Category Archives: reading

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT READING IN 2017

I know setting your intentions is the big thing to do now, but I still made a New Year’s resolution for 2017 – TO READ LESS!!! I wasn’t specific enough – yes, I read 21 fewer books in 2017 than I did in 2016, but I read almost the same number of pages both years. What I need to do is spend LESS TIME reading! Bet you don’t hear that too often!

 Yes, I read EVERY DAY and that won’t change. I start every day the same way – EVERY SINGLE DAY!
I discovered a few things this year.

What was the oldest book I read? Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, written in 1904.  Did you know that J.M. Barrie never physically described Peter, and in the early plays his outfit is made of autumn leaves and cobwebs – then Disney stepped in and created the Peter Pan we are familiar with today.

Which film adaptation differed the most from the book? Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. I’m not going to give anything away, except the endings are totally different and not all the characters in the book are in the movie, and not all the characters in the movie are in the book. Being a novella of only 100 pages or so, take an afternoon to read it and see for yourself. Truman Capote was NOT happy with the movie, he didn’t agree with the casting of Audrey Hepburn – he wanted Marilyn Monroe – can you imagine?

What was the most surprising connection I found within a book?  After watching the superb documentary on PBS, H is for Hawk, The Next Chapter, I decided to read the prequel, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.  Helen had trouble adjusting after her father’s sudden death, so she trained a Goshawk (pronounced Gos-Hawk) named Mabel. As she embarks on this monumental task, she  constantly refers to book The Goshawk written by T.H. White.

This may not seem like a big deal, but T.H. White wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Once and Future King, which is the story of King Arthur. It begins with the story of The Sword in the Stone, with Merlyn telling Arthur (or Wart as he is called) that he will turn him into “everything in the world” for his education. In the same conversation, Merlyn states that “the way to learn” is “by listening to the experts.” So, Merlyn turns him into a fish, a goose, an ant, a badger, and of course, a hawk. The hawks are compared to knights, standing “gravely in their plumed helmets, spurred and armed.”  T.H. White was a falconer himself.

The Once and the Future King is a book I have read at least three times,, and it is on my list reread in 2018!

WHAT AUTHORS DID I DISCOVER THIS YEAR?  I discovered many, but there are two that stand out: Bill Bryson and Melissa Fay Green.

My journey will Bill Bryson began with The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, A Memoir, which was my pick for reading a book by an author from Iowa. (I’m on a quest to read a book by an author from each state). I also read A Walk in the Woods, Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.  A humorous book, it is still packed full of information about the trail itself and the US Forestry Department. It also reminded me of another resolution I did not fulfill – and that was to walk the Appalachian Trail – well, to walk ON the trail as I live a little over an hour from the beginning of the trail. I also read the highly entertaining The Road to Little Dribbling,  Adventures of an American in Britain. which if I’d read the entire title, I would have known it wasn’t about basketball! It is highly entertaining and very well researched! I kept thinking about all those British mysteries I watch on TV!

The other writer is Mellisa Fay Greene, who happens to be a local writer here in Atlanta. I can’t believe it took me this long to pick up a book by her. Greene is the author of six books of nonfiction, a two-time National Book Award finalist, and a 2011 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. Her books have been translated into 15 languages, quite a resume! I read Praying for Sheetrock, her first book, which takes place a McIntosh County, a small coastal town in Southern Georgia in the 1970’s, that seemingly was bypassed by the Civil Rights Movement. I remembered part of this story, but the book brought these people to life.

The Underdogs, Children, Dogs and the Power of Unconditional Love.  This is the story of Karen Shirk,, diagnosed at 24 of a neuromuscular disease and being rejected by every service dog agency as being “too disabled.” Encouraged by her nurse, she raised and trained her own service dog. Founding the service training center, 4 Paws for Ability, she has trained over a thousand dogs that go primarily to children. These are “wonder” tales, interspersed with scientific research on dogs and also on the human/dog bond. It is insightful, at times humorous and joyful, and sometimes heart wrenching. I have to say, I am a true dog lover and usually steer away from dog books, but this one was worth it.

 

WHAT BOOK WAS THE FUNNIEST BOOK I READ (not counting Bill Bryson)? Marrying George Clooney by Amy Ferris.   Most women “of a certain age” may identify with these hilarious stories. Ferris begins chronicling her ramblings when she is awake in the middle of the night (think menopause). She googles old boyfriends, researches fatal diseases on the web, and imagines stories that are so absurd you will laugh out loud. At the same time she is trying to get care for her mom, who is suffering from dementia and has developed a crush on Jesus Christ.

WHAT BOOK DID I READ AGAIN, AND WILL PROBABLY READ AGAIN AND AGAIN? The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp.  I love this book, and it is one of the best resources for artists out there.  There are 32 exercises based on lessons Twyla has learned throughout her amazing career. She shows you ways to observe the world around you – and then get it down on paper. If you think you should think outside the box, this book may not be for you – she says you need to understand what the box is in the first place and begins each new project with an actual box! She opens a new box and then fills it with anything that has a connection to the project or may be inspiration for the project.WHAT BOOK MADE ME PROUD OF THE TOWN NEXT TO MINE?  Outcasts United, An American Town, A Refugee Team and One Women’s Quest to Make a Difference by Warren St. John. This story takes place in Clarkston Georgia, which is a few miles from downtown Atlanta and one exit away from me on the interstate. It was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990’s- bringing people in from Liberia to Sudan to Afghanistan. Enter Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to help the refugee children and keep them off the streets. Thus the team THE FUGEES was born. The story is inspiring, as this is a small town that is becoming a global community – and it shows the challenges they all face. It is truly inspirational and when it is made into a movie (which rumor says it has been optioned), it will be the feel good movie of the year.

WHAT BOOK CAN I NOT BELIEVE IT TOOK ME TO LONG TO READ? The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I don’t know why it took me so long to read it, because it now seems oddly prophetic now, and scary.

BOOK WITH THE MOST SURPRISING ENDING? Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Have you ever gotten to the end of the book and thought – how did I miss that? So much so, you consider going back and reading it again to pick up the clues? This is one of those books. It is the story of 13-year old Genna, who while searching for her missing mother, enlists the aid of a formerly famous psychic and a down and out detective to help her. Her mother disappeared 10 years ago from an elephant sanctuary. The book is well researched on elephant behavior. Luckily, this is a book club pick, so I am rereading it to pick up the clues!

HONORABLE MENTIONS for 2017

There are more, but these stood out. I thought about putting together a list of forgettable books, but they truly were forgettable. If I hadn’t logged them in on Good Reads, I wouldn’t have remembered them. 

So, going forward into 2018, I hope to attempt another “resolution” from 2017 I didn’t get around to – I want to read The Iliad or The Odyssey (no – I’ve never read them). Maybe if I read a chapter a day, I’ll get through at least one of them!

What was your favorite book from 2017? What was the biggest surprise you found!

 

FIRST QUARTER 2017 BOOKS

Yes, I have been a little quiet lately. I became the administrator of an on-line book club (currently at 450+ members!), and am active in three other book clubs! Because I didn’t do this blog on a monthly basis, I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

CLASSICS

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I think I’ll read some more!

PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie – this is a very quick and easy read. I don’t know what took me so long to actually read it!

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S by Truman Capote – I decided to read this novella after watching the movie. There are major differences between the two. First of all, the book is set in the 1940’s. And Holly Golightly does not sing Moon River in the novella, instead she the following lyrics.

“Don’t wanna sleep. Don’t wanna die. Just wanna go a-travelin’ through the pastures of the sky.”

And, Truman Capote always wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the part. There are many more differences, characters written out, a character added to the movie and the ending very different. Read it and find out!

THE GARDEN OF THE GODS by Gerald Durrell – This is the third book in the Corfu Trilogy. I was inspired to read these books after watching the delightful first season on Masterpiece Theater, The Durrells in Corfu.

THE HANDMAIDS TALE by Margaret Atwood  – I don’t know how I missed reading this all of these years, but reading it now is almost terrifying!

MANUALS (all book club selections)

GET RICH LUCKY BITCH – RELEASE YOUR MONEY BLOCKS AND LIVE A FIRST CLASS LIFE by Denise Duffield-Thomas – Do you think the big word of 2017 is “manifest”? . I learned a few things and Denise is down to earth and delightfully raunchy.

THE ART OF EXTREME SELF-CARE – TRANSFORM YOU LIFE ONE MONTH AT A TIME by Cheryl Richardson – this is a pretty small book, and I think I’ll go back and read a chapter a month at a time!

THE CREATIVE HABIT, LEARN IT AND USE IT THE REST OF YOUR LIFE by Twyla Tharp – this is a must read for anyone wanting more creativity in their life.

BIG MAGIC – CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert – This book had very mixed reviews in the book club. I had read it before, but it resonated more to me this time around.

NON-FICTION

BLACK MOUNTAIN – AN EXPLORATION IN COMMUNITY by Martin Duberman – Black Mountain College was an experimental school operating from 1933 – 1957 outside of Asheville, N.C.  where the study of art was considered not only important but useful. Some of the people that attended there included Willem De Koonig, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Motherwell, Merce Cunningham to name a few. Einstein even lectured there. Fascinating story, but this is a very scholastic book!

OUTCASTS UNITED – THE STORY OF A REFUGEE SOCCER TEAM THAT CHANGED A TOWN by Warren St. John – This is the feel-good book of the year, and has been optioned for a movie. I’m proud to say this town (Clarkston, Georgia) is two exits from me! I am checking into volunteer opportunities there!

FICTION

THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – This is the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books trilogy. The first book in the series THE SHADOWS OF THE WIND is one of my favorite books of all time! It did not disappoint!

THE AMERICAN HEIRESS by Daisy Goodwin – I actually found this book on my bookshelf while I was cleaning out. At that time, I was enthralled with Victoria on Masterpiece Theater, which is based on a book by Daisy Goodwin. This is the story of an American heiress going to England to marry into a titled family (this takes place 20 years before Downtown Abby). While it was fun, I like Queen Victoria better!

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer –  This was a reread for a book club – and I enjoyed it more the second time around! This epistolary novel begins in 1946 at the end of World War II and the German occupation of the Channel Islands. I loved these characters and I want to go to Guernsey!

HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult  -A teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome is accused of murder. It is a page turner, but it is overly researched, so it gets a little bogged down. As in all her books, there are two sides to every story and nobody is 100% right or 100% wrong.

IT ENDS WITH US by Colleen Hoover – This is an emotionally charged book about the pain of love sometimes dealing with a difficult subject that was extremely personal for the author.

CIRCLING THE SUN by Paula McClain – Historical fiction about the fascinating Beryl Markham – a record setting aviator, who falls in love with Denys Finch Hatton and is friends with Karen Blixen (remember them from Out of Africa?)

MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – On the eve of the unnamed character’s 90th birthday, he visits a brother and falls in love with a young girl that sleeps through his visits. As beautifully written as it is, and as much as I enjoyed it, it is not for everyone.

PIANO GIRL – A MEMOIR by Robin Meloy Goldsby – This is the story of a girl who makes a living playing the piano in lounges – it is a fun and quick read. I kept wondering if that could have been me – as I played the piano for chorus throughout high school!

THE OTHER EINSTEIN by Marie Benedict – I won this book in a drawing and this is a story about Einstein I didn’t know.  Mileva – Einstein’s first wife, was a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the theory of relativity is questioned. There is definitely room for only one genius in this marriage! When their marriage coming apart, Einstein thought they should stay together for the sake of the children, if she would adhere to the following list:

“CONDITIONS
You will make sure:
that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, You will forego:
my sitting at home with you;
my going out or travelling with you.
You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
you will stop talking to me if I request it;
you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.”

She accepted them, but ultimately left him in Berlin and relocated in Zurich. I realized how little I know about Einstein’s personal life!

That’s it for now! I hope you find something of interest here! Let me know what you think! and what you are reading!

 

 

 

WHAT I READ IN JUNE

June was an unusually light month for me.  Partly, because the first selection took longer than usual!  So, here goes:41A9RTmB7dL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

CLEOPATRA, A LIFE by Stacy Schiff:  Oh, what a life it was! Her story is told by Stacy Schiff, who previously won the Pulitzer Prize for Vera, Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov. But, be forewarned, this book will take some time. What did I learn? First of all, I learned I know very little about the ancient world. And, what did I know about Cleopatra? I knew the story Shakespeare gave us and the face Hollywood gave us (Elizabeth Taylor). However, there is incest, murder, wars and more. Cleopatra married two of her brothers, went to war with one and poisoned the other. Apparently that was not unusual behavior in those days (her parents may have been siblings.) She had children with the two most powerful men in Rome, Julia Caesar and Marc Antony. Speaking nine languages, read also read Homer and travelled all over the Mediterranean. In fact, as the author herself says, Cleopatra has one of the busiest afterlifes in history – and remember none of the early biographers actually knew her!

THE SHIP OF BRIDES by JoJo Moyes:  Taking place after WWII, it tells the story of 600 Australian brides, and their journey by boat to reunite with the men they met during the war. Interestingly, the HMS Victorious traveled from Sydney with 655 brides, and the author discovered her grandmother was among them. This historical fiction novel tells the story of four women from different background that are forced to share a small cabin for the 6 week journey. Good story based on historical events I never knew happened

 

THE LAST OF THE HONKY-TONK ANGELS by Marsha Moyer: I realized after I began the book it is a sequel to THE SECOND COMING OF LUCY HATCH, but that doesn’t really matter.  Lucy has married Ash after a whirlwind courtship. After three months, Ash’s ex-wife dumps their 14 year-old daughter on their doorsteps. Seems as if everybody has a secret in this small east Texas town. A little predictable.

69076ff8fed758f2061220d74117df15-w204@1xDINNER WITH BUDDHA: A NOVEL by Roland Merullo: This is the third book in this fictional series and apparently there is another one expected to come out in a couple of years. Food writer Otto Ringling took his first road journey with brother-in-law Volya Rinpoche eight years before this novel takes place. Otto has had many changes to his life during this time, and now his sister has been having dreams about her seven-year-old daughter. Could she be the next Dalai Lama? Otto and Rinpoche travel through the west, visiting Native American reservations, diners, casinos and more, Not only is mindfulness an important lesson to learn, so is learning gratitude and compassion. Often humorous, always thoughtful, I look forward to the next installment, even though this had a fairly satisfying ending.

CREATING MOMENTS OF JOY FOR THE PERSON WITH ALZHEIMER’S OR DEMENTIA: A JOURNAL FOR CAREGIVERS – Jolene Brackey: I will keep this book and refer back to it, it is a great source of information, as well offering solace and comfort. I made some changes in the way I talk to my mother after reading this book. I have given my copy to other family members to help us with this journey and I’d recommend the book to others. It is very readable, with concrete stories that will make you laugh, cry, but also make you think.

My beautiful mom

My beautiful mom

So – now I have to get back to that other book I started over a week ago that I still haven’t finished. It is due back at the library today, and there is a waiting list for the book so I can’t renew it! I’m almost finished with it, and it too wasn’t the easiest read. I found myself rereading portions of it, but I’m finding the pay off if worth it!  You have to wait until the end of July to know what book it is – but I will say it is often classified as scence fiction (written in 1997).

 

ALICE PRIN – AKA KIKI DE MONTPARNASSE

This is the 16th installment of “Women in Art” series

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Born Alice Prin, she eventually became known as Kiki De Montparnasse. In the 1920’s, Montparnasse, located on the left bank of the river Seine,  became the meeting place for the artistic world – with artists coming from all over the world. Gertrude Stein ran  a salon that was attended by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway. Sylvia Beach had Shakespeare and Company, almost going bankrupt publishing Ulysses for James Joyce.  Montparnasse created some great colorful characters, with Kiki in the middle of it all. She would appear at Le Jockey Bar and sing bawdy funny songs, climb up on the tables and lift her skirts to dance (not bothering with underwear). But, she was more than an entertainer, she was a friend to many, a model to some and a muse to others – most notably to Man Ray.

Kiki de Montparnassee 1926 - Man Ray

Kiki de Montparnassee 1926 – Man Ray

She was raised in total poverty by her grandmother. At age twelve, she was sent to Paris to live with her mother, working in shops and bakeries (She was fired from a bakery for darkening her eyebrows with matchsticks!) By the age of fourteen she was posing nude for sculptors – causing her mother to kick her into the streets.

It was Chaim Soutine that named her Kiki when she was posing for him.

Other artists she posed for included Foujita, Picabia, Jean Cocteau, Alexander Calder, Moise Kisling to name a few.

Kiki by Moise Kisling

Kiki by Moise Kissing

 Her companion for six years (or eight years depending on where you look) was the photographer Man Ray, and his most iconic image was a photograph of her, which was reproduced on the cover of the graphic novel about her life. She also starred in several surrealistic films by Man Ray (see link at the end of the post for a tribute to her)

Le Violon d'Ingres - Man Ray

Le Violon d’Ingres – Man Ray

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She was a painter in her own right, having a sold-out exhibition of her work in 1927 (however, none of these images were available). It is reported her drawings and paintings included self-portraits, dream landscapes and animals apparently painted in an Impressionistic style (which I find interesting as many of her friends were Surrealists).

In 1929 her memoirs were published (at age 28) with an introduction by Hemingway who wrote:

“about as close as people get nowadays to being a Queen, but that, of course, is very different from being a lady.”

For a few years in the 1930’s she owned a Montparnasse cabaret known at “Chez Kiki”.

“All I need is an onion, a bit of bread, and a bottle of red wine, and I will always find somebody to offer me that.”

Her health began to decline in the 1930’s and she also began financing medical care for her mother.  She left Paris in 1940 to avoid the German occupation living mostly in the South of France.

Kik died in 1953 after collapsing outside her flat. She was only 52, suffering from complications from alcoholism and drug dependence.  Her tomb says:

Kiki, 1901-1953, singer, actree, painter, Queen of Montparnasse

The painter Tsuguharu Foujita said that with the death of Kiki, the glorious days of Montparnassee were buried forever.

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This book was apparently banned in the US until the 1970’s. In her honor, a daylily was named Kiki de Montparnasse. There is also a high end sex store that bears her name.

Here is a video of a tribute to Kiki with clips of some of the surrealistic films made by Man Ray.

If you are interested in learning more about Kiki, I highly recommend the graphic novel about her simply titled Kiki de Montparnasse.  I enjoyed researching this, I would like to read more about that glorious time in Paris, so you have recommendations, let me know. I found Kiki was more than just being famous for being famous, there was more to her than that! She lived gloriously for a time, with a tragic ending.

THREE MONTHS OF READING – JULY THROUGH SEPTEMBER

To say I’m behind is an understatement. I have some catching up to do. In the past three months I read some crime stories, an older classic children’s book, a Russian novel, Science Fiction and my new standby Sherlock for starters!  So – here goes!

FATAL EMBRACE, THE INSIDE STORY OF THE THOMAS CAPANO/ANNE MARIE FAHEY MURDER CASE by Cris Barrish – I originally started this book as part of my quest, to read a book by an author from each state. This was originally my book from an author from Delaware – but about halfway through the book, I decided Delaware deserved better. However, this is an unbelievable true story. Thomas Capano was the former deputy attorney general of Delaware, married with children AND the last person seen with Anne Marie Fahey. Her body was never found, however, his brother admitted to helping bury her at sea. Compano  was convicted and actually sentenced to death. This is a fascinating crime story, actually made into a movie starring Mark Harmon and it inspired an episode of Law and Order!

PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf – I read this as part of my quest, this was my selection for Colorado – you can read about it here! I am currently reading the sequel Eventide.

A MOVEABLE FEAST by Ernest Hemingway – I read this as a reading group selection. It is important to note, this book was published posthumously in 1964, edited from his manuscripts and notes by his fourth wife and widow, Mary Hemingway. It consists of Hemingways personal observations of life in Paris in the 1920’s. It is a quick and enjoyable read.

A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD by Lisa Ann Sandell – this is my selection for my quest for the state of Delaware – I will be blogging separately about this book.

THE MAN IN THE GREY FLANNEL SUIT by Sloan Wilson – This is my selection for my quest for the state of Conneticut – so I will be blogging separately about this book (I’m behind on blogging about my quest!).

A SUMMER PLACE by Sloan Wilson – I enjoyed the book The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit enough to read another book by Sloan Wilson. The 1959 movie starring Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee is but a sliver of the book.  The book focuses on the lives of teenage loves, Ken and Sylvia, who end up marrying other people and meet up years later. The movie focuses on the children of Ken and Sylvia – Molly and Johnny. The book has a lot more depth and texture than the movie. Both the book and movie were considered controversial in the late 50’s, focusing on  divorce, adultery and sexuality.

BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA by Roland Merullo – this is a delightful little book – considered “spiritual fiction”. It follows Otto Ringling, a food book editor living in New York, who travels to his parents home in Bismark SD to liquidate their estate. He reluctantly agrees to take Volya Rinpoche, a Siberian Monk, with him at the urging of his sister. Along the way, they go to a chocolate factory, go bowling, and attend a baseball game at Wrigley field. Otto begins this journey  as a skeptic, but he slowly gains new perspectives on the world and his life with Rinpoche’s company. There have been two sequels, titled Lunch with Buddha and Dinner with Buddha. It was a sweet and somewhat thought provoking book – I plan on reading the sequels,

FIRST LOVE by Ivan Turgenev – Originally published in 1860, it begins with a 16 year old boy falling in love with a 21 one year old neighbor. The girl, Zinaida, has several other suitors, and the boy, Vladimir, gets in line. However, Vladimir eventually discovers the true object of her affection is his own father, and the last two chapters take a tragic turn. This is a wonderful and beautiful written little gem of a novella – and it is free on Kindle.

THE VACATIONERS by Emma Straub – The Post family is spending two weeks in Mallorca to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of Franny and Jim. Franny is a food editor, Jim was recently forced to resign as an editor of a New York Magazine because of an affair with a 23 year old intern. Obviously, their marriage is in trouble. Their daughter Sylvia has recently graduated high school with a goal to lose her virginity. Son Bobby arrives from Florida with his much older girlfriend, Carmen. Then there is Charles, Franny’s best friend, and his husband Lawrence. The book is very well reviewed, but I found it kind of exasperating.

BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter – I love books about movies. Beginning in 1962 in Porta Vergogna, a tiny Italian coastal town, you meet Pasqual who’s family owns the only hotel in town.. There is an American tourist who comes annually to work on his novel for two weeks a year.  A beautiful actress, Dee, arrives from Rome, where she has been filming the movie Cleopatra. It jumps around in time, going to modern day Hollywood with a legendary producer as well as a character that is pitching a movie about the Donner Party. Richard Burton makes an appearance. I found this book entertaining – even though it is almost epic in scope, moving around time and also moving around the world.

A LITTLE PRINCESS by Frances Hodgson Burnett – as a child, I loved the movie that starred Shirley Temple. The story line is basically the same, Sara arrives from India to London to go to Miss Minchin’s school, enjoying a life of privilege. All of this changes for her in a classic riches to rags story. Her father is killed and she becomes a beggar and a servant. But Sara is kind and becomes inspirational. The movie ads an entire plot line that doesn’t appear in the book. Surprisingly, Frances Hodgson Burnett also wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden!

A STUDY IN SCARLET by Arthur Conan Doyle – I think I need a monthly does of Sherlock these days. This is considered the first Sherlock/Watson pairing. The best part is also when Sherlock begins his deductions to Watson’s amazement, who proclaims “You are wonderful, Holmes!” – you know what? I agree!

THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir – the story about this being published is almost as interesting as the book itself. I really loved the book and can’t wait to see the movie!

THE GIRL WHO SAVED THE KING OF SWEDEN by Jonas Jonasson – this should be a Wes Anderson film. Nombeko is born in 1961 in Soweto. She becomes imprisoned and ends up as a housecleaner for an incompetent engineer in a research facility working on nuclear bombs. There is an extra bomb and Nombeko excapes to Sweden (along with the bomb) where she meets the twins Holger One and Holger Two, whose father wanted to take down the King of Sweden. The Mossad gets involed, as well as Jimmy Carter and other dignitaries from the time. I could go on about the story, but it sounds crazy when trying to recount it!  Even so,  enjoyed this, but if you want to read only books that are realistic, this isn’t for you. If you like crazy, fantastic stories that somehow make sense, enjoy!

Any suggestions?