Monthly Archives: April 2015

Book Stores

There is nothing like the scent, feel, visual and overall enjoyment I feel when I am in a book store, especially if it is an independent store, and/or used book store. I love involving myself in the books, and become engrossed.

Here is a link I love, regarding the ten most beautiful books stores in the world.

I love traveling to Portland, OR, and walking into Powell’s book store. What a wonder!

And, how about the New York Public Library, I love to relax within the environment there. I know, it is not a book store, but it is still one of the greatest resources for books, either to borrow or read there.

There is also Strand books, in New York City.

Why not check out “Travel + Leisure” to see their post on America’s Best Bookstores.

Oh, and there is L.A. Weekly’s suggestion of the Ten Best Independent Book Stores in L.A.

Have a great week!


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World War II Pictorial

Where to begin, where to begin.

I was volunteering this week at my local library, for their biannual “giant book sale”. Oh, my! Yesterday-Saturday-I came in and went to the section I was assigned to “History”, to tidy up the books, and to my surprise I saw Wm. H. Wise’s “Pictorial History of the Second World War”. I almost cried when I saw them, well, I did cry.

The volumes had been put out by another volunteer, from the back room, where there had been more history-related books. She was hoping someone would buy them, as a set for $10.

My father, May his Memory be for a Loving Blessing, owned a set just like that one. He died at the age of 45 in 1960. He was in the army during WWII, and he cherished those volumes. When we moved from Long Island to CA, the volumes somehow got lost. It was heart-wrenching, because I knew how much those books meant to him.

To see that same set of volumes (not his), on the table, was overwhelming, and I immediately put them aside at the checkout desk, got my purse, paid for them, and put them in the trunk of my car.


They aren’t in mint condition, but for me, the fact that I have them is enough. It has given me a great feeling to be able to see them, hold them, pour through them, and to know my father is smiling down at me.
Now, on to the sad happenings in the world.

The horrendous earthquake in Nepal and the avalanche, triggered by it, has devastated the region. There are over 1,100 lives lost from the earthquake, as of the latest counting. The lives lost on Mt. Everest are said to be 17, so far. The photographs are difficult to look at.

The volcano eruption in Chili has also been devastating.

Warren Weinstein, a U.S. hostage, and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto’s deaths by a U.S. drone are unbelievable, in my mind. They were being held hostage by al Qaeda, in a compound.

I have also been saddened by the Syrian migrants who have lost their lives on boats that have overturned/sunk. It is horrible that people flee their country to try to find safety, only to succumb to another disaster.

There are so many devastating and tragic worldwide events occruring, it boggles the mind. So many lives lost, so many injuries, so many people left homeless.

Take a moment to pray for all of those victims involved, whether deceased or injured and/or displaced.

There are many books on prayer, but books are not necessary in order to pray. Let your thoughts illuminate from your heart.

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Earth Day 2015!


It is Earth Day, once again. Every day should be considered Earth Day, though, in my opinion. We need to care for our most precious resource, on a daily, hourly, minute and second basis, in order to care for the inhabitants of our planet.

Here is a list of a few books I recommend for adult reading:

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss – yes!

Hot Flat and Crowded, by Thomas L. Friedman

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

365 Ways to Live Green, by Diane Gow McDilda

Flotsametrics and the Floating World
, by Curtis Ebbesmyer and Eric Scigliano

Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, by Eric Brende

The Way Into Judaism and the Environment
, by Jeremy Bernstein, PhD

H is for Hawk, by Helen McDonald

The Birds of Pandemonium
, by Michelle Raffin

Earth Day’s “A Billion Acts of Green” Take Action“.

Earth Day Network Blog Update

Climate Education Week

Visit Violet’s Veg*n e-Comics for some great vegan suggestions, and for her posts for children on how to care for our world. You will be amazed once you visit her. I love this site! Did I mention that I love this site?!

Voice of America


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Review: Waiting For Robert Capa

Waiting For Robert Capa: A novel, by Susana Fortes, is a book that held my interest from beginning until the end, not only because of the photojournalism aspect, but also due to the romantic interests, and the historical aspect.

Andre Friedmann, was a struggling photographer, living in Paris. He was a Hungarian exile.  He had an assignment to take pictures for publicity purposes for a life insurance company. Within that realm, he finds a woman named Ruth Cerf, and asks her to model for him.

Ruth was suspicious, and told him she was bringing a friend along.  Her name was Gerta Pohorylle.  From there, begins a story line that mingles fact with fiction, and encompasses a story of romance and photojournalism like you have never read before.

Andre and Gerta become known as a couple.  And, couple, they did (pun intended).  They were two young and brilliant individuals trying to maintain a relationship and garner assignments in Spain in order to document the war.  And, in order to do so, Gerta came up with the bright idea to change their names in order to gain recognition.

First she changes Andre’s name to Robert Capa, eliminating his Jewish surname.  She becomes his self-appointed “agent”. Eventually she changes her name to Gerda Taro.  She wanted to be independent, and be recognized for her own work, rather than her photographs be included in Robert’s work without a byline. She literally became the first female war photographer who involved herself in the midst of battle.  He became infamous in the world of photography for his extremely hardline images, leaving nothing to chance or to the imagination. To say they found themselves in unbelievable circumstances, is an understatement.

They were right there, within the action, each one, documenting war through photography, putting their lives at risk in order to capture the ravages and horrors of war.  Those efforts and circumstances changed the face of war photography forever.  From that point forward, war was seen by millions of individuals in ways that they never imagined.

His photographs depict tumultuous moments.  Robert’s photograph “Death of a Loyalist Militiaman“, became the poster child, so to speak, for the Spanish Civil War.  It is an incredible image, and one that depicts the moment of one man’s death, literally.  With one click of the camera, he captured death as it occurred.  He never lived that image down, due to speculation that it was staged.  He denied it, but there were the nonbelievers. It followed him for the rest of his life.

As a side note-I knew of Robert Capa’s war photography, especially his work regarding D-Day, and other images during that document World War II.  I knew of Gerda Taro.  But, I did not know about their relationship.

I won’t go any further with details, because the novel is too compelling and intense.  Suffice it to say, the love story is depicted with realism and deep intimate moments.  The war angle and photography moments are intensely written and portrayed. Susana Fortes is masterful at keeping the reader interested, and masterful in illuminating her word images.

I recommend Waiting For Robert Capa: A Novel, to everyone.  The historical information, alone, makes it more than an excellent read.  Combine that with the romantic story of two brilliant individuals whose work will live on, and keep their brilliance and efforts alive, and you have a book difficult to put down.


To view some of the incredible photographs that were taken by Robert Capa, visit Magnum Photos. I was absorbed in all of them, but the ones from Italy 1943-1944 spoke to me, as my father was involved in the liberation of Italy. I was also amazed at the D-Day photographs, and remember seeing many of them while growing up, in various literary magazines and in newspapers.


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Review: The Invisible Bridge

If you want to read an incredible epic novel, one that is stunning in its presentation, then The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer is a novel for you. The Invisible Bridge is a saga, and a difficult book to review, due to its epic quality and the fact it is well over 600 pages long. The haunting historical novel begins in 1937 and takes the reader through the end of World War II. The story is told through a unique perspective, that of a Hungarian Jew named Andras Levi.

Andras has gone to Paris to study architecture, where the opportunities are greater, leaving behind his family in Hungary. He has two brothers, Tibor and M, and they are very close. The familial bonds are extremely strong. While in Paris, Andras meets an older woman named Klara who is also a Hungarian Jew, with a teen-aged daughter. Her background is a bit mysterious and the reasons for her being in Paris are not immediately evident. An affair begins between the two of them, which eventually turns to love and romance.

Due to circumstances and the antisemitism prevalent against Jews in France, Andras is forced to return to Hungary. He is eventually conscripted into the work labor program. That is where the more horrendous part of The Invisible Bridge begins to transform itself into an historically intense story of wartime horror. Orringer leaves nothing to the imagination, and the word imagery is stunningly detailed. She includes every minute detail into The Invisible Bridge, and the reader’s senses are filled with the sights, sounds, scents, tastes and touches of daily life. Life in the work labor camps is depicted with depth and strong visuals. The adverse conditions (that is putting it mildly), and the atrocities are told so strongly that the reader feels as if this is a personal family memoir and saga, as opposed to being a novel.

As The Invisible Bridge progresses, the reader watches the relationship between Andras and Klara develop. The reader sees Andras growth as he turns into an emotionally mature man, not only thinking of himself, but of Klara and his family that he has left behind. He is willing to sacrifice his life, sacrifice anything for her safety and the safety of his family. And, Klara in return, is willing to do the same, always cognizant of the fact that Andras’ safety is in danger. Each partner is concerned with the other.

That is the beauty of The Invisible Bridge. Love transpires and evolves within the harshest of circumstances. Love flows from one event to the next, never diminishing, but growing stronger. As the hours and days move forward, Andras’ thoughts of Klara are what continue to give him the motivation to find a way to survive the horrendous nightmares set before him.

I became totally involved in the book and the characters who felt very real. I wanted to know more about them, and wanted to continue to learn more regarding their daily situations. There is so much more to The Invisible Bridge than what I have written, but to include more details would reveal too much of the story line. You need to read it for yourself, and inhale the depth of the saga.

Orringer has researched the events that transpired in Hungary during World War II to the utmost of standards, perfection and reality. The events, described so brilliantly, give the reader insight into the little known aspects of what transpired in Hungary during World War II. There isn’t much information on that subject. What we read, as far as the events and audacious circumstances, did occur. She did not white wash anything, yet she wrote magnificent details with beautiful and superlative prose.

Julie Orringer’s brilliant writing illuminates the pages with intensity and sensitivity. The reader can discern that her heart and soul were within the words, lines, paragraphs and pages of The Invisible Bridge. It is a beautifully written historical novel that pays tribute to not only the Hungarian Jews, but to familial ties and relationships. It is a metaphor for love and war, yearning and loss, strength and survival under the most adverse of conditions. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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Review: Dora Bruder

Dora Bruder, by Patrick Modiano (translated by Joanna Kilmartin), is a book that was an intriguing and compelling read for me.

From Modiano’s first spark of interest in Dora Bruder’s life, to his final analysis, the story line is structured much like a detective story, and an ongoing investigation that he becomes obsessed with. His interest in her life began when he read about her in an old newspaper from 1941.

Dora Bruder was Jewish, and she was 15-years old at the time, and had literally disappeared off the face of the streets of Paris. Her parents placed an in the newspaper “Paris Soir”, which ran in the personal column on New Years Eve, 1941. “Missing, a young girl, Dora Bruder, age 15, height 1 m 55, oval-shaped face, gray-brown eyes, gray sports jacket, maroon pullover, navy blue skirt and hat, brown gym shoes.”

Once Modiano sees that notice, he begins to investigate every document, every crevice, every bit of information he can gather on her. His ten-year investigation leads him down streets he once lived on, down avenues he walked many times before, and into buildings and archives in order to garner as much information as possible. He speaks with people, from all walks of life. He is unable to let go of her, and his need to know sets him on a journey that also includes his own depictions of self-discovery.

Dora Bruder is short on pages, less than 140 pages, but it is filled with depth and intensity. Modiano’s quest for Dora Bruder, is also a quest for the answers to his own childhood, one that was filled with troublesome events, due to his Jewish father’s collaborations during the Holocaust. Within the realm of his difficult childhood, we see similarities between them, such as loss of a happy childhood, loss of a stable environment while growing up, and the loss associated with negative memories.

Modiano’s memories abound within the framework, as his research continually evokes thoughts of his own losses and life events. In essence, although the book is a novel, it is sustained by amazing facts and data. One might say it is a cross between fiction and memoir, due to the fact that Modiano’s life, itself, fills the pages through his reflecting upon his past.

For me, Dora Bruder, was masterfully written by Patrick Modiano. He had me deeply focused on the pains of loss, and how the past follows us throughout our life. His dedication to interviewing, dedication to research, documentation, and his physical involvement in walking the streets of Paris in order to gain more information is something to applaud him for.

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The Buried Giant

With his latest novel, The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro has written an intriguing and beguiling story line.

The framework begins with an aging couple, Axl and Beatrice. They have set out on a journey to find their son, who they haven’t seen in years. He lives in a village not too far from them. Within this composite, the elements of the story line are filled with myth, legend, fantasy, the firmness, or weakness, of memory, and the structure of community.

The name Axl means “father of peace”. A good point to remember in the story. Beatrice means “bringer of joy”, “guide”. Dante, himself infused a woman named Beatrice as a guide in his work, “Divine Comedy”. These definitions play an integral part in the story.

Memory is a predominant factor within the pages. We often choose to forget issues within our lives, issues too painful for us to cope with at a given moment. Eventually those issues can catch up to us, and our mind can slowly open up to reveal the past we tried hard to forget. Memory is also a part of the aging process, and often our ability to remember diminishes as we age. Fear of the loss of remembering can wreak havoc upon us.

Britons and Saxons are peacefully living side by side, due to the “fog of memory” thrust upon them. As time goes by, Axl and Beatrice begin to remember incidents and events from their past. Their memories are slowly awakened, as the memory fog subtly lifts. Is it due to their age, that their memories are unclear, or is it due to an unseen force put upon them?

Read the magical and mythical story yourself, in order to find the answer. Within the pages the reader is carried into a land of Arthurian composition. King Arthur’s nephew, Gawain, an old knight is one of the characters who Axl and Beatrice meet, along with a warrior and a young boy. They encounter dragons, sprites, ogres along their journey. The characters, intermingled with each other, present the reader with a masterfully written story line, leaving the reader to question many important issues.

The story line, in my opinion, is an allegory for humanity, humanity as individuals, couples, community, and as a part of the whole within villages, towns and countries. The allegory encompasses the customs, spirituality and cultures within the human condition, including superstition and how it is a life force for many.

The Buried Giant
, in my opinion, is also metaphor for life’s memories and the fear and struggles endured through love and loss. Mass hysteria and/or a form of mass hypnosis or mass suggestion, superstition and spirituality, through fear, plays a major role within the pages. Pagan and Christian alike fear each other’s rituals, and that fear breeds irrational thoughts, and escalates hate.

I applaud Kazuo Ishiguro for his brilliance in structuring a storyline that is filled with minute details, details so vivid, the reader can see them before their eyes. I also praise him for giving the reader much food for thought regarding humanity and the human condition.


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