Audiobook Review: The Tuscan Child

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 store 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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FREE AUDIOBOOK 9 LIVES TO LIVE

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!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Audible Audiobook Review: Common Ground

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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Bodega Cats Are in Charge

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.

 

 

 

I want to shop in Brooklyn to support cute rodent terminators.  I’ve heard they can even lead you to the Fancy Feast aisle.

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Audiobook Review: The Right Stuff

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:

The Right Stuff

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Right Stuff from Audible in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Best of Blog: L.A.’s 1920s Architecture

This post originally appeared in April 2012.

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:)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Rodent Terminator of London:Palmerston

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.

In fairness to Larry, I should point out that Palmerston works in an office where he is adored and Larry works primarily with dog people.

Not everyone appreciates awesome office cats. But when the question is cats or rats? Most choose cats and it’s one of the best choices they’ll ever make. Palmerston rocks.

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KEDI

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.

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FREE 1 Month Trial: Audible Romance Package

If the three key things to great real estate are location, location, and location, the three key things to great audio books must be narration, narration, and narration. Colin Firth won an Audie Award for his narration of the Audible edition of Graham Greene’s vivid romantic novel: The End of the Affair. Here’s the description of The End of the Affair from Amazon:

“The love affair between Maurice Bendix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. Two years later, after a chance meeting, Bendix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession.”

Knowing that romance enthusiasts love to listen to romance audio books all the time, Audible now offers Audible Romance Package — a chance to listen to a big romance package of audio books every month for a sweet subscription price. How many times have you been wowed by the first book in a romance series and immediately wanted to read the rest? Now you can listen to an entire romance series for the price of your monthly subscription. You don’t even have to limit yourself to one romance series per month — that’s one of the joys of Audible Romance Package.

Outlander is the first title in Diana Galbadon’s adored series. Here’s the description from Amazon:

“#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A STARZ ORIGINAL SERIES • Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages.”

Before unveiling Audible Romance, Audible developers thought about what would make its beloved romance listeners happy. They devised cutting edge technology that includes “TAKE ME TO THE GOOD PART” a feature that permits a listener to fast-forward to flirty banter, first meetings, hot moments, and more.

And, there’s a STEAMINESS SCORE for each title that will let readers know on a one to five scale where the title is ranked: SWEET, SIMMERING, SIZZLING, HOT DAMN, or O-O-OMG.

And maybe the best part of audible romance is it’s always as close as your smart phone’s listening app and just as mobile. You can learn even more about Audible Romance by clicking here: and looking for your favorite titles. OOH LA LA You can try it for free for one month and cancel at anytime.

Disclosure: I received a subscription to Audible Romance in exchange for this post. This post contains affiliate links.

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Disneyland Cats

Sleeping calico kitten

Before Disneyland opened to the public, Walt Disney inspected Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and found a kitty napping there. Walt Disney grew up on a farm and knew that where there could be rats, you need cats. Cats took the title of most adorable rodent terminators years ago and never lost it.

Walt Disney recognized a cute rodent terminator when he saw one. With hungry fans expected to visit Disneyland, he wanted to serve food without attracting a rat population that could multiply rapidly within the park.

He let the kitty keep napping. And when he found the kitty had friends and family at Disneyland too, he let them all stay. They’ve never let him down.

Disneyland’s cats still sleep during the day and rodent patrol at night. If you’re lucky, you might see one during the day. Could it be the “Happiest Place on Earth” without cats?

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