Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Read "Revolutionary Road" by Richard Yates


Richard Yates

I must admit that I read this book after seeing the preview for the movie version starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet.  I knew I was going to see the movie because I'm a huge Titanic fan.  The chance to see them together again was too good to pass up.  Plus I think Kate Winslet is one of the best actresses of all time.  If I know that a movie is based on a book, I always try to read it before I see the movie.  So I read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

Frank and April Wheeler seem to have the perfect life: a good marriage, two children, Frank's good job, and a cute little house in the suburbs. However, all is not as it seems. Their life is full of arguments, boredom, and restlessness. Frank feels he's in a dead end job, and April feels trapped as a homemaker. In a desperate attempt to save their marriage, they make some life changing plans, but something totally unexpected forces them to make some life changing decisions.

Although I did enjoy reading this book, I can't say that I liked either Frank or April. They are both selfish and cold. I don't know if they could have ever been happy.

As I mentioned above there is a movie version of this book that was pretty good starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, but don't watch it expecting a "Titanic type" live story. The characters they play don't allow it.

Revolutionary Road Movie Poster

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ten Books I Thought I'd Never Read: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie


Agatha Christie

 Summary of Murder on the Orient Express from Goodreads...

"Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again."

Well, I thought at page 163 that I had the whole thing figured out.  I must admit that I was very, very wrong.  I really liked the book though, and I'm absolutely positive that I will read more Christie books.  As a matter of fact there is a list titled, "The Agatha Christie Collection" at the beginning of the book, and I plan to read them all. 

The Agatha Christie Collection (Listed in Murder on the Orient Express)

4:50 From Paddington
A Caribbean Mystery
A Murder Is Announced
After the Funeral
Appointment with Death
At Bertram's Hotel
Cat Among the Pigeons
Death on the Nile
Evil Under the Sun
Five Little Pigs
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Murder at the Vicarage
Murder in the Mesopotamia
*Murder on the Orient Express
Peril at End House
Sad Cypress
The A.B.C. Murder
The Body in the Library
The Hollow
The Moving Finger
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Mystery of the Blue Train
The Tuesday Club Murders

If you like the detective in Murder on the Orient Express, Hercule Poirot, you will be happy to know that there are lots more Agatha Christie books starring this funny Belgian.  If you want to read more about them click HERE.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott.  I'll definitely be checking those out!

In 1974 a movie version of the book came out.  It was nominated for and won many awards including an Oscar.


It had a star studded cast including: Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, and many more.


If you are interested in the present day Orient Express you can visit their website by clicking HERE.  You'll find pictures of the trains, layouts of the rooms, and maps of where it travels.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

From My Journal: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy


From Goodreads...
"The sensual, rebellious Anna renounces a respectable yet stifling marriage for an affair that offers passion even as it ensnares her for destruction. Her story contrasts with that of Levin, a young, self- doubting agnostic who takes a different path to fulfillment."


Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel set in 1870's Russia.  It follows the every day lives of Russian aristocrats, and centers around the title character, Anna, who most of the other characters are connected to in some fashion.

Anna is a woman ahead of her time, and by following her own path is faced with a life of pain and struggles.  The primary male character, Konstantin Levin, is a socially awkward man who longs for a conventional life as he struggles with questions regarding the faith in which he was raised to believe.  Other central characters are Count Vronsky, Anna's brother Oblansky and his wife Dolly, and a young princess named Kitty.

I feel that one of the main themes throughout the book is the contrast between a man's life and a woman's life in 1870's Russia.  I believe it is clear that in Tolstoy's mind, a woman's happiness depended greatly on the kind of husband she was lucky enough to marry.  Anna Karenina is a book about ordinary things in people's lives.  It is about love, hate, misery, and joy.

It is not a light read, but it's well worth the effort it will require.  Those who like to read historical fiction will especially love the little details that give us a snapshot of what life what like then.

According to there is an Anna Karenina movie in the works starring Keira Knightley as Anna.  I'll definitely be looking forward to this one.

Keira Knightley

I'd like to thank my Mom for the use of her computer.  Mine should be up and running soon!  I should finish A Murder on the Orient Express tonight, so be watching for the next "Ten Books I Never Thought I'd Read".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Trio of Laura Ingalls Wilder

This will be a short post today--let's just say I'm having computer problems, and I'm doing this post on my phone(ugghh).

"Prairie Girl: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder" by William Anderson

This book is a nice little biography about Laura and her family. The book is easy to read and very much suited to children. It is basically a summary of The Little House Books with some details that are missing from the books.

"Laura's Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder" compiled by William Anderson

This is an interesting little book full of pictures and neat facts about Laura, her family, and her ancestors. If you've ever wanted to know what Ma, Pa, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Grace look like, this is the book for you.

"A Little House Traveler" by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This book is a collection of Laura's journals she kept as she traveled. It is made up of "On the Way Home", "West From Home", and "The Road Back".
"On the Way Home" is a diary of the trip that Laura, Almonzo, and Rose made by covered wagon in 1894 from their homestead in South Dakota to what would eventually become Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri.
"West From Home" is a collection of Laura's letters home to Almonzo when she paid a visit to Rose in San Francisco during The World's Fair in 1915.
Even though I had previously read both of these, the third diary, "The Road Back", made this book worth checking out. "The Road Back" is a record of Laura, Almonzo, and the dog, Nero's trip back to De Smet, South Dakota in 1931. This time they traveled in a 1923 Buick they named Isabelle.
They visited Grace and Carrie as well as old friends in DeSmet. They went to Ma and Pa's old homestead as well as their own. They drove during the day eating their breakfast at any diner, cafe, or restaurant they found acceptable. They always gave Nero their scraps and some milk. They slept in cabins at campgrounds along the way. Laura kept track of the money and constantly commented on the farms, crops, animals, and houses they saw along the way.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ten Books I Thought I'd Never Read: Hondo by Louis L'Amour


Louis L'Amour

From Goodreads...
"He was a big man, wide-shouldered, with the lean, hard-boned face of the desert rider. His toughness was ingrained, quick, hard and dangerous--yet without cruelty. The wells of gentleness in him were carefully guarded. He was Hondo Lane, a man not soon forgotten by those he encountered on the danger trail. Hondo is a classic Louis L'Amour novel as well as a motion picture starring John Wayne."

Even though Western is on the list of genres I wouldn't normally read, (see the original post Ten Book I Thought I'd Never Read) it's not because I thought I would dislike them.  There was just always something else to read.  Since I'm drawn to historical fiction, I was pretty sure I'd like Hondo.  It turns out that I loved it.

There are four main characters--five if you count the desert:  Hondo Lane, Angie Lowe, her son Johnny, and Vittoro.  The story takes place in Southern Arizona.  Hondo Lane, a gunfighter, is now "ridin dispatch" for the army in their war against the Apaches.  Angie Lowe is a deserted wife, clinging to the only thing she and her son have left--the ranch her father had built, and her son Johnny is a boy in need of a father.  Vittoro is the leader of the Apache resistance who wants to claim Johnny for his own "small warrior".

There's trouble in Southern Arizona.  The Apache are killing settlers and burning ranches.  When Hondo Lane comes across Angie Lowe's ranch after a run in with some Apache, she gives him what help she can, but he can't convince her to let him take her and Johnny to the post where she will be safe.  When he makes it to the post, the unexplainable connection he feels with Angie and her son, forces him to make the dangerous journey back to the ranch to protect her.  All the while Angie is doing her best to cooperate with the Apache who come to her ranch on a daily basis, but she fears she may have made a mistake in staying.  What good would the ranch be to them if they were dead?

I really liked the the character, Hondo Lane.  On the surface he seems like a cold hard hearted man, but he is really an honest, brave man, capable of great love.  He is a perfect example of doing what's right even when it's hard to do.

Sonoran Desert National Monument in southern Arizona

In 1953 John Wayne starred in the movie, Hondo.  You can find the movie poster and trailer below.  Enjoy!!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Suggested By My Sister: Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh


Jennifer Haigh

This book was suggested to me by my sister, Beth.  She really liked it, and thought I would too.  She was right.

As the wife of an underground coal miner, I really related to the characters in this book.  I know all too well the days of washing coal filled overalls, cleaning coal blackened bathtubs, and packing a HUGE lunch for your husband "just in case".  I know the prayers said every day and night for his safety.

The characters in Baker Towers are believable because they are flawed, like we all are.  The author hasn't tried to make them perfect just so we'll like them.  She allows us to peak in at the less than perfect life of an ordinary family living in a coal mining town from the 40' to the 60's.  She does this by adding the not so pretty details of day to day life.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who like historical fiction.

Here's a few pictures of real mining towns of the past.

Martin, Kentucky in Floyd County abt.1940

Weeksbury, Kentucky in Floyd County in 1930

Wheelwright, Kentucky in Floyd County in 1946

I found a cool YouTube video with pictures of miners, and I also found a great Johnny Cash song about coal mining.  Enjoy!!

I will always end any post about coal mining with a picture of my own coal miner.

My Coal Miner
Source:  My Photo

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Don't Care How Old It Is! I Want To Blog About It.

I know that a lot of the books I will talk about on my blog are old news to some, but they will be new to many (including myself sometimes).  Also, I am new to blogging and there are books I've read and loved in the past that I want to blog about.  Occasionally, I look over my book lists, notes, and summaries, and when a book from the past jumps out at me I want to blog about it.

Sara Nelson's book, So Many Books, So Little Time is one of those books.  A few years ago when I worked at the library, a lot of my time was spent straightening and putting away books.  I loved it!  I mean I was basically spending hours a day looking at books, and when I came across this book I checked it out.

 I love lists.  I love to make lists and read lists.  That may be weird, but it's true.  I have lists about everything...books, chores, household projects, movies, vacations I want to take, and I NEVER go to the grocery store without my list.

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson is basically a reading list in book form, and maybe that's why I liked it.

From my journal 4/2/09...
"In this book, Sara Nelson decides to spend a year reading at least one book a week and writing about what she read.  She soon discovers that even though she has a rather extensive list and all kinds of books at her fingertips, it's not always easy to find a book.  She learns that you don't always choose a book.  Sometimes the very best books choose you.  She found that not only her moods, but also her everyday life and environment lead her to the books she reads."

Sara Nelson

Sara Nelson is an editor, book reviewer, consultant, columnist, and author.  She was editor in chief at Publisher's Weekly from 2005 to 2009.  She is currently the book editor for Oprah's "O Magazine", and I came across this summer reading list she created on Oprah's website, "If You Liked That Book, You'll Love...: What should you read next? O's book editor Sara Nelson has 12 recommendations based on your literary tastes."  You can check it out by clicking HERE

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Old Fashioned Girl

Back in February of this year, I read An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott.  Alcott is one of my favorite authors of all time.


Goodreads summary...
"Polly's friendship with the wealthy Shaws of Boston helps them to build a new life and teaches her the truth about the relationship between happiness and riches."

It's sounds very simple, but it's more than that.  Here's what I wrote in my journal after I finished...
"I just finished An Old Fashioned Girl by LMA.  I'm such a sucker for enduring love.  I like how the book shows how in the end good, simple people are often happier than rich, idle people, though their lives seem harder.  Good will always win out in the end.  It's a perfect illustration of why doing what's right is the most important thing even when it's hard to do, and being true to one's self is the ultimate reward.  I really liked this book and the moral it teaches!"

There is an online version of An Old Fashioned Girl available to read.  View it by clicking HERE

In doing some research for this blog I came across a movie version that was made in 1949.  Starring Gloria Jean.  Gloria Jean was a famous singer/actor in the 40's and 50's.


Gloria Jean

Although I couldn't find a clip of "An Old Fashioned Girl", I did find a clip of Gloria Jean as Anne Stuart in the movie "Copacabana".  You'll find it below.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Welcome Back Guest Blogger--Beth Whitney-Lanier

From Anne Rice To Sookie Stackhouse
By Beth Whitney-Lanier

Originally, I was going to blog about "Tender Is The Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which I'm in the process of trying to finish.  When my husband, Joseph, is home from the barge I don't read as much as I normally do.  So, this month I thought I'd talk about a book I read over a year ago.  I think it was last week that Amy blogged about reading books she wouldn't normally read.  "Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris would probably fall into that category for her.  I've always enjoyed reading vampire novels. The first vampire novel I read was "Interview With The Vampire" by Anne Rice when I was a teenager.

Charlaine Harris has brought the vampire story to rural America and that alone makes part of these books humorous.  It's almost like a soap opera with the drama that comes along with vampires.  The books, which are also called The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, have also been made into a TV series.   I'm sure most of you have heard of "True Blood" that airs on HBO.  I actually own the first season on DVD. 


Sookie Stackhouse is the main character throughout all 11 novels.  She is a small town cocktail waitress that tends to have bad luck around vampires.  You see, in the Bon Temps, Louisiana of Charlaine Harris's world, vampires have "come out of the coffin" and are living among us.  True Blood is actually the name of the synthetic blood that Japanese scientists invented for human use.  Unfortunately, it also enabled vampires to live among us without having to kill and feed off humans.   However, not all vampires drink True Blood.

Sookie and Bill

The first night I laid down to read "Dead Until Dark", the first book of the series, I read half of the book.  The second  night I finished it.  The third day I was at Wal-Mart looking for "Living Dead In Dallas" and so on and so forth. I would recommend "Dead Until Dark" and all the other novels to anyone looking for a fun and fast read.  You won't be able to just read one!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Dad, The Gardener, Buys Books

This past Sunday night we stopped  by my Dad's house on the way home from church...

My Dad is an incredible gardener, and his garden this year is out of this world.  He grows corn, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, okra, broccoli, cabbage, green onions, bell peppers, hot and sweet banana peppers, rubarb, squash, zuchini, pumpkins, cantelope, watermelon, blue berries, he has apple trees, turnips, and I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting.  When we went over there Sunday he sent us home with a load of fresh veggies.

Source:  My Photo
He gave us cabbage which I'm  planning to cook with some polish sausage, corn on the cob, potatoes for stewing, bell peppers that I plan to freeze and add to soups and sauces all year, zucchini for yummy zucchini bread, squash for frying and grilling, cherry tomatoes that I'm going to saute in some olive oil with garlic just until they burst, and beautiful green tomatoes that I will definitely turn into fried green tomatoes.  He also gave us one habenero which my husband might try to eat, but I won't touch.  I don't like hot stuff.  He also gave us some banana peppers that I like to eat with sandwiches or put on homemade pizza.  I love garden season!

He also loves antiques and anything old, including books.  While we were there he showed me some of his latest finds, some of which he got because they were old.  Others he got because he thought they looked interesting, and he knows my sister and I love to read.

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My favorite from this group is The Slim Princess.  I think the cover is beautiful and there are some cool illustrations inside.  I also thought Death of A Stranger looked interesting so I borrowed it.  Although, I didn't get a picture of it, he also had an old two volume Anna Karenina that was beautiful.  I don't know how it escaped me.

I didn't bring my phone into my Dad's, and when he started showing me the books I started using my daughter's Ipod touch (which she never leaves the house without) to take photos.  My husband said, "I guess these will end up in the blog."

Yep babe!  You were right.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ten Books I Thought I'd Never Read: Pregnant By The Playboy Tycoon by Anne Oliver

Well, I can check the romance genre off the list, and I'm glad to say that it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be.  If I'm being honest, this was a fun book to read.  It was a light, fast read, and it only took a couple hours.  Of course this wasn't the first romance novel I've read, so I knew what to expect even though it's been years since the last one.  This book is pretty much what you'd think--lots of build up to some very racy adult scenes in the last few chapters of the book.  If you like romance novels, I'd recommend this one.  As for myself, even though this wasn't a bad book by any means, romance novels are not something I intend to read on a regular basis--fun every now and then, but not all the time.  In the end I'm glad I read, Pregnant By The Playboy Tycoon by Anne Oliver.  It was something totally different and really fun.


Anne Oliver was born in Adelaide, South Australia
Visit her website:

In preparing for this blog I did a little research on Harlequin.  According to Wikipedia, Harlequin Enterprises LTD is a Toronto, Ontario based company and a leading publisher of series romance and women's fiction.  It was founded in 1949, and they have 1200 authors worldwide.  Their first product was Nancy Bruff's, The Manatee.

Harlequin has a really great website.  If you like romance novels and have never visited it, you can do so by clicking HERE.  You can purchase physical books and ebooks.  There are free online reads  and opportunities for free books.  There is an online community where you can read blogs and participate in forums.  There are also submission guidelines.

I'll end this post with one of the earliest romance novels, Samuel Richardson's, Pamela written in 1740.  I haven't read it, but I'm officially adding it to the list!

From Goodreads...
"One of the most spectacular successes of the flourishing literary marketplace of eighteenth-century London, Pamela also marked a defining moment in the emergence of the modern novel. In the words of one contemporary, it divided the world "into two different Parties, Pamelists and Antipamelists," even eclipsing the sensational factional politics of the day. Preached for its morality, and denounced as pornography in disguise, it vividly describes a young servant's long resistance to the attempts of her predatory master to seduce her. Written in the voice of its low-born heroine, Pamela is not only a work of pioneering psychological complexity, but also a compelling and provocative study of power and its abuse.
Based on the original text of 1740, from which Richardson later retreated in a series of defensive revisions, this edition makes available the version of Pamela that aroused such widespread controversy on its first appearance."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Look What I Found At A Yard Sale Today

We went by a yard sale today and I found some interesting stuff...

My daughter has been taking piano lessons for about three years now, and she really enjoys it.  We didn't have a piano at first, so she practiced on a keyboard.  Not long after she started her lessons my Dad bought her a piano that he got for a good price at an estate sale.  We were both super excited.  It's an old piano, and it's beautiful.

I found some piano books today at a yard sale.

These books are almost 50 years old.
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This one's over 35 years old.
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And how much fun (for me mostly!) will it be for her to learn a little Madonna!
I couldn't believe this was an EZ piano book.
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This past Christmas she decided she wanted a violin.  I asked her if she wanted to take lessons, and she said no.  She just wanted the violin to play around with, and if she liked it maybe she could take some lessons later.  So we got her a cheap little violin.  She doesn't pick it up all that much.  I found these violin books, and thought maybe they'd give her some direction.

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I have a fairly new hobby of collecting vinyl records.  I have lots of 7 inch records that my mom gave to me, and I just recently purchased a 12 inch that I love.  I found some more at the yard sale today for $.50 a piece.

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I got the six music books and eight records for $9.  Not too bad!

I also started a new audio book today, Edgar Allan Poe The Complete Short Stories.  I've never read anything written by Poe that I can remember.  I listened to several stories while I mowed the yard, and lets just say they are interesting.