The Formidable Frida Kahlo

5225360416_5320e7aafb_bBorn today June 6th in 1907
Frida Kahlo was a was a Mexican self-portrait artist who was considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists.

She began painting mostly self-portraits after she was severely injured in a bus accident.

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Kahlo later became politically active and married artist Diego Rivera in 1929. She exhibited her paintings in Paris and Mexico before her death in 1954.

She is still admired for her
fiercely evocative art, feminist qualities, and iconic fashion.5363472939_23c05e4aef_b-e1525915781478.jpg

The intimate life Frida is beautifully revealed in the illustrated journal she kept during her last 10 years. This passionate and at times surprising record contains the artist’s thoughts, poems, and dreams; many reflecting her stormy relationship with her husband, artist Diego Rivera, along with 70 mesmerising watercolour illustrations. The text entries in brightly coloured inks make the journal as captivating to look at as it is to read.

This intricate book allows the reader to enter this revered artist’s world, both literally and metaphorically. Through a series of consecutive die-cut pages, one is drawn in passing through aspects of her life, art and creative process while exploring the themes that inspired her most, such as love, death and maternity. Iconic and visceral, her work has always had the ability to transcend borders and resonate with its honest and graphic depiction of the human condition.

Pain and passion: The original and intimate art of Mexico’s most famous female painter

 The arresting pictures of Frida Kahlo (1907–54) were in many ways expressions of trauma. Through a near-fatal road accident at the age of 18, failing health, a turbulent marriage, miscarriage and childlessness, she transformed afflictions into revolutionary art.
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Accolades for Arthur Conan Doyle

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

6815345113_e3ee5dc18e_bConan Doyle is most famous as the inventor of Sherlock Holmes, but he had a varied career as a writer, journalist and public figure.
Born Today on May 22nd 1859 in Edinburgh into a prosperous Irish family. He trained as a doctor, gaining his degree from Edinburgh University in 1881. He worked as a surgeon on a whaling boat and also as a medical officer on a steamer travelling between Liverpool and West Africa. He then settled in Portsmouth on the English south coast and divided his time between medicine and writing.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The most recognized detective in all of literature, Sherlock Holmes emerged on the crime scene in A Study in Scarlet in 1887. His deductive reasoning, keen insight, skillful observations, and investigative tactics became the tools necessary to solve riveting and intriguing crimes that continue to delight generations of readers. Discover or rediscover the joys of these fascinating mysteries.

Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

Vampire Stories
Who would suspect that the same mind that created the most famous literary detective of all time also took on the eternally popular genre of vampires? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a contemporary of Bram Stoker, gave us some fascinating works of vampire fiction. From the bloodsucking plant in “The American’s Tale” to the bloodsucking wife in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire,” he reveled in the horror created by creatures who survived on the blood of men and women.

Rated 4.1 on amazon.com
The Lost World
Talented and extremely ambitious reporter Edward Malone received a humiliating refusal from a beloved girl to marry him only on the grounds that he is too mediocre. The offended young man rushes to the editorial office and begs the authorities to send him to the most dangerous corner of the Earth, so that he can make a report there.

An experienced editor gives the young man a difficult task: at any cost to get an interview with the scandalously dangerous, impulsive Professor Challenger, glorious for his hatred of journalists. After a small but very colorful fight, the professor invites the young man to a conference where Challenger will make a statement that will shock the whole scientific world. It says that dinosaurs and other relic living creatures have been preserved on the inaccessible South American plateau. To support this statement the professor assembles an expedition in which the reporter Malone will become a representative of the press.
Rated 4.5 on amazon.com

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

What are you favorite Doyle delights, please share!

The Luck of the Irish

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Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart all over the world observe St.Patrick’s Day. It began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland and has now become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods, and other culture rich delights.
Why not celebrate with literature as well.

Here is a mini literary tribute to this special day:

St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography
by Philip Freeman
Ireland’s patron saint has long been shrouded in legend, but the true story of St. Patrick is far more inspiring than the myths. In St. Patrick of Ireland, Philip Freeman brings the historic Patrick and his world vividly to life. Born late in the fourth century to an aristocratic British family, Patrick’s life was changed forever when he was abducted and taken to Ireland just before his sixteenth birthday. He spent six grueling years there as a slave.

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Rated 4.6 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Shamrock Steamer
Add 1/2 pack of pistachio pudding powder and 2 cups hot/steamed milk to blender and blend, add espresso if desired (can also be served cold.) Garnish with crushed pistachio and mint.

Oscar Wilde

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Born October 16th 1864 he was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. He became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890’s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays. He is also as well known for his imprisonment for homosexuality after engaging in an affair with the marquess of Quensberry’s son. He spent his last three years in impoverished exile and died of Cerebral Meningitis on 30 November 1900.

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde

Dorian Gray is a young man whose physical appearance is handsome and innocent. An aspiring artist paints a beautiful portrait of Dorian. Dorian wishes that he always look like his youthful appearance in the portrait. The wish comes true. Dorian remains the same; youthful and charming, but the portrait begins to transform itself into the image of his soul. Dorian lives a hedonistic the leads him to commit atrocities.

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Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Wilde Grey Latte
Earl Grey tea steeped dense or pulled in espresso machine, vanilla extract/flavor, steamed milk, topped with a little froth and lavender garnish.

The Irish Americans: A History
by Jay P. Dolan
Four dominant themes in Irish-American history emerge from this new study by Dolan (The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present), professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame. These four are politics, religion, labor and nationalism. Beginning in 1729, when a decline in the linen trade and a poor harvest sparked a rush to America, Dolan traces the exodus to the beckoning colonies.

Irish-Coffee-Mugs

Rated 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Irish Coffee
Hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, stirred, and topped with thick cream.st-patricks-day-sayings-blessings-quotes-phrases-irish-sayings-image-1

Tribute to Tolstoy

imagesBorn today September 9th 1828
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
(Usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy) was a Russian aristocrat and one of the world’s most preeminent writers. Tolstoy become famous through his epic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

“We can know only that we know nothing.
And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” (
War and Peace)


Tolstoy’s fictional work includes: dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and Hadji Murad. He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.


“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (
Anna Karenina)

Towards the end of his life, Leo Tolstoy became increasingly interested in a version of pacifist Christianity with support for a strand of anarchist Communism. His exposition of pacifism and non-violence had a profound influence on others – most notably Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
This prompted his non-fiction work;
A Confession and The Kingdom of God is Within You.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft  – born today, August 20, 1890

He wrote many essays and poems early in his career, lovecraft_0.jpgbut gradually focused on the writing of horror stories. After the advent in 1923 of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, he contributed most of his fiction therein.
His relatively small corpus of fiction; three short novels and about sixty short stories, has nevertheless exercised a wide influence on subsequent work in the field. Though virtually unknown before his death, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

Forbidden, dark, esoterically veiled knowledge is a central theme in many of Lovecraft’s works. Many of his characters are driven by curiosity or scientific endeavor, and in many of his stories the knowledge they uncover proves Promethean in nature, either filling the seeker with regret for what they have learned, destroying them psychically, or completely destroying the person who holds the knowledge.

The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft
collects the author’s novel, four novellas, and fifty-three short stories. Written between the years 1917 and 1935, this collection features Lovecraft’s trademark fantastical creatures and
supernatural thrills, as well as many horrific and cautionary science-fiction themes, 
that have influenced some of today’s writers and filmmakers, including Stephen King, Alan Moore, F. Paul Wilson, Guillermo del Toro, and Neil Gaiman.


“I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.”
 -Stephen King  The Call of Ctulhu

“I couldn’t live a week without a private library – indeed, I’d part with
all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I’d let go of the 1500
or so books I possess.” ~H.P. Lovecraft

A man after my own heart!
Who can relate?

Mochas and Musketeers

tumblr_npiufvXZkL1tz1jmlo1_1280Flamboyant heroes, adventure, riveting duels, and of course romance.

Alexandre Dumas
and his swashbuckling  Musketeers have fascinated for ages!
To honor Dumas on his birthday today
July 24th 1855, I wanted to share his many works featuring the most beloved comrades The Musketeers.

Here are the D’Artagnan Romances:

 The Three Musketeers
An adventurous tale of the young man d’Artagnan. Leaving home to travel to Paris, d’Artagnan wishes to join the Musketeers of the Guard. He is not one of the musketeers of the title but befriends Athos, Porthos and Aramis (inseparable friends who live by the motto “all for one, one for all.”) This motto which is first put forth by d’Artagnan, has become a most well known and loved signet. This a historical fiction full of memorable adventure and characters.

Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com Trucos-para-preparar-un-café-5-estrellas-en-casa

Book Bean: Un café
A coffee, plain and simple, but not as we would have in the U.S. Order “Un Café”  and you will get a small cup of plain strong espresso.

Twenty Years Later
Two decades have passed since the musketeers triumphed over Cardinal Richelieu and Milady. Time has weakened their resolve, and dispersed their loyalties. However, treason and stratagem still cry out for justice: civil war endangers the throne of France, while in England Cromwell threatens to send Charles I to the scaffold. Dumas brings his immortal quartet out of retirement to cross swords with time, the malevolence of men, and the forces of history. But their greatest test is a titanic struggle with the son of Milady, who wears the face of Evil.

Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com 

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Book Bean: Chocolat l’ancienne
Rich and decadent melted dark chocolate poured into cups, and served alongside it’s own separate dish of fresh whipped cream. So thick and creamy, I’ll have mine with Un café  please!

Ten Years Later: The Vicomte de Brabelonne
In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books. In three-volume English editions, the three volumes are titled “The Vicomte de Bragelonne”, “Louise de la Valliere”, and “The Man in the Iron Mask.” Each of these volumes is roughly the length of the original
The Three Musketeers.

Here they are in Three Volumes:

The Vicomte de Bragelonne
It is May 1660 and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Valliere. D’Artagnan, meanwhile, is perplexed by a mysterious stranger, and soon he learns that his old comrades already have great projects in hand. Athos seeks the restoration of Charles II, while Aramis, with Porthos in tow, has a secret plan involving a masked prisoner and the fortification of the island of Belle-Ile.

4091536-late-coffee-with-chocolate-latte-coffee-with-white-chocolate-Stock-PhotoRated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean:
 Cafè latte au Chocolat
Espresso with steamed milk and drizzled with
chocolate on top.


The Musketeers are now in their late 50’s.
They are still vital characters but they are no longer young men looking for any excuse to duel with the Cardinal’s Guard. From this point on, there is a lot less sword play and campaigning (Sorry Swashbuckler fans.)

The focus of the story now shifts to the intrigues of Louis XIV court.

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Lousise de la Valliere
Devoted in large part to romantic events at the court of France’s King Louis XIV. It is filled with behind-the-scenes intrigue, the novel brings the aging Musketeers and d’Artagnan out of retirement to face an impending crisis within the royal court of France.

Chocolat-chaudRated: 4.3 on amazon.com

Book Bean: Chocolat chaud
Otherwise known as good old Hot Cocoa 🙂
The Man in The Iron Mask
Some thirty-five years on, the bonds of comradeship are under strain as they end up on different sides in a power struggle that may undermine the young Louis XIV and change the face of the French monarchy. In the fast-paced narrative style that was his trademark, Dumas pitches us straight into the action. What is the secret shared by Aramis and Madame de Chevreuse? Why does the Queen Mother fear its revelation? Who is the mysterious prisoner in the Bastille?

Rated: 4.3 on amazon.comcafe_au_lait

Book Bean: Cafè au Lait
A coffee with hot milk added (In comparison to the Itallian caff
è latte.) In the U.S.  a café au lait is a drink of strong drip coffee or French pressed coffee, to which steamed milk is added.

Fun Fact: Two further sequels to the D’Artagnan books — the novels The Son of Porthos (1883) and D’Artagnan Kingmaker (1900) — were written and published after Dumas’s death. D’Artagnan does not appear in the first novel, which, although written by Paul Mahalin, was published under the pen name “Alexandre Dumas” and is still sold as such. The second novel was supposedly based on one of Dumas’ plays (wikipedia)

Have you read any or all of these novels? 
Please share your thoughts.