Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen narrated by Alison Larkin

Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen
narrated by Alison Larkin

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Guest Post
Website
Blog
Facebook
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YouTube
Twitter

Just released: February 2017
Publisher: British Classic Audio
Genre: Classic, Romance
Audiobook
Rating: 5

Award-winning narrator and internationally acclaimed writer/comedienne, Alison Larkin brings her signature wit to this hugely entertaining audio production of Jane Austen's first novel, Northanger Abbey, followed by The History of England, a short, delightfully satirical piece that Austen wrote when she was just 15 years old.

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland, a clergyman's daughter, longs for the kind of romantic adventures she has read about in her favorite Gothic novels. After spending a season mingling with fashionable high society in Bath, she is invited to stay at Northanger Abbey where nothing is what it seems.

In The History of England, the teenage Jane Austen pokes fun at the historians of the day who pretended to be objective when they clearly were not, and wrote about the kings and queens of England with less respect (and more wit) than a British newspaper.


My two-bits:

Such a treat for Jane Austen fans.

As I love Jane Austen's works this was another take on something already good in portraying life during the 1800s with a female perspective.

And as I have enjoyed Alison Larkin's previous audio renditions of Jane's novels, this telling continues in the series to be fabulous.

Mr. Tilney's comments and comparisons of dancing and marriage tickled me this time around.

Ooo, the manipulating and machinations.

The story's views and descriptions of being on vacation in Bath got me adding that location on the travel bucket list!

There is an additional bonus reading of The History of England after Northanger Abbey in which you get some thoughts on royalty. You get a sense of Jane's sense of humor. The original copy was scanned and is available to view (here) which include illustrations.

PeekAbook:



~*~

* review copy courtesy of narrator

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Release: Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks

Modern Persuasion
by Sara Marks
-Contemporary Romance, Jane Austen
Release date: May 29, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

Which would you pick: the person you love or your own dreams?

What would you do if given a second chance at that decision? Eight years ago Emma Shaw picked her career and family over the man she loved, Fredrick Wentworth. Since then she has built a career in publishing and spends her free time making sure her father and sisters are taken care of. Fredrick has spent the same years building his career as a screenwriter under increasing public scrutiny as a celebrity. When the editor of Fredrick s first book is injured, Emma is forced to travel with Fredrick on his book tour. Tension builds for the two former lovers over the course of the tour. Emma and Fredrick must face their emotional baggage and their misunderstanding about how their break-up impacted the other.

Will they be able to find their way back together for a second chance at love?


Excerpt: Chapter 10

Patrick dealt with the early morning shows without me. His logic was that he and Fredrick did these all the time to promote movies. We agreed to meet at the Columbus Circle Barnes & Noble for the first book signing later that afternoon so we could set up together. Not having to get up before the sun didn't stop me from turning on the morning shows to watch what happened. The interviews went off without a hitch for most of the shows. This first New York City round centered on the large, national morning shows. The anchors focused on the book and not Fredrick's personal life. Christi told me she made a point of asking them to do this. One show did ask about the insanity of PubCon and what it was like there. Fredrick didn't mention Christi's accident and I mentally thanked him for that. The only hiccup occurred on one of the later morning shows. Their newest anchor apparently didn't get or care about the requested focus.

"So," the man said. "You recently had a pretty bad break up with Abby."

"These things happen," Fredrick said.

"It surprised a lot of people considering that she has a child and you seemed to really be in a good place together."

"Things change in relationships. People change and it requires that you change the relationship."

"Abby has commented that you refused to leave Los Angeles when she wanted to make New York City her permanent home."

"That was one of many reasons."

"Well, I know there are thousands of women out there who would love to take her place. What should all the women of the world know is your number one barrier to a lasting relationship."

Fredrick sat there for a moment, thinking.

"You know, I have to say the number one barrier in a lasting relationship with me is weakness of character. If a woman can easily be persuaded by her friends and family to do something she doesn't really want, then she and I won't make a good pair."

I sat there looking at the television and I realized I was never going to be able to fix the mistake I had made. This next month was going to be torture.


--~ Blog Tour Giveaway ~--


a Rafflecopter giveaway


~*~


FOR more details check out the blog tour:

5/22 My Jane Austen Bookclub
5/22 Most Agreeably Engaged
5/23 Half Agony, Half Hope
5/24 JustJane 1813
5/24 The Ardent Reader
5/25 From Pemberly to Milton
5/26 Diary of an Eccentric
5/26 My Love for Jane Austen
5/27 Babblings of a Bookworm
5/28 Musings from the Yellow Kitchen
5/29 vvb32 reads -- that would be here ;-)
5/29 Austenesque Reviews

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Still Here by Lara Vapnyar

Still Here
by Lara Vapnyar

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt

Just released: May 2, 2017 reprint
Publisher: Hogarth
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, New York, Russia
Paperback: 336
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Promise me you won't call it 'virtual grave,' Vica said as they turned onto the West Side Highway.

Zombie sighting:
She could just eat them in dumb silence like an animal, like a stupid zombie, or she could do the more civilized thing and turn on episode two. -ch 3, page 76

A profound and dazzlingly entertaining novel from the writer Louis Menand calls "Jane Austen with a Russian soul."

In her warm, absorbing and keenly observed new novel, Lara Vapnyar follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants in New York City as they grapple with love and tumult, the challenges of a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.

Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hungers for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighborhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.

As Sergey develops his app—calling it "Virtual Grave," a program to preserve a person's online presence after death—a formidable debate begins in the group, spurring questions about the changing perception of death in the modern world and the future of our virtual selves. How do our online personas define us in our daily lives, and what will they say about us when we're gone?


My two-bits:

Delightful read with Russian characters and some scenes in Russia.

The experience of modern day Russian immigrants in the world with social media and apps is explored. Four different perspectives are equally engaging with their issues that intertwine.


~*~

* review copy courtesy of Blogging for Books

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 5.27.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)

~*~

Got delayed in posting this last weekend. So, below reflects two weeks worth. As you will see certain purchases were influenced by events attended.

I started entering books read with ratings into Goodreads from my reading logs that date back to 2006. This was the year when I started getting serious with reading and making notations of the books. In working with the lists it was fun to see which I remembered and which I accidentally re-read.

~*~

Bought:


Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, hosted a reading, signing and Q&A with Jeff VanderMeer for his latest release of Borne. Started out with a bird diary. Borne inspired by experience of growing up in Fiji and environmental issues.

Don't remember why, but Jeff wanted the crowd to say...

Bears can't fly
or can they?

Maybe I will know why after reading the book.

Borne
by Jeff VanderMeer
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads

THIS will be my first VanderMeer read.

Annihilation
by Jeff VanderMeer
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads

FOUND this in the used book section. It is the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy which is the Winner of the 2015 Nebula Award.

Acceptance
by Jeff VanderMeer
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads

GOT this with the first one above. It is the third book in the trilogy. Gotta search for the second, Authority.

The Clothes They Stood Up In And The Lady And The Van
by Alan Bennett
-Short Stories, England
Amazon | Goodreads

Also found this in the used section while looking for Smut. Due to the theatre production I mentioned below, I was taken with Alan's style.


For Review:

The Vestige
by Caroline George
-YA
Release date: June 30, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

I am curious about the end of the world scenario in this one.

Slave to Love
by Julie A. Richman
-New Adult, Romance
courtesy of Romance Read-of-the-Month Club -Thanks!
BarnesNoble | Goodreads

I have been accumulating some beefcake reading with from this club. But, have not yet had a chance to dip into any. I definitely will start in June!

Still Here
by Lara Vapnyar
-Contemporary Fiction, Russia
courtesy of Blogging for Books - Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THE Jane Austen mention in the description caught my eye for this one along with the idea of virtual graves.


UNBOXING:

From Owlcrate package (details & signup):
OwlCrate is a subscription service that sends you magical monthly boxes tailored to a chosen theme. Each OwlCrate will contain one new Young Adult novel, as well as 3-5 other bookish treats to help you get your nerd on. @owlcrate


MAY Box includes:
theme: Comic Explosion
- Owlcrate spoiler card with comic book style page
- Owlcrate buttons - comic book theme
- Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
- Signed bookplate, letter and art piece from author
- Batman - FunkoPop
- Pen (6-colored) comic book theme from Ooly
- Wonder Woman - Dio Candle Company
- Afar (first chapter sampler) from Image Comics
- Coffee candies from Kafe Zing

Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia
-YA
Release date: May 30, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is Lady Constellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.



AND watched: in theatre (live)

SMUT (2017)
An Unseemly Story
(The Greening Of Mrs. Donaldson)
Director: Amy Kossow
Producer: HARLYN | Associate Producers: Bruce Colman, Shelly Osborne
Based on book: Smut: Stories by Alan Bennett
-Comedy | Zspace | my rating: 5

One of England’s finest and most loved writers, Alan Bennett, explores the uncomfortable and tragicomic gap between people’s public appearance and their private desires in this tender and surprising story. In The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, a recently bereaved widow finds interesting ways to supplement her income by performing as a patient for medical students, and renting out her spare room. Quiet, middle-class, and middle-aged, Mrs. Donaldson will soon discover that she rather enjoys role-play at the hospital, and the irregular and startling entertainment provided by her tenants.A master storyteller dissects a very English form of secrecy with this story of the unexpected in otherwise apparently ordinary lives.

THE interesting thing about this production is that it is presented as a short story (in action) versus a play. So the dialogue includes what you would read in the short story.


AND watched: in theatre

The Lovers (2017)
Director/Writer: Azazel Jacobs
Starring: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Aidan Gillen
-Comedy | imdb | my rating: 4

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married, dispassionate couple who are both in the midst of serious affairs. But on the brink of calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.

Not what I expected, but very interesting. Lust versus love. Non-traditional relationships.


AND watching: on Hulu

The Handmaid's Tale (2017)
Creator: Bruce Miller
Based on book by: Margaret Atwood
Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes
-Drama, SciFi | imdb | my rating: 5

Netflix trivia: Margaret Atwood, the book's author, makes a cameo as an Aunt in Episode 1. She is the one who slaps Offred when she is reluctant to join in the group shaming circle.
Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.

Just as chilling as the book with a great cast.


~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

:-)

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Second Jezebel by Peter Mowbray

The Second Jezebel
by Peter Mowbray

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt

Just released: January 2017
Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing
Genre: Historical, Royalty
Paperback: 372 pages
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
France by the summer of 1572 was a country on the brink of complete collapse.

The wedding between the Princess Marguerite de Valois and Henri King of Navarre was intended to be a celebration that would at last bring peace to the warring Catholics and Huguenots in France.

Instead, it was a precursor for the infamous Massacre of Saint Bartholomew.

By the time the bloodshed had abated, none was seen as guiltier of creating the horrors of that night than the Queen Mother - Catherine de Medici.

Seventeen years later, as Catherine's life hangs in the balance, the mob threatens to drag her body through the streets.

To them she is no longer Queen Mother, merely the second Jezebel in history to be thrown to the dogs.


My two-bits:

While interesting to read historical accounts of what went on with the royalty during the 1500's, this large cast of characters come across flat and mostly unlikable.

The political schemes, dastardly deeds, loveless alliances, etc. play out with little drama which again made for a dry read.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of author






Diesel Book Club

DIESEL Book Club
a face-to-face group in Larkspur, CA
(details)

Always trying to enhance the reading experience...

I came across the announcement for this book club while at the store during my Independent Book Store quest in April. Going to give it a go.

MAY pick:

A History of Loneliness
by John Boyne
-Literary
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

June pick:

The Devil in the White City:
Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Erik Larson
-Crime, Non-fiction
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

July pick:

Istanbul
Memories and the City
by Orhan Pamuk
-Memoir
Amazon | Goodreads | my review

August pick:

The Noise of Time
by Julian Barnes
-Historical, Music, Russia
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming soon


September pick:

On Dupont Circle:
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Progressives Who Shaped Our World
by James Srodes
-History, Biography
Amazon | Goodreads | my review -coming soon

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Note to Self by Connor Franta

Note to Self
by Connor Franta

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon | Goodreads
Website | Facebook
Instagram
Tumblr
Twitter
YouTube

Just released: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Atria/Keywords Press
Genre: Biography, Poetry, Photos
Hardback pages: 320
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
I'm a private person, ironically. "Ironic" because I'm in the business of public disclose, and I'm part of a generation that shares everything.

In his New York Times bestselling memoir, A Work in Progress, Connor Franta shared his journey from small-town Midwestern boy to full-fledged Internet sensation. Exploring his past with humor and astounding insight, Connor reminded his fans of why they first fell in love with him on YouTube—and revealed to newcomers how he relates to his millions of dedicated followers.

Now, two years later, Connor is ready to bring to light a side of himself he’s rarely shown on or off camera. In this diary-like look at his life since A Work in Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment—with others and himself.

Told through short essays, letters to his past and future selves, poetry, and original photography, Note to Self is a raw, in-the-moment look at the fascinating interior life of a young creator turning inward in order to move forward.


PeekAbook:



My two-bits:

I got this copy at an author meet/greet photo shoot session held at Book Passage, Ferry Building, San Francisco last month (previously mentioned here).

I found this to be a book gem with modern day reflections in essay and poetry forms and personal photos that make this reading a special experience.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The Art of Asking
by Amanda Palmer

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Website
Facebook
Instagram | YouTube
Tumblr | Twitter

Published: 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Feminism, Memoir
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
A decade or so ago in Boston, Amanda performed on the street as a human statue—a white-faced, eight-foot-tall bride statue to be exact.

Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world's most successful music Kickstarter.

Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn't alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.

Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.


My two-bits:

I listened to the audio version of this and was treated to a narration by Amanda.

Loved it! Very inspiring.

The concept of "asking" was fascinating to learn about especially in the context of artists.

Loved also learning of her life as a rock star - her dream in the living.

A few of Amanda's songs are performed and included.

Now, off to listen to her Ted talk (here).


~*~


* image source: Amanda as statue

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Excerpt: The Second Jezebel by Peter Mowbray

The Second Jezebel
by Peter Mowbray
-Historical
Amazon | Goodreads

The wedding between the Princess Marguerite de Valois and Henri King of Navarre was intended to be a celebration that would at last bring peace to the warring Catholics and Huguenots in France.

Instead, it was a precursor for the infamous Massacre of Saint Bartholomew.

By the time the bloodshed had abated, none was seen as guiltier of creating the horrors of that night than the Queen Mother - Catherine de Medici.

Seventeen years later, as Catherine's life hangs in the balance, the mob threatens to drag her body through the streets.

To them she is no longer Queen Mother, merely the second Jezebel in history to be thrown to the dogs.


Excerpt:

It did not take many hands to hold her down, as the woman was old and frail, her muscles weak against the strong arms of her assailants.

Someone pulled roughly at the black skullcap on her head, exposing the thinning auburn streaks. Some spat at her, the warm phlegm trickled towards her eye, but she had no free hand to wipe it away. All around her noise, shouting and screaming and a red haze of fire. She looked through the smoke and her eyes focussed on the frightful images in front of her.

People everywhere were running around, their swords and daggers seemed to appear from nowhere, but their swift work created so much blood; it was splattered onto cobbled streets, streams of it clung to her shabby gown, her hands dripped with it as though it was pouring from her own body.

All around her, corpses began to pile up, slowly at first and then so many that they fell closer and closer to her but she could not move to pull away. All manner of severed limbs and headless cadavers reeked of the foul stench of death and seemed ready to swallow her up.

Then, suddenly she was staring at a figure clad in a long dark cowl, without image save for bony, white hands that gripped a dagger, the tip of which was pressed lightly against her throat, its point just piercing her skin. The figure spoke in a deep, hateful snarl “Welcome lady to your own Saint Bartholomew’s night.”

The last thing she heard was the crackling noise as the dagger was pushed straight into her throat…

~*~
Excerpt courtesy of publisher (here)

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Beast of London by L.D. Goffigan

The Beast of London
by L.D. Goffigan

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Just released: April 17, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller
Paperback: 286 pages
Rating: 3

Mina Murray series:
The Beast of London
Fortress of Blood - June 2017

First sentence(s):
Walking through the streets of the East End, I felt the sudden unnerving sensation of a gaze prickling the back of my neck.

Mina Murray once lived an adventurous life, but after a tragedy in the forests of Transylvania, she left it all behind. Now she has settled into a quiet routine as a schoolteacher in London, engaged to the respectable solicitor Jonathan Harker, attempting to fit into the stuffy upper class London society to which he belongs.

Her dark past comes careening into her present when Jonathan is abducted by a group of vampires from a society ball. Determined to rescue him, she teams up with her former paramour Abraham Van Helsing and his colleague, Scotland Yard Inspector John Seward.

As they pursue Jonathan’s abductors from England to the Low Countries and beyond, Mina realizes that Jonathan’s abduction is tied to a larger threat against humanity…

An electrifying retelling of a classic tale, THE BEAST OF LONDON is the first book of the Mina Murray series. If you love adventure, romance, and mystery with a paranormal twist, then pick up your copy today.


My two-bits:

Nice start to a vampire series set in late 1800s London and Transylvania. There are interesting scenes set in London's upper class society with its strict etiquette.

The story jumps right in with some world building vampire action. But it is a bit slow in providing details of the main characters and their individual background and personality to gain empathy.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of author

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Revived by Ernesto Pavan

Revived
by Ernesto Pavan

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Website
Blog
Twitter

Published: February 23, 2017
Publisher: self
Genre: Dark Humor, Zombies
ebook
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
It started like a bad influenza — one that game me constant, terrible headaches, made my muscles feel like wet rags, and prevented me from holding anything in my stomach.

For deadpan snark queen Violet Sharpe, death is not the end.

If you think life sucks, wait until after you're dead. After finding out she's contracted porthmeos, a nasty parasite, Violet is faced with a choice: either meet her end before her thirtieth birthday, or become one of the Revived, which is the politically correct word for... well, a zombie.

But the challenges of her new un-life are way worse than she thought. As part of a new minority, she faces discrimination and hatred, not to mention a laundry list of physical limitations and the looming ghost of depression. Can she meet these challenges with her usual strength and dark humor? Or is being Revived a fate worse than death?


My two-bits:

Some of these zombies had a choice before becoming zombified. This story takes you into the life a such a creature. The issues that arise from being a functioning zombie are tackled moreso than stereotypical "braaaaains" zombie action.

Living with a decaying body (mind still intact) and its complications made me think of people who go through cancer or a long term illness.

Makes you wonder - If the price to living is a gradual decay, is it worth it?

~*~

* review copy courtesy of author

* May - Happy zombie awareness month!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Libra by Don Delillo

Libra
by Don Delillo

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Website

Published: 1991 reprint
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback pages: 480
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
This was the year he rode the subway to the ends of the city, two hundred miles of track. He liked to stand at the front of the first car, hands flat against the glass.

In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of two disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the president will galvanize the nation against communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped.

A gripping, masterful blend of fact and fiction, alive with meticulously portrayed characters both real and created, Libra is a grave, haunting, and brilliant examination of an event that has become an indelible part of the American psyche.


My two-bits:

While written well, I could not really get into this story.

The story is told with multiple characters that revolve around the main character, Oswald, along with some of the planning and the plotting of the assassination of JFK.

Although this is a somewhat involved book about Oswald, to me, he comes across as a minor character in the general scheme of things.

~*~

* part of Book Passage Literary Prize Book Group (here)

* post book club meeting - I came away understanding more about the book and author's writing style which include hyper-realism and massive research efforts.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Antisocial by Jillian Blake

Antisocial
by Jillian Blake

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt

Release date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Mystery, YA
Hardback pages: 256
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
If I seem a little wired or high strung or just plain off, don't worry. I'm not nuts. I just have a tendency to over thing every single thing that comes my way, ever.

What if your greatest secrets became public? For the students at Alexandria Prep, a series of hacks leads to a scandalous firestorm—and the students are left wondering whose private photos and messages will be exposed next. It’s Pretty Little Liars meets WikiLeaks.


Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She's just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna's closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic.

But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it's funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public.

Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives:

Sometimes we share too much.


My two-bits:

Very timely book in regards to the impact of the internet and social media amongst teens these days. The question of personas offline and online resonates throughout the book.

Also, thoughts on the fragility of friendship.

This is a book that generates lots of discussion.

References to modern pop culture icons that makes the story relatable - like Game of Thrones :-)

The mystery of whodunnit kept me guessing to the end which makes for a fast read.

Got me thinking of internet footprints. Being mindful and cautious is something to consider with any kind of public posts.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of tour

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 5.13.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)


~*~

Due to the current U.S. political climate, this week had me in a dystopia mood. I was attracted to dystopia and feminism related books at the bookstore.

Currently reading: Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

I had to put it aside last weekend to read Libra by Don Delillo for book club coming up this coming Monday.

Libra took me the whole week to get through. Not really a pleasant experience, but had to do it. And now, I know more about Lee Harvey Oswald.

MAY is Zombie Awareness Month per the Zombie Research Society (here). I normally like to devote the month or at least a week for all zombies. But, this year finds my schedule busy with other things. I do plan on throwing in at least one zombie book this month - Revived by Ernesto Pavan. Also, might catch up on watching a couple of the Resident Evil films.

~*~

Bought:

The Book of Joan
by Lidia Yuknavitch
-Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads

THE NPR review (here) caught my attention to read this one.

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
-Feminism, Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads

I read this awhile ago, but got sucked into watching the updated tv series version starring Elisabeth Moss. I do not have time to binge it. But will be watching at least one a day. Gives the shivers but worth watching. I plan to re-read this after watching the series. This tv tie-in version includes a new introduction by Margaret Atwood.

Men Explain Things to Me
by Rebecca Solnit
-Feminism, Essay
Amazon | Goodreads

RECOMMENDED to me while at the film event at Diesel bookstore mentioned below.


For Review:

Modern Persuasion
by Sara Marks
-Contemporary Romance, Jane Austen
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

GONNA set up a Jane Austen themed week at the end of the month.

North Haven
by Sarah Moriarty
-Women's Fiction
courtesy of Amazon Kindle First -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

PICKED this because I liked the sound of jumping into a novel set in Maine during the summer. Sibling rivalry ensues.


AND watched: in theatre

Dean (2016)
Director/Writer: Demetri Martin
Starring: Asif Ali, Jesaiah Baer, Kathrine Barnes
Release: June 2, 2017
-Comedy, Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

A comedy about loss, grief and the redemptive power of love, Dean is an NY illustrator who falls hard for an LA woman while trying to prevent his father from selling the family home in the wake of his mother's death.

THE audience was treated to a Q&A with the director/writer/actor/comedian/illustrator, Demetri Martin. Loved listening to this multi-talented creator. Found out that he will be back in SF in the Fall when he goes on a comedy tour. Another of his illustrated books will be released in September. And he is working on a book of short stories. Wheeee!


AND watched: at Diesel bookstore in Larkspur

50/50 (2016)
Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women in Power
Creater: Tiffany Shlain
Writers: Karen Everett, Arne Johnson, Jennifer Traig
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5

50/50 gives the 10,000 year history of women + power - from setbacks and uprisings, to the bigger context of where we are today. Using her signature, cinematic-thought-essay style, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and founder of The Webby Awards Tiffany Shlain brings us on an electric ride to explore, where are we really on the greater arc of history of women and power? And what's it going to take to get to a #5050 world - not just politics and board rooms, but truly shifting the gender balance to be better for everyone.

Find out details and watch the 20 minute film free (here).

THE film viewing was part of...

50/50 Day - May 10
11,000+ Events
All 50 states
65+ countries
One film
Millions of perspectives on one topic:
#GettingTo5050

May 10th was the first annual 50/50 Day, with thousands of organizations, companies, schools, museums, libraries and homes — anywhere people already gather — in a global conversation about what it will take to get to a more gender-balanced world in all sectors of society: business, politics, culture, home, and more. There were over 500 million impression online from video views, press and on social media. Watch a 2 minute trailer about 50/50 Day (here).

SO inspiring and wonderful source for ideas on what people can do to make a difference.

I am marking my calendar to participate next year - join in, too!


Currently flipping through: from the library

A Colorful Way of Living:
How to Be More, Create More, Do More the Vera Bradley Way
by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard (cofounder of Vera Bradley)
-Biography, Business
Amazon | Goodreads

SPOTTED this at Happy.Pretty.Sweet and HAD to check it out. Fascinating thoughts on the front and back end of this business with photos and colorful whimsical pages (like the bags).

side note: Love looking at the beautiful colorful Vera Bradley bags, but have not yet pulled the trigger to get one.


~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

:-)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Mom & Me & Mom
by Maya Angelou

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads

Published: 2013
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Feminism, Memoir
Hardback pages: 224
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Frequently, I have been asked how I got to be this way.

The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.

For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.


My two-bits:

I was delighted to listen to the audio version of this narrated by the author. Her words pack a punch in the telling although in a gentle and subtle way.

Although off to a rocky start, the relationship between Maya and her mother grows into its own kind of relationship. One that shapes and affects each other throughout their lives.

It was amazing to listen to all that Maya went through in this book. After a bit of googling about her, I found that her life continued to present more trials for her to endure and conquer until her death.

What a woman!

~*~

* part of Our Shared Shelf Book Club (here)



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Dry
by Augusten Burroughs

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Website
Facebook
Flickr
Pinterest
Twitter

Published: 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Memoir
Hardback pages: 320
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Sometimes when you work in advertising you'll get a product that's really garbage and you have to make it seem fantastic, something that is essential to the continued quality of life.

From the bestselling author of Running with Scissors comes Dry―the hilarious, moving, and no less bizarre account of what happened next.

You may not know it, but you've met Augusten Burroughs. You've seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants: a twenty-something guy, nice suit, works in advertising. Regular. Ordinary. But when the ordinary person had to drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all. Loud, distracting ties, automated wake-up calls, and cologne on the tongue could only hide so much for so long. At the request (well, it wasn't really a request) of his employers, Augusten landed in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downey, Jr., are immediately dashed by the grim reality of fluorescent lighting and paper hospital slippers. But when Augusten is forced to examine himself, something actually starts to click, and that's when he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life―and live it sober. What follows is a memoir that's as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is real. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a higher power.


My two-bits:

I listened to the audio version of this which was narrated by the author. In general, I prefer to listen to Augusten reading his works rather than reading them. It comes through more vibrantly.

This story continues Augusten's life after what is covered in his first book.

Thoughts on alcoholism, addictions and going through treatment and recovery are emphasized in this book along with his wit and humor.

Reading about Augusten's struggles and growth include learning bits about life and living.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Happy Release: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen narrated by Alison Larkin

Northanger Abbey
by Jane Austen
narrated by Alison Larkin
-Audiobook, Classic, Romance
Released: February 2017

Award-winning narrator and internationally acclaimed writer/comedienne, Alison Larkin brings her signature wit to this hugely entertaining audio production of Jane Austen's first novel, Northanger Abbey, followed by The History of England, a short, delightfully satirical piece that Austen wrote when she was just 15 years old.

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland, a clergyman's daughter, longs for the kind of romantic adventures she has read about in her favorite Gothic novels. After spending a season mingling with fashionable high society in Bath, she is invited to stay at Northanger Abbey where nothing is what it seems.

In The History of England, the teenage Jane Austen pokes fun at the historians of the day who pretended to be objective when they clearly were not, and wrote about the kings and queens of England with less respect (and more wit) than a British newspaper.


~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Alison Larkin
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Although I live, write and narrate audiobooks in the part of New England that Norman Rockwell made famous, I go back to see my family in Old England as often as I can.

Mum and Dad live in a small village in Sussex, less than hour away from where Jane Austen lived and wrote. While fashions may change and technology gallops on apace, human nature remains the same.

I went to school with girls who were very like Catherine Morland, Isabella Thorpe and Lydia Bennett. During the holidays I endured the company of many a Mrs Bennett and Mr Collins. And although I’ve been pursued by my share of Mr Wickhams and once fell in love with someone a bit like Mr Darcy, I know I’d be much better suited to Mr Knightley, who has yet to show up. But I digress.

Narrating the novels of Jane Austen for a new American audience has been a delight. Like going back to the England I left 25 years ago - without having to stand in line at security.

In addition to Emma- the 200th anniversary audio edition, we had released Persuasion and Poems and Pride and Prejudice and Songs from Regency England and I wanted to find some previously unrecorded writing to add to the end of Northanger Abbey. Here’s how it happened.

On a lightning visit to England last year, my English parents and I were visiting Chawton House Museum, where Jane Austen lived and wrote.

After walking around for a very happy hour, dressed in period costume, while taking a ‘turn’ in the garden, Mum and I were marveling at the size of Jane Austen’s writing desk when my Dad, came dashing out of the book shop with high enthusiasm. 

“Got it!” Dad says.

“Got what?”

“Why don't you add The History of England to the end of Northanger Abbey! Jane Austen wrote it when she was 15 and it’s terribly funny!”

And so I did.

~end

© 2017. All rights reserved.

About the narrator:

“I understood what Larkin was doing. Raised in England by adoptive parents, Alison Larkin was actually born in America. She herself is a comic writer and performer – and she approaches Austen as a satirist – she has genuine theatrical skill – sustained comic creations. The voice reveals all.” —David Denby, The New Yorker

Alison Larkin is an internationally acclaimed comedienne, an award winning audiobook narrator and the bestselling author of The English American, an autobiographical novel about an adopted English woman who finds her birth parents in the United States. Other award-winning audio productions from Alison Larkin Presents include Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass with a short excerpt from the Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll, Peter Pan and The Inconsiderate Waiter and the first two-actor production of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon | Goodreads
Website | Blog
Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Alison Larkin
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 5.7.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)


~*~

Got back to some YA reading. I did a binge read of the Jenny Han series, To All The Boys I Loved Before. This is a rarity as I usually read the first in a series and get around to the rest at a later date. It was prompted by a book tour for the new release of the last book in the series, Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Loved it all!

Also got back into some Netflixing. And totally got sucked into Sense 8 which is similar to The Matrix series also created by the Wachowskis. Takes the interconnectedness theme onto another level.

Today, I will start Caroline Leavitt's Cruel Beautiful World which is (per the cover blurb):

"A gorgeous, seductive novel that is also terrifying and pulse-pounding."
-Wiley Cash, author of The Dark Road to Mercy

Ooo, looks like I am in for a wild ride now.

~*~

Author event:

Books Inc. of Opera Plaza, San Francisco and NYMBC presented The Love Panel of YA authors and moderated by Christy, YA blogger for Tales of the Ravenous Reader. Along with a Q&A session, introductions to each of their new novel releases were presented.

Seated above are:
Nina LaCour, author of We Are Okay
Stacey Lee, author of The Secret Heart of a Note
Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Just Another Girl
Jennifer E. Smith, author of Windfall
Rachel Cohn, author of Kill All Happies

Bought:

Just Another Girl
by Elizabeth Eulberg
-YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Elizabeth said the cover illustration is inspired by Rube Goldberg contraptions.

Windfall
by Jennifer E. Smith
-YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Jennifer said the bear and alligator on her book cover are not charms, but little figures painted in gold.

Kill All Happies
by Rachel Cohn
-YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Rachel said she loves the image of the french fries on her book cover as it resembles being flicked "the finger" - LOL.

A History of Loneliness
by John Boyne
-Literary
Amazon | Goodreads

PICKED this up for a book club I am going to try out. Not something I would get on my own. So, yes, expanding my reading palette. Hope I like it.

Into the Water
by Paula Hawkins
-Mystery, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads

HOT book. Going to also read it for the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge (here). Because I loved Girl on the Train I am looking forward to gobbling this one up.

Kojiki
(Kojiki #1)
by Keith Yatsuhashi
-SciFi
Amazon | Goodreads

HAD to get this after I got Kokoro earlier in the week as this is first in the series.

Kokoro
(Kojiki #2)
by Keith Yatsuhashi
-SciFi
Amazon | Goodreads

IMPULSE buy. Rarely do this, but the cover just GOT me. Also, I want to read some SciFi this year.


For Review:

A Short History of the Girl Next Door
by Jared Reck
-Humor, YA
Release date: September 26, 2017
courtesy of tour -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THIS comes out in the Fall and has an interesting premise...

A debut that is perfect for readers who are stuck in that awkward limbo between childhood and adulthood (and those who just barely escaped).


In my mailbox:


GOT some snail mail. A Thank you card. And, a lovely letter in response to my April Writing Month efforts. It is on super cute stationery which has a pop-up character on the page!


AND watched: in theatre

The Zookeeper's Wife (2017)
Director: Niki Caro
Screenplay: Angela Workman
Based on book by: Diane Ackerman
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Brühl
-Biography, Drama, History | imdb | my rating: 5

The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

GREAT story based on a true historical account from diaries of Antonina Żabińska.


AND binge watching: on Netflix

Sense 8 (2015)
tv series, season one
Creators: J. Michael Straczynski, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Starring: Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton, Tina Desai
Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Brian J. Smith, Aml Ameen
Daryl Hannah, Naveen Andrews
-Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi | imdb | my rating: 5

A group of people around the world are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world's order.

JUST the right amount of mystery, action, romance, drama and variety of likable characters to get me hooked. You can guess what I will be watching next week...

~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

:-)
 
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