Winter is officially here. I don't know about you, but I usually end up reading mostly nonfiction and classics during the winter season. I'm not sure why, I just naturally gravitate towards them. So winter is here and I've, once again, found myself digging into some great nonfiction.
Around the same time last year, I had just finished Anne LaBastille's Woodswoman. I absolutely loved it and found it fascinating. This year, totally unintentionally, I found myself finishing the second book in her Woodswoman series, Beyond Black Bear Lake. I really enjoy LaBastille's writing, and her passion for the Adirondacks, conservation, and nature.
I've noticed a pattern in my reading during the winter season. Yes I usually gravitate towards nonfiction and the classics (Alcott, Emerson, etc), but I've noticed that I usually spend the last part of December and most of January reading nature themed books. Be it John Muir's Nature Essays or Anne LaBastille's books, I find myself wanting to center my mind on nature. I love being outside and in the woods. Being in and around nature brings me to a peaceful state of mind and soul. I think READING about nature also achieves this.
I also have a pile of other nonfictions books that I received for Christmas. Most of them are autobiographies/biographies, as I enjoy reading about other people's lives and stories. Among those are books about legendary cowboy actor Ben Johnson, and books by Jamie Farr and Gary Burghoff. I have a few other nonfiction books mixed in, like Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux and Life at the Dakota by Birmingham, that I'm super eager to dig in to.
While reflecting on my own winter reading habits, it made me wonder: Do you all lean towards/favor certain genres in certain seasons? Let me know! I'd love to hear from you! ;)
As I mentioned in my review of Scott Berg's Kate Remembered, I've been on a Katharine Hepburn binge as of late. Me: Stories of My Life was second on my list of Hepburn books to read, and I have to say, it was interesting, enlightening, and an enjoyable read.
Me reads the way Hepburn speaks. Some parts read as though Hepburn is reminiscing to herself, piecing together the bits and pieces of her life and working through it, trying to make better sense of some things. There are quite a few realizations that Hepburn shares throughout the book and you get the feeling that they are new realizations that came to her as she looked back and worked through her past. Other parts read like she's speaking one on one with someone, sharing memories and telling stories. It's an interesting way to go about writing a memoir and it works well within the context of Hepburn's life.
The book is also organized in an interesting way. The chapters are divided into memories, particular times during Hepburn's life, people, etc. Some of her work (i.e. movies and plays) receive their own chapters, others are lumped into one chapter labeled "Movies", "Early Career", and "Early Films". There are 9 chapters that are about people, 10 people in all. One chapter covers her parents and there are other chapters for Howard Hughes, George Cukor, L.B Mayer, her housekeeper/companion Phyllis, and Spencer Tracy, among others.
There are actually four chapters about Spencer Tracy, those are the ones I found most interesting because Hepburn never talked a whole lot about Tracy, so these chapters give us a rare look at their life together. They are also the most vulnerable chapters in the book. One chapter, "Spencer", covers her thoughts on him as an actor, how they met, and the movies that they made. "Love" is about their romantic relationship, "Leaving the California House" is about her packing up and selling the house that she shared with Spencer, her thoughts, feelings, memories, and mementos surrounding the house.
The last chapter featuring Spencer Tracy is "Dear Spence", which is a letter Hepburn wrote to Tracy decades after his death while composing this book, in which she asks questions she never asked him when he was alive. This chapter has a feel of Hepburn trying to understand and come to terms with what truly went on within Tracy's own mind and their relationship. It was beautiful.
Overall, I found this book both fascinating and enlightening. I would highly recommend it to Hepburn fans, and Old Hollywood fans. I'd also recommend it as an excellent memoir to anyone who enjoys that genre. Truly wonderful.
I give it an 8/10.
Regina Jennings recently released her latest installment in her highly praised Fort Reno series, The Lieutenant's Bargain. I am a part of her influencer team and therefore received the book from the publisher. I was very excited for this book, which is the third in the series, because the Fort Reno series seems to get better and better with each book. The Lieutenant's Bargain did not disappoint.
Lieutenant Jack Hennessey is the perfect hero, one that will have no trouble winning the readers over with his bookish ways and his sweet, thoughtful nature. He's been pinning over his childhood classmate, Hattie Walker, for years now, though she didn't really know he was alive. She never seemed to notice him, even though he did everything to gain her attention and was as helpful as he could be. Flash forward to Indian Territory 1885, Jack is a strong, respected officer in the Cavalry, and Hattie is a young woman on a mission to become a recognized painter. Trouble waylays Hattie's trip to Denver and lands her in a sticky situation in which she finds herself in need of a rescuer.....
Hattie Walker is a relatable character. Too often Historical fiction novels will lean towards a very feministic female, to the point where it really isn't believable in pre-1900s setting. The female tends to come off annoying and selfish. (Note: I'm not against feminism, just when it's not realistic). This is one of the few instances where the character struggles to find a balance between being independent/going after her dreams and accepting a more traditional role.
Hattie dreams of finding recognition as a painter. She has the skills, they just need some honing. She soon learns that she's a bit selfish and really needs to grow up. This is refreshing and makes her more likable. It's fun to see the growth of the character throughout the book and refreshing to see how she manages to strike a balance between still pursuing her painting, while also becoming a wife and sacrificing for her husband's career. I also liked that Jack saw areas where he needed to change and grow. It all worked beautifully.
In my opinion, it seems like Regina Jennings just keeps getting stronger and better with every book she releases. I think this is her best novel yet and I'm loving this series. This book was so good that, after having my Best of 2018 book list all finished and ready to publish, I ended up changing it! I had to push one book off the list and add The Lieutenant's Bargain to the list, because it was that good. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the perfect book to round out my list. Grab yourselves a copy.
I give it an 8/10.
I started really digging into Katharine Hepburn's film catalogue this Fall. I'm not sure why I chose that time to do so, but I've always found Hepburn vaguely interesting and decided that I wanted to learn more about her. After watching several of her films, I decided to see if she had ever written an autobiography or if there was a good biography on her. I found both. I quickly realized that I had A. Scott Berg's Kate Remembered on my shelf already, therefore I started with that one.
Kate Remembered is more of a memoir than biography, though it does detail Hepburn's life. The book is written through the lens of one of Hepburn's close friends and includes conversations and antidotes that would have been lost if the book had been written strictly as a biography.
Berg came into Hepburn's life in her later years, but developed a quick and, by all accounts, deep friendship with the actress. Known for being deeply private, getting to know Hepburn on a deeper level is quite a feat.
I love the way Berg outlined the book, flashing back and forth from the "present" time of his friendship with Kate to other times in her life, weaving the chapters into a nice flow. It made sense and, I believe, made it easier to digest the details and information about her life and career in between their conversations, dinners together, etc. The book definitely gave the reader a deeper understanding of the Hollywood and stage star, and maybe even helped the public feel closer to her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down and found it absolutely fascinating. I enjoyed Berg's writing style and his personable voice. It felt very much like he was sitting in a warm parlor, recounting his friendship and knowledge of Hepburn. It is the best "biography" of Katharine Hepburn I've come across and a must have for any fan.
I give it 8/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....