Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Author: jackikellum (page 1 of 25)

Movie and a Book Club Selections for 2017 – 2018

I lead a Book and Movie Club that meets once a month. In this post, I am sharing the selections for 2017 and 2018. I create some fairly extensive reading guides, quotes, and book club questions. Anyone who is interested can join free. If you will send me your email address, I’ll email you the notes for each book-movie selection, and you can participate here and through my youtube channel.

Jacki Kellum Movie and a Book Club List

September 2017 – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Book by Truman Capote

October 2017 – Something Wicked This Way Comes
Book and Screenplay by Ray Bradbury

During 2017, the group read some lengthy and very adult books, but during the latter part of 2017 and during part of 2018, we’ll be reading some books that were written for little people but that have great big heart.

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November 2017 – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Book by Washington Irving

I’ll also present a detailed slide presentation and discussion of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations–especially those that he did forThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow

December 2017 – The Gift of the Magi
Book by O. Henry

January 2018 – The Giver
Book by Lois Lowry

February 2018 – The Good Earth
Book by Pearl S. Buck

March 2018 – Angela’s Ashes
Book by Frank McCourt

April 2018 – Boardwalk Empire
Book by Nelson Johnson

May 2018 – The Midnight Garden of Good and Evil
Book by John Berendt

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June 2018 – Fight Club
Book by Chuck Palahniuk

July 2018 – John Adams
Book by David McCullough

August 2018 – The Grass Harp 
Book by Truman Capote

September 2018 – To Kill a Mockingbird
Book by Harper Lee

October 2018 – The Scarlet Letter
Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne

November 2018 – Elmer Gantry
Book by Sinclair Lewis

December 2018 – A Christmas Story
Book by Jean Shepherd

January 2019 – The Nun’s Story
Book by Kathryn Hulme



Leaf Watching Dates for the Poconos Mountains – Photos of Autumn

Bushkill Falls is one of the bezillion waterfalls in the Poconos, and that entire region is about to explode into its annual display of fall color. Every year, I post all of the latest info about the leaf changes on my blog, and since the whole thing is just beginning to unfold, I’ll begin to share what I have discovered about Leaf Watching in the Poconos.

Poconos Leaf Report for September 21, 2017

Only part of Pennsylvania is comprised of the Pocono Mountain Region;


On a map made in 1749, the Poconos region is labeled as the Land of Endless Mountains.


If you study the entire map carefully, you will see that the Poconos’ Endless Mountains are in Pennsylvania, and they begin less than an hour above Philadelphia, and near the top of the state.

Resica Falls Is Near Bushkill Falls

Bushkill Falls is in the northern part of Pennsylvania, but there are waterfalls all along the Delaware River from the Lehigh Valley and North. As the map says, this is the Land of Endless Mountains and on the East Coast, when the mountains are endless, the waterfalls are, too.

For the purposes of leaf changing dates, the Poconos is divided into three parts. A continuously updating map and fall foliage report is at the following Poconos Mountains site Here  

The fall foliage report is also available by calling 570-421-5565.

The Northern parts of the Poconos will be in peak color on October 16, 2017.

The Central and Southern parts of the Poconos will be in peak color between October 14-20.


Hickory Run Park is in White Haven, Pennsylvania, which is in the northern part of the state.


This old church is in the woods at Hickory Run Park.

Tobyhanna State Park


Bender Swamp at Tobyhanna

Tobyhanna is one of the best places to watch the leaves change, and it is only 36 miles away from Hickory Run. Resica Falls is South and East of Tobyhanna. Again, Resica Falls is near Bushkill Falls.

I live on the Jersey Shore, which is the Land of the Endless Sand Dunes, but I can drive less than 3 hours and be in the center of the Fall Foliage Display. I try to make that pilgrimage every year, and today, I am looking at my calendar and trying to decide when I’ll go this year. Wanna Join Me?

Ode to My Autumn Leaf – My September Song

September Song
by Jacki Kellum

I just took a nap for my mind, to see,
Flickering fae breath blew in, restored me.
Visions of sugarplums danced, set me free.
Sang me that September song.

Rain showers dripped down through the limbs of a tree.
Moonbeams and crystal shards lit up my sea.
Soft webs and angel hair dropped down from a flea,
And tow-tugged my leaf-boat along.

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©Jacki Kellum September 22, 2017


Coco Chanel – A Fashion Designer Rags to Riches Story

Coco Chanel’s Life is a Rags to Riches Story

Coco Chanel was born in 1883 in Saumur, France, and she spent her earliest life, along with four siblings, in a one-room house.

When Chanel was 12 years old, her mother died, and her father abandoned her and her two sisters at a Catholic orphanage at Aubazine, where the Order of St. Mary had been established to take care of the poor–especially the young, poor, and dejected girls.

There are conflicting reports about Chanel’s childhood. Chanel herself is said to have embellished her own humble history, but most reports say that it was at Aubazine that Chanel was named Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, and that it was at Aubazine that Coco [Gabrielle] learned to sew. Apparently, the children at Aubazine were expected to work hard, and they live a frugal and disciplined life. It was the sewing that she learned as a child at Aubazine that probably saved her from a continued life of poverty.

When Chanel was 18, she was too old to remain at Aubazine and was sent to study at the Notre Dame School at Moulins. While she was at Notre Dame, Chanel was united with her aunt who was only a year older than she. Her aunt’s name was Adrienne. While she was was at Notre Dame, Chanel continued to study sewing.

“The Mother Superior at Notre Dame found employment for Adrienne and Gabrielle as shop assistants and seamstresses in a draper’s store on the rue de l’Horloge, which sold trousseaux and mourning clothes to the local gentry, as well as layettes for newborn babies. The girls shared an attic bedroom above the shop, and also worked at the weekends for a nearby tailor, altering breeches for cavalry officers. It was there that Gabrielle and Adrienne were spotted by half a dozen men, who started taking them out to La Rotonde, a pavilion in a park in Moulins, where concerts were held for audiences from the local barracks.

“They were rowdy affairs – a combination of music hall and soldiers’ saloon – but Gabrielle was determined to start singing on stage, and eventually found a regular slot. She had only two songs in her repertoire: ‘Ko Ko Ri Ko’ (its refrain was the French version of ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’) and ‘Qui qu’a vu Coco? ‘, a ditty about a girl who had lost her dog. Soon the audience greeted her with barnyard cockerel calls, and christened her…[Coco].”

Things changed for Coco Chanel. As an adult, she lived at the Ritz in Paris for 37 years.

ca. 1965, Paris, France — French fashion designer, Coco Chanel, standing in her Paris apartment at 31 rue Cambon, with her back to a mantled fireplace, with a large mirror above, looking up at a chandelier. — Image by © Condé Nast Archive/CORBIS’



Place Vendôme, amb el Hotel Ritz a l´esquerra

“There are people who have money and people who are rich.” – Coco Chanel

On several occasions, Chanel expressed a suspiciousness about richness, wealth, and luxury, but her life’s mission seems to have been that of escaping her own poverty. I feel quite sure that Chanel’s efforts to “pull herself up by her boot strings” was less than delicate.

FRANCE – CIRCA 1936: Coco Chanel, French couturier. Paris, 1936. LIP-6958-108. (Photo by Lipnitzki/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

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“Gentleness doesn’t get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs.  – Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel formed liaisons with rich lovers, and that undoubtedly helped her elevate herself, but the Coco Chanel fashion statement was one of simplicity.

“It is always better to be slightly underdressed.” – Coco Chanel

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Chanel’s earliest business venture seems to be that of designing and creating hats. Although some of her hats were extravagant, most were not. In fact, Chanel began her career as a milliner by buying very plain Boater Hats and by decorating them with simple bands of ribbon.

The above image is from the Sony film Coco before Chanel. It shows the actress Audrey Tautou wearing a Boater Hat like the earliest Chanel creations.

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”  – Coco Chanel

During the 1920’s, Vogue Magazine lauded Coco Chanel as the creator of the simple, Little Black Dress

The Little Black Dress that Audrey Hepburn wore was designed by Hubert de Givenchy, but it is apparent that the Audrey Hepburn look is rooted in Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel Also Turned the Simple Sailor Stripes into a Fashion Staple

In the following image, the Audrey Tautou is shown wearing the type of striped T-Shirt that is synonymous with Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel Marinière et pantalon en 1928

“Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”  – Coco Chanel

In 1858, the striped shirt or Marinière was designated as the official shirt of the French Navy.

In 1913, Chanel opened a shop and sold her interpretation of the  Marinière, as well as other sports and casual clothes and hats. Unlike fashion before that time, Coco’s clothes were made of jersey or underwear-type material.  Before then, French fashion had been a heavily corseted and overstated affair, but Chanel had the courage to break with fashion tradition and to forge a new path–one that forever changed the course of fashion history.

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” –  Coco Chanel

The Chanel-like striped shirt, which is also called the Breton, is still a fashion staple, and a must-have part of the maritime look.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – OCTOBER 18: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leaves the Copper Box Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after attending a SportsAid Athlete Workshop on October 18, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.”  – Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel Was Also the Mastermind Behind Redesigning Men’s Fashions and Interpreting Them for Women

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel

Although Coco Chanel was desperate to break from her bondage in poverty, she had the courage to move out of the safe zone, to think for herself, and to create what she felt compelled to create.

“Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous. Therefore, the latter are stronger.”  – Coco Chanel

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone. –  Coco Chanel

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. – Coco Chanel

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Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.  – Coco Chanel


I am not young but I feel young. The day I feel old, I will go to bed and stay there. J’aime la vie! I feel that to live is a wonderful thing.” – Coco Chanel

©Jacki Kellum September 22, 2017

Mary Quant – Fashion Designer for the 1960’s

Mary Quant

I grew up during the 1960s–the time of short dresses, Moon Maid boots, the Beatles, the model Twiggy, and the British Invasion. The British fashion designer Mary Quant was part of that British invasion. She created the Twiggy look and geometric dresses. Here is a quick look back at Mary Quant.

Mary Quant is the fashion designer of the swinging sixties and the Beatles era.

 Current looks influenced by Quant

Currently influenced by Quant

Currently influenced by Quant

“Whether in Paris, New York, or Milan, these days the clothes shown during Fashion Week usually have one thing in common:  the models on the catwalk are all quite naked.  Low-backed gowns slide down to expose the derriere, tops real more than they cover, and dresses are often so short they could be mistaken for little tops.  The most striking thing about these creations, however, is the reaction they provoke–no one today seems to be bothered.  In this ‘generation of indifference, one could almost wish oneself back to the middle of the last century, when only an inch or so of missing fabric could set off a revolution.

“It all began in 1955, when the art student Mary Quant, together with her later husband, the aristocrat Alexander Plunkett Greene, and their business partner, Archie McNair, opened the Bazaar fashion boutique on King’s Road in London’s Chelsea district.  Quant, then twenty-one years old, the daughter of a teacher, had planned to sell ready-made clothing from wholesalers, which she would alter to her own style.  But when she found that everything she had bought in the morning and altered in the afternoon had completely sold out by evening, she began to produce her own clothing.

“She transformed her small apartment into a studio (it was not until 1963 that she began to manufacture on a large scale), where her Siamese cat gnawed on the patterns produced on a paper made of fish derivatives.  What survived became the foundation for global success:  the skirts that each year grew increasingly shorter.

“Quant created a ‘total look’ that emphasized the legs (preferably slim) rather than classic feminine curves.

“Her waistless, childlike, loose-fitting dresses and schoolgirl tunics were characterized by clean lines and high armholes.

“The new dress lengths were worn with flat buckled shoes or boots–Quant considered high heels to be instruments of torture.


THE SWEET JANE BLOG TWIGGY (C)c20a44f00078aa5cffcd5d20490112f6 

“The revolutionary, abbreviated hemlines quickly became the symbol of the Swinging Sixties, of rebellion against the establishment (which dutifully reacted with a storm of indignation), and women’s liberation (which dutifully reacted with a storm of indignation), and women’s liberation.

“Quant was celebrated (or demonized, according to one’s point of view), as the inventor of the miniskirt, although with Marc Bohan and Andre Courreges hems had also been rising in Paris.  But Mary Quant had a few advantages over the French couturiers:  she was young, innovative, and above all in the right place at the right time–London, the ‘coolest’ city in the world at the time, where the true originators of the miniskirt incidentally lived–the girls of the street.

“In the late sixties the miniskirt shrank even further to a micro-mini, but by that time the commotion had long subsided.  In California, the first flower children were already being seen in their long, flowing skirts.  Quant’s reaction was to close her London boutiques and concentrate on developing her makeup line.”

“In the late sixties the miniskirt shrank even further to a micro-mini, but by that time the commotion had long subsided.  In California, the first flower children were already being seen in their long, flowing skirts.  Quant’s reaction was to close her London boutiques and concentrate on developing her makeup line.”


Quoted from 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know, p. 59

Banned Books Week Begins September 24, 2017 – Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

of Banned Books

Product DetailsAlexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Product DetailsAllende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.
The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife, Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.
One of the most important novels of the twentieth century,

Product DetailsAngelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime.

Product DetailsAsher, Jay. Thirteen Reasons Why.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Product DetailsAtwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. 


In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable


Product DetailsBaldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain.
On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

Product DetailsBannerman, Helen. The Story of Little Black Sambo.

The Story of Little Black Sambo is a children’s book written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman, and first published by Grant Richards in October 1899 as one in a series of small-format books called The Dumpy Books for Children. Sambo is a South Indian boy who encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers are vain and each thinks he is better dressed than the others. They chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter; Sambo then recovers his clothes and his mother makes pancakes of the butter

Product DetailsBisinger, H.G. Friday Night Lights.
Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa—the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn’t known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.
With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires—and sometimes shatters—the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.

Product DetailsBradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.
In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don’t put out fires–they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury’s vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal–a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, “Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs…. Don’t give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”
Guy Montag is a book-burning fireman undergoing a crisis of faith.

Product DetailsBurgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange.

A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to “redeem” him, the novel asks, “At what cost?” This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess’s introduction “A Clockwork Orange Resucked.”

Product DetailsCapote, Truman. In Cold Blood.
On assignment from the New Yorker, author Truman Capote, along with his assistant Nell Harper Lee, traveled to Holcomb in late 1959 to investigate the killings for an article. The article was completed, but still Capote remained in Holcomb. He conducted interviews with every person in town; he pored over police records and statements. Once the killers, drifters Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, were caught and sentenced, he even interviewed them on Death Row. The Clutter killings became an obsession for him; and that obsession turned into a book that would become a literary milestone,


Product DetailsCollins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

Product DetailsCooney, Caroline B. The Face on the Milk Carton.
In the vein of psychological thrillers like We Were Liars, Girl on the Train, and Beware That Girl, bestselling author Caroline Cooney’s JANIE series delivers on every level. Mystery and suspense blend seamlessly with issues of family, friendship and love to offer an emotionally evocative thrill ride of a read. 
…a three-year-old who had been kidnapped twelve years before from a shopping mall in New Jersey—she felt overcome with shock. She recognized that little girl—it was she. How could it possibly be true?

Product DetailsCormier, Robert. The Chocolate War.
One of the most controversial YA novels of all time, The Chocolate War is a modern masterpiece that speaks to fans of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and John Knowles’s A Separate Peace.
After suffering rejection from seven major publishers, The Chocolate War made its debut in 1974, and quickly became a bestselling—and provocative—classic for young adults. This chilling portrait of an all-boys prep school casts an unflinching eye on the pitfalls of conformity and corruption in our most elite cultural institutions.
“Masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful.”—The New York Times Book Review

Product DetailsCormier, Robert. We All Fall Down.

They entered the house at 9:02 P.M. and trashed their way through the Cape Cod cottage. At 9:46 P.M. Karen Jerome made the mistake of arriving home early. Thrown down the basement stairs, Karen slips into a coma. The trashers slip away.
In an unapologetically severe story about four boys who victimize Karen Jerome and her family, Cormier once again explores the potential for malice in all of us. The teenagers leave the Jeromes’ home in ruin; Karen is assaulted and subsequently hospitalized in a coma. Not for the squeamish, Cormier’s novel doesn’t mince words:

Product DetailsDreiser, Theodore. An American Tragedy. 
Clyde Griffiths finds his social-climbing aspirations and love for a rich and beautiful debutante threatened when his lower-class pregnant girlfriend gives him an ultimatum. Theodore Dreiser set out to create an epic character and, in the form of Clyde Griffiths in An American Tragedy, he succeeded. Griffiths is just a Midwest kid, the son of a preacher in Kansas City, who tastes a little sophistication and then hits the road seeking pleasure and success. He has his moments, conducting more than one romantic affair, until that ill-advised pursuit ensnares him.


Product DetailsEllis, Brett Easton. American Psycho.

In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.

Product DetailsEllison, Ralph. The Invisible Man.
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

Product DetailsFaulkner, William. As I Lay Dying.
“I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall.” —William Faulkner on As I Lay Dying
As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife, and mother. Narrated in turn by each of the family members—including Addie herself—as well as others the novel ranges in mood, from dark comedy to the deepest pathos. Considered one of the most influential novels in American fiction in structure, style, and drama, As I Lay Dying is a true 20th-century classic.


Product DetailsFitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
THE GREAT GATSBY is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession for the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.

Product DetailsFollett, Ken. The Pillars of the Earth. 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ken Follett comes this spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known-and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

Also a miniseries.


Product Details

Frank, E.R. America: A Novel

For eighteen gritty years, a boy dodges the cracks in system in this “piercing, unforgettable novel” (Booklist) from E.R. Frank that Kirkus Reviews deemed “a work of sublime humanity.”

America is mistaken for black, Asian, Native American, even white. He doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, and, parentless, he is shunted for eighteen years from a foster home, to the street, and ultimately to the brink of despair. Can one doctor pull him back and bring America somewhere new—somewhere with a future?

Product DetailsGolding, William. The Lord of the Flies.
Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.
William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic.

Product DetailsGreen, John. Looking for Alaska.
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . .

Product DetailsGreene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier.
The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi, but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own.
“An exceptionally fine novel.” —The New York Times
“Courageous and compelling!”  —Publishers Weekly

Product DetailsGrisham, John. A Time to Kill.

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town of Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi, reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes justice into his own outraged hands.
For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life–and then his own.

Product DetailsGuterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars.
San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.

Product DetailsHeller, Joseph. Catch-22.
Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms.
A FAREWELL TO ARMS is one of Hemingway’s earliest novels. With much of the material loosely based on his own personal experiences as an ambulance driver during World War I, the story captures in great detail the conflict in all of its horror and barbarism…..The plot centers around Frederick Henry, an American ambulance driver for the Italian army (a job Hemingway performed himself). …
The tragic irony of this novel is what makes it so memorable. Henry, as a wounded man who withdraws from the battle, as well as the whims of the Italian Army. However, he does so only to find that life is full of tragedy whether you’re in a war or not.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls.
In 1937 Ernest Hemingway traveled to Spain to cover the civil war there for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Three years later he completed the greatest novel to emerge from “the good fight,”For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain, it tells of loyalty and courage, love and defeat, and the tragic death of an ideal. …Hemingway surpasses his achievement in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms to create a work at once rare and beautiful, strong and brutal, compassionate, moving, and wise.

Product DetailsHemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises.
The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Product DetailsHinton, S.E. The Outsiders.

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the Socs—a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends—he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…

Product DetailsHinton, S.E. That Was Then, This Is Now.

Companion to The OutsidersThat Was ThenThis is Now is S. E. Hinton’s moving portrait of the bond between best friends Bryon and Mark and the tensions that develop between them as they begin to grow up and grow apart. This latest edition features bonus material, and, like The Outsiders, will also maintain the same pagination as the previous edition, making it ideal for continued classroom use.


Product DetailsHosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner.T
he unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Product DetailsHurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God.
“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

Product DetailsHuxley, Aldous. Brave New World.
Aldous Huxley is the greatest 20th century writer in English.” —Chicago TribuneAldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author ofThe Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations. Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment.

Product DetailsIrving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany.
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

Product DetailsJoyce, James. Ulysses.
One of the most important works of the Modernist era, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” was originally published serially in the American journal “The Little Review” from March 1918 to December 1920. Subsequently published as a book in 1922, “Ulysses” chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. While the novel appears largely unstructured at first glance it is in fact very closely paralleled to Homer’s “Odyssey”, containing eighteen episodes that correspond to various parts of Homer’s work. Errors within the text have resulted in multiple publications of revised editions over the course of the 20th-century. These efforts at revision however are not universally accepted as beneficial with some critics pointing to the original 1922 edition, from which this edition is drawn, as the most accurate of all editions. Filled with experimental forms of prose, stream of consciousness, puns, parodies, and allusions that Joyce himself hoped would “keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant,” this expansive work is considered one of the great works of English literature and a must read for fans of the Modernist genre.

Product DetailsKesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
In this classic novel, Ken Kesey’s hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, a boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who swaggers into the world of a mental hospital and takes over. A lusty, life-affirming fighter, McMurphy rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched. He promotes gambling in the ward, smuggles in wine and women, and openly defies the rules at every turn. But this defiance, which starts as a sport, soon develops into a grim struggle, an all-out war between two relentless opponents: Nurse Ratched, backed by the full power of authority, and McMurphy, who has only his own indomitable will. What happens when Nurse Ratched uses her ultimate weapon against McMurphy provides the story’s shocking climax.

Product DetailsKeyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. 

As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo Award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.
Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. –David Langford
“A tale that is convincing, suspenseful and touching.”–The New York Times
“An ingeniously touching story . . . Moving . . . Intensely real.”–The Baltimore Sun

Product DetailsKnowles, John. A Separate Peace.
An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to World War II.
Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence’s last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband’s estate. The most controversial of Lawrence’s books, Lady Chatterley’s Loverjoyously affirms the author’s vision of individual regeneration through sexual love. The book’s power, complexity, and psychological intricacy make this a completely original work—a triumph of passion, an erotic celebration of life.

Product DetailsLawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers.

First published in 1913, this provocative semi-autobiographical novel reflects the struggles of Paul Morel, an artist who cannot reciprocate love for other women while under the influence of his stifling mother. Unconsciously taught to despise his father and eschew other women, Paul comes even further under his mother’s psychological grasp after the death of his older brother. When he eventually does fall in love, the results of confused affection and desire are painful for all concerned. While “Sons and Lovers” scandalized its original English readers for its oedipal implications and social criticism, it remains a powerful story of terrifying inner and outer conflict and intense sensuality.

More Coming

A Quick Look at Some Children’s Books That Have Been Banned for Ridiculous Reasons

In 2003, a superintendent banned the book The Handmaid’s Tale from his high school. In 2017, the screen version of that same book won numerous awards. Hundreds of books have been banned for all kinds of reasons, and most of them climb out of the trash bin sooner or later, and that scenario bothers me. Frankly, I am afraid of a society that bans books, PERIOD!!! But I am even more suspicious knowing that our basic, constitutional freedoms can be removed by the sweep of one person’s or one committee’s hand and then restored willy-nilly. I am concerned that the average citizen’s freedoms are volleyed back and forth, and I am leery of living in a nation that considers its laws to be tentative and subject to change, like a school girl’s fashions. Today, I want to tell you about some children’s books that were banned for ridiculous reasons.

Honestly, I can understand that The Handmaid’s Tale might not appeal to the general public. Some people might be outright frightened of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I believe that people who do not want to read or watch The Handmaid’s Tale should simply avoid it. But how about Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein? Is anyone actually afraid of that book? My all-time-very-favorite poem is from Where the Sidewalk Ends.

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I work part-time as my library’s children’s librarian, and my very favorite book and song program is from Bill Martin’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

Believe it or not, Brown Bear was banned at one time, and the reason reinforces what is at the root of my fear of banning books. Brown Bear was banned because whoever waved the wand and cursed that one made a mistake. They thought that a Marxist by the same name had written Brown Bear, too–OH MY! And they simply tossed the book out. And here’s the MOST frightening part–everyone else allowed them to do it.

Is Brown Bear a great book for children or is it something to be feared and damned? And more importantly, who are the THEY that get to decide what is acceptable and what is not for everyone else? I believe that people have enough sense to judge book content for themselves and to read accordingly.


The Rabbit’s Wedding by Garth Williams

Garth Williams is the man who is revered for his illustrations for Charlotte’s Web and for the more recent Little House on the Prairie books. He wrote and illustrated The Rabbit’s Wedding, too, but it was banned because some believed that it was promoting interracial marriage. Oh, PLEASE!

The list goes on and on. Books are banned and they are unbanned, and the whole thing irks me. Banned Books week begins the last full week of September, and I’ll be writing a great deal about banned books during the coming week. In the meantime, I want to encourage everyone to seriously consider whether or not they want to live in a country that burns books. Banning books is a mere sneeze away from burning books. Beware.

©Jacki Kellum September 19, 2017


Learning about The Tower of London and about Elizabethan Foods through Free Moocs and Movies

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Yesterday, I was reminded of the Einstein quote:

“I am neither clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.” – Albert Einstein

I am no Einstein, but I have an unquenchable hunger for learning at least a little bit about many, many things. I am truly a Jacki of All Trades and a Master of None, but the sting of learning about a vast number of things has been eliminated by the Internet and by the free online MOOCs that are offered from outstanding universities now. The exceptional movies that are currently being made are also a big educational help. Today, I want to share more of what I have learned about Elizabeth I and about the foods that were cooked during her reign.

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Elizabeth I ascended to the English throne in 1558, and she ruled until 1603, which was 17 years before the Pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower.

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The Pilgrims left England because of the religious persecution that was taking place there at that time. The Pilgrims would have lived in England during the rule of Elizabeth I, who was Protestant, and their parents or grandparents may have lived during the reign of Elizabeth I’s sister Mary Tudor I, who was Catholic. Some of my ancestors had estates where hidden rooms concealed the Catholic clergy and other of my ancestors were executed because they were Protestant. I love all of the British historical movies, like Elizabeth, The Borgias, The Tudors, Victoria, and The Crown, but when  I watch those movies, my lack of historical background frustrates me.  Fortunately, that is a small problem in the 21st Century. With a quick search on Google, I can bring myself up to speed on most historical questions, and I also participate in free MOOCs, or free online college courses, to help me fill in the gaps.

After I watched the 1998 movie Elizabeth, I dug out enough English history to understand a bit about the Catholic-Protestant conflict during Elizabeth’s reign and during that of her elder sister Mary.

Henry VIII’s first wife was Catherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and their child was Mary Tudor, I.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn.

Elizabethan England’s Protestantism Stemmed from Henry VIII’s Marriage to Anne Boleyn

  • The Pope refused Henry VIII’s request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church.
  • Henry VIII started the Protestant Church of England.
  • Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and she was Protestant, too.
  • Many people never accepted Elizabeth as Henry VIII’s legitimate heir.
  • When Anne Boleyn failed to produce a male heir, Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed.

Because Mary I believed Elizabeth I to be a threat to her throne, she imprisoned Elizabeth at the Tower of London.

For quite some time, I have known that Elizabeth I was imprisoned at the Tower of London, and I always assumed that The Tower of London was nothing more than a dark dungeon, but that is not at all true.

While I was participating in the free MOOC A History of Royal Food and Feasting, I discovered that the Tower of London is actually a full castle. Because it was a very secure castle, many prisoners were kept there, but even after Elizabeth I became the Queen of England, she remained at The Tower of London. It was her palace.

The Tower of London is actually a group of several towers, and the White Tower [pictured above] was built in the 11th century. It is situated on the Thames River.

I learned in the course A History of Royal Food and Feasting that Elizabeth I had a sweet tooth and through that course, I was able to form a picture of how Queen Elizabeth’s royal kitchen may have functioned.

A photograph of sugar ships

Sugar Ships – Image Credit FutureLearn

A photograph of a reenactment in a Tudor kitchen, with a cook carefully painting a small ship, made from sugar paste.Sugar Ship – Image Credit FutureLearn

“Sugar had been used within Henry’s kitchens, but the expansion of the world allowed this precious ingredient to be more readily accessible.

“Sugar was a status ingredient; it was more expensive than honey (which had long been used as a natural sweetener) because of the requirement for it to be imported. Sugar grows as a cane but would be imported in a ‘loaf’ form. The highest grade of these sugars were the fine, white sugars which could easily be melted into a liquid and came from Madeira; next came Barbary or Canary sugar; and finally a coarser brown sugar which required less rendering down but was, as a result, more difficult to work with. However, even this coarse sugar was expensive; this was not an ingredient which all of Elizabethan England would have access to.”Image and Text Credit Future Learn Here


In the 2007 movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Elizabeth is portrayed as being romantically interested in Raleigh, an explorer who had recently returned from The New World.

In the MOOC A History of Royal Food and Feasting, I learned about how the explorers enriched and expanded the types of foods that were available for cooking.





I have prepared a very short history of the major players during the reign of Elizabeth I at jackikellum.com Here

Another free course to study the History of Royal Food and Feasting will begin in November. I talk about the royal kitchens during the reign of Henry VIII at jackikellum.com Here.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting Is More Than A Cooking Program. Because It Involves Footage from the Castles of five British Monarchs, It Is A Flavorful Way to Step Back Into England’s Royal Past.

A History of Royal Food and Feasting is part of the University of Reading’s free programming, and it can be accessed through a free MOOC offered by FutureLearn Here.

“From the Tudors to the 20th century you’ll join expert historians, curators and food scientists from the University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces, and indulge in the changing tastes of successive generations of royalty and experience the splendour of their palaces. We’ll take an intimate look behind the scenes at some of the most incredible palaces in England:”

  • Henry VIII at Hampton Court
  • Elizabeth I at the Tower of London
  • George I at Hampton Court Palace
  • George III at Kew Palace
  • Victoria at Kensington Palace

©Jacki Kellum September 17, 2017


Learning about Elizabethan England through the 1998 Movie Elizabeth and the 2007 Movie Elizabeth the Golden Age–Placing the Characters in a Very Quick Historical Setting

I recently watched the 1998 movie Elizabeth, which is largely concerned with the Protestant and Catholic religious tension during the 1500s, and as I watched the movie, I found myself wanting to know more about some of the characters named in the movie. In this post, I want to share a very brief introduction to the major characters in the movie Elizabeth and to begin to place them on a historical timeline.

Allow me to preface all of this by saying that during my childhood, the Whitaker side of my family [who married a Dunscomb, also of England] were fire and brimstone Southern Baptists. I remember when Kennedy was elelcted president. We Southern Baptists thought that civilization had come to an end. Imagine my surprise to learn that some of my earliest ancestors owned British estates with large houses that had secret hiding places to conceal Catholic Priests. In the latter part of the movie Elizabeth, you see a member of the Catholic clergy in one of those hiding places.

The movie Elizabeth opens with a scene where dissenters are being burned at the stake, and once again, I am amazed at the teaching ability of a good movie. This scene added a new dimension to my understanding of what it would be like to be burned at the stake.

The movie also made me more aware that witches were not the only people who were executed by burning. One of my ancestors was Lady Alice Lisle, and she was the last woman to be beheaded in England. She was a Protestant and England’s official sympathies were Catholic then. She was originally ordered to be burned at the stake, but she was beheaded instead. See More about my ancestor Lady Alice Lisle and the Catholic Hiding Places  Here

Queen Elizabeth I is played by Cate Blanchett in the 1998 movie Elizabeth. Although the movie is not completely accurate, it is based on several people and issues that were true to the period.

Elizabeth I ascended to the English throne in 1558, and she ruled until 1603, which was 17 years before the Pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn.

Family tree of Elizabeth I

The following happened before the events of the movie take place:

Henry VIII’s first wife was Catherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

  • Throughout the movies, Elizabeth’s advisors try to find a suitable husband for her. Throughout history, we see that marriages are ways to increase political power, and the Spanish are powerful influences in England and during Elizabeth’s reign, Spain becomes a threat.
  • Catherine of Aragon was an adamant Catholic and her Catholicism also raises issues for England.
  • Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII’s child was Mary Tudor, who identified with her mother’s Catholicism and Spanish roots.
  • Mary Tudor, I married the man who would become King Philip II of Spain, Sicily, and Naples.
  • Because of his marriage to the English Queen Mary I, the Spaniard King Philip II became the King Jure uxoris of  England.

Henry VIII’s second wife was Anne Boleyn and England’s Protestantism Stemmed from His Marriage to Anne Boleyn

  • The Pope refused Henry VIII’s request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church.
  • Henry VIII started the Protestant Church of England.
  • Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and she was Protestant, too.
  • Many people never accepted Elizabeth as Henry VIII’s legitimate heir.
  • When Anne Boleyn failed to produce a male heir, Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed.

Henry VIII’s third wife was Jane Seymour and she did produce a male heir Edward VI

  • Edward VI succeeded Henry VIII, but he only lived a short while–until the age of 15.
  • Before Edward VI died, he named his mother Lady Jane Grey as his successor
  • Lady Jane Grey was also the niece of Henry VIII, and she had other legitimate claims to the throne.
  • Lady Jane Grey only ruled nine days before Mary Tudor, I, and her supporters ended Lady Jane Grey’s reign.

Mary, who was the first child of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon–and the wife of the Spanish King Philip, II, ascended the throne.

Part of the Movie:

Mary was a staunch Catholic, and England had recently become Protestant. The second child of Henry VIII was Elizabeth I, and she was Protestant. Because Mary saw Elizabeth I as a threat, she had her younger sister imprisoned at the Tower of London. In fact, Elizabeth, I was imprisoned in the same room where her mother Anne Boleyn had been imprisoned before her execution.

, Elizabeth Tudor, I was crowned Queen on January 15, 1559. She would reign nearly forty-five years.

After Mary I died, Elizabeth I ascended to England’s throne, but her ascension was plagued by controversy. Many people considered Elizabeth I to be a bastard and not the rightful heir to the English throne. Because she was a Protestant, many also disliked her for religious reasons. Elizabeth I also inherited opposition from the Spanish monarchy.

Pope Pius V and other Catholic priests initiated efforts to dethrone Elizabeth I. John Gielgud played the part of Pope Pius V, who was among the Catholic leaders that tried to dethrone Elizabeth and replace her with a Catholic monarch.

Francis Walsingham is played by Geoffrey Rush in the movie Elizabeth. Francis Walsingham was a Protestant, and he was Elizabeth’s secretary, advisor, and loyal supporter.

Joseph Fiennes played the part of Robert Dudley, who was an English nobleman that courted Elizabeth for several years. For quite some time, Dudley was married and could not marry Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was also criticized because of her illicit relationship with Dudley.

Richard Attenborough played the part of Elizabeth’s chief advisor William Cecil, who was also a Protestant.

Fanny Ardant played the part of Mary of Guise who became the wife of King James of Scotland. She was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots.  Mary of Guise was Catholic and she also opposed Elizabeth I.

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Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the sequel to the movie Elizabeth, and when the second movie begins, religious strife is still a problem and Mary of Guise’s daughter has grown up to be Mary Queen of Scots, who has become a more serious problem for Elizabeth I.

Mary, Queen of Scots was the grandchild of Henry VIII’s sister Margaret Tudor and since many people believed that Elizabeth I was an illegitimate child, Mary, Queen of Scots was believed to be the more legitimate heir. When Elizabeth ordered Mary, Queen of Scots to be killed, she was killing her cousin.

In the 2007 movie, Elizabeth is portrayed as being romantically interested in Raleigh, an explorer who had recently returned from The New World.

But Sir Walter Raleigh becomes involved with Bess Throckmorton, who was Elizabeth’s Chamber Maid.

Early in the movie, the Spanish begin moving toward taking over England. To increase their lumber supplies for building their Armada, the Spanish begin cutting England’s forests. In the movie, Elizabeth I has a showdown with the Spanish ambassador.

In the movie Elizabeth the Golden Age, Eddie Redmayne played the part of Anthony Babington, who was instrumental in the Catholic Jesuit attempt to overthrow Elizabeth I. Babington was caught sending coded letters about the plot to Mary, Queen of Scots, but the coded letters were intercepted, and the culprits were punished..



Mary Queen of Scots was tried as a traitor and was beheaded.

Philip II, King of Spain who was married to Elizabeth I’s sister Mary Tudor has become the strongest power in Europe, and he has the Spanish Armada built. He attacks Elizabeth I.

But Elizabeth I stirs her army and together, she and England do the impossible and defeat Philip II and Spain.

The movie Elizabeth has historical inaccuracies, and I have only listed the characters and shown clips of the movie that I feel are fairly accurate. In any regard, I want to applaud movies like Elizabeth that present me with enough of history to make me hunger for more.

©Jacki Kellum September 16, 2017

Outstanding quick history of Elizabethan England Here

Yale has an outstanding Open University Course that Focuses on the Tudor and Stuart Monarchies:



Jacki Kellum List of Good Books That Have Been Made into Great Movies – If You Need to Recharge Your Batteries, Slip into a Good Book — Especially One that Has Been Made into a Movie

Some people are completely rejuvenated by reading a good book. For me, recreating is about stopping, at least for a while, the tapes that want to endlessly play through my brain, and literature is a great way for me to do that. But I much prefer watching a great movie that has been made of literature–as opposed to merely reading it. On the third Friday of each month, I lead a Book & Movie club at my local library. The idea is to find good books that have been captured as good movies, and in this post, I want to share my favorite book-movie combinations.

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2005 Pride and Prejudice

For many years, it was a bit of a habit to dismiss books made into movies, saying: “But the book is better,” and I have found that some people hold on to what may have been a truth at one time. In recent years, however, there have been some excellent movie interpretations of books: i.e. The Lord of the Rings, Out of Africa, Pride & Prejudice, and I can earnestly say that in many cases, I prefer watching good movies to reading. I am a visual person, and I love the outstanding, panoramic photography that becomes part of the movie’s total experience.

In a great movie, the music becomes part of your total experience, too. I never shall forget the first time that I watched The Lord of the Rings. As soon as the music of the Shire began, I was totally enamored by everything Lord of the Rings. I loved the setting. I loved the characters. I loved the cinematography, and I loved the story. I learned to love Tolkien through film and not through his books; and I believe that it is okay to admit that we find movies to be literature, on their own terms.

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When I watch a movie, the actors and actresses become the actual characters of the book. Don’t ever try to convince me that Ian McKellen is not the one, true Gandalf the Grey.

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Before I watched Selma Hayek play Frida Kahlo on the screen, I had seen Frida Kahlo paintings for decades. Yet, after watching Frida, Selma Hayek has become Frida Kahlo, in my mind.

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Because of the movie Out of Africa, Meryl Streep has become Isak Dinesen to me.

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And because of her portrayal in the 2005 movie Pride & Prejudice, Kiera Knightley has become all of Jane Austen for me.

At times, a movie may not be absolutely true to an author’s intent. Truman Capote had wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the part of Holly Golightly in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In the book, Capote describes Holly as having albino blonde hair. Because I am responsible for picking the book-movie selections for my club, I watch every movie-book combo that I can find, and in most cases, I watch the movie before I read the book. That was the order with my experiencing Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I was stunned to read that Holly Golightly was supposed to have blonde hair. In my opinion, Audrey Hepburn is the quintessential Holly Golightly, and in my opinion, the movie would have been less effective with Marilyn Monroe.

“It was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks. Her mouth was large, her nose upturned. A pair of dark glasses blotted out her eyes. It was a face beyond childhood…. I thought her anywhere between sixteen and thirty, as it turned out, she was shy two months of her nineteenth birthday.” p. 12

“She was never without dark glasses, she was always well-groomed, there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes….One might have thought her a photographer’s model, perhaps a young actress….” p. 14

“I discovered, from observing the trash-basket outside her door, that her regular reading consisted of tabloids and travel folders and astrological charts; that she smoked an esoteric cigarette called Picayunes; survived on cottage cheese and melba toast….” p. 15

In some measure, recreation is about escape, but for me, recreating is more about stepping into something larger that I was before, and when I move into another person’s mind and see the world in a new and enlarged way, I am recreated.  Enjoy my list of books that have been turned into movies. I recommend every title that I have listed.

Jacki Kellum List of Good Books That Have Been Turned into Great Movies

A Time to Kill: A Novel (Jake Brigance Book 1) by [Grisham, John]

A Time to Kill by John Grisham – 4.5 Stars

The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young men. The mostly white town of Clanton in Ford County, Mississippi, reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes justice into his own outraged hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life–and then his own.” Amazon 7.4 Stars

Atonement – 4 Stars

Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’ s incomplete grasp of adult motives–together with her precocious literary gifts–brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

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IMBd  7.8/10

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – 4.5 Stars

“The movie has been one of my favorites for decades, but I’d never read the book. It’s no surprise to say that the book is better than the movie, but it really does a great job of pulling us into a somewhat seedier version of NYC than shown in the movie. I fell in love with poor lost Holly all over again, but got a much better feel for the time and the story. Capote does a great job of pulling us into the late war and post-war years, and we’re left genuinely wondering whether Holly ever found peace and home.” Amazon

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IMBd 7.7/10

The Client by [Grisham, John]

The Client by John Grisham 4.5 Stars

IMBd 6.7/10

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier – 4 Stars

New York Times Best Seller for 62 Weeks

“Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, the intrepid Ada is trying to revive her father’s derelict farm and learning to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic odyssey, hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.”

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IMBd Rating 7.2/10

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – 4.5 Stars

With The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown masterfully concocts an intelligent and lucid thriller that marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoteria culled from 2,000 years of Western history.

A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ. The victim is a high-ranking agent of this ancient society who, in the moments before his death, manages to leave gruesome clues at the scene that only his granddaughter, noted cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle. The duo become both suspects and detectives searching for not only Neveu’s grandfather’s murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Mere steps ahead of the authorities and the deadly competition, the mystery leads Neveu and Langdon on a breathless flight through France, England, and history itself. Brown (Angels and Demons) has created a page-turning thriller that also provides an amazing interpretation of Western history. Brown’s hero and heroine embark on a lofty and intriguing exploration of some of Western culture’s greatest mysteries–from the nature of the Mona Lisa’s smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. Though some will quibble with the veracity of Brown’s conjectures, therein lies the fun. The Da Vinci Code is an enthralling read that provides rich food for thought.” Amazon’

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IMBd 6.6/10

Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis – 4.5 Stars

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IMBd Rating 7.9/10

“Elmer Gantry is a 1960 drama film about a con man and a female evangelist selling religion to small town America. Adapted by director Richard Brooks, the film is based on the 1927 novel of the same name by Sinclair Lewis and stars Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy and Shirley Jones and Patti Page.

“Elmer Gantry was nominated for five Academy Awards in 1961, including Best Picture and Best Score. It won Best Actor for Lancaster, Best Supporting Actress for Jones, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

“The movie presents fewer than 100 pages of the novel Elmer Gantry, deleting many characters and fundamentally changing the character and actions of female evangelist, Sister Sharon Falconer, as played by Simmons. The character of Sharon Falconer was loosely based on elements in the career of the Canadian-born American radio evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who founded the Pentecostal Christian denomination known as the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in 1927.” Wikipedia

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The Giver 4.5 Stars

The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.” Amazon

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IMBd 6.5/10

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – 4 Stars

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now….

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Series IMBd 8.7/10

Heidi by Johanna Spyri 4.5 Stars

Heidi is a work of fiction written in 1880 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, originally published in two parts as Heidi’s years of learning and travel (German: Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre) and Heidi makes use of what she has learned. It is a novel about the events in the life of a young girl in her grandfather’s care, in the Swiss Alps. It was written as a book “for children and those who love children.” Heidi is one of the best-selling books ever written and is among the best-known works of Swiss literature.

IMBd 7/3/10

The Help by Kathryn Stocett – 4.5 Stars

Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who’s always taken orders quietly, but lately she’s unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She’s full of ambition, but without a husband, she’s considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town…

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IMBd 8.1/10

The Invention of Hugo Cabaret – 5 Stars

“Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.”

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IMBd 7.5/10

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It by Stephen King – 4.5 Stars

Stephen King’s terrifying, classic #1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

Readers of Stephen King know that Derry, Maine, is a place with a deep, dark hold on the author. It reappears in many of his books, including Bag of BonesHearts in Atlantis, and 11/22/63. But it all starts with It.

“Stephen King’s most mature work” (St. Petersburg Times), “It will overwhelm you… to be read in a well-lit room only” (Los Angeles Times).

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It [2017] IMBd 8.1/10

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – 4.5 Stars

Louisa May Alcott was both an abolitionist and a feminist. She is best known for Little Women (1868), a semi-autobiographical account of her childhood years with her sisters in Concord, Massachusetts. Alcott, unlike Jo, never married: “… because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.” She was an advocate of women’s suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.

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IMBd  7.3/10

Misery by Stephen King – 4.5 Stars

The #1 national bestseller about a famous novelist held hostage by his “number one fan” and suffering a frightening case of writer’s block—that could prove fatal. One of “Stephen King’s best…genuinely scary” (USA TODAY).

Paul Sheldon is a bestselling novelist who has finally met his number one fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes, and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also furious that the author has killed off her favorite character in his latest book. Annie becomes his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.

Annie wants Paul to write a book that brings Misery back to life—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an axe. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty.

“Terrifying” (San Francisco Chronicle), “dazzlingly well-written” (The Indianapolis Star), and “truly gripping” (Publishers Weekly), Misery is “classic Stephen King…full of twists and turns and mounting suspense” (The Boston Globe).

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IMBd 7.8/10

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie


“The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

“Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

“Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.” Amazon

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane – 4.5 Stars

The New York Times bestselling novel from Dennis Lehane is a gripping, unnerving psychological thriller about the effects of a savage killing on three former friends in a tightly knit, blue-collar Boston neighborhood.

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car pulled up to their street. One boy got into the car, two did not, and something terrible happened — something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever.

Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con who owns a corner store. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay — demons that urge him to do terrible things. When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into conflict with Jimmy, who finds his old criminal impulses tempt him to solve the crime with brutal justice. And then there is Dave, who came home the night Jimmy’s daughter died covered in someone else’s blood.

A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love and loyalty, faith and family, in which people irrevocably marked by the past find themselves on a collision course with the darkest truths of their own hidden selves.

IMBd 8.0/10

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck 4.5 Stars

“They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

“Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.” Amazon – 112 pages

“A thriller, a gripping tale . . . that you will not set down until it is finished. Steinbeck has touched the quick.” —The New York Times

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IMBd 7.5/10

Several film versions for Of Mice and Men have been made.

Oil by Sinclair Lewis -Basis for Movie There Will Be Blood – 4 Stars

There Will Be Blood wins two 2008 Academy Awards. 

Oil!, the classic 1927 novel by Upton Sinclair. After writing The Jungle, his scathing indictment of the meatpacking industry, Sinclair turned his sights on the early days of the California oil industry in a highly entertaining story featuring a cavalcade of characters including senators, oil magnets, Hollywood film starlets, and a crusading evangelist.

This lively and panoramic book, which was recently cited by David Denby in the New Yorker as being Sinclair’s “most readable” novel, is now the inspiration for the Paramount Vantage major motion picture, There Will Be Blood. It is the long-awaited film from Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the most admired filmmakers working today whose previous movies….The movie stars Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New YorkMy Left Foot) and Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine).

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There Will Be Blood IMBd 8.1/10

Pelican Brief by John Grisham – 4.5 Stars

In suburban Georgetown, a killer’s Reeboks whisper on the floor of a posh home. In a seedy D.C. porno house, a patron is swiftly garroted to death. The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief.

To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it’s political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder–a murder intended for her. Going underground, she finds that there is only one person–an ambitious reporter after a newsbreak hotter than Watergate–she can trust to help her piece together the deadly puzzle. Somewhere between the bayous of Louisiana and the White House’s inner sanctums, a violent cover-up is being engineered. For someone has read Darby’s brief–someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of an unthinkable crime.” Amazon

IMBd 6.6 Stars

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen – 4.5 Stars

“In this book, the author of Seven Gothic Tales gives a true account of her life on her plantation in Kenya. She tells with classic simplicity of the ways of the country and the natives: of the beauty of the Ngong Hills and coffee trees in blossom: of her guests, from the Prince of Wales to Knudsen, the old charcoal burner, who visited her: of primitive festivals: of big game that were her near neighbors–lions, rhinos, elephants, zebras, buffaloes–and of Lulu, the little gazelle who came to live with her, unbelievably ladylike and beautiful.” Amazon

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IMBd 7.2/10 – I rate this movie much, muc higher

Pride and Prejudice – 4.5 Stars

“Jane Austen is arguably the finest female novelist who ever lived and Pride and Prejudice is arguably the finest, and is certainly the most popular, of her novels. An undoubted classic of world literature, its profound Christian morality is all too often missed or wilfully overlooked by today’s (post)modern critics. Yet Austen saw the follies and foibles of human nature, and the frictions and fidelities of family life, with an incisive eye that penetrates to the very heart of the human condition. ” – Amazon

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2005 Pride and Prejudice

IMBd 7.8/10 I rate this movie much higher.

Several film versions of Pride and Prejudice are available. My favorite stars Keira Knightley

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy – 4.5 Stars

“A big, sprawling saga of a novel” (San Francisco Chronicle), this epic family drama is a masterwork by the revered author of The Great Santini.

Pat Conroy’s classic novel stings with honesty and resounds with drama. Spanning forty years, it’s the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister, Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born. Filled with the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina Low Country as well as the dusty glitter of New York City, The Prince of Tides showcases an American original at his very best.

Praise for The Prince of Tides

“This is a powerful book. . . . [Pat] Conroy is a master of language.”The Atlanta Journal
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IMBd 6.7/10 – I rate this movie much, much higher

Psycho by Robert Bloch – Basis fr Hitchcock Film – 4.5 Stars

The story was all too real-indeed this classic was inspired by the real-life story of Ed Gein, a psychotic murderer who led a dual life. Alfred Hitchcock too was captivated, and turned the book into one of the most-loved classic films of all time the year after it was released.

Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can’t help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife.

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IMBd 8.5/10

Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella – 4.5 Stars

More than the inspiration for the beloved film Field of DreamsShoeless Joe is a mythical novel about dreams, magic, life, and what is quintessentially American; (Philadelphia Inquirer).

If you build it, he will come.These mysterious words, spoken by an Iowa baseball announcer, inspire Ray Kinsella to carve a baseball diamond in his cornfield in honor of his hero, the baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is both a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and a remarkable story about fathers and sons, love and family, and the inimitable joy of finding your way home.

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Field of Dreams – IMBd 7.5/10

Silence by Shusaku Endo – 4.5 Stars

Shusaku Endo’s classic novel of enduring faith in dangerous timessoon to be a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver

Silence I regard as a masterpiece, a lucid and elegant drama.”-The New York Review of Books

Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece.

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Silence – IMBd 7.2/10

Something Wicked This Way Comes – 4 Stars

[Because of Bradbury’s excellent use of desriptive language, I rate this book higher. This is a great Halloween read].

“The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.

Few American novels written this century have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury’s unparalleled literary classic SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.” Amazon

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IMBd 6.8/10 – I rate this movie much, much higher

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – 4.5 Stars – 352 Pages

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski’s ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell. Jacob was there because his luck had run out-orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive “ship of fools.” It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn’t have an act-in fact, she couldn’t even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival. Surprising, poignant, and funny, Water for Elephants is that rare novel with a story so engrossing, one is reluctant to put it down; with characters so engaging, they continue to live long after the last page has been turned; with a world built of wonder, a world so real, one starts to breathe its air.” Amazon

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IMBd 6.9/10

There Is Nothing More Refreshing Than a Morning in September

There is nothing more refreshing than a morning in September.

One advantage of living in the North is that as soon as the calendar hits September 1, PLOP! The curtain drops! And It Turns Fall! That doesn’t happen in the South. I remember my school-teaching days in Mississippi. I remember standing out on the asphalt parking lot and waiting for the kids to load into the buses. The heat was so intense that I felt as though I was baking–literally baking–I half-expected that my flesh would begin to fall off my bones–pulled-pork style.

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In another week or two, I’ll begin singing my September Song about how we all need to book our plans to go to the Poconos to watch the leaves change in the land of endless trees and waterfalls. That is an awe-inspiring, mouth-dropping experience, but it is not what I do to recreate myself. Any trip requires packing and traveling and unpacking and packing again and traveling again and unpacking again and then, playing catch-up for several days afterward. Autumn does have a restorative power, but the best place for me to take advantage of that power is to open my back door and to simply go outside and into my garden.

“Outside the leaves on the trees constricted slightly; they were the deep done green of the beginning of autumn. It was a Sunday in September. There would only be four. The clouds were high and the swallows would be here for another month or so before they left for the south before they returned again next summer.”
― Ali Smith, The Whole Story and Other Stories

In the North, we have some hot days in summer, but summer doesn’t last as long here as it does in the South. I have laughed, saying that I believe that whoever broke the years into seasons lived in New Jersey, because in New Jersey, we have 4 distinctive seasons, and you can bank on the weather’s changing at exactly the time that it is supposed to change. September should look and feel like the beginning of fall, and that is how things are in New Jersey.

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” ― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

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My purple asters have begun to bloom in my garden, and this year, I have been rewarded by the opportunity to watch the fascinating life cycle of the monarchs who have come to sip the nectar from my asters and t munch on my milkweed. My black-eyed Susans are about done for the year, and my garden’s purples need some golden yellow now, but that is no problem. The garden centers here are brimming with pots of yellow chrysanthemums and bunches of dried corn stalks. The pumpkins are standing in columns, making promises about the army of jack-lantern grins that are in the ranks behind them.

We’ll still have some days that are typical of Indian Summer here, but by September 1 in New Jersey, it is time to begin looking for last season’s flannel shirts and leggings because by September 1 in New Jersey, fall has begun.

“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.” ― Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot

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“The first flash of color always excites me as much as the first frail, courageous bloom of spring. This is, in a sense, my season–sometimes warm and, when the wind blows an alert, sometimes cold. But there is a clarity about September. On clear days, the sun seems brighter, the sky more blue, the white clouds take on marvelous shapes; the moon is a wonderful apparition, rising gold, cooling to silver; and the stars are so big. The September storms–the hurricane warnings far away, the sudden gales, the downpour of rain that we have so badly needed here for so long–are exhilarating, and there’s a promise that what September starts, October will carry on, catching the torch flung into her hand.” ― Faith Baldwin, Evening Star

Without a doubt, I am a bit of a Rip Van Winkle, and I have a tendency to sleep-walk through chunks of time, but autumn is the season that always awakens and recreates me.

September Song
by Jacki Kellum

I just took a nap for my mind, to see,
Flickering fae breath blew in, restored me.
Visions of sugarplums danced, set me free.
Sang me that September song.

Rain showers dripped down through the limbs of my tree.
Moonbeams and crystal shards lit up my sea.
Soft webs and angel hair dropped from a flea,
And tow-tugged my leaf-boat along.

©Jacki Kellum September 16, 2017


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