Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, September 18, 2017

Memoir Monday... The Sagrada Familia by Gijs Van Hensergen

The Sagrada Familia by Gijs Van Hensergen... An illuminating biography of one of the most famous--and most famously unfinished--buildings in the world, the Sagrada Familia of Barcelona.

The scaffolding-cloaked spires of Antoni Gaudí's masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, dominate the Barcelona skyline and draw in millions of visitors every year. More than a century after the first stone was laid in 1882, the Sagrada Familia remains unfinished, a testament to Gaudí's quixotic ambition, his religious devotion, and the sensuous eccentricity of his design. It has defied the critics, the penny-pinching accountants, the conservative town-planners, and the devotees of sterile modernism. It has enchanted and frustrated the citizens of Barcelona. And it has passed through the landmark changes of twentieth-century Spain, surviving two World Wars, the ravages of the Spanish Civil War, and the "Hunger Years" of Franco's rule.

Gijs van Hensbergen's The Sagrada Familia explores the evolution of this remarkable building, working through the decades right up to the present day before looking beyond to the final stretch of its construction. Rich in detail and vast in scope, this is a revelatory chronicle of an iconic structure, its place in history, and the wild genius that created it.

This crazy beautiful Basilica in Barcelona has some history and this biography should be quite interesting. I love the idea of a biography of a piece of architecture too! What do you think?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Memoir Monday... The Day the World Came to Town 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede

When 38 jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land at Gander International Airport in Canada by the closing of U.S. airspace on September 11, the population of this small town on Newfoundland Island swelled from 10,300 to nearly 17,000. The citizens of Gander met the stranded passengers with an overwhelming display of friendship and goodwill. As the passengers stepped from the airplanes, exhausted, hungry and distraught after being held on board for nearly 24 hours while security checked all of the baggage, they were greeted with a feast prepared by the townspeople. Local bus drivers who had been on strike came off the picket lines to transport the passengers to the various shelters set up in local schools and churches. Linens and toiletries were bought and donated. A middle school provided showers, as well as access to computers, email, and televisions, allowing the passengers to stay in touch with family and follow the news.

Over the course of those four days, many of the passengers developed friendships with Gander residents that they expect to last a lifetime. As a show of thanks, scholarship funds for the children of Gander have been formed and donations have been made to provide new computers for the schools. This book recounts the inspiring story of the residents of Gander, Canada, whose acts of kindness have touched the lives of thousands of people and been an example of humanity and goodwill.

The world will never forget what happened on 9/11. This book written in 2011 reminds us of the compassion and strength people are capable of. I had never heard of what happened in Gander, Newfoundland before reading about this book, but I look forward to this uplifting story.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day and Rosie the Riveter...

Labor Day is the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement and is meant to celebrate "the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country". One of the most enduring symbols of the American worker is Rosie the Riveter. Are you familiar with her? Her history may not be what you think. Here's her story straight from the Department of Labor...

Rosie: By Any Other Name - The Riveting True Story of the Labor Icon
Iconic image of Rosie the Riveter, but with the words 'Don't Call me Rosie. Or Else!' above her head.Certainly, one of the more readily recognizable icons of labor is "Rosie the Riveter," the indefatigable World War II-era woman who rolled up her sleeves, flexed her arm muscles and said, "We Can Do It!" But, this isn't the original Rosie.

In 1942, as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific and the song "Rosie the Riveter" filled radio waves across the home front, manufacturing giant Westinghouse commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to make a series of posters to promote the war effort. One such poster featured the image of a woman with her hair wrapped up in a red polka-dot scarf, rolling up her sleeve and flexing her bicep. At the top of the poster, the words ‘We Can Do It!' are printed in a blue caption bubble. To many people, this image is "the" Rosie the Riveter. But it was never the intention to make this image "Rosie," nor did many Americans think of her as "Rosie." The connection of Miller's image and "Rosie" is a recent phenomenon.

The "Rosie" image popular during the war was created by illustrator Norman Rockwell (who had most certainly heard the "Rosie the Riveter" song) for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943 — the Memorial Day issue. The image depicts a muscular woman wearing overalls, goggles and pins of honor on her lapel. She sports a leather wrist band and rolled-up sleeves. She sits with a riveting tool in her lap, eating a sandwich, and "Rosie" is inscribed on her lunch pail. And, she's stepping on a copy of Adolph Hitler's book "Mein Kampf."

The magazine cover exemplified the American can-do spirit and illustrated the notion of women working in previously male-dominated manufacturing jobs, an ever-growing reality, to help the United States fight the war while the men fought over seas.

The cover was an enormous success and soon stories about real life "Rosies" began appearing in newspapers across the country. The government took advantage of the popularity of Rosie the Riveter and embarked on a recruiting campaign of the same name. The campaign brought millions of women out of the home and into the workforce. To this day, Rosie the Riveter is still considered the most successful government advertising campaign in history.

After the war, numerous requests were made for the Saturday Evening Post image of Rosie the Riveter, but Curtis Publishing, the owner of the Post, refused all requests. The publishing company was possibly concerned that the composers of the song "Rosie the Riveter" would hold them liable for copyright infringement.

Since then, the J. Howard Miller "We Can Do It!" image has replaced Norman Rockwell's illustration as "Rosie the Riveter" in the minds of many people. Miller's Rosie has been imprinted on coffee mugs, mouse pads, and countless other items, making her and not the original "Rosie" the most famous of all labor icons.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Sunday Salon is Outta This World... 3 Scifi Novels to Take You Away... from Earth

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! AND The Sunday Post (which is hosted by Kim at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer)! It is a gloomy, rainy day here in Connecticut. I can't complain because the amount of rain we're getting is NOTHING in comparison to the devastation that Hurricane Harvey left in Texas. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected... If you'd like to donate in any way, there are plenty of organizations, just remember to do your homework and make sure that most of your donation is going directly to the people you want to help. Charity Navigator is one site that is suppose to investigate charities and rate them accordingly, AND also shows you the percentage of your donation actually going towards help. Don't forget the animals in all this too! Animal rescue sites in the area are out in full force rescueing pets left behind.

In the book world, I rarely read scifi. It's not that I avoid it, it's just that it's not my genre of choice. BUT, every once in a while I'll come across something that really interests me and I'll become completely absorbed. What exactly is Science Fiction? In an article entitled, How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future in Smithsonian magazine, Eileen Gunn says, "the task of science fiction is not to predict the future. Rather, it contemplates possible futures." Sometimes referred to as speculative fiction, science fiction gives us stories of possibilities. Worlds very different than ours and possible technology that seems bizzare to us. Maybe it's this "bizzarness" that turns people away from science fiction, but there are many people who love it and so you will never want for this genre.

If you want to try some science fiction... 
Here are 3 books that I think will be Outta This World...

Artemis by Andy Weir... An irresistible new near-future thriller--a heist story set on the moon. Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

I loved Martian by Andy Weir, because I loved Andy Weir's writing. I can't wait to sink my teeth into some more of his writing! This story sounds so interesting! And there is so much "thinking" going into even the title. (Artemis is the Greek Goddess of the Moon) There is a great post about the book, as well as a YouTube video of Andy Weir talking about his new book at Artemis will arrive on bookstore shelves November 14th thanks to Crown Publishing.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon... Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.

Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.

When the autopsy of Matilda's sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother's suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother's footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she's willing to fight for it. 

Another book that seems to break what some may consider the "standard" scifi story, with what seems to be a kickass female protagonist (something I personally love in a story). A little mystery, some drama, and a girl that can think on her feet... From Akashic Books, publishing date of Oct. 3rd!

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland... When Melisande Stokes, an expert in linguistics and languages, accidently meets military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons in a hallway at Harvard University, it is the beginning of a chain of events that will alter their lives and human history itself. The young man from a shadowy government entity approaches Mel, a low-level faculty member, with an incredible offer. The only condition: she must sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for the rather large sum of money. Tristan needs Mel to translate some very old documents, which, if authentic, are earth-shattering. They prove that magic actually existed and was practiced for centuries. But the arrival of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment weakened its power and endangered its practitioners. Magic stopped working altogether in 1851, at the time of the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace—the world’s fair celebrating the rise of industrial technology and commerce. Something about the modern world "jams" the "frequencies" used by magic, and it’s up to Tristan to find out why. And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time. But while Tristan and his expanding operation master the science and build the technology, they overlook the mercurial—and treacherous—nature of the human heart.

As soon as I opened the book and read the first page, I was hooked. I love time travel stories and this is exactly that! And it seems that Melisand Stokes is a bit snarky, which I like. This is a long one though, coming in at over 750 pages. I've got my bookmark in this one now. Published by William Morrow this past June, so it's available at your local bookstore!

Question: Do You Read Science Fiction? If not, why not?

Weekly Recap...
Monday's post was Memoir Monday highlighting Witness Tree by Lynda V. Mapes
Friday's post was First Lines Friday highlighting one of today's recommended books! Go take a peek!

Look for my review of The Lying Game by Ruth Ware in the next week or so. Great book! One of those satisfying reads. I'm almost done with Love and Trouble by Claire Dederer, which is such a good book. It's a memoir and just brings back so many memories of growing up in the 60's and 70's. I also have a bookmark in The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō. I actually have the "normal" version of this book, but found this in the Manga section of the bookstore and had to get it. I like Manga anyway (even though I am a picky manga reader), but I just loved that the "lessons" of the book were "illustrated". And it's kinda funny that this was still in what I consider the "kids" section (even though Manga is not just for kids, I am usually the only adult looking through the stacks).

That about does it for today. Hope you found something interesting here! Remember to stop by during the week to catch Memoir Monday, which highlights Memoirs and nonfiction, and First Lines Friday, which opens to the first lines of a book and see's if the author can hook you right from the start.

Happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, September 1, 2017

First Lines Friday...

MY NAME IS MELISANDE STOKES and this is my story. I am writing in July 1851 (Common Era, or- let's face it-Anno Domini) in the guest chamber of a middle-class home in Kensington, London, England. But I am not a native of this place or time. In fact, I am quite f*cking desperate to get out of here.
                                                ...The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O
                                                by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

I happen to pick this book up and read the inside jacket to see what it was all about. I had seen this title pop up in quite a few blurbs and I was curious. I was on the fence about it, until I read the first few lines above... and then I just HAD to read it! Melisande Stokes was my kind of girl!
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