Review: Heavenly Horse Stories

 

I’ve posted before about my childhood love of horses! I was fortunate that for most of my childhood we owned or had ready access to horses. So, when I saw this little book come up for review in a professional publication I contribute to, I grabbed it. I wrote the professional review and sent it off. Today I’m offering a personal review.

Review

Rebecca Ondov has a wealth of experience leading trail rides and doing other work with horses. Her newest book, Heavenly Horse Stories, is part memoir, part devotional. Each story has a related scripture and prayer. The stories range from the edge-of-your-seat terrifying fall on her horse Czar to the sweeter story of being out with horses and seeing 22 rainbows in one glance! While this can be read straight thru as a good collection of out West horse stories, I liked it best as a daily devotional. It called to mind all the horses in my life. Heavenly Horse Stories by Rebecca Ondov.

Verdict

Four Stars

A Few of Rebecca Ondov’s Other Books

 

Horse Book and Diary for Girls

 

 

Links to buy these books (I do not get any money from this!) Great Horse Stories for Girls and My Horse Diary for Girls (Note: Amazon does not seem to carry this–I’ve linked elsewhere)

 

Illustrated Horse Story Gift Book

Also a lovely gift-edition of other horse stories, beautifully published with paintings of horses.

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Photo Source

I can’t think of a single horse lover too jaded about religion to not enjoy this author’s books. If they aren’t into devotions or the Christian faith they will still thoroughly enjoy the first-hand accounts of horses, mules, trail riding, the great American West, outdoor life, and the joy that animals bring to our lives. Below is a video from  the author’s YouTube channel that gives you a little taste of this life.

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite horse book, film or memory? Leave me a comment with your story or a link to your post. I love to hear what others enjoy–especially when it relates to animals.

 

Friday Faves: My World Right Now

 

What’s Making Me Giggle

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I stood at the display in the public library reading this and laughing. I keep thinking of it and giggling all week. I’ll never look at some of the iconic Little Golden Books the same, ever again!  Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by  Diane Muldrow

 

 

Which Brings to Mind My Favorite Little Golden Book

No surprise that it’s a kitty book! I loved that it had real people–photos, not drawings. I still have it in a box somewhere. My kids couldn’t relate to the little girl–her clothes were “too old-fashioned” ouch! But they DID know the kittens by name and, like me, probably still do. I’m glad we all loved it and look forward to sharing it, someday, with a third generation.

What I’m Looking Forward To This Weekend

A rare day out with old friends who live a few hours away! Cincinnati’s favorite pizza provides a place about half-way for each of us and  is just an excuse to sit and talk and laugh. They love traditional pizza (I do, too) with sausage, peppers, onions and extra cheese. I love La Rosa’s thin flatbread Florentine pizza! It’s all good though–all of their pizza is great! Check out the menu. When we all get together, ice cream is usually involved as well, but we’ll have to see what’s available at the location where we are meeting. Cincinnati is blessed to have Greater’s Ice Cream though. But we’re meeting near the city, not in it.

New Food Obsession

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These Steakhouse Tater Tots are GREAT! But what’s even better is the Seasoning Mix for them! You could easily make this healthier with baked, seasoned fries or wedges to go with the dip. The dip is easy to lighten as well. (I cheated and used Ranch Dressing and chopped up some sliced jalapenos from a jar).

Newest Fascination–An Very Unusual Job

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The Mall of America is advertising for a Writer in Residence. What a hoot! A top spot for people watching and you’d be paid to do it!  For their 25th Anniversary the Mall is hiring a writer to “live deliberately” and “be immersed” in the life of the mall. NPR Story here. What a hoot! I visited the Mall in  the late 90’s. Camp Snoopy  and the people watching were the coolest parts to me. I’m not much of a shopper.

What were your Faves this week? Leave me a comment or a link–I love to see what people are fixed upon at the moment.

Review: Selection Day by Aravind Adiga: Reading Around the World: India

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Cricket is a sport no American understands unless, like the late William F. Buckley or Ted and Bobby Kennedy, they were forced to attend a British public (private) school. So, it’s no surprise that a book on cricket was hidden under a cover design that mimics other recent successful diverse or international novels while the rest of the world was given cricket on the cover.

You know, it’s often said that Indians have two real religions, the cinema – Bollywood – and cricket. It’s the equivalent of sort of baseball, basketball, football and Christmas put together. The question is not why cricket. The question is how you can escape cricket in India.                      (Aravind Adiga on NPR)

One of the strangest legacies of British colonialism is cricket. Many countries in the British Commonwealth (i.e. former Empire) play cricket–though Canada isn’t one of them. India has made cricket, as the quote above says, into a religion–a national obsession, like hockey in Canada or the NBA in America. Never mind in the bygone days of the Raj, Indians would only have been allowed into the Cricket Club as waiters or cleaners. Today it is truly their game.

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Photo source

The Good

Happily, you don’t have to understand a thing about cricket to read the book. Other than understanding that it goes on for ever and that a Century is a good thing to earn for your team, you can just lalalala thru any action. The focus isn’t so much on the game as on the behind-the-scenes.

Radha and Maju Kumar are the sons of an itinerant chutney salesman living in a poor area of Mumbai, India. Cricket is the fast track to prosperity for all of them and their father has raised them to be the best. (Think NBA straight from high school and you have an idea how this will go.) His peculiar methods of “training” his sons include examining their genitalia and regulating their diet. Both boys have done little in life except go to school and then practice cricket. “Selection Day” is like the NFL or NBA draft. Since no one has the insanity of college-to-pros that the USA has, the selection is for “junior” teams. So imagine being drafted in Middle School for, say, the Junior Detroit Pistons, or the Junior Dallas Cowboys. You get the idea.

The talent is there. Getting selected is another story–a story of corruption. (Think inner city basketball players being recruited by excellent suburban schools and helped to move). The Chutney Salesman (the father) goes all out to get his sons into sponsorship that will lead to selection. But Tommy Sir, as he’s known, isn’t the most scrupulous guy around. He sponsors the boys then, in a way, pits them against each other. The result is ugly.

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Photo source

I found the story of corruption in cricket very interesting. I’ve read a few things on cricket for one of my novels and found that not everyone likes the way televised cricket especially is going. It can be played in “pajamas” as the newly allowed bright-colored uniforms are mockingly called (like tennis, once upon a Wimbledon, cricket has historically been played in long white trousers and white shirts with team blazers, caps and tennis-style sweaters only betraying team colors). Critics say it’s being made over into baseball for television. In fact, baseball, is teased about in the story.

Oh, my Darling, my Cricket. Phixed and Phucked (p. 143)

But with two teenage boys and an odd father, you know there’s more to the story. In addition to Radha’s desire to study chemistry and be a CSI investigator like those on his favorite imported t.v. show, there are is the story of another boy. Enter wealthier, suburban cricketer, J.A. His life is worlds away from that of the brothers–in more ways than just economically. The coming-of-age part of the story centers around his homosexuality and the sexual coming-of-age of the brothers–especially Manthu.

The Bad

After about midway I found the novel disappointing in many ways. Coming-of-age stories are a favorite of mine and this one, with the added element of taboo sexual preference should have been interesting. Sadly, this part of the story didn’t go well. J.A. is not the most likable of characters. Exploration of sexuality is a normal and expected part of growing up. J.A. though was spoiled and manipulative. I disliked the boys’ father, loathed Tommy Sir and didn’t really like the way this part of the story went.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the look into Indiana life and into the country’s obsession for cricket. I love any book that shows normal, daily life in another country and this part of the book did not disappoint. I could feel, smell, taste India the way Adiga portrayed it. It makes me want to visit the country even more. I will definitely read more from this author.

Verdict: Three Stars

You can read a transcript of the author’s NPR interview here.

Review: Wildwater Walking Club Back on Track by Claire Cook

Author Claire Cook

Claire Cook is a role model of mine. She’s an author who writes best selling books, but who didn’t start writing till after she was a Mom of teens. She wrote her first book in her minivan while waiting for her kiddo at early-morning swim team practice. Her book Never Too Late: Your Road Map to Reinvention helped give me the courage to start writing again, too. Then there’s her book The Wildwater Walking Club (book one now). I loved it. Loved it so much, in fact, that I contacted the publisher and did a give-away on my old blog. I’ve recommended the book far and wide. Finally, Claire is part of what is hopefully a trend of successful authors turning to self-publishing. In short, she really inspires me!

 

The Book

All of that to say I can’t give this book a great review. Three stars would be stretching it, I’m afraid. I hate saying that. But, honestly? It was like reading a guide to a river cruise–or listening to your aunt and uncle at dinner the night they got back from their cruise.

Noreen,  Tess and Rosie are neighbors at that awkward age–of being ready for a change now that kids–or the chance of having them–is over and their parents are either dead or not yet impaired enough to need constant care. So, their solution? Take a river cruise in France. Ideas for the art teacher with a grant (Tess), for the lavender farm owner (Rosie) and for the career changer (Noreen) are bound to come up on a cruise! The premise is really good, but….

The Parts I Liked

I liked that Noreen was moving on after her buy-out and I especially loved that her boyfriend, Rick, was struggling because it was an accurate description of what happens to so many people after a buy-out, an early retirement or even after being fired. I liked the fixation he developed with Pokeman Go! –like someone who becomes too invested in watching all X-seasons of a show rather than getting up trying again for a new job. That was good. But…..

I loved Noreen starting her Health Counseling Coach training with a real mix of believable emotions. But…..

The Bad

In addition to the cruise catalog stuff, the same three ladies who were fun and real in the first book were, well,…..blah this time around. Not bad, just not the bubbly,  fun group they were in book one. In the first outing, these were ladies anyone would enjoy having as friends and neighbors, but now they just didn’t have an spark. This was hard because I really liked them in book one.

Then there was Joy. Joy was just a bad idea. Joy should have been cut. That whole story line was too childish for words. Joy alone took an entire star away from the book’s rating.

Finally if I’d heard the phrase “How should/could/would that look” one more time I’d have thrown the Kindle across the room. UGH. Even a rank beginner of a counselor should have more than one phrase like that.

Verdict

Because I admire Claire Cook I’m giving it 3 stars. In my rating system that means not a bad book, just an average one. Every one has off days and if you write long enough you have an off book. I’m hoping this is the “off” book and that the series perks up and finds its old vitality in book three.

Top Five Wednesday: Books t0 Get You Out of a Slump

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1. The One About College Professors

 

What happens when a 60’s Berkley prof trades places with his counterpart in a provincal British University? They swap houses, jobs and….wives? Funny book.  Philip Swallow and Morris Zap are unforgettable and forever linked with my time at Indiana University. The book was recommended by a professor I liked and it did not, and still upon re-reading, does not disappoint. It seems the individual volumes of David Lodge’s Campus Trilogy are out-of-print so I’m linking to the one volume of this trilogy. I had no idea until today that there was a trilogy–so happy me! Changing Places–Book One of the Campus Trilogy by David Lodge.

2. The One With Too Much Family

 

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This is a great send-up of Old New York Knickerbocker families set in the early 1960’s. When the family gathers for Christmas a disasterous chain of events is put into motion causing a happy marriage to split. What makes it so amusing is the telling is done in first person by 11 year old son Kerry. Yes, there are a few less than p.c. elements that are typical of its era. But Patrick Dennis at his best is not to be missed. One of my favorite books ever and an annual re-read. The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis.

 

 

3. The One With That President’s Wife

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Ok, it’s not really HER–this is fiction. But, this is a get-sunk-into novel. The kind you keep refilling the tub and the gin glass.  I savored every word of this! The family compound for vacations, the baseball–all of it. Loved it. American Wife by Curtis Sitenfeld (Curtis is a woman, fyi, like most I thought a man had written it. Sorry, Curtis).

 

 

 

4. The One With the Secret

 

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I have fallen in love with Liane Moriarty’s books! I know I’ll get thru them all. This one has it all–a secret the wife shouldn’t have found out, consequences for all of this action and more. A suburban life, as suffocating and perfect as it can be, is ripped open to the light of day. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarity The only thing I didn’t like was the cover!

 

 

 

5. The YA One With a Holmes-ian twist

 

 

This is a shameless plug for book two of what seems to be a great new series featuring descendants of Sherlock Holmes and his trusted friend, Dr. Watson. Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet in boarding school and go on to solve murders with the panache of their ancient relatives. To read more about book one of this trilogy–and a nice selection of quotes check out this post from last year.

 

Top 5 Wednesday comes from the Group of that name on Goodreads.com Join it and play along! You can do a traditional blog post or a video post.

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Ten Books I Liked More or Less Than Other People

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Topic:Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time) — or you could do something like books I liked more/less than everyone else.

Books I Liked LESS

wild

I do not understand the women who rave about this idiotic book. Heroin is cool? Sex with strangers? Honestly??? I threw it back and  won’t even link to it any more.

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Too many modern characters. I threw it back.

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Not only does a man “unzip” his trousers before there were zippers in trousers, but we are then treated to a description of his erstwhile member. ICK. I loved Ann Hood until this dog. But I will give her next book a try.

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Cause this cover just says “incest” to no one ever…… UGH.

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Two evenings of my life I’ll never get back.  And a two-hour retreat discussion that didn’t even make it to my performance review!! I stayed awake. I contributed politely. That deserved a mention.

wives

From my most popular Goodreads.com Review: “ Gave up on this mess of a book–didn’t finish it. Chapter 1 reads like she watched the movie the “Right Stuff” and that’s about it. It is written in that trendy, annoying new, “sassy”/hip/disrespectful tone that is starting to ruin non-fiction reading. Like aging Valley Girl does Master’s thesis. …The women themselves ARE interesting, just the style of writing that grates. Astro-everything is really wearing me down. The story itself IS interesting. But it’s like Jr. High School history with a hip teacher who practices his stand-up routine. Enough with the glib-non-humor and just TELL THE DAMN STORY already. Sadly the tone continues and the “depth” is sadly lacking…

OK. THEN.

wheel

There were some parts of this one that I liked. I got tired of the fly-over mentality about the Midwest, the Southern accents in freakin’ IOWA, the constant screed against Christians and religion, the ridiculous idea of being shocked that people in IOWA, not Manhattan drive cars everywhere….oiy, I could go on and on. Another of my most popular Goodreads.com reviews. But, I’d be very willing to give this author another try–there were good things in here. I gave it 2 stars.

buried

I gave this turkey 3 stars because, let’s be honest, he can really write and deserves every award he’s one. I was just so not into this story. It was depressing. It was weird. It just wasn’t for me at all.

Books I Liked MORE

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I found the crass, superior way in which Will walked away from the girl was just so typical of his true “type.” I liked it. No, it wasn’t Me Before You –that was too sweet and wonderful. But this was a good book.  After You.

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I really, really liked this one. But then, I haven’t finished the Harry Potter books, don’t know which Hogwarts House I belong too and don’t have the Quiddich World Cup on my Bucket List (It’s fine if you do–I do love the early HP books, just couldn’t get thru the last ones). This shows that JK Rowling can think about something other than wizards and muggles. The movie was even “ok.” Book was better–of course. The Casual Vacancy

You can read about a  few more books I liked or disliked more than others here.

See all of this week’s lists at  Top Ten Tuesday.  Play along and post your ow nlist See the rules and topics at The Broke and The Bookish.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

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“…nostalgia is a luxury….”

The Good

In the future, kids in school will be reading Zadie Smith like we read Jane Austen. She is amazing in the way she perfectly captures the rhythm and tempo–the Swing, of her chosen subject– the immigrants of the poor areas of London. This time it is two brown girls, both mixed-race (“half-caste” in the language of Colonialism that still peppers the everyday speech of the Estates [British for Projects]). Both are in love with dance–the dancing of old musicals, especially. A local dance class is the catalyst for their early friendship to take root and grow. Along the way, it becomes apparent, that only the “other girl”–Tracey truly has a gift for dancing.

But the narrator has a mother who sees the world differently–she is not defeated by poverty. She struggles to “make something of herself” and does–becoming a member of Parliament. It is her take on life that resonates so strongly with me. I, too, live in a very poor environment, albeit a rural one. But so many things about her mothering have gone thru my own brain repeatedly. How many times have I thought, or even said aloud, something like this to my own daughter about someone she’s gone to school with about the limited horizons of those around us in our depressed rural county:

“…she’s been raised a certain way and the present is all she has. You’ve been raised in another way–don’t forget that….you know where you came from and where you are going…..”

But what really got me in this story was the merciless, and so deserved, send-up of oh-so-earnest (and so quickly bored) (and so politically naive) celebrities out do-gooding in the third world. And the way she stunningly shows the necessary, unsung, local heroes who often risk their very lives to make these dreams “work.” I snorted with laughter as the  “President for Life” was mentioned. I adored the work-arounds created by Fern to keep the girls in their marvelous  Loomy Academy. (Interestingly, the real Life President of the real East African country, Malawi, started his own namesake academy–which  People magazine once profiled as the Eton of Africa, but from which girls were dropped for becoming pregnant even when there was no consent given to the conception.)

Fern’s brilliant accommodations of local culture keep the school going. He deals with the insane things the First World Celebrity wants to impose–like a culturally insensitive and locally unacceptable Sexual Health Clinic at the school. He also had to deal with the inevitable local jealousies and the withdrawal of what few services the government offered. The Superstar could pay for them instead. Fallout that a “noted activist” would never want to know about–or cope with.

I lived in Malawi–the country Madonna claims to love. And, like in Madonna’s life, Aimee, the glittering rock star in Swing Time, “adopts” a baby–a baby who isn’t even an orphan –just sold by her parents, with the paperwork backdated. (Note–I also adopted internationally. I had to go thru over a year of rigorous background checks and real court proceedings. It is very difficult to do it legally but it does get done if you are patient). Money Talks.

I loved Lamin’s story–for I was Aimee at one point. Lamin who couldn’t be blamed for being a total opportunist and grabbing the brass ring of a long and successful life when it was within reach. Lamin who would earn more in a year at just about any job in either New York or London than he’d earn in four or five years at home. He’d be like the others and send home spare change that would keep his flocks of nieces and nephews in school and fed, would get his grandmother to a real hospital with real expatriate doctors and real medications. I understood all of this too well.

The whole outrageousness of working for a superstar (and though they were mere lawyers, not rock stars, I’ve lived a lot of this life!) was perfectly told. From the roles of the various assistants to the hatchet woman Judy, to the Nanny living apart from her own children, to the fake photographic exhibit it all rings too, too true. I loved this part of the story.

“…when you are poor, every stage has to be thought through….with wealth you get to be thoughtless….”

This part of the story should be read by every potential Peace Corps Volunteer (I was one), every potential missionary, every noted activist and anyone else with aspirations of doing good for the poor anywhere.  Local reality must be considered. Villagers are not First World liberals. Sustainability is nearly impossible.

 

The Bad

While Ms Smith is an incredible author who brings her reader into the world, this book lost me in places. I still don’t know if the narrator had a name. I’m totally lost on the “where were their parents?” scene at the end of the book. I felt the book didn’t so much as conclude as unravel–maybe that was the point since both girls’ lives unraveled? For all the incredible story telling, the end left me saying “So were they….?” “Was he….?” “What about….?”

 

One other note

I was also disappointed that, though it was a only one sentence, we had to know that the gay couple who helped our narrator, of course, had an elderly neighbors who disapproved of them and left religious pamphlets for them. Yeah. Cliche of the day. And a tired one at that. Because gentrified parts of Harlem are chock full of fundamentalist Christians, said no one ever. An elderly neighbor disapproves of a radical social change–maybe even is scared by it or by what is happening in her neighborhood? Gee, imagine. Let’s condemn her. It was a discordant (and unnecessarily petty) note in n an otherwise interesting book. [Yes, people, you may flame me.]

 

Final Verdict

 

In spite of its flaws, I’d recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those interested in good works among the poor or in a third world country. Zadie Smith knows the culture and tells it the way it really is. She makes the culture and mores of poverty clear. I love that about her work. I love that she truly has an ear for the voices of poverty as well as for a evoking the boredom, the tension, the stench of many of the places where the poor must live. She truly understands the hopelessness rife in such communities as well as  the ostracization of anyone who thinks hope can be kept alive or a better life can be earned. She knows, too, that the poor can love their children deeply–even when not coping with life. This is is gift to all of us. But, due to the mess at the end I’m giving it 3.5 stars. NW was far better. White Teeth was better, but this is still a worthwhile and readable book.

 

Friday Faves: My World Right Now

 

1. Current Obsession

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Album cover is symbolic–the playlist isn’t from it

Obsessed with this little playlist and with Ole Blue Eyes Right Now

  1. You Do Something To Me
  2. Stars Fell on Alabama
  3. Jealous Lover
  4. Bye Bye Baby
  5. Witchcraft

2. What I’ve Been Eating

Valentine’s Day Candy from my beautiful daughter and well…Nigella! Love her version of naan pizza–and mine! Nigella’s Naan Pizza Recipe.

My Greek Naan Pizza: Brush bread with vinaigrette, top with spinach, olives, grape tomatoes (sliced), red/purple onion, garlic, sweet red peppers and feta or garlic/herb goat cheese or both (or mozerella). This is on the left of the photo and was done with whole wheat naan.

My Indian Naan Pizza:Saute chopped chicken, tossed with curry powder, s/p,  in EVO/butter and chopped garlic till just done. Caramelize a large yellow onion in butter. Brush bread with a little EVO, top first with onions, then chicken, sweet red pepper and cheese (mozzarella shown).

3. What I’ve Fallen in Love With–Brain Dump

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Photo: Boho Berry link

I’ve written about my journals here, but this single idea is getting me into carrying one journal with me. I have the little composition books for quotes and writing notes. But this really is making me a bullet journal lover. You can read more about it on

Boho Berry’s blog here.

4. Historical World of the Moment

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1913 at the Court of Kaiser Wilhelm II. I’m living the wedding of “Pol” (Ernest August, Duke of Brunswick) and the Kaiser’s beloved only daughter, “Sissy,”(Viktoria Luise) for a novella I’m working on.

5. What I’m Looking Forward To This Weekend

A few nice long walks and binge-watching The Golden Girls on Hulu

Want to see more faves? Here’s the post that started it all.

Leave me a comment with your list or a link to a list!

Top Five Wednesday: Non-Written Novels

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This week’s topic can be summed us as “it’s complicated.” Or is it?

Favorite Non-Written Novels
–This was a hard topic to name, but this is about all books that are not ‘written’ novels! So graphic novels, comics, manga, audiobooks, etc. Shed some light on books in other forms. 

Here’s my attempt at this topic. I failed. But so what, right? It’s fun….

Audio

Book I gave back in print but had it become an all-time favorite when I listened to it.

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The audio just plain made it come alive. I’ve written before about liking some books only in audio (No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, 44 Scotland Street–both by Alexander McCall Smith) and hating change in readers (i.e. Stephanie Plum series). I just plain adore this book now that I’ve listened to it. It is superb! Not to be missed.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson

All Animal Re-Telling

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Because Matthew just WAS a tabby and Mary a Siamese (only I don’t think that was this book’s take on them). Carson and Robert would, of course, be big puffy Tom Cats with well-groomed tails. Edith would suffer hairballs. Well, you get the picture.

Downton Tabby by Chris Kelly

So could have been a novel, but isn’t

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Free at last, free at last…childless. Do people REALLY need help coping with this? This is a fun read regardless.

Fun Without Dick and Jane:  Your Guide to the Delightfully Empty Nest by Christine Mellor

Word Fun Books–Madlibs, Adult Versions

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This one has a special place in my heart. I’m sure you’ll love it too. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Father’s Day etc.

Adult Madlibs: My Bleeping Family Mad Libs

DIY Books–Frugal Family Edition

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Where I live we say “Deer–it’s what’s for dinner.” They can be had nightly as they run across the road in front of our headlights. It’s best to drive something like Hummer–then you win free meat and can still drive it home.

But Wait! There’s More!!!

Call now and receive, as a bonus–at no extra cost to you….. PAPER DOLLS!

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Yes, you can be perfect at every royal event because you will BE Kate! Glamorous, with the worlds most luxurious hair–you’ll be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect….royal! Just fun–I like Catherine.  If you like the royal family check out my Royal Family posts–click on Royal Family in the word cloud in the right sidebar.

Kate paper dolls

Why don’t you join the fun?

Join the Top 5 Wednesday group on Goodreads.com

Each week do a blog post or video on the topic.

It’s a lot of fun!

Smokin’ Hot Royals for Valentine’s Day

Top Ten Tuesday returns next week.
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Photo by Hulton Archive on Getty Images

This is possibly the sexiest photo of a royal smoking ever taken! King George V.

Wow! Sizzle!

For Valentine’s Day I thought I’d play a bit of a prank on you! Smokin’ hot royals–all photos of Royalty smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars!

Royals of the Past

King Edward VII

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

King Edward VII–as King and, earlier as Victoria’s heir and Prince of Wales, shown smoking.

It’s is King Edward VII, as Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who graced cans of Prince Albert Tobacco–the brand my late grandfather loved. A later-in-life image of him graced the boxes of King Edward cigars!

King George V

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

George’s wife, Queen Mary, was known to smoke small cigars. Their two eldest sons, King Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor) and George VI (the present Queen’s father) both died of smoking-related illnesses.

The bottom photo shows the two future kings (left, with their sister Princess Mary) and George smoking while holding the hand of his then youngest son (ultimately his 3rd son) Prince Henry (Duke of Gloucester)

All four of George and Mary’s four surviving sons (Prince John died at age 13) would become heavy smokers. Their son Prince George, Duke of Kent, would become a heroin addict–he recovered thanks to his brother, David. Harry, the toddler holding George’s hand in the last photo, was thought by many, including brother David, to be an alholic.

Tzar Nicholas II

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

George V’s Double First Cousin, Tzar Nicholas II, smoked. It’s easy to forget just how wide-spread smoking way in the days before anti-anxiety medications. Did you know that his wife, Tzarina Alexandra was a maternal Aunt of Prince Philip?

Kaiser Wilhelm II

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George V, Nicholas II and Wilhelm II were all grandsons of Queen Victoria–first cousins. Here is the Kaiser, late in life and in exile, smoking. His left arms was damaged at birth and withered.

King Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.Top right and bottom right, I believe, are from LIFE magazine.

Smoking was a big part of the image of Britain’s most popular Prince of Wales and it’s first young bachelor King in centuries–Edward VIII. As Duke of Windsor it continued to add to his sophisticated style. Cigarettes, cigars and pipes–he smoked them all. Ultimately, throat cancer killed him. I would imagine, given the times, that the Duchess probably smoked in private.  Did you know he was always known by the last of his 7 names–David?

King George VI

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here.

The present Queen’s father, known as Prince Albert, Duke of York, before becoming King and renaming himself George V, was a very heavy smoker. His wife, known to us as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, even changed the way formal dinners were “run” so that he could smoke between courses. Not surprisingly, 65 years ago last week George VI died of lung cancer. Like his brother David he smoked tobacco in any form, but favored cigarettes above all.

Princess Margaret

Cigarette holder photo: found at nadinejolie.com  Coat photo: Getty via Daily Mail.com

Like FDR, Princess Margaret was known for her long cigarette holder–a device she used long after it became an affectation, long after the rest of the world had jettisoned them. Cigarettes and alcohol were mainstays of the Queen’s sister’s troubled life. She, too, died of smoking related causes. Like her Uncle Harry (Duke of Gloucester) she suffered strokes and like her father she had to have part of a lung removed due to cancer.

Royals Today

Prince Philip

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NO, Philip no longer smokes. His bachelor party in November of 1947 was supposedly the last time he smoked. He quit at his bride-to-be’s request. Might explain his incredible longevity! His Uncle, Earl Mountbatten (pictured with cigar looking away), loved cigars. Philip’s mother (Mountbatten’s sister) and his Mountbatten Grandmother (sister of the Last Tzarina–Alexandra) were chain smokers. When Philip’s mother spent her last few years at Buckingham Palace, people knew where she was by the clouds of smoke and the thunderous coughing.

His Royal Hotness, Prince Harry

Photo credits Rex via DailyMail.com and  unknown found via flickr

I couldn’t find a smoking picture of Prince Harry that was anywhere near as smoldering as the one of his Great-Great-Grandpa, George V that began this post. But, the hipster Royal is a fairly heavy smoker. His father, Prince Charles, is strongly opposed. Somehow, I’m sure (pardon the pun) that Papa’s objections likely fuel the fire! A real lad’s lad, our Harry. Most of his gals have been smokers too. Sadly, young women today still fall for the myth that smoking keeps you slim. Both Prince William and Catherine (Kate) smoked as students. They have either given it up for the children now or hide it very well. Did you know that Prince Harry’s real name is Henry? Like his late, great-great Uncle, the late Duke of Gloucester, he is always known as Harry.

Princess Eugenie of York

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 Photo source: talkinsmokingculture.boards.net

Prince Andrew’s younger daughter has frequently been seen smoking. It’s very fashionable again, sadly. Eugenie says you pronounce her name as in “Use your knees.” Cute. Did you know she had to have surgery to correct a curvature in her spine? She is now a patron of spinal disorder charities.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Riding photo: datalounge.com  Poolside–Rex via Dailymail.com

Some sources say she gave up smoking, but in her pre-royal days she smoked like a factory. Very ironic given Prince Charles is such a rabid anti-smoking fiend that he had a “No Smoking” sign in the Kensington Palace home he shared with Diana.

Other Royals

Denmark: Queen Margarethe of Denmark, aka “The Great Dane”

It is always my intent to give FULL CREDIT for any photo used here. The Top Left is likely from Getty Images but found via talkinsmokingculture.boards.net  The bottom is from Tim Roake of Rex Shuttlestock. I will update this to reflect other credit as I am able.

Since childhood (upper left) Margarethe has wielded a mean lighter–in this photo she is lighting for her mother, Queen Ingrid. The cute, pre-Pinterest photo of Her Majesty and her now husband, Prince Henrik is an adorable one for Valentine’s Day. Did you know Her Majesty is a cousin of both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip?

Nearly the entire Royal Family of Monaco smokes! Possibly not Albert and Charlene–she was an Olympic athlete after all, but the rest of them are frequently seen smoking. I’m not sure about anyone else.

Happy Valentine’s Day cough, cough, cough