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Archive for January, 2013

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1933) by Blanche Wiesen Cook

Paperback: 608 pages
Publisher: Penguin; (March 1, 1993)
ISBN-10: 0140094601

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Eleanor’s Wedding day to her cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Book Description

Eleanor Roosevelt was born into the privileges and prejudices of American aristocracy and into a family ravaged by alcoholism. She overcame debilitating roots: in her public life, fighting against racism and injustice and advancing the rights of women; and in her private life, forming lasting intimate friendships with some of the great men and women of her times.

This landmark biography provides a compelling new evaluation of one of the most inspiring women in American political history. Celebrated by feminists, historians, politicians, and reviewers everywhere, it presents an unprecedented portrait of a brave, fierce, passionate political leader of our century.

I never read about Eleanor Roosevelt before and I am totally embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know that she was a Roosevelt even before she married Franklin, and that they were cousins.  So when I tell you that “history” was not interesting to me when I was young… this should prove it! 

It is rare when I try to blame someone else for my own failings, but in this case I will say I feel it truly is because of a teacher.  (but also my own fault for not climbing above it).  I do remember in elementary school (about 4th or 5th grades) being very interested in history.. back when we were learning of Columbus and Magellan and the likes.  But when I went to high school the teacher I had was also one I had in 6th grade. My first mark in his class was a “C” (they had stopped giving plus’s and minus’s) so I went to him for encouragement and asked if I might have been a “high C”.  What he said ruined the rest of my learning history in high school.. I remember his words like it was yesterday and can quote them: You were a C student in 6th grade and you will always be a C student. I can tell you I never read another history book.  Never took a test (signed my name and turned in the paper) never learned a thing and got straight C’s.  So when I hear of a teacher that actually encourages his or her students I say, Hooray for teachers!.

Ok enough of that.. let me talk about this book, which is volume one. 

The book begins with the relatives of Eleanor (yet born) which did confuse me somewhat since as I mentioned, I did not know she was already a Roosevelt.  Her father was an alcoholic but something her mother did do for Eleanor was she never really told her or talked down about him, and so when Eleanor found herself with a missing father most of the time she fantasized him as her hero. And for many years he did write to her and kept in touch in this manner but seldom was around.

The book covers her years of learning including 2 yrs of schooling in an all girls school in England.  Soon after debutante Eleanor had to make the coming out parties where she eventually met FDR.

After their marriage the book covers the birth of their 5 children, Eleanor’s interests in all things concerning woman’s right’s and also interests in education, and help for the poor.  Things which would remain with Eleanor her entire life.

There is much more to the book and I have to say I found it very interesting even when it concerned a lot of politics, which I am not particularly found of .  Eleanor Roosevelt was quite the lady and no matter how much you think you know about her.. there is always something more to find out about her.

This is volume one of 2 volumes written by Blanche Wiesen Cook.  Book 2 goes from 1933-1938, which is far from her entire life since Eleanor did not pass away until 1962.  There are many books about Eleanor Roosevelt and I would say if you have any interest in her at all that you should pick up and read at least one of them, because she was an amazing lady.

 

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Pern Book Covers

Because Carl did a read-a-long for Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight, I thought I would drag out my Pern books and share the art work involved with Pern.

Just below (animated) are 13 hardback books from Pern and their artists are listed.

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I Put the hardback book that’s below, separate because The Girl Who Heard Dragons cover is not only painted by Michael Whelan but the inside of the book has many pencil drawings by him  and I thought I would show a sample inside the book.  Michael Whelan is the artist that has done the most artwork for the Pern series. (that makes 14 hardbacks so far)

 AMwhelanAnimation2[1]

The next Hardback (#15) is a book that holds all 3 books of Harper Hall.  Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.

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Below are the soft back copies I have of Harper Hall.

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I also have 2 copies in Hardback of The White Dragon. (#16) The only of the original trilogy that I have in hardback.  One is signed inside by Michael Whelan (thanks to Carl!)

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Below is the only copy I have of the original Trilogy and it is a soft back cover.

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Number 17 hardback is a Doubleday book that contains all three books of the original trilogy.

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…and last but far, far, far from least… a small pocket paperback signed by Anne McCaffrey!  And that’s the end of my Pern collection.  One day I hope to own Dragonflight and Dragonquest in hardback.. and the individual Harper Hall books in Hardback..then I could say: I have them all!

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Forever More: Gandalf

My girlfriend Michelle gave me the posters from the Hobbit for Christmas.. today I got a frame and hung Gandalf!….  I may have to “switch” the posters as wall space is limited *sigh*… but I am sure enjoying Ian!!

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(the blue is glare)  Sure wish we knew the artist.

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I think I need to try to see the Hobbit one last time before it’s gone.. I’ve seen it twice but each time I look at this poster I want to see it again!

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The “IT” Girl…

Clara Bow: Running Wild by David Stenn.

Product Details
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Cooper Square Press (March 13, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0815410255

(1905-1965)

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Book Description

Hollywood’s first sex symbol, the ‘ It ‘ girl, Clara Bow was born in the slums of Brooklyn in a family plagued with alcoholism and insanity. She catapulted to fame after winning Motion Picture magazine’s 1921 " Fame and Fortune" contest. The greatest box-office draw of her day—she once received 45,000 fan letters in a single month, Clara Bow’s on screen vitality and allure that beguiled thousands, however, would be her undoing off-camera. David Stenn captures her legendary rise to stardom and fall from grace, her success marred by studio exploitation and sexual scandals.

Stunning realization to think this “silent movie star” was “before my time” when in reality she died the year I got married.  I think that makes her: not so much before my time.

I pick up biographies of celebs from “long ago” because I like to read about the “beginnings” of movies and Hollywood and how it all began.  Many biographies I am disappointed in because all it is a filmography.  They only talk about what movies they made in order of how they made them. 

I found this book somewhere in between.

The beginning of Clara Bows life was not one anyone would ask for.  And up until the time she entered a contest in hopes of being able to make movies her childhood was no better.  Having only reaching 7th grade in a rough time in history.. the odds aren’t good at making a better life for yourself.

All that happened to Clara when she was young had a very profound impact and made her into the woman she became.

My biggest shock was finding out when she died and that at my age then I should have known more and heard more about her than I did.  In my teenage youth, silent movies were “long gone” and so were many of those who made them.  One doesn’t realize the actors like Gary Cooper began with silent movies. We don’t think of it because we grew up seeing him in talking pictures.  But many did make the change.. we just don’t remember them that way.

The other big shock was how Paramount treated their biggest star.  Financially they abused and used her.  Something that would never happen in today’s society.   But even with all of that Clara Bow managed to remain “The IT Girl” up to the end.

There were times in the book I wish it wasn’t so much about which movie she was making bit did absorb the facts of how terrified she was when she had to make her first talking motion picture.  Actors of today would go to a teacher of accents to try to duplicate Clara’s deep Brooklyn accent and her use of word’s such as “ain’t”.

I enjoyed the book but found it lacked the background (in general how things were and what was happening historically at the time). 

My favorite biography still remains to be Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy: The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy  by Simon Louvish.

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I did my, *getting to be usual*, stupid thing and went to the Friends of the Library….

Once there I found a nice puzzle for my girlfriend..and then found myself standing in front of "the history section"!!!! Gah! ME?! In front of the History section???!!!!! Anyone I went to school with should get a good laugh out of that one!  (ya hadda had been there!)

The thing is, … since I read Citizens of London (about our helping England and our entry into the war) I find more interest in that particular time period in history. 

A history channel on cable recently showed a few shows on Hitler and I found myself watching them.. and now since reading Citizens of London and learning that Edward R Murrow (his name being “familiar” because of his old radio and television shows when I was young(was I ever young???.)) was one of the people in London  trying to help both Churchill and Roosevelt, while all the time sending newscasts back to America.  I happen to come across a book on his life for 1.00 ..guess what came home with me.. heh.  And you bet I checked the index to see if there would be some chapters about him in London and there is!!

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I am doomed, doomed, doomed!  This has got to be my year of reading Biographies, autobiographies, memoirs etc.  As I look through my books I have more than I even remember picking up!!  I know 90 percent of them have come from the Friends of the Library!

I go there often under the guise that I am keeping an eye on a book that I want .  It’s volume 1 of The Pickwick Club, by Dickens.  The book is not in good condition but the color illustrations in it are in fantastic condition.  They want 65.00 for it and it is not in good enough condition for that kind of money.  I am told that once a year they have a sale on their “expensive” books.. so I wait and hope it doesn’t sell and then hope the sale price is a big deduction.  Considering it’s condition and the fact that it’s only volume one of a two volume set.. it’s got to be waaay cheaper!  Meanwhile each time I go I find yet another book, and it’s always the same thought: for a dollar I might read it.  ARGH!   I hope I live long enough to read all of them!!!

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Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1ST edition (2009)

ASIN: B004SYNUFG

Pages: 563

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Book Description

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

This book has been on my shelf for a loooong time!  So long that I forgot why I bought it!  So you might say I went into this YA book nearly blind (I did read the inside flap!)

If someone said to me.. this is a book about a teenage boy who falls in love with the new girl in town even though she’s a bit strange I probably would never have picked up the book.

But from the very beginning these two authors had me .  Their writing is really enjoyable.  They tell their story and toss in a bit of humor now and then and make “unusual” even more unusual if that’s possible!

Ethan and his “family” and Lena and her family are both a bit strange.  And the more you read the stranger they get !   Even though you pretty much figure out just how strange Lena is, they continually come up with some surprises so I can honestly say this book moves at nearly warp speed! 

No sooner would I put it down than I’d want to pick it up again! 

Like I said, I am not into teenage romance so it certainly wasn’t that aspect that kept me reading.  It was exceptional writing and things happened so fast you always wanted to know “what next” …and you found out pretty fast!

Without giving much away I will say I enjoyed the characters very much ..I wish I could remember who reviewed it long ago that made me buy it but I can’t believe I waited so long to read it!

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If you are following Carl’s read-a-long of Dragonriders of Pern and find that you are liking it quite well I thought I would show a list from Wikipedia of the vastness of Anne’s writings about Dragonriders and Pern, along with a little information of her awards on the series… all of the links bring you back to Wikipedia  (fyi).  But before you read all about Pern I have to say that a great part of the original trilogy was brought to life by Michael Whelan with his most fabulous cover art. Click the link to see all the Pern related art that he did!  Thank you Michael Whelan for helping to bring them to life for me!

Awards

Weyr Search won the inaugural Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1968 and Dragonrider won the Nebula Award for Best Novella in 1969. (Both were finalists for both awards.) Dragonquest, The White Dragon, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern and All the Weyrs of Pern were among the five annual finalists for the best novel Hugo Award.

Original trilogy

These stories take place immediately before and during the Ninth Pass, about 2500 years after landing (AL).

  • Dragonflight 1968, by Anne McCaffrey (1968; composed in part of McCaffrey’s first two Pern novellas, Weyr Search and Dragonrider, originally published in 1967)
  • Dragonquest 1970, by Anne McCaffrey.
  • The White Dragon 1978, by Anne McCaffrey (1978; although published prior to Dragondrums, The White Dragon continues the adventures of certain Dragondrums characters; McCaffrey recommends reading Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums before The White Dragon; The White Dragon incorporates McCaffrey’s story "A Time When")

The trilogy was released 1978 in omnibus edition titled The Dragonriders of Pern by Nelson Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club.[4]

 Harper Hall trilogy

These stories take place immediately prior to and concurrently with those depicted in Dragonquest and The White Dragon.

The Harper Hall trilogy was released 1984 in omnibus edition titled The Harper Hall of Pern by Nelson Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club.[5] Dragonsong was subtitled "Volume One of The Harper Hall Trilogy" on the front cover of the Bantam Spectra edition, March 1986.[6]

Other fiction by Anne McCaffrey

 

p1[1]  Dragonflight

 p2[1]  Dragonquest

p3[1]   The White Dragon

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The Black Dahlia Files by Donald H Wolfe.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (September 5, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0060582502

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Book Description

In 1946, Elizabeth Short traveled to Hollywood to become famous and see her name up in lights. Instead, the dark-haired beauty became immortalized in the headlines as the "Black Dahlia" when her nude and bisected body was discovered in the weeds of a vacant lot. Despite the efforts of more than four hundred police officers and homicide investigators, the heinous crime was never solved. Now, after endless speculation and false claims, bestselling author Donald H. Wolfe discovers startling new evidence—buried in the files of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for more than half a century.

With the aid of archival photos, news clippings, and investigative reports, Wolfe documents the riveting untold story that names the brutal murderer—the notorious Mafia leader, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel—and the motive—an unwanted pregnancy resulting from Short’s involvement with the most powerful figure in Los Angeles, Norman Chandler. But Wolfe goes even further to unravel the large-scale cover-up behind the case. Wolfe’s extensive research, based on the evidence he discovered in the recently opened LADA files, makes The Black Dahlia Files the authoritative work on the murder that has drawn endless scrutiny but remained unsolved—until now.

The Black Dahlia Murder.. yes, I remember hearing of it but did not remember a whole lot about it, and so when I found this book at a book store that was closing out for 3.45 I picked it up.

First I have to say that, even thought I feel sure I knew, seeing the photo’s of the dead in  this book made me realize just how desensitized I have gotten from bloody and gory movies.  Of course the fact that the photo’s aren’t that good and in black and white helped too.

The book was fast reading and was exactly what the cover said it would be about.  “The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder”.   The book opens with the murder of Elizabeth Short: aka The Black Dahlia.

Hers was the most gruesome murder ever recorded at the time.  She was found in a field very close to a sidewalk, naked, badly beaten and cuts on her face and torso and her body was cut in half at the waist.    The book goes from there to the possibilities of “who done it” from back in the 40’s up to current of the books writing.

What I also found interesting was the mention of some of the stars back then (after all this did happen in Hollywood) and a lot of mention of some of the well known mafia from that period of time.  It is well believed that the fact that it was never solved was because the Los Angeles police were “paid off” by the mob and they could get away with anything… even torturous murder.  I did find the piecing together of any of the information found me making my own opinions…but of course no one ever knows everything to be able to make a conclusion.

As gruesome as this murder was I found the book very interesting.  Maybe because the knowledge of the murder was on the edges of my memory but not really there.  It probably held as much interest to me as the Jack the Ripper murders in England.

This would be a most excellent book to read for RIP !  I guess I shoulda waited huh?!

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Sometimes I wonder where my brain is. (sometimes??)

The other day I was digging in my closet (remember: tiny apartment means squeezing stuff into small areas)… when I came upon this vest my brother had made….

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It belongs in that Tolkien collection I posted about…

Not only did my brother sew this leather vest but he drew Eowyn on another piece of leather and then sewed it to the back of the vest…

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I am too fat for it to fit around my waist but I wore it “open” when I went out the other day.. remembering again that I live in a place where everyone is over 65.. no one even noticed the vest!  (depressing I know!)

My brother had also painted the Nazgul on a piece of leather but never got around to making another vest. (bummer)  I am not certain but I’m pretty sure he copied the drawings from an old Frank Frazetta book.  It’s such a shame that they sit here in a closet and never get seen. I sometimes wish I could sell it but leather isn’t cheap and neither is a “one of a kind” drawn piece of artwork, and I’d never get even close to it’s value.

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I think that’s the end of the Tolkien collection.

I think.

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The Dead Secret

The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins.

Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 9, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1438287356

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From the Publisher

"I want something I can "read" read." That’s a sentiment familiar to most readers, expressive of a desire for a thumping good tale, for stirringly compelling storytelling. The immensely popular Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins has long been a favorite with those who find themselves in the mood to "read" read. Originally published in 1857, "The Dead Secret," with its powerful blend of sensational drama and gripping psychological portraiture, shows Collins to be a master storyteller indeed.

I have to say that I really like Wilkie Collins. 

I have read, The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Haunted Hotel, some short stories and now The Dead Secret, and there’s not a one I haven’t enjoyed!

The Dead Secret begins with a woman dying and her personal maid by her side.  The maid is made to write down a secret the woman has kept from her husband and didn’t have the will to tell him even on her deathbed.  The maid (Sarah) is made to swear she will give him the letter upon her death. She is also sworn (upon threats that she will haunt her if she doesn’t do this) that she won’t destroy the letter.  That she won’t take the letter with her should she leave the house,  and that she would answer all of his questions upon his reading the letter.

Not wanting to give him the letter or be questioned after her death, the maid hides the letter in a portion of the mansion where no one goes and runs away.

The book then picks up years later when the child of the dead woman is getting married.

Collins skillfully twists and turns the rest of the story around the maid that ran away and the child who married and just gave birth to her own child.

He keeps the book very interesting and weaves in such wonderful descriptions of the old mansion and the times in which the story takes place.  As always this story was written for the chapters to appear in periodicals  and then put together as a book.  If you have read any Wilkie Collins and enjoyed his writing this book will not disappoint you!

Many (many!) thanks to Debi for finding and gifting me such a wonderful book!  It will be a keeper with my other Wilkie Collins books!

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