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review 2016-09-30 19:58
All At Sea by Decca Aitkenhead
All at Sea: A Memoir - Decca Aitkenhead

Finished this book a couple of weeks ago and still thinking about the tragedy of losing Tony. Decca has written a beautiful story about tragic events that took place during a family vacation, a serene and well loved travel destination. It's beyond heartbreaking but also full of light. I think Tony would be immensely proud of the story Dec shared with the world.




*I won a copy of this book through the KEEP TURNING PAGES Goodreads group. Many thanks to Doubleday and the fantastic members of KEEP TURNING PAGES for sharing their opinions of each of our wonderful monthly selections. 

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text 2016-06-09 00:27
Vanity Fair Icons Marilyn Monroe - Special Collector's Edition
Vanity Fair Icons: Marilyn Monroe - Conde Nast

If I've never mentioned my fascination with MM, well, I'm telling ya now. Ran across this copy at the bookstore and I couldn't resist plopping down $15.00 for the magazine. I tried to pass it up but...I sort of figured that there was little more for me to learn about this mesmerizing icon. I mean, I've read and own so many MM books and bios that it's just impossible to tell me anything new. Alas, NEW STUFF! Pics I've never seen (or forgot I've seen. Maybe.) Different sections offer different stories. For example, on page 32, there's an article entitled A SPLASH OF MARILYN that was originally published in June 2012 and adapted from Marilyn & Me (Doubleday). Stunning photographs by Lawrence Schiller. Fascinating behind the scenes look from Larry's point of view. Don't know Schiller? I can assure you. You've seen his work. Schiller famously shot the pool scenes of a naked Marilyn on set of Billy Wilder's Something's Gotta Give. Larry also shot candid photos on set of Let's Make Love and Some Like It Hot. I think this was one of my favorite parts of the magazine. While I knew Larry enjoyed a certain comraderie with Marilyn, and I knew a bit about the infamous shoot, I'd never read Schiller's actual words. He gives an insightful look at the business side of MM. Monroe had final approval over all photos and publicity stills, which was almost unheard of back then. According to Schiller, 


"When it came to looking at photographs of herself, Marilyn was all business. I gave her the small contact sheets and a magnifying glass. 

Marilyn didn't have a preconceived idea of how she wanted to be seen by the public. All she wanted was to make sure that her face or body didn't appear blemished in some way: a line here or a wrinkle there. She was interested in the total image; if the whole picture worked, Marilyn was happy." 


There are also documents, poems, and journal entries excerpted from Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn used writing as a means of expressing herself. Some of her poems take a dark turn but they're actually quite good. Contrary to the image Marilyn portrayed onscreen, she was hardly a dumb blonde. She loved intellectuals and reading was something she enjoyed. Like most book lovers, reading was an escape for her and it was helpful during her bouts with chronic insomnia. I can relate to that, too. Marilyn had an extensive book collection consisting of over four hundred books. 430 to be exact. Most of her collection was auctioned off at Christie's in October of 1999. How awesome would it have been to own those books once owned by MM?! From authors like James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, poet Heinrich Heine, and Walt Whitman. Lots of great books in her personal collection. 


I love Marilyn and I'm happy to include her as a fellow book lover. I may not own any books from her personal stack but I'm utterly happy to include this edition of Vanity Fair Icons to my ever-growing book collection. 





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review 2016-04-24 07:36
AFTON VILLA by Genevieve Munson Trimble
Afton Villa: The Birth and Rebirth of a Ninteenth-Century Louisiana Garden (Reading the American Landscape) - Genevieve Munson Trimble

Absolutely stunning! Fascinating history. 


"Just to think, I realized, both this tree and the garden had witnessed a great swath of southern history. They had lived through the Civil War, the harsh era of Reconstruction, the death of the Barrows, who had been laid to rest just yards away from the oak itself in the family cemetery. Through the subsequent years, the oak and the garden had endured the days of the Depression, oftentimes neglect, the coming and going of different owners, the impacts of seasonal weather, and, finally, fire itself that demolished completely the great house, reducing it to a pile of ruins, the seeming end of Afton Villa. 

But through it all, the old oak and it's surrounding gardens still stood - a symbol of endurance and a triumph of nature to overcome all disasters that would befall. Wasn't this, I thought with sudden clarity, exactly what had drawn Bud and me here in the first place? It was Afton Villa's miraculous ability to have risen, phoenix like, out of the ashes of tragedy. " - Genevieve Munson Trimble 





The Victorian Gothic plantation, Afton Villa, before fire destroyed the great house in 1963.




Genevieve Munson Trimble, author and owner of Afton Villa Gardens. 

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review 2016-01-28 03:34
When Lions Roar by Thomas Maier
When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys - Thomas Maier

When I saw this book offered in a giveaway on Goodreads, I knew I had to win it for my dad. Fortunately I did win it! Pop's is completely fascinated with WWII. I'd consider him pretty darn fluent in WWII history. He adores Churchill so I knew this was going to be a hit with him. Dad devoured this quickly. Took me a bit longer but I'm happy I read it. While the book wasn't so much about WWII, it was still utterly intriguing. I knew enough about the Kennedy's to turn me sour on that Camelot crowd, but I wasn't as familiar with Winston, and his son, Randolph, as I'd like. Maier takes an in depth look into these two political power house families. I probably like Joe Kennedy even less now, such a pompous pig. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. A bit winded at times with the gossipy-romance but it turns out these two families shared more than political aspirations. If you love history and want to take a closer look inside the Churchill/Kennedy empire, including relations between fathers and sons, this is the book. Dad's POV? It was the perfect read for him and he'd give it five stars. Back off, old man! This is my review.





**I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks. Opinions are my own.

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text 2015-09-25 20:19
Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 176 pages.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Harriet Jacobs

Unfortunately,  I have had very little time to read this week. I was hoping to read this book in one complete sitting. It's a short read written by former slave Harriet Thomas, who used the pseudonym Linda Brent to protect loved ones when the book was originally published. It's an eye opening look into the daily life, painful reality, and brutal hardships that slaves suffered at the hands of cruel, heartless, dishonorable men and women. Harriet Thomas was an inspiration to many and she poured her heart and soul into this book in hopes to gain Northern sympathy and to convince "people of the Free States" that slavery was a foul abomination, a den of corruption and extreme cruelty. 


I'm on page thirty-eight. Thirty-five pages have already broken my heart. Harriet Thomas, a woman made of steel and true grit. Inspirational! 

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