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A street cat named Bob : and how he saved my life Book Cover
A street cat named Bob : and how he saved my life by Bowen, James, 1979-
Reviewed by Tamoul Q (Aug 12, 2013)
One look at the sweet, wise organe Tabby face and I just had to crack the cover of this book. This isn’t Marley and Me for cats. For starters, Bob could have adopted any human who happened to travel that hallway to the flat in London. James could have ignored the quiet call for attention, being on a non-date with an old girlfriend. What follows is the sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but overall wonderful story of how an animal companion can help us find and nurture our better selves.
Meet you in hell : Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the bitter partnership that transformed America Book Cover
Meet you in hell : Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the bitter partnership that transformed America by Standiford, Les.
Reviewed by G (May 17, 2013)
I really believe this account of Andrew Carnegie's life and times. There's so much information of Pennsylvania especially Pittsburgh. This book reinforces how a good work ethnic and the willingness to be confident when needed can make your desires an accomplishment. It proves how making the right connections with people you can trust is of the upmost priorty, or what left of your life could be spent trying to correct those choices. Loretta
Twelve Years a Slave Book Cover
Twelve Years a Slave by Northup, Solomon
Reviewed by Camille T (Feb 6, 2013)
While reading this novel, I often thought about what I learned about slavery in school and the many films I've seen on the subject, most notably, the television series Roots , which is probably most of our first visual representation of a slaves' life – but I thought, "Noooo, they got it wrong! Slavery was 50 times worst than any representation I've ever seen on a film."

Solomon Northup, was a free born, African America man living in New York state in the early 1800s. He had a wife, three children, and was able to provide for his family working various jobs, depending on the season. Solomon is kidnapped and forced into slavery for 12 years, in the deep south.

What makes this novel so compelling is his story telling. He goes into great detail explaining what is feels like to be a slave; the constant state of fear (scared of waking up late, scared of not working fast enough, scared of being in the wrong place at the wrong time if your master is in an angry mood), the whippings (which happened more often than I originally thought), the brutal labor, the little food (yet being forced to work at 100% at all times with little nourishment), and the depressing feeling of being separated from your family (being sold to another master was the worst nightmare of most slaves, more fearful than the whip). His prose paints a clear picture of what it feels like to be a slave.

I highly recommend this non-fiction novel (did I mention, this is a TRUE story) to any and everyone interested in American or African American history.

This novel is currently being made into a film by director Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender. I have to admit, I am very eager to see this film (it's slated for release Sept. 6, 2013) because I'm curious to see if they will be true to the original work, and go hard and showcase slavery in its most brutal form, even if it will make audiences uncomfortable, because as time goes on, I think we forget how truly horrible an institution slavery was.
Tags:  5 Stars (LOVED it), Biography
Barnum's Bones : how Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World Book Cover
Barnum's Bones : how Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Fern, Tracey E
Reviewed by Teresa G (Nov 8, 2012)
What a wonderful book! Author Tracey Fern has created a delightful account of Barnum Brown and his discovery of the most famous dinosaur of all--Tyrannosarus rex. Barnum comes alive in the pages as his childhood fascination with the odd fossils found on his father's Kansas farm leads him to become a dinosaur hunter for the Museum of Natural History in New York City. Beautifully written, Barnum's Bones evokes the hard work of dinosaur hunting and the excitement of the find. Telling the story with language that is elegant and descriptive, Tracey Fern keeps the reader wanting to turn each page to find out "what happened next" in Barnum's life. EXCELLENT!
Charles Dickens Book Cover
Charles Dickens by Smiley, Jane.
Reviewed by Kay W (Feb 21, 2012)
This is an excellent short intoduction to Dickens. Because short, it must cut many corners, but it does not shortchange them, leaving arrows pointing in the right direction. Best of all, the author has a interested, appreciative but not whitewashing attitude to both the man and his works. She expects no perfections in either and as such is well suited to her subject, whose multifacited greatness was offset by weaknesses particularly galling to modern tastes. So--if you want to place the life in context with the works, or see if there is anything to this Dickens fellow after all, this is a good place to start.
Tags: Biography
The Red Rose girls : an uncommon story of art and love Book Cover
The Red Rose girls : an uncommon story of art and love by Carter, Alice A.
Reviewed by Kay W (Jan 3, 2012)

This is a groundbreaking, almost-scholarly work on a too long neglected group of important women artists. This is a readable middle-brow history of a group of women (whose main commitments and intimacies were with women) who in the late 19th, early 20th-century figured out,(with the support of kindred souls,) how to make their own way on their own terms, while retaining all the privileges of respectability and financial prudence. This is the engaging story of 5 practical romantics who, while suffering all the usual discords and trials, nevertheless made for themselves gratifying lives that contibuted wonderful things to the greater community.

In short, this is the story of 4 illustrators/muralists/curators and one housemanager: Jesse Willcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Violet Oakley, Edith Emerson and Henrietta Cozens. You may not know their names but their images were ubiquious during their time. They are not more famous because they were women who had to earn a living and fine arts at the time were only possible for rich women.

So read the book and learn what is possible.

This child will be great : memoir of a remarkable life by Africa's first woman president Book Cover
This child will be great : memoir of a remarkable life by Africa's first woman president by Johnson-Sirleaf, Ellen, 1938-
Reviewed by Tamoul Q (Nov 22, 2011)
Ellen Sirleaf. Perhaps you’ve heard of her, but most likely not. There’s not a lot of good news coming out of Africa recently in my opinion. However, Ellen J. Sirleaf, President of Liberia is good news. A survivor of her country’s bloody cues and crushing debt, President Sirleaf is the first woman of native decent to hold such a High office.

Traditionally,women in African culture are the strength of families and communities, but are seldom recognized for their contributions when compared to African men. Therefore, when a woman is elected President in a country steeped in a tradition of patriarchal rule, a huge break with tradition has occurred. When that same woman is also a Nobel Prize winner people start to take what she has to say seriously.

Sirleaf shares her life story, her struggles, her moments near death at the hands of fellow countrymen. The reader will feel the horror of conflicts that continue to tear at the heart of Liberia. Readers will ponder the politics that twist and cut like razor wire. Her story is also one of perseverance, courage under pressures (both external and internal), and her struggles to bring a third world country into the peace and security of a unified state.

Ellen Sirleaf is good news and history in the making. Be sure not to miss a moment of her journey.
Tags:  5 Stars (LOVED it), Biography
Metropolitan paradise : the struggle for nature in the city : Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley, 1620-2020 Book Cover
Metropolitan paradise : the struggle for nature in the city : Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley, 1620-2020 by Contosta, David R.
Reviewed by Kay W (Nov 15, 2011)

This is a 4 volume set, and this is a review of Volume 2.

Volume 2 looks at the history of Pennsylvania's Wissahickon watershed from approx. 1850-1940. This is the period during which most of what we now consider the area was developed. It was also the period during which Philadelphia's Fairmont Park incoroprated much of the lower Wissahickon, that what is now Northwest Philly became part of the city, and that a distinctive Wissahickon style came into being.

Contosta and Franklin present these and other events and influences in a series of illustrated and illustrative vignettes that allow them to convey a lot of information in little space. In short, for anyone with any interest or affection for this area, this book will be a welcome feast for the heart, the mind and the eye.
U-boat Adventures : Firsthand Accounts From World War II Book Cover
U-boat Adventures : Firsthand Accounts From World War II by Wiggins, Melanie
Reviewed by Robert S (Oct 30, 2011)
U-Boat Adventures explains the excitement, fear, terror, and hopelessness of Germany’s once dreaded and deadly submarine fleet which at the end of World War Two saw only 1 of 7 subs return from attack-and-destroy missions. The book is a collection of short autobiographies from U-boat commanders and sailors fifty years after the war. A major drawback is that men in their nineties have memories and stories that may not be the same if taken right after the war in the mid-1940’s.There is an overview of how technological advances, both Allied and Axis, had a huge impact on naval warfare. The book supplies rare and vivid stories from a tiny survivors’ group under very stressful circumstances: trying to sink the enemy before he sinks you. A Better bet: Iron Coffins: A Personal Account of the German U-boat Battles of World War II, by Herbert A. Werner. Iron Coffins reads like a novel but is an autobiography written shortly after the war, it's more detailed, vivid, accurate.
Genius of place : the life of Frederick Law Olmsted Book Cover
Genius of place : the life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Martin, Justin.
Reviewed by Kay W (Oct 20, 2011)

This is a big fat book (but easy and pleasant to read,) about a man who had a big fat influence(so large as to be hard to define) on our big fat world (though mostly America.) Actually, it is all a bit more complicated than that, but then, it usually is.

Olmsted, the son of a 19th century Conneticut merchant, was a man who tried many things before finding his way into an American profession that was equally late a-borning: landscape architecture. Finding himself unemployed, but with the right friends at the right time, Olmsted, along with his frequent partner, Calvert Vaux, designed and installed the first great park in America, New York's Central Park. As such, their taste, which pretty much runs in a straight line from the English poets Wordsworth and Coleridge to the American sage Emerson to the Hudson Valley painters to American architect Downing with whom Vaux apprenticed, has perhaps had some unconscious influence on many, if not most, of the people who have lived in Manhatten since the Civil War. Add in a few of Olmsted's other works: Boston's Emerald Necklace, the Biltmore estate and its effect on forestry in America, Chicago's White City, the grounds of the Capitol in D.C., the beginnings of the preservation of the Yosemite Valley, the campus of Stanford Univ. -- plus, lots more, and we might be talking about one of America's least well known, farseeing, truly great, unacknowledged legislators.

He seems to have not been an easy person, but, not a corrupt nor bad one either. More than likely bipolar, and with a lot more mental baggage than just that, he had a superb visual imagination coupled with great inventive insights-- plus, complete confidience in these abilities. Though opinionated, cranky and sometimes insensitive, he was also honest, outgoing, curious, hardworking and unusually dutiful with his family; a great deal of his behavior depended on his mood and health. The author, Martin, handles this man's contadictions well, presenting evidience, letting the reader judge. This could have easily been a three volume bio., credit Martin with the ability to write a nonsketchy-feeling story in about 400 pages. Highly rec.