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The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life and Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown's Most Powerful Lawyer
B. James Gladstone
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
Robert A. Caro
David Copperfield
Charles Dickens, David Gates
Groucho Marx and Other Short Stories and Tall Tales: Selected Writings of Groucho Marx, An Updated and Expanded Edition - Robert S. Bader Groucho Marx had a way with words. To me, his famous puns and one-liners are what made him so funny, more so than his funny walk and his black grease mustache and eyebrows. Most of you may not be familiar with Groucho's writings and this collection of short pieces serves as a great introduction.

Read my full review here: http://outofthepastcfb.blogspot.com/2012/01/get-your-read-on-groucho-mark-and-other.html
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot Very interesting and well-researched book. It was a wonderful read and I was sad when it was over. The chapters jump back and forth through time but the timeline above each chapter head which indicates the year or range of years covered in the chapter helped immensely. I don't really have an opinion about how Rebecca Skloot used quotations. I do admire that she tried to quote rather than speak on other's behalf. I really wanted to learn more about Henrietta Lacks the woman but there was so little information and I felt that Skloot did what she could with it. I love the juxtaposition of the scientific history and the family history. Made for a great read, I was never overwhelmed with scientific information. Highly recommended.
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures - Caroline Preston Very clever concept. It's a novel told through a fictional scrapbook made up of real illustrations and clippings from the 1920s. I thought I would have a difficult time reading it as I'd be distracted by the images. It was easier than I thought but still a bit awkward when the pages were very busy. Overall, I liked the story. I did get bored towards the end. I really think someone should have checked the language for historical accuracy. It would have been nice to see some 1920s colloquialisms, there were hardly any. The 1920s had so many great terms and phrases (bee's knees, and how, Sheik, etc.) , I really wish they had been incorporated. The thing that I disliked the most was when cloche hats were referred to as skull caps. I referred to them as skull caps back when I didn't know what they were so I can see how the mistake was made. As a cloche hate enthusiast, I really wish "skull cap" wasn't used. Even if "skull cap" isn't an anachronism, "cloche" is definitely more accurate. I could tell the author did a lot of research when acquiring the images and they all looked authentic. If you are particular about 1920s details, I would skip this book. If you think an old-fashioned scrapbook novel would be a fun read, then I would recommend it.
Spencer Tracy - James  Curtis This is the most definitive biography on Spencer Tracy we will ever have. No one else will have as much access to the private library of Tracy's photos, scrapbooks, datebooks, etc. as well as access to the people who knew, loved and worked with Spencer Tracy as James Curtis did. It's a honking book clocking in at 878 pages of content and if you include the front and back matter it's over 1,000. I felt like I had just run a marathon when I finished it. Its worth the effort and time. The book is chock full of information. Take it one chapter at a time otherwise you'll feel overwhelmed. Everything is covered here but Curtis never feels the need to go into any salacious detail.

See my full review here: http://outofthepastcfb.blogspot.com/2011/12/get-your-read-on-spencer-tracy-by-james.html

Greek Myths

Greek Myths - Ann Turnbull, Michael Page Wonderful way to to introduce teens to the Greek Myths or as a refresher to some classic stories. The stories are interconnected and wonderfully retold by Ann Turnbull. I loved the narration by Michael Page.

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen - Marc Eliot Marc Eliot consistently delivers entertaining and informative biographies. I really loved reading about Steve McQueen. I highly recommend this book to people who are McQueen enthusiasts or are curious about him.

See my full review (including fun trivia facts from the book) on my classic film blog:


Learning to Live Out Loud

Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir - Piper Laurie Piper Laurie's autobiography was an absolute pleasure to read. Her writing style takes some getting used to but once you dive in you don't want to put the book down. Laurie's narrative is very charming and while she remembers a lot of specifics there are some failings of memory that are natural for someone who has had such a long and interesting life as she had.

Laurie writes a lot about her experiences shooting different films. I enjoyed reading about The Hustler (1961), Until They Sail (1957) and even Carrie (1976) although I haven't seen that film. She also talks about notable Hollywood figures including Dennis Morgan, Donald O'Connor, Walter Matthau, Rock Hudson, Mel Gibson, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Clark Gable, Joseph Mankiewicz, Howard Hughes, Ronald Reagan, etc.

Read my full review here: http://outofthepastcfb.blogspot.com/2011/11/get-your-read-on-learning-to-live-out.html
Life: An Exploded Diagram - Mal Peet Exquisite! That's the best word I can come up with to describe Mal Peet's writing. The narration was excellent. By the last CD, I didn't want to leave my car because it got so good.

Octavia Boone's Big Questions about Life, the Universe, and Everything

Octavia Boone's Big Questions about Life, the Universe, and Everything - Rebecca Rupp This is the type of book I would have loved to read when I was a child. It's a difficult topic but for any child whose parents don't agree about religion or who experiences a life shake-up, this book is essential!
Scrawny Cat - Phyllis Root, Alison Friend I think this has to be one of my top favorite picture books of all time. It's just so heart wrenchingly sweet. I am not a cat person but this book brings me to tears every time I read it. Scrawny cat is lonely, little and lone. He used to belong to someone but now he wanders the street looking for a friendly home and a good meal. But everyone calls him "Get Out of Here". One day, he hides in a little boat and gets stranded at sea. He arrives on shore safely but very hungry. A sailor lady finds him. Will she call him "Get out of here" or will she be nice to him?

The illustrations are quite powerful. Those eyes. Those Eyes!!! They will break your heart in the best way possible.

The House without a Key (Charlie Chan Series #1)

The House Without a Key  - Earl Derr Biggers This book is the first of the Charlie Chan mysteries and I was quite excited to read it. I'm a big fan of the Charlie Chan movies and wanted to read the novels that inspired them. I was a bit disappointed with this one for a few reasons. First of all, there is not enough Charlie Chan. As one of my Goodreads friends pointed out to me, Earl Derr Biggers didn't realize that character would be such a sensation. So perhaps subsequent books will have more Charlie Chan. Another thing is that I didn't really like any of the characters. I did enjoy reading about John Quincy, the main character, and his transformation from stuffy Bostonite to a free-spirited West Coaster. The ambiance and culture of both San Francisco and Hawaii as well as the murder mystery and the various women he crushes on are all factors in his transformation. Being from Boston, I never really liked to read about Boston folks being uptight, too-cultured and puritanical. And the Boston-Hawaii/San Francisco juxtaposition really works but whenever Charlie Chan shows an admiration for the cultured city of Boston I want to tell him, "no! Stay in Hawaii!". This coming from a gal who was born and raised and still lives in the Boston area. I just didn't like that. The mystery keeps evolving as the plot progresses. You don't know whodunnit until the end. The writing is very good and there is an eclectic mix of characters. The cover is gorgeous but very misleading. If you want a good mystery from the early part of the 20th century and you don't mind stuffy Bostonians and very little Charlie Chan, read the book. If you love Charlie Chan and you love Boston, skip it.
Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, Facsimile Edition - Betty Crocker A wonderful little time capsule into the kitchens of the 1950s. Granted some recipes are weird. Like salad in jello, rice rings, cream cheese & anchovy appetizers, sandwich cheese loafs, etc. However, a lot of them are basic American classics. The structuring of the recipes takes some getting used to if you are not familiar with cookbooks like these. The book is very charming with it's trivia, history, cartoons, rhymes, songs, tips and reminders. It's fun to flip through quickly or to just linger on some of the pages. I made two recipes with this: Cinnamon Rolls and Devil's Food Cake. Cinnamon Rolls came out wonderful (just not as puffy as I'd like) and the Devil's Food Cake was a disaster. If you are interested in getting this cookbook, make sure it's more for the nostalgia or the history of it than for the actual recipes.

The Silent Screen & My Talking Heart: An Autobiography (Hemingway western studies series) 3rd ed.

The Silent Screen & My Talking Heart: An Autobiography - Nell Shipman Nell Shipman was a fascinating woman. She was a film actress, filmmaker, producer, writer, stunt woman, animal trainer and activist, mother, wife, lover, etc. After having seen her film The Grub-Stake (1923) (the financial ruin of which completely changed her life), I really wanted to read more about Nell Shipman and where else to start but by reading her autobiography?

I'm not going to lie, this is a flawed book. Mostly because Shipman's "talking" style reads more like rambling and she went over so many minute details and then switched subjects so quickly that at some points it was difficult to follow. The autobiography is written chronologically starting with her birth in 1892 and ending in 1924 the year after The Grub-Stake and when she lost Lionhead Lodge, Lionhead Productions and all her beloved animals. There are maps of Priest Lake and the Lionhead Lodge. There is a foreword explaining the three edition (this one is the third revised one). There is an afterword by Nell Shipman's son Barry Shipman as well as an essay by Peter Norris. It's a hard read but if you quickly become fascinated by this extraordinary woman. The notes in the appendix, the afterword and the essay all help to contextualize the book. Also, there are 2 sections of black-and-white photographs.

Read my full review here: http://outofthepastcfb.blogspot.com/2011/07/get-your-read-on-silent-screen-and-my.html

The Magician's Elephant

The Magician's Elephant - Juliet Stevenson, Kate DiCamillo I intended only Lilies!
Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant - Jennifer  Grant Good Stuff is unlike any other book you will ever come across. Reading it is a very intimate experience, one you share with the author. Jennifer Grant has given the public a peek into the love between a father and his only child. The father, Cary Grant, just happens to be one of the most famous, well-known and adored actors ever to have lived. We come to the book with a false sense of familiarity with Cary Grant only to discover that we didn't know about this part of his life at all.

Jennifer Grant reminisces about the first 20 years of her life; the years when her father was alive. Although the book goes back and forth through time freely, the reader never gets lost. Each chapter has a theme which anchors it and the progression of the book feels chronological even when it isn't. The author tried to capture the "essence of Dad's soul" when writing this book.

Read the rest of my review here: http://outofthepastcfb.blogspot.com/2011/06/get-your-read-on-good-stuff-by-jennifer.html
Tia Isa Wants a Car - Meg Medina, Claudio Muñoz Absolutely, by far one of my favorite picture books ever. I wish I could carry a copy around with me and show it to everybody. I love it that much.