My Take on: Married to Laughter

Book Reviews

Jerry Stiller passed in May of this year. He was 92 years old. I loved watching him as the over-the-top father, Frank Costanza, on the hit television show Seinfeld. Married to Laughter is a book written by Jerry Stiller about his life growing up in New York, meeting and marrying actress Anne Meara, and his life as an actor.

Jerry Stiller was nothing like the character he played as Frank Costanza. He was an actor after all. He attended Syracuse University, where he studied Theater. He worked in clubs and the theater. Even while working on Seinfeld, he worked in theater. He was an actor and he was driven to act. Not only was this his way to earn an income but it was his passion.

I find it interesting to read autobiographies. I feel like I get to know that person better by reading about them in their own words. One gets a sense of who they are and what they are like. It was interesting to hear the stories Stiller told of his life and what his thoughts were on what was happening at the time. I would recommend Married to Laughter to anyone that enjoyed Stiller’s work. I would also recommend it to anyone interested in theater or acting. The book gives a good sense of what it is like for an actor and the struggles they face at keeping the jobs coming in. It takes a lot of drive. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Kingdom of the Blind

Book Reviews

The suspended head of the Surete du Quebec, Armand Gamache, receives a letter informing him of a meeting to discuss a will. Curiously enough, Gamache has been named executor of a complete stranger’s will. As he arrives at the meeting place, which turns out to be an abandoned farmhouse, his neighbor, Myrna Landers also pulls-up in her car. Going inside they are met by the Lawyer and are introduced to a young builder named Benedict who was also named as executor to the estate. Not one of the three persons named executor knew the deceased. How odd…

And thus begins the novel The Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. The threesome decide to accept the role of executor and will find themselves not only asking why they were named executor to a complete stranger’s will, but who done it. Gamache will also try to solve his own mystery. The mystery that got him suspended from the Surete.

With likable characters, such as Gamache’s unique neighbors, and plenty of mystery, The Kingdom of the Blind is sure to keep one guessing and intreaged. This novel has two mysteries in one book that are unrelated to each other. So, it is a bit of a bonus. This is not the first in the Gamache series. Choose to start at the beginning or jump right in with this page turner.

As always, Happy Reading!

Re-Reading and Re-Organizing Favorite Books

life

My stash of books is starting to dwindle. I have started a new book and have only one left in my to read stash. As libraries are closed due to the recent precautions and shutdowns, I will turn to my own resources after I have depleated my stash.

Lucky for me, I LOVE books and always have. I have my own personal library and have even made an Excel spreadsheet listing them in alphabetical order along with their authors and type of book. However, the other day I saw my husband looking at something on his cell phone. “What is this?” I asked. The answer got me curious and excited. Apparently, new technology being what it is, there are sites that allow one to enter ISBN numbers of books to efforetlessly organize and log one’s entire personal library. It even pulls up a picture of the cover, gives a summary of the book, and allows one to rate the book with stars. Oh my word! My new mission is to convert my “outdated” Excel spreadsheet into a “modern” on-line library system. The website I am using is: http://www.libib.com.

Upon using the on-line library system, I must say that I LOVE it! Oh my gosh is it cool! So I entered a bunch of my books and some same up with a different jacket cover the the book. Not to worry… the program allows one to upload a photo of the correct jacket cover and switch them out. Amazing! So, for any covers that differed, I took a photo of my book and downloaded it. It was very easy to do. Also, if a book does not have a ISBN number it can be brought up by title or author. I had one book that would not come up using any of these methods, however, the program let’s one manually enter books of this nature. So cool!

The program also allows one to create multiple libraries. I am going to organize my craft books into their own library, my art books into their own library, and the same for my cook books. One can choose to publish and share their libraries with friends if they wish or keep the libraries only for their own use.

Soon I will have to start re-reading some of my old favorites. Perhaps a Sydney Sheldon? I have not read his books for a while so I am sure they will be full of surprise for me again. Needless to say, it will be much easier to choose that next book once my on-line library is updated.

I can also scan through the shelves of my other family members for some fresh reading material. I got my daughter a book on the great costume designer, Edith Head, that I would not mind sinking my teeth into. I think my son’s copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain might also be of interest to me.

For now, I am set with a rather thick novel. However, it is comforting to know that there are possibilites in house. Perhaps this may even be a good time to start writing my own book… Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Ghosts of Eden Park

Book Reviews

Author Karen Abbott’s The Ghosts of Eden Park set in real life jazz-age America is an interesting read. This nonfiction piece is about bootleg king George Remus and his life as a bootlegger and where it led him. Remus was a famous bootlegger well before the famous Al Capone.

George Remus was a German immigrant who worked in a pharmacy, then practiced law, and ultimately bootlegged whiskey. He was a multimillionaire who threw grand affairs and lavished his guests with expensive gifts. Prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is out to get Remus. She sets investigator, Franklin Dodge, on the case. Dodge, however, plots to get his hands on Remus’ money and his wife Imogene. The outcome…murder.

Karen Abbott has written an interesting work of nonfiction with The Ghosts of Eden Park. According to her note, every word between quotation marks actually is taken from a government file, archive, diary, letter, newspaper article, book, a hearing or trial transcript. The transcipts were so long that she could accurately describe scenes, conversations, and the characters themselves.

The book reads like historical fiction although it is in reality nonfiction. For anyone interested in life as it was in the 20’s, this book is sure to please. Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Masterpiece

Book Reviews

I often pick up books off the shelves by their cover designs and titles. Fiona Davis’ book The Masterpiece had a title that screamed art and a cover that screamed historic novel. I then flip to the back and read the summary. This one was right up my alley.

Fiona Davis starts her novel in 1928 New York told through the eyes of Clara Darden. Clara teaches illustration at the Grand Central School of Art. Chapter two takes the reader to 1974 New York told through the eyes of recently divorced Virginia Clay. Virginia has an appointment with the Trimble Temp Agency, which takes her to a law office located in the Grand Central Terminal . The chapters will take turn throughout the book telling each lady’s story.

Clara will try to make her way in a very male dominated field. Just when she thinks she has the perfect life, the Great Depression hits. Losing everything only to start over when another major tragedy will shake her world.

Virginia is finding herself after her divorce. Her new job is paying the bills and that is all. She comes across an abandoned art school within the Grand Central Terminal where she finds a watercolor. When she tries to find out more about the artist, Clara Darden, she seems to have opened up a can of worms. Let the mystery begin.

I enjoyed this book and by the end found it very hard to put down. (“Fionia Davis ‘The Master of the unputdownable novel.'” — Redbook) I enjoy historic fiction and found this piece to be very interesting. I also enjoy a good mystery and The Masterpiece did not disappoint. The twists in the ending took me by surprise and made for an interesting read. Two thumbs up for Fiona Davis and The Masterpiece. Pick up a copy and see how this one plays out.

My Take on Murder in the Smithsonian

Book Reviews

Christmas is always a good time for me to replenish my reading stash. I had totally run out of books before Christmas. Scandalous! So, now that the new year has arrived, my book supply is once again stocked-up. One of the books I received for Christmas was Murder in the Smithsonian (A Capital Crimes Novel) by Margaret Truman.

This is the first time I have read one of Margaret Truman’s books. The Capital Crimes Series is a series Truman wrote with the setting being the Nation’s Capital. I was drawn to this particular book in the series as it takes place in the Smithsonian and I found the museum setting interesting.

Murder in the Smithsonian starts with the death of Dr. Lewis Tunney. Tunney, a historian, finds out about an international art ring which leads to his demise in the middle of a reception at the famous Smithsonian Museum. His fiancee, Heather McBean, flies in from Europe to find out what happened to her beloved Lewis.

While in Washington, Heather is befriended by Captain Mac Hanrahan who promises that this case will not go unsolved. However, Heather finds herself in danger more than once and does not know who she can trust. Can Hanrahan solve the case before something happens to Heather? Pick up a copy of Truman’s Murder in the Smithsonian to find out. The ending is full of surprises.

My Take on… Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Book Reviews

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a novel written by Maria Semple, was hilarious. It is written in the form of correspondences (e-mails, letters) in a light easy to read style. Once started, this book is hard to put down. The book was recently made into a movie as well.

The book focuses on Bernadette, mother to 15 year old Bee and wife to husband Elgin, who works at Microsoft. They live in Seattle where they moved after Bernadette feels the need to escape Los Angeles and the demise of her architecture career. It is in Seattle that Bernadette has run-ins with fellow parents at her daughter’s school and her anxieties lead her into much concern.

As a reward for good grades, Bee has chosen a trip to Antarctica. Bernadette is on board until she learns more about the trip and her anxieties take hold. Then, Bernadette disappears. Where did Bernadette go? Read the book to find out…

My Take on Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Wrecking Ball

Book Reviews

Well Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans, the new book Wrecking Ball has hit the shelves. This is the 14th book in the series. Jeff Kinney’s latest book has the Heffley family attending a funeral and receiving an unexpected inheritance. Greg’s mom has big ideas for the inheritance. This seems a dream come true but knowing the Heffley family’s luck… To find out more, pick up a copy of Wrecking Ball.

While the latest book is good, I did not find it as side-splitting funny as some of the previous books in the series. This could be due to the fact that the book was written more about the family’s adventure and not just Greg’s life as a kid going to school and getting into mischief. Having said that, Wrecking Ball is still worth a read. Happy Reading!

My Take on The Lonely Life by Bette Davis

Book Reviews

I became a fan of Bette Davis a few years back. My daughter and I were visiting my parents and the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane came on. We were about to leave and then got captivated in the film. My daughter, who usually isn’t captured by movies so easily, also did not want to leave. We were glued to the television mesmerized by Bette Davis. What an actress!

Bette Davis could go from a normal, lovely character and change into a deranged lunatic in the blink of an eye. Such control! We had to have more! We rented many more of her movies including Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte which was another of our favorites. Her characters were more demented in her later works.

Bette Davis – Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
Bette Davis – Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

So, needless to say, it was inevitable that I would eventually want to read Bette Davis’ autobiography. I can honestly say that I didn’t want to put it down. She led a fascinating life. There was so much I didn’t know about her. The Lonely Life, her first autobiography, starts from the beginning of her life in Lowell, Massachusetts where she was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis in 1908 to around the time of the death of her mother who was so important in her life. It leads us through her start in theatre and then the move to California and motion pictures. We get to see what she thought of other actors, the work she did, her contributions to society, her personal life, family, marriages, and the struggles she faced rising to the top all from her point of view. We get to see what Hollywood was like back in the day when silent pictures were transitioning to talkies. Most of all we get to picture the woman behind the actress.

This is a highly recommended read from me. The Lonely Life by Bette Davis was well written, interesting, and entertaining. In answer to that famous question: “If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive) who would they be?”… One of mine would definitely be Bette Davis. Happy Reading!

My Take on Death Comes to Pemberley

Book Reviews

This is my second time reading a P.D. James book and it does not disappoint. Death Comes to Pemberley is a murder mystery that had me suspecting the wrong character, which is exactly what a good author intends. But why stop there? After having revealed the true murderer, the truth behind the crime uncovers yet more surprises.

Death Comes to Pemberley is set in 1803 England at the grand estate of Mr. Darcy and his wife Elizabeth. They are preparing the house for the annual ball when an unexpected guest arrives bringing news of shocking events on the estate that, much to the towns dismay, cancels the ball. Now instead of guests in fancy attire, it is the law that shows up at Pemberley.

Phyllis Dorothy James was born in 1920 in Oxford, England. She was known professionally as the English crime writer P.D. James. Many of her books were put to television and film adaptations. James was granted numerous honors and awards over her writing career as well as numerous honorary doctorates and fellowships.