The 13 clocks


  • Author: James Thurber ( 1894-1961)
  • Cover: Marc Simont  The cover was a disappointment. I used an Puffin bookcover because  it is ‘eye catching’.  The  bland NYRCC cover is at the end of the review.
  • Genre: fairy tale classic
  • Publisher: The New York Review Children’s Collection
  • Published: 1950
  • Table of contents: 8 chapters, introduction and foreword from the author, epilogue, 124 pg.
  • Dedication: To Jap and Helen Gude  (helpful neighbors especially important to Thurber due to his failing health) – “who have broken more than one spell cast upon the author by a witch or wizard, this book is warmly dedicated”.
  • Theme: dark vs bright  side of lifecold vs warm; THEN vs NOW;  to receive from another, we must first learn to give  (The villan Duke cannot do this)
  • Setting: Once up on a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill….
  • Trivia: Thurber sometimes refers to his own impaired vision. (pg 18)  “He ( the Duke) had lost one eye when he was twelve….”   as did Thurber.

Introduction from the author:

  1. “I  wrote The Thirteen Clocks in Bermuda, where I had gone to finish another book.
  2. The shift to this one was an example of escapism and self-indulgence.
  3. Unless modern Man wanders down these byways occasionally,
  4. I do not see how he can hope to preserve his sanity.


  • The  13 clocks are  ‘frozen’  in Coffin Castle  by the villan Duke  who hates NOW ( warmth and urgency) ( pg 19).
  • He  has captured Princess Saralinda. Her suitors must perform impossible feats to win her ‘warm’ hand. In truth, the Duke wants to marry her himself when she is 21 yr.
  • A mysterious Prince Zorn (disguised as a minstrel)  comes to rescue her. He must first complete an impossible challenge: find 1000 jewels and unfreeze the clocks.
  • Thanks to the friendly (magical) Golux, Prince Zorn frees Princess Saralinda!
  • The eccentric book is riddled with Thurber’s famous wordplays.  The book took only  seven weeks to write!


  • The good wizards  ‘played with time’ to effect the end of the story.
  • The villian Duke of Coffin Castle declares his hatred of ‘time’. The Duke has  a cold smile, hands and heart. He wears gloves morning and night.
  • Princess Saralinda is the only person with warm hands in the Coffin Castle.
  • Golux is a remarkably modest alter ego for Thurber.
  • Golux must try to make Hagga (woman who weeps precious stones) to shed some  tears. He needs the gems to free the Princess!
  • He tells Hagga funny stories as Thurber would do and she does not cry,  Golux gives up and walks away.
  • Suddenly Hagga  weeps tears of laughter. Golux reacts ( as Thurber would)  “I wish that she had laughed at something I had said!” (pg 87)
  • Hark !  Whisper ! Listen! :  3 spies of the villan Duke of Coffin Castle. Hark is the most important of the 3 spies.
  • Hark represents the Duke´s conscience until the ´spell´ is broken.
  • You will have to read the book to learn his TRUE IDENTITY!
  • Todal: evil, invisible  ´glob creature´  that  ´gleeps´ (gulps); an agent of the devil ( pg 51)


  • Duke:  We all have our faults…mine is being wicked.
  • Golux:  I am the son of a witch….on the side of good.

Trivia: ( personal)

  • I had to laugh on page 30 about … Thurber’s description of the Prince disguised as a minstrel. It is a reference to a song from Gilbert & Sullivan’s  MIKADO.
  • As a  freshman in high-school  I was in our school’s production of The  Mikado. I can still remember the lyrics!
  • Thurber says:  “A wandering minstrel I, a thing of shreds and zatches ‘ ( = patches).


Thurber can suprise with his poetry…… Here is an example: (pg 65)

  • I can find a thing I cannot see  and
  • see a thing I cannot find.
  • The first is time, the second is a spot before my eyes.
  • I can feel a thing I cannot touch and
  • touch a thing I cannot  feel.
  • The first is sad and sorry, the second is your heart.

 Limericks:  (…with an extra twist!) (pg 86)

  • There was an old coddle so molly,   (mollycoddle =  pampered boy)
  • He talked in a glot that was poly,   (polyglot = mixture of languages)
  • His gaws were so gew,                  (gewgaw = bauble; trinket)
  • That his laps became dew,          (dewlap = loose fold of skin)
  • And he ate only pops that were lolly.    (lollipop = piece of hard candy on a stick)

Power of language:

Once upon a time…..”    I discoverd in a simple fairy tale  all these literary tools and wordplays:

  1. Alliteration: “taverners, travelers, tale-tellers, tosspots, troublemakers, and other townspeople”.  ( pg 24); swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily…”( pg 73)
  2. Idiom: …the fat is in the fire, the die is cast, the jig is up, the goose is cooked and the cat is out of the bag ( pg 35).
  3. Euphemism:  for being sloshed or drunk, “in one’s cups”   (pg 44).
  4. Ex machina: intended to move the story forward when the writer has “painted himself into a corner” and sees no other way out, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending.  Golux is a LITERARY DEVICE.  This is mentioned on pg 32: `I´m a the Golux ¨…the only Golux in the world and not a mere Device.` Yet on pg 116  the Duke exclaims: `You mere Device! …You platitude! …You Golux ex machina!`
  5. Hidden in-jokes:  character Hagga mean ‘hag, old woman’ in Swedish — Todal ( evil ‘creature’ that  gleeps [kills?]) Tod means ‘death’ in German — Prince Zorn ( Zorn means fury in German) — Golux ( lux means light in latin, Golux leads  people to the …..light, happy ending)
  6. Backward spelling:: “The grim Duke is six feet four and forty-six…” (pg 17),   “..feed him water without bread, and bread without water” (pg 39)
  7. Rhyming sentences: “You’ll never live to wed his niece. You’ll only die to feed his geese.”    “For there’s a thing that you must know, concerning jewels of laughter. They always turn again to tears a fortnight after.” (…there ar many more examples of rhyming in the book!)
  8. Made-up words: “guggle” and “zatch” (pg 55)  refer to the belly and the base of the throat, defining the line where a sword would do most damage. “to gleep” (pg 56) the Todal ‘gleeps’. I assume it means ‘to kill or harm’.
  9. Word play:   Names for Duke’s spies do exactly what they are called!  Hark!, Whisper! and Listen!
  10. Strange discovery :  Golux:  according to a letter written by James Thurber  in 1949 this was a ‘green code word’  he heard used by James Gerard (US ambassador to Germany 1913-1919) meaning: “Period”.
  11. Chiasmus: literary device that involves symmetrical  crossover with the pattern A B B A.
  12. “If you can touch the clocks and never start them, then you can start  the clocks and never touch them.” (pg 106)


James Thurber: (1894 – 1961)

  1. The writer had endured 5 eye operations in eleven months  between 1940-41.
  2. He suffered great pain, a mental breakdown, depression and pneumonia.
  3. He  retained his sense of humor and continued to write with difficulty (eye problems).
  4. In 1945 he triumphed with “The Thurber Carnival” that remained on the best seller list for nearly  a year.
  5. Thurber wrote “The 13 Clocks” during a four month stay in Bermuda in 1950. It took him only seven weeks to write this book.
  6. Thurber remains one of America’s most popular authors.  He offers humor, satire and criticism.

Bookcover:  big disappointment….no creativity, sparkle or pazazz!


  1. Reading this children´s classic was a great ´learning experience´!
  2. It was a puzzle to find all the wordplays or literary devices Thurber uses.
  3. What a wonderful book to read or teach if you want to introduce children to the power of language!
  4. I would highly recommend the book as a part of an classic literature or creative writing  program  for all ages!
  5. Last thoughts: On page 118 Golux ( = Thurber) sums up the essence of his book.
  6. Thurber had been slowly  going blind for the last 16 years. He kept his sense of humor in spite of his fate.
  7. His words linger..
  8. “Keep warm, he said. Ride close together. Remember laughter. You’ll need it even in the blessed isles of Ever After.”

Score: 5

July 9, 1951: 

  • Thurber sadly  sketched his last cartoon due to fading eyesight.
  • It is a portrait with his beloved dogs.


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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Uncategorized




  •  Author: Adam Begley
  • Genre:  biography
  • Title:   Updike
  • Published:  2014
  • Table of Contents:   12 chapters   558 pages
  • Published by:    HarperCollins
  • Dedication:  To Anne
  • Quotation:   none
  • CoverPhotography  Dennis Stock.  It  is an  image around 1964 when Updike was documenting ‘adulterous’   Ipswich Massachusetts.
  • Timeline: 1932 – 2009


  1. John Updike   was a classic American writer.
  2. He saw himself as a literary spy in suburban  America
  3. He was the ‘golden boy’ at The New Yorker  for years and is known for  his short stories ( Maples and Henry Bech series), Couples, The Witches of Eastwick  and  the Rabbit tetralogy.
  4. I’m starting my own “Updike reading” project! This biography is a wonderful start. Subtle meanings and painful backround information will make the Maples stories come alive. Updike’s prose is drenched in his personal life.



I did not want this book to end. Having discovered  John Updike for the first tiime,  I did not want to lose him in the final chapter.

His life  began in  Shillington Pennsylvania. It was unremarkable. Nobody goes there. There is nothing to see, yet for Updike it is the most  comforting place on earth.

In the first chapter I connected immediately  to Updike remembering  my own  hometown USA.   Playgrounds where we played dodge ball,  the library where the floors squeaked in hushed silence and Mahoney’s  drugstore where we gorged on cherry cokes and hot fudge sundaes.

Updike’s  mother told him “he could fly” and he believed her. She was determined not to let her son John become a Shillington ‘know-nothing’.

Adam Begley has done an excellent job bringing  Updike’s  literary greatness  to life  by analyzing his short stories, novels and  poems.

Strong point: This book gives the reader so many insights  into  the ‘autobiographical’  aspects of Updike’s writing. The Centaur is a touching tribute to his father, The Maples stories  expose Updike’s  marital woes and the  Henry Bech stories reveal   Updike’s  alter-ego filled with literary  adventures.

Strong point:  Adam Begley explains Updike’s  “delicate art of weaving popular culture, politics and economics into the fabric of the narrative” (pg 394) of the  Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run;  Rabbit Redux;  Rabbit is Rich and  Rabbit at Rest). Updike introduces us to Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom   whose basketball skills did not translate into post-high school success.

I won’t go any further  into the details of Updike’s  life because I want you to discover this writer for yourself.

There is always a sentence that lingers after reading a book.  Updike’s  description of a family home filled with children    ” wandering in and out with complaints their mothers brushed away like cigarette smoke”.     Updike describes  what it was like  in….hometown  USA.

This  is an excellent biography of a great writer and I would highy recommend it.

Last thoughts Begley does not write a biography as a summation of facts.  He lets us discover Updike — essay by essay, story by story, novel by novel.

This is my choice to  win the Pulitzer Prize for Biography 2014!


Score 5





Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Uncategorized


Shah of Shah’s

shaAuthor:  Rysard Kapuscinski (1932 – 2007)

  • Genre:  Non-fiction ( history )
  • Title:   The Shah of Shah’s
  • Published:  1982
  • Table of Contents:   3 parts,  152 pages
  • Published by:    Vintage books
  • Dedication:  none
  • Quotation:   none
  • Cover:  I was disappointed with the book cover (see end of review). I think an eye catching portrait of the Shah in full uniform would have been better!
  • Setting:  Iran
  • Timeline: Iran in 20th century
  • Language: English
  • Themes: out-of-touch leader; revenge; power of religion
  • Trivia: Ryszard Kapuściński  was a possible winner of the Nobel Prize for literature,.,,,but never won it.
  • Trivia: The Ryszard Kapuściński Award, established in 2010, for the author of the best reportage book of the year is Warsaw’s way to pay tribute to Kapuscinski.
  • He made journalism an art.
  • Part 1: The author describes the period before the Iranian Revolution concentrating on information about  the Shah’s grandfather and father.
  • Part 2:  This was a clever way of engaging the reader. Kapuscinski rummages through a box of photographs and  reveals his thoughts about their significance.
  • Part 3:  Here is the history lesson about revolution and in particular in Iran.

Story: ( in a nutshell…)

  • The mosque is a key sanctuary where Iranians feel they can breath. They need a place to pray, discuss and gossip without fear.
  • Iranians believe only in the reign of their religious leaders.
  • When the Shah tries to impose his authority together with his  ‘petro-bourgeoisie’  (produce nothing and its whole occupation is unbridled consumption)
    the fighting starts.
  • All historians agree that the starting point of the Revolution was January 7, 1978
  • An official newspaper. Etelat,  saw fit to discredit Khomeini.
  • In Qom (small city to the south of Teheran, hometown of Khomeini) anger was unexpected, powerful and would engulf the entire country

Best pages: 

  • Kapusinski  describes the importance of oil In Iran.  Wonderful writing! (pg 35 – 37)
  • Kapuscinski explains in clear and concise words
  • the difference between Shiites and Sunnis
  • the rise of Shiites in Iran
  • why angry Shiites gathered in mosques where the fighting began.
  • This is basic information one has to process (…read this section slowly)   to understand why this powder keg of a land exploded!  (pg 67- 78 )
Samples of some lines that linger….
  • The Empire giveth; the empire taketh away. (pg 25)
  • Money changes all the iron rules into rubber bands. ( pg 34)
  • Oil…..liquid that squirts up into the air and falls back to earth as a rustling shower of money. ( pg 34 )
  • The new pretender to the  crown would enter Teheran with the British and Russian envoys supporting his elbows on either side (pg 38)
  • The higher up, the fuller the pockets (pg 63)


  • R. Kapuscinski  is my  new author  discovery  in  2014!
  • Strong point: He combines everything I love: history, fast paced  journalism writing and most importantly his refections on the situation he is writing about.
  • While reading I always look for a tidbit of information that surprises me.
  • The Shah’s  true passion was the army, and Kapuscinksi explains it is nothing more than an domestic instrument of terror.
  • The Shah was obsessed  with reading….arms catalogues!
  • He ordered  tanks, artillery and missiles  as if they were boxes of Girl Scout cookies!
  • I enjoyed this book  because it was a wonderful ‘vivid’ overview of the Iranian Revolution.
  • Kapuscinski always had two notebooks with him, one for the news and one for his thoughts/reflectons.
  • Kapuscinski’s describes with great skill how religion was a component in the Iranian Revolution.
  • Reading tip: part 3 ‘Revolution’ seems dry and academic. If you read this section and think about the situation in Kiev today.…Kapuscinski’s words take on a new meaning!
  • Last thoughts: Iran is now free of dictator, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi but in the middle of an oppressive theocracy.
  • Jumping from the frying pan……into the fire.

Score: 4


 Book cover:









Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized





  • Author:  André Gide (1869 – 1951)
  • Genre: Novella   
  • Title:  L’ immoraliste
  • Published:  1902
  • Table of Contents:  part 1 (rebirth) — part 2 ( intellectual) —  part 3 (physical)
  • Published by:   Folio
  • Dedication: to Henri Ghéon was one of Gide’s closest friends (see photo)
  • Quotation: Psalm 139:14  “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”
  • Setting: Normandy;  Biskra, Algeria; Paris
  • Timeline: 1800’s
  • Language: French
  • Themes: self-awareness;  live for today without the burden of possessions or memories;  rebirth
  • Trivia: This book is autobiographical.  Gide went to North Africa, where he met with the well-known homosexual Irish writer Oscar Wilde. Gide’s trips to North Africa became the basis of The Immoralist
  • Trivia: In 1947 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • Trivia (personal): What a feeling, reading L’immoraliste in  French  is easier than reading The Roberts Court in English


  1. Michel is the narrator and central character in the book.
  2. Marceline is Michel’s wife. They hardly know each other but marry to please Michel’s dying father. During the honeymoon in North Africa, Michel becomes gravely ill with tuberculosis but regains his health.
  3. Marceline  also becomes ill with tuberculosis. The couple travels and ends up in  Biskra for the second time, Marceline dies.
  4. As Michel’s health improves, he experiences this profound change in himself as a sort of rebirth. Gide wrote in part 1, chapter 7 of Michel’s change in physical appearance, exercise, sunbathing, shaving off his beard. All symbols of Gide’s  attempt to be a new person.
  5. At the same time, Michel finds himself attracted to healthy young men and boys in North Africa as well as at home in France.
  6. Torn between his natural homosexual inclinations and the traditional  values with which he was raised, Michel finds himself in a state of personal crisis.


  • Marceline:  She is 20 years old when she marries Michel who is 25. Gide reveals a tender love between husband and wife.
  • Michel:  is the narrator and central  character.
  • Menalque;  is friend  based on Oscar Wilde who he met in Biskra.

Best chapter:  Part 2, chapter 2:

  • Here we read Gide’s descriptions of and meetings with Menalque who is based on Oscar Wilde.
  • L’immoraliste was published after Wilde’s death so that Gide felt free to describe Wilde with intense accuracy.
  • Gide gives Oscar Wilde a voice…( it sometimes quite philosophical)….live for today without the burden of possessions or memories (pg 126)
  • “…that one feels himself different is precisely what gives one value; and that is what one is trying to supress…” (pg 119)

Worst chapter: Part 2, chapter 3:

  • Strange segment in the story where Gide wants to express Michel’s determination to leave the past and concentrate on his future ‘free’ life.
  • Gide uses the the estate in Normandy to indicate Michel’s displeasure for his old responsibilites.
  • It was hard to digest, farfetched and the weakest part of the book.

Setting:   Why did Gide choose Biskra Algeria for the setting of the book?   Why not stay in Paris and enjoy life there?

  • Gide was a faithful visitor to  the literary salons but found them stifling.
  • Intellectually he was satisfied but there was the physical, sensuous  side of life that he felt he was missing.
  • Many writers felt free  in French North Africa and were  able to experiment with the primitive side of life Guy de  Maupassant, Oscar Wilde and Gustave Flaubert.

Title:    What does the title mean?

  • Encouraged by Menalque Michel defies all traditions, moral codes, scorns the weak, praises the strong and becomes an immoralist!
  • He himself is the only thing that is important. (pg 62)

Structure:  André Gide used the  the form of a letter as the framework for the central story.

  • Who is the letter  written to? The letter was written by one of Michel’s friends (Ghéon)  to his own brother identified as Monsieur D. R. Michel, asks three of his friends to come to his retreat at Sidi b. M. to tell them his story and ask for their help.
  • Henri Ghéon was one of Gide’s closest friends and companion on innumerable homosexual exploits. Ghéon and  Gide’s together with other literary friends founded the scholarly journal  La Nouvelle Revue Fransçaise.

Henri Ghéon and André Gide:



  1. The homosexual events in  L’ immoraliste made it a racy novella for its era. By today’s standards, the book is not so controversial.
  2. Still I found this book very moving for a different  reason. In order to understand the book I had to learn more about the author.
  3. Gide was a complex individual struggling to free himself from his Calvinist upbringing and live a life of his own choosing. His mother ( Juliette Rondeaux) was the  perfect example of puritan severity. Every aspect of her son’s life, from the clothes he wore to the books he read, was regulated by his mother, who continued to give him advice until her death in 1895, when her son was twenty-five.
  4. I think that after burying  his mother André Gide felt he was ready to write his most revealing books  beginning with  the  L’ immoraliste. It draws on details related explicitly about his own life.
  5. There is very little dialogue in the book. Marceline hardly speaks. It is a first-person narrative expressing Michel’s opinions, thoughts, and feelings. The French was easy so read. Gide uses the subjunctive in his writing more than Némirovsky. I had to ‘brush up’ on that verb tense!
  6. I started out  to discover a new  book….yet I discovered much more:  André Gide.
  7. Rarely do you see his books  on classic reading lists.
  8. Gide’s autobiography   Si le grain ne mert (1926, If It Die . . .), is considered one of the great works of confessional literature. I wonder if one can compare it to  the Confession’s of St. Augustine?   ( review by Cleo)  Both authors face their shortcomings an a deep desire to change themselves.

Score: 3









Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


New Books !!



L´ Immoraliste (1902)

The story of a man, Michel, who travels through Europe and North Africa attempting to pass beyond the limits of conventional morality at the time. When this book was published it was considered shocking. I will be curious how shocking it is in terms of today’s morals. I  was inspired to read  André Gide  via  Claire’s  blogpost about French Literature on Word by Word.

Updike (2014)

Classic American writer who I have never read.  John Updike  saw himself as a literary spy in surburban  America.  He was the ‘golden boy’ at The New Yorker for years and is known for The Witches of Eastwick  and  the Rabbit tetralogy. This looks  like a great biography!

O, Louis (2014) 

This is the new book from the Dutch sport journalist  Hugo Borst. I don’t  have to tell you how proud we all are in The Netherlands of the Dutch Soccer team during the World Championship in Brazil.  Now it is time to learn more about the man who has  guided our ‘dream team’,  Louis van Gaal.  He has a great track record winning championships  with clubs as Barcelona and Bayern-Munchen. Let’s see what he can do for Manchester United.  There are going to be some changes  made in Manchester, that’s for sure!

Buvard  (2014)

I discoverd  Buvard  via Pauline’s  website Critiques de Livres. She is my ‘ go to blog’  when I’m searching for a contemporary French  book to read. As you can see on the cover it was awarded the Prix Françoise Sagan  2014. This is a literary prize started in 2010 to honor the memory of Françoise Sagan. The award is for a novel or novella in French by a writer who has  yet to win any major literary prizes during the year. I’m anxious to discover  this  author, Julia Kerninon

The Cuckoo´s Calling  (2013)

The Cuckoo’s Calling is my  ‘take a chance’  selection. Colin was so enthusiastic about this book on his blog The Only Way is Reading.   I never heard of the author Robert Galbraith and that is no surprise. It is the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling!

De Velzer Affaire  (2013)  

De Velzer Affaire  has been nominiated for the best  history book in The Netherlands,  Libris Geschiedenis Prijs 2014. This was a complot in Velzen ( town in Holland) where by the police and resistance  were involved.  I had never heard of this part of Dutch history. There are  still many unanswered questions about this conspiracy. Thanks to  private donations a large amount of money was gathered so that  Bas von Benda-Beckmann  could  investigate the affaire.

Shah of Shah’s  (1982)  

Shah of Shahs  was written by  Polish journalist  Ryszard KapuścińskiIt is an  analysis of the decline and fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran. I contacted a friend who lives in Poland and she tells me Ryszard  was  one of their most famous journalists!  I was read Louise’s  review at Goodreads and knew this book was a ‘must read’ for me as a history lover!

The 13 Clocks  (1950)

The 13 Clocks is a fantasy tale written by James Thurber. The story is noted for Thurber’s constant, complex wordplay, and his use of occasional hidden rhyme. By the time he wrote this book, Thurber was blind, so he could not draw cartoons for the book. Thurber made  Marc Simont describe all his illustrations to him.  I´m reading this book inspired by Cleo´s website Children´s Classic Books Carousel. I always loved Thurber stories with his zany illustrations of chubby, bossy wives, thin, spineless husbands and mischevious dogs!



Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Roberts Court


• Author:  Marcia Coyle:  Marcia Coyle is the Chief Washington Correspondent for The National Law Journal. A lawyer and journalist, Coyle has covered the Supreme Court for twenty years. Her work has earned numerous national journalism awards, including the George Polk Award for legal reporting.
• Genre:  Non-fiction (Politics, History)
• Title: The Roberts Court
• Published: 2013
• Table of Contents:  5 parts:  Race, Guns, Money, Health Care and  On with the Culture Wars
• Published:  Simon & Shuster

Trivia (personal): I dedicate  all the effort I have put into learning about the US Supreme Court  by reading this book to my Government and Civics teacher.. I never listened, learned or did my homework in her class.  I bow my head in shame….


  1. I know absoutely nothing  about The US Supreme Court.  I can name all 23 players in the Dutch Soccer team, but know only 1 Supreme Court Justice. It is time I learn something new! I have no idea how to review this book.  I don’t want it to be a summation of facts.  I hope to find a ‘human side’ and  learn more about the  judges, their working relationships  and pressures these statesmen and women must endure.
  2. This is not an easy book to read. I’m fighting to stay awake and attentive. With all due respect I cannot imagine how  I could absorb this as an audio book.  I must  ‘highlight’ names in the book to give myself a visual.  When references to amendments of the Constitution are made I must check Wikipedia for more information.
  3. I experienced in Part 1 ch 3 my first thoughts of  throwing the book on the abandon pile. Promised myself to read part 1 ( Race) and the decide what to do.
  4. I cannot read this book and hope to absorb the minutia about cases that are discussed. If I want to finish this book I’ll have to change  my reading tactic: I’m looking up names of people, learning about the United States Appeals court and of course focusing most of my attention on the Supreme Court and its  work and judges.  By using Wikipedia I’m making the book  interactive. This will help me get some of the ‘ rough spots’  in the book.  
  5. Marcia Coyle takes the reader  through many cases in which the Roberts court made a decision. I found it absolutely essential  to read the  ‘holding’   (summation)  in Wikipedia. I learned the core issue and decision in a glance. I don’t think I could have followed the narrartive as an audio book. It is just too complicated.
  6. Part 2 has given me hope that I wlll finish the book! . This was a fast narrative about a high stakes  gun case brought before the Supreme Court. The case need 5 years of preparation and was decided in June 2008.


US Supreme Justices  (The Roberts Court)



  • US Supreme Court chooses to hear fewer than 100 of the more than 10,000 cases filed with it annually. These are usually cases of ‘conflict’ in the lower courts.
  • Harriet Miers: was G. W. Bush’s personal lawyer. She had NO experience in constitutional law and her failed nomination looks like pure “favoritism’! I was surprised this could happen when it deals with one of the most important jobs in the judiciary system.
  • Sandra Day-O’Connerfirst woman to be a Supreme Court Justice. Afer her graduation 1952 Stanford Law School she failed to get a job after 40 interviews because she was a woman. She finally accepted a  county attorney in San Mateo California, after she offered to work for no salary and without an office, sharing space with a secretary. Amazing that is could happen ….
  • Miranda warning is a warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody
  • Originalism:  (justices Scalia and Thomas,)
  • Names to watch!
  • Alan Gura: One of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” ( specialty: gun litigation)
  • Paul Drew Clement:  potenial young lawyer for  nomination to Supreme Court in the future…?
  • Office of United States Solicitor General:  this is often a ‘stepping stone’ to a potential place on the Surpeme Court
  • For history  enthusiasts  there is the George Washington Book Prize. Three historians are nominated on George Washington’s birthday in February. The prize is annonced in May at Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon Virgina.
  • Robert MacLean vs. Dept. of Homeland Security:  This is the next case to watch when the Supreme Court opens October 2014! 
  • In summer 2003, MacLean tried to blow the whistle within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on an attempt to remove air marshal coverage of “high-risk” flights amidst heightened warnings based on intelligence that terrorists were planning on hijacking planes and flying them into U.S. East Coast targets —  a violation of the Aviation & Transportation Security Act 2001. MacLean was fired.


Strong point:  this book made me aware of the importance of the US Supreme Court. In the course of my reading I learned about the individuals themselves which will make any news about the Supreme Court  more interesting to me. It is a book you would attempt if you just want to ‘know more’ about the law system in the USA. Reading this book is hard work and requires a small dosis of  ‘perserverence’.

Strong point: this book made me aware of the women who have earned a place in the Supreme Court. All are  great role models for young girls and women. Anything is possible even the Supreme Court.

Weak point: this book is filled with endless details of specific court cases: It is part of the structure of the book but takes time to read and digest. Coyle should have started the book with  the subjet in chapter 2  “GUNS” . It captures  your attention and was a fascinating read.

The Roberts Court was a challenge and I found it as appetizing as eating lima beans.  A fellow reader at Goodreads, Jean, has taken upon herself to read a series of books about the Supreme Court and the individual judges,  I promised her I would do my best and read one book.  I have kept my promise!

I have given  The Roberts Court  3  score because  of this strong point:  this book has  spurred me on to discover subjects I would normally avoid!  My next ‘unknown’ area I wll read about is the Koch brothers…..who pull many strings  in US politics!

Score: 3








1 Comment

Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


Owl Babies



Author   Martin Waddell
Cover artist / illustrator:  Patrick Benson
Genre:  Children’s picture book
PublisherWalker Books
Publication date: first published in 1975, my book is dated  1992
Table of contents:  Pages 15,  326 words! ( ages:  2- 7 yrs)


  • Three baby owls, Sarah, Percy and Bill, wake up one night in their hole in a tree to find that their mother has gone.
  • This book captured my heart.
  • The sheer terror, fear in the  eyes of the owl babies  is palpable.



Martin Waddell (1941, Belfast Northern Ireland )  is a prize winning children’s book author. He revealed that basis of this book. One day he saw a small child standing in the supermarket . He had lost his mommy. Big round eyes, body stiffened with terror he could only say: “I want my mummy’. Waddell knew he had a story.  Some picture books take years to write, this one took only 3 hours!




Patrick Benson’s illustrations are the ‘crowning touch’  in the book. He went to the exclusive  Eton and studied  classical drawing in Florence followed by a foundation year at Chelsea Art School. His talents are visible in this book.

  • Strong point:  text and illustration are so beautifully  integrated  that you are wondering what wonderful illustration will be on the next page?
  • Strong point:  dubble  page illustration to emphasize  the ‘big event’  in the story.


It is such a touching story and the illustrations bring it to life! Sometimes I find myself just gazing at the book and smiling at Percy, Sarah and Bill. Children who learn to love books and reading often start with picture books. ( reaction to Cleo’ remarks)

It is so relaxing to read children’s literature. Often I try to pinpoint my ‘first reaction’, does it bring back memories? does it still teach me as an adult an important lesson? Writers and illustrators are so interesting to discover and learn about.

Sometimes we just get so wrapped up in classics, fiction, bio’s and non-fiction that we forget to take a step back and read … children do! ( reaction to Louise’s  remarks)






Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


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