Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Finishing School Book Review

The Finishing School Book Review
I enjoyed Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls enough to seek out and read this book, The Finishing School. At first I did not really understand what Goodman meant by 'finishing school.' Of course, once I discovered that the book was about events in a boarding school I realized that I should have understood. Since then, some friends have told me that they understand the term finishing school while others have drawn a blank when I told them the title of this book.

Anyway, The Finishing School is the story of a group of children and the adventures and tragedies that befall them at school and of their lives afterward. It is the story of families that shipped their children off to school and sometimes left them to be mostly raised by strangers in a strange country. It is the story of how a private school sought to protect its reputation by failing to properly investigate a number of serious incidents.

The narrative of the story flips easily back and forth between the modern day and the late 1990s and is set both at a fictional boarding school called Lycée Internationale Suisse in Switzerland and in Canada. Haunted by them, one of the girls returns to Switzerland as a young woman to uncover the truth about the events that unfolded during her time there.

It turns out that the story is much more complicated than that of the single incident that brings the young woman back to Switzerland and as it unfolds you will find yourself hoping that this is a totally fictional story though, of course, you know that events like those that unfolded at this school have happened and do happen in real life.

The author says that the story is based on her own real life experiences at a boarding school when she was 17 years old. She says that, like the main character in this novel, she was a fish out of water. She was a middle class student surrounded by children of the wealthy, a group that included members of royal families and children of international superstars. She also says that the stories in the book came from real ‘secrets and scandals’ that happened in the year she was there. As a matter of fact, she says that her real life best friend at boarding school was in the same situation as the best friend of the main character in this novel. The author explains that she used the events of that year to create this story of “entitlement, of the power of beauty and status, and of the relentless pursuit of approval that afflicts even the wealthy.” She says that this “book is inspired by real people and events, but is (mostly) fiction.” If you want to learn more about the author’s life as relates to this story, you can find her interview here.

There are some plot twists in this story, one large one that had me wondering if I had missed something or misread something. I guess it jarred a bit and, to be honest, that twist almost put me off reading this book but I did not put it down and yes, I would recommend this book. It a mystery about relationships both of the family and friendship variety and about the life of the wealthy and the world of the boarding school. It deals with pregnancy, both unwanted and wanted.  It definitely has some unpleasantness in it but it is handled well, especially in how the victims come forward in a way that seems particularly timely.

If you read The Finishing School, be sure to come back and let us know what you think. You can find your copy on Amazon right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of The Finishing School from Amazon here.
Find a list of questions for your book club meeting here. 
Find my review of The Home for Unwanted Girls here.

Book Details:

Title: The Finishing School
Author: Joanna Goodman
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Page Count: 352
Format: Available in Kindle, audiobook, paperback and audio CD formats.
ISBN-10: 0062465589
ISBN-13: 978-0062465580





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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Elizabeth Taylor Book Reviews: A List

A Selection of Elizabeth Taylor Books


The editor of Vanity Fair is quoted as saying, "Try to imagine a star who combines the talent of a Meryl Streep with the beauty of a Nicole Kidman, the sensuality of a Penelope Cruz, and the notoriety of a Lindsay Lohan. Magnify that a hundredfold, and you're still only halfway to Elizabeth Taylor." He's absolutely right, of course, and it is no wonder we want to read and learn more about the life and times of Elizabeth Taylor.

Since almost the beginning of her career, there have been a number of books available for those who are curious and want to learn more about Taylor's life and her career as one of the most beautiful and popular actors in the world but, with the passing of this legendary actress in 2011, publishers raced to release a new selection of books and magazines covering her entire life. Some publishers chose simply to update books that had already been published by adding information about the final years of her life. A cheat of sorts but at least it makes books that fall in that category more complete.

On this page, you will find a selection of those books, biographical and otherwise, about the beautiful and talented Elizabeth Taylor. If you are interested in reading more, I know you will find a great choice on this page.

Elizabeth Taylor Eight Remarkable Stories From The Pages of Vanity Fair

Elizabeth Taylor A Loving Tribute

Eight Remarkable Stories From The Pages of Vanity Fair


About Hollywood's most beautiful, most controversial star, this book, which has the full title of The Best of Vanity Fair ELIZABETH TAYLOR: Eight Remarkable Stories About Hollywood’s Most Beautiful, Most Controversial Star, is available only as an ebook.  One way to beat the rush to bring new publications to market is to create an ebook like this one. This book features an introduction by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, stories by Dominick Dunne, George Hamilton and Sam Kashner and two new articles by David Kamp and Gwen Davis. It also contains a series of photographs by Firooz Zahedi, Douglas Kirkland and Helmut Newton, a biographical time line and a filmography of Elizabeth Taylor's films. A great resource for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about Elizabeth Taylor. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

A Loving Tribute by Cindy De La Hozis


From 1942 until 2011, we were in love with Taylor's beauty, her movies and her lifestyle. Elizabeth Taylor: A Loving Tribute by Cindy De La Hozis, a 128-page book, reminds us WHY we have loved Elizabeth Taylor for more than 75 years. Find it here on Amazon.

People Magazine Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly

People Magazine’s Special Edition Hardcover Book


People Magazine's hardcover memorial book is a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. "Now that was a star: Eight marriages. Three Oscars. Scandals, drama and diamonds galore, glittering from Hollywood to Rome, Acapulco and the French Riviera." It is full of photographs and stories and shares images and information starting with her appearance at the age of 12 in National Velvet, through her crazy years with Richard Burton to the legend and businesswoman she was in the end. Find it on Amazon here.

Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly


Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly is a photographic record, with commentary, about Taylor's fashion style on and off of the movie screen. It includes her Hollywood gowns, her jewelry and her beauty, which really needed no adornment. She was one of the most popular movie stars in the world and the world watched her personal style evolve from starlet all the way through to the activist that she was in her later years. Find it here on Amazon.

Elizabeth Taylor A Passion for Life Joseph Papa

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor

A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend by Joseph Papa


Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend by Joseph Papa is an anthology which includes Taylor's own thoughts about her life, including her childhood, career, love, motherhood and so much more. It shares the determined but generous personality of a legendary woman. Find it here on Amazon.

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: Obsessions, Passions, and Courage by Ellis Amburn


The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions, and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor by Ellis Amburn is one of the most steamy Hollywood works in recent memory. Amburn put together a page-turning chronicle of Taylor's life based upon the huge number of public interviews, autobiographies and gossip columns that accompanied the actress throughout her very public life. It is a tour of her romantic life slanted to her reputation (as coined by Oscar Levant) as "the other woman of the year." Find it here on Amazon.

The Queen of the Silver Screen: Elizabeth Taylor

Queen of the Silver Screen by Ian Lloyd


Elizabeth Taylor: Queen of the Silver Screen By Ian Lloyd was released on June 9, 2011. Lloyd writes for Hello Magazine and he wrote Carlton's An Invitation to the Royal Wedding and covered Taylor’s visits to Britain. This book follows her life including her beauty and acting skills, her love of jewelry and lifestyle, and her seven husbands. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor

My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor


This is a lovely, large book packed full of illustrations of Taylor's jewelry and written by the celebrity herself in her own very readable words. It is a beautiful coffee table book, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and can HIGHLY RECOMMEND. You can read more about this book in my complete review by clicking right here or find it on Amazon by clicking here.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By Taylor Jenkins Reid is a fictionalized story not really about Elizabeth Taylor but certainly with similarities. If you are looking for a novel packed with Hollywood goings on, you might like to check out this book. You can read my complete review of this book here.

Autographed Elizabeth Taylor Books


For a fan, I cannot imagine anything better than the opportunity to own a book that was autographed by Elizabeth Taylor and the only way that I have of tracking down an autographed copy of one of her books is via eBay. You can see the signed book options currently available on eBay by clicking right here.

Are YOU a Taylor fan? Do you enjoy Elizabeth Taylor's movies? Have you read any of these books? Any others about the actress that you would recommend?

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

More Reading:


The Best Elizabeth Taylor Movies
Elizabeth Taylor was definitely an icon. Living from 1932 to 2011, she only recently left us but, because of her amazing beauty, talent and incredibly long career, she left us with some very memorable movies. This page is dedicated to the BEST...

Meet Elizabeth (Liz) Taylor: A Brief Biography
How would YOU summarize the life of someone as amazing as Elizabeth Taylor? Would you use words like beautiful and talented? If so, you would just be scratching the surface of what made Liz Taylor special. I just stumbled across a lovely video...






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Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Home for Unwanted Girls Book Review

Joanna Goodman's The Home for Unwanted Girls is a fictionalized account of a true story. Set in 1950s French Canada, it tells the tale of a young woman who is forced by her family to give up her daughter for adoption and in lesser part, the tale of the daughter in the Canadian system. It also shares the history of the times in Quebec including the divide between the French and the English.

Most of us are aware of the situation a girl of the age of 15 would have been in in 1950s society if she found herself pregnant. I believe, however, that most of us are unaware of what happened to the large number of the children who were given up for adoption in Quebec at that time but who were never actually adopted.

Those 'unwanted' children were placed in orphanages where they were misused as servants and abused by nuns and staff. Later, when those orphanages became psychiatric hospitals, the children were simply reclassified as mentally ill and assimilated into that population where they continued to be used as servants and abused but were also treated as mentally ill.

As someone who did not know of this story before she picked up the book, I found it simply unbelievable that this was allowed. They were children and while naive to the ways of normal living because of living in orphanages, they were not mentally ill.

How could a switch from orphanage to mental asylum even be allowed? Well, it turns out that it happened because patients in mental asylums received more funding than children in orphanages. The province of Quebec received $1.25 per orphan or $2.75 per psychiatric patient so orphanages became hospitals. Of course, it was only later that the physical, psychological and sexual abuse was discovered. The author, in her interview with the Toronto Star, says that restitution has been offered by the government to the victims but no formal apology has been made by the church.

The author also shares that this book was drawn from her own mother's life in the 1950s. That is, of a French-Canadian woman married to an English seed merchant. However, the author struggled with how to present the story until she read a French memoir written by a survivor that shared one woman's thoughts as she actually lived through the situation.

This book reveals a very sad time in Quebec history. It delves into the issues of language, class and religion. It is also a story of family and of romantic love. Yes, there is a lot of heartache but the book is well written and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy historical fiction and want an eye opening look at a little known piece of Canadian history. Be warned that the subject matter it is disturbing and it did happen. However, I raced through The Home for Unwanted Girls needing to know what happened next. What the outcome would be was never far from my mind.

You can buy your copy from Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read this book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think.

See you at
the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of The Home for Unwanted Girls on Amazon.
Secret Child Book Review: 1950s Ireland.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Series Review: 1950s New York City.
The Remains of the Day Book Review: 1950s England.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Can I Give Him My Eyes Book Review

Can I Give Him My Eyes Book Review
Can I Give Him My Eyes is a biographical book that was written by Richard Moore with the assistance of his long-time friend and supporter, Don Mullan. It tells the story of a ten-year old boy who loses his eyesight on May 4, 1972, on the way home from school when he is shot by a soldier during The Troubles in Ireland.

According to Moore’s book, he was just passing by when he was shot. The rubber bullets were supposed to be used to control crowds and riots but to this day Moore does not know why he was shot.

In any case, those rubber bullets, which were thought to be a relatively safe way of controlling riots, turned out to be more dangerous than anticipated. Moore survived being; other children did not.

If you would like a look at The Troubles in Ireland, this book will be a good education. I learned of it while on a trip to Ireland in 2018 during which I visited both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Of course, 2018 was a safe year to visit, unlike the years of the Northern Ireland Conflict, which spanned approximately 1968 to 1998. During those years there were riots, shootings and bombings almost every day. In the end, the conflict killed almost four thousand people and of course it also left many victims behind. The antagonism between the Irish Catholic population and the British army and especially the events of Bloody Sunday caused fear and hatred of the army from the people and no doubt fear and hatred in return. The tense atmosphere was likely the reason that Moore was shot despite the fact that he was a child passing by and not participating in a riot or public gathering.

Can I Give Him My Eyes is not just about the loss of Moore’s eyes. The catastrophe happens early on in the book, which is also about his journey in life, about how he learned to cope as a blind person, about the upheaval it caused his family and about how it changed and set the direction of his life.

Moore manages to accept the fact of his blindness almost right away. He carried forward no bitterness or anger, which he attributes to his parents who were peaceful and never spoke bitter or angry words. The Dalai Lama, who Moore eventually met and who Moore considers to be both a hero and a friend, once said and Moore agrees that, “Forgiveness is a gift to yourself.” Moore could have been bogged down by the event and the reality of being blinded but instead he moved on and let his situation propel him forward to experiences that he might not otherwise have ever had.

He has a university degree, has had two businesses, is a musician and, as a peace and reconciliation worker, started an organization called Children in Crossfire to help children in troubled situations around the world have opportunities that they might not otherwise have. He had lots of support and kindness as a child and as an adult and he wants to make sure that others in difficulty do, too.

Interestingly, Moore eventually goes on to meet the soldier who shot the rifle that injured him. They have become friends and they have even worked together. On the cover of Can I Give Him My Eyes, His Holiness the Dalia Lama, says, “I encourage people across the world to read what Richard has to say. Despite his own loss, he has found freedom through forgiveness.”

This book is RECOMMENDED by me. Not as a page turner but rather as a look at the troubled times in Ireland and at one man’s lifetime journey because of his injury. You can find your copy on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Richard Moore’s website.
In the Name of the Father, Irish movie review.
My Left Foot, Irish movie review.






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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Robert Galbraith's Lethal White Book Review

It is a bit awkward to start with the fourth book in a series but, since that is the one I have just read, that is where I am starting.

It is telling that I waited anxiously for Robert Galbraith’s fourth novel, Lethal White. It finally arrived in in September of 2018 and unsurprisingly, it was a giant book worthy of the wait.

Lethal White follows three excellent detective novels crafted by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame and published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.  Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil were all page turners and Lethal White is more of the same. A lengthy read, complex and interesting.

Set during the 2012 London Olympics, Lethal Weapon covers much ground including political corruption, blackmail, murder, deception, betrayal and suicide.

The series continues with the latest mysteries to be solved by the now two-person detective team at Cormoran Strike’s detective agency. It follows the one-legged detective Strike and his new partner Robin as they solve crimes. Both characters continue to live on the edge financially, personally and professionally and wind up in precarious situations in all three areas of their lives.

Strike continues to live in near poverty in a room behind his office. He’s a disabled war veteran who barely looks after himself in general and, as we are given to understand in the book, his leg in particular. He is an amputee, which makes the physical requirements of his job sometimes difficult and perhaps even more so because he fails to look after his leg properly. If I had one complaint about this novel, it would be Strike’s continued difficulties with his leg. Come on Strike, look after your leg! Yeesh. I don’t look after myself perfectly all of the time but if I had a chronic problem, I hope I would do so better than Strike does his leg.

Robin struggles with her personal life as well as with her new career as a private detective. Her family believes she should not be doing the job she is doing because of the danger element but Robin knows that she has landed where she needs to be. This is the work she has always dreamed of doing but never made an effort to pursue.


Rowling says that she wrote this book while writing a play and two screenplays for Harry Potter’s world. At 650 pages long, Lethal Weapon goes on as Rowling’s books tend to. Some readers wish they could cut out a bit but if you enjoy a well crafted story, you will appreciate the plot, characters and insights given in this novel. As The New York Times says in their review, sometimes more is better than less.

The Guardian’s review says that this book contains much "highly inventive storytelling” and there is no surprise there. J.K. Rowling is a master at doing exactly that.  The Guardian goes on to say that “there is much here for mystery fans to enjoy” and I agree completely on both counts. Lethal White is HIGHLY RECOMMEND by me for you if you love a good, long detective story. You will, of course, have to read the first three books first. You can find all of Robert Galbraith’s books on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White on Amazon.
More J.K. Rowling reading on Movie Treasures By Brenda.
Follow the Review This blog on Pinterest.





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Friday, March 1, 2019

Somewhere in France Book Review

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson, A Book Review

Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War by Jennifer Robson


I believe that I read more books set in the years surrounding the Second World War then I do set in the First World War so the time frame of Somewhere in France felt a little different to me when I first picked up the book and the claim that it would be “especially satisfying for fans of Downton Abbey” was somehow a little off-putting to me. Can anything compare to our beloved Downton Abbey?

However, somewhere in France delivered a solid story. As a matter of fact I just finished it moments ago after putting aside all of the other things that I should have been doing this morning and leaving my husband to cope with the mess in the kitchen on his own. Don’t worry, he was up to the task.

Somewhere in France is the story of Lady Ashford (Lilly), her brother the Viscount Ashford (Edward) and his best friend Robert Fraser (Robbie).

Lilly breaks with her wealthy family in order to do the work she wants to do in support of the Great War. She is not content to stay home, find a husband and raise a family so she learns how to drive and joins the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and becomes an ambulance driver.

Edward, who previously was not much more than a spoiled aristocrat, joins the war effort in the trenches where he finds success leading a group of men.

Robbie, who originally hailed from slums in Scotland but who managed via a scholarship to become a talented surgeon, is assigned to a field hospital where he serves as Captain Fraser.

They all keep up a stream of good, old-fashioned correspondence, which helps them maintain close ties. They continue to do so even after Miss Ashford, as Lilly calls herself after her break with her family, is assigned as an ambulance driver to the same field hospital that Robbie works at.

Somewhere in France is most definitely a love story though it takes a while for that love to be discovered and then years for it to be exposed.

WHAT TO BE AWARE OF IN THIS BOOK


Somewhere in France Book Review
If you decide to read this book, you might like to know that there is a lengthy sex scene and that, of course, there is violence.

Since all three are working near the front lines in the Great War, it is inevitable that this story includes scenes from the injuries received by those fighting the war and those injuries and the resulting treatments were not nice for the patient or the professional who had to treat him.

You might not expect the fairly lengthy sex scene. However, I think that it was handled beautifully. It demonstrates how some women, particularly those in the upper class, were so protected from realities of life that they knew literally nothing about sexuality and reproduction.

There is some discussion on the website GoodReads about this very issue Some writers call the scene short, which I would not. Others comment about how it important the scene was for the relationship of two adult individuals who would have been married years before if not for the war and because of the historical facts it demonstrated about the lack of knowledge about procreation on the part of the main character and presumably other women of the era.  Lilly's partner was actually forced into the position of educating her on the topic. As one writer said, the scene is not anything like Fifty Shades of Grey. It is beautifully handled though perhaps longer than it needed to be. If this subject matter is of concern to you, you might like to read the discussion for yourself by visiting GoodReads.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Don’t let these things turn you off this book. Somewhere in France is definitely a page turner, a love story with drama and suspense and a look into the life of people who lived and worked directly on the battlefields during the Great War, the war to end all wars. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. I have to say now that I agree with the comment on the cover that if you love Downton Abbey, you will enjoy this book. You can find your copy in whatever format you prefer on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

More Downton Abbey Reading:

Buy your copy of Somewhere in France on Amazon.
Watch the Downton Abbey Christmas video parodies.
Find the beautiful Downton Abbey teacups.
Discover the period drama Lark Rise to Candleford.







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Monday, February 18, 2019

The Girl They Left Behind Book Review

The Girl They Left Behind Book Review

The Girl They Left Behind: A Novel by Roxanne Veletzos


I have read a number of books since I last wrote a post here on Review This and I had to do a bit of a  debate with myself as to which one I would write about today since they have all been such good stories.  Please stay tuned for more reviews of books that you should add to your reading list!

The Girl They Left Behind, by Roxanne Veletzos, is a moving story. The title tells exactly what the book is about. Quite literally, a three-year old girl is left behind in Bucharest, Romania in 1941. Her parents abandon her on the steps of an apartment building in the face of Nazi persecution with the hope that she might somehow survive.

What a brutal decision. At first I struggled with this book because it seemed not just heartbreaking but also outlandish that anyone would abandon such a young child and expect her to survive in a place where people would not be quick to take in an unknown child. I know these things and worse happened, but I still struggled at first with this theme.

The little girl is rescued and then left with an orphanage until eventually a wealthy family adopts her and renames her Natalia. Because of her age, she quickly puts all early memories of her birth parents behind her though of course, the abandonment would haunt both her birth mother and father forever.

The story is slightly unusual because it deals with the persecution of the Jewish people in Romania and of communist life behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union. I have read numerous similar stories set in other countries like France, Germany and Poland but I am not sure if I have read another one set in Romania and I expect I have read few set behind the Iron Curtain.

Anyway, the story is a tangled story of survival that spans decades and eventually sees Natalia give up her adoptive family and her love in order to start a new life in the United States.

The story is one of those impossible-but-true stories. It turns out that the author, Roxanne Veletzos,  was born in Bucharest and eventually moved to California and that this this book was inspired by her mother's life though I do not know if in fact she was abandoned by her parents.


Highly Recommended


The Girl They Left Behind is in my opinion very well told. It is engrossing; you will not be able to put it down. It is about family and love and history. It features drama and suspense and even has an ending that will satisfy you. Yes, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me.

If you enjoy historically based fiction like Sarah's Key, The Nightingale, The Ragged Edge of NightAll The Light We Cannot See, The Piano Maker and The Orphan Train you will enjoy this book. You can buy your copy in the format of your choice on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Girl They Left Behind on Amazon.
Find more HISTORICAL FICTION on Review This!






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Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Review

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book ReviewThe book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the story of an elderly movie star named Evelyn Hugo who has decided to allow an author to write the story of her life. A tell all, no holds barred. For reasons known only to herself, Hugo picks an relatively unknown, inexperienced young magazine reporter named Monique Grant. In doing so, she astounds both the publishing house and the young woman.

Monique is at a low point in her life. She is newly divorced and frustrated with her unsuccessful career so she accepts this writing job without knowing why she has been chosen. She hopes that she will find success through the sought after story of a reclusive actress.

Immediately after announcing that she wants to have this book written and picking Monique, Hugo puts her to work and the two spend long days in her New York apartment discussing her life story. Hugo arrived in Los Angeles in the 1950s and had a very successful acting career until she finally left acting in the 1980s. As is obvious from the cover, she has seven husbands during that time frame. She has been ruthless in her choices and efforts to get what she wants and along the way found a few great friends and one forbidden love. Of course, it turns out that there is a connection between Monique and Evelyn.

This story is a trip through the Hollywood of times gone by, in both the good and the bad aspects, and it is also a voyage of discovery in which both women find out what it costs to face the truth. It deals with sexuality including LGBTQ, with race and with strong women in the 1940s and 1950s and in the current day.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Review by Taylor Jenkins ReidIs The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo recommended by me? Yes, I enjoyed the book. It was an easy read but be warned that Grant is a not-very-nice woman who will go to any means to get what she wants and that the book includes many of the vices we associate with Hollywood. If you are interested in the history of Hollywood, I believe you will enjoy this story as I did.

The Historical Novel Society says, "Evelyn, her husbands, and others may be composites, but the story is fresh, and the end reveal is worth the wait." I agree.

I spent the entirety of the book wondering if it was linked in any way to the actress Elizabeth Taylor and her seven husbands and eight marriages and a bit of research cleared up the mystery. I do wish there had been a tagline like "based on the lives of real Hollywood actresses."

Anyway, when interviewed by Pop Sugar, author Taylor Jenkins Reid said she was inspired by true stories like those found in Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversation and Scandals of Classic Hollywood. Ava Gardner had herself hired a ghost writer to write her story and shared so many secrets with the writer that the book was eventually cancelled and not published until both Gardner and the writer had passed away. Jenkins Reid drew on many stories from real life and yes, that included the lives of Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth.

In the Pop Sugar story, Jenkins Reid said that she hopes we learn from this story and that "Hugo can teach us a lot about how to get what we want out of this world." Jenkin Reid goes on to say that she believes "It is time for women to get ours (but that) we've got to go out there and take it. (That) it is going to be uncomfortable, but that she thinks the rewards will be there for us. We need to find the confidence in ourselves to say, Pay me what I'm worth. Promote me when I deserve it. Don't take advantage of me. Don't underestimate me."

Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? Will you be adding it to your reading list? Are you interested in the history of Hollywood or could you care less?

See you
at the library!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo on Amazon.
The best Elizabeth Taylor movies.







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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Chapter Book Reviews

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Books
I do not have any wee folk around anymore nor did I ever have any wee girls about the house but that did not stop me from holding throughout my life a love of all things related to Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island.  A hold over from my girlhood, I am thrilled to know that the red headed heroine we loved as girls continues to be introduced to successive generations of girls through some beautiful books and television programming.

Green Gables in Anne Arrives
Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits are a retelling of the traditional Anne of Green Gables story for early readers in an easy chapter book format that have been adapted by Canadian author Kallie George. Kallie, that is, with an e. Anne Arrives was released in 2018 and Anne's Kindred Spirits will be released in 2019.

The first story introduces the young reader to Anne Shirley and sets her down at Green Gables where we all know that she belongs. She settles in, that is, after a rough start when they find out she is a girl and not a boy and after she has a run in with the neighbor, Mrs. Lynde.

The second story introduces Anne and the reader to her bosom buddy, Diana. In this book, Anne enjoys a community picnic, which is her first, although that outing is jeopardized when Marilla's prized brooch goes missing.

Author Kallie George has written a number of other books for children including a picture book about Anne Shirley called Goodnight, Anne. Kallie says that she believes that she and Anne Shirley are kindred spirits!

Anne Shirley in Anne Arrives

The illustrator Abigail Halpin says that she was gifted with a copy of the original book when she was a teenager and that that book still holds a special place on her book shelf.  The illustrations in Anne Arrives, she says, were "influenced by her memories of one of the most beautiful, magical spots on the planet, Prince Edward Island." Her illustrations were crafted using a combination of traditional and digital media.

Both of these books were written with children aged 6 to 8 or in grades 1 through 3 in mind. However, if you child is not quite ready to read these books on her own, you could certainly read them to her. Although intended for children, they are suitable for any one who loves Anne.

I think that this book is wonderful, sharing as it does a simple version of the classic story with the accompaniment of some charming illustrations. My favorite picture might be the two page spread that shows Green Gables in the distance, shown above.  It sets the scene in my head, for sure.

As you can tell, yes, this book is RECOMMENDED by me. I think it is lovely but I am biased toward anything from Anne's world.  However, Kirkus Reviews calls Anne Arrives, "A dream of an adaptation that is an unabashed love letter to the series that inspired it." In my mind that is high praise indeed.

I think that either book would make a beautiful gift for anyone who loves Anne but it would be especially appropriate for any young girl who is learning or will soon be learning to read. If you want to expose your children to Anne's world, you can never start to young!

You can find both books on Amazon by clicking here.  If you are looking to put a great gift set together, you might consider bundling one of these books with one of the beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas found on this page.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits on Amazon.
Find a page full of beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas.


Anne Arrives by Kallie George

Anne's Kindred Spirits by Kallie George






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Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Perfect Mother (2018) Book Review

"Some people are so good at making perfect look easy…"

The Perfect Mother is a psychological domestic thriller as well as a reflection on motherhood. It is set in Brooklyn, New York, where a group of new mothers whose babies are all born in the same month become friends through a mom’s group and go on to support each other through the ups and downs of new motherhood.

These women and one 'token' man are very different individuals and come from a variety of backgrounds. However, they are united through the common experience of motherhood.

When the mothers finally allow themselves to go out for an evening and leave their babies at home, their worst nightmare comes true. A baby is kidnapped.

A few members of the group become obsessed with helping recover the baby and their informal investigation unearths secrets from the past that will test marriages and friendships.

Author Aimee Molloy told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that she came up with the idea of the book when her own children were less than five years old. She was still very aware of “the pressures women face and the choices they have to make, particularly when they’re raising a child in a city with no family around to help.”

Here is the short book trailer, which does not really tell much about the book but definitely gives you a feel for the mood in this story:

The Perfect Mother is Molloy’s first novel. However, she also wrote the very successful New York Times Bestselling biography However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph and she is the co-author of several non-fiction books.

Is The Perfect Mother RECOMMENDED by me? It is. It is a very enjoyable, easy-to-read book with a suspenseful ending that will keep you guessing. Amazon says that it was one of the most anticipated books of the summer of 2018 though I do not know how they measure that statistic. It did go on to become a New York Times bestseller and will soon be a movie. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said it is "gripping and suspenseful and impossible to put down, a true who done it." Pick it up and you will take a suspenseful trip into motherhood.

Of special note is the fact that the grandmothers in my book club who have young grandchildren enjoyed the daily emails woven throughout that detailed what babies might or might not be doing at each stage.

Order your copy of The Perfect Mother on Amazon by clicking right here. If you have read it, do tell what the rest of us what you thought of the book and, if you enjoyed it, do stay tuned for the upcoming movie version of this novel that is being compared to the previous book and movie releases, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of The Perfect Mother from Amazon.
Follow my Pinterest board full of gift ideas for moms and my board full of great books to read.











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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review
Despite the recommendation of every member of my book club and many of my other friends, I have only just finally found my way into the world created by Louise Penny. Penny is a Canadian author who, since the year 2005, has written a series of murder mystery novels that are set in Canada in the romantic Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec.

I was happy to at last have the first book, Still Life, in my hands. I read the first few pages and wondered what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that I did not like the book until page 59, when I met the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. It is he who makes this series great when he solves crimes with careful observation and integrity.  When I met him, I was hooked.

I love Penny's realistic portrayals of people both good and bad, of the careful and sometimes instinctive detective work and of the idyllic, almost cottage-like setting.

Three Pines is a village so small as not to be found on the map and I have yet to look and see if it is a real village or not. It has cozy homes with fireplaces, friendly community gatherings and lots of home cooking. This book, Still Life, and presumably subsequent ones in the series, will make you want to visit and stay at the village's lone bed and breakfast.

I am a city girl but Penny’s books have me wanting to move to a quaint little village somewhere 'away from it all.' However, as we all know, it is impossible to truly be away from it all and despite the lovely location, the people who live here enjoy real life issues. They struggle through whatever life throws at them and even, sometimes, experience a murder or two. When that happens,  Chief Inspector Gamache and his team of of provincial police officers are called in from Montreal to solve the crime.

In Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate the suspicious death in the woods of a local school teacher and secret artist. Is it an accidental hunting death or is it something more sinister? You will have to read the book to find out.

Is Still Life recommended by me? Yes, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as is the second book, A Fatal Grace.

In 2006, Kirkus Reviews wrote that Inspector Gamache was, “Cerebral, wise and compassionate" and that "he was destined for stardom.” They were absolutely correct on both counts and, as they also said, this first novel was a “stellar debut.” Since then, Louise Penny’s books and Gamache’s adventures, have kept fans reading and anxiously awaiting the next book. Yes, I will be reading more of the books in this series in the order as presented here on this book list:

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
he Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
The Hangman
Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
The Long Way Home
The Nature of the Beast
A Great Reckoning
Glass Houses
Kingdom of the Blind

If you enjoy a clever mystery solved in an interesting environment, you should check out the first book, Still Life. You can find it here on Amazon or see all of Louise Penny’s books by clicking right here.

Still Life has been made into a television movie. I have yet to see it but the general consensus of avid Inspector Gamache fans is that the movie was disappointing, which is not really surprising considering the popularity of the books! If you are going to watch the movie, make sure to read the book first!

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Still Life in book, Kindle or audiobook formats on Amazon.

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List




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Monday, June 4, 2018

Reviewing Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

Reading on the balcony with my new Kindle.
I received my new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader nearly two weeks ago and I'm loving it! I was very hesitant to upgrade as I don't like change and often have trouble figuring out new electronic devices. I started researching current e-reader options as my original Kindle (a Kindle Keyboard, remember those?) was starting to have some serious malfunctions after all these years. I felt forced to shop for a new e-reader before my old one just stopped working. I have to say that so far I'm very excited about my purchase. My new Kindle is awesome! I like it so much that I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

New 6" Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader 


My new Kindle has a 6" touchscreen. It is slightly smaller than my first Kindle, and easier to pack in a small bag or purse.

This Kindle has built-in lights - no need to buy a separate, external light.

My new Kindle is advertised as having a resolution of 300 ppi. Now, that doesn't mean a single thing to me except that it is easy to see that compared to my original e-reader, the images are GREAT.

I had briefly considered purchasing a Kindle Fire so that I could also read magazines and have color photos. But I'm really glad that I stuck with the Paperwhite for two main reasons: 
My eyes. I am already familiar with how easy Paperwhite technology is on my eyes in general, in the dark while camping, and there is no screen glare when outside during the day. Computer screens strain my eyes. The Paperwhite does not.
Awesome battery. I require the long-lasting battery life of the Kindle Paperwhite. I want to read everywhere I go. That includes camping at The Shack, hiking, and waiting for appointments. There's nothing worse then reaching for an electronic device with a dead battery.

The Kindle I chose:




There are only two things that I'm concerned about so far. Both have to do with the touch screen:
No Buttons. I miss the buttons on my Kindle Keyboard that turned the pages. However, I'm becoming accustomed to turning the pages by tapping the side of the screen. But so far, I still wish for those buttons to turn the pages.
Oops! What Language is That?!  When I unboxed my Kindle I plugged it in to charge and I put it in the cover I bought. During that process, I touched the touchscreen and voila, all of my display turned to a different language! I had the hardest time trying to find anything in the online owner's manual that helped me to visually find the language settings so that I could change it back to English. Finally, with a video review and a lot of guesswork, I was able to make the language change I needed. I think the online owners manual should have more visual aids to go along with the written instructions.

The awesome cover I chose:




My Love Affair with E-Readers


I was aghast when e-readers were first introduced. Who in their right might would want to replace their beloved books with an electronic device?! Oh the horror. You wouldn't be able to read your books outside, or while camping, or while at the beach. What a terrible invention.

Then my son surprised me with a Kindle (3rd generation I think).  I bought a lighted, leather cover to protect it and to help me read it while camping. And I fell in love. I replaced my hoard of books with a single small item. And I found that even at the beach, I just place my Kindle in a gallon sized baggie and it is protected from the sand. Much better than soggy, gritty books after a day at the beach!

The only thing I didn't like about that first Kindle was the images didn't translate very well. Books with maps or drawings didn't always show up well. Or were too small to be read.

I think Kindle e-readers are awesome. They allow me to read anywhere and anytime. I always have my entire library with me. And I'm sure there are plenty of functions that I am not even aware of that others would enjoy. If you've considered buying a new Kindle Paperwhite, I encourage you to do it. I think you'll be glad you did.


Postscript:

Each and every time I've considered updating my Kindle, I've thought of Susan Deppner. She was a Review This contributor and a friend to many. I thought of her as the best Kindle advisor there was. I did refer back to the Kindle Reviews she had written for guidance. 

Susan, you may be gone from this earth, but you are not forgotten. I know you'd be as excited about my purchase as I am.






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Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Tales of Beedle the Bard Collector's Edition Book Review

The Tales of Beedle the Bard Collector's Edition Book Review
The book The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a spin off from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world. Using words translated by Hermione Granger, a thin volume was created. It includes text and pictures from J.K. Rowling and commentary from Professor Albus Dumbledore. Packed between the covers are five stories, fairy tales called The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Warlock's Hairy Heart, Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump, and The Tale of the Three Brothers. These stories share glimpses into the wizards of Harry Potter’s world.

J.K. Rowling created an affordable ‘ordinary’ copy of the book that mere mortals like you and I could afford. You can read my review of that book here. Interestingly, it was created with a wide variety of covers and even re-released in 2017 with a new U.S. cover.

Rowling also created seven magnificent copies of this story by hand. Those amazing books were given to people closely related to the series and one of them was auctioned for charity. Take a look at those amazing books here in this Youtube video and see what those that have been sold fetched at auction.


I do wonder what one of those original handcrafted books would sell for now. Anyway, Rowling also released a collector’s edition of the book as shown in the pictures on this page. This version was more readily available though still much more expensive than the 'ordinary' hardcover book.

This limited printing collector's edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a beautiful set that was produced exclusively for sale on Amazon and released on December 4, 2008. I do not know what it originally sold for but as I write this page today in the spring of 2018, I see that it is available on Amazon at prices over $200 and on eBay where it appears to be more affordable, selling at prices starting around $100 and ending at about $230.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard Collector's Edition Book Review
Included in the collector's edition are the five fairy tales that you find in all of the versions of this book. However, they are packaged in a handsome case that looks like a wizarding textbook straight from the library at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry making it a wonderful addition to a Harry Potter fan's collection.

Inside the case you will find ten prints that can be framed, a reproduction of J.K. Rowling's introduction, ten pictures that are not found in the standard version of the book and, packed inside a velvet bag, the copy of the book itself, which is embellished with a metal skull, corners and clasp as well as replica gemstones and a green ribbon.

All profits from the original sale of the book in 2008 originally went to the Children's High Level Group. Of course, that is not likely the case today. Click here to read more about the Collector's Edition of the Tales of Beedle the Bard on Amazon.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard on eBay.
Find a great selection of Harry Potter gifts here.
Add a Harry Potter coffee mug to your collection.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review

The Mysteries of Nature


I've always loved learning more about nature. My library is full of field guides and other references to help me learn all I can about the natural world I see in my yard and in the wider area around where I live. That's why I couldn't resist picking up Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A field guide to the world in your backyard when I found it at a thrift store. It's part of The Curious Naturalist Series, and I'd like to get the rest of the series because I enjoyed this book so much. Let me tell you why.


Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review


Let's Consider Porcupines


I have never personally seen a porcupine up close. I've never seen one at all except in a zoo. Most of my information on this interesting animal came from reading The Adventures of Prickly Porky by Thornton Burgess when I was a child. Learn How I Learned to Love Thornton Burgess Books . That work of fiction was written by another naturalist. In his animal stories, the animals were dressed in human clothes and talked to each other, but their animal habits were accurately portrayed. Usually the animals interacted only with each other, with an occasional human encounter.

Sy Montgomery, in her Curious Naturalist Series, shares her own research and animal interactions. She says we can tell individual porcupines apart by their faces, just as we tell humans apart by theirs. This makes them easy to study because it's easy to follow individuals. Also, they won't run away from you unless you seem to threaten them.

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


Ever wonder how porcupines mate? Montgomery reveals that mystery. Did you know that porcupines can not only quill other species, but also themselves and other porcupines. They can quill themselves when they fall out of trees. And, yes, they do occasionally fall out of  trees. God protects the porcupines from such incidents by putting a natural antibiotic in their quills so their injuries won't get infected. This also helps people who get quilled, not that you want to experience that. Montgomery tells you how to safely remove a quill if you need to.

Porcupine quills can kill. They do it by working their way farther under the skin by means of microscopic barbs until they puncture vital organs. Some African porcupines have quills a foot long.  One naturalist found 600-pound tigers that porcupines had killed this way. These are just some of the things I learned about these creatures from this book.



How the Book is Arranged


This book is arranged by season. The chapter "A Porcupine's Private Life" was in the spring section, where one can also learn about bird courtship, ferns, frogs' mating rituals, and the life that can survive in various types of dry mud that come to life when rains liquify them to wet mud again. The author also discusses various kinds of edible wild plants here

One of my favorite chapters in the summer section was "Messages in Spiders' Webs." It seems that E.B. White wasn't as far off as we thought when he wrote Charlotte's Web, but it's only garden spiders that leave these messages in their webs. I didn't know all the other ways spiders use their webs until I read this book.

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review
Spider Catching Fly, © B. Radisavljevic


Another fun summer chapter was "Never Sleep with a Skunk." This section also suggested activities kids can do with fireflies. In addition I discovered a lot I didn't know about tide pools, mosquitoes, fossils and rocks, invasive plants, and lightning.

The autumn section actually has a chapter "In Praise of Flies." As I wrote in another post here, I'm more interested in How To Trap Those Flies That Drive You Crazy than I am in observing them, but I still learned some interesting information. I enjoyed the chapters on mushrooms, animal migration, fall flowers, beavers, chipmunks and squirrels, and wild turkeys more.

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review
Squirrel at San Miguel Mission


The winter section features many subjects I'd not thought much about before. Did you know that you can discern the history of some regions by looking at the trees in the landscape? I didn't. I was more familiar with what I read in "Tidal Treasures: Exploring the off-season beach." What I learned about the crow and the snowy owl was fascinating to me. I've never seen a snowy owl, but I have certainly seen crows. I didn't know how intelligent they really are.

The winter section finishes off with information on reading animal tracks and sign, how small mammals like the shrew survive winter, and the life below pond ice. I've never lived with ice and snow, so these chapters were all new to me.

My Review of Nature's Everyday Mysteries

Although the book calls itself a field guide to the world in your backyard, its illustrations are sparse -- only eight pen and ink drawings in its 152 pages. The drawings are detailed and of high quality. Since no other illustrator is credited, I'm assuming Montgomery illustrated the book herself. The book is actually a compilation of a series of nature journal columns Montgomery wrote for the Boston Globe

Rather than being an actual field guide in the usual sense of the word, the book is actually an aid to understanding the sights we normally don't think much about as we pass them. In the Introduction, Montgomery explains how she came to write the chapter on mud (originally a monthly column). One March the sights outside seemed boring. It would appear almost nothing interesting was happening to write about. Everywhere she turned she only seemed to see mud. She thought of visiting her friend's farm in the next town, but then she remembered that her friend's steep driveway was probably all mud. It was then she remembered how full of life dried mud became when water was added and got the idea for her column. When you read it, you will  never look at mud season the same way again. 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves nature and wants to look beyond the surface one sees. Its short chapters were just right for entertaining reading when I only had short amounts of time to spend. Like most nature books, it helped me better understand the intricacies of God's creation. I plan to read as many other books by this author as I can afford. 

You can find these books by this best-selling nature writer at Amazon.





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