Book Review: John Wayne


John Wayne – The Life and Legend – tells the story of John Wayne using interviews that the author conducted with John before he died.  In addition to the interviews with John himself, the author Scott Eyman also conducted interviews with John’s family, friends, co-stars and other acquaintances to accurately put together a biography of John Wayne.  I decided to check out this book because John’s granddaughter, Jennifer Wayne, is currently on the Amazing Race and I met her and her band (now ex band) Stealing Angels when they were doing a radio tour a few years back and it got me interested in finding out more about John.

This book is incredibly thorough and has everything you’d want to know about the actor – it is just under 700 pages total – with almost 600 of those being the meat of the book and the interesting content that isn’t notes and citations.

The book is broken down by years – going in chronological order of John’s life – starting in 1907 and ending in 1979.

If you are a fan of John Wayne or just want to know more about the legendary actor – this is the book for you to check out!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Drawing on interviews that author Scott Eyman conducted with John Wayne before his death and more than 100 interviews with the actor’s family, co-stars, and close associates, this revelatory biography shows how both the facts and fictions about Wayne illuminate his singular life.

John Wayne died more than thirty years ago, but he remains one of the five favorite movie stars of contemporary audiences. Yet, there has never been a comprehensive biography worthy of the man as well as the star. Until now.

The beloved Hollywood icon comes fully to life in this complex portrait by a master biographer whose skillful prose has been hailed as “outstanding” and “compulsive reading” by reviewers from The New York Times to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Washington Post Book World called Scott Eyman “one of the most distinguished and reliable of popular film historians.” In Eyman’s hands, this enduring symbol of American grit gets the biography he deserves.

Exploring Wayne’s early life with a difficult mother and a feckless father, Eyman makes startling connections to his later days as an anti-Communist conservative, his stormy marriages to Latina women, and his notorious—and surprisingly long-lived—extra-marital affair with Marlene Dietrich.

In addition to his interviews with those who knew Wayne best—many of whom had never spoken on the record before—Eyman draws on the actor’s own business records to weave a rich tapestry of American cultural history: the story of a man who went from college football to romantic lead on the silver screen, and who ultimately became the dominant—and often domineering—symbol of his country at mid-century, the quintessential American male against which all other screen heroes are compared.

Through it all, the author provides a nuanced and sympathetic portrait that is as charming, compelling, and complicated as the Duke himself.


Book Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered

signedSigned, Sealed, Delivered is a book about the joys of letter writing.  For me, it didn’t deliver as I was expecting to read more letters than book and that is not what happened.  The author talks about her love for letter writing (Call me old fashioned, but I love it too) as well as the first letter she ever received from her son, some letters that she found in a trunk when she bought a new house and other letters through history.

I guess I was hoping for it to be more “hands on” with the letters throughout the book instead of just Nina’s talking about the letters.  Great historical aspect to the book, but that’s not usually my thing.

The bibliography did list several other books that are supposed to contain letters so maybe I will find what I was looking for in one of those books instead.

If you go in to this book for the historical aspect of letters and how they are special, and don’t expect to see more than some excerpts of letters then I think you will enjoy this book just fine.  It was a quick and interesting read once I realized what it was was not what I was expecting!

I received a free e-copy in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

The author of the much-admired Tolstoy and the Purple Chairgoes on a quest through the history of letters and her own personal correspondence to discover and celebrate what is special about the handwritten letter.

Witty, moving, informative, and inspiring, Signed, Sealed, Delivered begins with Nina Sankovitch’s discovery of a trove of 100-year-old letters written by a Princeton freshman to his mother in the early 1900s. Nina’s own son is heading off to Harvard and she wants him to write to her, as the Princeton student wrote his mother and as Nina wrote hers. But times have changed. Before Nina can persuade her child of the value of letters, she must first understand herself exactly what it is about letters that makes them so special.

Sankovitch sets off on a quest through the history of letter writing—from the ancient Egyptians to the medieval lovers Abelard and Heloise, from the letters received by President Lincoln after his son’s death to the correspondence of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Sankovitch looks at the power of letters through epistolary novels, her husband’s love letters, and dozens more sources—including her son’s brief reports from college on the weather and his allowance.

In this beautifully written book, Sankovitch reminds us that letters offer proof and legacy of what is most important in life: love and connection. In the end, she finds, the letters we write are even more important than the ones we wait for.

Book Review: Fix You


Fix You is about Hanna Vincent, a 17 year old girl who meets Richard Larsen, who is a college student, while working with her mother at a party at Richard’s parents house.

A friendship begins to bloom and Hanna becomes Richard’s younger sister’s babysitter so they see each other when he is in London visiting his father and step-mother (he is attending college in New York City).

The book actually starts with Hanna telling Richard that they had a baby – so it was always in the back of my mind that they would be hooking up, but I never really knew when.  The book goes from 1999 – 2012 (and then travels to the future for the epilogue) and follows their relationship.

What I liked was that their story seemed more real than a lot of other books I read.  They had real problems  – like Hanna’s mother getting ill and Hanna shutting everyone out.  They were not together from the moment they met, there were a lot of things that would keep them apart.  Hanna was big into music and worked as a music journalist and blogger, which of course I enjoyed reading about that as well.

This was probably one of my favorite books that I’ve read in a really long time! I laughed, I cried, I felt connected to the characters.  Definitely 5 stars!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

“Richard, we had a baby.”

31st December 1999. Seventeen-year-old Brit, Hanna Vincent, meets New Yorker, Richard Larsen; a Columbia student and step-son of scion Leon Maxwell. Divided by wealth, distance and a common language, an unconventional friendship grows between the two.

From London to New York, from 1999 to 2012, Fix You follows the story of quirky, music-loving Hanna and handsome, driven Richard as they fall in love and are torn apart. Their tempestuous relationship leads to an explosive revelation that threatens to destroy them both.

Emotional and touching, this is a story of second chances. Is their love shattered beyond repair?

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