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Graceann Macleod "Books Fuel My Life" (London, UK)
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Letters From Home
Letters From Home
by Kristina McMorris
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.26

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Encouraging Sign of an Emerging Talent, 22 May 2011
This review is from: Letters From Home (Paperback)
In the interest of full disclosure, the author happens to be a friend of mine, but she earned every one of the five stars in this review. She knew I would be honest in my appraisal of her work, and she risked asking my opinion anyway. I'm honored by her trust.

Letters from Home carries four distinct storylines and several subplots regarding the men and women of the Greatest Generation. It was a time when people lived for a glimpse of their loved ones' handwriting in the mail, and dreaded the arrival of a Western Union delivery boy.

There's a lot here to wrap your head, and your heart, around. Liz is settled into a relationship with a young man who is safe and with whom she has a long and comfortable history. Julia is engaged to a man she adores. Betty is a happy-go-lucky girl who would love nothing more than to sing. The men in their lives add complications both happy and sad, and everyone finds something new to consider in uncertain times. McMorris accomplished something that is quite difficult; she has written a heavily romantic novel that contains intelligent characters interacting in a believable way.

Throw in a nod to Cyrano, a great deal of soul-searching romance, and some truly suspenseful moments on the front, and you've got an excellent debut from a very promising novelist. If Letters from Home is an indication of what we are to expect from Kristina McMorris, we are very lucky indeed.


3 Mile Weightloss Walk [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
3 Mile Weightloss Walk [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Leslie Sansone
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: 5.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Energized Yet Doable, 5 May 2011
I'm getting back into exercise after many years away from it. I have mobility problems, no coordination and of course a lack of space to move around in (something most Londoners face). This three-mile walk addresses all of those issues and gives me a great warmup, workout, cooldown and strech in the space of 45 minutes. Sansone's style is friendly and supportive, and her walkers come in all sizes (something that most of us appreciate, I think). I have several of Sansone's videos and like most of them, but this is the one I use the most. It's a great start to the day.


TWO MILE WALK (Leslie Sansone)[DVD]
TWO MILE WALK (Leslie Sansone)[DVD]
Dvd ~ Leslie Sansone

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start, But Not my Favorite, 5 May 2011
I love Leslie Sansone's videos and her ability to lead a group of varied people through a routine that passes quickly and is (almost) fun. I hate exercising, so saying this is tantamount to a rave. However, this particular walk includes more involved footwork than I am able to handle, and requires more floorspace than is normally found in a standard London flat. I find that I'm going to my other videos more often because they are easier to follow (although they are higher impact) and take less space. This is a beginner video, but I recommend it for those who enjoy dancing and don't have two left feet (and since I have two left feet, I'm left out) and for those who have a bit more floor space to move around in. Leslie tells you to take it down if you have to in the space you have, or to do another move if you can't keep up with the more complicated steps, but I feel like I'm not getting the full benefit, and that's disappointing.


Ann Harding - Cinema's Gallant Lady
Ann Harding - Cinema's Gallant Lady
by Mick LaSalle
Edition: Paperback
Price: 22.91

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner from Scott O'Brien, 14 July 2010
In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that Scott O'Brien is my friend, and that my name is in the acknowledgments of this book. What this means is that I had the great good fortune to read his words almost as soon as they were written, and I wasn't forced to wait for this excellent biography, as the rest of the general public had to do.

Ann Harding is one of my favourite actresses and, I think, unjustly forgotten by all but the most avid classic movie fans. When I heard that Mr. O'Brien was writing a book on Ann, I was thrilled. He wrote a marvelous book devoted to Kay Francis (I'm sure the Virginia Bruce book is excellent, as well, but I haven't read it yet), so I knew that Ann would receive even-handed, yet respectful treatment. It's so easy to write salacious fantasies and call it biography. It's much more difficult to dig into someone's life, present it to the public in the way that you find it, without wallowing in ugliness or giving in to the temptation to "create" history. Scott O'Brien does just that here. The foreword by Mick LaSalle sets the stage, and then Scott discusses Ann's theatrical career, her start in films, her marriages and her difficult relationship with her daughter, all with a clear eye and a cool head. His route to Ann's whole story, which he shares (especially as he gets to the end of the book) is as fascinating as her life (which was very interesting indeed). This book belongs on every film lover's bookshelf, and I know it will always be a beloved part of mine.

First get the book, then seek out all the Ann Harding films you can find. It's rather lonely being one of very few people who appreciate her monumental talent, and I'm so glad that attention is finally being paid to her eventful life.


Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major (The Mole Diaries: The First Ten Years)
Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major (The Mole Diaries: The First Ten Years)
by Sue Townsend
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing Up is Hard to Do, 5 April 2010
This collection from Sue Townsend is comprised of Adrian Mole's exploits from the very beginning through the end of the Wilderness Years, with extra bits thrown in for good measure. Precocious and dramatic, Adrian is surrounded by a world that is at a loss as to how to deal with him. His ignorance of his own ability to rub people the wrong way veers wildly between hilarious and infuriating.

By the time you get to the end of The Wilderness Years, something special happens. Adrian is finally starting to grow into himself (we hope), and perhaps he'll be a bit more at ease in the world in books to come. We can only keep reading and find out for ourselves. This volume is special for being able to offer us some previously-unreleased looks into Adrian's life, and it makes the whole story that much more entertaining. Well worth the almost 800 pages.


"Quantum Leap": Pulitzer
"Quantum Leap": Pulitzer
by Elizabeth Storm
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Series, Stellar Book, 3 April 2010
L. Elizabeth Storm takes segments from several episodes of this seminal television series and some previously-unexplained moments from Sam and Al's pasts, and creates this excellent, page-turning narrative. Even the pickiest QL purist should not be able to find an inconsistency in the behavior of any of the characters, nor in their motivations. There are even some marvelous inside jokes; the kinds of asides and one-liners that we can hear Al's voice deliver.

Sam leaps into a psychiatrist practicing at Bethesda Naval Hospital just as a newly-repatriated POW is returned to the US, one Lieutenant "John Doe." Despite warnings from the present-day Al not to become involved, Sam is drawn into a circle of deceit and string-pulling that tests his mettle, and threatens to change history. In the process, he learns a great deal about how Al has come to deal with the world, and the pain that he's experienced at his worst moments.

The characters are well-developed and of course I came to the novel knowing the two main ones very well, so my expectations were high. Those expectations were fulfilled. It was so nice to spend time with these people again, and in such a beautifully-written experience.


RENDEZ-VOUS 127: THE DIARY OF MADAME BRUSSELMANS, M.B.E.: SEPTEMBER 1940-SEPTEMBER 1944.
RENDEZ-VOUS 127: THE DIARY OF MADAME BRUSSELMANS, M.B.E.: SEPTEMBER 1940-SEPTEMBER 1944.
by Denis (transcribed). Hornsey
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Saving Lives, One at a Time, 1 April 2010
Mme. Brusselmans kept this humble diary while she saved the lives of hundreds of Allied airmen in Belgium during World War II. It was translated by one of the men who benefited from her bravery, in 1954. In an incredibly fast-reading 172 pages, you find out about how she was approached and asked for assistance, how she jumped in without a second thought, and how quick thinking saved her numerous times, while many around her lost their freedom and their lives to the Gestapo.

Some portions of the diary, while continuously fraught with stress, are actually quite funny. She discusses one young man who stays with her and spends most of the time talking about how much better things are in Canada. She makes an aside that she hopes to get him back there just as soon as possible. In one memorable sequence, one of her supposed helpers backs out, and her anger at his cowardice is palpable. It rises off the pages in such a white-hot fury that it almost burns one's fingers when holding the book.

In the frontispiece, it is mentioned that the translator wanted some background from Mme. Brusselmans regarding where and how she hid her diary, and in her brief response, she expresses surprise that anyone would be interested in her words. My reaction upon reading them is that I'm amazed anyone wouldn't be.


Today is tonight,: A novel
Today is tonight,: A novel
by Jean Harlow
Edition: Unknown Binding

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm Not Convinced She Wrote It, but I'd Like to Think She Did, 27 Mar 2010
This review is from: Today is tonight,: A novel
Peter and Judy Landsdowne are in the early years of a blissfully happy marriage in September of 1929. Before the very quick 200+ pages go by, this changes in several ways large and small, with consequences for the young couple and those who love them. I can see this terribly romantic, dramatic book being written by a woman in her early 20s. It encompasses romance that Jean Harlow, in her real life, had problems maintaining. It contains dramatic features that most young writers indulge in when they are jotting down their stories. The novel, according to the foreword, was held for thirty years and released in the mid-1960s (probably to provide a push to the paperback release of Irving Shulman's biography of Harlow and the Carroll Baker film based on it).

I would not be surprised if Jean Harlow drafted this piece before her untimely death in 1937. I would be surprised if she wanted anyone else to see it before she herself had had a chance to refine it herself, possibly after she'd grown a bit older and wiser. It is a page-turning read, but it is in an occasionally over-wrought style, one that she might have wanted to polish if she'd lived long enough.

There is one other reason that I would buy the premise that Jean Harlow wrote at least the first draft herself. It is written in a very "cinematic" style. As I read it, I could see the scenes as they would play out on a movie screen. As an actress, and a particularly astute one at that, it would be natural for Miss Harlow to structure her story in such a way, perhaps with herself in the leading role (though this book would never have made it past the Hays Code).


Gladys Cooper
Gladys Cooper
by Sheridan Morley
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Thought You Knew Her, You Were Mistaken, 24 Mar 2010
This review is from: Gladys Cooper (Hardcover)
For those who thought that Dame Gladys Cooper was only the character actress who played grande dames and dowagers, this book is a real eye-opener. Cooper was one of the most collected postcard stars during WWI, and by the time she arrived in Hollywood, she had been acting for almost forty years and had run her own theatre.

Sheridan Morley, her grandson, wrote this book with great love, yet it is surprisingly clear-eyed. She was not an easy woman to get along with, but her family and friends seem to have accepted this as part of her special allure. She was tough yet generous, loving yet cool. The book includes numerous photographs of Miss Cooper throughout her life and career, from her early days as a stunningly beautiful beginner through to her final performance, when she was still quite lovely for all the years lived showing through her eyes. Life was meant to be lived full throttle and retiring was for wimps as far as Cooper was concerned. She only stepped down when illness forced her, much against her will, and she died only a few weeks afterward.

Anyone sitting down with this book is in for some surprises, especially if they only ever thought of Gladys Cooper as the elderly lady in the Twilight Zone episode, or as Charlotte Vale's imperious mother in Now, Voyager. There was MUCH more to her, as this biography will attest - just the sheer number of roles that she originated on stage (Kiki and the lead in The Letter to name just two) is worth the price of admission. I was amazed at how beautiful she was in her earlier days, and just how little I knew about this lady with whom I thought I was familiar.


Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon (Meg Langslow Mysteries)
Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon (Meg Langslow Mysteries)
by Donna Andrews
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mutant Wizards and Nude Lawyers, 23 Mar 2010
Meg Langslow finds herself in her brother's new software design firm in this, the fourth installment of Donna Andrews' mystery series. Asked to fill in and try to determine what's "gone wrong" in the company, Meg very swiftly finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. I always wonder with books like this, just as I did with shows like Murder, She Wrote, don't Meg's friends start to worry that just being near her is a rather dangerous proposition? Everywhere she goes, someone dies.

As always, Meg's cohorts are great fun - her father, who attempts some sleuthing of his own, and her brother, Rob, who seems as if he'd be a lot of fun to be around, even if he isn't a very helpful person. Even George, the office buzzard, is a character in his own right. The story lags slightly in the middle third, but not enough to mar my enjoyment of the novel as a whole. The characters of the therapists and the programmers are hilarious, and as at least one other person mentioned, the Affirmation Bear is priceless. Meg is a keeper.


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