Showing posts with label Treasures By Brenda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Treasures By Brenda. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jeffrey Archer's False Impression Book Review

Jeffrey Archer's False Impression Book ReviewI started reading both the new book about Megan and Harry and the new book about the former U.S. president before I settled in with another Jeffrey Archer book, False Impression. I found the royal book a bit pretentious, the presidential book interesting but not quite what I wanted to read at the moment and the Archer book, a conspiracy thriller, riveting. Therefore, I am able to offer you a book review today of False Impression. Which book would you have chosen?

Anyway, it turns out that the difficult year of 2020 has had a very real impact on my reading choices. I seem to want well-crafted page turners, which give me a break from the simple, everyday routine of a life that is home bound. I work online, run essential errands, take plenty of walks and, like so many that are privileged to be able to stay home to stay safe, I do not do much else or see family or friends. A book to escape with has proven essential and Jeffrey Archer has fit the bill. 

I spent a large part of the spring and summer with his mammoth seven book series the Clifton Chronicles so this is the eighth Archer book I have read this year. When recently I could not settle in with any of my own book choices, my husband magically produced Jeffrey Archer's False Impression. I expect my husband was remembering how much I enjoyed the previous Archer books and that he picked this one because it includes a good look into the art world, which I do enjoy learning about.

THE STORY


The story? Well, start with a woman murdered in England the night before 9/11. Add in a brilliant art expert currently working for a crooked banker who is obsessed with owning various masterpieces at any price with his current choice being Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Finally, add the banker's unlikely secretary, an honors graduate, and a handsome FBI agent.

The trip follows these characters around numerous bends that takes us on a trip that includes the cities of  New York, London, Bucharest and Tokyo until the Van Gogh painting finally has a new owner.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


I could not put False Impression down. I read it for hours in the middle of night. I read it when I woke up in the morning. I gave my husband a good laugh when hours later I was still reading. Not surprising really given how much I enjoyed the previous Archer books but definitely surprising given that I am usually up bright and early every morning preparing eBay parcels and working online

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. It does a good job of sharing a bit about the twin towers, art history, English aristocracy and it includes a nasty villain, a female assassin and the FBI. The story keeps you wanting to know what happens next and it does so until the end of the book. I particularly enjoyed the armchair travel, the art and art history and the occasional humor, which mainly arose between the two main characters.

You should know that the book does include the tragic events of 9/11 and that the main character works in the North Tower. 
  

MORE REVIEWS


Well, this is when normally I say "but don't take my word for it" and give you a few stellar quotes from other online reviews but it turns out that this book received mixed reviews from the professionals so I cannot do that. However, Artis-Ann of The Yorkshire Times did like the book saying "she realizes and admits that you can enjoy the most erudite (knowledge filled) compositions alongside a jolly good yarn which doesn’t require very much concentration. After all, each to his own and the world would be a poorer place if we all liked the same thing." She also said that "she enjoys the temporary escapism that books offer and their variety and that this is another example." I think she summed it up nicely. 

Amazon readers liked False Impression with 88 percent of them giving the book a 4 or 5 star rating and Goodreads readers gave it a score of 3.81.

If you're looking for an easy to read in the form of an entertaining book with art, art history and travel, you should add False Impression to your list. You can see all of the versions available on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

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Buy False Impression on Amazon. 

Jeffrey Archer False Impression - Vincent Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear








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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

How to Make A Christmas Cookie Gift Set...Without Baking

How to Make A Christmas Cookie Gift Set...Without Baking

When you think of Cookies at Christmas, what comes to mind? Probably a few good recipes and some great memories. What about a great Christmas cookie cookbook? A beautiful children's picture book? A Christmas apron or a cookie jar or a plate or even a coffee mug? That's what you'll find on this page. No recipe, just my tribute to the yummy Christmas cookie and a host of ideas for you to use to create a cookie themed gift set with no baking required though obviously fresh cookies would be a fabulous addition to any cookie gift set.

A COOKIE COOKBOOK


Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum

ROSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIES


Let's start with this beautiful cookie cookbook by Rose Levy Beranbaum who is famous for her many beautiful baking books. Almost too beautiful to use, this one would make a very impressive Christmas gift for anyone who loves to bake. Find your copy of Rose's Christmas Cookies on Amazon by clicking here.

OUR CHRISTMAS COOKIES


One year I did the unthinkable. I didn't make our traditional Christmas cookies. My sister-in-law visited and she baked and that meant we had plenty of sweet treats in the freezer. I simply did not need to bake and so I didn't. I thought nothing of it and no one said anything, until a few months later when one of my sons referred to the Christmas when they didn't have any of their favorite Christmas cookies. I felt so bad and I will not be repeating that faux pas ever again though this Christmas, Christmas 2020, the year when we cannot have people drop by to say hello, I will definitely be cutting back since there are only two of us to eat cookies.

With the exception of that well-remembered year when I did not make any cookies, we normally have three kinds of cookies on hand at Christmas: the best-ever ginger crinkles, the best ever M&M cookies with Christmas colored M&Ms and the best-ever brownie bites. They're all easy, they're all yummy and they all freeze beautifully. Best of all, they offer a nice variety and when I put a plate of cookies out and I am fairly comfortable that I can please not only my family but anyone who drops in during the holidays.

The Best-Ever Brownies Recipes
Love chocolate? How about brownies? If you are looking for the best brownie recipe, you will find it here. Actually, you will find three of the best brownie recipes here. The first is for miniature Brownie Bites. They are perfectly simple,...

The Best-Ever Ginger Crinkles Molasses Cookie Recipe
We love these ginger crinkle cookies. There's nothing like their slightly crispy exterior and chewy interior with a cold glass of milk!

The Best-Ever M&M Cookies Recipe
This best-ever M&M cookie recipe makes irresistible cookies. Don't bake them unless you are prepared to eat them until they are all gone. 

A CHILDREN'S COOKIE BOOK




Paul Galdone's The Gingerbread Boy

Here are three great cookie-themed picture books for children. The first is not actually a Christmas story as The Gingerbread Boy makes his break for freedom in a season that definitely is not winter at least in my part of the world. Paul Galdone's version shown here is one of the classic versions and was my family's favorite. Featuring a barnyard full of critters and one foxy fox, the gingerbread man is unfortunately and as always undone in the end. You can find my complete book review of The Gingerbread Boy here or read more about the book on Amazon by clicking right here.

Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The second book, Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, introduces your young child to new vocabulary words like 'tradition' and 'celebrate' in the context of good manners in certain social situations. It is a beautiful combination of wisdom and artistry. You can read my review of Christmas Cookies: Bite Size Holiday Lessons here or you can read more about it on Amazon by clicking here.

If You Take A Mouse To The Movies by Laura Numeroff

The third and final book, If You Take A Mouse To The Movies, is a special Christmas edition featuring that cookie-loving mouse that was created by Laura Numeroff in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. The Christmas version has all sorts of extras including a CD and recipes. You can read my review If You Take A Mouse To The Movies here or you can buy it on eBay by clicking here. At the time of writing this post, I was unable to find it on Amazon.

A COOKIE APRON


Christmas Cookie Baking Team apron

An apron is such a practical and affordable gift idea. If you or someone you know spends a lot of time in the kitchen at Christmastime, you (or they) should definitely own a Christmas apron and there are so many great ones available. I love this Christmas Cookie Baking Team apron from Etsy and the fact that it can be personalized for all of the members of your baking team.  You can find it on Etsy by clicking right here.

A CHRISTMAS COOKIE JAR


A Christmas Cookie Cookie Jar

Nothing could be more fun than a cookie jar especially when it is full of cookies. I found this beautiful but simple glass cookie jar on Amazon. I love the idea that it will hold your Christmas treats and, when they are gone, go in your dishwasher for easy clean-up. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here. Gift it empty or even full of your favorite Christmas cookies.

A COOKIE PLATE


Waechtersbach Santa's cookies plate

This Waechtersbach Santa's cookies plate is perfect for leaving cookies out for Santa or simply serving cookies throughout the month of December. It would make a fine tradition for any family.  We love using the same plate every year. To find this plate and a few other Christmas-cookie themed ones, look to eBay  by clicking right here.

A COOKIE MUG


Disney's Mickey Mouse Cookie Coffee Mug

Yes, there's such a thing as a cookie mug and I don't mean a mug with the image of a cookie on it but rather a mug that has a pocket for holding your cookie. This is a fun one featuring Disney's Mickey Mouse and promising to deliver holiday cheer. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

A COOKIE BAKING SET

A children's cookie baking set
Finally, I will close with this fun Stephen Joseph Christmas child-sized baking set, which you can find on Amazon by clicking here. Whether you offer it on its own or team it up with some of the other great gift ideas on this page, the choice is yours. Maybe you could create a set for the family with this set for the children.

So how about it? Is there something sweet in this batch for you? Are you a smart cookie who likes to assemble gift sets cookie themed or otherwise?  

Life is
what you bake of it!
Brenda, Treasures By Brenda

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses Book Review

Knots & Crosses: Tartan Noir Crime Novel by Ian Rankin 

In 2019, I was introduced to Ian Rankin via Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program, Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today. I really enjoyed Rankin's Black and Blue, which was the book we read but only recently returned to start at the beginning of the series and read Knots and Crosses.

When Rankin wrote Knots and Crosses in 1987 he thought he had written a standalone crime detective novel and had even planned on killing Detective Rebus at the end of the book. Success for Rankin and Rebus was not fast in coming. After publishing Knots and Crosses to little fan fare, Rankin put Rebus aside and moved on to write his next book with no idea that he would eventually return to Rebus' world and that he would still be writing books for the series in 2020

Knots and Crosses Book Review
Anyway, I read Knots and Crosses. I really enjoyed it. I recommend it. Need I say more? Well, yes, I suppose I should because you may not have read anything by Ian Rankin and you may not have seen my earlier review of the eighth book in the series, Black and Blue.

I wrote about the number of covers that the eighth book has had and you won't be surprised to hear that this book also has had many covers. I had to work a bit to find a picture of the original cover, which I believe the image at the bottom of this page to be since Rankin describes the original cover as having knots and crosses on it and this is the only one that fits that description. 

Knots and Crosses is a classic detective story with a strong plotline. It was written in 1987 and based firmly in the Scotland of the time. It is considered British Realism Noir or Tartan Noir as it was written by Scottish writers and is set in Scotland. The Scottish story has style elements from other American and European crime writers of the same time period. 

Detective Rebus is a former Special Air Service (SAS) officer now doing police work and coping with a difficult past in a very destructive manner. Typical to noir, he is a working class main character who doesn't have ordinary heroic qualities like idealism, courage and morality. He's a drinker and a smoker and does not have many friends nor successful relationships. He is not above stretching the law in an effort to solve the case he is working on, which is also common in gritty, noir detective novels. 

Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin
Because Knots and Crosses is the first book in the series, we are given the back story of Detective Rebus while he attempts to solve the nasty case of a serial murderer who is killing young girls and advertising that fact to the police.

REVIEWS


"Most of Knots and Crosses is claustrophobically situated inside his mind – and it’s a lonely, uncomfortable place. His asperity, his broken marriage, his drinking, his cold flat, his falling asleep in chairs because he can’t quite drag his tired hide into bed … Perhaps you could argue that these too are the stuff of cop cliché. But they feel real here. He feels like a character with weight. Rankin...nails the essentials."  I agree with The Guardian, Rebus seems perfectly developed in this story.

Another review on The Guardian says, "It is not always easy to read because of the context, but it grips you so hard that it feels compulsory to read on..."  Yes, this book has some uncomfortable moments but it will have you wanting to know who did it and you will read on.

Ian Rankin's First Book, Knots & Crosses
Finally, in the year that this book was written, Kirkus said, "Solidly drawn characters, keen psychological insights and an intriguing, well-knit plot—along with a rather florid but individual writing style—make Rankin a newcomer to watch." More than twenty successful novels later, I say they were right with that prediction. 

Knots and Crosses comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me.

WHO WILL LIKE KNOTS & CROSSES? 


If you enjoy a well-written detective novel, I believe that you will enjoy this one. It is a crime fiction classic now and it is immensely readable. It does have violence, sex, drugs and murder but nevertheless I enjoyed the story, getting to know Detective Rebus a bit better in the process. For armchair travelers, it is also a look at the nice and the not-so-nice underbelly of Scotland's Edinburgh.

On Amazon, you will find Knots and Crosses by clicking here and all of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels by clicking right here.

See you at 
the book store! 
Brenda 
Treasures By Brenda 

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Knots & Crosses Book Review

Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses Book Review







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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey, A Book Review

Following the very successful novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes Heather Morris' 2019 book, Cilka's Journey. Yes, it is a sequel of sorts to the first book though it definitely stands alone. 

Frankly, this book is another dark look into a horrible time in man's history. That's to be expected based on the subject of the novel. Initially, I did not care for how the story flipped back and forth between the main character's time in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in Germany and in her time in the Vorkuta Gulag Labor Camp in Russia but I quickly managed to overcome the darkness and the style and be absorbed by the very real characters in the story.

Cilka was sent to Birkenau when she was taken from her home at the age of 16 simply because she was Jewish and young and healthy and able to work. When Birkenau was liberated, she was tried and sent to the Siberian labor camp for having slept with the enemy. For her crime, she received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. 

Whether the beautiful 16 year old really had any choice about whether to sleep with the enemy or not is debatable but the book is about her journey through and survival of both facilities. I don't need to say how unpleasant that situation was and I will not reveal how it ended.  Here's the official book trailer:


 


This second video is from the author and discusses albeit briefly the connection between this book and her first, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Warning, this next video has LOTS OF SPOILERS but it does do a good job of telling you about the story.



FICTION OR NON-FICTION?

If you watched the preceding video, you know the answer to this question. Cilka's Journey is a fictional account of the true-life story of Cecília Kováčová. 

Of course, the story is filled out with details the author cannot really know but in large part it is said that the book is based on the conditions and situations people including Cilka found themselves living in at those two facilities. 

Descendants, however, declare the story to be outrageous calling it "lurid and titillating." They say that this is not the way Cilka shared her story to them.

The author defends the book saying that it is based on first-hand testimony given by people she interviewed and the experiences of women who were subjected to the life in those camps. She says, "It is a novel and does not represent the entire facts of Cilka's life." You can read more about the controversy here on The Guardian

In another interview with ABC, the author defends the disputed fact that women were used sexually in the camps and sums up with, "If it's all the same to you I think I'll go with their testimonies because they were there."


Heather Morris' Cilka's Journey Book Review


IS IT RECOMMENDED?

Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me. The book has an average 4.39 stars on Goodreads and 92 percent of the reviewers on Amazon gave the book a five-star rating.

WARNINGS

Well, I feel that writing a warning about the unpleasant reading that comes in a book set in Nazi Germany and a Siberian Labor Camp in the 1940s is almost unnecessary I will say that this book deals with sex, starvation, murder.  The main character's work in the Labor Camp finds the reader face to face with terrible workplace accidents. It is definitely not nice but it is present and it is an intricate part of the story.  Plus, of course, there is the controversy of just how true this story really is.

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

Anyone who has an interest in historical fiction will enjoy the book, with consideration to the warnings given above. Anyone who read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and liked it will enjoy this book. As author Heather Morris says in the second video shown above, you should enjoy this book "not for the horror and evil that is included but for the humanity and the compassion and the love and the hope." I agree.

You can find your copy of Cilka's Journey on Amazon by clicking right here. Be sure to come back and let us know what you think of the book.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Robin Sloan's Sourdough, A Book Review

Sourdough Book Review

We love Sourdough. It is nearly unanimous in our book club. Not a cookbook, it is instead a funny story that is very readable, which is what we all need this year. It is a bizarre yet magical fairy tale of sorts set in today's world. It is about finding your passion and following it and about baking bread and the science of baking bread. In particular, it is about sourdough bread and the life of one computer programmer who learns to make some very special bread. 


BOOK SUMMARY

Robin Sloan's Sourdough Book Review
Author Robin Sloan reckons that Sourdough may be the first English book to feature a sourdough starter that has feelings as as an important supporting character.  The other main character is a lonely young woman named Lois who takes a programming job in San Francisco where she passes the days and nights of her life doing work that she does not care for. 

Eventually, Lois is finds an escape after repeatedly ordering takeout from a mysterious little café. The owners of the café serve up  combination of spicy soup and sourdough bread that is very comforting to Lois and that restores both her body and her soul. She becomes their Number One Eater or at least a very loyal, regular customer. However, her relationship with the café comes to an abrupt end but not before she takes ownership of the sourdough starter. The starter is alive, which means she has to look after it or it will die. 

Anyway, it turns out that this starter is quite special and Lois makes the best sourdough bread ever with it. Indeed it is so successful that she leaps head first into baking bread and the bread literally changes her life. It helps her to climb out of the low spot that she has been barely surviving in by introducing her to new people and giving her a passion project. 

Eventually the bread leads her to a farmer's market unlike the one you thought of when I said the words farmer's market. This market is a part of the underground economy. It is radical and it is filled with experimental foodstuffs. To be invited to this market means that there is something unusual about what you do and in Lois' case it is because of her story. That is a successful software programmer turned baker. What happens next? Well, let me just say it is all very unexpected and you will have to read the book to find out.

Sourdough is about San Francisco. It is about geeks, nerds, coders, secret societies, conspiracies, books and even about robots. It is a look at two kinds of culture: the worlds of high-tech culture and bread culture, which you might not think could collide. Finally and obviously, it's about bread.


IS IT RECOMMENDED?

Sourdough Bread Story by Robin Sloan
Yes! The book Sourdough  is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me though I am pretty partial to sourdough bread, too. The book may have bread as the focus but it is not boring. It is a work of fiction that is easy and light and might just make you happy. Consider what these others have had to say about the book:

The Guardian says, "Sourdough is a soup of skillfully balanced ingredients: there’s satire, a touch of fantasy, a pinch of science fiction, all bound up with a likeable narrator whose zest for life is infectious. The novel opens a door on a world that’s both comforting and thrillingly odd. Savour it."  I like this recipe and I did savour the book.

The L.A. Times says, “Sourdough displays both lightness and a yearning for escape, but only in the best sense." I agree. Lois is on an entertaining adventure that I was only too happy to go along on.

In her letter to the book blogger Nut Free Nerd (NFN) says, "You (the book) reminded me of the value of carving out time in a busy schedule to do the things you love, and that you never know where life will take you...You were so wacky and whimsical and witty and entertaining that I found myself constantly thinking about you in between reading you and I still find myself thinking about you all these weeks later." I'm with NFN. I was reminded to stop working and to make time for life and the things I love and enjoy and like NFN, I am still thinking about the book, still cultivating sourdough starter and still trying to make sourdough bread in my bread machine. 

Finally, here's a one-minute review of the book:


 

WARNINGS

Sourdough by Robin Sloan is a Good Loaf
Some prefer the first half of the book to the second as the second half takes a turn you might not see coming. I was okay with the twist, which is simply totally unexpected and not offensive in any way. There is really not a lot to be offended by in this book. There is some mild swearing and of course, this book will make you want to to eat or maybe even bake sourdough bread. There is the potential to gain weight if you find yourself needing sourdough bread. Finally, there is a lot of food wastage but at least, it's not real food that is being wasted and definitely no characters go hungry in the book. Slurry, anyone?

WHO WILL ENJOY THIS BOOK?

I think a lot of people will enjoy this book including but not limited to foodies and bread lovers, bakers and non-bakers and computer folk.  Anyone who is looking for something fun with an almost discernable scent of bread will enjoy it and as the L.A. Times says, anyone who is looking for a book that is "light but not trite" will find that this book rises to the occasion , pun intended. This book will entertain you and it might also leave you pondering which is a better of doing things - the traditional way or new and improved ways.

I recommend buying the hardcover copy of the book. It has a textured cover that glows in the dark, which is totally appropriate for the this book and the properties of the sourdough starter. Find your copy of Sourdough in whatever format you prefer on Amazon by clicking right here

Finally, I want you to admit that the loaf of sourdough bread in the introductory photograph was not baked by me. It is a product of the most amazing folk at Black Walnut Bakery in Cumberland near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:



Sourdough or, Lois and her Adventures in the Underground Market by Robin Sloan


A review of the novel about Sourdough bread by Robin Sloan








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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List


Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List

The spring and summer of 2020 unfolded in ways none of us could have foreseen. The virus that plagued the world changed our daily life forcing many of us to stay home for all but the most essential errands. As a home-based eBay seller, I was able to work again after the initial lockdown was over. However, with family, friends and all of my other interests and activities unavailable there was definitely more time for reading.

This page is a look back at the books that I read. Hopefully, it will steer you toward or away from a new book.

WHAT DID I DO?


I met several generations of a powerful and influential family. I survived industrialized 19th century Britain. I settled on the harsh Canadian prairies. I visited but failed to enjoy St. John’s, Newfoundland. I raised sourdough bread. I solved a murder mystery and finally, I visited short stories.

WHAT DID I READ?


JEFFREY ARCHER'S CLIFTON CHRONICLES


JEFFREY ARCHER'S CLIFTON CHRONICLES     


The best book that I read was actually a seven-volume saga about the adventures and misadventures of a powerful and influential family by Jeffrey Archer known as the Clifton Chronicles. It was so good that I struggled to put each book aside in order to make time to read the latest book for my book club. This series is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by not only myself but also my husband and my sister-in-law and my friend Alanna and her husband. There is a lot of well-crafted reading here with threads that cross generations. You will find the seven-book boxed set here on Amazon.


CATHERINE COOKSON'S RILEY


CATHERINE COOKSON'S RILEY


I was reunited after a long absence with author Catherine Cookson via her book Riley. I wrote more about the book, which is set in industrialized 19th century Britain, and talked about the prolific writer here. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and if you have yet to 'meet' Catherine Cookson and you like historical fiction, you should give her a try. You will find it here on Amazon.


SHANDI MITCHELL'S UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


SHANDI MITCHELL'S UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell is a Canadian novel set in Alberta in 1938. It was good book, a close look at the extremely tough job of settling the prairies. However, it was dark with tragedy upon tragedy heaped upon the Ukrainian settlers. It is RECOMMENDED by me for those interested in the history of the prairies and immigrants to Canada but NOT RECOMMENDED if you need something a bit more positive, which was something I felt that I needed during this difficult time. You will find it here on Amazon.


MEGAN GAIL COLES' SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB


MEGAN GAIL COLES' SMALL GAME HUNTING AT THE LOCAL COWARD GUN CLUB


The next book that I read was Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles. It is a Scotiabank Giller Prize nominated book set in St. John’s, Newfoundland. A very dark, dreary modern-day story and I only read half of it. Six or so of the members of my book club made it through but not happily and four did not. One determined reader intends to keep trying.

A review on Google Books says that Small Game Hunting "is a difficult book to read because of its brutality -- people are mistreated and not valued because they are women, non-white, or gay. But it's worth it." Quill and Quire says, this book "forces the reader...to be made uncomfortable and prompted to think rather than be simply entertained." These might be reasons for you to consider reading this book. However, it is NOT RECOMMENDED by me unless you are looking to challenge yourself about difficult subjects. If you really want to, you can find it here on Amazon.


ROBIN SLOAN'S SOURDOUGH


ROBIN SLOAN'S SOURDOUGH


The next book was Sourdough, a brilliantly funny fictional story about sourdough bread, about the computer world and even about San Francisco. Very funny, it is truly a book you should read if you want a add a bit of levity to your reading and your life. My full review of Sourdough can be read here if you want to know more about this book during this time when people ‘knead’ to stay home more and make bread. Sourdough the book and the bread is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You will find it here on Amazon.


DONNA LEON'S QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP


DONNA LEON'S QUIETLY IN THEIR SLEEP


I have a few series that I am working my way through including Donna Leon's Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries. This volume, Quietly in Their Sleep, delivers for an armchair traveler who wants to travel to Venice, Italy from the comfort of home, which of course is the kind of travel that we can do right now. It suits someone who would like to visit as well as someone who has been there who will recognize landmarks in and issues of the city as the story progresses. It is not the first in the series but I do HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book or any that came before it.  You will find it here on Amazon.


ROALD DAHL'S THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES



ROALD DAHL'S THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES


The latest book that I pulled from our collection of books that has been hanging around our house unread for too long was Roald Dahl's The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories or The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, as it is called in the United States. It's a book of short stories chosen from Dahl's adult stories picked with the intention of suitability for teenagers. I haven't read all of the stories yet because I prefer to enjoy short stories one by one and truth be told, I don't usually care for them at all. However, I am thoroughly enjoying these stories thus far and am comfortable HIGHLY RECOMMENDING this book of stories to you and you will find it here on Amazon

Well, once again, I hope to have given you inspiration for your book list. I apologize to any books that I forgot to include on this list.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Books I Read (Or Tried To Read) During Spring and Summer 2020: A List





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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Catherine Cookson Riley Book Review

Catherine Cookson Riley (1998) Book Review

Many years ago, I parted with most of my Catherine Cookson books, retaining only the few that I had not read, like the one shown here called Riley. It had been decades since I had picked up any of Cookson's books but I remember fondly having loved the stories, which are set in the 19th century in and around what was then at least a heavily industrialized area of northeast England called Tyneside. 

With the arrival in 2020 of the virus that would lock down most of the world, I set to reading through some of my old piles of books and hence returned to the works of Catherine Cookson via this novel, Riley. 


IS RILEY RECOMMENDED?

Riley was indeed very good and it did not in any way fail my memories of Cookson’s books. It is the story of a young lad with no direction who was surely bound for trouble but was indirectly 'rescued’ by a few heated comments from a caring teacher. The result of those comments was a tumultuous but successful life on the stage and marriage to a woman 20 years his elder. 

Riley is Highly Recommended by me for anyone who loves historical fiction.


THE AUTHOR

Author Catherine Cookson, despite being from an extremely poor, working class home in Tyneside, England, went on to become one of the richest women in Britain. More importantly in my mind at least, she also went on to become Britain’s most read author in the mid-1990s and remains on the list of the twenty most read British novelists. She wrote a remarkable two books a year in many years and, when she died in 1998, she left behind 103 novels and a fortune for charity. 


ROMANCE OR HISTORICAL FICTION?

Catherine Cookson's novels were often categorized as romance despite the fact that, as Cookson said herself, there was nothing romantic about the times or the situations in her books. Her stories offered up more than historical romance and are extremely well done in terms of depicting a time period in history, which would surely make them qualify as historical fiction today. 

I do not want to stop with recommending Riley, however. I want to make my post a call for people to pick up Catherine Cookson’s books whether they knew her before they arrived here on this page or not. It doesn’t matter which book you start with whether it be Riley or another, they are all sure to please. Just be careful if you start with a series like Mary Ann Shaughnessy, Tilly Trotter or the Bailey Chronicles that you pick the first one.  You will find Riley on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links

Buy Riley on Amazon.
Catherine Cookson’s Life 
Discover the new, used and vintage books in my eBay store by clicking here but be warned that unfortunately there are no Catherine Cookson novels!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn reviewed. 
Fast Girls by Elise Hooper reviewed. 








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum Book Review

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum Book Review

I think it is because I am very interested in the world of art, particularly paintings, that I listened carefully to a recent CBC radio story about the Dr. Seuss book Horse Museum, which was released posthumously in 2019. 

It was a fascinating story as this was a book found decades after Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote as Dr. Seuss, had passed away. The manuscript was discovered in a box that for whatever reason missed being sorted through at the time of his death and was only discovered in 2013.

Pages from Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum Book Review

This book is a different type of book for author and artist Dr. Seuss in that it does not feature rhymes like so many of his other books and it is also one of the few books that he wrote that is non-fictional in nature and not intended to help children with their reading skills. Instead, the goal of this book is to help children learn about looking at and creating art and yes, there's something to be learned within the covers of this book for adults, too.

Horse Museum looks at how artists have painted horses over the years. The choice of horses was not because Seuss was fascinated by horses but because he knew many artists have painted them and he had to choose a theme that provided lots of artwork to learn by. 

Art from Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum

Within the cover are many horse-themed pieces by famous artists like Picasso, George Stubbs, Rosa Bonheur, Alexander Calder, Jacob Lawrence, Deborah Butterfield, Franz Marc and Jackson Pollock. While learning about horses, you and your child will also be discovering information about how artists create pictures and about how to observe art.

Suess did not do the illustrations for this book. His found manuscript was not finished but rather a guide to what his idea for the book was with rough sketches in place. Illustrator Andrew Joyner was brought in to illustrate the book with the caveat that the illustrations must be somewhat Seuss like but yet still represent the artist’s style. Throughout the book you will see Joyner's illustrations blended with illustrations from real works of art. 

Art from Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum Book


A fun bonus in the book is that you will see cameo appearances of the characters we know and love from Dr. Seuss books. Those guests include the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch and Horton the Elephant. 

OFFICIAL HORSE MUSEUM BOOK TRAILER


Here’s the official book trailer for this adorable children’s book. Fair warning, you may want to buy this book for the children in your life once you watch this trailer.


Anyone, child or otherwise, who loves Dr. Seuss and who wants to learn about art and horses will enjoy this book. Find your copy of Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum on Amazon by clicking here.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween Movie Review.
A Wonderful Way to Grandparent Across the Miles.
Children's Classic Books Reviewed.


Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Famous and Infamous Celebrity Umbrellas

FAMOUS AND INFAMOUS CELEBRITY UMBRELLAS

Famous celebrity umbrellas. 
Yes, they abound. 
They are most definitely all around town.  
Here is a short list, in no way complete.
Just something to think about on a dark and rainy street. 

This page is dedicated to famous and infamous umbrellas including those from both the fictional and the real worlds.  

MARY POPPINS AND GENE KELLY


The first famous umbrellas that come to mind are often the umbrellas from the two classic movies shown above. That is, the magical parrot umbrella of British nanny Mary Poppins from the 1934 book and 1964 film of the same name and the more practical umbrella of American Gene Kelly in the 1952 romantic comedy, Singin’ in the Rain. 

THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG


THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG umbrella movie!

In 1964, Catherine Deneuve starred in the French language, Academy Award nominated movie, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. This film is the middle one in a series of three. According to the Criterion Collection who remastered it, it was a “dazzling musical heart-tugger.” Deneuve was launched to stardom via this film but, for our purposes, it is noteworthy that she played an umbrella-shop owner’s daughter and that umbrellas were required because it rained a lot in the film. You will find the remastered version of this movie on Amazon by clicking here.

THE BEATLES


The Beatles Umbrellas

The Beatles appeared in many photographs with umbrellas, seeming to have used the iconic British symbol as props for many photo shoots. In the 1968 film The Yellow Submarine, the Eleanor Rigby scene features illustrations of the silhouettes of men with bowler hats, trench coats and, yes, umbrellas. I bet the fab five did not foresee the day when they’d actually appear ON an umbrella. You can find yourself a Beatles umbrella here on eBay. My favorite is the dome umbrella.

POISON-TIPPED UMBRELLA


In 1978, a poison-tipped umbrella was used to kill Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov in London, England. This story is somewhat unbelievable since it seems like something we would see in the movies, but apparently it is a true story and the same umbrella was used but failed against another Bulgarian journalist in Paris. 

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO


My Neighbor Totoro umbrella scene.

In the 1988 animated movie My Neighbor Totoro from Studio Ghibli, a simple pink umbrella appears in a memorable scene. When Totoro is caught with only a leaf to protect himself from the rain, Satsuki offers him an umbrella. Judging by the difference in size of the characters as shown in this picture, that was a generous offer indeed!

LOST IN TRANSLATION


Scarlett Johansson's umbrella in LOST IN TRANSLATION

In Lost in Translation in 2003, Scarlett Johansson walks through Tokyo with a clear umbrella. I haven’t seen this movie but with regard to the purpose of this list, it is said that Johansson wanders the streets in Tokyo with water dripping off of her very simple, clear umbrella.A clear umbrella would definitely allow the streets to show more in the movie than if she had carried a solid colored umbrella. 

I wrote recently here about clear umbrellas. A clear umbrella will definitely be my next one. 

QUEEN ELIZABETH


QUEEN ELIZABETH'S UMBRELLAS are clear in order to see and be seen!

Queen Elizabeth has long carried a clear umbrella (maybe for about 16 years) so that she can see and be seen. Did you know that her clear umbrellas are designed with a colored band around the bottom edge with that color being carefully chosen to coordinate with each of her outfits. Yes, they are custom umbrellas manufactured by a company named Fulton that has the Royal Warrant, the acknowledgement that this company supplies umbrellas to the royal family.  If you are wondering, this means that yes, Queen Elizabeth has quite a collection of these beautiful umbrellas. 

Read more interesting information about the Queen’s umbrellas in Town and Country magazine

RIHANNA


In 2007, Barbadian singer Rihanna released an extremely popular and catchy song called Umbrella. It would go on to be considered one of the top ten songs of that year and the singer would receive several awards and nominations for the song and a lasting connection, in my mind at least, to the small but mighty umbrella. 

BRITNEY SPEARS


Also in 2007, the hugely popular American singer, songwriter and dancer Britney Spears deployed her teal umbrella in a fit of rage at the media when she attacked a car. It was not a shining moment for Spears, who could not stand the glare of the media any longer. However, her actions though not deliberate at the time, were successful in gaining her a bit of sympathy and reprieve from the public and the media.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA


In 2013, United States President Barack Obama was protected by an umbrella held by a marine in his roll as the Commander in Chief of the Marines. Since male marines were not allowed to carry umbrellas, this event was newsworthy and umbrella duty turned out to be somewhat controversial. You can read the whole story in the Washington Post.

THE KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE


In the 2015 spy movie The Kingsman: The Secret Service, a bullet proof umbrella is used by secret agents. Not only is it a shield but it has a built in gun and the handle can be used as a grappling hook. The umbrella was made by Thomas Brigg and the real version of this umbrella that you can buy from the company does feature a chestnut handle and shaft, a gold plated collar and a black nylon canopy but the canopy is not bullet proof. 

BLADE RUNNER


BLADE RUNNER Lampbrella Umbrella

In the 1982 movie Blade Runner, there is a pretty futuristic umbrella called the Lampbrella. It features a light-up shaft and and has since become a well-known prop from the film that won awards for visual effects. Since then, the umbrella has been recreated with varying degrees of success. You can find umbrellas that copy the Lampbrella style from the movie on eBay by clicking here

THE PENGUIN


THE PENGUIN'S UMBRELLA COLLECTION

In 1992, Danny DeVito brought the Penguin to life in the movie Batman Returns. Yes, as you might have guessed from this picture and the subject of this page, the umbrella is important to The Penguin. So important that he decorated his home with with an assortment of umbrellas that double as weapons. Why was the Penguin fascinated with umbrellas? His dad died from pneumonia due to a storm and he sees carrying an umbrella as protection. If you want to be safe in the world of DC Comics, you definitely need to carry one of the Penguin’s umbrellas!

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Well, my personal umbrellas aren't famous or particularly infamous, though they have lived a long, hardworking life and they are beloved. There are many other umbrellas that could have been on this list. Can you think of any that you would have added?

See you
under the umbrella!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Learn about Totes Clear Bubble Umbrellas.
Discover the Rainbrella Golf Umbrella.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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