Julia Child Rules

julia child rules

Julia Child Rules
Lessons on Savoring Life

Karen Karbo
Illustrations by Mark Steele
skirt!, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, 2013

From the dust jacket: “…Julia Child Rules dissects the life of the sunny, unpretentious chef, author, cooking show star, and bon vivant, with an eye towards learning how we, too, can savor life.

“…{the author} takes us for a spin through Julia’s life: from her idyllic childhood in California to her confusing young adulthood in New York, her years working for the OSS in Sri Lanka, her world-class love affairs with Paris and Paul Child, and her decades as America’s beloved French chef. {The author} weaves in her own personal experiences and stops for import life lessons along the way: how to live by your whims, make the world your oyster, live happily married, work hard, and enjoy a life of full immersion. It celebrates Julia’s indomitable spirit and irrepressible joy, giving readers a taste of what it means to master the art of living.”

Julia Child was an amazing woman and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life. The author wrote about Julia in a way one might write to a friend about another friend. It is friendly, warm and funny and far from one of those staid, traditional, (and some may say, dry) biographies. It is inspirational and thought provoking, especially with the ‘Rules’ with which the book was tied together. Some of my favorites were: “Rule 1: Live with Abandon; Rule #3: Learn to be Amused; Rule #4: Obey Your Whims; Rule #6: To Be Happy, Work Hard; Rule #7: Solve the Problem in Front of You.” All good rules for any one follow, but the main overall thought is to accept who you are and be that person. Julia knew she would never win any beauty contest but she accepted that fact and was happy and successful anyway. She lived every moment of her life until she lived no more. Her life had just as many valleys and peaks as any of us has, yet she accepted the moments, both good and awful, for what they were and then moved on, still excited about the next step.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for providing inspiration to get out of bed each morning and throw myself fully into my life, savoring it all.


Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

In the Great Green Room



In the Great Green Room
The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

Amy Gary
Flatiron Books, 2017

From the dust jacket, “The extraordinary life of the woman behind the beloved children’s classics Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny comes alive in this fascinating biography of Margaret Wise Brown. …
“Clever, quirky, and incredibly talented, Margaret embraces life with passion, lived extravagantly off of her royalties, went on rabbit hunts, and carried on long and troubled love affairs with both men and women. …
“…Margaret died unexpectedly at the age of forty-two, leaving behind a cache of unpublished work and a timeless collection of books that would go on to become classics in children’s literature.
“Author Amy Gary captures the eccentric and exceptional life of Margaret Wise Brown and, drawing on newly discovered personal letters and diaries, reveals an intimate portrait of a creative genius whose unrivaled talent breathed new life into the literary world.”

My Auntie loves Margaret Wise Brown’s books, especially Goodnight Moon. She said she read it to her sons many, many times over their younger years. We don’t normally read biographies – I think this is only the third one we’ve read and reviewed; but because Auntie loves the author’s books so much, we thought we should read it. It was very good!

You can tell the author, Amy Gary, put a great deal of time and research into her book; it is well informed, rich with detail and emotion and super easy to read. In fact, it reads like a novel. The reader is taken chronologically through Brown’s life, not shying away from potentially controversial subjects – who knew that one of the world’s greatest children’s author was bisexual? While it might make a difference to some folks, it’s no matter for us. Talented – no – gifted & artistic people come from all walks of life and generally lead wide-open lives. Brown changed the world of children’s book publishing to what we enjoy today. All of today’s authors really have her to thank for it.

This isn’t a spoiler – you know right from the beginning she dies young – and it was so sudden and tragic, I actually had tears in my eyes. I felt so bad – it was like a friend dying for a stupid reason. You’ll see what I mean when you read the book. It makes me wonder how much more she would have contributed to the world had she lived and continued to write. But don’t let the sad end keep you from reading about this gifted author. If you’ve read any of her books, please read this one!

Rating 5 out of 5 paws because in spite of the tragic ending, the author brilliantly captured the wild and wonderful Margaret Wise Brown.

Ps. What does the title mean? You’ll have to read halfway into the book to find out! It is significant!!



Caveat Emptor


Caveat Emptor
The Secret Life of an American Art Forger

Ken Perenyi
Pegasus Books, 2012

From the dust jacket: “Ten years ago, an FBI investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the southern District of New York was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have headlined the front pages in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents through a labyrinth of art dealers, renowned experts, and major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite the abundance of evidence collected. The case was closed and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure.”
“Now that the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired and the case appears hermetically sealed shut by the FBI, this book, Caveat Emptor, is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off.
“…Caveat Emptor is unique in that it is the first book by and about America’s most talented art forger. And unlike other forgers, Perenyi produced no paper trail, no fake provenance whatsoever; he let the paintings speak for themselves. And that they did, routinely mesmerizing experts in mere seconds.”

This is one of those books that if you read it as fiction or saw it as a movie, you would say ‘that can’t ever happen’. You know the phrase, “The truth is stranger than fiction”? Well, there was never any more truer statement as can be said about this book and about the life its author led (and may still lead). Quite simply, it blew my mind.

Not only is the author incredibly talented – I would say genius/savant level talent – but instinctively aware of what not to do so he doesn’t get caught. Of course, I was truly bothered – no, appalled is a better word – by his lack of basic moral values regarding theft and lying. There was some outright theft but it was more disturbing to me that he spent almost his entire early career lying by omission. He copied great works of art, signed the artist’s name to it but when he offered it for sale – whether to an auction house or a private seller/dealer, he walked up to the line but never crossed it – meaning, he never actually said the painting was by the artist or that he had painted it, just that he had ‘found’ it. It’s a slippery slope he was on and by a measure grace from somewhere he was incredibly successful at it.

The book is very readable – I don’t know if the author is as talented in writing as he is in painting or if he had a ghost writer – but I couldn’t put the book down. He takes the reader through a brief history of the Psychedelic Sixties, the Disco Seventies, the Over Indulgent Eighties, and all the way to the early 2000’s. Forging art was his life and, according to his website (kenperenyi.com) it still is, only he’s upfront with the forgery instead of keeping it hidden. Fascinating, truly fascinating. If you like books about interesting people, read this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because I couldn’t put it down, I just read straight through to the end.




oogy 0805Oogy
The dog only a family could love
Larry Levin
Grand Central Publishing, 2010
Oogy is a small puppy rescued by the police during a raid on an illegal dog fighting operation. Oogy was used as a bait dog – a submissive dog the fighting dogs practice on. His injuries were horrific – an ear and half his face torn off, his jaw broken, covered in various other wounds and damaged eyes. But he had a spirit and a will to live and although the initial assessment was to put him down, he had a champion named Diane who pushed the veterinarian to spend several hours operating on him to save his life. Several weeks later he was healthy enough to be adopted out.
The author and his two pre-teen sons brought their old and ailing cat to the vet one morning to say goodbye. On their way out an assistant walked out with the scarred puppy on a lead: “The dog was a visual oxymoron. The right side of him was adorable, but the left side of his face was all flamingo pink scar tissue; it looked as if it had melted. His head appeared swollen, distorted. His right ear flopped over itself. His left ear was a jagged stump of flesh a thumb’s width high. The back of his lower left lip dropped below his jawline.”  The puppy immediately took to the grieving family as if he had belonged to them for his entire short life. He knocked over one of the boys as he bent down to greet him, jumped on his chest and licked him nonstop. It was love at first sight for the puppy and his new family.
This memoir is sensitively and sweetly written. The author ties in the adoption of Oogy with the adoption of his two sons, weaving a tale of love, support, joy and learning. The only sadness in this story is the reaction of a few people who see Oogy and are put off by his horrific injuries and not looking beyond to the pure and joyful soul that dwells within. If you love reading about the triumph of rescued animals, you will love this book!
4 pawsRating: 4
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2016
Topic: Read a Book with a One Word Title.
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The Secrets of Lost Cats

secrets of lost catsThe Secrets of Lost Cats
One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love
St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 2014
From the back of the book: “When her orange tabby, Zak, disappeared, Dr. Nancy Davidson did what countless others before her did: she made a lost-cat poster. When Zak was found, she was ecstatic. But the experience changed her. from that moment on, Dr. Nancy became acutely aware of lost-cat posters. … For the next seven years Dr. Nancy collected lost-cat posters across the world. She heard hilarious and poignant stories from pet owners who were searching for their lost loves. …that collection—and that search—forms the basis of this heartwarming and heartbreaking book.
“The Secrets of Lost Cats explores how we summon courage, determination, and even humor to find our lost cats, and even lost parts of ourselves. Destined to be a classic, this book asks a classic question, ‘What would you do for love?'”
When we got the book from the library she had no idea what it was about but the titled seemed interesting. It was totally different from what I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be 20 stories of cats who had found their way home. Instead in was stories of a few cats who found their way home, cats who were lost forever and their owners who were mostly heartbroken and occasionally apathetic. It was also many stories  – mostly depressing  – on the emotional state of the human being. Dr. Nancy is a psychologist so she related stories of her clients, their problems and tried to offer assistance with grieving owners. There was a lot of psychological insight into the human condition and not so much focused on the cats.
If you enjoy reading about what makes people tic and ways that you would like to change, this is a book for you – just be prepared for the aching heart of experiencing a lost cat. For the LoC  this hits too close to home as we lost a cat years ago that simply disappeared and we still grieve for him. For us, it was too depressing. But if the reader is not familiar with such loss, and/or enjoys psychology books, this is the one for you!
Rating  2 paws
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack
We read this book as part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2016
Topic: Read a Book Based on a Real Story!
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