Born in the 1920s, and still roaring in the 2020s, Queen Elizabeth II started life as an infant who was considered a”minor royal birth” and remains reigning queen today. Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch is beautifully written by Ruth Cohen and narrated by Jenny Bond and Tim Piggot -Smith. She grew up as the favorite grandchild of King George whom she nicknamed Grandpa England – and planned on becoming a farmer and having lots of children and animals.
Her destiny changed when her uncle abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson and her father became King George VI in 1936. Queen Elizabeth’s parents refused to flee England for Canada and steadfastly reassured England by their continued residence at Buckingham Palace through WWII when Nazis bombed London nightly. Her mother said, “The children won’t leave without me, I won’t leave without the King, and the King will never leave.”
Not long after she married Prince Phillip of Greece, her father died, and she became Queen at 25. Queen Elizabeth II pledged her life to the British Commonwealth and became resilient and adaptable through cultural and familial changes. Excerpts from the Queen’s radio and television broadcasts in her own voice illuminate this delightful Audible edition of Elizabeth II : Life of a Monarch.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch from Audible in exchange for an honest review.
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When a singer at their engagement party dies, Grace, Jack, and their Cool Cats, Tatania and Zeus,are on the trail of a killer that leads to Tijuana and a bootlegger’s doll: Cupcake Kitty.
Excerpt from Cupcake Kitty:
“Magical white cat Tatania became impatient with her humans. She could smell a succulent sea bass on the other side of the door. To encourage her humans to open it, she emitted a deaf cat’s glass shattering meow. Zeus, her black and white feline companion, responded to her meow by putting his paws over his head and his rear end up in the air. “How would you feel about spending a lot of time with me?” Jack asked. “I feel like I already have,” Grace said. “It only gets better.” He held up her hand and admired the emerald and diamond ring he’d bought her at Jessop & Sons jewelers last month. He moved it from her forefinger to her ring finger. “Marry me?” “Of course.” He opened the door to the Hotel del Coronado’s Crown Room. A band played the Charleston for enthusiastic dancers. In the center of the dance floor, there was an ice sculpture of two magnificent cats. “What’s going on?”” “Our engagement party.” “Why were you so sure I’d say yes?” “I’m arrogant.” The Cool Cat Mysteries can be read in any order. If you’d like to know the chronological order of the series, here it is for you:
**Splendid Summer **Emeralds, Diamonds and Amethysts **Cher Ami **Available exclusively in Grace, Jack & Magical Cats Boxed Set Vol I Meow Baby Cupcake Kitty Meow or Never Catty Corner Cat Dance 9 Lives to Live MEWOW The Fur Will Fly Right Meow
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The Tuscan Child, written by Rhys Bowen, and beautifully narrated by Jonathan Keeble and Katy Sobey, will transport you to Tuscany and the secrets of a village still scarred by WWII. Rhys Bowen has a gift for moving between time periods, the 1940s and 1970s, without ever jarring the reader. Here’s the description from Amazon:
“From New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…
““Pass the bread, the olives, and the wine. Oh, and a copy of The Tuscan Child to savor with them.” —NPR
In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.
Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.
Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…”
Joanna is an immensely likeable character who is recovering from a car crash and romantic disillusionment when her aristocratic father dies and she goes to Italy to discover the story of her father’s WWII plane crash and his own romantic disillusionment.
Beneath the lyrical descriptions of an Italian landscape, deeper mysteries make this story so beguiling that it won’t be easily forgotten.
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Tuscan Child from Audible in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.
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In 9 Lives to Live, a magical cat named Tatania helps solve crimes for romantic 1920s detectives. Tatania does some of her best mystery solving while standing in doorways and thinking about clues. Do you think cats are thinking about other things while they stand in doorways or are they just trying to decide whether to go in or out? Leave a comment and you may win a free copy of the audiobook edition of 9 Lives to Live in exchange for an honest review!
To look at Justin Trudeau, you have to wonder if Adonis fell out of Greek mythology and landed on earth on the day he was born. One of the surprising things he reveals in Common Ground is that even he went through an acne riddled phase as a teenager and was briefly bullied. He advises to never give a bully the response the bully wants.
Common Ground’s title expresses his desire for Canada’s populace to always look for common ground instead of focusing on inevitable differences. Well-narrated by Colm Feore, in its Audible edition, Common Ground is a memoir and reminder that no one is immune from adversity. Justin Trudeau emerges as a tireless champion of education, mental health, and a solid middle class filled with opportunities. His background as a teacher makes him a leader with unique insight into generations growing up after his own.
He remains aware of his heritage as the son of another Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, and stays devoted to his widowed mother’s well-being. After one of his brothers, Michel Trudeau, dies in an avalanche, Justin Trudeau, becomes an advocate for avalanche safety. Common Ground tells the story of the life events that evoked a fascinating leader’s character.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Common Ground from Audible in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links..
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Some of the most adorable rodent terminators on the planet live in Bodega shops in Brooklyn. Since it’s not safe to have pesticides around food, and rats will never completely leave New York, Bodega shops have the cutest solution: cats who serve as 24/7 rodent control.
A collective belief that an American astronaut would be the first to walk on the moon bound Americans together through the first space flights. When President Eisenhower decided that space travel should be a civilian enterprise and not a military one, he established NASA. The Right Stuff is Thomas Wolfe’s exciting story about America’s first chosen astronauts and is well-narrated by Dennis Quaid. Although President Eisenhower didn’t bring space travel to the military, the military came to space travel. The United States Naval Academy has graduated more astronauts than any other university. The United States Air Force Academy ranks second in alumni astronauts. The Right Stuff is the catch phrase coined for NASA’s chosen ones.
When John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, all of America celebrated together. Traffic cops wept at a parade in John Glenn’s honor in Manhattan. Through listening to The Right Stuff, you can feel like you were present through all the space flight testings with NASA that culminated in triumph. It’s an exhilarating tale of courage, strength, and unwavering belief in infinite possibilities.
To see a copy of The Right Stuff, click on the image above or the link below:
Sowden House, 1926, Lloyd Wright, HOLLYWOOD TOUR, photo courtesy of Architecture Tours L.A.
Awhile ago, a friend from London and I were meeting in L.A. and we discovered fabulous Architecture Tours L.A. We loved owner/operator Laura Massino’s tours so much we took two! With a Master’s degree in Architectural History, Laura had the innovative idea of offering historic architectural tours in Los Angeles. I was delighted to catch up with Laura again and ask her about two of my favorite topics: 20s and Architecture.
Mary: It seems like Art Deco’s experimentation with geometric style fits 20s ingenuity perfectly. I know the term Art Deco comes from the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Were L.A.’s 20s architects inspired by the 1925 Paris Exposition?
Laura: Yes, the architects/designers in Los Angeles were inspired by the exposition in Paris. This was considered an international design style and some of the architects of the day might have traveled to Europe in the 20s and they may also have seen publications, magazines, books, etc. on the subject. Moreover, there was a general fascination with machinery, mechanization, movement, modernity and speed and this was also an influence.
Mary: When we were on your downtown L.A. tour, we saw beautiful Art Deco buildings. I remember Cicada, the restaurant featured in two movies: The Artist and Pretty Woman. Does downtown have the most Art Deco style architecture in L.A.?
Laura: I would say it may be a “toss-up” between the Miracle Mile and Downtown, although I’ve never done an actual count of buildings. There are also other Art Deco style buildings in other places-The Pantages Theater on Hollywood Blvd., just east of Vine Street, The Sunset Tower Hotel (www.sunsettowerhotel.com) on Sunset Blvd. on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood is one of the best in the area and of course, the Bullock’s Wilshire Department Store on Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown is also in the Top 5 in the area.
Mary: Do you have a favorite amidst the 20s Art Deco theaters built for the emerging motion picture industry in L.A.?
Laura: Yes, the Tower Theater (www.towertheaterla.com) on Broadway from 1927 is my favorite and the first one that could accommodate “talkies”! I especially LOVE the vertical “pre-neon” sign that is made of individual lightbulbs and the recessed panels near the top on the side of the structure that would have had painted-on advertisements.
Mary: Looking at 20s L.A. Architecture, what would be your choice for best illuminating Art Deco Style? And feel free to make more than one choice!
Laura: OK, here’s my Top 5 in no particular order:
-The Oviatt Building on Olive Street
-The Coca-Cola Building on Central Avenue
-The Eastern Columbia Building on Broadway
-The Sunset Tower Building on Broadway
-Bullock’s Wilshire Department Store (now Southwestern Law School) on Wilshire Blvd.
Mary: If you could live in the 20s, where would you live and why?
Laura: If I could live in the 20s I would definitely live in Hollywood. It would have been VERY glamourous with the film industry in full swing, fashionable people living there and lots of open spaces in the Hollywood Hills, in particular.
For someone especially interested in 20s L.A., do you recommend any of your tours in particular?
Laura: Yes, the DOWNTOWN tour and the HANCOCK PARK/MIRACLE MILE tour are the best for seeing excellent examples of architecture from the 1920s.
Mary: I know that you’re also a prodigious author! Among your books, do you recommend one in particular for showcasing 20s L.A. Art Deco style?
Laura: Also, the same books that go with the tours mentioned above,ARCHITECTURE TOURS L.A. GUIDEBOOK – DOWNTOWN, but in particular the ARCHITECTURE TOURS L.A.GUIDEBOOK – HANCOCK PARK/MIRACLE MILE would be best for the Art Deco style.
Click on the image above to see Architecture Tours L.A.’s Miracle Mile book on Amazon.
Thank you Laura! I hope to be enjoying one of your tours again soon:)
Cats began residing in government offices centuries ago. Instead of rat poison, London’s Foreign Office found the most adorable rodent terminator imaginable: Palmerston. Although Palmerston is named for a prime minister who served twice in the 1800s, he has charisma worthy of Winston Churchill. He’s also left-pawed like Churchill.
Churchill loved and admired his cats but noted that pigs treat men as equals: “Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. But pigs treat us as equals.” Winston Churchill
Palmerston vanquishes several rodents per year and reportedly makes the resident rodent terminator of 10 Downing Street, Larry, look like a slacker. Things get a little hissy when Larry and Palmerston meet so the cats are kept apart.
Kedi, a beautiful documentary, celebrates the lives of Istanbul’s cats as seen by the people they adopt. Here’s the description from Amazon:
“Hundreds of thousands of cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years, they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, these animals live between two worlds, and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. Turkish language film with English subtitles.”
“Everything is better with cats.” @CatFoodBreath, awesome cat on Twitter.