mercoledì, ottobre 18, 2017

A Very Vintage Christmas - A Heart Warming Christmas Romance by Tilly Tennant

Tilly Tennant knows how to keep warm the heart of her readers.

What I loved the most from the first lines of A Very Vintage Christmas - A Heart Warming Christmas Romance is the warm, joyous atmosphere and this mix of old and modern, old-fashioned and present, old times and new frenetic life.
You know I love vintage and I love old stories and I love letters and I love past connected with them. It's not a surprise if you read my reviews.

This romance will be a trip: a trip in the past staying in the present in an unforgettable beautiful warm tale able to bring goodness to all the protagonists and readers as well.

Dodie is the main protagonist of this story and the owner of a vintage second hand store where she sells old clothes. You know very well second hand stores. They have a particular smell, they have a particular atmosphere.
Dodie is connected with the past just for the fact she sells old things.
Every time new items arrive Dodie controls that they are OK, but once, magic, she finds a letter in a coat. The letter is pretty old, written during last Second World War and important.
Dodie had never read a more beauty love-letter than this one and thinking better at her relationships at the moment with the other sex, she thinks that she hasn't never seen all that romanticism portrayed in the letter she just finished to read like an intruder, from the other sex. But you know in modern times is just a story of texts, chats, video calling. It's this.
Dodie thinks that it's better to start to search for the characters of this letter. She knows that the last second world war gone from a long while, and sure that girl won't live anymore in that house where that young soldier wanted to send the letter at, but she must tries because maybe that letter for someone means a lot...

Beautifully written, I enjoy the Christmas' atmosphere and that sensation of warm and friendship, love, good values that from the beginning to the end surrounds the book like in a special aura.
I hope to continue to read all the books written by Tennant!
The cover is wonderful!

I thank NetGalley for this ebook!

Anna Maria Polidori

Goat Castle A True Story of Murder, Race and Gothic South by Karen L.Cox

I admit that from the beginning to the end you are captured by Goat Castle A True Story of Murder, Race and Gothic South by Karen L.Cox published by North Carolina University Press.

First of all it has been written with great love, accuracy and passion. It pays a lot.
The author says that it was just for case that she "met" one day this story along her way, but she immediately understood that this one would have been her next book.
Second because the tale is vivid, characters centered very well, and it seems to stay there, it seems that this murder took place just last night and not in 1932, 85 years ago.
Third because of the location: the profound South of the USA, with all its magic, mystery.
Fourth: it's written with great participation.

You must know that Natchez, Mississippi tried to stimulate tourism thanks to  big mansions of planters at the beginning of 1900s and tourism intrigued by this spot of the world.
No one would have thought that the criminal case we will treat in a few seconds would have brought extra-publicity thanks also at the people involved in this story.

Protagonists are in fact not common.
They were all very rich people once and introduced in the best local and international society.
In 1932 when the facts took place, not anymore young, they lived weird, eccentric existences and all the glamour, richness, joy, happiness only a distant memory of the past.

Jennie Miller lived at Glenwood at the times of the facts baptized by  media and for decades Goat Castle because goats as you will see will play their role in this crime-story.

When young her reputation was beautiful because she was part of that great wealthy society able to make the difference, then with the time and when various facts signed her life everything changed and when she decided of buying this last house where she would have found her end, she became a secluded person.

The story of their friends Octavia and Richard, you will see is  fascinating and interesting as well.
After a close friendship when young now they where Jennie's closest neighbors.

It was a night like another one in Natchez. Duncan would have stopped by at the house of Jennie as he did all nights that Aug 4 1932, but when Duncan once arrived at Goat Castle, found the crime-scene and a missing Jennie, later discovered by the police men outside. Killed.

At first Richard and Octavia were the first ones to be suspected and they ended up in jail, but maybe the story will be different and more complicated as you will see.

What I can add is that of course we are in the the profound South of the USA and racism will play a big role as well.

Unbelievable but true, some of these protagonists, because the author will also let us know what happened to them in their life after jail, will take advantage from this crime for a long long time creating a sort of business with this story.

I thank NetGalley and North Carolina University Press for this stunning ebook!

Anna Maria Polidori

domenica, ottobre 15, 2017

Success and Luck Good fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H.Frank

Meritocracy exists in American culture or is it a mixture of a good moment, good luck, great encounters, able to make the difference in the existence of a person?

Success and Luck Good fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H.Frank by Princeton University Press is to me a very courageous book because it speaks of a delicate theme: the one of luck not always accepted by Americans, in particular when they are rich and famous.

Don't tell to someone rich and famous he became rich and famous thanks to the good moment, good business, good connections because you will see that he/she will start to be upset. Try and then let me know.

The myth of the self-made man, hard worker, intelligent man, able to make the difference,  is a priority.

But are we completely sure that luck is not involved in this process?

Once Bert my American neighbor said me: "Anna it's not important where you live, but who you know in that place."

And he was completely right because people you know can make the difference, in better and in worse and the social tissue of a place says all for the future development of a person and the career of this one.
If a person with abilities meet people in grade of helping him/her to coming out he/she is lucky. If he/she meets people who wants to cause troubles without being helpful it's a story of bad luck and impossibility of express the potentialities that there are. 

The author tells that it was a struck of good luck being hired by the Cornwell University. A professor would have wanted to hire someone else, but another professor thought that Mr Frank was the best person and so he was hired and started to work in that prestigious university.

At first, because of a nasty divorce and his sons to growing up, Frank, a professor of Economics, didn't find the time the first three years at Cornwell to publishing anything because of these familiar problems.

During this period he met along his way Mr. Gramlich,  policy economist professor, and thanks to their chats about economy and thanks to the encouragements received by him Mr. Frank started to publish without to being fired.
As also remarks Mr. Frank if he wouldn't have received this help, who knows what would have happened to him and his future? He continued to work in this university mainly because Mr.Gramlich's help and support. It was a good stroke of luck having met this man along his way.

A person born wealthy can theoretically and practically have much more success thanks to this first stroke of luck (being born rich and let's remember that no one chooses parents, environment and potential friends) than a common person. A good house plenty of books can help culture, and a best instruction and best schools although of course it's not said. But whatever that kid will want to do once adult, his/her options will be endless in comparison to the ones of a common person. It's a great luck that one as well.

The same author tells that he was adopted by a very wealthy family and only later when he was 35 years old,  ready and helped by some friends for starting to search for his real mother and possible siblings. It is moving. Of course the situation of the adopted family permitted to the author of studying in good schools and having a great life.
Considering the first bad luck of being abandoned it was a great luck to being so loved and wanted by this new family don't you think so?

Once Mr. Frank talks of an interview with a famous reporter. The reporter wanted to clarify with him that the American dream is just hard work. Luck doesn't count. It was a big polemic. Later the author thought that maybe during the TV program he stayed too much "passive" because that reporter complained saying he left UK for affording in another very different country, and who knows what would have happened to him, and plus with his British accent!

Mr. Frank seeing the records of this reporter tells with tranquillity that he studied in prestigious schools, what a privilege! and so affording to the USA not like for the emigration of  the beginning of 1900s. It was simple to find a great work place with that past and schools and plus British Accent is accepted and loved by Americans.

There are, insists Mr.Frank people with the same intelligence than other ones, the same abilities, but unfortunately they don't become successful as their similar ones.

A mystery? No, a story of luck. And good encounters.
We will also see the existing gap between the CEO of a big society and the pay received by the workers, and how a CEO is elected.

This book wants to share with you many economic facts with a lot of example that will let you think about what it can means a good struck of luck.

I want to share with you an example as well.
The one of our most important emigrant: Ivo Martinelli.

He lived in our little countryside, Morena, Umbria, Italia and left for good in 1948. Our countryside was very poor in that moment.
At school you could study just 'till the third elementary, there wasn't electricity, no bathrooms, no warm water in the houses.
He went at first in Venezuela. After a while he thought his dream the USA. He arrived to NYC. He told me that the first time he sat in a restaurant he just signed with a finger on the menu what he wanted to eat, without to have any pale idea of what he ordered. It was a hot dog. Ivo didn't know english at all.
After it, he did various works, in the American radar-spy in Alaska for more than 3 years and half and later opened a movie theater in Montreal.
There were some problems in Montreal with some people, not a great luck at all and he decided to move on and to change again, going to Vancouver.

Let's say that in that city Ivo has been very lucky because he met very good conditions and people (Ivo first on the right in the picture) as he told me who helped him to realize all his dreams without the problems experienced in the past.
There he owned six movie theaters, including a drive-in! Ivo invited in his theaters people like Mina, Rita Pavone, Claudio Villa our most important italian singers, because he told me that Italians felt melancholy for Italy and music the best cement. He shared a dinner with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Luck, and lucky encounters are realistically important and a great part of our life.

Enjoy this very interesting book. It's for everyone and I wish to all: GOOD LUCK!

Thanks a lot Princeton Press for the physical copy of this amazing lucky book.

Anna Maria Polidori

sabato, ottobre 14, 2017

Silent Sparks The Wondrous World of Fireflies by Sara Lewis

This past summer we were walking with some friends when we heard some horrible crying somewhere. We thought that maybe someone  needed help. A disgrace? I am a person with a vivid imagination and also when we discovered that everything was OK my brain was still in the "disgrace mood," tired and under shock. 

When we returned home from this walk (we stopped by at the house of some friends) was night and I was still disturbed.

It was a beautiful night illuminated by hundreds of wonderful and dreaming fireflies. In the straight road close to our house, we were surrounded by trees in both sides of the road and by all those living lights in the middle. The scenario? A wonderful illuminated tunnel guiding us I thought in a magical land or another dimension and I felt peace, harmony and a complete restoration.

When I was little I loved to walk in our country roads during the summer-time with my friends, sharing thoughts and dreams and fireflies, stars and moon were there listening to us, and keeping us out from the terrible obscurity of the night.

Fireflies are the most magical creatures we know but...
How much we know them? I decided to explore their world reading the wonderful, magical book written with great love by Sara Lewis: Silent Sparks The Wondrous World of Fireflies published by Princeton Press.

When I read that fireflies are also associated at dead people I wasn't surprised.

There is a special aura in these creatures, a dimension of dream, magic, mystery that other animals don't have.

They follow us, our destinies, our pains, our expectations all along the summer-time, in our region very brief, like a dream and they are part of our thoughts, part of our chats, part of our projects still in motion, part of our hidden desires.
They're there, silent, but luminous like our unexpressed sensations, for  reminding us of the short time we spend on this Earth and the importance of being a light in this world. A beautiful light. For giving us some restoration if we are too stressed and we search for a dimension distant from reality, because these creatures capture our imagination and escapism is more than possible.
These little animals are studied by a lot of scientists. I read a lot about them when I was 8-9 years thanks to a  science book. It was one of the most passionate reading I did about an animal.

These scientists, starting from the author are passionate ones, who spend their time, their days and summer weeks following fireflies during their life and involving in most cases all their families in this passionate adventure.

Let's start to saying that a good environment will see fireflies joyous and abundant around and that of course pesticides alter their habitat. These animals in fact love to staying in the same place where they are born forever. Year after year. Generation after generation. Following the destiny of the people of the area, if we want to think at this poetically.

Their life is absolutely interesting. Do you know the story of the caterpillar and the butterfly?

There is a magical transformation. The ugly caterpillar will become a stunning butterfly thanks to a process called metamorphoses. A real magic.
A process like this one, although different will interest fireflies.

At first they born as larva and for 18 months what they will do is eating voraciously little animals. They kill victims paralyzing them and then they will do all the rest. Eating and eating and eating. Yes well, the comparison made by the author with Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde is great. Let's say that before the redemption, these little insects will kill avidly for obtaining food. In great quantity, because they have a great and good appetite. Once they end this phase of their existence for two weeks they are pupa for becoming then fireflies. Fireflies, the final stage, the one we see and observe and we love so badly, like all the  insects don't have a long life. More or less 3 weeks of life but during this period they will search obsessively only for one thing: sex and reproduction with the best mate they find completely uninterested to food anymore.

So, when during the night you observe these beautiful lights, these ones are messages of love of males contacting females. When these females answer to them they create with these "light-messages" a beautiful light-song. When the intensity of feelings and lights are great, you can see it clearly because the two fireflies will live a deeply light-connection.

A sex session of a couple of fireflies after this long court is very long if compared to the one of mammals in general much more brief. It can takes and entire night, but also longest time.
You will also discover the complexity of the trip of sperm of the male firefly for reaching the female one and also the copulative phase of a little male with a wingless female very different from the fireflies we know.

You will discover that substantially the world of fireflies is very selective. Do you know that just few of them will copulate with their mate? Most of them will end up in enthusiastically hands of children, put in glasses for being observed closely, but when oxygen will be over the poor creatures will die. The worst case the one of spider webs because the light of firefly remains active and will attract other fireflies in the same spider web.
It's a karma-law or a law of nature if you prefer. If as a larva they ate voraciously other creature paralyzing their victims and eating them later, now other animals like spiders will do exactly the same job with them and their bodies.  This book is amazing, because will capture you from the beginning to the end in a trip that it is sensual and sanguinary, beautiful and tremendous, enchanting and at the same time shocking.

It's the trip of a dream: the dream of light during the obscurity of the world. What does this mean? A firefly, before to appear in all its beauty and romanticism has been tremendous, because has known the obscurity and the devastation of death caused by the larva, the first of its stadium, eating and predating, killing without compassion other creatures for its own nutrition.
Just in this little final, romantic phase firefly sees the beauty of the world, what it means to be free, what it means to be alive and what it means to love, be loved and remaining thanks to the copulative act and the deposition of eggs and perpetuity of life. Most important: to bring after all the obscurity it brought, light and dream to the world.

Metaphorically fireflies live the opposite life of a human being or any other animal: they lives the most ugliest moments of the existence developing cruelty in the first part of their life , enjoying peace, happiness, light, in chemical sense, of course but also metaphorically and sex only in the latest part. They donate to people the best of them: serenity, enchantment, dreams, expectations, peace and let's hope that these creatures will remain with us forever.

Enjoy this book, as I did. It is plenty of a lot of other informations! For everyone children and adults and for all the dreamers and romantic people of this world.

Another great book from Princeton Press that you must read!

I thank Princeton University Press for the physical copy of this book.

Anna Maria Polidori

giovedì, ottobre 12, 2017

21st-century Oxford Authors John Keats Edited by John Barnard

Oh, there is not another poet more passionate, noble, inspired, and absorbing than John  Keats. In every poem, in every composition he donated all himself to the Muse and to his potential readers.
He expressed his thoughts and feelings "transmitting" his beautiful soul and mind completely to compositions and without any kind of reticence.
There is no doubt that this one is a poet very loved and appreciated in particular by youngsters and romantic people, because his words penetrates with great intensity, simplicity and strength the souls of everyone he reaches. He is pure light, he is real and while you read his poems you can't stop to falling in love for his compositions and his soul.

He was an enthusiastic soul John Keats, and in this new prestigious book by Oxford Press 21st-century Oxford Authors John Keats Edited by John Barnard, the poet is revealed in all his beautiful essence thanks to a special "fusion" of letters written to his friends, his family, and other people he knew and poems, romances. The portrait of Keats thanks to his works and private life seen through the mirror of his letter complete and beautiful.

Thanks to it, we will discover at the same time the young man, Keats died in Rome at the age of 25 in 1821, and the wonderful poet he was, understanding that in his case there hasn't been any kind of construction or division between the two spheres of his character (his private life and his being a poet)  but a fusion of the poet and the letter-writer. We will discover that there is not division between the poet and the person and the magical aspect of Keats is this one: he was real, emphatic, sincere, and donated his soul to poetry and people he knew entirely with the same force, with the same enthusiasm and passion he put in poetry.
That's why we are still writing and celebrating him: because he has been big, because he was a beautiful, special human being and because he was a sincere soul, although we lost him too soon. Still in his spring he would adds Keats. The same passions, genuine touch, love, John put in writing a poem was the same one he put when he wrote a letter to his beloved only sister, or other relatives. We find in the letter-writer the same passionate man we discover reading his poems most of them plenty of beauty, humanity, joy and also the sad ones don't fall in desperation. He was a joyous soul, Keats, although he had his own problems. His health, and then constant money-problems and at the end he suffered a lot before to dying.

Keats is bucolic seeing in nature a reason for dreaming and staying happy and joyous and a reason for falling in love for life, for a girl, for a moment, for an instant, appreciating this world and the beauty that there is in it.

At the same time John Keats loves to add often precious details with introduction of gold, mythological creatures like nymphs, muses,  for donating a touch of divinity to his poems. 
He also loved to present to his friends letter-poems. What a joy!
Inspired by Milton, there is to say that Keats added in a letter he studied Shakespeare all the time.

Absolutely the most beautiful, fascinating Romantic poet of this important movement.

I highly suggest John Keats to everyone: young and adult, because he will bring peace to your soul, a big joy and refreshment.

I thank Oxford University for the physical copy of this stunning book I will always bring with me!

Anna Maria Polidori

mercoledì, ottobre 11, 2017

Gaslight by Joachim Kalka

Gaslight by Joachim Kalka, a book published by New York Review Book is a tour de force.
In the introduction the author asks if for case the XX century has been a dream. Most of the anticipations seen in fact in the XIX century.

Many great books scrutinized by the author like the Recherche by Marcel Proust and A woman of thirty by Balzac. In Proust's work, the author sees with strength the relevance of Jewish characters.

The author won't forget to mention any fact, event pretty relevant  in the XIX century like also the most iconic characters of that age including a serial-killer like Jack the Ripper was, Goethe, Wagner.

A series of essays with a strong intellectual density.

I thank NYRB for this book.

Anna Maria Polidori

martedì, ottobre 10, 2017

MAKE ART NOT WAR Political protest posters from the Twentieth Century edited by Ralph Young

MAKE ART NOT WAR Political protest posters from the Twentieth Century edited by Ralph Young published by New York University Press is a fascinating, thrilling, wonderful, aggressive, colored trip in the American protests along the decades of the past century.
American History is very complicated and the country just apparently "young" because substantially people arrived from Europe are part of the Old Continents, so they brought with them their own old problems, that they thought they had left behind.

Americans are in fact people who left as said, their European lands for precise reasons, mainly religious in search for a new land, and a new life.

They didn't know that peace was just apparent and that new fights for their rights were waiting for them.
The creators of the Constitution wisely inserted this point, the freedom of dissent just in case, in the First Amendment.

Americans did all their best, rising their voices, using all medias and strategies for protesting against for what they cared the most.

The 1900s offered a myriad of reasons for protesting leaving alone here the other centuries. At the beginning of the century we can find women's rights movement.
Sorted out this problem, the 1960s will pass at the history as the decade of idealism, new hopes, dreams and expectations. A new wild wind of great ideas, human rights, peace, freedom was borning.

Let's see: John Fitzgerald Kennedy from Boston because the first Catholic American President.
He was assassinated in Dallas on Nov 22 1963 but his voice and his speech if you read them are still in grade to warm souls all around the world. He was a great visionary man.

New People fighting for the right of black citizens: Reverend Martin Luther King, Malcom X, the Black Panther movement.
Both these first two leaders would have been killed.
Martin Luther King in 1968 in a motel in Memphis, TN just some days before the assassination of the candidate of left Bobbie Kennedy, running for the Oval Office, and brother of the unforgettable John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It was after the assassination of JFK that people organized Selma and the central government started to take very seriously the cause of black people.

The USA are real fighters for  their rights and their ideas.

Later the opposition at the Vietnam War with anti-war movements and the creations of the hippies-season, and then gay rights, without to count the protests citizens clearly expressed for some Presidents seen like imperialists, during the first Gulf War, while the USA should have been a peaceful land in grade of helping other Nations in difficulty and not a place where wars started with great facility.

Cinema, theaters, photography, puppets, mural art, graffiti, art in general helped to spread the discontent of people. Andy Warhol publishing serially pictures of the same topic during the 1960s remarked in this way the obsessive consumerism and standardization of the Americans and their way of living.

The author has taken inspiration from the Tamiment Library located at New York University where there is a big collection of posters you will find in this book. All stunning, all created for a specific strong reason because Americans when decide to protest don't joke. They do that with great intensity.

The fights that they intended to win against the central government in a precise historical moment are lived strongly.
Women's rights, labor, civil protests, black conditions, feminism, Vietnam War, anti-war movements, these ones are citizens and real crusaders of ideas, human rights and mainly: fighters for their research of happiness. It passes also through the proper rights for everyone, for having peace and for staying in peace.

Great book! Highly suggested to everyone. If your child doesn't understand history, it's very common, goes for this book, because it's very stimulating and because I want to hope that the revolutionary side ;-) in children and teenagers pretty developed. No one is insensitive at human rights and so following these decades and thanks to these posters, it will be very simple to create historical connections, and to discover how, facts, people, Presidents, associations tried their best for bettering this world or the opposite.

I thanks NYU Press for the physical copy of this stunning book!

Anna Maria Polidori