I really enjoyed this read. Imaginative and oh so winterish, it came at the perfect time, on a rare gloomy California day. As the sky darkened, this tI really enjoyed this read. Imaginative and oh so winterish, it came at the perfect time, on a rare gloomy California day. As the sky darkened, this tale grabbed me and I forgot about everything else (including the ManU vs. Liverpool game). I'd say that's a pretty good way to countdown to Christmas.
Unlike most folks, I believe in fairyland. When the earth shakes here, and it shakes so often we don't always feel it, I know the Trolls are stomping around in their living quarters below. It's a given. If humans had more respect for the Trolls, we wouldn't have so many quakes. Well, that's what they say.
My only unhappiness with this read is that it ended far too quickly for my liking. Magic endures.
Christmas came early this year! A whole set of uncut Robert Louis Stevenson books. RLS! This is better than coffee ice cream, meat pies, and pecan rolChristmas came early this year! A whole set of uncut Robert Louis Stevenson books. RLS! This is better than coffee ice cream, meat pies, and pecan rolls. Shazam!
I have already reviewed the story itself here, so I will use this review for the actual physical book. As we increasingly turn to e-books in the current century, it is always a pleasure to hold a book which was made when printing presses were considered to be state-of-the-art and most folks couldn't even afford a book, let alone a set.
Those Scribner sons did a mighty fine job with this volume. Red cloth with gold lettering and the type of paper one doesn't see anymore. This is a well-brought-up book, the kind you can introduce to others with pride. Gorgeous. The previous owner(s) took good care of this baby, and I hope to continue the tradition.
Book Season = Winter (it's a winter's tale)...more
Winter, 1941. Winston Churchill was on his way to meet the President of the United States.
He was going to spend Christmas at the White House. He wouldWinter, 1941. Winston Churchill was on his way to meet the President of the United States.
He was going to spend Christmas at the White House. He would not be stopped by a mere storm. He would not be stopped by a hurricane.
So begins the story of the Christmas meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt, where the two leaders of the free world partnered to establish the greatest military alliance in history. History and Christmas in one package, beautifully illustrated by the great Barry Moser.
I enjoyed the text and the illustrations, as Wood and Moser make almost as good a team as FDR and Winston. Adults should enjoy reading this to children at holiday time, and the little ones will love Moser's transparent watercolours.
Trust me to the bitter end.
Book Season = Winter (blood, toil, tears, and reindeer)...more
This title caught my eye because my mother spent time in a WWII prison camp and had to find her way home when the war ended. Because she had spent herThis title caught my eye because my mother spent time in a WWII prison camp and had to find her way home when the war ended. Because she had spent her childhood and teenage years walking and bicycling through Europe, she knew how to get back home, but she had to do so without food and with the fear of the rampaging Russians behind her. But really, what do you do? Where do you start? How do you manage without food or money or help? Who should be trusted? The relief at not being killed in camp gives way to the terror of lawless lands and the loss of a defined daily structure brings a whole new fear.
Before the war, Henriette Roosenburg was a middle-class Dutch girl with a passion for books and literature. After the Nazis took over the Netherlands, she joined the Dutch Resistance. The Germans caught her and sentenced her to death and she was sent to prison to await the final act. As she explains, there were four classes of prisoners in German jails:
1. The top class of prisoners were the nutbuckets (rapists and thieves). This group received extra privileges and good food and the opportunity to help run the camps.
2. The next class was composed of black marketeers, who also had enough to eat and could receive mail.
3. The third class was the political prisoner. This group was treated badly, but they at least had the right to get medical help.
4. The fourth and lowest class received no medical treatment and food was so scarce, most of these prisoners weighed less than 100 pounds. They lived in solitary confinement while awaiting execution. Roosenburg belonged to this group, also known as the Night and Fog People.
For the author, the walls came down in May of 1945, when she and her fellow cellmates discovered the Germans gone and the Russians unlocking cell doors. In the first tinge of excitement, each prisoner sang their national anthem, thrilled at the prospect of going home. Then they got the bad news: the Poles and Czechs could go home because they lived in the East. But the Russians refused to allow any liberated prisoners to make the trek to the West. Hope vanished for Roosenburg.
From the very first page to the very last page, I was completely absorbed in this book. Nothing goes as planned, even though there really isn't a set plan. Just get home. She doesn't really discuss her work as part of the resistance, so ego is left at the door. After reading this, my admiration for my mother went even higher.
Most memoirs and biographies are usually perfect for the summer. You can sit by a beach and dip into the self ramblings without having to interrupt yoMost memoirs and biographies are usually perfect for the summer. You can sit by a beach and dip into the self ramblings without having to interrupt your sand count. But this is a book of a different grade, mainly because it's the autobiography of Ken Russell, so the cold days of winter will suffice. Ken Russell's ramblings require a fireplace and the safety of four walls.
The Bronx reminds me of the Gaza Stip.
There are memories of his childhood and his unusual take on men who like to dance. But mostly, there are his tales of movie sets and travel and dealing with high-octane actors. Russell was the least conventional of the British directors and his words reflect that picture. He is also hounded by fans who actually believe his films are for real to the point of obsession.
The men who have invited me to wrestle nude in front of a log fire are legion.
I thoroughly enjoyed Russell's musings. Life for him was an adventure, one which he could stylize and put to the music of the great composers. Take shelter.
The packaging of this little hardcover book is rather nice...purple cloth cover with an inlet picture of a medieval townscape. So, of course, I purchaThe packaging of this little hardcover book is rather nice...purple cloth cover with an inlet picture of a medieval townscape. So, of course, I purchased it. I'm a sucker for good covers.
As you live, you find yourself among a community of fellows-or so you believe.
This is a first novel, one combining magic and proto-realism. Past and present. The real and the unreal. It's a bit of a mindbender, that's for sure. Politics and the subversion of the creative mind come to the forefront, in a roly-poly fashion.
This is the natural course of things, that we rein in our energies, defer to the agencies of others and, for the sake of the common good, hew to a common course.
I liked the journal style of narration and the take on modern humanity. It's the type of book meant for a programmer sitting in a cubicle in a vast fortress of an office.
This book caught my eye a few years ago, because of the look on the cat's face on the front cover. Those eyes, those whiskers, that look of sheer supeThis book caught my eye a few years ago, because of the look on the cat's face on the front cover. Those eyes, those whiskers, that look of sheer superiority. Yup, that's a feline. While I don't believe the words "good" and "cat" should ever be in the same sentence, I nevertheless snatched up this volume to read about a legendary cat doctor, who was a feline specialist before the current cat-yoga/cat-internet/cat-everything began.
To a cat, human beings are an inferior, servile race, always to be kept in their places, with occasional rewards if they perform well. To love a cat is uphill work, and therefore very rewarding.
'Uphill' is an understatement. One really needs to create a salesforce-type CRM system, based on a cat's moods, food-of-the-hour, sun location, bedding changes, and time of the year. If I had the time, I would create such an app. In the meantime, one has this wonderful collection of stories told by Louis J. Camuti, who was the first veterinarian to devote a practice solely to cats. In New York City, no less! As a child, he was sick at home with fever when a stove accident started filling his house with gas. His cat jumped on his chest to waken him. At that point, he decided he would become a cat doctor when he grew to be an adult. Sweet.
Mr. Camuti tells some marvelous tales, remembrances of the adventures he would face every day as he made his round of house calls. There are celebrity memories and some wacky escapades...wacky being an adjective any cat owner would use at least once to describe feline relationships. Camuti was also one of the first specialists to advise against buying kittens from breeders, a stance which put him years ahead of his time.
Let's face it - if you are going to get a kitten from a pet shop or a breeder you are running the risk of getting a sick animal.
This is a book I will probably re-read in the future, preferably on a rainy day when The Cat and I are both stuck in the house. Just one year after this publication, the elderly doctor was dead, but thankfully his love of the feline race lives on in his words.
As I write this, Creampuff the Cricket Killer is in Full Indifference Mode.
This poor book. It managed to survive more than a hundred years via the hands of other owners. Then it fell into mine, and now the spine is off and thThis poor book. It managed to survive more than a hundred years via the hands of other owners. Then it fell into mine, and now the spine is off and the pages seem to gasp when I get near. It really isn't my fault. I just love Marlowe! While others went on and on about Willy Shakespeare, I always stood firm behind my mighty poet, whacked-out though he was.
...Marlowe's place is at the heart of English poetry, and his pulses still thrill in our verse.
How can anyone read Marlowe's TAMBURLAINE THE GREAT and not feel the power of the words...words which seem to have as much power as the weapons of torture used on the conqueror's victims. Jove will stoop before his sword!
In 1593, as the plague raged through London yet again, Christopher Marlowe sought safety in the little village of Deptford. Turbulent blood was spilled when Marlowe was slain in a drunken quarrel. He was buried beneath the towers of St. Nicholas. His words live on.
One thought, one grace, one wonder, at the least, Which into words no virtue can digest.
Book Season = Winter (ride in triumph through Persepolis)...more
1.) This really isn't a Christmas book. The cat of the title was rescued on Christmas Eve. It has a Christmas name ("Polar Bear"). Methinks it was pac1.) This really isn't a Christmas book. The cat of the title was rescued on Christmas Eve. It has a Christmas name ("Polar Bear"). Methinks it was packaged for the money-spending holiday back when bookstores were bursting with buyers eager for new stories about...cats.
2.) This cat was rescued from a Manhattan street in 1977. 1977! NYC at its filthiest, dimmest, and scariest. Before the Yuppies arrived. Poor grimy cat.
3.) This was written B.C.O.N. (Before Cats On Internet). Cleveland Amory was a pioneer in animal protection and he wrote several engaging books about Polar Bear. If he was writing today, there would be cute little GIFs about Polar Bear, with dancing reindeer.
4.) This is written under chapters titled as, His Foreign Policy, His Hollywood, His Fitness Program...you get the picture. Polar Bear OWNED Mr. Amory.
5.) Okay. I really like this book. Any human who sacrifices their lifestyle to rescue a 1977 New York feline is okay with me.
This is a very comprehensive alphabetical listing of all the psychopaths involved in murder cases since the mid-19th century. Along with the Ripper anThis is a very comprehensive alphabetical listing of all the psychopaths involved in murder cases since the mid-19th century. Along with the Ripper and Bundy and Manson, there are whackos you wish you never read about.
When reading stories about sunken ships, one doesn't usually think of the men who were in charge of saving or even raising the wrecks. In this book, tWhen reading stories about sunken ships, one doesn't usually think of the men who were in charge of saving or even raising the wrecks. In this book, the focus is strictly on the adventures of a group of 'Wrecker Captains' who had to figure out how to salvage the ships and the corresponding commercial goods. The main character is Captain Whitelaw, who lived from the time of the majestic wooden clippers to the sidewheel steamers to the eventual iron hull monsters.
This isn't a Ballard-type book about famous ships that sank, instead it's a previously undocumented view of (mostly) stranded ships, which are boats that hadn't completely sank yet or were stuck on rocks. Whitelaw invented new ways to salvage ships and to raise them so that the viable goods could be saved but also so the ships could actually be used again! There are plenty of historical pictures which provide a nice review of the swift progress of nautical improvements in the second half of the 19th-century along with a biography of the inimitable T.P.H. Whitelaw and his career which mirrored that of the growth of the city of San Francisco. Born in Scotland, he arrived in California with just a few coins in his pocket and through his famous work ethic and entrepreneurial solutions, he built his own shipping empire.
Book Season = Winter (they always sink in cold water) ...more
In 9 A.D., three Roman legions were annihilated in the Teutoburg Forest in ancient Germania. This effectively stopped the Roman Empire from further exIn 9 A.D., three Roman legions were annihilated in the Teutoburg Forest in ancient Germania. This effectively stopped the Roman Empire from further expansion into the area between the Rhine and the Elbe, a decision which would eventually affect Rome when centuries later the Germanic tribes would overrun the Empire. In other words, this was the greatest military defeat during Emperor Augustus's reign, which had him screaming the immortal lines of:
Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!
This book combines this historical event with the metal detector wanderings of Tony Clunn, a British officer who discovered the remains of the battle in the 1980s while searching for Roman coins. It is a fascinating story, for history and for archaeology. Clunn puts his ego aside and gives credit to German scholars for their assistance, but it is amazing how his non-flagging work ethic led to such a great find.
Ever since seeing, and hearing, Brian Blessed scream about this devastating misfortune on the telly production of I, Claudius, I have always wanted to learn more about these lost men and more about the tribes who defeated them. The author devotes time in each chapter to his specific detection and recovery, while also fictionalizing the possible last moments of the haughty Romans. For me, this was the weakest part of the book, as it would veer from reality to historical fiction. Other readers may enjoy this, but it was difficult for me to the point that I tried skipping pages, which is a GoldGato no-no. Otherwise, the research and writing is good.
Years after the great massacre, the Romans returned to gather two of the lost eagle standards, where they found and rescued a handful of remaining POWs from the Germans. The stories told of torture and burnings, thus producing a centuries-long fear of Germania. The tribal leader who produced the greatest German victory, Arminius, was eventually poisoned by his own family. Karma.
Book Season = Winter (cold brooding forest)...more
And time does indeed flit away, burbling and chortling. Cheshire Charles of Carroll created such whimsical poWe are building little homes on the sands
And time does indeed flit away, burbling and chortling. Cheshire Charles of Carroll created such whimsical poetry, it was frabjous to read his collected poems, albeit usually in a public space with curious onlookers trying to determine exactly what was in my book. That's because I had the gorgeous clothbound edition with the knockout dragonesque design by Coralie Bickford-Smith.
All in the golden afternoon Full leisurely we glide
There is so much to love and marvel over with Mr. Dodgson. Snobby phantoms, mock turtles, fluttery bakers...each page a candy store of words and letters. Every time I thought I had a new favorite, but onward came the next page and memory started anew.
They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care; They pursued it with forks and hope
Obviously, there are untold numbers of Lewis Carroll poetry books, so let me make a case for this specific volume. A member of the now famous Penguin Cloth Classics, it merits a place in your collection, even if you don't purchase p-books. Meticulous notes, ribbon marker, and bio plus the aforementioned cover art make this a Top-Shelf addition (and a nice little gift, if need be).
I think of that strange wanderer Upon the lonely moor
That was Lewis Carroll, a strange wanderer in a lonely world.
Book Season = Winter (when midnight mists are creeping)...more
Here is a winter tale for the young adult set, evoking magic and gothic melodrama in a fairly easy read. The timeframe of the story takes place duringHere is a winter tale for the young adult set, evoking magic and gothic melodrama in a fairly easy read. The timeframe of the story takes place during the Dead Days, that sargasso sea of time between Christmas and New Year's Day, when 'spirits roam'. This would be a perfect read for pre-teens and younger adults who yearn for more magic-infused tales, post-Harry Potter.
I enjoyed the plot and the main characters, particularly Valerian. Any story lead named after a long-dead (and stuffed) Roman emperor will always have my attention.
Book Season = Winter (but with an October feel)...more
When Jack London wrote The Call of the Wild, he based it upon the real-life doggy he knew when he was up in the Yukon Gold Rush. London returned to CaWhen Jack London wrote The Call of the Wild, he based it upon the real-life doggy he knew when he was up in the Yukon Gold Rush. London returned to California upon becoming ill, but what happened to the pup? This book attempts to answer that question, fictionally.
No one knew how many men were lost to the oceans of snow that fell during the winter.
In this book, the author comes up with a story about Jack The Dog being stolen, abused, rescued, and then finding his path. I liked the idea, and I was involved in the story. The writing is simple, for older children, and the engravings by Barry Moser are simply marvelous. I also used this book for tutoring an adult student in reading English, which gives you an idea of the simple sentences.
But let's get back to Mr. Moser. The illustrations here are 'relief engravings', in which pictures are cut into boxwood. The characters come alive, with my favourite being a blind wolf. Barry Moser's books are collectibles, and that's the shelf where this puppy...er, book...is going.
Also, the overall presentation is a beaut. The typeface is Bembo. I don't think I have any other books in Bembo. Nice work by Great Plains Press.
Books in my possession have to prepare themselves for a long reading experience, as I don't like to rush the words on the page. I figure it took someBooks in my possession have to prepare themselves for a long reading experience, as I don't like to rush the words on the page. I figure it took some brave author a long time to write those words, so I will respect the effort and enjoy the read.
Not this book...it went through the can't-put-it-down speedway and was completed in a couple of days. Jon Krakauer sure knows how to draw the reader into the subject matter, be it storms, fires, angry mountains, or lost boys. The journey of Chris McCandless was absorbing, if only because it went against the basic American mantra of make money-then make excuses lifestyle to which most young men aspire. Krakauer could make a phone book wistful for adventure, and it's his devotion to his subject which won me over very quickly.
For some reason, this book makes people angry. While reading it on an airline, it inspired a pro/con dialogue from my row, as they argued for/against the protagonist. Whatever. Enjoy the read and the young man who realized there are no guarantees in life.
Book Season = Winter (food supply dwindling)...more
The premise for this book hooked me immediately. A Jewish Golem meets a Jinni from Arabia in the New York of 1899. Great starting point. Throw in a loThe premise for this book hooked me immediately. A Jewish Golem meets a Jinni from Arabia in the New York of 1899. Great starting point. Throw in a long selection of characters from Syria and Eastern Europe and one has the quintessential immigrant experience to the New World.
...a city of strivings and lusts and heartaches.
If the historical Big Apple could have been portrayed with a bit more detail, I would have been happier as a reader. The potential is there, as Wecker describes the gaping maw of the New, yet characters seemingly find each other easily in the densely packed city and I never felt that sense of displacement, which any immigrant feels upon entering a new land. Also, there was a stretch just past the mid-point when everything started to be sewed up too quickly. It needed a Dickensian touch instead.
But, I enjoyed the story itself (imaginative), I loved the descriptions of the Jinni's abode in the desert, but especially I enjoyed the character of Malik/Schaalman. A very good debut.
Book Season = Winter (Central Park with snow)...more
The Stuarts. Stubborn to the point of losing realms and heads (literally), they made quite the impact on the Scottish and English thrones. Allan MassiThe Stuarts. Stubborn to the point of losing realms and heads (literally), they made quite the impact on the Scottish and English thrones. Allan Massie always has fun with his subjects and he clearly enjoys writing about this house of royals who originated in Brittany and eventually ruled a united Britain.
Family feeling may easily be extinguished when power is the prize.
This is a chronological examination of each reigning Stuart personality from Robert II of Scotland to the Young Pretender. The family name changes from Steward to Stewart to Stuart as we pass by the 'mournful procession of the Jameses'. None of the first five Scottish kings named James survived past the age of 43, but they had quite a lively time of it.
Parliaments are like cats; they grow crabbit with age.
When we finally get past the high drama of Mary Queen of Scots, we get the rather strange James VI/I, with his strong will and love for pretty boys. This is the monarch who unofficially united the British isle, only to have his son Charles I, who acted more like a university don than king, lose control and his own head. Luckily, the swinging Charles II restored power to the Crown and can truly be remembered as the last dynamic King of England. Alas, brother James VII/II lost it again and there went the path toward the future Hanover dynasty.
Unlucky in weather and religion, the Stuarts were excellent when young but quickly deteriorated as they aged. Even Queen Victoria referred to them as that 'unhappy race'. Still, Massie makes an excellent point in that a family that ruled for more than three centuries should not be considered failures.
Fun to read and hard to put down, I think each reader will discover their own favourite Stuart royal by story end. These royals would make excellent bobbleheads.
With greedy hands, he digs for treasure, and is happy when he finds earthworms!
I found earthworms. This 'new American version' kept me digging and I f
With greedy hands, he digs for treasure, and is happy when he finds earthworms!
I found earthworms. This 'new American version' kept me digging and I found occasional gems. Adapted by C.F. MacIntyre in 1941 with the goal of bringing Goethe to a wider audience, the words and phrases are modern and everything moves along rather quickly. Like the soil turned over by the overworked worm, one gets a rich flow in sections, sufficient enough but not necessarily memorable.
You worry about so many things which may not happen And weep for things you may never lose.
The witches' section is raucous, irreverence created as milkshakes. Mephistopheles remains brilliant in this translation, to the point where I started imagining Ronald Colman-type voicing. Part I does not do Faust himself much good, as here he does not gain sympathy.
You need just what you do not know, and what you really know is worthless.
As any gardener knows, earthworms produce treasure in the rich hummus soil of their work. So, though I did not find the doubloons I was looking for in this version, I nevertheless walked away wealthier for my reading. My recommendation would point this version as a very good beginning to Faust. Alas, MacIntyre never published his translation of Part 2. It sits in a locked box in the UCLA library. Mephistopheles doesn't like to lose.
I'd like to give myself to the Devil, if I weren't the Devil myself!
"The turkey is the truly noble bird. Source of succulence for our original settlers...an incredibly brave fellow who would not flinch at attacking a r"The turkey is the truly noble bird. Source of succulence for our original settlers...an incredibly brave fellow who would not flinch at attacking a regiment of Englishmen, single-handedly."
Ben Franklin was a lover of the turkey, but instead of becoming the national bird of the United States, the fowl became the main course on the last Thursday of each November. It is also the favorite Christmas feast dish for most of the world, so this book is rather handy for the year-end holidays.
"The face of the turkey...is clearly that of a foreigner. No wise man could be mistaken about it." - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
I love this small book because it provides a brief background on the turkey, 'sage' advice on cooking tips, followed by several different recipes for any turkey-related dishes. It's small enough to hold in one's hand which makes it a wonderful reference during the cooking process.
The illuminations by Michael Kluckner, one of my favorite watercolorists, are sly renderings based on the name of each recipe.
Book Season = Autumn & Winter (for the holidays) ...more
This is the 1954 Folio Society edition of Shakespeare's Hamlet, with a nice intro supplied by Richard Burton (before he became THE Richard Burton). AThis is the 1954 Folio Society edition of Shakespeare's Hamlet, with a nice intro supplied by Richard Burton (before he became THE Richard Burton). A great play, obviously, though one which always seems to cause agitation in readers because of the protagonist's lack of get-up-and-go. I always saw Hamlet as a perfect corporate player, one who realizes the odds and then waits like a cobra to strike.
The highlights of this specific edition are:
1. Introduction by Richard Burton The Welsh actor always loved words and he wrote this intro before he became an international boxoffice success. Burton describes the reflections of John Barrymore and John Gielgud on the role, while also noting that everyone has a bit of Hamlet in them.
Here is the play. Read it. The greatness is here in the bald, printed line.
2. Designs by Roger Furse Furse was one of the top set decorators of British film and stage, known for his collaborations with Laurence Olivier. The illustrations are the ones he designed for Oliver's film, capturing the moodiness of scenes.
3. Publication by the Folio Society Always beautifully presented, this is another Folio book to proudly own. Set in 11 point Plantin type and bound in Chatham, this is a Hamlet to park in your driveway (figuratively speaking).