My Library Shelf – U

We’ve arrived at one of the less popular letters of the alphabet. In my paperback dictionary the letter occupies only twenty pages. And yes, it did take a bit of searching on my shelves before I spotted a suitable entry.

Utter’s Battalion

by Lt. Col. Alex Lee, USMC (Ret.)

This is a non-fiction volume, set almost exactly once century after the events in our previous volume. (Team of Rivals — Lincoln’s cabinet)

In these pages we join the 7th Marines, 2nd Battalion during preparation and operations in Vietnam. It’s a personal story, giving the detail of one specific unit’s actions. Don’t expect the broad picture, but rather the record of squads and companies as they obey orders and encounter difficulties.

As a female civilian the same age as many of the Marines putting their lives at risk — I found this the sort of record able to sift out some of the chaff comments circulated during and after this particular war.

Check out the history section to find this volume.


They Called Him “Mad”

Eccentric at the least. From the accounts I’ve heard and read — he needed some serious psychological intervention. But when it’s the King — well, it makes it all rather difficult for friends to force the issue.

While his overall decorating taste at this site was a little gaudy for my personal taste — he commissioned some beautiful individual items.

A golden sculpture in a pool outside the main entrance. It gives a peaceful view and centers the formal garden. It’s easy to imagine well dressed men and women strolling along the edges in conversation. On a fine day, it might even be a good venue to discuss affairs of state or impress a foreigner to accept your point of view.

But Ludwig II of Bavaria didn’t stop at peaceful or discreet. No, he preferred to put on a show. So the engineers obliged him.


My Library Shelf – T

Today we return to non-fiction and relatively familiar ground of history.

Team of Rivals

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

This detailed history of five tumultuous years in US history, explores the political aspects of Abraham Lincoln’s election and administration.

Lincoln’s path to the nomination, and his election, was not a clear thing at the time. Here we read of his skill in convincing the Republican party structure of his value. And his determination to put others in positions where they could use their talents for the good of the Union.

Don’t take my work for it. This volume won the Pulitzer Prize.

Available at libraries, bookstores, and on-line retailers.



No Translation Required

Some things are universal.

During my lifetime, the use of international symbols on signs has become more common in the United States. Think of the circle with a slash overlaying a sign to mean “NO”. Or the stylized figures on many public restroom doors.

This applies to words also. On my vacation, while admiring the interior of a Gothic cathedral, one of the daily masses took place. “Alleluia” is the same in both German and English.

But back to signs. While I may have been a little slow to understand some which I saw on vacation, this one I got right away.

I will not enter your yard to pet the dog.



My Library Shelf – S

Many fine book titles begin with the letter “S”.

My choice for this project is another historical romance, more epic in scope than the previous letter.

Seize the Fire

Author  Laura Kinsale weaves a tale of a princess determined to travel to her kingdom after a childhood in England. The route is neither easy nor straight as she and her protector travel most of the world which has been mapped (and perhaps a little that has not) as of 1827.

Adventure. Torture (a chilling description of waterboarding). Trust. And all ending well in the end make this volume worth reading for people fond of romance, history, and adventure.

Available in libraries, bookstores, and on-line.


Two Travel Necessities

Two things I’ve found helpful on vacations large and small. As a bonus, they don’t take up room in the luggage. So what do I want you to bring along?

Sense of humor. Every vacation contains a glitch or two. A laugh or a smile goes far to ease even the most tense of situations.

Sense of adventure. Vacations are for going new places. Seeing new things. Trying new foods or experiences. Try it – you just might like it!

The Yellow Church

Before I left home, I read travel guides and picked out a few things I wanted to see on my free time — dependent on hotel location. Well, as it turned out, it could not have been easier.

A short conversation with the hotel staff gained me a map with subway stops circled and which train to take. With a station literally yards from the hotel I was set. Until — I looked at the ticket machine. Okay, I expected it to be in German. But what zone was I in? What zone was I going to?

“Excuse me. Do you speak English?” I inquired of a young couple. Yes, they did and in a couple of minutes they helped me purchase a one-day pass and showed me where to validate it on the walk to the platform. They even got me pointed in the correct direction — and since they were on the same car — clued me when my stop was next.

I emerged from the subway to the sight of the church at the beginning of this post. And my sightseeing of Munich Residence and the surrounding few blocks began.

Imagine my surprise as I was looking for the entrance after purchasing my ticket. (That left turn was quicker than I expected.) When other tourists asked me about ticket prices. It was probably the only question I knew the answer to.

Courtyard at the Residence I wandered into before I found the actual entrance to the exhibits.


My Library Shelf – R

Tension. Intrigue. History. Words arranged to perfection.

Today’s title is:

Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne

Part of a series set during and after the French Revolution, this is one of the exquisite building blocks. A finely crafted plot with interesting characters pulls the reader into the story. And makes one close the the final page with a sigh.

So when looking to escape from the mundane – and add a dash of danger – open any of these magic carpets to a different time and place.

Available in libraries and bookshops as well as through on-line retailers.


A Big Welcome

It’s always nice to be greeted when arriving in a new place.

Welcome to my city!

With a lion at her side and a laurel wreath in her hand, this lady welcomed the early arrivals of our tour group to Munich.

We arrived on a beautiful, warm, spring day. Most of us were dressed in layers for chilly airplanes and expecting temperatures ten to twenty degrees cooler. As we walked from the hotel to the Theresienwiese we shed jackets and sweaters. And dodged bicycles. (Note to pedestrians: the smooth portion of the sidewalk is for the hordes of bicycles. It’s safer to stay on the paving blocks.)

A large well-attended flea market was in progress on this late Saturday morning. Yes, one table was selling books. Another was filled with Hummel figurines and decorative beer steins. Plus many tables with glassware, crafts, and the sort of miscellany which accumulates in households the world over.

Later we learned we turned around too soon. Evidently we were only fifty yards short of the beer tents. Chalk it up as an experience. It was a great way to stretch our legs after long flights and to begin an acquaintance with a few of our travel companions.



My Library Shelf – Q

Today we turn to biography.

Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed

by Elizabeth Longford

This is a comprehensive biography – devoting time and effort to both the personal and public life of this monarch who presided over decades of rapid change in her realm. With frequent use of letters and other documents, we are plunged into the decision making chambers of England in the final half of the nineteenth century.

Are you a fan of the current Masterpiece Theater production? Don’t worry, this volume will not diminish the enjoyment. Instead I would encourage it as a supplement into the character of this monarch.

This is not a new work – copyright 1965. My first suggestion is the library, then on-line and browsing new & used bookstores.