Saturday, March 30, 2024

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner


It wasn't until last year that I first learned about Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner. I went on to do further research online and learned that this classic novel was first published in 1926. According to Wikipedia, Lolly Willowes was well received by book critics and subsequently became the very first Book Of The Month for the Book Club. This novel is both a satire and feminist classic with fantasy elements.

So for Women's History Month this year, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner, which is well narrated by Sarah Nichols.

I enjoyed listening to Lolly Willowes. This novel gave an interesting glimpse as to the author's view on women during the day and the cultural views of women at the time as well. The storyline, characters, and writing were also good. Lolly Willowes is a short read and I recommend it to other interested readers. I love the fantasy aspect of this novel too.

Below is the plot summary for Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner from Chirp's website:

Tabbed as one of the 100 best novels of all time by the Guardian, this “witty, eerie, tender” tale (John Updike) was originally published in 1926. Spinster Lolly Willowes yearns for freedom from her family. When she finally escapes to the hamlet of Great Mop, she realizes she’s wound up in a village of witches!

I am giving Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Death At Greenway by Lori Rader-Day


I first became aware of Lori Rader-Day and her novel, Death At Greenway, back in October 2021 during a virtual author talk. I am an Agatha Christie fan as well as a lover of historical fiction and mystery novels. 

During the course of the virtual author event, I discovered that Death At Greenway is set in England during World War II on Agatha Christie's estate in Greenway and the storyline deals with a mystery! So, I just knew I had to read this novel!!

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Death At Greenway by Lori Rader-Day and narrated by Moira Quirk. I thought the novel started off slowly until the dead body was discovered. After that, the storyline did pick up, BUT I was ultimately disappointed with this novel overall. This novel wasn't what I was expecting and it was fairly lackluster on all accounts.

Below is the plot summary for Death At Greenway by Lori Rader-Day from Amazon's website:
Bridey Kelly has come to Greenway House - the beloved holiday home of Agatha Christie - in disgrace. A terrible mistake at St. Prisca’s Hospital in London has led to her dismissal as a nurse trainee, and her only chance for redemption is a position in the countryside caring for children evacuated to safety from the Blitz.

Greenway is a beautiful home full of riddles: wondrous curios not to be touched, restrictions on rooms not to be entered, and a generous library, filled with books about murder. The biggest mystery might be the other nurse, Gigi, who is like no one Bridey has ever met. Chasing 10 young children through the winding paths of the estate grounds might have soothed Bridey’s anxieties and grief - if Greenway were not situated so near the English Channel and the rising aggressions of the war.

When a body washes ashore near the estate, Bridey is horrified to realize this is not a victim of war, but of a brutal killing. As the local villagers look among themselves, Bridey and Gigi discover they each harbor dangerous secrets about what has led them to Greenway. With a mystery writer’s home as their unsettling backdrop, the young women must unravel the truth before their safe haven becomes a place of death....
I am giving Death At Greenway by Lori Rader-Day a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, March 25, 2024

My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather


I recently listened to the unabridged audio version of My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather and narrated by Nancy Peterson. Listening for this novella published in 1926 is two hours.

I had never read anything written by Willa Cather before 2024, so I decided to give one of her shorter works a try first. I was enthralled with the plot summary and looked forward to listening to My Mortal Enemy. 

Although I found My Mortal Enemy to be a quick read with an overall engaging storyline, I found the ending to be dissatisfying. I was also left wondering what the title meant to the author as well as for the main character. I had to do some online digging for my answers. In the end, I simply found My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather to be an okay read.

Below is the plot summary for My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather from Chirp's website:
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author who wrote My Ántonia! In early 20th-century America, a woman leaves her fortune behind to elope with the love of her life. But instead of entering a life of freedom, she and her husband face regret after regret. Performed by an Earphones Award–winning narrator.

I am giving My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland


I originally purchased the brand new, hardback edition of Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland for a dollar at The Dollar Tree before the pandemic hit. This young adult novel has been sitting in my 'to be read' pile ever since.

The artwork on the dust jacket and the storyline for Our Chemical Hearts captured my attention, so I wanted to give this novel a try. Besides, who can pass up buying a new hardback novel for a dollar?

The start of the novel draws you in quickly and captivates your attention from the get go. The writing is really good and funny too at the start of the novel. I even enjoyed reading the text bubbles of the text messages between the characters throughout the novel, which was a nice touch.

Grace Town is an enigma at the start of Our Chemical Hearts. She's the new girl at school, walks with a cane and limp, and dresses in boys clothing. You want to know her backstory... and you know it's going to be a doozy of a backstory. Henry Page falls for Grace Town almost immediately and they start a friendship of sorts before venturing into a sort of romance... But it's Henry that falls for Grace pretty hard. Grace is, essentially, damaged goods and she breaks Henry's heart in the end. Our Chemical Hearts is all about first love, heartbreak, and how one heals after heartbreak.

The middle section of Our Chemical Hearts wasn't as exciting as the start, but the ending was wrapped up nicely enough to balance things out.

Below is the plot summary for Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland found on Amazon's website:

John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

P. S. I did see the movie version of Our Chemical Hearts, called 'Chemical Hearts' through Amazon Prime. Meh, the movie version wasn't good at all. So much was left out of the movie.

I am giving Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Happy World Poetry Day!!


Share a few of your favorite poets and poems!

Monday, March 18, 2024



I came across this short video on YouTube over the weekend.

I watched this video with some interest.

Do you think your unread books define you?

Sunday, March 17, 2024

The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates


I had read a review of one of Darcy Coates's other novels on Lark Writes...on books and life's blog. I was intrigued, so I decided to read one of Darcy Coates's novel myself.

I ended up listen to the unabridged audio version of The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates and narrated by Piper Goodeve. Listening time for The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates is 8 hours, 24 minutes and is well narrated by Piper Goodeve.

If you enjoy horror stories which feature a haunted house filled with paranormal activities, then The Haunting of Blackwood House may be just the novel for you. I was drawn to The Haunting of Blackwood House because of the haunted house/paranormal activity themes in this novel! 

I think Darcy Coates does a nice job building suspense and writing about the haunted house itself and the paranormal activities. What I did not enjoy were the two main characters, Mara & Neil. Mara's repeated refrains became annoying. Plus, I felt both Mara and Neil were two dimensional and needed an additional pop to make them more engaging. The minor characters were acceptable. This novel was a mixed bag for me.

Below is the plot summary for The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates from Amazon's website:
From bestselling horror author and queen of gothic mysteries Darcy Coates comes a chilling story about the shadows of dead things―and how they haunt the living. How long could you survive?

As the daughter of spiritualists, Mara's childhood was filled with séances and scam mediums. Now she's ready to start over with her fiancé, Neil, far away from the superstitions she's learned to loathe...but her past isn't willing to let her go so easily.

And neither is Blackwood House.

When Mara and Neil purchased the derelict property, they were warned that ever since the murder of its original owner, things have changed. Strange shadows stalk the halls. Doors creak open by themselves. Voices whisper in the night. And watchful eyes follow her every move. But Mara's convinced she can't possibly be in danger. She doesn't believe in ghost stories, and she didn't buy a haunted house―it's just not possible.

Because ghosts aren't real... are they?
I'm giving The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, March 16, 2024

A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux


I'd never even heard of French writer, Annie Ernaux, before... That is until she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2022. I decided to give one of Ernaux's books a try to see what her writing was like.

I ended up listening to the unabridged audio version of A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux and narrated by Tavia Gilbert. This is an early work by the author, which was published in 1995. It's a short read at approximately 145 pages. A Frozen Woman is categorized as both a memoir and as historical literary fiction on Amazon's website... So, I can only assume this book is a work of creative nonfiction?

I enjoyed A Frozen Woman and the writing style of the author. A Frozen Woman is definitely a feminist read, which presents a cultural history/snapshot of women in society. Topics touched upon included how women are viewed in society, societal norms/expectations of women, trying to have a different sort of lifestyle as a woman than the one society expects from you, and trying to have it all/juggle it all. 

I think Ernaux presents the material well. In my opinion, A Frozen Woman is a great book to read during Women's History Month. Tavia Gilbert narrated A Frozen Woman very well.

Below is the publisher's summary for A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux from Amazon's website:

A Frozen Woman charts Ernaux's teenage awakening, and then the parallel progression of her desire to be desirable and her ambition to fulfill herself in her chosen profession - with the inevitable conflict between the two.

And then she is 30 years old, a teacher married to an executive, mother of two infant sons. She looks after their nice apartment, raises her children. And yet, like millions of other women, she has felt her enthusiasm and curiosity, her strength and her happiness, slowly ebb under the weight of her daily routine. The very condition that everyone around her seems to consider normal and admirable for a woman is killing her.

While each of Ernaux's books contain an autobiographical element, A Frozen Woman, one of Ernaux's early works, concentrates the spotlight piercingly on Annie herself. Mixing affection, rage and bitterness, A Frozen Woman shows us Ernaux's developing art when she still relied on traditional narrative, before the shortened form emerged that has since become her trademark.
I am giving A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, March 14, 2024

360 Flip Books from Japan! (Video)


Wow, these books look amazing!

I wonder how many other styles this book comes in?

I think these books would make the perfect coffee table book.

What do you think of them?

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty


I've been meaning to read something by Liane Moriarty for a number of years now. I finally listened to the unabridged audio version of The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and narrated by Caroline Lee earlier this year. 

Listening time for The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty is 13 hours, 45 minutes.

I am glad I listened to The Husband's Secret as it's well narrated by Caroline Lee. I liked the storyline and plot details/twists for this novel as well.

The Husband's Secret is told through the viewpoint of three different women: Cecilia, Rachel, and Tess. It's Cecilia's husband that has a deep, dark secret he's hidden from everyone for decades... His secret finally comes to light in an unopened letter Cecilia discovers while he's away on travel. Cecilia debates whether or not to open and read the letter. But eventually Cecilia decides toopen the letter and wow, what a bombshell of a confession she learns from her husband through his letter. The information sets off a chain reaction like no other.

Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia or each other, but the lives of all three women collide in an unimaginable way because of Cecilia's husband's secret.

I enjoyed the writing for The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty and look forward to reading another novel written by the author.

Below is the publisher's plot summary for The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty I discovered on Chirp's website:

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive… Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all - she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or each other - but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

I am giving The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

West Virginia House Passed a Bill Allowing Prosecution of Librarians!!!

I came across another disturbing news article recently published in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel titled, West Virginia House passes bill allowing prosecution of librarians by Steven Allen Adams. In the article, Steven Allen Adams wrote the following:

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia House of Delegates debated the merits of removing protections for public librarians and school librarians from criminal prosecution in the off chance a minor encounters books and content some consider to be obscene.

The House passed House Bill 4654 – removing bona fide schools, public libraries, and museums from the list of exemptions from criminal liability relating to distribution and display to a minor of obscene matter – in a 85-12 vote Friday, sending the bill to the state Senate.

HB 4654 would lift criminal liability exemptions from schools in the presentation of local or state-approved curriculum, and public libraries and museums displaying obscene matter to a minor when the child is not accompanied by a parent/guardian.

State Code defines obscene matter as anything an average person believes depicts or describes sexually explicit conduct, nudity, sex or certain bodily functions; or anything a reasonable person would find lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. According to State Code 61-8A-2, any adult who knowingly and intentionally displays obscene matter to a minor could be charged with a felony, fined up to $25,000 and face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Seriously, what the ever living F**K? Librarians are going be persecuted for doing their jobs?

I find it difficult to believe that librarians would not know their audience or how to do their jobs correctly... AND that the state of West Virginia needed to pass a bill to spell out what librarians cannot do. 

Do the people of West Virginia think librarians are going to put up a display of pornographic magazines for children to see? Get real!! Trust the professionals and let librarians do their jobs without fear of prosecution.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Beaufort, SC, Bans Five Books From School Shelves!


I admit that I don't understand the reasoning behind the majority of school/library book banning that parents (or the community at large) want to impose. 

I am against book banning. Students, or the rest of population for that matter, should be able to access to and be able to read all sorts of material any time they want.

I understand that not everyone agrees with my opinion and that's okay. Parents have the right to decide how to raise their own children and what their children have access to (ie books, etc.). I strongly advocate for parental rights. However, I DO NOT AGREE with the idea that a single parent or a small, select group of parents decide what is best for all children to read. 

If a parent doesn't want their children to read certain books from their school or public library, then they ave a right to limit what their child has access to from the school or public library. BUT don't ruin it for someone else's child by having the book banned because you don't agree that the book should be available to all children. That's what I mostly have issue with.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Book Talk with Drew Gilpin Faust - Necessary Trouble


Last month, on February 27th to be exact, I attended my second virtual author event of 2024! The following is a description of the event from the Harvard Radcliffe Institute's website:

Harvard Radcliffe Institute and the Harvard Alumni Association welcome Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard University president emerita; Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor; and founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute, to discuss her book, Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023).

Faust’s reading will be followed by a conversation with Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School; and professor of history, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

I'm so glad I attended this virtual. It was amazing! After Drew Gilpin Faust gave a short reading of her memoir, she and Tomiko Brown-Nagin spoke in conversation about Faust's book. After hearing them in conversation, I'm now excited to read this book!

The summary for Drew Gilpin Faust's book
Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury, is as follows from the Amazon website:

A memoir of coming of age in a conservative Southern family in postwar America.

To grow up in the 1950s was to enter a world of polarized national alliances, nuclear threat, and destabilized social hierarchies. Two world wars and the depression that connected them had unleashed a torrent of expectations and dissatisfactions―not only in global affairs but in American society and Americans’ lives.

A privileged white girl in conservative, segregated Virginia was expected to adopt a willful blindness to the inequities of race and the constraints of gender. For Drew Gilpin, the acceptance of both female subordination and racial hierarchy proved intolerable and galvanizing. Urged to become “well adjusted” and to fill the role of a poised young lady that her upbringing imposed, she found resistance was necessary for her survival. During the 1960s, through her love of learning and her active engagement in the civil rights, student, and antiwar movements, Drew forged a path of her own―one that would eventually lead her to become a historian of the very conflicts that were instrumental in shaping the world she grew up in.

Culminating in the upheavals of 1968, Necessary Trouble captures a time of rapid change and fierce reaction in one young woman’s life, tracing the transformations and aftershocks that we continue to grapple with today.

I loved hearing Drew Gilpin Faust speak candidly about her early life and how her early life shaped who she became.