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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 9, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0743298039

(guess what I just finished reading… again!)

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Amazon.com Review

Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield’s debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.

There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father’s shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it’s the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:

"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone."

She [Vida] shrugged. "It’s my profession. I’m a storyteller."

"I am a biographer, I work with facts."

The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida’s plan. The transformative power of truth informs the lives of both women by story’s end, and The Thirteenth Tale is finally and convincingly told. –Valerie Ryan

So… I felt the need to reread something that I know I liked so that I really didn’t have to be “spot on” with my comprehension as I already knew what happened.   This is my fourth reading of The Thirteenth Tale.

Since it has been at least 2 years since I last read the book I knew there would be some things I hadn’t remembered.  Not long ago Diane Setterfield came out with a second book called Bellman and Black.  I think I was expecting something along the lines of Thirteenth Tale, which it was not, and so I was disappointed in her second book, but if she puts out a third one day I will certainly read it.

This book is the type I like for mysteries.  Vida Winter asks Margaret Lea to write her biography.  She comes to  learn that there are many family secrets to discover. Many she gets told by Vida (slowly) and some she stumbles upon and manages to find for herself. 

Of course, unless you are extremely sharp, the end has a bit of a twist…which I did start to figure out, but still came as a surprise. (well ok.. not a surprise since I have read it before).   Setterfield’s writing in this book is just fabulous.  No matter how many times I’ve read it, I figured it would be a slow go for me they way I have been lately with my reading. But, she hooked me good and even with my problems I could never let the book lie for very long without picking it up again for yet another chapter.. or two… or three. (short chapters!!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… if you want a creepy, try to figure it out mystery… this is a book you should read!

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Series: Quality Paperbacks Series
Paperback: 504 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press(February 2000)
ISBN-10: 030680476X

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The long and eventful life of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) was full of rich experiences and courageous actions. The niece of Theodore Roosevelt, she married a distant relative and Columbia University law student named Franklin Delano Roosevelt; he gradually ascended throughout the world of New York politics to reach the U.S. presidency in 1932. Throughout his three terms, Eleanor Roosevelt was not only intimately involved in FDR’s personal and political life, but led women’s organizations and youth movements and fought for consumer welfare, civil rights, and improved housing. During World War II she traveled with her husband to meet leaders of many powerful nations; after his death in 1945 she worked as a UN delegate, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, newspaper columnist, Democratic party activist, world-traveler, and diplomat. By the end of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt was recognized throughout the world for her fortitude and commitment to the ideals of liberty and human rights. Her autobiography constitutes a self-portrait no biography can match for its candor and liveliness, its wisdom, tolerance, and breadth of view—a self-portrait of one of the greatest American humanitarians of our time.

So………

July turned into a month of doctors, tests, and not feeling well..so the fact that this one book even got read is a small miracle!

I am sure I would have read this a lot faster had it not been for the things mentioned above and then add to it that I have read numerous books on Eleanor Roosevelt and I have to admit that this book didn’t have anything I didn’t already know.

I will say though that as a writer you had the feeling that you were sitting down with Eleanor and listening to her talk.  Very relaxing and very “I feel I know you”.

A small disappointment is that she actually had a good part of this book talking of Franklin and his Presidential choices and decisions.  Again, I had already read a number of books on them both and I was ready for “just Eleanor”.

I will always wish I had written to her when I was in High School, since she passed after I graduated. Such a fabulous lady. Such empathy. More people should be like her.

If you would like to read about her there are many books out there.. but if you want to “hear her voice” then this would be a good book.  (It’s also much shorter then most books on the Roosevelts!!)

I know history is not for everyone.  And it took me until maybe 2 yrs ago before it interested me.  But I think my next “history” book will be on someone else. Not sure who yet  :)

The Bookman’s Tale

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books(May 27, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0143125389

 

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From Booklist

Antiquarian bookseller Peter Byerly immerses himself in his trade to overcome grief from the loss of his beloved wife a few months earlier. Now plying his trade in England’s Cotswolds instead of the North Carolina site of his tragedy, Byerly happens across a small watercolor portrait of a woman who looks startlingly like his late wife. And so begins an obsessive hunt to find out the origins of this painting. Lovett shifts his narrative around in both time and setting, recounting the lovers’ first meeting, in the library at a southern college, and the blossoming of their seemingly improbable love affair: he a bookish, repressed teen, and she an heiress. Byerly discovers the portrait’s Victorian provenance, and then the author moves his story even further back, to the time of Shakespeare. Fans of mysteries, of love stories, and of rare books will all find moments in Lovett’s novel to treasure. –Mark Knoblauch

A person obsessed with the authenticity of old books and documents…  how could this NOT be a good read?  The answer is:  it’s a good read.

It jumped around a bit and I wasn’t sure I could keep straight where I was when, but I did manage and that alone says it couldn’t have been too hard because one of my favorite words is :  huh?.  

This was a good incorporation of a mystery, murder and love…not much left when you have all that!

I can’t say I have any big interest in “first editions” or “authenticity” of things..but this book absolutely kept me opening it over and over.  I was also glad it had short chapter, which is another thing that makes me read more, and more often.

Happily this is my 4th book for June and seeing as how badly my reading has dropped off due to “doctors” and such, I feel quite accomplished that the four books were interesting enough to keep me reading!

My books for June were:

Get Happy…………………….Gerald Clarke………(528 pgs)(Judy Garland)
This Time Together…………….Carol Burnett………(288 pgs)
The Devil’s Workshop…………..Alex Grecian………(386 pgs)(Scotland Yard Murder Squad)
The Bookman’s Tale…………….Charlie Lovett……..(384 pgs)

The Devil’s Workshop

The Devil’s Workshop by Alex Grecian.

Series: Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad (Book 3)

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (May 20, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0399166432

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They thought he was gone, but they were wrong. Jack the Ripper is loose in London once more.
Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad faces the most shocking case of its existence, in the extraordinary new historical thriller from the author of the acclaimed national bestsellers The Yard and The Black Country.
London, 1890. A small group of the city’s elite, fed up with the murder rate, have made it their business to capture violent criminals and mete out their own terrible brand of retribution. Now they are taking it a step further: They have arranged for four murderers to escape from prison, and into the group’s hands.
But the plan goes wrong. The killers elude them, and now it is up to Walter Day, Nevil Hammersmith, and the rest of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad to hunt the convicts down before they can resume their bloody spree. But the Murder Squad may already be too late. The killers have retribution in mind, and one of them is heading straight toward a member of the Murder Squad, and his family.
And that isn’t even the worst of it. During the escape, one of the killers has stumbled upon the location of another notorious murderer, one thought gone for good, but who is now prepared to join forces with them.
And Saucy Jack has learned some new tricks while he’s been away.

This is the 3rd book by Alex Grecian about Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad that I’ve read.

I have to say I’ve liked ALL the books and glad to know there will be more along the way!

However, having said that I have enjoyed this latest book, I will say that it may not be to everyone’s liking, even if they have read the first 2 books.  This book (since the evil character is “maybe” Jack the Ripper) is  a lot more descriptive in the murders and what is done to the bodies.  

And having said that… if you’ve ever read anything on Jack the Ripper before then the descriptions in this book are no worse then any other.   Surprisingly, I may have said a mental “ewww” here and there but it didn’t stop me from reading every word of the book.

I like this “murder squad” Grecian has created.  I think it’s created lol, it may have been true for all I know!  Walter Day and Nevil Hammersmith are excellent characters for this type of book… and I look forward to the next edition…whenever that may be!

This Time Together

This Time Together by Carol Burnett.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press(March 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 030746119X

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From Booklist

In her second book, comedy legend Burnett looks back fondly on her long and successful career in short, easily digestible chapters that part the curtain on her private life. Told in a chatty, intimate way, the stories encompass the star’s childhood; early days as an actress doing bit parts in New York City, appearing on game shows and various variety shows; her 11 years hosting The Carol Burnett Show; and life after the show ended its run. Readers will enjoy the comical reminiscences included, such as how she once used her famous Tarzan yell to disarm a mugger, funny interactions with fans who recognize her on the street, and the origin of famous scenes from the show, such as Scarlett O’Hara in a curtain-rod dress. Burnett doesn’t shy away from sad subjects and occasionally touches on personal losses. She also dishes about her famous costars and friends, including Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Julie Andrews, and, of course, Carol Burnett Show regulars Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. Fans of both the show and the actress will enjoy this mostly lighthearted though sometimes poignant look back at Burnett’s career. –Kathleen Hughes

You can’t ask for an easier read than this book.  Most chapters are only one or 2 pages long. And many pages wind up having a chuckle to even some guffaws before those 2 pages are over.

As the above review tells you, Carol keeps this book on the positive side, but there are also moments that can tug at your heart.

The chapters fly by as she speaks of all the people involved in her show and many of the guests that went from making her a “fan girl” to a life time friend.

This book was totally enjoyed and if you ever watched her show I think you’d like this book too. 

Carol is iconic, and in her show she always let her talented cast have center stage when things “got out of hand” ..which just means Tim Conway and Harvey Korman being in uncontrolled laughter .

Go ahead..

Read it..

You’ll enjoy it!

The Blue Angels…

As most who follow my blog or facebook knows, not so long ago at the small airport of Vero Beach was an air show.  The guest stars were the Blue Angels.

I had never seen them before (or any like them). I live close enough that many of them flew right over where I live.  I was thrilled no end!  For reasons, I assume are from my depression and anxieties, I cried.  But then, something happened to me that hasn’t happened in well over a year… I looked forward to “tomorrow” to see them again!

The simple fact that for 4 days I looked forward to looking up in the sky and to feel the rumble and hear the sounds of their jets, led me to write them a letter after they had gone.  I wanted them to know that besides being “fancy jets” and besides doing shows to entice young men to join the service, that they made a very old lady smile and “look forward” to the next day.

It may not mean a lot to these young men, but it meant a lot to me and so I wrote them and told them so..

Today as I went out to check my mail this large mailing envelope leaned against the wall my my door… when I opened it..I cried…again! geez!  The Blue Angels had done it again.. I wish they were here again!  I still can’t believe that someone in their office took the time to send this old lady such a gift… I can never thank them enough.  Never.  And I hope some day I get to see them again!

 

 

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Get Happy

Get Happy by Gerald Clarke

Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Delta (March 6, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0385335156

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From Publishers Weekly

Judy Garland’s on-screen longing for a land where "sorrows melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops" was answered with a life plagued by emotional agony, dependency on drugs and alcohol, exploitative relationships, suicide attempts and physical violence. This exhaustively researched and illuminating biography by Clarke, whose bestselling 1988 life of Truman Capote won critical praise, is as compassionate as it is wrenching. It follows the basic themes established by the best of the more than 20 biographies and memoirs of Garland that have appeared since her 1969 death (in particular, Gerald Frank’s 1975 bio, authorized by her family). But while most portray Garland as tormented by inexorable and sometimes inexplicable inner demons, Clarke brings to his work a far harsher evaluation of how the singer was treated by her employers, family and lovers: her mother gave her amphetamines at the age of four; producers at MGM sexually harassed her as a young teen; husband Vincente Minnelli cheated on her with men soon after their marriage; husband Sid Luft stole millions from her; fourth husband Mark Herron had an affair with Garland’s son-in-law, Peter Allen (then married to Liza Minnelli). Many of Clarke’s revelations are of a sexual nature–he mentions affairs with Sinatra, Glenn Ford, Yul Brynner and Tyrone Power as well as with women. Other revelations, such as of Garland attacking her young son, Joey, with a butcher’s knife, are simply shocking. Yet Clarke never exploits this volatile material as cheap gossip; instead, he deftly weaves it into a detailed, respectful and haunting portrait. (Apr.)

It’s sometimes strange how you think you know a lot about a celebrity and yet, of course, you don’t.

Oh, I knew that Judy’s mother was the one who started her on her problems with “drugs”. Her excuse was that Judy earned money that they needed so it was ok to give her pills to sleep and pills to vitalize her .

Then when MGM came along they “owned” Judy and basically the pills just continued.

As I read this book it seemed her whole life she searched for love …love like she had from her father.  Unconditional love.  Not the sort her mother doled out.  Most all the men Judy thought she was in love with and married were much older then she was.  Always searching for the father figure. And someone who would take care of her and her money.  Instead they all used her and spent her money and this multitalented lady ended up (more than once)  broke.

Her choice of men stunk.  Liza’s dad, Vincente Minnelli was gay. But back then everyone hid that fact and married so they seemed “normal”.  How horrible to have to live like that.  But that’s how it was. One of her other husband’s, Sid Luft, father to Lorna and Joey really went through Judy’s money like it was never ending. 

I felt somewhat like this author wanted to shock people with all of Judy’s “affairs” and “marriages”, and yet they were what always caused her breakdowns and always left her feeling unloved and unappreciated.

Judy Garland had a very hard and sad life.  She had moments of glory and happiness, but they never lasted long. I find that to this day I feel sad for Judy Garland.  She gave all she had and got little in return but drugs, getting used, and unhappy.  But the book did make me feel I understood how this all happened to her..and there were people along the way that really thought they could help Judy .  It’s too bad they didn’t succeed.

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