Ever wonder what it would be like to grow up in a castle? Author Anthony Russell spent his early life at Leeds Castle in Kent, UK, and his memoir, Outrageous Fortune, takes us beyond the stone walls and towers to see what it's like to live the "Castle Way."
Once home to kings and queens, Leeds Castle was purchased by Russell's grandmother, Lady Baillie, in 1926. Titles and prestige may have brought the family a luxurious setting, but they were not immune to scandal and secrets. Russell came of age in the 60s, while the world outside the castle's moat was changing rapidly. It wasn't until he was sent away to boarding school that he realized how unusual and isolating his life had been.
Today, Leeds Castle is open to the public and popular tours of the rooms and gardens bring an old world back to life. Outrageous Fortune takes us inside to see what it was really like to be a little boy who lived in a castle where money was no object and history was everywhere. Take the fascinating journey back with him -- no passport required!
Greetings! A Happy Friday to us all. Mistakes. We all make them. Last week I was so obsessed with eradicating all the M’s that I forgot to link to the correct post. I rectify that here. Sometimes we learn from our mistakes. For instance, for The Game last year, my brother taped it because he was running in a race that morning and we would not be darkening his door until well into the second half. This seemingly excellent plan enabled us to catch up with each other, nibble on what emerged from The Green Egg and sip a beverage in a leisurely manner before settling down to the business at hand. It all went swimmingly and The Game was a thing of beauty. A tied score in the last 32 seconds and then it happened. Because The Game ran long we were confronted with The Blue Screen of Death. Yup. The DVR ran out of room and we were tasked with frantically trying to determine the ending. Well, this year was going to be different! This year, Peter set the timer for the next two shows. We were covered! Peter ran his race, we showed up early in the afternoon, caught up with each other, ate lovely lunch, sipped a little something and then settled in to watch The Game. When our quarterback got badly hurt in the beginning of the 4th quarter with the score tied, we were on pins and needles! How would this play out? And then what happened? Yup. Cue The Blue Screen of Death, which left us scrambling to find out how it all ended. Next year there will be no race, no leisurely nosh. We have learned our lesson. The Game begins at noon and we will be watching it live. Last week I failed to credit sister-in-law Cathy for the picture so I am doing that now. Cathy, my apologies! Great picture from The Shoe and thanks! Mistakes happen People! We are only human after all. So learn your lessons, learn to apologize and move on knowing better. This week we have murder, creepiness, some organizing, hockey and how about a nice cup of hot chocolate to go with that Playlist?
Let us begin!
Abby has another series that she wants to tell us about. “Fans of the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly will be happy to learn the Detective is back in The Burning Room and as methodical and determined as ever. Harry has been in the elite cold crimes unit for a few years, but when a man dies due to a decades old shooting, it’s ruled a murder. Harry and his partner catch the case and must balance the challenges of a fresh crime against the techniques of solving a cold case. As usual, Connelly weaves an intricate web of clues and connections that allow Bosch to close the case. The road to getting there illustrates that justice is not always what we imagine, but that’s doesn’t mean it can’t be satisfying. Connelly is one of the few crime writers who can offer a new book with regularity and consistent high-quality.”
Sweet Ann is here this week with a story of book happenstance with The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster. What have you got going Ann? “As I was shelving books one day, I saw this book and was intrigued by the title as well as the cover. I am so glad I chose to read this book written by a British author. I found this book to be creepy and one I could not put down. It tells the story of Julia, a forty-eight-year old child psychologist and magistrate in London. She works with damaged children and makes decisions that will shape their lives. As Julia looks back on her childhood and the choices she made, we learn of Julia's actions and the way she was raised by her dismissive mother. As a reader you feel you are almost reading the case study of young Julia and discovering who she becomes as an adult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book”.
Barbara M is busy busy busy! I’ll let her explain. “I have read an incredible amount of books on organizing; too, too many. For the most part they all say the same things. Things I already know. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is different. One of her instructions is to store all similar items in the same place instead of by frequency of use. Storing items by frequency of use she says makes it easy to forget about them. She also never piles things. She rolls things and stores them vertically making it easy to see what you have. She is ruthless. Her main principle is that you should keep only things that ‘spark joy’. While that idea made sense to me her suggestion that you thank your discards for having served you well was beyond what I could do. I won’t and can’t follow her instructions systematically. There is no way I can put all my clothes in a pile on the floor and then sort through them. However, that being said, this book has somehow inspired me to look at the amount of things I own in a different way.”
Steph! What’s this week’s read? “This week I have been engrossed in Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard by John Branch. You may have seen the story of Derek Boogaard before, in Branch’s three-part New York Times feature on Boogaard, published after his tragic death in 2011. After an improbable rise through the ranks of hockey, Boogaard became one of the most feared enforcers in the NHL. However, this rise was accompanied by countless injuries to his body, including several broken noses, a ruptured disc in his back, and hands that were constantly swollen and covered in open wounds. His friends and family worried about him, but playing for the NHL was all the boy from rural Saskatchewan wanted, and team doctors kept fixing him up. These fixes came with many painkillers, however, and before long Boogaard developed a fierce addiction that worsened after a horrific concussion. This addiction led directly to his death at age 28, shocking everyone around him and the entire sports community. Branch, who was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on this story, tracks Boogaard’s tragic story from beginning to end with copious detail from interviews, credit card statements, and medical records. It’s heartbreaking to watch it unfold with hindsight, seeing all the places someone might have made a difference. While Branch subtly underscores the story with references to hockey culture and how it contributed to Boogaard’s death, he seeks not so much to place blame as to instigate change. Though this is a must-read for hockey fans, any sports fan will see the parallels between Boogaard and the stories of sacrifice from every sport. This is a top non-fiction book of the year.”
Miss Elisabeth is in the spirit! "This week I read the absolutely delightful My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Edited by YA Author Stephanie Perkins and featuring stories by such YA stars as Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman, Matt De La Pena, and David Leviathan, this book is the perfect choice for curling up by a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Each story features some kind of romance, most swoon-inducing. I would say there’s not a bad story in the bunch; I had my favorites (the editor’s own It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown was definitely one of the best), but the entire collection is worth a read, something which is not necessarily true with other themed anthologies I’ve read. Don’t let the YA label fool you! The book is not filled with angst-y teens. Most of the stories are about true young adults (i.e., out of high school) and some deal with decidedly grown-up problems, like hunger. This little gem of a collection is sure to put a smile on your face, bring you great holiday cheer and it would make an excellent holiday gift!"
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with some final thoughts on foibles. What’s good Pats? “Mistakes. Gaffes. 404s. Screw-ups. Blunders. Faux pas. Solecisms. Lapses. Hiccups. Admit it, we all make mistakes. Guess what? That’s usually a good thing. Mistakes are necessary for our own education. Just ask any Rube Goldberg enthusiast. I try to not make the same mistake twice and while I am not entirely successful in that endeavor, I try to be conscious about it. I will not use the most overused cliché in writing about insanity here. You know what it is. I will say that lately it has felt like the world has gone a bit insane and that can be unsettling. As if the holiday season wasn’t stressful enough! Things can feel like they are spinning out of control with injustices abounding, frustration and anger seem to be the emotions of the day. Will we learn from these mistakes? I certainly hope so. We shouldn’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. That would just be insane.”
Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.
The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year by Andy Cohen
The Look of Love by Sarah Jio
Here are the new titles available from 3M.
Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!
Getting the tree this weekend? How about some music to get you in the Holiday spirit?
Not sure what this is? Click here for some more information.
Greetings! Hope the Thanksgiving was all you hoped for and the leftovers bountiful. A happy Hate Week to us all. This weekend, the kinfolk and I celebrate the diversion that is That State Up North v. Ohio State. Also known as the holiday that rivals the Yuletide, if the Yuletide was fueled by a whole lotta dislike. The clan has been celebrating this for just about as long as there has been a clan or at least since 1897. The TC and I will be traveling to New Jersey on Saturday before noon to watch with The Brother and his people. There will be a protein in the Green Egg and a keg of beer at the ready. This is not an event that we take lightly. At Ohio State, the student body has dedicated their week to eradicating a certain letter everywhere it appears on the property and I too have taken up that challenge. So there will not be a certain letter in this weekly dispatch. You can read about the student body efforts here. This is the 110th get -together and even though the squad of The State Up North is sad, sad, sad this year, a win by OSU is not a foregone conclusion. You can’t predict the results when passions run high on both sides. A favorite story about this rivalry involves a young boy who is the son of two OSU grads. When Grant Reed was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11 he decided to label his cancer after That State Up North so that when he was cured he could state with a certitude that he had indeed Beat That State Up North. Happily he has done just that. You can read about that here. So Happy Weekend People! Let’s go Buckeyes! This week we have Big Coal, China, privilege, and elephants.
Playlist? Yup. No worries.
Let us begin!
The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Gray *ountain by John Grisha*. How was it Pat? “After a long hiatus as a reader of Grisha*, last year’s highly entertaining Syca*ore Row brought about a return to the fold. So I picked up Gray *ountain and so far, have not been disappointed. Sa*antha Kofer, high powered associate in a big New York City law fir*, beco*es a casualty of the financial collapse of 2008. Her career plans co*e to a screeching halt as she is furloughed, and told to find a volunteer position in a legal aid situation of so*e kind, and just possibly, after a year’s ti*e, she could be reconsidered for fullti*e e*ploy*ent again. This brings her to *ountain Legal Aid in the s*all town of Brady, Virginia, deep in the heart of Appalachia. Here she is faced with a veritable cornucopia of injustices perpetrated against the poor and underprivileged, particularly in an area of the country that is essentially run by Big Coal. Naturally, there is a very attractive lawyer who takes on the big co*panies-only to be found dead in questionable circu*stances. Ulti*ately, Gray *ountain is an indict*ent of the coal industry in A*erica today. However, if by *ixing in a little *urder, a little ro*ance *akes the topic of coal *
ining so co*pelling then I tip *y hat to *r. Grisha*.”
Steph! What’s doing? “This weekend I read The Three-Body Proble* by Cixin Liu, the first book in a land*ark Chinese science fiction trilogy, which has just been translated into English. I’ve been anticipating the book for *onths, and I’* happy to report that it *ore than lived up to *y expectations! In *any ways, The Three-Body Proble* has a classic sci-fi plot: hu*ans *ake contact with aliens, disagree about what to do next, and start turning on each other even as the aliens are en route for first contact. There’s lots of high-level science and technology discussion, not to *ention an otherworldly video ga*e. But Liu layers this story with one that’s all too real: the events of the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s, when Chinese youth took over the country in a violent political *ove*ent. The co*bination of hard sci-fi and living history is powerful and brings the science of the book to life in an unexpected way. Translator Ken Liu has done a *arvelous job of creating a work that reflects the original book while keeping it accessible to Western readers (for exa*ple, he uses footnotes very unobtrusively to help readers keep pace with references to Chinese history). Sci-fi lovers probably already have this on their TBR list, and video ga*e fans *ay also, but fans of apocalyptic fiction would do well to check this one out as well. It *ay not what you’re used to, but that can be a good thing.”
Babs B loves herself a celebrity bio. Here is what she thought about There Was A Little Girl: The Real Story of *y *other and *e by Brooke Shields. “I have to be honest, I was not in a rush to read this book but a* so glad I did! This was a very frank account of growing up in a privileged but painfully dysfunctional fa*ily. Brooke's parents divorced when she was less than a year old and Teri Fields raised Brooke by herself. Teri, who loved Brooke al*ost too *uch, was unfortunately an alcoholic and Brooke goes through life trying to ‘fix’ her *other. How Brooke ended up being as nor*al as she did is a *ystery to *e. She was a loving daughter trying to deal with her *other's illness while at the sa*e ti*e beco*e her own person. This is a beautifully and honestly written tribute to a co*plex, talented and ulti*ately tragic person. Kudos to Brooke Shields for writing this book...she is *uch *ore than a pretty face!”
The Tall Cool Texan Virginia who is not a football girl (how does a girl fro* Texas get away with that?) is here with a new favorite in Begin Again. “I a* not a huge *ovie person, but on a whi* last week, I grabbed Begin Again starring *ark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. I a* so glad I did because this *ight be *y new favorite *ovie. It is absolutely char*ing and it re*inded *e that fil**aking and acting are actual crafts. A chance encounter between a broken-hearted songwriter and a burned out *usic producer turns into a pro*ising collaboration. This isn’t a ro*ance, it’s about two people rediscovering the*selves through each other’s eyes. All of the actors are tre*endous and have real che*istry with each other. As a bonus Ada* Levine fro* *aroon Five is in it and is surprisingly good (granted you have to get past his *ega beard). Altogether, it is a poignant, hopeful, and funny fil*. It isn’t often I consider buying a *ovie but this one *akes the cut.”
Pat T is still listening. “Ann wrote about Leaving Ti*e by Jodi Piccoult last week, so I thought I would give you *y take on the audiobook. This novel has ele*ents of fiction, detective *ystery, non-fiction and fantasy. The best thing about this book is the extensive research the author did on Asian and African elephants and elephant sanctuaries. The narrator of the character, Alice *etcalf, the research scientist, was engaging, but the other narrations didn't depict the essence of the characters they were portraying. Also, the ending was a bit contrived, but I would still reco**end reading/listening to this book because of what you learn about elephants. Next on *y list to listen to is The Elephant Whisperer: *y life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony.
DJ Jazzy Patty *cC is here in the house. But not The Big House. Your turn to host is next year. What’s doin’ Pats? “The closest I ca*e to being a football fan was *y crush on Wayne Gretzky. Oh, wait that’s hockey. *y sports indoctrination was born out of teenage years spent in a ho*e that religiously watched Hockey Night in Canada like the Pope attends *ass on Sunday. I don’t understand football but I a* a good student. So this week I’ve got so*e questions that I’* hoping Jen can help *e out with: What’s up with the stickers on the hel*ets? Are they five years old? Do they get a gold star every ti*e they score a touchdown? Why does the guy put his hands dangerously close to another guy’s butt and what is he shouting while he is doing it? What’s with all the Bob Fosse *oves after the touchdown? Can we please add jazz hands if they’re going in that direction? I will say that I do, however heartily approve of the tight pants. Ga*e on and *ay the best tea* win! GO BLUE!”