Book Reviews, Books, Memoir, Writing

Book Review: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

New York writer Helen Hanff has corresponded for years with Marks & Co. Booksellers on London’s 84 Charing Cross Road, and they’ve faithfully cared for all her eccentric reading needs. Having developed a touching transatlantic friendship with bookseller Frank Doel and all the good folks at Marks & Co., she’s been issued countless invitations to visit the United Kingdom. In this sequel to 84, Charing Cross Road, Hanff  takes us along on her trip of a lifetime as she explores all the places she’s dreamed of for so long. Feted by friends and admirers alike, she is dubbed the Duchess…

Continue Reading

Autobiography, Book Reviews, Inspirational, Memoir, Self Help

Book Review: Year of Yes

On Thanksgiving Morning, Shonda Rhime’s watches big sister Delorse cook and relates all the glittering events she’s been invited to. When Delorse asks will she accept any of these invitations, Shonda says no, citing her busy life. Her sister’s response—you never say yes to anything—sets Shonda Rhimes on a year-long commitment to saying YES to everything that scares or challenges her, to finding the real Shonda hiding inside, and to changing her life. As with a hella books I have, YES had been sitting on my shelf for a long time. Waiting like a 19th-century spinster for a proposal. I’m…

Continue Reading

Book Reviews, Nonfiction

Book Review: 84, Charing Cross Road

New Yorker Helene Hanff loves books, but not just any old books. In 1949, hoping to satisfy her ‘antiquarian taste’ in books and save herself from the exorbitant prices of New York bookstores, this self-described ‘poor writer’ turns to Marks & Co. Booksellers on London’s Charing Cross Road. So begins a 20-year letter exchange between the lively, somewhat salty and sarcastic Ms. Hanff and the oh-so-very-proper and reserved British bookseller Frank Doel… a letter exchange that slowly but surely turns into a touching friendship. This is the first time I’ve ever taken Amazon.com up on one of its book recommendations.…

Continue Reading

84 Charing Cross Road

This is the first time I’ve ever taken Amazon.com up on one of its book recommendations. Learning I’d read Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by spying on me really), the good folks at Amazon tried to hook me up with 84 Charing Cross Road. I obligingly fell for their gimmick, and was totally charmed by the initially perfunctory letter exchange between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel,  which evolves gradually like a gracefully aged wine into a full-bodied friendship. Just as naturally, Hanff finds herself corresponding not only with Frank, but with his family and other Marks & Co. employees.…

Continue Reading

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I’m a history fanatic, but if a book’s about war, it generally needs to be pre-20th century for me. A War of the Roses story, and I am glued, telling myself it was long ago and far away, even somehow romanticizing it. A story about WWI or any war thereafter – well, I am simply uninterested in a reminder we’ve evolved no further than Cro-Magnon man regarding warfare. So, when I got The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (“GLPPPS”) as a gift, it sat unread for a year — until I read 84 Charing Cross Road, another story…

Continue Reading

Book Reviews, Romance

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation. I’m a history fanatic, but if a book’s about war, it generally needs to be pre-20th century for me. A War of the Roses story, and I am glued, telling myself it was long ago and far away, even somehow romanticizing it. A story about WWI or any war thereafter – well, I am simply uninterested in a reminder…

Continue Reading