I sure do have a bunch of books about Frank Sinatra. It's not as though I grew up having this as a defined goal in life. Inevitably, I would be in a uI sure do have a bunch of books about Frank Sinatra. It's not as though I grew up having this as a defined goal in life. Inevitably, I would be in a used bookshop somewhere and another Sinatra volume would go home with me. That's how this one hitched a ride home and it's been with me for a while. Published in 1976, when The Man was still very much alive, it aims to be one of those tell-all biographies that ends up being a bit sensationalistic (is that even a real word). Perfect book for summer pool parties or languid days at the beach.
Here's Sinatra, for real, baby! Can you dig it?
Did people talk like that in the 1970s? It seems more in tune with the Swinging Sixties. Anyway, the author is described as a top investigative reporter who has "dug deep" into Frank's life to get at the truth. Of course, with Frankie, one will never really know the full truth, but that's why this mass market puppy is soooo perfect for summer. Read about the Frankster, sip a Mint Julep, put your toes in the water, sigh, then read some more about Mr. S.
A two-fisted, four-letter man in expensive clothes.
For any Sinatra fans, this can be in the collection on the 'for realsies?' side.
Book Season = Summer (don't splash me, baby)...more
Christopher Lee as Dracula. Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein. Oliver Reed as the Werewolf. Hammer Films had all three along with outstanding directorChristopher Lee as Dracula. Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein. Oliver Reed as the Werewolf. Hammer Films had all three along with outstanding directors and cinematographers. The little studio managed to produce some of the best horror films of the second half of the twentieth century, becoming a worthy successor to the Universal Pictures' monsters.
The low-budget movies that Hammer produced were usually in blazing colour, although they made some terrific B&W flicks, too. Like, The Quartermass Experiment, in which a lone surviving astronaut returns to earth with...something.
And The Damned, where radioactively-bred children are accidentally discovered by Oliver Reed's gang...all to the sounds of "Black Leather, Black Leather, rock, rock, rock".
A man leaves his wife to purchase a loaf of bread...and never returns. Did he die? Did he purposely hide? An accident? He just vanishes. Then the storA man leaves his wife to purchase a loaf of bread...and never returns. Did he die? Did he purposely hide? An accident? He just vanishes. Then the story begins, as this is about the wife and how her perception of the world, and herself, changes after her husband is no longer in her universe. Bit by bit, her surroundings take on a different look, a different feel. Even his pictures change. Will she disappear, too, now that her anchor is gone?
Even when named, touched, or crossed through, ghosts lose none of their power or indulgence.
This is isn't a long pull of fiction but it kept me turning the pages. I thought about how we define our lives and stay within our outlined universes. Yet, when something unexpected happens, the present suddenly becomes the past. I felt as though I was in an Escher print.
Written in the 1920s, when the business of America was business, this reprint tells a story of how a handicapped man used his "go-getter" attitude toWritten in the 1920s, when the business of America was business, this reprint tells a story of how a handicapped man used his "go-getter" attitude to overcome the odds. Now in this new century, companies are handing this book out to employees to bring back the old work ethic.
A WWI veteran asks an eminent company executive for a job. In order to get that precious position, the disabled man must pass the Blue Vase Test (which means he has to find this object and deliver it at a certain time). As the reader soon discovers, the task is not as easy as it sounds.
It's a very short book, the message is very simple, and it doesn't take long to read. It's all about loyalty to the task and the organization. For me, the book was okay. It might work better on youngsters just getting into the workforce.
It is difficult to imagine that Rome was once a backwater of the ancient world. Centuries later, the Romans ruled the world, but before the famous empIt is difficult to imagine that Rome was once a backwater of the ancient world. Centuries later, the Romans ruled the world, but before the famous emperors there were the legendary republicans and they are the stars of this book. Starting with the cloudy beginning (Romulus or a bunch of guys who sat on a hill or Aeneas fleeing Troy) until the rise of Octavius, every leader of the Roman Republic is provided with a fleshed-out bio along with a ton of maps and paintings and photos of sculptures. Bravo.
There is Cincinnatus and Cato the Elder and Gaius Marius and Sulla. And the geese who saved Rome are here, too.
The later emperors may have provided the gossip, but the early republicans set the standard for Roman discipline. The amount of information provided here is exceptional, as the book has to cover centuries of rulers. The book has the usual Chronicle Of professionalism. I love these books.
Book Season = Autumn (before the winter of empire)...more
Back in the 1980s, when this book was published, there was a far greater language difference between United States English and British English. ThreeBack in the 1980s, when this book was published, there was a far greater language difference between United States English and British English. Three decades later, the new world order has brought baseball hats and baggy pants to small English villages, along with the proffering of American slang and a flatter sound than that heard years ago. So I was happy to remember I had this book in my collection, as it brought back memories of days when low-cost airfare was only beginning to bridge the Atlantic and Brit Pop was all over the radio.
Flittermouse = a bat Chuntering Along = driving steady and slow Muckleheap = manure pile
This book still comes in handy. Wonky is now a standard word in American offices, while fubsy still hasn't made it across the Pond. Thingummy still ranks high on my list...I used it today at work while looking for that stapler-undo-thingy.
This is one of those books where my outlook differs from others. Actually, it really differs from others. For many children and teenagers growing up iThis is one of those books where my outlook differs from others. Actually, it really differs from others. For many children and teenagers growing up in the 1980s, this was THE book, much as the next generation had the Harry Potter books.
Alas, I just never became involved with the story and became rather bored by it all, which surprised me as I was one of the first purchasers (yup, I bought the hype). I have always liked the colour text, with the green and the red, and it is a very nicely formatted edition (not sure if later editions have that first edition look). I have wanted to like this book. Really. But, no. It somehow passed me by. Inevitably, I will meet another book person who will tell me how important this book was to them, and I always try to steer the conversation to other areas.
In Saint Petersburg, the icebreaker ship Krasin still survives. That sentence may not mean much to most folks, but for anyone interested in Arctic expIn Saint Petersburg, the icebreaker ship Krasin still survives. That sentence may not mean much to most folks, but for anyone interested in Arctic exploration, it's very important. It was the Krasin which came to the rescue of the survivors of the famous Italia airship crash. As the world flies by, an old ship remains a connection to the madness of the men who attempted feats of craziness in their quests to conquer the Arctic.
The book opens with the story of the doomed Franklin Expedition, a tale which never fails to amaze me. Setting forth from England in 1845, Sir John Franklin was a bit old in the tooth for such a strenuous voyage. He and his men vanished. After nine years of fruitless searching, the admiralty struck the missing men's names from the books, as though they were ghosts who had simply left for another country. When clues were finally found, it was revealed that Franklin's men had struggled to find their way south while dying from scurvy, lead poisoning, starvation, and frostbite. Most likely, the lead-poisoned food made the men insane, and murder and cannibalism can never be ruled out of the final struggle. So not cool.
Yet the fierce rush to conquer the North Pole and to find the Northwest passage meant more men were to risk and lose their lives. Now that Commander Byrd's flight over the Pole is considered to be fraudulent, Umberto Nobile is possibly the very first man to have flown over Santa's home. When his blimp crashed, the stranded passengers were rescued by an airplane...which then crashed. The Russian icebreaker finally came along to pick up the survivors. There was also the story of Andrée's balloon. This Swedish expedition left for the North Pole in 1897 and they, too, vanished. When the bodies were finally found, thirty-three years later in 1930, the final days of these 'icemen' became revealed. It is now known that as they struggled to live, they lived almost exclusively by killing and eating polar bear meat. That meat harbored trichonosis, tiny parasitic worms which ate away at the starving men's muscles from within. Their film negatives survived the decades and show the crash of the balloon which would lead to their deaths.
The Arctic craze is always fascinating, yet some authors have made it incredibly boring. Not so Mick Conefrey, who describes the explorers, their travails, their tragedies, and their results with flair which makes for fast reading. Ironically enough, as climate change hits, the Arctic Ocean is more of a true ocean now, with less of the deadly ice. Those daring men in their daring air machines and sea ships would have had a much easier time of it. But then, we wouldn't have these memorable stories of courage and bizarre risk-taking.
Book Season = Winter (don't eat the polar bear)...more
On December 28, 1908, a massive 7.5 earthquake struck the area around Messina in Sicily. It was not a quick shake. The rocking continued for 40 secondOn December 28, 1908, a massive 7.5 earthquake struck the area around Messina in Sicily. It was not a quick shake. The rocking continued for 40 seconds. When it finally stopped, hardly a building was left standing. The 'lucky' survivors then had to run for their lives from a forty foot tsunami that bore down on them. Not much was left. The Calabria region of mainland Italy was also devastated and current estimates place the total number of victims at around 200,000.
While the 1755 Lisbon quake was of a greater magnitude, the 1908 Messina quake is still considered the most destructive European shaker, due to the higher density of population. Whole families were obliterated. Many bodies were never recovered, their bones still buried today. One of the results of this catastrophe was the massive migration of Sicilians and Calabrians to the United States of America. If you want to blame someone for the foundation of the Mafia in America, point your little Corleones at Mother Nature. It was her fault.
This well-made original edition was published just a few months later, in 1909, and it was a hot-seller. They didn't have Instagram in those days, so the combination of reporting and photographs made this the first explanation of what happened for the American audience, many of whom had relatives from the scorched area. The black-and-white stills are heartbreaking and the information is relayed with urgency. However, that's not the entire book. To fill it all out, there is also a section on the phenomena of earthquakes and volcanoes, as Sicily also had Mount Etna doing a bit of belching. Some now believe it was the 1908 eruption of Mount Vesuvius (my most favourite volcano) which triggered the eventual plate movement further south. Chilling.
A rare book, still in wonderful shape. As a reader who lives in Quake Country, I would like to remind everyone, again, about the capriciousness of Mama Natura. She has a tendency to surprise us with 5 AM quakes. Then, when the shaking finally stops, we have to look seaward to see if the waves are receding, because guess what's coming next! If you can survive all that...fire. At least, we don't have volcanoes. Sicily is so screwed.
His name was Mister Bing. A name with its future written upon it, like Doctor Pill or Mister Bread, the baker.
This is a fun story about a bowler hat-w His name was Mister Bing. A name with its future written upon it, like Doctor Pill or Mister Bread, the baker.
This is a fun story about a bowler hat-wearing maestro who decides to capitalize on the natural sounds made by nature, such as branches breaking off trees. He opens a shop to build the instruments that make the noises.
Each noise has its own brand or sound such as:
Klackata - twig hitting tree stump Trika Trika Trika Trok - rain hitting leaves Foooboolooooooo - song of the teakettle
Next thing you know, Mister Bing has his own factory and a giant billboard advertising his sounds. But he ends up losing one of his sounds! Where is it? Then a competitor shows up with cheaper imitations. What is the Merchant of Noises to do?
I enjoyed this tale and the cute drawings. The book has a 1930s look to it, rather like the B&W Astaire or Crosby flicks, where men wore hats and looked svelte. Kids might like it, too. Another elegant production from one of my fave publishers, David R. Godine.
Book Season = Spring (bing brings the zing)...more
One of the benefits of collecting illustrated children's books is being able to see their effect on the wee ones. Sitting in the local coffee grinds sOne of the benefits of collecting illustrated children's books is being able to see their effect on the wee ones. Sitting in the local coffee grinds shop, a child in the throes of the 'terrible twos' was tired and kept screaming, driving customers out the door. Since I was midway through this book, I placed it on the shared counter, so the Screamer could see the artwork. She climbed on top of her chair and stopped screaming. Soon, she was pointing to the Wizards and Selkies and Fairies. Her screams died quickly. The Screamer became enchanted by the book, bringing relief to the rest of us.
Author Rosalind Kerven has collected folktales about magic from different countries and the always great Wayne Anderson brings them to life with wonderful illustrations. There are Tree Women, Wishing Wells, Swan Maidens, and so much more. The Screamer was obsessed with the story of The Stone-Ribs, perhaps because of Anderson's colourful fish.
My favourite was the short piece on spells...some unlucky children find themselves turned into lifeless things...I think the Screamer got the hint.