Monday, June 30, 2014

Half Yearly Reading & Blogging Update!!

Wow, 2014 is officially half way over with now! This year is flying by so fast. I'm having a delightful year in terms of blogging and reading. 

I've read a total of 55 books so far this year. It looks like I'm on schedule to read more than 100 books this year, which is something I rarely do. I'm usually content if I read 52 books in a single year. I'm still listening to audiobooks like crazy, although this month I've been reading more eBooks on my Kindle than listening to audiobooks.

My reading stats for 2014 are as follows: I've read 24 books and listened to 31 audiobooks! I've still managed to listen to more books than read books this year, which is a first for me. Listening to 30 audiobooks this year is definitely the most audiobooks I've listened to in any given year.

My favorite books I've read this year so far have been the following ones:

1. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks
3. Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee

4. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6. Falling Awake by Jayne Ann Krentz
7. Swan Song by Lee Hanson
8. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
9. Shoots to Kill by Kate Collins
10. The Love Thief by Daisy Jerico
11. Macaron Murder by Harper Lin 
12. The Soloist by Steve Lopez

How is your year in reading going? Have you met or exceeded your reading goals? Share some of the books you've enjoyed reading this year with me in the comments section below!

As far as blogging goes, I've made 221 posts to my book blog this year. It's difficult to have a favorite post or a set of favorite posts. Here are a few of the topics I've blogged about to give a sort of highlight the various things I've blogged about:

Dr. Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay Book Signing & Discussion
Ways to Fit a Home Library Into a Small Space
Hercule Poirot's Real-Life Model May Have Been Discovered!
Quirky Conundrums Book Lovers Understand
17 Bookstores That Will Change Your Life!!
Best of 2013 Audiobook Blog Hop

I'm looking forward what the next six months brings in terms of both reading and blogging!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vintage Beach Reads!!

Summer has arrived here in the northern hemisphere and I couldn't be happier! Summer is one of my favorite seasons. I came across a great article on Mental Floss titled 6 Beach Reads From 100 Years Ago by Therese Oneill. So bring on the vintage factor with these beach reads!!

Things That A Young Adult Book Book Would Understand

I enjoy reading young adult books every so often. So, when I came across an article posted on Huffington Post's website titled 7 Things Only YA Book Fans Will Understand by Lisa Parkin, I found myself reading it and wanting to share it here with other YA Fans!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Finds #40

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...

Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

This week I downloaded three eBooks to my Kindle from Amazon that fall into the steampunk genre as follows:

1. Gears of a Mad God by Brent Nichols
2. Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada by Nicholas J. Ambrose
3. Trinity Heart: Snow Angel by Julie Bragonier Minnick

Additonally, I also purchased a manga novel titled Utsubora - The Story of a Novelist by Asumiko Nakamura from the Kinokuniya Bookstore in San Francisco's Japantown this past weekend. 

So, which books did you add to your reading list (or wishlist)? 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

10 Manga Series’ Better Than Western Comics

I recently bought a manga book, which I look forward to reading soon, hopefully... I'm new to the manga genre, which has me wondering more about this genre in general. So, when I came across an article on titled, 10 Manga Series’ Better Than Any Western Comics by Raymond Bohigas, I decided to check it out. In the article, Bohigas writes:
Not unlike western comics, manga is a phenomenon staggering in its scope and dazzling in its complexity. It stretches across many decades, involves thousands of authors, and spans dozens of genres. In a nutshell, it is a world of its own. 
Alas, manga and anime haven’t traditionally enjoyed all that much popularity in western countries. Where superhero comics have oft been regarded as something for little kids, popular thought frequently seems to characterise manga as something intrinsically sleazy, likely to feature naughty tentacles or worse. Indeed, otaku were once the geeks other geeks looked down on.
And while things have changed for the better over the years (being a manga aficionado no longer carries the stigma it once did and there is a much broader offer of licensed manga to be found in western markets), manga remains something of a niche interest. Even now, it is not all that strange to encounter comic readers who regard manga as something for weirdoes who like to cosplay in conventions, blissfully unaware of the fact that some manga series’ have reached heights of storytelling that match the best western comics have to offer.
Click on the above link to read which manga series' made the list!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gears of a Mad God: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure by Brent Nichols

Steampunk Novella
In an effort to expand my reading repertoire, I chose to read Gears of a Mad God: A Sreampunk Lovecraft Adventure by Brent Nichols.

Gears of a Mad God: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure is a 98 page novella. I actually like reading novellas, especially when it comes to reading new genres or authors. This way I can test the waters to see if I'm going to like a new genre, instead of being hooked into reading a full length novel that I may or may no end up liking in the long run.

Well, I definitely liked the cover art for Gears of a Mad God: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure, but as for the novella itself... Well, it wasn't so great. It contained a lot of action, action, action, and more ACTION! Okay, so this novella is action packed to the hilt, which keeps the story going forward at a quick clip. BUT due to the over use of action, the storyline and character development are severely stunted and lacking at its expense.

The storyline for Gears of a Mad God: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure, takes place in Canada during the 1920s, primarily in Victoria, British Colombia. Colleen, the leading lady in Gears of a Mad God, learns that her Uncle Rod dies mysteriously dies and drops everything and travels across Canada to learn the circumstances... Other than finding out the basics of her Uncle's death and a little about his life, much is left unanswered. Including, this mysterious cult and the cult members out to kill Colleen for information they think she knows. Colleen teams up with agents from both the US & Canada to fight and kill the cult members who are after her and the information they think she knows... So much detail is left unanswered that would explain things to the reader... All there is is an abundance of action. The story fell short.

I'm giving Gears of a Mad God: A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure by Brent Nichols a rating of 2 stars out of 10 stars. Suffice it to say, I will not continue reading the rest of the books in the series.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

Swan Song by Lee Hanson

I read the eBook edition of Swan Song by Lee Hanson. Swan Song is the third full length mystery novel I've read by Ms. Hanson. Swan Song is approximately 311 pages and it is the second novel in the Julie O'Hara Mystery Series.

I enjoy reading mystery novels and have enjoyed Lee Hanson's two previous novels from the Julie O'Hara Mystery Series titles Mystral Murder and Castle Cay. So, it was an easy decision for me to read Swam Song this summer!! Swan Song was a fast read for me. I read it in three days. I enjoyed the storyline, the plot, the characters, and all of the suspects that could have been the killer... Just when you thought you knew the killer's identity, the person was cleared! I loved that I couldn't figure out who the killer was until the end of the novel. I also like the leading character of Julie O'Hara, a body language expert.

The following is a plot summary from Amazon:
As dawn breaks, the pale body of a beautiful, raven-haired young woman is discovered in an errant swan boat, adrift on a small lake smack in the middle of a jewel-like park in Downtown Orlando. It looks like a suicide: Snow White in a fractured fairytale. Body language expert, Julie O'Hara, isn't buying it. And that's a BIG problem, since Julie is the one person most likely to figure it out.
So, if you like well written mystery novels, then Swan Song may be the best fit for you!! I'm giving Swan Song an 8.5 star out of 10 star rating. 

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday --- Top Ten Blogging Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. 

Each week a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget, so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow book bloggers!

UPDATE: Ooops, I somehow or another mixed up the July 8th Top Ten Tuesday topic with today's topic... Since my Top Ten Tuesday posted at midnight and I already have a comment on it, I'll leave it as is instead of rescheduling it for July 8, 2014.

1. I'd love to create my own original weekly book meme!! But haven't yet found a suitable topic I like that hasn't already been taken.

2. I find writing book reviews to be my most challenging posts to write for my blog. How do I keep them interesting and original?? I write the basics in my book reviews, like whether I liked the book or not, a plot summary, links to where readers can purchase the book and the authors website, bio, or blog and few other things... How to capture a reader's attention and interest about what I've read seems to be a challenge for me while writing book reviews.

3. I enjoy reading engaging comments left on my blog posts by my blog readers like you!! So, feel free to leave me comments pertaining to the post topic at hand.

4. Every so often I experience blogger burnout!! Thank goodness this doesn't happen very often. :-)

5. I'm always on the look out for new ways of attracting new readers to my blog and having new readers follow/join my blog!! Providing good content and doing so frequently is one way of doing so. :-) If you have any other helpful suggestions, feel free to leave me a comment below.

6. Participating in read-a-thons and other online book blogging events are always a lot of fun for me as well. I enjoy interacting with other book bloggers.

7. I frequently seek out interesting book related news to post on my book blog. Anything from author interviews and related news, book trends, literary awards, banned book week and so on.

8. A couple of my favorite types of posts to share on my blog are those pertaining to the independent bookstore I visit and the author signings and/or book festivals I attend. I love visiting independent bookstores and attending author related events, although I haven't attended many author events recently due to moving to a new area.

9. I enjoy discovering and following new (to me) book blogs. So, if you have a captivating book blog or follow one that you love, let me know about the book blog(s) in the comment section below.

10. I'm pretty much addicted to blogging for the most part!! I'm frequently checking my stats and for comments.

Share with me your blogging confessions!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kinokuniya Bookstore in San Francisco, California!!

Yesterday, my hubby and I visited two different bookstores in San Francisco's Japantown! Originally, we visited Japantown to attend the Origami Palooza Festival, but instead had too much fun exploring Japantown in and of itself, that we didn't participate in the Origami Palooza Festival.

Ground floor entrance to Kinokuniya Bookstore
The first bookstore we visited was the Kinokuniya Bookstore, which is a two story bookstore filled with manga and graphic novels on the first floor, while the second floor contains other books from other genres. 

The Kinokuniya Bookstore also has carries other fun gift products as well. I chose to spend most of my time on the first floor of the Kinokuniya Bookstore browsing through the manga books in English. 

I don't know much about manga or graphic novels. Curious about the manga and graphic novel genres, I found myself exploring the bookshelves looking at the books titles available for purchase. I discovered quite a few book titles that sounded intriguing and decided to make a bold leap and purchase a manga book! I ended up purchasing a copy of Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist by Asumiko Nakamura. I have no idea if I'll enjoy this book or genre at all, but am willing to give it a go.

As a side note, this is the second Kinokuniya Bookstore I've visited. In February 2012, I visited the Costa Mesa, California Kinokuniya Bookstore, which is a much smaller storefront than the one in San Francisco. However, I enjoyed the store layout and organization much better at the Costa Mesa Kinokuniya store than the one in San Francisco. 

Also, the San Francisco Kinokuniya Bookstore was lacking in customer service. The staff members weren't rude exactly... They just seemed uninterested in you beyond ringing up and bagging your purchase. No friendly greeting, no small chit chat (like asking me if I found what I was looking for), zip, nada, nothing! Not even a friendly smile or a thank you for visiting their store. 

Kinokuniya s located on the corner of Geary & Webster Streets

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Forest Books in San Francisco, California!!

Today, my hubby and I visited Japantown in San Francisco, California for the first time ever!! While we were there, we visited Forest Books, which is a small independent bookstore that carries select used and rare books.

I found Forest Books to be a cozy bookstore. It was a peaceful place to visit after being in the busyness of 'Japantown'. I enjoyed the layout and organization of Forest Books, along with its ambiance too.

I learned the following information about Forest Books from their 'about page':
I would like to thank you for your immense kindness and participation in keeping Forest Books in our neighborhood for another year. I started this enterprise 23 years ago with the notion that Forest Books would be a place to demonstrate Right Livelihood in the marketplace in a way that makes inner peace tangible to everyone who enters. I wanted to provide Forest Books as a context and a community resource where peace and harmony are the foundation for exploration, inquiry and creative expression. Paul Yamazaki of City Lights Books noted that "Forest Books has an exceptional curated selection of books you're unlikely to find anywhere else." Please dont forget we need your business, your trades, your donations, and your praise to help us survive and thrive. Thanks to you all for keeping this democratic and spiritual enterprise going so we can flourish together. ~Jakushu Gregory Wood
I hope you have a chance to visit Forest Books. Independent bookstores rock!!

Appalachian Serenade by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Last week, I read Appalachian Serenade by Sarah Loudin Thomas, which is a novella that falls into the Christian Fiction genre. I don't read Christian Fiction all that often, but thought I'd read this one as it has received a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. 

Plus, I'm always on the look out for new authors or at least new authors me any way! I find that novellas are the perfect way to become acquainted with new author as you an discover their writing style to see if it fits/suits your interest without making a large commitment to reading a full length novel.

I enjoyed reading Appalachian Serenade. It is short and sweet, which makes for a good read while commuting by train or plane. Or if you simply wish to escape while you're hanging out at your favorite destination for the afternoon! 

The following is a plot summary for Appalachian Serenade from Amazon's website:
Delilah Morrissey has always wanted to be a mother, but when she becomes a young widow, that dream now seems farther away than ever. Unable to continue to live alone in Chicago, her only option is to accept her sister's offer to move in with her family back in West Virginia. Will Delilah have the faith to pursue a new dream--even if it means giving up the old? 
In this charming novella, debut novelist Sarah Loudin Thomas introduces readers to Wise, West Virginia--a small town nestled in an Appalachian valley where the everyday miracles of life and faith play out in stories of healing, hope, and love.

Includes an excerpt of Miracle in a Dry Season, the first full-length novel in the Appalachian Blessings series--a book New York Timesbestselling author Debbie Macomber called, "Wonderful, simply wonderful."

Until my next post, happy reading!! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

All Aboard!! A Reading List For Train Travel.

Are you traveling by train this summer on holiday?? Or do you love trains in general?? Then the following list of books may be ones you want to read!! So, checkout the following article I discovered on NPR titled All Aboard! A Reading List For Riding The Rails. Sometimes life is about the journey! Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Finds #39

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...

Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

This week, I added a two books to my reading list as follows:

I grabbed a free, used copy of Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly when I exchanged a book at a Little Free Library last weekend!

I also added the audio version of The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy, which I downloaded from Audible.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass' Sells for $305,000 at Auction

I was perusing Google news and came across an article posted on CNBC titled Walt Whitman book sells for $305,000 by Robert Frank. In the article, Frank writes:
He may not be topping the best-seller list, but the great American poet and humanist Walt Whitman set a sales record Wednesday at Christie's. 
A first edition of "Leaves of Grass," printed for the author, sold for $305,000.That was more than twice Christie's estimate of $100,000 to $150,000, and it marked a world auction record for Whitman. 
The previous record for a Walt Whitman book was $230,500, also for a copy of "Leaves of Grass." That one was sold by Sotheby's in October 2011. It's not the most expensive book ever auctioned, of course. That honor is still held by the Bay Psalm Book that went at Sotheby's last fall for $14.2 million.

It's truly amazing to me what rare book collectors pay for a book they want to add to their personal collection! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

17 Bookstores That Will Change Your Life!!

Buzzfeed features some good book related articles on their website. Today, I discovered an article on the Buzzfeed website titled 17 Bookstores That Will Literally Change Your Life by Erin La Rosa. 

Some of the bookstores featured I've heard of before as they've been featured in other articles I've read online. However, I also came across a couple of bookstores I've never heard of before. I've been to The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles and it is AMAZING!! 

I've recently moved to the San Francisco Bay area and look forward to visiting City Lights Bookstore after we are settled in our new place.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stages: Episode One by Katie Paul

Stages: Episode One by Katie Paul is a 112 novella that is a first in a series to feature the leading character Sophie Walker.

Stages: Episode One is the first thing I've ever read by Katie Paul. I thought it was a well written work of fiction. I enjoyed the character development of the leading character, Sophie Walker and also the story development. Even though I liked reading Stages: Episode One, I found it difficult to read about Sophie Walker's struggles with her own body image... All the binging and restricting of her diet, the taking of laxatives, and her negative self body image were tough to read about in this book. 

I've never had a eating disorder, so I do not know personally what it is like for a person going through this difficult situation. However, with that said, I felt like the author, Katie Paul, gives us a glimpse into what it must be like for those dealing with a eating disorder.

I didn't enjoy everything about Stages: Episode One. For instance, the ending of Stages: Episode One was a cliffhanger, so you have to but the next installment to see what happens. I don't like cliffhangers, so most likely won't read the rest of the series... And as much as I think Katie Paul is a decent writer, I just wouldn't want to read any more about the difficulties Sophie Walker is going through in terms of her body image or about the negative relationship she has with her VERY rude husband who doesn't treat her with respect.

The following is a plot summary for Stages: Episode One that I found on Amazon's website:
If Sophie comes out of the shadows, will she lose everyone and everything? 
Sophie Walker spends each night in darkness at the side of a stage, producing the alchemy of theatre. Her job is invisible to most people and so, it would seem, is her life. In an attempt to come out of the shadows, Sophie enters a body-building competition, sculpting her body into the best shape of her life. But such discipline is hard to maintain, and Sophie finds herself locked in a destructive cycle of bingeing and restricting.

When she hits rock bottom, she chooses to give up dieting forever. But the road to healing is not what she expects, and she is forced to confront issues in her marriage, her job, her friendships, and her identity as an independent woman.

This is a tale about love, sexuality, success, feminine beauty and enlightenment.
I'm giving Stages: Episode One a rating of 7 stars out of 10 stars. 

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Top Ten Tuesday -- Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. 

Each week a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget, so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow book bloggers!!

I have so many books to read in my ever growing 'to be read pile', that sometimes I don't no which ones to read first!! Below is a combination of physical books, eBooks, and an audiobook to read over the summer. I may change up my reading list as time goes by this summer... In the meantime here's my Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR list as follows:

1. Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
2. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
3. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
4. The House of Gentlemen by Kathy Hepinstall
5. The Soloist by Steve Lopez
6. Swan Song by Lee Hanson
7. Stages by Katie Paul
8. The Tapping Cure by Roberta Temes Ph.D.
9. Breathe You Are Alive by Thich Nhat Hanh
10. Appalachian Serenade by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Monday, June 16, 2014

Macaron Murder by Harper Lin

Macaron Murder by Harper Lin is an 88 page novella and is the first read in 'A Patisserie Mystery' cozy series. I downloaded this eBook to my Kindle for free from Amazon. The following is my unbiased review of Macaron Murder.

I chose to read Macaron Murder because I like cozy mystery novels, the book cover was attractive and the storyline sounded delightful! 

Plus, I enjoy eating macarons, so I found it was very cool that there are several recipes at the end of the book for macarons!! I look forward to making them at some point and hope they aren't to difficult to make as I'm not the best baker. 

Anyway, on with my review of Macaron Murder! Harper Lin is a new author to me and I really enjoyed reading Macaron Murder. Macaron Murder may have been a short, sweet read, but the author didn't skimp on the plot details, the storyline or character development. Quite a few red herrings were given in Macaron Murder, which kept me guessing until the end as to whodunnit! I look forward to reading the other books in 'A Patisserie Mystery' cozy series.

The following is a plot summary of Macaron Murder by Harper Lin from Amazon's website:
French native Clémence Damour returns to Paris after traveling around the world for two years. She’s dog-sitting for her parents in the posh 16th arrondissement and overseeing the family patisserie, a famous franchise known for their delectable gourmet pastries and sweets in Paris and around the world.

To get off on the right foot with la gardienne, the caretaker of the apartment building, Clémence gives her a box of their luxury macarons. The next morning however, the half-eaten box of macarons is found near la gardienne's dead body. An incompetent inspector accuses Clémence of being the killer, which prompts her to clear her name and solve the case herself.

Join Clémence and her friends as they solve murder cases, bake macarons and other treats, and fall in love in The City of Lights.

If you like Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries or Leighann Dobb's Lexy Baker series, you'll also enjoy The Patisserie Mysteries.

Macaron Murder is the first book (25,000-word novella) in this new culinary mystery series set in France, featuring delicious recipes of French pastries and desserts.
I'm giving Macaron Murder a rating of 7 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!! 

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Book 1 in 'His Fair Assassin Trilogy'
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is the first novel in 'His Fair Assassin Trilogy'. Grave Mercy is a novel that falls into the Young Adult genre as well as historical fiction and fantasy categories.

I initially began reading this novel for a book group/club last year, but had to set it aside and unfortunately never finished reading before the book club discussion due to unexpected events that came up... So, I started rereading Grave Mercy again this year and I am very glad that I did. It is a very enjoyable novel. I look forward to reading the next two novels in the  'His Fair Assassin Trilogy'.

The following is the plot summary for Grave Mercy, which I found on the author, Robin LaFever's website:
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart

I enjoyed reading Grave Mercy for the most part. The storyline and characters are well developed and you want to know what happens to them over the course of their journey. I liked the premise of Grave Mercy.... From its setting in Brittany in the late 1400s to Ismae, the leading lady, becoming the handmaiden to Death!! You grow to care about the characters and what happens to them.

The only major complaint I have about Grave Mercy is that I felt like the plot/storyline during the middle of it needed to be moved along a bit faster than it was moving. It seemed like the plot dragged on way too long. I enjoyed the beginning and the ending of Grave Mercy very much though.

I'm giving Grave Mercy a rating of 8 stars out 10 stars! Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Little Free Library in Livermore, California

Little Free Library in Livermore, CA
My hubby and I were out geocaching recently in Livermore, California. While we were geocaching, I happened to noticed a Little Free Library across the street from the geocache we had discovered. How cool is that?? 

This is the second time we've stumbled across a Little Free Library while out geocaching!! What are the odds that we'd come across two different Little Free Libraries in two different cities while out geocaching? The odds are pretty slim if you ask me!

Today, I placed a copy of Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers inside the Little Free Library in Livermore. You can actually see the cover of Grave Mercy on the bottom shelf of the Little Free Library facing out. This must be a popular Free Little Library, because it was packed to the gills with numerous books to choose from! I actually grabbed a used copy of 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly.

This is the 4th Little Free Library I've visited and I look forward to discovering more of them over the years ahead!

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Finds #38

Friday Finds is a book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Friday Finds is a chance to share and show off the books you discovered during the week and would like to add to your reading list...
Or a place to simply feature the books you've actually purchased throughout the week and have added to your to be read pile!

This week I added a few new books to my reading list as follows:

1. The Soloist by Steve Lopez (Audiobook)
2. The Love Thief by Daisy Jerico (eBook)
3. Appalachian Serenade by Sarah Loudin Thomas (eBook)
4. Innocent in Las Vegas by A. R. Winters (eBook)
5. The Devil's Dream by David Beers (eBook)
6. Jesters & Junkies by Jamie Garrett (eBook)
7. Stages by Katie Paul (eBook)
8. Jackie of All Trades by Allie Borne (eBook)
9. What She Saw by Sheila Lowe (eBook)
10. Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig (eBook)
11. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (eBook)
12. Macaron Murder by Harper Lin (eBook)
13. Lie Like a Woman by April Campbell Jones (eBook)
14. Hunting For Yayoi by G. M. O'Neill (eBook)

Most of the eBooks were free downloads from Amazon, except for one which was $1.99. The audiobook was a daily deal for $2.95 on Audible.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Charles Wright named U.S. Poet Laureate

I've never even heard of poet Charles Wright!! But I understand that he has recently been named the next U. S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress. 

I came across an online article on the PBS website titled Charles Wright named U.S. Poet Laureate by Mike Melia. It's a lengthy article filled with a lot of information about Charles Wright. In the article, Melia writes the following:
Charles Wright, a master of capturing landscape and meditation in verse, has been named the next Poet Laureate of the United States by the Library of Congress. It is the latest in a long list of honors and awards for Wright, who is considered one of the greatest American poets of his generation. 
At times self-effacing, Wright shies away from the public eye and was reluctant to take the post. “My wife kept nudging me to do it and also others have said, ‘You know, you should do it.’ And I hadn’t done it before when it was offered to me and I always felt sort of bad about that — that I snuck into the shadows where I am more comfortable,” Wright said to Jeffrey Brown in a phone conversation on Wednesday. “I’m going to try to pull up my socks here and see what happens.”
Wright will succeed Natasha Trethewey as the Library’s 20th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. “For almost 50 years, his poems have reckoned with ‘language, landscape, and the idea of God,’” said Librarian of Congress, James Billington. “Wright’s body of work combines a Southern sensibility with an allusive expansiveness, for moments of singular musicality.”
Click on the top link to read the full story. You can even listen to an audio interview of Charles Wright speaking with Jeffrey Brown

Charles Wright's poetry sure does sound intriguing! I'm curious to read his poetry now. He's won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Love Thief by Daisy Jerico

Yesterday afternoon, I read The Love Thief by Daisy Jerico in a couple of hours. The Love Thief is a romantic suspense novella approximately 72 pages in length.

I really enjoyed reading The Love Thief! So, what did I like about reading The Love Thief?? 

1. It's an entertaining, fast, fun read from start to finish... Novellas are short in length, so they must capture and hold my attention from start to finish to be an enjoyable read. 

2. I enjoyed the storyline, characters, dialogue and action throughout The Love Thief. There were no lulls in the storyline and the characters were well developed and consistent throughout the story.

3. My two favorite characters are Sandra, the heroine/leading character of this novella. She's young, smart determined, yet vulnerable too. I also loved, Viking, the Mastiff stray dog that Sandra rescues from the streets of Chicago and adopts!

The following is a plot summary for The Love Thief from the Amazon website:
When the jewelry gallery she works at is robbed, Sandra is not just the prime suspect; she is the only suspect. Desperate to clear her name, she reluctantly agrees to work with sexy former jewel thief, Alex Daniels, to recover the jewelry and catch a thief.

He reminds her of the men who lounge half-naked across Ferraris in fragrance ads, aloof and confident in their looks. Alex can't believe anyone as naive and trusting as Sandra can be for real. Thrown together to solve the robbery, Alex feels his heart begin to thaw towards Sandra. As his feelings become stronger, Alex must ask her to rekindle a romance to her recently paroled ex-boyfriend, who holds the key to solving the robbery.

In the end, Sandra must decide if it is more important to clear her name or follow her heart.
I'm giving The Love Thief a rating of 8 stars out of 10 stars!! 

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Weirdest ‘Fault In Our Stars’-Inspired Merch Items

Once again, the Flavorwire posts another wonderful book related article on their website titled 20 of the Weirdest ‘Fault In Our Stars’-Inspired Merch Items by Pilot Viruet. In the article, Viruet writes the following:
Not since Harry Potter has a Young Adult novel attracted such a devoted fanbase as John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars. As an inevitable result of that, the book — and film adaptation, which opens in theaters today — has inspired countless homemade items that you can buy on Etsy. Here’s a roundup of the most creative (and strangest) The Fault In Our Stars-inspired merchandise, from wedding bouquets to customized tissues.
I can't say as I'd buy any of the merchandise featured in Viruet's article, but the items are definitely unique!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

Unabridged Audiobook
Last night, I finished listening to the unabridged audio version of The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan and read by David Thorn.

I became interested in listening to The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan after seeing the dramatization of his play a few years ago at a local playhouse. I had thoroughly enjoyed the live theater production of The Thirty-Nine Steps immensely. However, when it came to the book itself, not so much.

The plots summary for The Thirty-Nine Steps is as follows from Audible:
Richard Hannay, Buchan's hero in this 1915 thriller, stumbles across a dark plot to attack England by the German Reich (of World War I vintage) but has to flee when his discovery becomes known. He then engages in several hot pursuits and narrow, if theatrical, escapes, but all's well that ends well.
David Thorn did a wonderful job of narrating The Thirty-Nine Steps, but the story and leading character just didn't quite captivate me. I found myself distracted and not paying attention to the story very much. I'd say the last two chapters of this book were the most interesting ones in the entire book. 

If you're looking for a spy thriller, then this one is one I'd pass on. I'm giving The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan a rating of 4 stars out of 10 stars. 

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Island by Jen Minkman

The Island by Jen Minkman is work of dystopian fiction that falls into the young adult genre. The Island is approximately 138 page novella and is the first book in The Island Series.

I enjoy dystopian fiction from time to time, which is one of the reasons I chose to read this novella. I also decided to read this novella because of the cover art and its title. Jen Minkman is a new author to me. So, reading a novella by a new author gives me a flavor of of their writing style, especially when it comes to series of books that they write.

The plot details for The Island are as follows from Amazon's website:
I walk toward the sea. The endless surface of the water extends to the horizon, whichever way I look.Our world is small. We are on our own, and we only have ourselves to depend on. We rely on the Force deep within us, as taught to us by our forefathers.

If I were to walk westward from here, I would come across a barrier - the Wall. Behind it, there are Fools. At least, that's what everyone says. I have never seen one.'

Leia lives on the Island, a world in which children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are ten years old. Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed. The Fools living behind it are not amenable to reason - they believe in illusions. That's what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors. 
But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same. Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true?

Or is everyone in their world, in fact, a Fool?
I enjoyed the beginning of The Island... I found the storyline, characters, dialogue to be intriguing and looked forward to reading more to see how things were going to turn out.

As The Island progressed though, I became disappointed with the storyline, the characters and the direction in which The Island was going. I almost gave up on finishing this novella a couple of times. The author, Jen Minkman, uses a Star Wars theme in her novella, which is where this novella gets really cheesy. I don't mind that the author used a word like the "force" in a book, but don't tie it back to Star Wars or use character names like Luke, Leia and Han Solo in your book... Or other Star Wars elements. I felt like Ms. Minkman could have created her own unique, original story without having to incorporate elements from Star Wars into The Island.

Sometimes, I liked the leading character of Leia, sometimes I didn't like her... Her character seems sort of wishy-washy... One part shy and vulnerable, not knowing how to right the situation at hand and save her civilization. Other times, she was sure of herself and ready to conquer the world and be the leader the island so sorely needs. I would have liked to see Leia develop more steadily into the role of leader/over-thrower. What also irked me is that Leia is 16 years old and acts more like an 11 or 12 year old than a 16 year old.

The evil leader at the Manor is Saul, who was not really that evil. The kid was a bully, plain and simple. Saul eventually broke down like a baby in the end when he was ousted from power.

I think the most interesting character in The Island was Walt, one of the Fools. He and Leia have an interesting relationship, even if the relationship at times is a bit immature. Walt and the other Fools give a lot of details about the history of the island and the past, which interesting to learn. Otherwise The Island was a pretty dull read for me.

Suffice it to say, I will NOT be reading anymore books in The Island series. I'm giving The Island a rating of 4 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

9 Literary Movements Explained

Mental Floss published an article on its site titled 9 Complicated Literary Movements Explained Simply by Kevin Lincoln. In the article, Lincoln writes the following:
Books can be complicated, and the culture surrounding literature and its various theories and ideas can even trip up Ph.Ds and Gaddis-quoting Brooklynites. 
Sometimes, though, you need a little straight-talk to understand why your favorite author keeps getting described as having been decontextualized, which makes these particular statements by critics and writers on various literary concepts incredibly illuminating.
Click on the top link to read literary movements are illuminated!! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

The Sanctuary by Sarah Collins

115 Page Novella
I read eBook edition of The Sanctuary by Sarah Collins, which is a 115 page novella. The Sanctuary is the first novella in the Playa Luna Beach Series and it falls into the romance genre.

I enjoyed this novella. It's a quick read. It isn't a highbrow read... Just the perfect summertime beach read that doesn't strain the brain. I felt that it was a bit predictable though as far as storylines go. I also enjoyed that the storyline takes place in Baja Mexico with scenes on the beach and about saving a species of dolphins from going extinct.

The following is a plot summary from Amazon:
Visit the warm waters and sandy beaches of Mexico in this romance with fun, margaritas and a dash of mystery.

Cassie Lewis has loved the beaches of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez as long as she can remember and has vowed to save the disappearing dolphin. When her plans for a breeding sanctuary are threatened by construction of a million-dollar resort, she rushes to Baja.

Alejandro has never denied his family – or his future. The Baja resort is the crowning jewel in his family’s corporation and he vows to protect it.
An accident brings Cassie and Alejandro together...but will his past keep them apart?
Cassie and her mission change everything for him, and he is forced to choose between family, duty and love.
I'm giving The Sanctuary by Sarah Collins a rating of 6.5 stars out of 10 stars. Until my next post, happy reading!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

I enjoyed listening to the audio version of My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse and narrated by David Thorn. Listening time for My Man Jeeves is approximately five hours in length.

I enjoyed listening to this collection of short stories by P. G. Wodehouse. They were particularly humorous and of course, Jeeves comes to the rescue every time with some pretty hilarious results!!

David Thorn does a good job reading this collection of short stories... My only complaint is Thorn's repetition of rolling his "R's" throughout the entire narration, which grows annoying after the first 25 times!! Other than that I enjoyed this audio edition.

The stories included in this collection are as follows:

1. Leave it to Jeeves

2. Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest

3. Jeeves and the Hard Boiled Egg

4. Absent Treatment

5. Helping Freddie

6. Rallying Around Old George

7. Doing Clarence a Bit of Good

8. The Aunt and the Sluggard

I'm giving My Man Jeeves a rating of 7 stars our of 10 stars. Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

10 Books to Help You Understand the Modern City!!

Since I live in a bustling city myself, I was intrigued by an article I discovered on the io9 website titled 10 Books That Could Change the Way You Understand Modern Cities by Annalee Newitz. In the article, Newitz writes the following:
We have just entered the Urban Age, when the majority of the world's population lives in cities. Most of us may live in the metropolis, but these miracles of engineering and cultural productivity are almost impossible to understand. These ten books will help you untangle the mysteries of today's city life.
Click on the above link to discover which books made the cut for helping us to understand life in the modern city. Until my next post, happy reading!!

Bookish Quote of the Day!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

If You Enjoyed Reading The Fault In Our Stars...

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Fault in Our Stars by John not too long ago and enjoyed it immensely, despite crying through many sad scenes/passages written in the novel. 

Now the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars is coming out to theaters this month and I'm not sure I want to see the movie for two reasons... 1. The movie based on the book is never as good as the book itself. 2. I'm not sure I want to see a sad movie and cry my eyes out knowing what'll happen. Are you planning to see the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars?

If you read and enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, you may be interested in 17 other book titles I discovered in an article posted on Buzzfeed titled 17 Books To Read If You Liked "The Fault In Our Stars" by Arielle Calderon.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Do YOU Love San Francisco?? Read These 16 Books!!

Just slightly over two weeks ago, my husband and I moved to San Francisco's East Bay... I consider myself a Southern California girl as I've spent the majority of my life living in either San Diego County or Santa Barbara County near the Pacific Ocean. 

So moving to San Francisco's East Bay is all new to me... Sure, I've visited some of the tourist areas of the San Francisco Bay Area, but I really don't know the ins and outs of what life is like in my new hometown! I've been too busy of late settling in and getting to know the basics.... But, am sure I'll hit the ground running and exploring my new surroundings in more details very soon.

In the meantime, I've come across an article on Buzzfeed titled 16 Books To Read If You Love San Francisco by Anisse Gross. These are some of the books to read if you love San Francisco! I'll have to checkout a few of the titles at some point in the future.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Why Are Chinese Women Writing Gay Erotica?

I discovered an interesting article in Sinosphere titled Why Many Young Chinese Women Are Writing Gay Male Erotica By Didi Kirsten Tatlow. Curious as why young Chinese women are writing gay erotica, I read the article and learned:
Danmei is part of an ‘‘ongoing sexual revolution’’ with feminist characteristics in China, perhaps the country’s first, said a Chinese academic who requested anonymity. China is currently undergoing a crackdown on pornography that has netted danmei writers and website managers, and closed some sites, sexual rights advocates said. ‘‘The campaign is really having an impact,’’ the researcher said. 
Creating and consuming danmei is a way for women to explore their long-repressed sexuality, said Ms. Jacobs. 
‘‘I think Chinese culture is still harsh on women in terms of how far they can go in developing a fantasy life or erotic art forms,’’ she said. ‘‘I think they have to be very careful in coming out with their fantasies. The norm is stifling.’’ 
So those fantasies, safely projected onto ‘‘other,’’ gay, male bodies, represent a revolt against a deeply conservative culture, which expects passivity and childlikeness from women, Ms. Jacobs and the Chinese researcher said.
Click on the above article to read the full article.

Survey Uncovers the Sex Secrets of Erotic Romance Authors

recently read an article online titled Erotica Authors Lead Hotter Sex Lives Than Most Americans, Says Survey on the Digital Book World Book website. In the above mentioned article, I discovered the following information:

The Fussy Librarian discovers erotic writers really do have steamier sex lives.
According to a new survey by The Fussy Librarian, a site that recommends ebooks in 40 genres to readers, the authors who write steamy erotic novels also heat up the bedroom — and just about everywhere else: church basements, on stacks of drywall, on stage at a concert, on horseback, in canoes, in elevators, at museums, and on playground slides and Disney World rides.
The Fussy Librarian surveyed 103 erotic romance authors between May 9-19 to learn whether their sex lives were spicier than the typical American, or if they just had more active imaginations.

Click on top link to discover the five findings learned through The Fussy Librarian survey!

The Harlequin Tea Set & Other Stories by Agatha Christie

I've been in the mood this month for writing by Agatha Christie! So, for my birthday, I decided to purchase the unabridged audio version of The Harlequin Tea Set & Other Stories by Agatha Christie, which I've recently listened to on my Kindle.

There are nine stories that comprise The Harlequin Tea Set & Other Stories as follows:
1. The Edge
2. The Actress
3. While the Light Lasts
4. The House of Dreams
5. The Lonely God
6. Manx Gold
7. Within a Wall
8. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
9. The Harlequin Tea Set

Total playing time for the audio version is approximately 6 hours and 12 minutes.

I pretty much enjoyed all of the short stories mentioned above with the exception of The Harlequin Tea Set, which was surprising as it was the one I was most looking forward to listening to out of all the short stories in this collection. The stories I most enjoyed were The Edge, The Actress, and The Lonely God.

All the stories were well read... I am giving The Harlequin Tea Set & Other Stories a rating of 7 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Italian Laundromat by A. M. Khalifa

I recently read The Italian Laundromat by A. M. Khalifa in a single afternoon. It is a short story roughly 62 pages in length.

The following is a plot summary is as follows for The Italian Laundromat from Amazon:
When Donatello finally decides to escape her husband's tyranny, engaging in panty-melting sexual encounters with a young, dark-skinned immigrant is just her appetizer. But as her plot thickens, Donatello finds she may have bitten off more than she can chew. 
Get swept away in the sensual and mysterious world of The Italian Laundromat where even the most oppressed underdog dreams of having the last laugh.

For the most part, I enjoyed reading The Italian Laundromat... It was a fun, fast read with a decent storyline and some spicy sex scenes. My only major complaint is that some scene changes happened abruptly from scene to the next. Otherwise I enjoyed reading the The Italian Laundromat.

I'm giving The Italian Laundromat a rating of 6.5 stars out of 10 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!