Paul Offit M.D.

 

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

I truly enjoyed reading Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far by Paul A. Offit M.D. earlier this year. In fact, I rated it 5 stars out of 5 stars when I reviewed it in April. Click on the link above if you'd like to read my full review of Overkill.

Otherwise, read on to see the top ten things I enjoyed about Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far by Paul A. Offit M.D.

1. Overkill is a nonfiction book that is science and medicine related. So, if you're into health/medicine/science related books, then this book is for you.

2. Overkill is well written. It's easy to follow and not dry or heavy that the layperson wouldn't be able to follow it... Or be turned off by the writing or subject matter. In fact, it is engaging and written for the layperson.

3. I love how well organized Overkill is! It comes with both a prologue and epilogue. Plus, it is organized into six distinct sections/topics with three to four chapters in each section that pertains to the topic of each section.

4. Overkill doesn't have to be read in order. You could, in theory, skip around and read which ever chapter grabs your attention the most and go from there. I happened to listen to the audio version of this book, so I didn't skip around.

5. In Overkill, I loved how relevant each of the topics/chapters were with regards to health matters that effect our lives. Paul Offit M.D. debunks several health myths (backed by science) in his book. I have new found knowledge and am more educated due to reading this book when it comes to my overall health. There are medical procedures (and so on) that are outdated, but these procedures are still in use today by many doctors.

6. Overkill is written by Paul Offit M.D. I've read and reviewed three nonfiction books by Paul Offit M. D. and have yet to be disappointed with anything he has written. I'd pretty much buy and read anything he's written as I've enjoyed reading his books very much.

7. Overkill comes in hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. I listened to the unabridged audio version of Overkill, which I recommend if you enjoy audiobooks.

8. I like the art work and cover design for Overkill.

9. Overkill is less than 300 pages.

10. I liked Overkill so much that I've even given it as a gift!!

Monday, July 15, 2024

Florida Department of Education Recommends Pride & Prejudice to Read about ‘American Pride.’ Say What?!

Seriously, I can't believe my eyes!! I read on Book Riot's website an article titled: Florida Recommends PRIDE & PREJUDICE to Read about ‘American Pride.’ Not kidding. by Jeff O'Neal. In the article, Jeff O'Neal wrote the following:
Florida, ground-zero for book-banning and censorship, continues to fumble the point of books and reading with its recent decision to include Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice in a list of recommended books for reading about ‘American Pride.” The Department of Education’s inclusion of Austen’s 1813 novel comes with no explanation, excuse, or apparently abashedness. About the only thing you can say for P&P’s relation to America is that it was published after the Declaration of Independence—that is the United States actually existed. I don’t think the U.S. is even mentioned in Pride & Prejudice. Is it possible that someone just saw the word “Pride” in the title and threw it in? And is this actually the explanation that makes the most sense, dumb as it is? I think so.

I am baffled as to why the Florida Department of Education has included Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen on a list of books to read regarding American Pride. 

Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh

 


I read the paperback edition of Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh, which is a graphic novel geared towards children and is set in the early 1950s in the United States of America.

The color artwork and storyline for Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh is nicely done. I enjoyed the plot, characters, and story quite a bit. Kudos to the author making an engaging read for children and adults alike.

Below is the publisher's summary for Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh, which I found on Amazon's website:

Peggy is scared: She's struggling to recover from polio and needs crutches to walk, and she and her neighbors are worried about the rumors of Communist spies doing bad things. On top of all that, Peggy has a hard time at school, and gets taunted by her classmates. When she finds a mysterious artifact that gives her the ability to fly, she thinks it's the solution to all her problems. But if Peggy wants to keep it, she'll have to overcome bullies, outsmart FBI agents, and escape from some very strange spies!

I am giving Red Scare by Liam Francis Walsh a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn

 


Won-Pyung Sohn is a very new to me author from Korea. I discovered Won-Pyung Sohn less than two weeks ago. I downloaded the unabridged audio version of Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn from Chirp Audiobooks website. This audiobook was on sale and after reading the plot details, I couldn't resist listening to this short novel of contemporary fiction set in Korea.

Almond is an unusual read. In the prologue it reads: "This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me." These introductory lines are definitely attention grabbing for sure and make you want to read more!

The leading character is Yunjae. He "was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger." Frankly, I'd never heard of Alexithymia before reading Almond. I found it interesting to see how the author would write a character with Alexithymia and how that would translate into a fully formed character. I think Won-Pyung Sohn does an excellent job in creating a believable character with Alexithymia.

The writing is excellent for Almond. I like how Yunjae starts out as a so called 'monster' in Almond, but ends up being a hero by the end of the novel. We see Yunjae change and grow over the course of Almond. Yunjae meets Gon in the novel. Gon is a bully and he bullies Yunjae when they first meet. However, both boys end up forming a friendship with Yunjae saving Gon's life at the end of the novel.

Below is the publisher's summary for Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn from Chirp's website:

This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster.

One of the monsters is me.

Yunjae was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends—the two almond-shaped neurons located deep in his brain have seen to that—but his devoted mother and grandmother aren’t fazed by his condition. Their little home above his mother’s used bookstore is decorated with colorful post-it notes that remind him when to smile, when to say “”thank you,”” and when to laugh. Yunjae grows up content, even happy, with his small family in this quiet, peaceful space.

Then on Christmas Eve—Yunjae’s sixteenth birthday—everything changes. A shocking act of random violence shatters his world, leaving him alone and on his own. Struggling to cope with his loss, Yunjae retreats into silent isolation, until troubled teenager Gon arrives at his school and begins to bully Yunjae.

Against all odds, tormentor and victim learn they have more in common than they realized. Gon is stumped by Yunjae’s impassive calm, while Yunjae thinks if he gets to know the hotheaded Gon, he might learn how to experience true feelings. Drawn by curiosity, the two strike up a surprising friendship. As Yunjae begins to open his life to new people—including a girl at school—something slowly changes inside him. And when Gon suddenly finds his life in danger, it is Yunjae who will step outside of every comfort zone he has created to perhaps become a most unlikely hero.

The Emissary meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in this poignant and triumphant story about how love, friendship, and persistence can change a life forever.
I am giving Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

 


I recently read the paperback edition of Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee. This is a children's graphic novel that is beautifully illustrated in full color. 

What drew me to this graphic novel was the title of the book and the premise of the book itself. Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee is about a young girl named, Lora. Lora is afraid to grow up and begins to feel left behind by her friends as her friends are becoming more interested in teen type activities than Lora is. 

Although, I loved the idea behind Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee, I didn't love it as much as I thought or hoped I would. I liked it, but didn't love it. The best part of this graphic novel was the artwork!

Below is the publisher's summary for Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee, which I discovered on Amazon's wensite:

Lora wants to stay a kid forever, and she'll do anything to make that happen . . . including befriending Alexa, the ghost who haunts her house. A middle-grade graphic novel about growing up that's perfect for fans of Ghosts and Making Friends.

Growing up sounds terrible.

No one has time to do anything fun, or play outside, or use their imagination. Everything is suddenly so serious. People are more interested in their looks and what others think about them than having fun adventures. Who wants that?

Not Lora.

After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own. A tea party with a twist leaves Lora to re-discovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house -- and Lora's old imaginary friend! Lora and Alexa are thrilled to meet kindred spirits and they become best friends . . . but unfortunately, not everything can last forever.

Reimena Yee brings to life a story about growing up, childhood, and what it means to let go. A fantastical story following lovable characters as they each realize what it means to be who you are.

I am giving Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee a rating of 3 stars of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Napoleon Hill's Path to Purpose: 7 Steps to Living a Life that Matters by Napoleon Hill

 


Up until this week, I'd never read a book by Napoleon Hill before. Sure, I'd heard of Napoleon Hill before and the title of his famous book, Think and Grow Rich, decades ago. However, I was never interested in reading Think and Grow Rich. Nor, did I know much Napoleon Hill's life or background either, until this week. 

It wasn't until I was browsing Chirp Audiobook's website and noticed that quite a few of Napoleon Hill's books were on sale through their website. I became interested in a couple of Napoleon Hill's books on Chirp Audiobook's website. I also grew curious about what made Napoleon Hill's legacy so enduring that people were still buying/reading his books all these years later.

So, I purchased two audiobooks on sale from Chirp's website written by Napoleon Hill. I chose to read Napoleon Hill's Path to Purpose: 7 Steps to Living a Life that Matters first. 

Napoleon Hill's Path to Purpose: 7 Steps to Living a Life that Matters by Napoleon Hill is a work of nonfiction and falls into the personal growth and self-help genres. It is a short listen at 1 hour, 32 minutes and decently narrated by Rich Germaine.

I am often skeptical regarding personal growth and self-help books. I'm all about self-improvement and doing what one can to better one's own life, but are self-help books the best solution for bettering one's life? I'm not sure. I am sure self-help and personal growth books have their merits, but to what end?

As far as, Napoleon Hill's Path to Purpose: 7 Steps to Living a Life that Matters by Napoleon Hill goes, it's an interesting read. Short and concise. There's some interesting information held within it's pages. Some of the information seems valuable enough, but other ideas presented, I'm not sure about at all. I question whether following the seven steps to living a life that matters, will bring the desired results implied in the book.

The other thing is this... I read up about Napoleon Hill via Wikipedia. On Wikipedia's Napoleon Hill page, it states the following:

"Hill is a controversial figure. Accused of fraud, modern historians also doubt many of his claims, such as that he met Andrew Carnegie and that he was an attorney."

Well, the above quote from Wikipedia leaves a sour note in my mind. Now I am not so sure I want to try applying the seven steps to living a life that matters to my own life to see what results I am able to personally achieve. I am also not so sure I want to listen to the second Napoleon Hill audiobook I purchased now either.

Below is the publisher's summary for Napoleon Hill's Path to Purpose: 7 Steps to Living a Life that Matters by Napoleon Hill from Chirp's website:

What do you want out of life?

The vast majority of people avoid answering this daunting question. As a result, they spend their days aimlessly drifting or scrambling from one task to the next, never deciding upon a larger goal or plan for their future. However, studying the lives of the world’s highest-achieving individuals quickly reveals an essential truth that success—along with meaning and fulfillment—are found in the pursuit of a Definite Major Purpose, a goal so compelling that it inspires you to take action every day toward its attainment.

Drawing from never-before-published lectures from Napoleon Hill, author of the worldwide bestsellers Think and Grow Rich and Outwitting the Devil, this book provides a step-by-step guide to identifying your unique purpose in life, creating a plan for its attainment, and cultivating the habits necessary to make your actions and ideas more impactful. The exercises, tips, and techniques included will help you to:

Identify and refine your Definite Major Purpose Craft short-term and long-term goals related to your major purpose. Strengthen your focus and creativity to achieve greater performance. Establish rhythms of thought and action to accelerate your results

Napoleon Hill’s Path to Purpose not only helps you fix a clear North Star for your life—it secures your path by giving you a simple formula for living out your purpose day after day, even when life’s difficulties and distractions threaten to throw you off course. Do not settle for anything less than what you want out of life.

Read this book and empower yourself to move forward confidently with the peace and mental freedom that come from a deep, abiding belief in the significance of your contributions.

I am giving Napoleon Hill's Path to Purpose: 7 Steps to Living a Life that Matters by Napoleon Hill a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan

 


After recently listening to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan and narrated by Ari Fliakos.

Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan is the prequel to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and is a novella. This is a fast read! I enjoyed reading about Ajax Penumbra's life prior to his life in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. And once again, Ari Fliakos does a great job narrating this novella. 

If you loved reading Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, I think you'll enjoy reading Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan too.

Below is the publisher's summary for Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan I discovered through Chirp's website:

From Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, the story of Mr. Penumbra’s first trip to San Francisco—and of how he got entangled with the city’s most unusual always-open enterprise…It is August 1969. The Summer of Love is a fading memory. The streets of San Francisco pulse to the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Marvin Gaye. And of jackhammers: A futuristic pyramid of a skyscraper is rising a few blocks from City Lights bookstore and an unprecedented subway tunnel is being built under the bay. Meanwhile, south of the city, orchards are quickly giving way to a brand-new industry built on silicon.But young Ajax Penumbra has not arrived in San Francisco looking for free love or a glimpse of the technological future. He is seeking a book—the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost great fortune for anyone who has owned it. The last record of the book locates it in the San Francisco of more than a century earlier, and on that scant bit of evidence, Penumbra’s university has dispatched him west to acquire it for their library. After a few weeks of rigorous hunting, Penumbra feels no closer to his goal than when he started. But late one night, after another day of dispiriting dead ends, he stumbles across a 24-hour bookstore, and the possibilities before him expand exponentially …

I am giving Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Five Audiobooks I Loved & Five I’m Excited to Listen to

 

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

I am a self proclaimed audiobook junkie!! Most of my reads this year and last year were audiobooks... And admittedly, many of my reads the past decade have been audiobooks. I solely focused five favorite audiobooks I've listened to this year alone.

All five books below were give five star ratings by me in my reviews. I've added book fiction and nonfiction books to my line up.

1. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

2. The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

3. Eloquence of the Sardine: Extraordinary Encounters Beneath the Sea by Bill François

4. Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far by Paul A. Offit M.D.

5. Chasing the Sun: How the Science of Sunlight Shapes Our Bodies and Minds by Linda Geddes

Below are five audiobooks I'm excited to listen to in the near future (hopefully):

1. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

2. 
Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

3. Sisters In Law by Linda Hirshman

4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

5. Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

Monday, July 8, 2024

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


I FINALLY listened to the unabridged audio version of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and narrated by Ari Fliakos.

I had Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore on my reading wishlist for many years. I'd heard so many wonderful things about this contemporary fiction novel set primarily in San Francisco that I couldn't resist adding it to to my reading wishlist and eventually reading it. I absolutely love reading novels about bookstores and books... Additionally, reading about a secret society is also an added perk.

I loved the storyline, plot development, characters, writing, and narration for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. The flow/pacing for this novel is really well executed for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore as well. 

If you haven't already read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, then I highly recommend it!!

Listening time for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is 7 hours, 42 minutes.

Below is the publisher's summary for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan I discovered on Amazon's website:
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything―instead, they "check out" large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore's secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

I am giving Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, July 6, 2024

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix


I listened to the unabridged audio version of Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix in September 2023 and really enjoyed this horror novel quite a bit. So, I added several other novels written by Grady Hendrix to my reading wishlist. 

I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix and narrated by Emily Woo Zeller as my first read for the month of July 2024. 

Listening time for My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix is 10 hours, 12 minutes and it is well narrated by Emily Woo Zeller.

Aside from wanting to read another novel written by Grady Hendrix, I specifically chose My Best Friend's Exorcism because it's set in the 1980s and features popular music references from the 1980s and other popular culture references from this timeframe as well. I attended both junior high and high school during the 1980s. So, I found it fun to listen to this novel for the 1980s nostalgia factor.

The writing for My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix was decent and engaging overall. Although, sometimes I felt like the characters and the plot were a bit over the top for me at times. Otherwise, I enjoyed the journey and the unfolding of the storyline throughout the novel. So, if you love horror novels, a good old fashion exorcism, supernatural elements, and 1980s references, then I think you'll enjoy reading My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix.

Below is the publisher's plot summary for My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix found on Chirp's website:
A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession

The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since the fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act … different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby.

Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of 80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.

I am giving My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: First in Her Class by David L. Hudson Jr.

 


I listened to the unabridged audio version of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: First in Her Class by David L. Hudson Jr and is narrated by the author. This was my last read for the month of June 2024. 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: First in Her Class by David L. Hudson Jr. is a quick listen at 4 hours, 26 minutes. This audiobook is a nice introduction to the life of Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Listening to this audiobook was like listening to a course about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the format of this book reminded me a lot of The Great Courses... So if you like the style of The Great Courses, you'll like listening to this audiobook.

Below is the publisher's summary for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: First in Her Class by David L. Hudson Jr., which I discovered on Amazon's website

Join best-selling author and constitutional scholar David L. Hudson, Jr. for awe-inspiring listening on the life and career of one of the most revered Supreme Court justices in US history.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman ever to serve on the US Supreme Court, was already a legendary lawyer before she ever became a federal judge. For many years, she brilliantly litigated gender discrimination cases, including several that reached the Supreme Court. In her later years, her legal victories and lifelong commitment to justice elevated her to the status of pop culture icon when she became known as “the Notorious RBG.”

In this engrossing 12-lecture audio series, Supreme Court expert David L. Hudson Jr. provides an inside look at Ginsburg’s life and career from her childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year tenure on the Court of Last Resort. You’ll get to know her as a young woman who overcame personal tragedy, antisemitism, and sexism to graduate at the top of her class and gain acceptance to Cornell University.

You’ll then follow Ginsburg on her boundary-breaking trajectory through law school and into her early advocacy as an attorney, her appointment to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and her confirmation hearing before the US Senate. As you examine her most famous opinions and dissents, you’ll gain renewed admiration for the woman behind the powerful pen.

This course is part of the Learn25 collection.

I am giving Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: First in Her Class by David L. Hudson Jr. a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Little Free Library Finds in Santa Cruz, California!!

First LFL Find in Santa Cruz

First LFL Find in Santa Cruz

Second LFL Find in Santa Cruz


Last Saturday, June 29, 2024, my husband and I visited Santa Cruz, California for the day in an effort to beat the inland heat. In fact, we have an excessive heat advisory this entire week with temperature reaching over 100 degrees five of the days this week. Our electricity went out for six hours this past Sunday and almost three hours on Monday.

During our visit to Santa Cruz, we found two Little Free Libraries. I exchanged books at both Little Free Libraries during our visit to Santa Cruz.

I loved finding both Little Free Libraries. However, I must admit that finding the first Little Free Library was most humorous as the LFL stewards had decorated their LFL to look like an outhouse... See middle photograph above.

After finding both Little Free Libraries, my husband and I visited the 135 acre UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden. All green spaces and gardens are wonderful spaces, BUT I must honestly admit that I was underwhelmed with the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden. It's largely left sort of wild  and untamed looking giving the entire garden a mostly unmanicured look with the exception of a few areas that did look sort of more groomed and put together.

I liked the rock garden and the redwood forest areas the most, along with a small area near the staff building to be the most interesting areas to see and explore during our visit.

We'd been to The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden several times in the past and loved it immensely. I was kind of hoping the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden would be like the The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden in its own unique way... But alas, no!

Afterwards, we had a late lunch at a barbecue restaurant and a quick pit stop at the beach before returning home.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Books with My Favorite Color on the Cover

 

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.

Okay. the color GREEN is NOT my favorite color, but it doesn't seem like I see many books with green covers. So, I decided to highlight books with green covers instead. 

The below books are all ones I have read and reviewed. Click on the links below to read my review for each book. Thank you!

Monday, July 1, 2024

We're Halfway Through 2024! Reading Update!

 


I can't believe 2024 is halfway over with already!! It seems like I say this every year... That time goes by too quickly. But, here we are halfway into the year!

Here's a quick reading recap to summarize my reading progress this year so far.

I've read 32 books so far this year! So, far most of them have been audiobooks. The break down is as follows:

Audiobooks: Twenty-five books

Physical Books: Five books

eBooks: Two book

My top ten favorite reads for the first half of the year are as follows:

1. Chasing the Sun by Linda Geddes

2. Overkill by Paul Offit M. D.

3. 
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

4. 
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

5. 
The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

6. The Poet X by 
Elizabeth Acevedo

7. Eloquence of the Sardine by Bill François

8. A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

9. 
A Most Efficient Murder by Anthony Slayton

10. Fire Cider by Rosemary Gladstar and Friends

My reading goal for 2024 is to read fifty-two books. I am currently ahead of schedule in terms of my reading goals. Maybe, I'll end up reading more FAR MORE than 52 books, which would most definitely be a good thing.

How's your reading going so far in 2024? Have you been meeting your reading goals so far? What have been some of your favorite reads this year? Share with me in the comment section below!! 

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Bang Up by Jeff Strand

 


Bang Up by Jeff Strand is the fourth (maybe fifth book?) I've read by the author. Jeff Strand has a twisted sense of humor and he writes the quirkiest characters and plot twists ever. I look forward to reading more books by Jeff Strand.

I read the ebook edition of Bang Up by Jeff Strand, which is an erotica novel filled with tons of humor and crazy antics by the characters. Bang Up is a lighthearted read and a fast read at that. It's a nice summertime/beach read if you want to read something different that doesn't take up a lot of mental bandwidth.

Below is the publisher's plot summary for Bang Up by Jeff Strand I discovered on Amazon's website:

"You want to pay me to sleep with your wife?"

Kirk is extremely surprised by Ralph's proposition. He's even more surprised by the next part: Kirk is supposed to perform BADLY, to make Ralph look good by comparison. And Julie isn't supposed to know that any of this was planned. It's the kind of offer any smart, sane person would turn down.

But this is not a book about smart, sane people. This is "bad decisions spiral out of control" all the way. From the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of PRESSURE, DWELLER, and AUTUMN BLEEDS INTO WINTER comes something lighter, goofier, and way, way smuttier.

I am giving Bang Up by Jeff Strand a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Ten Authors I Want To Read More Books Written By in the Future

I have read one or more books written by the following ten authors. I enjoyed reading books written by these authors so much, that I look forward to reading more of their books in the future. 

1. Margaret Atwood

2. Barbara Kingsolver

3. Geraldine Brooks

4. Robin LaFevers

5. Amy Engel

6. Joshilyn Jackson

7. Tracy Chevalier

8. Jeff Strand

9. Jerry Spinelli

10. Gary D. Schmidt

Which author's books do you want to read more of in the future?

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Humming Heroes: Inside The Nose That Almost Nobody Knows by John McMillan and Philip McMillan

 


I first learned about Humming Heroes: Inside The Nose That Almost Nobody Knows by John McMillan and Dr. Philip McMillan by periodically watching Dr. Philip McMillan's YouTube Channel, Vejon Health. It was by watching the Vejon Health channel on YouTube that I discovered Humming Heroes was a Kickstarter project. I am thrilled to see that this book was fully funded and has been published.

Humming Heroes by John McMillan and Philip McMillan is a nonfiction children's/young adult book and is geared for ages 8 to 18 years old. I read the paperback edition, which is 64 pages in length.

What did I love about this nonfiction book? I loved the illustrations for this book. The illustrations are charming and beautifully rendered by Isil GülI love the creative approach taken by the authors to explain how the immune system works to children and how humming supercharges one's immune system. The way this book is formatted is excellent... It's part poetry with added additional text to express in more detail for older audiences the science involved with our immune system.

What did I dislike about
 Humming Heroes by John McMillan and Philip McMillan? The cardstock used for this book feels flimsy to me. In fact, the book itself arrived already dinged from Amazon. So, I have doubts that the cardstock will hold up over time no matter how careful I am with this book itself. Additionally, the paperback edition of Humming Heroes by John McMillan and Philip McMillan sells for $15.99, which I think is pricey for a 64 page paperback book printed on what feels like flimsy cardstock. Everything else about this book is fine.

The publisher's summary for Humming Heroes: Inside The Nose That Almost Nobody Knows by John McMillan and Philip McMillan I found on Amazon's website states the following:
Set within a child’s nose, ‘Humming Heroes’ features a family of Lymphocytes led by a wise Mother, brave Father, determined Brother, and heroic Baby, confronting invading microorganisms. The story takes an imaginative turn, emphasizing the power of working together, when the child humming melody combines with the Lymphocytes’ song to repel the invaders and restore inner harmony. This project bridges the gap between scientific knowledge and public understanding, providing both children and adults with an opportunity to explore the fascinating world of the immune system.
I am giving Humming Heroes: Inside The Nose That Almost Nobody Knows by John McMillan and Philip McMillan a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!