Monday, December 2, 2013
For a time collections of precious jewels was only the province of kings, queens, emperors and maharajas. However, the years following World War I brought about many changes and one of them was the ownership of jewels once belonging only to royalty. Or, perhaps the new owners may be thought of as royalty of a different kind - celebrities, socialites, and the newly wealthy.
20th Century Jewelry and the Icons of Style focuses on 11 woman who amassed the most incredible, eye-popping personal collections of precious gems imaginable. Obviously, their financial resources were great, and also clearly they loved their jewelry because they often redesigned their pieces so they would always look fresh. It goes without saying that they patronized only the best jewelers and also expected the jewelers to offer them only the finest gems.
This gorgeous volume not only treats us to 398 photographs of these collections but also gives us a bird’s eye view of the way these women lived, their lifestyles, habits and preferences. For instance, when Daisy Fellowes acquired a 17.27 rose-pink diamond the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli (whose clothes the stunning Daisy wore) created the color Shocking Pink to complement the color of the stone. This amazing diamond believed to have been owned by Catherine the Great was stolen in 1939 and has not yet been found. You see, 20th Century Jewelry and the Icons of Style is not only visually beautiful but also fascinating reading.
Among the 11 women featured along with Daisy Fellowes are Marjorie Merriweather Post, Lydia, Lady Deterding, the Duchess of Windsor, Countess Mona Bismarck, Barbara Hutton, Merle Oberon, the Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda, Maria Callas, H.H. The Begum Aga Khan III, and Nina Dyer. Just imagine a party with all of these ladies present wearing their most amazing pieces of jewelry!
Stefano Papi has worked as Senior European Specialist in the jewelry departments of both Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Co-author Alexandra Rhodes is a Senior Director of Sotheby’s and a Senior International Specialist of the jewelry department based in London. Together they have given us a one-of-a-kind volume sure to be returned to again and again.
- Gail Cooke
Sunday, December 1, 2013
I'd been looking for a means
To improve the way I look in jeans.
Then I found a Spanx that binds us
Shapes and smooths what is behind us.
So here I am all sleek and svelte,
But such sore feet I've never felt!
For while this may be what I fit in,
It's not something I can sit in. - GC
Friday, November 22, 2013
Youngsters are fascinated by bugs whether they be insects, spiders or other creepy-crawlies boys and girls alike can spend hours watching them. Here is a book simply titled BUGS that offers so much more. It holds much larger than life pop-up bugs plus flaps and tabs that allow author and illustrator to show you the world of bugs.
For instance, pull a tab below a Fiddler Crab and their jointed legs appear. Appearing below the Crab is an explanation that while scorpions, shrimp and crabs aren’t usually thought of as bugs they are arthropods just like beetles, ticks and centipedes. There is a wealth of information to be found in Bugs while the lively illustrations and pop-ups will capture eyes time and time again.
Initially we learn that insects are the largest group of arthropods and there are around a million different species of insects. This is followed by an eye-popping look at how bugs work - their circulation and breathing, mating and reproduction, nerves and senses, eating and digestion. Next we are helped to understand why the world needs bugs and where they live. Closing pages are devoted to a few of the author’s favorite bugs - the Goliath Beetle, which is the heaviest; the Seventeen-year Cicada, which has the longest life cycle, etc.
BUGS is a large (9 ½" by 10 ½ inch) book chock full of information. Young ones ages 7 and up will spend hours going through it; adults may well be surprised at the engaging way the data is presented.
- Gail Cooke
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
With the author’s previous five books starring King and Maxwell all #1s on the New York Times bestseller list Baldacci has every right to rest on his laurels - no way. He’s back again with the sixth thriller featuring the dynamite duo of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell and it’s better than ever. True to form he begins with a zinger and continues at high speed carrying readers along with an imaginative plot, can’t-resist characters, and imminent dangers.
Sam Wingo, an outstanding soldier who had been painstakingly vetted for an important mission was in the middle of nowhere, a country still mired in the ninth century, carrying a cargo weighing 4800 pounds. He wasn’t wearing his uniform but the clothes he’d been given, and had driven countless miles in a box truck. Nonetheless, he was close to his destination where everything should go according to plan. However, it didn’t, definitely did not.
First, he was almost out of gas, apparently someone had miscalculated. Secondly he was met by a gun put in his face by a man identifying himself as a CIA agent who said plans had been changed. Wingo knew that wouldn’t happen. Barely escaping with his life he reaches Kabul where he calls his commanding officer only to be told that the people he was supposed to meet were at the appointed place, where was he? Wingo is accused of being a traitor and keeping the cargo for himself. Further, he is told that his son, Tyler, has been told he was killed in Afghanistan.
Shift to King and Maxwell who are driving at night through driving rain. Michelle sees a boy running like the very devil is chasing him. She tells King to stop and takes off after the boy; he is perhaps fifteen and carrying a gun. He is Tyler Wingo. And so begins one of the most dangerous jobs ever undertaken by King and Maxwell, which is saying quite a bit. It is also the opening of one of the most inventive, exciting stories penned by David Baldacci, which is also saying quite a bit.
While I’m a person who needs her sleep I couldn’t close my eyes until I’d finished this one. Enjoy!
- Gail Cooke
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford may be retired, however he’s just as smart and intuitive as ever. Well, perhaps he is a tad more crotchety, especially when his reading of his beloved Decline and Fall Of the Roman Empire is interrupted, but for this reader that makes him all the more endearing. While he’s reasonably content in retirement he does miss investigating crimes so when Detective Superintendent Burden asks his old boss to join in the chase Wexford doesn’t hesitate.
As it turns out this is an especially intriguing case - the Rev. Sarah Hussain, recently appointed vicar of St. Peter’s Church has been strangled. To say that her appointment was greeted with enthusiasm would be a gross understatement. She is not only female but biracial and a single mother. Seems that bigotry and racism are alive and well in Kingsmarkham. But would that be enough to commit brutal murder?
There is no shortage of suspects from Dennis Cuthbert, a church member who not only objected to Sarah but to her modernization of the liturgy, Gerald Watson, an old flame of Sarah’s who had taken to what some might stalking her and more. In addition to the coterie of suspects subplots abound including the jam ne’er-do-well Jeremy Legg has gotten himself into by the return of his ex-wife when Jeremy is illegally renting her flat. As it happens his tenants are Jason Sams and family. Jason is the son of Wexford’s non-stop gossipy cleaning lady. Then, who is the father of Sarah’s daughter, Clarissa?
Burden arrests gardener Duncan Crisp for the murder. Wexford doesn’t believe the man is guilty which causes a rift between the two investigators. Days aren’t at all sunny in Kingsmarkham and environs, which isn’t due to the weather. All of this makes for intriguing reading and a reminder of what an ace writer of crime fiction Ruth Rendell truly is. My one caveat is that for this reader too much space was devoted to subplots which tended to detract from the story’s building excitement.
- Gail Cooke
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Chardonnay wine is America's favorite wine and one of ours, too. So easy to drink, rich yet restrained this 2012 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from La Crema is the perfect accompaniment with appetizers and the homemade delicacies that will soon cover holiday tables. On the nose we find bright lemon drop and ripe pear along with toffee and hints of jasmine. Sweet vanilla and lingering baking spice add richness and texture to the long, fresh finish.
Friday, November 8, 2013
All children have moods, feelings, varying degrees of emotions. They can be proud, happy, sad, mad, jealous or a myriad of other responses. At times perhaps they feel a mixture of emotions, such as proud and happy, sad and afraid. They may not totally understand why they have these feelings, but Theo’s Mood may well help them to know that they are not alone in having these feelings as well as some of the reasons they may have them.
At Theo’s school they have a day called Mood Monday during which each of the youngsters is express how he or she feels that day. His teacher, Miss Cady, first asks Theo how he feels. Well, he’s not at all sure and responds with ‘I don’t know.” Next she asks him if anything happened during the weekend. He said his mother had a baby girl. Miss Cady thinks that’s “Good Mood News,” but Theo isn’t at all sure.
As the story progresses each youngster reveals how he or she feels. One is happy because he got a new bike, another is jealous because her sister won another trophy. Young readers will probably easily identify with all of the feelings expressed and in turn realize that their feelings are entirely normal.
Maryann Cocca-Leffler illustrates her story with bold full-page whimsical illustrations. There’s much to be learned by youngsters reading or listening to this story read to them.
- Gail Cooke