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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Six Historical Fiction Books Set in Canada

Historical Fiction Set in Canada

Happy Canada Day! This is the day that Canadians from coast to coast to coast don their red and white and head out to celebrate our fabulous country, which was born on this day, July 1, 1867. It is with history in mind that I thought I would share six interesting historical fiction novels that are at least partly set in Canada. If you love historic fiction, I hope you will find a new book to add to your reading list.

Despite the unprecedented virus situation in Canada Day 2020, this list is by no means an indicator that Canadians will be staying home and reading on July 1. I will be wearing red and white, cooking up something special on the grill, eating some ripe red strawberries, having a walk in our neighborhood to see from a safe distance many Canadian flags flying high and our red and white attired neighbors before coming home and toasting Canada. Here's how we're celebrating Canada Day Together, Apart in 2020 but I digress. Here's the promised list of six fabulous historical fiction books set in Canada.

UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY


UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY

Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell is a close look at the settling of Canada. Read this book and you will wonder how the prairies ever came to be settled. If it was not one thing it was another for this poor Ukrainian family when they took up a homesteading on the Canadian prairies in the 1930s. Truly a look at how tough life was for those immigrant settlers with a story line that will capture your attention. I have not written a full review of this fascinating book yet but you can read more about Under This Unbroken Sky on Amazon here.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING


ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING

Anne of Green Gables may be thought of as a children's book but they are totally appropriate for adults, too. They are an interesting look into Lucy Maud Montgomery's Prince Edward Island in the early 1900s.

Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning was written by Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan was the creator of the original Anne of Green Gables movie series. This book is his more recent prequel to the Anne of Green Gables stories. You can read my complete review of Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning here. I have always been a fan of Anne Shirley and I enjoyed this book.

BEFORE OF GREEN GABLES


BEFORE OF GREEN GABLES

Before Green Gables was written by Nova Scotia's Budge Wilson and was my preferred version of what Anne Shirley's life might have looked like before she was sent as an orphan to live on Prince Edward Island. Interesting that two prequels with two totally different stories were published and that they were published just a year apart.  You can find my complete review of Before Green Gables here.

THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS


THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS

Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls is set in in French Canada in the 1950s and tells the story of a woman forced to give up her daughter and the tale of that daughter in the Canadian system. There is a lot of heartache in this book but that it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You will find my complete review of The Home for Unwanted Girls here.

THE PIANO MAKER


THE PIANO MAKER

The Piano Maker was written by Kurt Palka and tells the tale of a woman's life taking her from France in the era of the First World War to Canada in the 1930s. I enjoyed this book because it was partially set in Canada. It is particularly interesting for anyone who is interested in the piano and who wants a look into war-time fiction set in Canada's maritime provinces. Find my complete review of The Piano Maker here.

THE QUINTLAND SISTERS


THE QUINTLAND SISTERS

I have long been interested in the lives of the Dionne Quintuplets. Pierre Berton's 1978 novel introduced me to the sisters and I have followed the true life story of these mistreated sisters ever since. They were the world's first set of quintuplets to survive infancy. This book, written by Shelley Wood, is an interesting look into their lives in the 1930s when the world was glad to embrace the sisters even if it meant that they were taken from their parents and displayed as a tourist attraction. Find my complete review of The Quintland Sisters here.

There. I hope you have found a novel with a Canadian theme to add to your list!

Happy Canada Day
and Happy Reading!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Discover how we're celebrating Canada Day, 2020.
Discover a page full of fabulous Anne of Green Gables gift ideas.


Six Historical Fiction Books Set in Canada





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, June 16, 2020

When is National Umbrella Month?


When is National Umbrella Month?

WHEN IS NATIONAL UMBRELLA MONTH?


March is National Umbrella Month. In my part of the world, you could not pick a better month to celebrate this very important invention. Ontario is not necessarily the rainiest part of Canada but we do receive plenty of rain in the springtime, which is not a bad thing for, as you know, rain showers bring spring flowers.

Umbrellas have a number of job duties that are not limited to protecting us from the rain though that is what they are most commonly associated with. People also use umbrellas as fashion accessories, for photography and to block out the strong rays of the sun.

National Umbrella Month is the time to celebrate one of the most useful yet underrated inventions so before we plan our celebration, let's take this striking striking blue umbrella for a walk in the rain with us now. It is Amazon's top rated sky-themed umbrella and is available by clicking right here.



WAYS TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL UMBRELLA MONTH

  • Celebrate umbrella month with a new umbrella. Find one that will be sure to make you smile on a rainy day!
  • Celebrate by donating a new umbrella to a homeless shelter. It will help shelter someone else from the rain.
  • Celebrate umbrella month by promoting your business with one. Instead of using pens this year to promote your business, use umbrellas with your company business information and logo on them. You'll really stand out in a crowd!
  • Celebrate by hanging a decorative umbrella on your patio or by adding one to your patio table. Pick a colour or a pattern that you really love!
  • Celebrate umbrella month by donating all of your used ones to goodwill. If you are not using them and they are in good working condition, you can bet that someone else will.
  • Celebrate by donating ten new umbrellas to the Red Cross. Once again, you will help brighten someone's rainy days.
  • Celebrate umbrella month by reading an umbrella-themed storybook. Yes, there are beautiful children's books devoted to the wonderful umbrella.
Can you think of other ways to celebrate National Umbrella Month?

Don't let those raindrops
keep falling on your head!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

MORE UMBRELLAS:

Order the Sky Blue Umbrella shown on this page directly from Amazon.
Learn about Totes Clear Bubble Umbrellas.
More days to celebrate in March.
Discover the Rainbrella Golf Umbrella.
Looking For Rihanna's Pink Umbrellas?
Thank You For The Umbrella, Totes! 






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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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Totes Clear Bubble Umbrella


During the spring of 2020 when the world was under lock down because of the pandemic, my husband and I have tried to take two walks every day. These walks do not quite replace our regular and beloved visits to our gyms but they are definitely better than doing nothing. Plus not only do they give us much needed exercise, they also make us feel better mentally.

Did you know that walking has been proven to improve your mood? We know this as a fact from our firsthand experience walking. We also know that we need to take advantage of whatever it is that helps us keep on smiling during these tough days. For us, our walks work wonders.

Anyway, because we are walking come rain or come shine and because it is spring in Canada, we frequently wear raincoats and carry umbrellas. We are lucky enough to have a couple of really big umbrellas that are very good at protecting us from the elements. However, they are not clear, which means that on a gusty day we are walking blind trying to peer around the outer edges of our umbrellas. It is a constant effort to make sure that no one is coming at us from the other direction!

Yesterday, I revisited some pages that I wrote previously about umbrellas and was reminded of the wonderful Totes Classic Clear Umbrella. When I originally wrote about it in 2009, it was the best-ranked Totes umbrella on Amazon.  I cannot image that fact has changed much but I do see that it is still readily available for both adults and children in the clear version but that it is also made in a variety of different colors that are opaque and still easy to see through.

The bubble style of this umbrella provides extra protection from the rain because of its rounded shape and of course, because of its size. It has an a large canopy when opened and plenty of headroom. Because it is clear, it will not block your sight, which makes walking in the rain a little bit safer and the unique shape also keeps your husband's or in our case, your wife's umbrella out of your face! "Brilliant," says my husband.

The next time I need a new umbrella that is generously sized, I will buy the Totes Classic Clear Umbrella so that I can see the way forward. If you would also like a little clarity in your life, you can find this Totes umbrella right here on Amazon.

Don't let those raindrops
keep falling on your head!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

See Amazon's complete collection of Totes umbrellas.
Discover the Rainbrella golf umbrella on Review This.
Discover some Good Vibes t-shirts for women on Treasures By Brenda.
Find vintage umbrellas by designers like Burberry, Gucci, Christian Dior, Pucci, Chanel, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta and Bakelite on eBay.










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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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Movie Poster

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Movie Poster

MOVIE HISTORY


Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a movie that never gets old. It was Walt Disney's first full length animated feature film. It was released in 1937 and featured the voices of Roy Atwell, Adriana Caselotti, Lucille Laverne and Pinto Colvig. It was one of the first Disney movies that I remember seeing as a little girl though I did not see it when it was new. If I had to guess, I would guess that I saw it a number of decades later at the movie theater when I was just old enough to go to a movie, perhaps in the late 1960s.

Most of us know the story line of this now classic movie that was based on a tale by the Brothers Grimm. It follows the adventures and misadventures of young woman named Snow White who is mistreated by her stepmother. She escapes and winds up living with the seven wonderful dwarfs that we know and love, namely Sleepy, Dopey, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy and Doc. Of course, in true Disney form, we all know that Snow White is eventually rescued by a handsome prince.

SPECIAL HONORARY ACADEMY AWARD


Even initially, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was considered a critical and a commercial success for Walt Disney Productions and the movie at one point held the record for highest grossing movie with sound when it earned eight million dollars at the box office. Quite fittingly, I think, child actor Shirley Temple presented Walt Disney with an honorary Oscar for the movie in 1938. I should perhaps say with a series of Oscars since the design of this particular Oscar was truly unique consisting of one normal-sized Oscar and seven smaller ones mounted on an attractive platform.

REPRODUCTION MOVIE POSTER


If you simply want a representation of the movie, I do like the idea of a reproduction movie poster. The poster shown on this page is a reproduction available on Amazon and measures approximately 11 inches by 17 inches or 28 cms by 44 cms. Because it is new, it has naturally never been hung so it has no tape marks and no pin marks. You can find it affordably prized on Amazon by following this link.

VINTAGE MOVIE POSTERS


You can occasionally find an interesting vintage Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie poster on eBay by following this link. If it is a true vintage poster you are after, you will have to shop carefully to avoid reproductions. However, the hunt might well be worth it. I think that some of those old pieces are very attractive.

I believe that a Snow White poster would be a great addition to any movie- or Disney-themed room and, of course, it would really suit any little girl’s bedroom or even a baby girl’s nursery.

Would it be a new or vintage movie poster for you and where would you display it?

See you
at the movies!
Brenda
Movie Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie poster on Amazon.
Read about Snow White Live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Read my Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray Movie Review.




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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Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Huntress Book Review

The Huntress Book Review
Told in three narratives, Kate Quinn's book, The Huntress, dives into Nazi-era Soviet Union and post-war Boston. It follows the post-war efforts of a small company whose purpose is hunting for and bringing to justice war criminals.

The main characters include Ian, a proper British journalist who was on the ground in Europe during the war and who turns postwar away from journalism to the task of finding war criminals. His purpose becomes a bit clouded by vengeance when he searches for the elusive target for whom this book is titled. That is, the Huntress who ruthlessly lured and killed men, women and children.

The second character is Nina, a woman who grew up dirt-poor and savage in Siberia. As an adult she becomes a pilot for the Soviet Union and a member of the all-female Night Witch bomber regiment who, during her time on the ground during the war, has an encounter with the Huntress.

Finally, we have Jordan, an ambitious teenager who lives with her father and sister in Boston. She wants to become a photographer and to break out of the societal requirement for a woman of the times that says she must get married, settle down and have children.

In the end, all are brought together by the Huntress.

THE HUNTRESS OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER


Here’s a peek via the official book trailer from publisher Williams Morrow:




REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave The Huntress a 4.27 out of 5 stars and 91 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s pretty good.

On the back cover, Booklist says that this book is “An impressive historical novel sure to harness WWIIi-fiction fans’ attention.” I agree.

The Washington Post calls this book a “compulsively readable historical novel” and says that it is a “powerful novel about unusual women facing sometimes insurmountable odds with grace, grit, love and tenacity.” I agree.

WHO SHOULD READ THE HUNTRESS?


Fans of World War II fiction, which by the way comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me, will enjoy this book. In particular, if you would like a look into the hunt for war criminals, Russian folklore and the lesser-known world of the Night Witches, you will want to pick this book up. If you enjoyed Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network or Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz you will want to read this book. It quickly becomes a thriller and a page turner demonstrating how war changes people and the costs of seeking justice.

You should know that this book has numerous adult themes, which is what you naturally comes with a book about war crimes. Those themes include abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use, war and sex.

Do be aware that there are numerous books called the Huntress. Don't make the mistake that a friend of mine made and read the wrong one. You can find your copy of Kate Quinn’s The Huntress on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:

Buy your copy of The Huntress on Amazon.
The Ragged Edge of Night Book Review.
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Movie Review.









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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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Yankee Candles for Easter

Yankee Candles for Easter 

It is a different world that we live in as I write this post on March 30, 2020. Most of us are living 'physically distant' or practicing 'social distancing' from family and friends as together people throughout the world attempt to slow down the spread of this virus by reducing contact with others. I know that in my home Easter is going to look different than it has in the past. We are not very religious but we celebrate Easter as a way to come together with those who are important to us and, of course, close enough to visit. This will be the first Easter dinner we have eaten with just the two of us present in almost thirty years.

We usually start the day with an Easter egg hunt or, given the fact that we are all adults, a look-under-your-bed chocolate Easter bunny hunt.

The rest of the day is spent with a walk and a few board games. For supper we normally share a feast of scalloped potatoes, baked ham, fresh asparagus and some sort of yummy lemon dessert.

My husband and I spoke briefly recently about what we would do this year given that we are in self isolation and it will be just the two of us. Arbitrarily, I decided we did not need a chocolate Easter bunny, which removes the necessity of my husband going to the grocery store. The deal in our household is that I will be the one person to go to the grocery store once every two weeks. This reduces our contact with other people and lowers our chances of catching the virus.

However, I am hoping to make a smaller version of the Best-Ever Creamy Scalloped Potatoes recipe and some acceptable substitute (though I do not know what it looks like yet) for my Best-Ever Baked  Ham recipe. In substitution for the chocolate bunny, we will make ourselves a special homemade treat, which will fill time as an activity and could well turn out to be better than a chocolate bunny. Yes, chocolate lovers that is possible!

We will pull out a few of our Easter decorations. We do not have many but we do have a few and they will help make the day brighter.

I love the idea of a Yankee Candles in an Easter scent like Sweet Bunny Treats, Bunny Cake, Easter Basket and Jelly Bean.  I wrote on another blog about the very trendy Peeps scent. The candles shown on this page are the large 22 ounce jar candle and they generally retail for less than $30. Depending on the scent and how you use your candle, they will provide 110 to 150 hours of enjoyment. You can check out Amazon's complete collection of Yankee Candles for Easter by clicking right here.

How about you? I assume that you are also facing an unusual situation for Easter this year. Will you prepare a special meal? Have a chocolate bunny rabbit? Put out a few decorations?

However you choose to mark the day remember to stay home, be safe and keep on smiling. We are all in this together and together we will flatten the curve and get through this. As they say in French Canada with the picture of a rainbow and a smile, "Ça va bien aller."

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda


Quick Links:

Check out all of Amazon's Easter scented Yankee Candles.
Find my complete Easter Dinner Menu Plan.
Learn a bit more about Yankee Candles with Easter themes and find the PEEPS candle here.




Yankee Chocolate Eggs Easter Candle

Yankee Easter Basket Candle for Easter

Yankee Jelly Bean Candle for Easter

Yankee Sweet Bunny Treats Candle for Easter


Yankee Sweet Bunny Cake for Easter




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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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing Book Review


For those who love to travel, the current global atmosphere fraught as it is with many concerns, may be keeping you at home and make a strong case for sitting back and enjoying some armchair travel. If you are interested in a trip to North Carolina’s remote marshlands, you might want to pick up the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Before I read this book, North Carolina was not on my list of places that I would like to see. Now it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the book though it started off a bit oddly, at least for me. I had just finished reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which was an excellent book crafted with simple, straightforward language. When I picked Where the Crawdads Sing up, the language seemed overly flowery with text like, “water flows into the sky”, “clammy forests” and “the marsh’s moist breath.” It was not long, however, before I was whisked away to fictional Barkley Cove in North Carolina and wrapped up in the lives of the main characters.

THE STORY


The story? Well, simply put it is that of a girl’s marsh life from the ages of 6 to 25 both with her family and then abandoned by her family, of how she grows up barefoot and wild and, despite sparse interactions with other people, of how she manages to educate herself in her remote environment. It is rich with details about marsh life in North Carolina. It is a coming-of-age tale and it is also one of romance and murder, alternating between the years of 1952 and 1969. The author herself says that the book is about loneliness.

IS IT A TRUE STORY?


Is Where the Crawdads Sing a true story? Not really though Elle magazine says that the story has "striking echoes" to the author’s life in Africa with conservationist former husband, Mark Owens, both of who were linked to the unsolved 1995 murder of an African poacher though the couple has denied anything to do with the murder and no charges have ever been filed.

IS IT RECOMMENDED?


Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly the book, which is Owen's first work of fiction, quickly became a hugely successful book.

The Guardian says that “Surprise bestsellers are often works that relate to the times. Though set in the 1950s and 1960s, this book is, in its treatment of racial and social division and the fragile complexities of nature, obviously relevant to contemporary politics and ecology. But these themes reach a huge audience though the writer’s old-fashioned talents for compelling character, plotting and landscape description.”

Actor Reese Witherspoon, who picked Where the Crawdads Sing  as a book for her book club, helped it build momentum and is quoted in Town and Country magazine as having said, "I can’t even express how much I love this book…There is so much to her story…and it takes place in the breathtaking backdrop of the South. I didn’t want this story to end!"

A whopping eighty-six percent of Amazon readers gave it a 5 star review. It is a New York Times number one bestseller, it has been on that best seller list for 78 weeks and it has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Those are, in my opinion, a whole lot of reasons to check out for yourself the book Where the Crawdads Sing. The majority of readers have loved this book and it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You can find your copy on Amazon by clicking right here and if you enjoy it, be sure to watch for Witherspoon's movie version of the story.

See you
At the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:


Buy your copy of Where the Crawdads Sing here on Amazon.
Read Dawn Rae's review of Where the Crawdads Sing.









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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Monday, January 27, 2020

Hawaiian Shirts For Boys

Hawaiian Shirts For Boys

WHAT IS A HAWAIIAN SHIRT?


I've always called our Hawaiian shirts exactly that, Hawaiian shirts but I see now that some people call them aloha shirts. Whatever you call them, you know that we are referring to a type of shirt that originated in Hawaii.

The Hawaiian or aloha shirt usually features a bold pattern, short sleeves, a button front and a collar. They also feature a straight hem and are worn untucked. They usually have a pocket sewn on the chest and purists say that on a real Hawaiian shirt, the design on the pocket and on the shirt align perfectly, like a jigsaw puzzle.

Having the pockets line up exactly is an attention to detail that drives up the price so the shirts on this page do not have pockets that match the pattern on the shirt exactly. I thought that it was more important in this case to present an economical shirt than a totally authentic shirt.

Will your children notice? Maybe not but mine would have. That little but important detail about Hawaiian shirts is one of the first things that we learned when we were in Hawaii. However, my sons certainly would not have complained about being given any aloha shirt. They might, however, have had a problem in choosing just one of these color options from RJC.



LOOKING FOR HAWAIIAN SHIRTS FOR YOUR SONS?


Are you planning a family trip to Hawaii? Maybe you have already had your Hawaiian vacation or you are planning a Hawaiian themed party or costume. Whatever the reason you need one, you can be relieved that you do not have to travel to Hawaii to buy one.

Your boys, from size 2 to 18, will look great in any one of these shirts. Even after our vacation, my sons were thrilled to have a reason to put on their Hawaiian shirts. They had a feel for the retro style and they were reminded of the fun they had in Hawaii when they put them on. To my guys and even to my husband, a Hawaiian or aloha shirt means good times!

Buying from Amazon means that you can buy a shirt in advance of your trip or even afterward when you arrive home and you or your son really, really wish that you had purchased the one you saw while you were in Oahu. Of course, no trip to Hawaii is required at all. You can just buy one of these shirts because your son would love to have one!

Be sure to check out RJC’s Hawaiian shirts for boys on Amazon by clicking right here. You can find the Woodie-themed shirt shown on this page by clicking right here.

Aloha!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Hawaiian Reading:

Our Top 10 Hawaiian Gift Ideas
Aloha (2015) Movie Review
The Best-Ever Hawaiian Punch Recipe
There's even a little Hawaii in my eBay store!












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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Monday, January 13, 2020

Michelle Obama’s BECOMING Book Review

Michelle Obama’s BECOMING Book Review

I am a Canadian who does not pay a lot of attention to American politics though I do remember the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, from the very first days that her husband became the President of the United States and I remember seeing her image time and time again during the years that followed.

Since the release of her book Becoming in November of 2018, I have been hearing about it. More recently, I saw that it was the Ottawa Public Library’s most requested book in 2019. Either of those reasons would have been a good reason to pick up the book but the actual reason that I read it was because it is my book club’s next book.

THE STORYLINE


I reached for the book with little in the way of expectations though I obviously wondered what all the hype was about. It seems a bit early (in Michelle's life) to label the book an autobiographical memoir but it is her story to date and it is told from her perspective so I guess it is a memoir of sorts.

Becoming is a story of gender equality, race, marriage and politics.

The first section, Becoming Me, shares the story of her childhood and education in Chicago and how she became who she is. That is, a highly educated woman, a lawyer cum public servant cum hospital administrator and a devoted wife and protective mother.

The second section, Becoming Us, covers her romance and her marriage to Barack Obama.

The final section, Becoming More, tells of the Obama family and their lives as public figures when Barack becomes the President of the United States. It tells how Michelle tried to retain some sense of her own identity and to achieve some sense of normalcy for her family. It shares the sacrifices she made when she put her own dreams aside to support her husband’s goals. Despite not being able to follow her own career path, she supported the work of her husband and turned her considerable talents to making meaningful contributions indirectly associated with his work.

BOOK VIDEOS


The first video shown here presents a short peek at the book and Michelle Obama’s story:



The second video, in which Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey surprise a group of school girls with a visit, does a better job  in my opinion of sharing some of Michelle's experiences becoming the First Lady and it gives you a feel for the story you will find between the covers of the book:



WHO WROTE BECOMING?


Even before I picked it up, I wondered if Michelle wrote the book or if she had employed a ghost writer. Could someone be so successful in so many areas of her life and also become a bestselling author?

I could not find anything definitive to answer that question. Business Insider says that Michelle used, “a team of people”, which makes sense to me and The News Record says that Michelle asked for help from a friend and that she and that friend met about the book on and off again for a period of nine years.

REVIEWS


Becoming is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. I enjoyed it and think that no matter who did the writing it is a well written and very interesting book.

Politico Magazine called it a bit thin in areas and I agree with that statement. Politico says that Michelle was a “woman who sparkled all her life, ascending to registers of success she anticipated in middle school, only to sideline her ambitions for her husband's” and that while the book touches on all of that, we never learn in the end “What she wants to be when she grows up.”

Oprah Winfrey added the book to her book club list. She called it a tour de force and I agree with that statement. Oprah said you will laugh and you will cry. I think you will.

Both Business Insider and The Atlantic say that Becoming “is on track to become the best-selling memoir of all time.” That, in my mind, is a high recommendation for a book.

If you need any more convincing, I note that 94 percent of reviewers on Amazon and 91 percent of readers on Goodreads gave the book 4 or 5 out of five stars. Those are amazing numbers.

IN SUMMARY


I think Michelle Obama handled her life choices well at least as she reveals them in her book. Without having any way of knowing much about her life beyond what the media shares, I think that this book gives us as much a glimpse into her world as we will ever receive.

The New Yorker says that she has become one of the most popular Americans in history and I did not miss their reference to the fact that she has now had a “second coming, as an unprecedented, potentially billion-dollar American brand.” The Former President and First Lady reportedly were paid a whopping 65 million dollar advance for their memoirs. You can bet that we will be seeing Michelle Obama again and I look forward to following her continued life story.

Meanwhile, find your copy of Becoming competitively priced on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Link:

Buy your copy of Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Amazon.






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, December 17, 2019

The Daughter's Tale Book Review


The Daughter's Tale Book Review
Armando Lucas Correa’s The Daughter's Tale starts out in modern times in New York City but most of the story is set in the years of World War II in Berlin, Germany and in the south of France. The novel is based on a real Jewish child who survived the war because of the efforts of her father and her mother and because of the help of others.

STORYLINE


It is a heartbreaking story told mostly without overly graphic descriptions though it cannot help but mention the atrocities of the war. It includes the horrific 1944 Nazi massacre of all the inhabitants of Oradour-Sur-Glane, a small village in southern France. It references the sailing of the MS St. Louis full of German-Jewish refugees that was refused docking in Cuba and elsewhere. However, those are pieces of the story, which is really about a series of impossible choices that a family had to make in an attempt to save their children. It is a story of love, of survival and of hope.

MY COMMENTS


I definitely had quibbles with the book. I questioned why the mother could not leave on the ship with her children. I wondered if a young child would have been so very knowledgeable about the war and the resistance. I found it a bit odd that the children spoke and thought like adults. In the latter part of the book, I was disappointed when the same child suddenly had the ability to foresee events almost in a psychic manner. Finally, I found it hard to believe that an 80-year-old woman, who spent her whole life feeling guilty about things she had no control over as a child, did not seek out the story of her family and childhood. Despite these issues, I enjoyed the book and here is what a few others thought.

REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave it a 3.9 out of 5 stars and 72 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s not bad.

Booklist says that author Correa presents, “a gripping and richly detailed account of lives torn apart by war.” I agree with that.

The New York Times, on their Summer Historical Fiction Reading list for 2009, said that The Daughter’s Tale is “better written and more tightly edited than most books in this genre, and the story line is breathtakingly threaded together from start to finish with the sound of a beating heart.” Is that overly generous? In my view, it may be.

I believe that people who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy this book even if it is not my favorite nor the best of the many World War II themed novels available. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can buy your own copy of The Daughter’s Tale on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you do read it, be sure to come back and share your thoughts with us. If you enjoy it, you might also like Armando Lucas Correa’s previous novel, The German Girl.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Daughter’s Tale from Amazon.
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Movie Review: One Women's Efforts to Save Polish Jewish Children.
Thin Red Line Movie Review: The Story of the WWII battle for Guadalcanal
My Real Name is Hannah Book Review: World War II Fiction for Teen and Young Adults.





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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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Gift Ideas

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Gift Ideas


I LIKE BIG BOOKS AND I CANNOT LIE


You other readers can't deny
When a good book walks in with
A good plot base
And a big spine in your face
You get sprung!
Wanna get out your notepads
'Cause you noticed that book
Was dense.
Deep in the book I'm reading,
I'm hooked and I can't stop
Speeding, through Baby
I wanna get that literature,
And Instagram that picture,
My teachers try to train me
But that book you've got
Makes me so brainy!
(Baby got books!)


I know the meme is not new. It started with the reworking of a song called Baby Got Back, which was about an obsession with a part of a woman’s anatomy. The new version, Baby Got Books, embraces the love of books and has spawned the creation of endless videos and creative versions of the lyrics.

Yes, I love to read as is evidenced by the reviews I have written here on Review This and yes, I like big books. Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, anyone? That one will keep you reading for awhile.

Drawn in at first by the cover and the thickness of the spine, if a book is engrossing and if it offers up a good plot with intriguing characters and an interesting setting, I am definitely going to be found curled up with a throw blanket, a cup of tea and the book in question. Live a different life via a book? Heck, yes! Learn by seeing the world through someone else’s eyes? For sure and the bigger the book, the better.

Anyway, if you or someone you know loves books and suffers from Big-Book-Picker-Outer Syndrome, you will be interested in this page of fabulous and fun gift ideas all of which are available from Etsy and all of which contain the quote, I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie. There is something here for everyone!

T-SHIRTS


Let’s start with a t-shirt. I believe that they are practical and useful gifts and that they are a great way to declare to the world that you love to read and of course, they are available for both men and women in a variety of sizes and colors.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Men's T-Shirt

I Like Big Books Women's T-Shirt


HOME DECOR


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Cushion

I found a number of options for your home décor including this cushion and two art posters. The cushion is available in a wide range of sizes and in three fairly neutral colors. Be aware that you are buying the cover and will have to provide the actual cushion for inside. Find the cushion cover here in Modernality's Home Decor shop on Etsy.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Print

Upcycled I Like Big Books Quotation Print

The first poster is a digital download for you to print at home. It features all of the words to the rewritten song. You can buy it and print it almost instantly at home, if you have the capability to do so, or at your print shop.  Find it in Doodling for Days' Etsy shop here. The second picture is an upcycled print that features the title of the song printed on an old dictionary page. You can find it in Whisker Print's Etsy shop here. Both are very appropriate artwork, I think, for book lovers!

COFFEE MUGS


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Coffee Mug

If you know me, you know I have a fascination with coffee mugs and mugs as gift ideas. So many fun images that are customizable to the interest of the recipient. In this case, I love the perfectly nerdy design on both of these mugs, the first more appropriate for the female nerd and the second an acceptable choice for a male or the female book nerd. The ceramic mug shown above is both microwave and dishwasher safe but the tin one shown below requires hand washing and is not microwave safe but it is also not breakable. You can find the first mug in Foxy Mug's Etsy shop here and the second mug in Rabbit Print's shop here.

I Like Big Books Coffee Mug


ENAMEL PIN AND UPCYCLED BOOKMARK

I Like Big Books Enamel Pin


I think that both the enameled pin shown above and the upcycled bookmark shown below are totally adorable. They would be great add-ons to any book lover’s gift, make a wonderful stocking stuffer or even make a simple, inexpensive gift idea for someone who you know loves books. Find the pin here in Literary Emporium's shop and the bookmark here in Stamp and Soul's shop.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Bookmark


TOTE BAG


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Tote Bag

Finally, gather the components of your gift set together and ‘wrap’ them up in this simple, attractive and inexpensive canvas tote bag. It is more practical and environmentally friendly than wrapping paper and will make many, many trips to the library and the bookstore! Find it in the Sewing Laboratory.

How about it? Do you love big books or do you prefer your books short and sweet?

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Follow this link to Etsy’s Gift Guide and yes, if you purchase a product through a link on this page, I may receive a small affiliate commission.
How to Build a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Gift Set.
How to Build a Frosty the Snowman Gift Set.










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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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Dogs of Riga Henning Mankell Book Review

The Dogs of Riga Henning Mankell Book Review
Henning Mankell’s The Dogs of Riga is not a book about dogs but rather one that refers to another meaning of the word. That is, “to follow someone or their movements closely and persistently.” To dog them.  I believe that it is the perfect title for this book given the Cold War setting and the actual trailing that takes place in the story.

It is a crime detective novel, the second that we are reading for Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program class called Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today.

The book was translated into English in 2001 and is set in Sweden and the troubled Baltic state Latvia. In our class notes, the instructor says that the book falls in the genre of “Scandinavian noir” and that it offers “criticism of the social welfare ideal.” The later being something that the author was well known for.

Though my book came with the tagline about Mankell being, "Sweden's greatest living mystery writer," we did lose him in 2015 to cancer.

THE STORY


Detective Kurt Wallander is the somewhat rumpled, seemingly depressed lead character. He is newly single, a bit burnt out with police work and given to periods of self-doubt. His personal life is not so great.

In his professional life, Wallander is a Swedish homicide detective and in this novel, he is assigned a case that starts with the washing ashore of two well-dressed dead men. The case turns out to be much more complex than it first appears and eventually sees Wallander in over his head in Latvia.

REVIEWS


This book is “a near-flawless performance in a distinguished series” says Kirkus Reviews.

Publisher’s Weekly says this book is “a unique combination of police procedural and spy thriller that also happens to be a devastating critique of Soviet-style Communism.”  Agreed.

The Crime Review says, “Mankell’s gritty, ultra-realist noir writing style keeps a somewhat tired plot line fresh and interesting, and makes this a piece not to be missed in the ongoing development of Wallander’s character.” I am so glad to have met Wallander!

Finally, The Crime Review also says that Mankell is masterful at “capturing sentiment about complex social and political issues in a very real, day-to-day way.”  I  agree, it seemed like a a very good representation of the place and the times.

Readers on Goodreads rate this book a 3.72 out of 5 and Amazon readers give it an average score of 4 out of five stars.

MY REVIEW


I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mankell’s Wallander and as I said above, I am glad to have met him and I do look forward to more of his adventures. The Dogs of Riga was a captivating book; a page turner at 326 pages. It definitely had my attention and made me want to know what would happen next. It is therefore HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy well-crafted, somewhat gritty crime detective fiction and novels set in the Cold War.

As in my review of Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue, I have to tell you that this is not the first book in the Detective Kurt Wallander series. Since it is part of the course I am taking and therefore assigned reading, I started with it. I will definitely have to go back to the start of the series, which is where, I imagine, you will start if you also want to meet Kurt Wallander.

WHICH DETECTIVE KURT WALLANDER BOOK IS FIRST?


Since I want to back track and read the books that came before The Dogs of Riga, I searched for a complete list of the Kurt Wallander books in the order that they should be read. I struggled at least in part because apparently the books were not translated to English in chronological order.   I eventually found this Detective Kurt Wallander website and timeline, which should be helpful if you want to start at the beginning, too.

The Pyramid (1999) - This is a prequel, an anthology.
Faceless Killers (1991)
The Dogs of Riga (1992)
The White Lioness (1993)
The Man Who Smiled (1994)
Sidetracked (1995)
The Fifth Woman (1996)
One Step Behind (1997)
Firewall (1998)
The Return of the Dancing Master (2000) – Written by Stefan Lindman
Before the Frost (2002) – Written by Linda Wallander
The Grave (2004)
The Troubled Man (2009)

IN CLOSING


More than 40 million copies of the Detective Kurt Wallander books were sold worldwide so I am not the only one who enjoys them.  However, the author also wrote many plays, children’s books and screenplays.

I think The Dogs of Riga would be a brilliant movie and apparently my idea is not a bad one because the BBC made Henning Mankell’s novels into a Swedish crime TV series that now comprises 26 episodes.

You can check out all of Henning Mankell’s Wallander books on Amazon by clicking here and you can learn more about or order your copy of The Dogs of Riga here.

If you do read the book, please come back and let us know if you enjoyed it and, if you have seen the movies, we would love to hear about them, too.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Henning Mankell’s The Dogs of Riga on Amazon.


The Dogs of Riga Kurt Wallander Mystery Book




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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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ian Rankin's Black and Blue Book Review

Eighth in the series, Black and Blue: is An Inspector Rebus Novel by Ian Rankin. Find my review here.
Interesting the number of covers Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue has had. I am surprised though I know that different book formats come with different covers. This book, however, seems to have had a lot of different looks. I suppose that is what happens to a successful book as it gains some age.

Of course, once you have a book in your hand, it matters not a whit what the cover looks like though the cover may have helped that book find its way into your hands in the first place. In this case, what it looks like did not matter because this book is one of the books that will be discussed in the late fall class I am taking in Ottawa through Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program called Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today.

Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue is a fictional detective story, written  in 1997 and based firmly in the Scotland of the 1990s. In her class notes, our instructor Stefani Nielson calls the book “post-Christie,” “British realism noir” and she says that it features a “working class anti-hero.”

I did not know what was meant by that last term, anti-hero, so I googled it and Wikipedia shares that “An antihero is a main character in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes such as idealism, courage and morality.” Inspector Rebus is a hard-working, hardened police officer and former SAS officer now coping in self-destruct mode with what life has thrown at him. He is anti-social and struggles with relationships. He is a drinking man with sometimes questionable scruples who is determined to get the job done regardless of who is in the way.

The Story


Black and Blue finds our anti-hero unofficially working four cases at the same time. Among the four, two stand out. He is searching for a mass murderer nicknamed Bible John on a cold case from the 1960s and 1970s and he is searching for a copycat murderer who has been nicknamed Bible Johnny. Set in Scotland, the author helps us visit his Scotland from the comfort of our arm chairs. Our travels will include time in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Shetland and even the oilfields in the North Sea.

It is a long book at more than 550 pages but it is action packed so if you love to read, that should cause you no issues. If you read the book, you will become heavily invested in the main character and consumed by the desire to know who is responsible for the crimes committed and if and how they are all connected.

Is this a good time to tell you that Black and Blue is the eighth in a series of books about Inspector Rebus? It is my first Ian Rankin novel because I am reading it in preparation for my class. In normal circumstances, I would have picked book one as a starting point.

Who Will Like This Book?


Anyone who likes a well-crafted detective novel and does not mind the world that a police officer travels in. This book definitely has violence but it is far from the worst I have ever read and, of course, it has a police officer who drinks, smokes and cuts corners.

Reviews


Goodreads says, “Written with Ian Rankin's signature wit, style and intricacy, Black and Blue is a novel of uncommon and unforgettable intrigue.” The readers who write the reviews on the website rate this book 4.08 out of 5. One of those readers says, “Now this is how you write a really good crime novel!

On his blog, Simon McDonald says, “…this book is one of the author’s best… more than awhodunit, it is a searing commentary on mid-nineties Scotland, told so palatably, so relentlessly…

Personally, I have really enjoyed this novel and meeting Inspector Rebus. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy crime detective fiction. I will definitely have to go back to the start of the series, which is where, I imagine, you will start if you decide you would like to travel in Inspector Rebus's world. You can find all of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels on Amazon quickly by clicking right here.

Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection

Interesting Facts


This book is considered an important story in Tartan Noir, which is genre in crime fiction written by Scottish writers and set in Scotland. Wikipedia says that Tartan Noir has roots in Scottish literature but adapts elements from other writers like era-specific American crime writers and European crime writers.

The title of the book, Black and Blue, relates to the Rolling Stones album of the same name, it relates to the state we often find our anti-hero in and it relates to the oil fields and the policeman of this story.

The Dancing Pigs, the successful punk music band featured in this book, were recreated from an unsuccessful band that the author played in for a year as a 19-year old. Rankin enjoyed making the band successful in his book. Who could resist? I think I would have done the same.

You may also have seen a mini-series called Ian Rankin's Rebus about the character that aired in 2000. Find it on Amazon here.

Be sure to come back and let us know how you enjoy any of Ian Rankin's books and, if you have seen the mini-series, we would love to hear that, too.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Black and Blue on Amazon.
Find Ian Rankin's Rebus The Definitive DVD Collection on Amazon.








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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