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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Zelda Fitzgerald

It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's book is Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.

The roaring '20s. Even that name itself blazes with intensity. One of the foremost power couples of that era were the Fitzgeralds- F. Scott and Zelda. Known for being a southern belle and her flapper lifestyle in New York, Zelda is told through a new gaze. Therese Anne Fowler has crafted a compelling story that makes the case (based on much historical research and some supposition) that Zelda ought to shine in our memories for many more reasons than what she's known for.

One of the most common labels Zelda receives is the diminishing and harmful label of "crazy". For more on this fascinating topic, see this article on if Zelda really were crazy and this one on "gaslighting" in general.

Although much debate still continues on the specifics of the Fitzgeralds, the literary Zelda in Z is interesting, sympathetic, and talented. Time and again, she tries her hand at writing, painting, ballet and the reader is led to believe that she could really succeed- if only given the chance. The problem is F. Scott keeps cutting off her chances. Even as a wife and mother, Zelda's potential is cut short by F. Scott. Isolating her from daughter Scottie and even renaming her from Patricia, that the couple had agreed would be her name before Frances Scott Fitzgerald was born, show the lengths that F. Scott went to in order to maintain his control over Zelda. She was to be shown-off and he relied on her for this. Also, though, at least according to Fowler, F. Scott owed much to Zelda in terms of his writing. Whole portions of her diaries were lifted to go into F. Scott's novels and some of Zelda's short stories were published under F. Scott's name.

This book is also fascinating because of the locations that the Fitzgeralds live in- the old south of Alabama (where Zelda's parents even lived through the Civil War as children!), New York City, France, Italy and Switzerland to name a few. There are also a host of characters, with familiar names, who populate the pages: Tallulah Bankhead, Hemingway, Picasso, Ezra Pound, and Dorothy Parker among many others.

Art and literature are examined in this story, as well as the emergence of feminism, the ties that bind people together (even perhaps when they ought to be severed) and the pursuit of ambition. This is a really interesting book!

My best to you all,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Blast! The Legacy by Necole Ryse


Today, I'm taking part in a Book Blast for author Necole Ryse and her novel, The Legacy. In full disclosure, I should note that I have not read this book.

The Legacy

by Necole Ryse

Nineteen-year-old Raevyn Jones has never worn a designer gown. She's never had access to unlimited champagne or chauffeured limo rides. But when she is dropped in the midst of the Black Ivy League—against her will—she has to pretend that everything is normal, as if she belongs. When her new friends start to question her sketchy past and her shaky legacy at Benjamin Wallace Fitzgerald University, Raevyn realizes she will have to rely on her street smarts more than ever before. Raevyn starts to receive cryptic text messages and emails from an anonymous sender and she soon discovers that not only does someone want her to leave B.W.Fitz--someone also wants to end her life.

Available now!                                 
                            Connect with Necole Ryse 
                                          Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
About the author:
Necole Ryse graduated from Towson University with Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications. Bored
with life as an adult, Necole decided to follow her dreams to write
fiction and she hasn't looked back. She enjoys chocolate covered
pretzels, Criminal Minds marathons, and all things Harry Potter.

Be sure to join me tomorrow for Writer Wednesday and the exciting, roaring '20's!

My best to you all,

Friday, July 25, 2014

Animals, Trees and Paper Please...


Animals, Trees and Paper Please...
In other words, it's time for Friday Fun with Manuscripts!

Before keyboard or typewriters, even before ballpoint pens or pencils, manuscripts were crafted with delicate precision. If you've ever wondered how parchment was made, how inks were crafted or how to make the perfect quill, then this is a very interesting video from the Getty museum!

My best to you all,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Washington

It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today I'd like to talk about Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow.

Legend. General. Politician. First President. Cherry Trees. Wooden Teeth. Martha. Crossing the Delaware. Mount Vernon. Slavery. Continental Congress. There are so many things that come to mind when thinking of George Washington. Ron Chernow makes the point in his impressive and massive biography of George Washington that, aside from Benjamin Franklin, Washington was the first American celebrity. His popularity endures long beyond his times and he is still admired, revered and provokes curiosity.

Ron Chernow's biography is both a New York Times Best-seller as well as a Pulitzer Prize winner. Beginning with Washington's childhood and progressing all the way through his legendary status, Washington's life, work, beliefs, relationships and influence are explored. A fascinating portrait of the American landscape as colony, as rising new political entity and as débutante on the world stage is also examined. The relationship with England and France and how this changed is particularly interesting. Sorting fact from fiction and offering a wealth of interesting stories and information, Washington is a fascinating book for anyone interested not only in the first president but in the early history of the United States.

I've visited historic Philadelphia, where Washington crossed the Delaware, Valley Forge, and Mount Vernon and it was nice being able to picture the places as I read through the biography. Sadly, for Washington, he was able to invest more emotionally into his home at Mount Vernon than actual time spent there. In addition, rather than bolster his income, it repeatedly drained his finances. I was surprised to learn that Washington was often poor and even had to borrow money to finance his trip to New York for his inauguration. Another fascinating part of the book is the emergence of the political party system in the 1790s. Prior to this, unity was the order of the day and so there was natural reluctance to any dissenters. Only later, would this be seen as a healthy and natural part of the American government.

With a colorful cast of characters and told in an extremely engaging style, Washington reads almost as a novel more than just a biography. It is a pleasure to eavesdrop on Martha Washington's Friday evening teas and to walk among the horses in the stable of the visitors who assemble in Mount Vernon. Walking the streets of Philadelphia or dancing at the balls, you can hear the rustle of silk and homespun American cotton and wool.

This book is well worth reading!

My best to you all,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top 10 Characters I'd want with me on a deserted island

Literary Characters to the Rescue!

Stranded on a deserted island. It's a common theme in literature and TV, inspiring thrillers with outlandish characters (Polar bears on Lost, anyone?) as well as pages in my high school English journal (Who else scrutinized the meaning of the conch shell in Lord of the Flies?).
Today's theme is the top ten literary characters that I'd like to have with me on a deserted island. They are in no particular order. 

1) Character: Karana
What's she from?: Island of the Blue Dolphins
Author: Scott O'Dell
Why I want her with me on the island: One of the first survival stories I read was Island of the Blue Dolphins. Karana survives on her own, finds food and shelter and inspires courage in the face of obstacles. She's also based on a real story from the 19th century. 

2) Characters: Miranda and Prospero 
What are they from?: The Tempest
Author: Shakespeare
Why I want them with me: They survived on a deserted island for many years and Prospero is a magician- useful! Although, you may wish to avoid them if your name is anything like Caliban... 

By the way, Did you know that many people think that The Tempest was in part based on England's new sea ventures and first permanent colony of Jamestown, Virginia? Talk about real life survival! 

3) Character: Gandalf
Where's he from?: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit 
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Why I want him with me on the island: A wizard who always appears when you need him and he can call giant flying birds to help you get away? Yes, please! 

4) Characters: The Boxcar Children (Violet, Henry, Benny and Jessie)
What are they from: The Boxcar Children series
Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner 
Why I want them with me on the island: Surviving by themselves was never a problem for Violet, Henry, Benny and Jessie and some of their meals made out of practically nothing looked delicious. (I even have a Boxcar Children cookbook that I got for my 7th or 8th birthday.) 

5) Character: Doctor Watson
What's he from?: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Why I want him with me on the island: Dr. Watson survived Afghanistan, knows medical treatment, and is a faithful friend. And anyone who can put up with Sherlock Holmes' eccentricity is bound to be able to stay sane in unpredictable situations. 

6) Character: Rose Justice
What's she from?: Rose Under Fire 
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Why I want her with me on the island: She survived much worse than a deserted island through her trials in WWII. She knows the meaning of friendship and she's a pilot. She also happens to be a poet and we know the same camp songs to sing around the fire. With a tagline like "Survival means more than just staying alive" how could you not include Rose?

7)  Character: The Golem
What is she from?: The Golem and the Jinni 
Author: Helene Wecker
Why I want her with me on the island: She can walk underwater and never gets tired! She's also a loyal and steadfast friend. 

8) Characters: Celia and Marco (They're kind of a two-for-one deal. BOGO magicians, if you will- bring one, get one free)
What are they from?: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern 
Why I want them with me on the island: These two bring magic and tenacity,  plus they have the ability of creating the impossible. 
And, of course, there's the whole ice thing, because islands are, you know, hot. 

9) Character: Odysseus
What's he from?: The Odyssey 
Author: Homer
Why I want him with me on the island: Even though he gets distracted by a ton of things (including being Circe's guest for a whole year!), he survives many sea troubles and finds his way home. After all, finding your way home is the second most important thing, after survival, on a deserted island. 

10) Character: Aslan
What's he from? : Chronicles of Narnia series 
Author: C.S. Lewis
Why I want him with me on the island:  Like Gandalf, Aslan's ability to appear and offer exactly what is needed would be a huge benefit! 

Which literary characters would you want to step from the pages and assist you on a deserted island? 

My best to you all,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top 10 Tuesday- TV Shows

Photo from The Broke and the Bookish 

Today's Top 10 Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish is about another form of media than books.

So, here are my top 10 favorite TV shows currently in no particular order. (Currently doesn't mean they are presently on air.)

1. History Detectives
(Also the new History Detectives Special Investigations)

Solving the mysteries of history
 with historians, auctioneers and experts

2. Antiques Roadshow
Appraisal of antiques from the nation's experts 

3. Gilmore Girls
Any book-related list must include Rory Gilmore
 and her mountainous collection of books!

4. I Love Lucy
Oh, how I love Lucy! 

5. Heartland
A family's horse ranch in Alberta, Canada 

6. Murdoch Mysteries
Turn of the century detectives in Toronto 

7. Bargain Hunt 
Two teams each with £300 pounds compete to make the most profit
 in an auction by selling three items with the help of an expert 

8. Mr. Ed
Who wouldn't love a talking horse?

9. Meet the Press/ Click
                                                (Really more news programs than tv shows)

 Famous Washington round table of the top current events 

All the latest on technological news from the BBC  

10. Master Chef 
Cooking competition extravaganza! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

World Cup Lessons

World Cup Season is fully here!

Aside from a ball on a field landing in the net to score beautiful goals, what are we really celebrating?


Hard work





World Peace

Here's to two great final games!

My best to you all,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Juliet

Hello! It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's pick is Anne Fortier's Juliet.

Beautifully interwoven, like the Medieval tapestries that adorned the walls of the castles of Sienna, Fortier's novel bursts with heart and beauty. Shakespeare's tales are universal and enduring to readers of all nations and ages. In this retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Fortier explores the roots of the story, including Shakespeare's classic of the Renaissance but also exploring the story's Medieval origins. It was Sienna, not Verona, where the two opposing houses were. Partly told in 1340 and partly told in present-day, this is the story of destiny, fate, family rivalries and true love. It is also, though, a story of lineage, of sisterhood, of twins and two sides, of ancient treasure, of discovery, of choice, of motive and of secrets. In short, it is a thrilling story infused with historical, cultural, mystical and adventuresome spirit.

This book is not only captivating, but also beautifully written with philosophical musing. This full-bodied experience is the kind of writing that I love both to read and to write. I was surprised to learn that Fortier's first language was not English, as she is Danish, because of the beauty captured in her words. One of my favorite passages is from Chapter IV.1

"The angels. If you are very quiet, you can hear them giggle."
"What are they laughing at?" I had wanted to know. "Us?"
"They take flying lessons here. There is no wind, only the breath of God."
"Is that what makes them fly? The breath of God?"
"There is a trick to flying. The angels told me." He had smiled at my wide-eyed awe. "You need to forget everything you know as a human being. When you are human, you know as a human being. When you are human, you discover that there is great power in hating the earth. And it can almost make you fly. But it never will."
I had frowned, not quite understanding him. "So, what's the trick?"
"Love the sky."

This is a gem of advice: to achieve your goals, do not try to run from what you hate, hoping to take off. Instead, reach for what you love and you will fly. Great books help us to soar and to love the sky. Juliet is one of the best books that I've read. I highly recommend it.

My best to you all,

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Blast for New Release! Reverie by Christina Yother


Today, I'm taking part in a Book Blast for author Christina Yother and her novel, Reverie. In full disclosure, I should note that I have not read this book. If you'd like the opportunity to read it, though, see the details of the exciting photo contest at the bottom! 

by Christina Yother
Orphaned at a young age Hetty is convinced that her circumstances make her unworthy of having a family of her own. When a job opportunity as a housekeeper presents itself Hetty accepts believing that working for Isaac Wheeler and his family is a welcome, if not temporary, surrogate for her own family dreams. As she’s faced with learning to trust she discovers that wanting a family and building a family are two very different things. Will she learn to see herself as worthy of God’s gifts? Or will she return to the solitary existence that defined so much of her life?

Isaac Wheeler, successful furniture maker and dishonorable bachelor, finds Hetty’s presence in his home to be disturbing and a haunting reminder of his past sins. As he struggles with his growing and unwanted feelings, he can’t help but torment himself with mistakes from his past. Can he navigate the family tensions, infidelity, and sudden choices destined to keep them apart? Or can Isaac endure each struggle and seek forgiveness before discovering what truly makes a family?

Available now: Amazon 

About the Author:
Christina Yother is a historical and contemporary romance writer. She has been involved with writing, blogging, and social media for several years and earned a PhD in 2012 by writing one of the first dissertations to explore how women build community through writing online. She lives in small-town Georgia with her husband and three children.You can find her writing at christinayother.com or at projectunderblog.com where she runs a submission-based collaborative writing blog that celebrates the smaller voices in the blogging community.

Christina love to connect with readers!

Contest Time! 


Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all!
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.
~John Dickinson

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Writer Wednesday- The War that Ended Peace


It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her work.

When I first saw Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan sitting on the shelf while in college, I was captivated. It was book love at first sight. In high school, I rode the bus on the Autobahn each day passing the sign that said 400-odd km to Paris. 1919 meant the conference in Versailles, deciding upon the terms that ended WWI and enforcing a plan that set into motion the history of the next decades. WWI was alive to me. I'd been to Verdun, stood in the shadow of the past.

When I saw The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War, I knew that I had to read it. Rather than the end of the war, that Macmillan had written about in Paris 1919, The War that Ended Peace examines the beginning of the war, the years leading to it, the decisions that were made and the momentum that pushed towards its commencement. Prior to this, Europe was predominantly living in peace. Since then, those decisions continue to shape today.

WWI began 100 years ago and earlier this week was the centenary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. MacMillan's book is timely, not just in understanding then, but in understanding now as well. Historical international relations is my line of study, both in college for my degree, and what I've continued to examine since. MacMillan's books explain historical international relations perfectly, testifying to why what happened then continues to be important now. A very interesting article that MacMillan wrote about why WWI continues to be the defining era of our times can be found here. The War that Ended Peace is fascinating and one of the best books I've read.

My best to you all,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten: Classic Fiction

Image from The Broke and the Bookish 
Today's Top 10 Tuesday is Classic Fiction. I love classic fiction and read a lot of it. Therefore, I could not confine myself to 10. Here are 12. There are many other wonderful classic pieces, but these ones jumped out strongest for me to have to include as I was thinking about the list.  

1. William Shakespeare's Complete Works 

2. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- Complete Works 

3. Faust by Goethe 

4. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

 5. Tartuffe by Moliere 

 6. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving 

7. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

8. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

 9. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde 

 10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

 11. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

 12. Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

My best to you all,