Book Review: FIERCE: The History of Leopard Print

TITLE: FIERCE: The History of Leopard Print
BY: Jo Weldon
PUBLISHED BY: Harper Design, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPubishers
ISBN: 978-0-06-269295-5
Review copy provided by author

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This book is dedicated to “the BIG Cats, the people they INSPIRE, and the people who work to preserve their lives and HABITATS.” But it’s intended for all you wild things out there who love to wear leopard print. It’s a historic study of the vivid, spotted fur of a beautiful beast whose strength and independent nature inspired women, who are usually the downtrodden, powerless members of society, to be strong and fearless too.

Being a livelong lover of leopard print myself, I have worn it in every way possible. My favorite loafers and sneakers are leopard print; so is a well-worn pair of high heels, along with one of my mock turtleneck tops, a short-sleeved blouse and a pair of stretch pants. Of course I have a leopard print nightgown, and a sleepshirt, as well as pajamas. I also have a leopard print bra, for which I have yet to find matching undies. I laugh to scorn the conventional notion that women over fifty shouldn’t wear leopard print. I’ve worn it more often since I turned fifty. I use it as an accessory, to set off my favorite clothes. I don’t think I’d have the nerve to wear head to toe leopard print, though certain celebrities, from Peg Bundy of “Married With Children” to Pat Benatar, who regularly performed in a leotard or catsuit, are not shy about doing so.
Continue reading “Book Review: FIERCE: The History of Leopard Print”

Book Review: “FOOLS AND MORTALS”

TITLE: FOOLS AND MORTALS
BY: Bernard Cornwell
PUBLISHED BY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-06-225087-2
Review copy purchased by reviewer
Review by Ida Vega-Landow

I was pleasantly surprised to find this book as one of my selections in the Doubleday Book Club. I was also surprised to find that I knew the author from one of his previous works. Bernard Cornwell is the creator of the Saxon Tales, which served as the basis for “The Last Kingdom”, a TV show I was fond of about the dawn of the British Empire, when the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes were still fighting over England.

The story is about William Shakespeare’s younger brother, Richard. He is an actor, or player as they called it back then, in his brother’s company at The Theatre, a forerunner of the Globe. (In real life, the Bard of Avon was the third of eight siblings, so it’s possible he might have had a brother who was as talented an actor as he was a writer.) You’d think that being related to the head of the company, who’s also its scriptwriter, young Richard would be one of the stars. But alas,‘tis not so.
Continue reading “Book Review: “FOOLS AND MORTALS””

Book Reveiw: “Indigo”, a mosaic novel

Indigo, a mosaic novel
By Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James A. Moore, and Mark Morris.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-07678-6
Book supplied by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This is the second book I’ve read that was written by a committee. The first one was “Naked Came The Stranger”, back in 1969, written by Penelope Ashe, which was a pseudonym for a group of twenty-four journalists led by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady. He wanted to write a book that was both deliberately terrible and contained a lot of sex, to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar. McGrady was convinced that any book could succeed if enough sex was thrown in. He was right; the book became a bestseller. After the hoax was revealed, it sold even more copies. This proves that you can never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, according to H.L. Mencken, renowned author and cynic.
Continue reading “Book Reveiw: “Indigo”, a mosaic novel”

Book review: Joe Steele by Harry Turtledove

I’d like to publish the following guest review by my favorite collaborator, Pet Leopard, as a warning of things to come after the nomination of Donald Trump on January 20th. God help America.

“Joe Steele” by Harry Turtledove
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: 12/01/2015
ISBN-13: 9780451472199
Book supplied by Reviewer

Guest Review by Pet Leopard

Well, according to a popular old saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same. Harry Turtledove’s thought provoking masterpiece, “Joe Steele”, is a testament to the truth of that line of reasoning.

As a child of the early 1960’s, I have lived through both Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Gulf War, the attacks on the World Trade Center, and a horrible decade-long period of warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although Mr. Turtledove references an alternate history that’s set well before the earliest of those events had taken place, there are many parallels that resonate very closely.
Continue reading “Book review: Joe Steele by Harry Turtledove”

Book review: “Do You Want to Know a Secret? The Autobiography of Billy J. Kramer

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET? THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BILLY J. KRAMER
BY: BILLY J. KRAMER with Alyn Shipton
PUBLISHED BY: Equinox Publishing 2016
ISBN: 978 1 78179 361 9
Review copy sent by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

The British Invasion didn’t just bring The Beatles to our shore. It also brought a great many young British bands eager to follow in their footsteps. Some went on to become big stars, like The Rolling Stones and The Who. Some were one hit wonders who just came and went. But one enduring presence was a lad who befriended the Fab Four when they were all just aspiring young musicians in Liverpool. His name was, and is, Billy J. Kramer.
Continue reading “Book review: “Do You Want to Know a Secret? The Autobiography of Billy J. Kramer”

Book review: My Kid Brother’s Band a/k/a The Beatles!

My Kid Brother’s Band, aka The Beatles!
By Louise Harrison
Published by Acclaim Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-938905-52-0
Review copy sent by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

I first saw Louise Harrison at this year’s Fest for Beatles Fans in Rye, N.Y. She spoke about her brother George with so much love and affection that I decided I had to read her book to learn more about the man we Beatles fans call The Quiet Beatle, but she called her little brother. I was half expecting a puff piece making George look more angelic than was humanly possible, like another Harrison bio I read (see my earlier review, “Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison” by Joshua M. Greene). Instead, I found an honest, in-depth history of the author’s life during World War II as well as before and after her little brother became famous.
Continue reading “Book review: My Kid Brother’s Band a/k/a The Beatles!”

Book review: Here Comes the Sun. The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison

Here Comes the Sun. The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison
By Joshua M. Greene
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006
ISBN-13:9780470127803
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Let me say right from the beginning: I loved this book! Despite the obvious proselytizing on behalf of the Hindu religion—what used to be known as Krishna Consciousness here in the States—Joshua M. Greene, writer and producer for PBS and the Disney Channel (he also wrote “Justice at Dachau” and “Witness: Voices from the Holocaust”, which was made into a PBS-TV documentary), has written a tender, loving account of the life of George Harrison, before and after the Beatles, and how his faith in Krishna helped him to overcome all the emotional and financial setbacks in his life, ultimately allowing him to die with grace after losing his battle with brain cancer.
Continue reading “Book review: Here Comes the Sun. The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison”

Book review: Sadistic Pattern, by Michael J. Molloy

SadisticPatternBookSadistic Pattern
by Michael J. Molloy
Published By: Gypsy Shadow Publishing, 2015
ISBN: 13: 978-1619502758
Review copy sent by author

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

It’s been said by the philosopher George Santayana that “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. I think that saying should be amended to “those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it”. Such is the case with Professor Roger Lavoie, the central character of this new suspense novel by Michael Malloy, whose previous novel, “The Diamond Man”, gave us a look at love and baseball. Now branching out from romance to suspense, Mr. Malloy has given us a study of one man’s slow descent into madness as events from his past repeat themselves in the present.
Continue reading “Book review: Sadistic Pattern, by Michael J. Molloy”

Book review: Ruth’s Journey

“Ruth’s Journey: The Authorized Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’”
By Donald McCaig
Published By: Atria Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4353-4
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

From the man who gave us “Rhett Butler’s People”, a version of “Gone With The Wind” written from Rhett Butler’s point of view, the creative mind of Donald McCaig has given us a plausible backstory for the faithful Mammy, Scarlet O’Hara’s beloved black nurse, who raised her and her two sisters. She was also mammy to Scarlett’s mother Ellen Robillard and her two sisters. But she wasn’t always the big, black slave woman in charge of a white woman’s babies.
Continue reading “Book review: Ruth’s Journey”

Book review: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island

The Lost Tribe of Coney Island
By Claire Prentice
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, by arrangement with Amazon Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-544-26228-7
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

One of the advantages to living in Brooklyn, only a short subway ride away from Coney Island, is that you get to be a frequent visitor to the Coney Island Museum, located right above the Freak Bar on Mermaid Avenue, where they show movies on Saturday nights in the summertime (classics and B-movies, plus cinema suitable for MST3K fans). They also have private shows and book signings. One of these was held in December 2014, where a charming lady named Claire Prentice debuted her new book, “The Lost Tribe of Coney Island”. Being familiar with the Freak Show around the corner from the Freak Bar, I thought this book was about another of the curious peoples exhibited there. So I coaxed my husband to buy me a copy as an early Christmas present.
Continue reading “Book review: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island”

Book review: The Church of Mercy

Church of MercyThe Church of Mercy
By Pope Francis
Published by Loyola Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8294-4170-3
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This slender philosophical book is a collection of speeches by Pope Francis, dating from April to November 2013. My impression of the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergolio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is that he is a good, kind man with a genuine faith in God, and a genuine interest in the welfare of the poor, not just in saving their souls, but their bodies as well. He proves this in Part Eight, Chapter 30 of his book, “The Cult of the God of Money”, in which he deplores the wastefulness of this throwaway culture of ours and the rampant consumerism that leads to so much waste: “This culture of waste has also made us insensitive to wasting and throwing out excess foodstuffs, which is especially condemnable when, in every part of the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families suffer hunger and malnutrition…Let us remember well, however, that whenever food is thrown out, it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor, from the hungry!” Continue reading “Book review: The Church of Mercy”

Book review: The Boleyn King

The Boleyn King
By Laura Andersen
PUBLISHED BY: BALLANTINE BOOKS, A DIVISION OF RANDOM HOUSE, INC.
ISBN: 978-0-345-53409-5
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This book is an historic romance/reconstruction, in the style of Harry Turtledove, an author who enjoys rewriting history by speculating what would have happened if a well-known historic event had never occurred, or had occurred differently. The premise of “The Boleyn King” is: What would have happened if Anne Boleyn had not “miscarried of her savior”? Suppose she had actually given King Henry VIII the son he so desperately wanted?
Continue reading “Book review: The Boleyn King”

Book review: The Diamond Man

The Diamond Man
By Michael J. Molloy
Published By: Gypsy Shadow Publishing, LLC, May 13, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61950-099-0
Review copy sent to author

Review written by Ida Vega-Landow

This is one of the most charming books I’ve ever read. And I’m not saying that just because I know the author. Michael Molloy is the friend of a friend of mine, with the soul of a poet and a fondness for sports. He has managed to combine the two in a surprisingly sweet novel about a sportscaster whose life changes after he performs a heroic act and falls in love.
Continue reading “Book review: The Diamond Man”

Book Review: Zombie Nation: From Folklore to Modern Frenzy

Zombie Nation: From Folklore to Modern Frenzy
By E.R. Vernor
Published By: Schiffer Publishing LTD, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7643-4450-3
Review copy sent by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

The popularity of zombies has yet to wane, as seen by the recent debut of the movie “World War Z”, based upon the book by Max Brooks. Brooks also wrote “The Zombie Survival Guide”, a tongue-in-cheek survival manual for those who believe the Zombie Apocalypse will soon be upon us. But “Zombie Nation” is a serious, non-fiction book about zombies in legend, literature, movies and TV. I found it to be as entertaining as Brooks’ book, though not as funny.
Continue reading “Book Review: Zombie Nation: From Folklore to Modern Frenzy”

Book Review: Dead Ever After

Dead Ever After
BY: Charlaine Harris
PUBLISHED BY: Ace Books, New York
ISBN: 978-1-937007-88-1
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

And so we come to the end of the Sookie Stackhouse saga, as Sookie’s relationship with Eric Northman comes to an end as well. Due to his late makers’ meddling, the hunky vampire Viking is now engaged to Freyda, the Vampire Queen of Oklahoma. He is forced to end his “marriage” to Sookie by his boss, Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas, who after witnessing the dissolution ceremony in Eric’s office at his bar Fangtasia, forbids her to ever come to the bar again. You’d think he’d show a little more gratitude to the person who saved him from being killed by his predecessor’s bodyguard. But as they say on The Sopranos, “It’s just business, nothing personal.”
Continue reading “Book Review: Dead Ever After”

Book Review: My Beloved World

My Beloved World
By Sonia Sotomayor
PUBLISHED BY: Borzoi Books, a division of Knopf/Random House, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-307-59488-4
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This has been one of the most refreshing reads I’ve had so far this year. And the year is just getting started! It’s not often that I get to read about one of my own making good. Justice Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican home girl from the Bronx, with a background similar to my own, but whose ambition and drive took her to the top of the legal profession, a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. The closest I got to the legal profession is typing form letters for lawyers at my civil service job. I could plead poverty, but the plain truth is that I just didn’t have the brains and gumption to qualify for all the grants and scholarships she got to attend both Princeton and Yale Law School. When I look at all she managed to accomplish during the same period that I was struggling to survive after graduating from high school, all I can do is shake my head and mutter “Damn, she’s good!”
Continue reading “Book Review: My Beloved World”

Book review: Fairy Rides the Lighting

Fairy Rides the Lighting
By Patrick Thomas
Published by Padwolf Publishing Inc. 2012
ISBN: 978-890096-50-2
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

If you believe in fairies, clap your hands. If you believe in Terrorbelle, give her a high five. But brace yourself! She’s not your typical fairy gal, with dainty hands and butterfly wings, so light you could knock her over with a feather. No, this badass fairy is more likely to knock you down, or at least leave you with a badly bruised hand when you high five her. She’s half pixie and half ogre, which means she’s built like a brick house and has razor-edged wings that can slice your hand off if you try to touch her inappropriately. In other words, Terrorbelle is no stranger to trouble. And in Patrick Thomas’ latest account of her adventures, our little fairy warrior is up to her pretty pink hairdo in trouble.
Continue reading “Book review: Fairy Rides the Lighting”

Book review: God’s Jury: The Inquisition And The Making of The Modern World

God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World
by Cullen Murphy
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0-618-09156-0
Review copy supplied by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose office is located at the Piazza del Sant’Affizio 11 in Rome, is the part of the church whose job is, “to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals throughout the Catholic world”. All the Vatican’s pronouncements on cloning and same-sex marriage originated here, along with its directives to Catholic parishes not to supply names of past or present congregants to the Mormon Church’s Genealogical Society of Utah, because of the Vatican’s “grave reservations” about the Mormon practice of posthumous baptism. The declaration Dominus Jesus, issued in 2000, reiterating that the Catholic Church is the only true church of Christ and the only assured means of salvation, is also a CDF document.
Continue reading “Book review: God’s Jury: The Inquisition And The Making of The Modern World”