Welcome to my blog where I share book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott

Kate Alcott brings alive the turmoil in Hollywood during the mid-1940s and early 1950s in The Hollywood Daughter. Told through the eyes of a Hollywood publicist's daughter, Jessica Malloy, Hollywood studios and stars battled against communism and the Catholic Church. Despite Ingrid Bergman's fall from grace when she began an affair with Roberto Rossellini, she remained Jessica Malloy's idol throughout her childhood. Ms. Alcott has a gift for weaving a fictional story through the historical past of Hollywood's glamour and turmoil. Up against The House of UnAmerican Activities Committee (stamping out communism) and the Catholic Church's Legion of Decency (against immorality) Hollywood had many rules to follow. According to the Hollywood production code, no on screen kiss could last more than 3 seconds, even married couples had separate beds.

From the cover:
The Swedish star Ingrid Bergman of Casablanca fame shocked the staid world of 1950s America by having a baby out of wedlock with her Italian lover, film director Roberto Rossellini. Bergman has been idolized in the United States as an icon of purity, and her fall enraged most moviegoing Americans, especially the legions of Catholic fans who identified with her roles as a nun in The Bells of St. Mary's and a saint in Joan of Arc.
This headline-grabbing scandal throws seventeen year old Jessica Malloy's life into confusion. Her father, a publicist for the Selznick Studio, has helped build Ingrid into a star. Not only does the fall of Ingrid expose dangerous cracks in the marriage of Jesse's strict Catholic mother and her cheerful ambitious father, it threatens to rob Jesse of her childhood hero. . . Jesse must navigate the gray area of moral contradictions that can shape and ruin lives including hidden truths about her own family.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George was a book club choice and there's a lot of discussion points in the novel.
The beginning was a little confusing, especially as the person Jean Perdu refers to doesn't have a name but instead there is a blank line each time she is mentioned and it isn't until later that we discover more about his lost love.
Despite the title, the story isn't about a bookshop, but rather a barge full of books from which Monsieur Perdu sells books - not just any books - he calls himself a literary apothecary and chooses books which he feels the reader needs to immerse themselves in. In fact the book isn't about Paris either because Monsieur Perdu leaves Paris on his barge, along with friends he accumulates along the way, and travels France's waterways, heading for the home of the woman he lost twenty years before.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Dazzle Ships of World War I

I recently came across an article about the Dazzle Ships of 100 years ago. During World War I, German U-Boats were trying to sink any merchant ships bringing food and supplies to England (they sank over 900 ships in ten months). To camouflage the ships, artist Norman Wilkinson came up with the idea of dazzle or baffle painting to fool the perception of the ships by painting in geometric slanting designs which was thought to confuse the estimation of torpedo firing when the ship was viewed through a periscope.  

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson

The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson is an inside look (through the eyes of a wet nurse, Mette) into the French Court of Charles VI the turbulence that follows his reign, and his daughter Catherine de Valois.

My thoughts:
I love historical novels and the Agincourt Bride introduced us to the French court through a commoner. I did think the story might have been more insightful if it had been interspersed with Catherine herself as the narrator, but Joanna Hickson did a good job at letting the reader know about the controversies and life during the reign of the Valois family. I did note that the cover is very similar to the cover of The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien. The model is wearing the same clothes and crown and may be a good follow up read to the Agincourt Bride.
The Forbidden Queen is released in Italy on 24th February 2015 as La ...

From the cover:
When her own first child is still born, the young Mette is pressed into service as a wet nurse at the court of the mad king, Charles VI of France. Her young charge is the princess, Catherine de Valois . . . As Catherine approaches womanhood, her position seals her fate as a pawn between her brother, the Dauphin, and the Duke of Burgundy.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

The Lonesome Dove series is a bit complicated because there are prequels and sequels of the prequels and the television version is even more confusing.

Although I love Larry McMurtry's writing I haven't read Lonesome Dove but decided to check out the television/Hallmark DVDs from the library and have a week-end (or more) binge on the beloved Lonesome Dove characters.
Larry McMurtry, who lives in the small town Archer City, Texas is a talented and knowledgeable writer about Texas and its history and it shows in his writing.

The Novel Series:
Dead Man's Walk (prequel published 1995)
Comanche Moon (sequel of the prequel published 1997)
Lonesome Dove (published 1985)
Streets of Laredo (sequel published 1993)

The Television Series:
Deadman's Walk - Set in the early 1840s written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
Comanche Moon - Set 1850-1860 written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
Lonesome Dove (mini series) - Set in 1870s written by Larry McMurtry - teleplay by William Willliff
Return to Lonesome Dove - Set in 1880s written by John Wilder (Larry McMurtry was not involved)
Streets of Laredo - Set in 1890s written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
Lonesome Dove:The Outlaw Years (begins 2 years after Lonesome Dove ends.) Written by Larry McMurtry and several other writers.
Lonesome Dove: The Series (spinoff of The Outlaw Years and follows Newt Call in Montana) Several writers including Larry McMurtry

Note: The actors playing the main characters in each of the DVDs changes so it's sometimes difficult to adjust to who is playing which character.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mermaid's Bane - 5th Cozy Mystery, Lowenna Series

Mermaid's Bane - the Fifth book in the Lowenna series - is now available on Amazon.

When Flora, one of the ladies in the Lowenna Knitting Circle, dies suddenly it puts everyone on edge. The woman the Circle refers to as The Mouse, surely didn’t have any enemies, but is there more to Flora than meets the eye? And why are women who wear a mermaid pendant suddenly in danger? Gia can never miss an opportunity to uncover a mystery, but she has much more to contend with - her pregnancy, and the possibility of neighboring shops to Lowenna Antiques closing.  And then there’s a newcomer who gathers bouquets of flowers – some of which are known to kill!

Other cozy mysteries in the Lowenna series:
  1. A Graceful Death
  2. High Tide
  3. Gwinnel Gardens
  4. Trouble at the Manor

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Let me start off by saying I loved A Man Called Ove and thank goodness Fredrik Backman ignored the many rejections he received and continued trying to publish his book. It has now sold nearly 3 million copies worldwide. A good lesson for writers - don't take rejections seriously.

Fredrik Backman takes the reader through an emotional roller coaster with many laugh out loud moments and a few tears. I couldn't quite figure out the setting as it's written in English not American English, but when Ove talked about Kroner, I looked up the writer's bio and realized it was set in Sweden.

This was a book club choice and I'm so glad someone picked it for us to read.

From the cover:
At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots . . . People think him bitter. But must a man be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered on his face all the time, doesn't always tell people what they want to hear, and remains silent when he has nothing in particular to say?

“You will laugh, you will cry, as his heartbreaking story unfolds through the diverse cast of characters that enter his life, all uninvited. You will never look at the grumpy people who come into your life in quite the same way. A very memorable read.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune, Best Books of 2015