Monday, August 24, 2015

"A Little Princess" (Audio)

Sara Crewe, an exceptionally intelligent and imaginative student at Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies, is devastated when her adored, indulgent father dies. Now penniless and banished to a room in the attic, Sara is demeaned, abused, and forced to work as a servant. How this resourceful girl's fortunes change again is at the center of A Little Princess, one of the best-loved stories in all of children's literature.

My Thoughts....

The story begins with little Sara Crewe traveling from the only life she’s  known living in India with her beloved Father, Captain Crewe. She is to be schooled like all proper British girls in London. Her father hates to let her go but knows he must for her own good. Almost immediately upon arrival, Sara sees quite clearly with her wise beyond her years insight that Miss Minchin, the proprietor of the school, is not a fair lady, although she hides it well enough. Just as immediately, Sara gets the reputation of being a little princess as her father lavishly buys cloths, dolls and comfortable living quarters. But Sara is not the spoiled child you might think her to be, quite the opposite. She could have cared less for all the finery if only to stay with her Papa, but of course that was not to be.

Miss Minchin doesn’t make it easy for Sara, but because she values Sara’s money, she plays along with Captain Crewe’s desires of spoiling the child.   

On the very day of Sara’s 11th birthday, news arrives that her father has passed away, and not only that he has lost all his money, leaving Sara penniless.

Miss Minchin, feeling as if tricked into covering Sara’s expenses, takes out her wrath on the grieving child. Takes away her lovely room, and confines her to the attic to live next to the scullery maid Becky, whom Sara has befriended. 

For years Sara suffers under the control of  Miss Minchin, doing all the tasks the servants don’t want to do, going to bed starving some nights and cold each night.  

But, try as she might, Miss Minchin couldn’t bring the clever girl down to the lowered station she thought she deserved to be in. For Sara Crewe was an expert at bolstering herself with imaginations. 

When Miss Minchin was at her worst, Sara’s proud spirit pretended she was a soldier. When given nothing but crumbs she shared it with her friend Mechezzidek, the rat who lived in the wall whom Sara pretended had a large family to take care of, so she shared her crumbs with him. 

One day the school becomes abuzz with the news that a wealthy man is moving next door and Sara in her clever mind quickly assigns a story to him to entertain herself in the hours after her drudgery is over, to keep her mind off her hunger. Her curiosity is even more aroused when she meets the wealthy man’s native Indian man servant and his pet monkey.

Ram Dass, the man servant, is struck by the bright child, and from that moment on, watches with silent eyes and ears every kind thing Sara does and eventually brings it to the wealthy man’s attention. Sensing they can help her, The wealthy neighbor and Ram Dass determine to bless the girl who gives so much yet is treated so poorly. 

I was totally engaged while listening to this story. As I listened it seemed familiar, but knowing I had never read it even as a youngster, I do believe I saw the movie based on this story. Anyway, it was the book I listened to this week-end. I enjoyed it enough to award it four Princess stars...

I found this book on audio books.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Tab Hunter Confidential"

Welcome to Hollywood, circa 1950, the end of the Golden Age. A remarkably handsome young boy, still a teenager, gets "discovered by a big-time movie agent. Because when he takes his shirt off young hearts beat faster, because he is the picture of innocence and trust and need, he will become a star. It seems almost preordained. The open smile says, "You will love me," and soon the whole world does.

The young boy's name was Tab Hunter—a made-up name, of course, a Hollywood name—and it was his time. Stardom didn't come overnight, although it seemed that way. In fact, the fame came first, when his face adorned hundreds of magazine covers; the movies, the studio contract, the name in lights—all that came later. For Tab Hunter was a true product of Hollywood, a movie star created from a stable boy, a shy kid made even more so by the way his schoolmates—both girls and boys—reacted to his beauty, by a mother who provided for him in every way except emotionally, and by a secret that both tormented him and propelled him forward.

In Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, Hunter speaks out for the first time about what it was like to be a movie star at the end of the big studio era, to be treated like a commodity, to be told what to do, how to behave, whom to be seen with, what to wear. He speaks also about what it was like to be gay, at first confused by his own fears and misgivings, then as an actor trapped by an image of boy-next-door innocence. And when he dared to be difficult, to complain to the studio about the string of mostly mediocre movies that were assigned to him, he learned that just like any manufactured product, he was disposable—disposable and replaceable.

Hunter's career as a bona fide movie star lasted a decade. But he persevered as an actor, working continuously at a profession he had come to love, seeking—and earning—the respect of his peers, and of the Hollywood community.

And so, Tab Hunter Confidential is at heart a story of survival—of the giddy highs of stardom, and the soul-destroying lows when phone calls begin to go unreturned; of the need to be loved, and the fear of being consumed; of the hope of an innocent boy, and the rueful summation of a man who did it all, and who lived to tell it all.

My Thoughts...

I always kinda enjoy reading these autobiographies of the old time movie stars that were famous when I was a teen-ager, Tab was one of those stars. I am from the 50s era so when I was 14-15-16 years old was when Tab was at his most famous. (I am 74 at this writing.) 

As a youngster I always enjoyed reading the movie magazines to see what the stars were doing and what movies I could look forward to seeing. As a naive teen-ager I believed everything I read about my favorite stars. In the 50s things weren't out there in your face the way the famous peoples private lives are now. It was a much more innocent time growing up in the 50s. Always new movies to see each week and on the week-ends. I loved my simple (naive) life way back then when movies were fun, not the blood, guts and beer movies that are so famous today...enough said!

I found this an interesting book to read. I think to enjoy it you probably should be familiar with the movie stars of the 40s, & 50s, when life was easy, fun and innocent. It was nice seeing Tab through Tabs eyes, and not the false stories that the tabloids are so famous for publishing....I no longer read the Movie Magazines of today, I've grown-up in my thinking, knowing that almost everything written in them is probably not true anyway. 

This book is a part of my Nook library and I enjoyed it enough to award it 3 "Confidential" stars. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Arsenic And Old Books"

In Athena, Mississippi, librarian Charlie Harris is known for his good nature—and for his Maine coon cat Diesel that he walks on a leash. Charlie returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but taking the plunge into a recent acquisition will have him in over his head…

Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, has donated a set of Civil War-era diaries to the archives of Athena College. The books were recently discovered among the personal effects of an ancestor of Mrs. Long’s husband. The mayor would like Charlie to preserve and to substantiate them as a part of the Long family legacy—something that could benefit her son, Beck, as he prepares to campaign for the state senate.

Beck’s biggest rival is Jasper Singletary. His Southern roots are as deep as Beck’s, and their families have been bitter enemies since the Civil War. Jasper claims the Long clan has a history of underhanded behavior at the expense of the Singletarys. He’d like to get a look at the diaries in an attempt to expose the Long family’s past sins. Meanwhile, a history professor at the college is also determined to get her hands on the books in a last-ditch bid for tenure. But their interest suddenly turns deadly…

Now Charlie is left with a catalog of questions. The diaries seem worth killing for, and one thing is certain: Charlie will need to be careful, because the more he reads, the closer he could be coming to his final chapter…

My Thoughts...

"Arsenic And Old Books" is the sixth and latest book in this series. It was a perfect cozy read for these last two hot and steamy lazy summer days. I grabbed a glass of sweet iced tea and cuddled up with the book here in My Reading Corner.

I again enjoyed my visit with Charlie and Diesel the Cat. The story flowed along nicely making the time fly by as I quickly turned the pages to see how Charlie would solve yet another mystery in the small town of Athena, Mississippi.

This book is part of my personal library, and it is another four star winner in My Little Reading Corner of the world.