Red Leather Diary

red-leather-diaryThe Red Leather Diary

by Lily Koppel

Review by Robin

This paperback found its way into my hands in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the way Florence Wolfsan’s diary was discovered by New York Times journalist, Lily Koppel. Mine was a last minute addition from a pile of “buy two get one free” books and Florence’s diary was retrieved from a dumpster in Manhattan. Bought as a kind of throw-away read, this book was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed several days gaining real life, personal insight into what it must have been like to come of age in New York City between 1929 and 1934. Continue reading

Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking (2010 HBO Documentary)

By and Starring Carrie Fisher

Review by Stephanie Bragg

Actress Carrie Fisher, yes Princess Leia herself, has led a wildly interesting life.  The daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and late singer Eddie Fisher, Carrie brings her unique sense of humor and wit to the facts of her life in her one woman stage production.  Fisher chronicles her life, from her parents’ separation and complicated family tree to becoming a cultural icon at age 19 and how that has affected her life and relationships. The one woman show was so popular, she developed it into her biography, also called Wishful Drinking

I really never knew Carrie Fisher had such a bold sense of humor, but I guess with all her trials in life you have to try to laugh about it.  My favorite section is talking about her family tree.  Fisher has a big board with everyone’s pictures from her parents to her spouses to her children.  The whole 76 minutes are hilarious and not without a healthy dose of “Star Wars” talk and paraphernalia.

Check availability on the documentary Wishful Drinking

Check availability on the biography Wishful Drinking

About the reviewer: Stephanie Bragg loves all things geek and tries to hit ComicCon each year.

A Higher Call

A Higher CallA Higher Call :An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-torn Skies of World War II 

by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander

Review by Susan Williams

This is a dual biography of two World War II fighter pilots; an American, Charlie Brown and his counterpart, German, Franz Stigler.

In December of 1943, Brown was piloting his badly damaged bomber over Germany.  Half of his crew lay wounded or dead. Out of the blue a German fighter plane appeared along side of his aircraft.  Seeing the heavy damage to the American plane, the German inexplicably decided not to destroy the enemy plane, but to escort him safely over Germany.  In doing so, the German risked a firing squad for helping the enemy escape. People in Germany had been killed for far less. Continue reading

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk

Grandma Gatewood's Walk

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

Review by Sarah Newell

Why would a 67-year-old great-grandma leave her house one day to walk the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail?  Why would she choose to be the first woman to solo thru-hike the trail?  Why would she brave the animals and elements along the trail with nothing more than a light sack containing a few items she deemed necessary?

You’ll have to read Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail to answer the question for yourself.  Author Ben Montgomery does a masterful job of weaving newspaper articles, eye-witness accounts, family interviews and information from Emma Gatewood’s own journal together to paint possible answers to these questions for us.  While the answer is never handed over, we embark on a character study in order to understand the endearing and inspirational Grandma Gatewood.  Continue reading

A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

A Royal ExperimentReview by Lois Plale

This is a biography of King George III of England – the man who was king during the American Revolution.  This is probably one of the best and most readable biographies I have ever read.  I wanted to read it because I had learned almost nothing about this king and what I did “learn” was from American History classes, where we are told that he was an evil tyrant.  This book shows a very human side to the king and also shows that, rather than being a tyrant, he was actually quite moral.

The experiment that the title refers to is how he and his wife set out to show that, unlike their ancestors, the royal family could be the moral examples for England.  George grew up witnessing the immorality and fighting that went on in his family and was determined to not let it happen anymore.  He and his wife, Charlotte, had 15 children, 13 of whom survived childhood.  They were determined to be good parents and make sure their children were well-educated and had plenty of attention.  This book presents George as not only king, but as a son, husband, and father.  Unfortunately, with all his good intentions and, I would say, his lack of a good example, he falls short of being a loving father.

As is well-known, George eventually succumbs to mental illness and the author handles this with compassion and it is heartbreaking to see how his mind fell apart toward the end of his life.  This book is well-researched and almost reads like a novel, rather than a dry biography.

Check availability on A Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III by Janice Hadlow

About the reviewer: Lois loves history and you can visit her at the circulation desks at Tredyffrin Public Library (both upstairs and down)!