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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.”

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 

chocolat-chaud-ouverture

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.

Noteworthy Non-Fiction

I love reading great non-fiction books. I enjoy reading about historical events and people. I love memoirs and biographies of interesting and diverse characters. I also will read an occasional self-help book, if it’s applicable and not too overly cliche.

Here are some great noteworthy non-fiction books:

(Click any photo or title for more info.)

Diary of a Young Girl

If you haven’t already read this book I highly recommend it. This girl wrote so well in her journal, and told her story so exceptionally. – semi-spoiler alert! – For her to be able to tell her story in the midst of such hardship and have it survive in her place, is beautiful. It’s a bit haunting knowing that she wrote this leading up to what was likely a very horrendous end. I felt a bit of a knot in my core that was hard to shake. I tend to get very attached to the lives and stories of protagonist in books, and
it’s always very difficult when bad
things happen. The eeriness with this book was that I couldn’t tell myself
(it’s just a book.)

Rated: 4.6 on amazon.com
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Book Bean: 
Simple Tea
You may not feel like spoiling yourself with anything decadent while reading about such hardship.

The Funny Thing Is

On a much lighter note there is this delightful book about the real life happenings of one Ellen Degeneres. Now, I am a fan of Ellen’s, I love the style of her humor and wit. So I am quiet a bit biased going into this little mini review. This book is a breath of fresh air. It is pure Ellen genius, and I sped right through it. At the end I was sad it was over, the light-hearted gentle humor was such an endorphin rush. I don’t know if other people will feel as I did reading it,
but I sure hope so. 🙂

Rated: a shocking 3.9 on amazon.com
Iced-Green-tea.jpg

Book Bean: Alppuchino
I know I’m not Ellen, I need to drink more Iced Green Tea.

Empire of The Summer Moon

This is a fantastic book. I purchased it because it was inviting and looked really interesting. It is about chief Quanah Parker and the rise and fall of the Comanche tribe. Being of Native American heritage myself, I am drawn to historical books such as this. What I love about this book is that it reads like a novel. The story is so engrossing and interesting. It was well written, informative, and entertaining as well. If you are interested in Native American Culture and/or History (or even if you’re not) this is a must read.
Rated: 4.5 on amazon.comHazelnutMochaTrailMixCup_thumb1

Book Bean:
Trail Mix Mocha Latte
Espresso with steamed milk, flavored with chocolate, almond extract, and cherry. Keep it natural for a better more earthy flavor.
Man’s Search For Meaning
 I know, another book about the Holocaust, but it is such an exceptional book. This particular book is written by Victor Frankl an Austrian Neurologist and Psychologist. He writes about the events that took place from a different point of view than other books I’ve read, which I really liked. He would break down the why’s and woes of each person’s action/reaction, and I  found that fascinating. This book is part Holocaust experience story, part “what I’ve discovered because of it.” It’s like getting a mini-documentary and a self-help book all in one.

Rated: 4.7 on amazon.com
Preview-RedCupOnBook02
Book Bean: Plain Brewed Coffee

Again you won’t feel like indulging while reading this painful memoir.

Love, Lucy
And to end with another light-hearted note. Lucile Ball, the comic legend and genius. This autobiography was discovered randomly after her death. Again I am probably a bit biased here, because I ADORE Lucy. I Love Lucy was iconic. I grew up watching it, and to this day it is my favorite! Lucille ball and Ricky Ricardo are a match made in heaven (on screen at least.) I love the behind the scene detail, and the great pictures that accompany this book. I am so happy that this gem was discovered so that we could enjoy her legacy.

Rated: 4.8 on amazon.com
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Book Bean:
Vitameatavegamin!
But seeing as it’s so hard to find, how about a mouthful of
Truffle Cocoa, to get in the Lucy spirit 🙂

 

I know there are so many other lovely books that I’m leaving out. Books that I just haven’t read yet, or wasn’t thinking of. However, these are the ones that stood out to me. 🙂

What non-fictions book/s stand out to you?