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

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
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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

:-)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean
by Jenny Han

Find out more about this book and author:
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Just released: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Romance, YA
Hardback: 336 pages
Rating: 5

To All the Boys I've Loved Before series:
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
P.S. I Still Love You
Always and Forever, Lara Jean

First sentence(s):
I like to watch Peter when he doesn't know I'm looking.

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?


My two-bits:

Lovely wrap-up to Lara Jean's teen years.

I loved following this sweet character as she navigates through her last year of high school with the pressures of college, dating, family and life's curve balls.

Lara Jean's dreams, reflections and decisions were down to earth with an innocence that was appealing.

The banter and moments between Lara Jean and Peter were amusing and adorable.

A touch of the 80s and 90s references were fun to come across. Made me want to re-watch Sixteen Candles.

The themes of honesty and staying true carries out throughout this series.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of publisher

Friday, May 5, 2017

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You
by Jenny Han

Find out more about this book and author:
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Published: 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Romance, YA
Hardback: 352 pages
Rating: 5

To All the Boys I've Loved Before series:
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
P.S. I Still Love You
Always and Forever, Lara Jean

First sentence(s):
Dear Peter,
I miss you. It's only been five days but I miss you like it's been five years.

Zombie sighting:
Kitty and I have the whole sleepover planned down to a T. Zombie makeovers. Photo booth with props. Nail art.

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.


My two-bits:

This story does well in picking up where it left off in book one.

The feelings and experiences of having a crush, liking and then loving a person play out with Lara Jean in a modern day setting.

Lots of heart tugging and cute romantic moments make this book a sweet read.

I love the themes of honesty and loyalty that are portrayed.

PeekAbook:


Thursday, May 4, 2017

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before
by Jenny Han

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

Published: 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Romance, YA
Hardback: 368 pages
Rating: 5

To All the Boys I've Loved Before series:
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
P.S. I Still Love You
Always and Forever, Lara Jean

First sentence(s):
I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.


My two-bits:

Loved this :-)

This story has a great way of putting you in the moment with its cozy feels. There is a dreaminess to the telling which matches the protagonist's personality.

Loved Lara Jean's easy going nature and her sweet interactions with her family and friends.

Thoughts on friendship, sisterhood and love come to mind while reading this.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Roanoake Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoake Girls
by Amy Engel

Find out more about this book and author:
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BookExcerpt
Website
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Just released: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Hardback: 288 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The second time I saw Roanoke was a month after my mother committed suicide.

Zombie sighting:
I called her two, three times a day for weeks. Left messages, begged to see her. I was a zombie at work, barely better at home.
- chapter NOW, page 155

After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.


My two-bits:

I was charmed by the characters and the way this story is told. Despite character flaws and decisions a weird empathy for them comes about. And, I found myself in the same shoes as the protagonist in some instances.

It had the right amount of mystery and thriller to the end. It is one of those mysteries where you can pretty well guess who did it, but you are drawn to the "why" of it.

Got me thinking of charisma.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of publisher

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 4.29.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

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

~*~

I decided to create my in-house weekend update meme and link up with others as I wanted the flexibility to explore being included in other weekly wrap-up type memes already out there. Feel free to recommend ones you like or participate in for me to try.

TODAY is Independent Bookstore Day and I will be at the Green Apple Book store on Clement which will be the 11th store I visit for the Book Quest. This is the first time I hit so many different bookstores in one month!

You can see all the great stores I have been to in the San Francisco bay area (here).

~*~

Author events:


Book Passage at the Embarcadero Ferry Building, San Francisco, hosted a meet up with author (youtuber), Connor Franta. I think I may have been the only 40-something year old (non chaperone) in line. Everyone attending the event had a quick photo shoot and "Hello" with Connor. He was a sweetie.

Note to Self
by Connor Franta
-Biography, Poetry, Photos
Amazon | Goodreads



Bookshop in West Portal, San Francisco hosted an intimate discussion with author, Megan Miranda. Quite special. Found out that her reading gravitates towards dark mystery fiction. Her favorite authors include Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Crichton and Tana French.

The Perfect Stranger
by Megan Miranda
-Mystery, Thriller, Coming of Age
Amazon | Goodreads


In my mailbox:


GOT some lovely letters. As April' letter writing month is wrapping up this weekend I have two more to go. It has been a successful run. And got three letters and two email responses.


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


APRIL Box includes:
theme: Head Over Heels
- Owlcrate spoiler card - I love how it is inspired by Murad Osmann's Follow Me To.
- Owlcrate button
- The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
- Signed bookplate, letter and sticker from author
- Pride and Prejudice themed Fabric headband by Storiarts
- Anna and the French Kiss inspired tea from The Tea Spot
- Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda themed key chain by Bookworm Boutique
- Eleanor and Park themed vanilla candle created by Novelly Yours
- A Court of Thorns and Roses themed art print by Evie Bookish
- Book excerpt: Umberland by Wendy Spinale

The Upside of Unrequited
by Becky Albertalli
-LGBTQ, Romance, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?


AND watching: on Netflix

13 Reasons Why (2017)
tv series, season 1
Creator: Brian Yorkey
Screenplay:
Based on book by: Jay Asher
Starring: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro
-Drama, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 4

Follows teenager Clay Jensen, in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush, Hannah, and her decision to end her life.

IT is a slow telling. But does well in getting into the backstory of each of the characters involved.

Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
Creator: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan
-Crime, Drama, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 5

An idiosyncratic FBI agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks.

I ALREADY know who did it. But I wanted to re-watch this series knowing what I know. It was tough watching at first because of the cheesy way certain things came across. I am so spoiled with current day special effects and film styles.


~*~

* comment with your weekly update

:-)
 
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