Friday, October 28, 2011


The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston.  I think this might require a visit to a bookstore today!

From Amazon:
For her graduation from high school in 1920, Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook and her father’s old Corona typewriter. Despite Frankie’s dreams of becoming a writer, she must forgo a college scholarship to help her widowed mother. But when a mysterious Captain James sweeps her off her feet, her mother finds a way to protect Frankie from the less-than-noble intentions of her unsuitable beau.

Through a kaleidoscopic array of vintage postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus, and more, we meet and follow Frankie on her journey in search of success and love. Once at Vassar, Frankie crosses paths with intellectuals and writers, among them “Vincent” (alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay), who encourages Frankie to move to Greenwich Village and pursue her writing. When heartbreak finds her in New York, she sets off for Paris aboard the S.S. Mauritania, where she keeps company with two exiled Russian princes and a “spinster adventuress” who is paying her way across the Atlantic with her unused trousseau. In Paris, Frankie takes a garret apartment above Shakespeare & Company, the hub of expat life, only to have a certain ne’er-do-well captain from her past reappear. But when a family crisis compels Frankie to return to her small New England hometown, she finds exactly what she had been looking for all along.

Author Caroline Preston pulls from her extraordinary collection of vintage ephemera to create the first-ever scrapbook novel, transporting us back to the vibrant, burgeoning bohemian culture of the 1920s and introducing us to an unforgettable heroine, the spirited, ambitious, and lovely Frankie Pratt.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ Rin Tin Tin

...from Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean

The Adventures of Tin-Tin-Tin was broadcast for the first time on October 15, 1954.  The debue episode, “Meet Rin-Tin-Tin,” was the story of how the “Fighting Blue Devils” of the 101st Cavalry came to be stewards of Rusty and Rinty—or, as Sergeant O’Hara puts it, “How we found them two little orphans.”  …The show was an instant success by every measure.  It had one of the fastest ratings climbs in television history and from its start was ABC’s second-highest rated show overall, trailing only the Walt Disney show.  Nine million of the 30 million televisions in the United States tuned to The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin, several million more than were tuned to Lassie, which had premiered on CBS a month earlier.  It was also a critical success.  “Crammed with action, gun-play, and chase scenes of pre-musical-cowpoke Westerns,” wrote a critic in TV Guide.  “It makes fine viewing for kids and nostalgic viewing for grown-ups.”  Even The New Yorker paid its respects, running a “Talk of the Town” interview with the “proud, tall, long, four-year-old, hundred-pound, gray-and-white great-grandson of the original Rin Tin Tin.”  At the end of the piece, which was mostly an interview with Eva Duncan, the writer, Philip Hamburger, noted that after dinner at the Stork Club, where he turned up his nose at the roast beef, Rin Tin Tin “drank milk out of a champagne glass” and “pushed a molting goose called Susie down Broadway in a baby carriage.”  …The show was broadcasting in seventy other countries besides the United States, including Canada, France, Lebanon, Kenya, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Cuba, Thailand, Germany, Bermuda, Brazil, Italy, New Zealand, Surinam, and Japan.  Just as in earlier decades, Rin Tin Tin was everywhere.  He was a single point connecting people all over the world, from all different cultures and circumstances, all of them watching as the camera angled up to the crest of a hill where a big dog stood at alert, a depthless silhouette against a western sky in a placeless place somewhere in the timeless history of America.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ Lake of Dreams

...from Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards

For me, that’s the power of stories—that you can’t quantify them.  That they keep opening up and revealing something new.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ Wesley the Owl

...from Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien

Grandpa still played and taught drums and continued with his life.  After an appropriate time had elapsed, the predictable “casserole brigade” started appearing at his doorstep.  Unfailingly polite, he thanked each lady for her kind attention, but told her there was only one woman for him and that was Grandma.  He had lived his lifelong love.  This was the Way of the Owl.

This passage reminded me of my father whose nickname growing up in the 1920s was "Owl."  He and my mother were married for 49 years. After she passed away, there appeared a steady stream of various pies and cakes on the deck of his Cape Cod home, all left there by a neighboring widow.  One day while he was walking, his neighbor came out to say hello.  My father thanked her for all the goodies she had been leaving for him.  She then asked him, "John, do you like to dance?"  He replied, "Why, yes, I do.  And I like to do the asking!"  Ah...the Way of the Owl.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reading in the Shadows

A perfect holiday weekend in New England.  Windows open all day; light blanket on the bed at night.  Reading and enjoying a new-to-me author, G. M. Malliet's Wicked Autumn.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Joy of Reading ~ Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons

...from Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

She opened the cover and ran her hand over the page, enjoying the paper’s smooth, cool texture under her hand.  Chapter One.  How many times in her life had those two words invited her to go to a different place, a better place than the one she lived in?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September 2011

A new mystery series to follow and the third installment of a favorite mystery series were the highlights of my September reading.

Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien
Rating: 4/5 Non-fiction Scale
Source: Mt. TBR
Format: Hardcover

For a very special reason, all things owl are dear to me. Stacey O'Brien's life long devotion to Wesley was amazing. Learned a lot about owls, communication, love, and "The Way of the Owl."

First line: On a rainy Valentine's Day in 1985, I fell in love with a four-day-old barn owl.

One Coffee With by Margaret Maron
Rating: 3/5 Mystery Scale
Source: Amazon Kindle
Format: eBook

Margaret Maron is more well known for her Deborah Knott series. One Coffee With (1982) is the first book in her earlier series featuring Sigrid Harald, a NYPD homicide detective. Set on the campus of New York's Vanderlyn College, academic rivalry, petty jealousy, greed, and revenge form the backdrop to the murder of a prominent member of the Art Department faculty. I'm looking forward to reading the other seven books in this series.

First line: Few institutions of higher learning are content that their faculties do nothing but teach.

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Rating: 2.5/5
Source: Amazon Kindle
Format: eBook

The September 2011 selection for the Barnes & Noble (Burlington, MA) Romance Readers. Historical romances are known for their over-the-top sensuality, but Wicked Intentions bordered on the pornographically erotic. To paraphrase Nixon, I am not a prude; however, a very good story with a hero and heroine worth rooting for doesn't need the gratituous distractions.

First line: A woman abroad in St. Giles at midnight was either very foolish or very desperate.

Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher
Rating: 3.5/5 Fiction Scale
Source: Barnes & Noble
Format: Trade Paperback

An thoughtful story of grief, love, and secrets and a family's journey to acceptance of new loves and changes. I loved the author's dedication: This novel is dedicated to the reader. For this singular moment, it's just the two of us.

First line: Here is one way to say it: Grief is a love story told backward.

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd
Rating: 4/5 Mystery Scale
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover

The Bess Crawford series continues to intrigue me as once again in this third installment secrets of family and the war intertwine to provide a page-turning reading experience. A family mourning the death of a son and brother, a trusted friend, a portrait, and a French orphan--all seem to lead us to a murderer, or do they? And, is there a rival on the horizon for Simon Brandon's affection for Bess? The Australian Sergeant Larimore certainly seems smitten....

First line: A cold rain had followed me from France to England, and an even colder wind greeted me as we pulled into the railway station in London.