Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review

Excelsior Springs:Excelsior Springs: by Janet R. Reed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fascinating look at a town both in times past and current day. Excelsior Springs Missouri is about 40 miles from where I live and is known for it's many natural springs. In the late 1800's and well into the mid 1900's people traveled there from near and far to partake of the waters both in drink and for bathing. The waters were said to be quite curative.

The Elms resort, where I have stayed, is still operating and is a destination for anyone who wants to be pampered in both body and mind.

This book explains all the springs, where they were found, the businesses and buildings on their sites and the history of it all.

It also delves into the paranormal aspects of the town. Although I am one to keep far away from interest in such things, I do believe they exist and this town seems to have a lot of them.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Questioning Book Review

What? Are These the 20 Most Important Questions in Human History or is This a Game of 20 Questions?What? Are These the 20 Most Important Questions in Human History or is This a Game of 20 Questions? by Mark Kurlansky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Can a book only pose questions and be a viable book? Can an author be so astute that he can write so many interesting questions? Does reading such a book get quite annoying after awhile?

Answer to all these is "Yes!"

This premise is so clever that it is hard not to appreciate it. The idea that questions are so integral to our continued reading and understanding is purposed. And, the idea that if we had bothered to truly find the answers to a lot of questions we would be in a much better place.

A fun read, but, don't you think I am happy to be finished with it?

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Hugs All Around

Lots of Lovely Hugs to all who Peruse my Blog.  Extra big ones to my friend Tami, who began her blog this year, Vintage Connections and to my dear Dianne, who just this month created her blog, Heirloom Aprons and Buttons.

"New" Hugs to new blog friends Laurie of Indulge Your Shelf and Mary Ann of  This Country Life and Susan of Sudios Studio.

No extra time or energy this morning to make those links click able above.  :)

Have the best day and week and enjoy what comes your way as  you can and deal gracefully with what comes your way that is a challenge!

Happy, Happy Christmas to all !!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Book Review

A Christmas Homecoming: A NovelA Christmas Homecoming: A Novel by Anne Perry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I always look forward to these yearly little stories set at Christmas. This one concerns an acting troupe who are ensconced in a magnificent home in Whitby to hone a play written by the estate owners' daughter. A stranger appears at the door who has been stranded in the storm with his broken carriage. His stay livens up the troupe, but with tragic results.

I imagined that I was one of them, a guest in this huge home with the blizzard raging outside, but safe within.

Anne Perry writes about England in the 1800's. Always well written and delightful to read.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Blogger Shout Out to Dianne

My dear kindred Spirit friend, Dianne, has recently created her first blog, Heirloom Aprons and Buttons.
She has amassed a beautiful and unique collection of both and will be presenting them with a view toward both their historical value as well as their beauty.

Dianne is a remarkable researcher and strives to always learn the utmost of whatever topic she chooses.  Please visit and bookmark and continue to watch for her posts !

In Diannes' honor,  I am showing  a vintage Christmas apron given to me by my Grandma Blunt. It has a matching dishtowel.  I just adore the winter scene and each year when I pull it out at this season it takes me back to Christmas times with her and Granddaddy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Christmas Book Reviews

The Spirit Of Christmas by Henry Van Dyke
The Spirit Of Christmas (1905)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful story of the angel that for tells the birth of Christ to the other angels. Also, a short Christmas sermon of how to keep Christmas in your heart all the year. Two prayers at the end. Charming, beautifully written and recommended to all.

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Miracle on 34th StreetMiracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful story that "proves" that Santa Claus really does exist! The movie makers closely followed this story when making the original film of the same name, although the book has additional little bits to make it even more fun.

Heartily recommended to all those who might not believe and especially for all those who do!

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review

Christmas at Cold Comfort FarmChristmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very good short stories, one of which is about the Cold Comfort Farm characters of her well known book of the same name. It is quite an art to be able to present the theme for a short story, introduce the characters and form them into people you want to know more about and then wrap the story up nicely. Stella Gibbons does just that and makes me want to read more of her work.

The people of Cold Comfort Farm are characters indeed and are presented deliciously. They make you glad that you do not live there!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (A Flavia de Luce Mystery #4)I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set at Christmastime in 1950 England, Flavia de Luce is a precocious 11 year old who lives with her father and two sisters in their huge old estate, Buckshaw. Alas, it is in decline and with no funds to aid them, they resort to renting out to a film crew who arrives to shoot a movie.

As bright as Flavia is concerning chemicals and poisons and making concoctions, she also still hovers on the edge of believing in Father Christmas and sets out to catch him in the act on Christmas Eve. A murder disrupts her plans, but she uses her detective skills to help ferret out the killer.

There is appropriate snowing and blizzarding and a cast of interesting characters to make this a lively read. We feel sad for motherless Flavia, whose sisters are rather mean to her, but also find her knowledge and abilities incredible.

A fun read with little bits of learning about chemicals and their uses along the way.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review

A Christmas Carol (Whole Story)A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What can possibly be said of this book that has not been said before? It is a classic among books and the epitome of inspiring stories that can change a life if taken to heart. All can profit from this book and find something in it to love.

Make time to read this story this year and ponder it's meaning.

With the most famous of quotes from Tiny Tim, I repeat, "God Bless us, every one!"

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Happy Christmas Wreath.........or Two..............or Three

There are lots of variations of fabric wreaths out there and I just sort made this one up this week. Gathered up all my red and white fabrics and cut pieces 2 inch by 8 inch. Just folded them over lengthwise and tied them onto a metal 8 inch ring.  It was fun seeing it come together and extra fun as Mister Rick took rotary cutter in hand and helped.  Gotta love that!  The fun thing about this too, is that it will carry over for Valentines Day too. 

I have totally too much fun creating little paper wreaths too. They are so simple and inexpensive too. A piece of double sided paper with Christmas music and Holly all done up in black and neutral is topped off with a center piece of old pierced metal and a big rhinestone jewelery piece.
This Paper of Holly was one sided, so I coated the inside with snowy glitter to finish it off.  Got a little too heavy handed with some green stamp pad, but I still like it. The middle is a Bakelite button topped with a pierced Pearl button.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review

Jane and the Stillroom Maid (Jane Austen Mysteries, #5)Jane and the Stillroom Maid by Stephanie Barron

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another intriguing mystery, 5th in the series with Jane Austen as the investigator with a classic touch. I always learn new little bits when I read these books about England of early 1800's. I did not know what a stillroom maid was until now. The one in this story comes to a bad end but not before she has concocted her potions for many others. Jane, her mother and sister are in Bakewell when trouble happens and in between the social happenings, Jane is intently endeavoring to solve the murder mystery, which, of course, she does with great aplomb. I love the depth of detail that makes up these delicious mysteries and I heartily recommend them to Jane Austen fans especially.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review

The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and RedemptionThe Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption by Bertice Berry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Relating the story of her family's past, Bertice Berry realized that she did not fully understand of what that past consisted. It was only at the end of her mother's life that she finally began to listen to the stories told of good white people who owned the farm where her ancestors lived and worked. Before this time she believed her people to be slaves. Her previous novel had castigated the supposed slave owner of her family and with this book she seeks to redeem herself for her misinformation.

Growing up in the 60's as one of seven children, all of different fathers, Ms. Berry tells her family story, attempting to weave the times of slavery into the fabric of the current day. Her life is a crusade of encouraging people of all colors to come to grips with where they have come from and above all, to love and help others in their lives.

A positive reflection of thoughtful writing.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review

The Bottle Factory OutingThe Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rather distressing, but funny story of two English girls who work at an Italian-run bottling factory. One is being chased by one of the workers that she has no interest in and the other is chasing a worker who is not interested in her. The plot thickens when a long awaited OUTING planned for the workers occurs, with serious consequences resulting.

This book caught my eye at the library as an author I had not read and the story line sounded appealing. It is funny, but sadly so.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review

An Irish Christmas: Stories (Keane, John B.)An Irish Christmas: Stories by John Brendan Keane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Do all Irish stories have to include lots of hoisting of drinks and curates who, if not drinkers themselves, implore those who are to curtail their overindulgence?

I'm not sure of the answer, but in this book, lots of both occurs and all set either at or near the Christmas holiday. Although I did enjoy the writing style, it did not fill the bill for wanting a nice comforting book of Christmas short stories.

You certainly have to hand it to the Irish though. Most surely do know how to tip a few pints and also to tell you just exactly how they feel on a subject.

A couple of these tales were fun and bittersweet. Several were strange and some were downright sad.

Words to make you think. One of the points of reading, be ye Irish or not.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review

The Diary of a Nobody (Prion Humour Classics)The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quirky and so very funny as only the Brits can be, this book remains as fresh as when it was first written by two brothers in 1892.

Charles Pooter lives a well ordered life, or at least he attempts to, as we travel through his days reading his diary. He does not see in himself the pettiness of others and therein lies the humor. He strives to live dignified days of social acceptance, but pitfalls lurk at every corner. His wife and friends are always there to confound his sense of propriety. His best laid plans often turn to chaos.

A very entertaining read highly recommended.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book Review

The Faithful ServantsThe Faithful Servants by Margery Sharp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An old scamp of 80, Jacob Arbuthnot, leaves his estate to be set up as The Copstock Foundation, to benefit faithful servants who can apply for charity only on two days a year. The solicitors in charge of administering this fund are taken in by many who make their appeals.

Although the fund is to be accorded to those of later years who have served well and have been sponsored with papers from either their employer or their vicar, there are many who find their way around such details.

Margery Sharp has a delightful comic way of drawing out the story in her wonderful British style. This story is so entertaining and insightful as well, into the times of 1860-1960 England.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review

The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Medicine, Madness & the Murder of a PresidentThe Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Medicine, Madness & the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine a man who does not desire it, not only receiving the nomination of his party, but being elected to the position of President of the United States without having given even one speech or spending one day on the campaign trail. Such was the case in 1880 when James Garfield of Ohio was elected.

Tragically, the lasting mark of his presidency was stolen from us after only 4 months by a deranged man, Charles Guiteau, who said that God wanted him to kill the President.

Were it not for the doctors who used unsanitary and old-fashioned methods of care, he would, no doubt have survived his attack. Joseph Lister, who in England was gaining great success with his methods of antisepsis, and who tried to convince the American medical community of the fact of "invisible germs", was most sadly ignored.

Alexander Graham Bell also figures into this period of history with his invention of a device intended to discover the site of a bullet in the body.

I was amazed to learn that Garfield was a general in the Civil War, afterword elected to Congress and was a dedicated opponent to slavery. He was a devoted family man who had come from poverty and lived his life with great joy.

Oh, to have a Garfield among us today. This book is an amazing account of a time in history that has not been widely taught and I highly recommend it.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review

A Death in the FamilyA Death in the Family by James Agee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hardly even know what to say about this incredible book. Although about death and all the sadness for so many people, it is so profound in the way it describes so much of what is felt and said and experienced. I felt at times that I had almost written the words myself.

In the first part we get to know the man who will die and his son and their relationship. Also, that of he and his wife. The second part deals with his death and how his family is told of the news. The last part is the funeral and the feelings and thoughts especially of his two young children. Their mother is a woman of great faith and continues to look to God for his peace.

Others in the family do not hold with faith and it is so interesting to see how they each handle the ordeal.

Ironically, Mr. Agee died at a young age  and so we were not given the gift of more of his books. This was a tiring book to read, emotionally, but I recommend it for all.

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Grammy is a Cheap Date

 Yes, it does not take too much to make me kinda happy. Like bringing home these 3 little bits from the local antique/flea market mall. And, all for just a total of $3.49 too!!! My dear husband spied the cool red level. I hung it in that tiny little wall space between kitchen and dining room.


Much as I adore cream and black and white, I also love RED!

Little bits to remember this day  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review

Once Upon a RiverOnce Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Harrowing story with lots of violence, casual sex and heartbreak; all the stuff of life for some. I cannot say I really "liked" this book, but felt compelled by the story to read it.

Margo is a teenage girl with a mother who has left town and a father who is killed, leaving her alone and desperate to make a life for herself. Having grown up on the river and knowing how to fish and hunt, she makes plans to continue life on the river.

Her next two years involve relationships with several men, more violence and being led to care for an elderly man who is dying.

The journey her life takes is an amazing one that is hard to comprehend. The many passages about her killing and skinning animals was a bit much for me.

I read not only to learn and to be entertained, but also to better understand other personalities and human conditions. This book gives the reader a definite idea of a young, rough life with a determination to get through each day the best way she can.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review

The InnocentsThe Innocents by Margery Sharp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Antoinette is an "innocent", a retarded child, left with an older woman in a small English town after her parents are forced back to New York at the beginning of World War II.

She does not speak but slowly says a very few words as she develops a closeness with her foster mother. After the war her mother arrives, to what she calls, "collect" the child. She has never understood her daughter to be retarded and in her social whirl, does not have time to consider it, believing that she can make necessary changes for her through speech therapy and psychoanalysis.

The foster mother is helpless to prevent the real mother from taking her, but circumstances intervene to change things in other ways.

A poignant, insightful look into how this topic was viewed in 1940's England.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review

NightwoodsNightwoods by Charles Frazier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Intense story with a small cast of rather rough characters in North Carolina of the '60's. Luce is alone, living in a huge lakeside lodge and just trying to get through the day, when her life is forever changed by the evilness of another.

Told through each character, we see the tough resilience of Luce, the distorted mind of her brother-in-law Bud, the wisdom and concern shown by nearby neighbor, Maddie........... and Stubblefield, the man who intervenes at the right time.

Frazier has the gift of laying out the words for us like a carpet, leading us to feel emotions as we take the path along with his characters. We Feel the weather, we See the changing Fall colors of nature, we are Smitten with the fear felt by innocent people.

Not your "happily ever after" type story, but a more down to earth one that gives us hope that we can survive the bad and get through to another day.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review

The Life All Around Me By Ellen FosterThe Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I Loved this book!

As the follow up to her first book "Ellen Foster", Gibbons continues to show us Ellen's life as a teenager. I cheered her on as she struggled to deal with her mother's death and subsequent horrid treatment by other relatives. The characters surrounding her are each experiencing their own challenges and their effect on one another is sweet and thoughtful.

In Laura she finds not only a replacement mother, but also one with great wisdom and skill at living. Ellen is quite intelligent and aspires to attend Harvard and Laura is her encourager along the way. They both find in one another what they need.

What a gift to read passages that give both laughter and a twinge of angst. It is written in the way a young mind thinks and speaks, and I had to re-read some sections to understand the meaning.

Ellen is someone you know will succeed due to her focus and motivation to make more of her life. I can only be inspired by her.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

HandSewing, Button Swap and Gluebook Pages Swap

Starting with a piece of cream wool from my stash, I hand sewed a bunch of bits and pieces of needlework in whites and creams, adding black stitching and black seam binding. Of course, I had to add some pearl buttons at the top and some very old black glass ones in a row. After all, what is a project without buttons? Unless it is a gluebook? :)  I sewed the piece onto a piece of heavy felt, adding a pocket at the top for a dowel, which I finished off with more seam binding in bows and for a hanger.

Above is my Button project made for Tami's Creative Button Swap. My swap partner was Laurie at Indulge My Shelf. I used an old book cover as the bas, added the reproduction note card behind an old photo card then used lots and lots of very old china buttons, dating from the 1880's or so. Finished it off with some great needlework edging.

I am SO EXCITED waiting on my Vintage GlueBook Swap from Mary to arrive hopefully this week! Here are my 7 pages for the swap.   (I realized after I uploaded them that they are not cropped)

Monday, October 17, 2011

OH, MY STARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

STARS on buttons are a fave of mine and here are some of my sweetest ones,although there are a few that would not be thought of as stars in the strictest sense.  I tend to be a purist, so,  for me,  that means 5 Point Stars, but in the World of Buttons, there are Stars with points numbering into the 20s.
Here you can find Glass, Steel, Brass, Tin,  plastic, Bakelite, Celluloid, Fabric, Composition, Pearl, Glass Set into Metal, Enamel and Wood.

Hope you shine like a STAR today!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review

The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #13)The End by Lemony Snicket

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun to read a children's book once in awhile and this series is a very good one. After randomly choosing number 4 to read and enjoying it, I decided to read the first and last in the series of 13 to get an idea of the whole story.

Although agonizingly sad that the 3 children are orphans from the very first "unfortunate event" that causes their home to burn and their parents to perish, the author fortifies each child with abilities which make them equal to the task of continuing to persevere in the face of more and more events. Violet is superb at inventing things, Klaus is the accomplished reader and Sunny, although when young tends to specialize in biting, later becomes adept at cooking.

With evil Count Olaf as their guardian who only wants their inheritance, the children, indeed, have to overcome major obstacles on a daily basis just to stay alive.

This last book finds them washed ashore on an island with Count Olaf. They meet many strange people there with quite strange customs. Circumstances force them to use their resources to deal with it all.

What I find most appealing in these books is not only the humor employed within such devastating story lines, but also the way the author educates the reader to new words and their use, explaining meanings in a fun way. Life is indeed full of "Unfortunate Events" and banding together as family is oftentimes the best way to help us through them.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review

The Small HandThe Small Hand by Susan Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Susan Hill has the ability to take the reader down a road, with various stops along the way, increasing the mystery of her story, but letting us come to our own conclusion at the end. Her theme of the supernatural is brought to earth through Adam, a dealer in rare books, who stumbles onto a derelict property called the White House. His experience there of feeling a small hand in his, leads him to investigate the history of the house and the fact that a small child had drowned there years earlier. He continues to feel the small hand in several other situations and is driven to great anxiety attacks.

Without giving too much away, I will say that the mystery is solved with a devastating ending that will keep me wondering at the ways that the supernatural might be used in a way to bring justice.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review

Passers-byPassers-by by Anthony Partridge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading a book published one hundred years ago, I am taken on a needed trip to a time when more proprieties were at hand and relationships more defined. Set in both England and France, not much of the plot can be spoken of or the ending themes would be spoiled.

A young beautiful girl sings on the street with a dwarf who plays a small piano. They are joined by a monkey, who holds his tray for those small coins given by those who pass by. This little scene forms the basis for mystery of how they came to be and all those who are part of their lives and much deeper mysteries.

This book was written by an author who was a master of his craft and boasted of a huge following, who also wrote under the name of E. Phillips Oppenheim. It was said at the time of 1910 that no man of his generation had so much facility of expression or so fine a power of narration. It is indeed well written and enjoyable.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Review

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable ThingsIf Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book speaks to me so much as it is the way I often feel about things. At it's beginning, we know that something of huge import will happen in the story as we see and hear from the wide variety of people in a neighborhood. We see and hear their interaction with one another as well as hear their own thoughts. Several of the characters are dealt with more in depth by revealing happenings in their lives prior to just the one day the book entails.

Several times the writer has us on the edge, ready for an apparent scene of tragedy or turmoil, only to be relieved that it does not happen yet. His writing leads us to surmise upcoming events, all the while leaving us in suspense as to what the final outcome will bring. When the big event does occur, he brings together all the various thoughts and actions of all those we have come to know in this story.

His title reminds us that every single thing that happens each day is remarkable in it's own way and that it is our place to see each thing and make them ours by really knowing them. A bird flying high, a child at play, the street sounds, the rain, the interactions among people, all are profound in the hands of McGregor.

So many things are happening all the time all around us. We are encouraged to step out of our own circle and see those remarkable things.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

October Collage Challange

Mary Green continues to offer us fun with her monthly challenges, providing 3 images that at least some of each must be used. 

My collage shows the story of Ludmila, who has been waiting so very long to hear of her love, Ivan.   He finally appears in  a message brought by his trusty dog Igor, (a real sissy in that bonnet)  who has travailed over the snowy and icy terrain to make this delivery.  The tag on the key shows the number 360, which both Ludmila and Ivan believe to show that they have weathered the storm and come full circle in their love and understanding of one another. Her answer to him is a definite "Yes",  but she hopes he will appear in person soon and leave the dog at home.

(Ok, either start laughing or upchuck, whichever you feel right now :)  )

There is still time to participate in this challenge and you might even be chosen at random to win a little prize offered by Mary.

Book Review

Candleford GreenCandleford Green by Flora Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For documenting the period of the 1890's small village life in England, this book and it's sister books are fabulous. Details of daily life, including occupations, customs and habits of the village, homes and their decor, clothing fashions and the nature of the land are all here.

Laura is a young girl from Lark Rise, who goes to the nearby town of Candleford Green to become an apprentice to the Post Mistress Dorcas Lane. Her situation there affords her access to new friends and experiences.

The books in this series are used as a base for the BBC series "Lark Rise to Candleford", but only in a very loose sense. Both stand alone to be thoroughly enjoyed.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Review

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial ImposterThe Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter by Mark Seal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amazing true story of what has been called "the 1000 piece puzzle" of the life (or lives) of a man most recently known as Clark Rockefeller, ending with the kidnapping of his young daughter during a supervised visit, and his subsequent prison sentence.

Born in Germany, Christian Gerhartsreiter immigrated to the U.S. and began a series of charades, befriending those who could advance his twisted ideas of a perfect life. His persuasive ways led many to give him money and provide him with the means to ingratiate his way into their lives.

This is a story that leaves you shaking your head at the fabrications of a narcissistic man who lied his way through one alias after another, finally hitting upon the name Rockefeller as the one who could help him most.

Currently serving time for kidnapping, he now faces charges of a murder in California.

Makes you glad to be just little old "you", whoever you are. A worthy read to see inside this calculating mind.

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