Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category

My aunt read to us children while she ironed. Her selections were the classic stories from her youth or her teaching days. Rather than expect our schools to assign these old stories and writings by black authors, she supplemented our knowledge herself.

Which of the six children were readers? I do not know. I was one. The Public Library was about a mile away. It was the only place I could go alone. A rule prevented children from the adult room and the balcony.

Within a few years, probably aged ten, the librarians agreed with me that I had read all I needed to in the children’s room. (Even the chairs were too small.)

My favorite books were on the balcony. Egypt, Vikings and huge art books were like worlds away from the uncertainty I felt with no parents or home to return to. School libraries also provided novels to fantasize about. In our home, a glass-cased shelves held Daddy-Long Legs, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe and Pollyanna. They were reread many times.

As you know, I love Internet Archives for its mission to make books, music, radio programs and more available online and for free. I just read The Familiar Letters of Peppermint Perkins, pseud.. This book was printed in 1894, reprinted from the Boston “Saturday Evening Post”

The letters are written between 1885 and 1886. There are hilarious passages. They describe life and customs for both men and women. If you know Boston, you will enjoy and understand Peppermint’s references. So much is unchanged when she wonders why she, as a woman, should vote. Shelives with a brother, Joe and their mother.

I must confess that I find reading aloud difficult. However, this book would be hilarious entertainment for a family to read aloud together. I will urge my ‘dramatic’ granddaughters to take on some of the long passages. This book was downloaded to Kindle but there are more ways to read and enjoy.


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I do believe in black cowboys!

I do believe in black cowboys! (Photo credit: gwen)

On the Trail of Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America

by Lisa K. Winkler

I loved this book which I ordered from Amazon Kindle. The large type and illustrations made for an easy read. I like the fast availability and notetaking in this format.

From the very beginning, I was also ‘riding a horse’ on this amazing trip. The author does not overplay the excitement, nor does she avoid the challenges. It takes planning and work to follow one’s dream.

Without repeating other reviews on the details, this book satisfies on inspiration and history. Memories came to mind of our drive from Massachusetts to CA with two teenagers. The stares we got were directed at our license plate. We had friends to stay with and family at the end. I will never forget the crowd of hotel employees in San Francisco who said they rarely see MA plates. Driving back, it seemed a really long way.

I took an old book with WPA research of roads built before interstates. It had cost $0.10. Each point along these quaint state and county roads were described with points of interest. We would never have arrived at our destination if I had been allowed to direct us to every waterfall, statue and museum.

Like this cowboy, we strayed sufficiently to make the trip interesting and educational. My daughter kept a travel journal. It captured the spirit of the adventure.

Miles Dean’s descriptions of the historical sites and people he saw kept me wondering, Where is he going next? Will he mention Cathay Williams as a Buffalo Soldier? Yes. How much is still in his journal? How much did the author have to research? I did not want him to come to the end of the journey.

What can you learn in addition to the tale?
It is rich in information about horses and today’s cowboys. It weaves together the past and the present. It can be a resource for home and school. The author poses questions at the end for discussion and further study. She provides a bibliography and offers a study guide, if needed.

Who should read this book?
Fathers should read this aloud to their boys. Mothers and girls will love the story of how to follow your dreams. All will gain knowledge about the country and its unique history. Teachers and creative artists should find much material to build on. All will be enriched. I cannot wait for the movie!

Who knew?

My Birthday Gift to You

A lot of you are checking out my art website (below). Please leave a comment or sign up for emails when I add something you might like. Don’t forget the checkout code: BSSNNX


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Who knew?

I guess I finally ordered enough books on amazon.com and the Kindle to get the attention of somebody. (I am still getting to some of these). An email  invitation to review this book was my motivation to pare down my comments on Nella Larsen, Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance posted here. After some trial and error, my first Amazon book review was published on my birthday (yesterday, in case I did not make that clear).

The good news was that no one else had written a review for it. The bad news is that I did not have an example. Therefore, I fell into some pitfalls. I got rejected the first submission with enough hints that I could revise and resubmit.

In the process, I learned a few things:

1. It helps to read their guidelines.

2. It helps not to promote anything but what is sold on their website.

3. It helps not to promote anything you have for sale on their website, nor anywhere else.

4. It helps to have bought the book from them.

5. It helps to figure out how to contact them for answers.

6. It helps to have someone, a son or daughter, read your entry before submitting it. Clarity and typos are the major offenders. Spell check and grammar suggestions are not fool-proof.

7. It helps to have read the book!

I found this a good way to give praise to a book and writer I am especially fond of. It is something to try again. Writing for yourself is different from writing for an organization with specific guidelines. Staying within that format will please them and help you hone your writing skills. It helps to be open to criticism and to have enough persistence to get it done.

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"Looking toward Fisk University"

The Shadow

Larsen Home, Front View
For details see Nella Larson written by Thadious Davis

"Little Theater, Fisk U.
Made using former slave quarters

"The Johnson House"
Built by Sinclair Oil for the Johnsons

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I just finished reading ‘Jazz’ by Cristian Mihai. He is a young man with an incredible output of published works. And I know why! This book was purchased for my Kindle  and was self-published.

I do not read much fiction, but found the writing compelling. A trip we made to Paris included some of the sights and food he mentioned. While I did not know the characters, they were interesting and true to his story.

Check out his works and his blogs. One recent post shows a photograph of his bed of books.

Thanks, Cristian

Who knew?

Finishing ‘The Paper Garden’ by Molly Peacock would be so wonderful. The life of  the unlikely artist, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany ( May 14, 1700 to April 15, 1788), was so intriguing. Her  claim to fame as an artist came from 985 ‘mosaicks’, flowers of cut paper and dried flower parts?  These works were started in her early 70’s until a few years before her death.

The book includes many of these in beautiful color. These works can be viewed at the British Museum in London. (check hours) .  The author uses  Delaney’s letters and notes to tell her life story related to each flower. Also the author tells of her own life and her ability to relate to a woman born so many years before her.

This book would be instructive to artists’ history buffs, and women.

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A Slave in the White House (book)

Today started of with a reminder that everything has a connection and that nothing is new. A biography of James Madison is reviewed in The Daily Beast. An email took me to the blog on Belle Grove and other Virginia plantations. Madison was born at Belle Grove. It is being restored to be a bed and breakfast inn. This wordpress blog should be read from the beginning!



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Stacy Schiff, author of a new biography about ...

Image via Wikipedia

To Do Lists

There are days when nothing seems pressing enough to do. Each list repeats others with the same urgencies. Weekends and rainy days offer excuses for taking time out.

These times can occur when you are on emotional or physical overload. (more…)

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