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1. The Madonnas of Leningrad: A Novel
2. The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel
3. Life with My Sister Madonna
4. The Kitchen Madonna
5. Madonna: Five Books for Children
6. The Black Madonna (Storm Syrrell
7. Friends for Life! #1 (English
8. Mr. Peabody's Apples
9. Sex
10. Goodbye, Grace? (The English Roses
11. Madonna Confessions
12. The Grace to Race: The Wisdom
13. The Bellini Madonna: A Novel
14. Big-Sister Blues (English Roses
15. The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot:
16. Catch the Bouquet! #12 (English
17. Madonna: Sticky & Sweet
18. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith
19. The Missing Madonna: A Sister
20. Madonna: A Biography (Greenwood

1. The Madonnas of Leningrad: A Novel
by Debra Dean
Paperback: 231 Pages (2007-02-19)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$6.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060825316
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina's grip on the everyday. An elderly Russian woman now living in America, she cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children's lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—yet her distant past is miraculously preserved in her mind's eye.

Vivid images of her youth in war-torn Leningrad arise unbidden, carrying her back to the terrible fall of 1941, when she was a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum and the German army's approach signaled the beginning of what would be a long, torturous siege on the city. As the people braved starvation, bitter cold, and a relentless German onslaught, Marina joined other staff members in removing the museum's priceless masterpieces for safekeeping, leaving the frames hanging empty on the walls to symbolize the artworks' eventual return. As the Luftwaffe's bombs pounded the proud, stricken city, Marina built a personal Hermitage in her mind—a refuge that would stay buried deep within her, until she needed it once more. . . .

... Read more

Customer Reviews (95)

4-0 out of 5 stars A heartbreaking story of two different battles
War is undoubtedly hell but it is a particularly poignant cruelty when it is waged on civilians - men, women and children alike - as it was during the 900 days of the Nazi's bitter siege of Leningrad in 1941. Marina Anatolyevna Krasnova remembers her time as a young girl in a bitterly cold war torn city in astonishingly vivid detail. A former tour guide of the now renowned Hermitage Museum, she has mentally preserved the details of every room and every painting in the museum in her mind's eye with crystal clarity - a "memory palace" as it were. She remembers her breathless efforts along with the rest of the museum staff to remove the museum's priceless artifacts into safekeeping in the museum cellars to protect them from the relentless pounding of the Luftwaffe bombers. The bittersweet lovemaking with her best friend, Dmitri, is an anchor she desperately clutches to with ever diminishing hopes for a future as his wife when he is shipped out of the city to wage battle against the advancing German army.

Beyond all reasonable expectations in the constricted, difficult world that was wartime Russia, both Marina and Dmitri survive into their old age and THE MADONNAS OF LENINGRAD also tells the story of now elderly Marina's present day battle with an entirely different enemy - the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. Slowly but inevitably, Marina loses the recent memories of her family, her children, the coming wedding of her grand-daughter and any meaningful sense of where she is and what she is doing.

Debut author Debra Dean has told two magnificent stories that evoke compassion without being maudlin, that convey the meaning and importance of beauty, loyalty, patience, caring and love in our lives and, of course, that demonstrate the futility, horror and destruction that war brings to the world. Despite the very obvious literary and artistic content of the novel, her writing is simple and never pretentious or overbearing:

"Aside from the sirens, it is quiet tonight, no planes yet. But the moon is rising, so they will come. She hates the moon. It is dead, and its flat, dead light draws in Fascist planes like moths. Though she knows her perspective has been poisoned by the war, it is hard to see why poets make such a romantic fuss over an ugly, pockmarked disk."

What adjectives does one apply to THE MADONNAS OF LENINGRAD? Warm, compelling, compassionate, literary, moving, poetic, evocative and disturbing are just a few of the words that come to mind. It might be a short novel but it is powerful and you won't soon forget it.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss

5-0 out of 5 stars one of the best books ive ever read
I was actually assigned to read this book for an English class. I was skeptical but once you start reading this is the type of book you won't want to stop! The storyline is amazing and it clearly shows that the author took her time to research the environment she placed her story in. it's a book that's well worth the money for and will have you mesmerized by its richness and the author's creativity.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Poetry of Loss
The parallel horrors of life during wartime and the ravages of Alzheimer's disease echo through the pages of this haunting, evocative novel as it follows the travails of a young docent named Marina at the Hermitage Museum during the Seige of Leningrad in 1941 and her eventual slide into senility some 60 years later.

As the Germans close in on Leningrad and conditions for the city's residents go from optimistic to horrific, Marina's jobshifts from guiding tours through the former Winter Palace, to packing and crating the priceless collections, to night fire spotter, stationed on the roof of the museum complex with a pair of binoculars and a walkie-talkie.

Eventually she learns to cope with the suffering and devastation around her by recreating the museum collections in her memory, a luminous foreshadowing of the scrambled sense of time and place she will eventually succumb to.

Particularly beautiful are the frequent references to the treasures of the museum collection. Marina's imaginary recreations of the masterpieces, especially the many Madonna paintings, become transformed during the long, dark winter months of deprivation until they take on a magical quality.

"Before they leave, Anya presses her lips to the Christ Child's toes and mumbles something to him. At the door, Marina glances back over her shoulder and sees the Christ Child still watching them guardedly. And then he spits the nipple from his mouth and burps. We are both insane, she thinks."

With language finely tuned to the poetry of loss, this first novel by Debra Dean tenderly explores all manner of heroics required for everyday survival, and not just in wartime.

Seamlessly blending the extreme conditions of the Russian citizenry forced into makeshift bomb shelters in the cellars of the museum complex during the most brutal of winters with the poignancy of Marina's decline into dementia so many years later, Dean has created a compelling atmosphere of love and beauty among the ruined lives she has so carefully drawn.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Madonnas of Leningrad:A Novel
Used book arrived in excellent condition, on-time delivery.This is a very pleasant way to shop.

5-0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly beautiful!
Apparently, Debra Dean was inspired to write The Madonnas of Leningrad because of a true story. During World War II, staff of the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) packed up 1.1 millions objects of art and evacuated them. 2,000 of the staff lived in the cellar during the seige of the city by Nazis. One of the staff, a former guide, remembered the places and the details of the painting so well that he would give tours of the empty rooms, describing the art so vividly that visitors could envision them. How's that for memory?

In The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean, Marina, a former tour guide at the Hermitage, is now an old woman whose mind is being ravaged by Alzheimer's. Time and memories become fluid for her, as it does in the narrative, which Dean illustrates by seamlessly moving from present to past, sometimes mid-sentence. When Marina slips from the present, to the horror and sadness of her husband and children, she returns to her perfectly remembered memories of her time during the ghastly winter of 1941 when she was living in near starvation in the cellar of the Hermitage. Out of desperation, she built a "memory palace," committing to memory all the works of art that used to be on display in the museum, down to the tiniest detail.

"Marina has her memory palace: that has become her fixation. She can now walk anywhere in the picture gallery, and the sculptures and paintings appear so readily in her mind that she can rattle most of them off without thinking. What started as an exercise, a distraction, has come to seem like the very point of her existence."

This amazing feat is juxtaposed in poignant detail with Marina's current deterioration as an old woman and its effect on her family. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean is a magical, bittersweet book that is so well-imagined that the stirring descriptions of the paintings have convinced me a visit to the Hermitage is imperative.
... Read more

2. The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel
by Brando Skyhorse
Hardcover: 224 Pages (2010-06-01)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$5.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439170800
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.

With these words, spoken by an illegal Mexican day laborer, The Madonnas of Echo Park takes us into the unseen world of Los Angeles, following the men and women who cook the meals, clean the homes, and struggle to lose their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream.

When a dozen or so girls and mothers gather on an Echo Park street corner to act out a scene from a Madonna music video, they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. In the aftermath, Aurora Esperanza grows distant from her mother, Felicia, who as a housekeeper in the Hollywood Hills establishes a unique relationship with a detached housewife.

The Esperanzas’ shifting lives connect with those of various members of their neighborhood. A day laborer trolls the streets for work with men half his age and witnesses a murder that pits his morality against his illegal status; a religious hypocrite gets her comeuppance when she meets the Virgin Mary at a bus stop on Sunset Boulevard; a typical bus route turns violent when cultures and egos collide in the night, with devastating results; and Aurora goes on a journey through her gentrified childhood neighborhood in a quest to discover her own history and her place in the land that all Mexican Americans dream of, "the land that belongs to us again." 

Like the Academy Award–winning film Crash, The Madonnas of Echo Park follows the intersections of its characters and cultures in Los Angeles. In the footsteps of Junot Díaz and Sherman Alexie, Brando Skyhorse in his debut novel gives voice to one neighborhood in Los Angeles with an astonishing— and unforgettable—lyrical power. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Authentic Voice
Brando Skyhorse shows us in "The Madonnas of Echo Park" that he has what an exemplary author needs:the ability to create voice.In each chapter, we have a new narrator.Yet the shifts are not jarring, for the characters have emerged through actions in previous episodes, and I recognized each of them as they told their part of the story.

Skyhorse leads us through the neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles, remarking on the changes from times prior to the building of Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine to the present-day gentrification and "quaint" expensive shops.

The people of the neighborhood, the women, the workers, the bus drivers (he's too much), everybody has a say. We get the flavor of the cooking, the laughter of the families, and the clash of the generations.From the "what can you do" attitude of the old timers to the brash teen girls to the swank college grads, the narrative looks at life in the barrio with love and familiarity.

Skyhorse brings in events known to the LA populace, the Night Stalker killings, the mayors' remarks, the impossible traffic.Yet his scenes are distinctively accentuated with the Hispanic words and phrases as well as the continuing saga of the Esperanza family. There are gangbangers, there are cleaning ladies, there are UCLA grads and restaurant workers.People stand on corners edging one another out for jobs.A baby is shot during an impromptu dance party.

This is life in the big city, but the big city becomes our world while we are moving through them with the commentary of a gifted guide.

"The Madonnas of Echo Park" is a most enjoyable read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Skyhorse is my new name.
To herald this title, I am changing my name to Skyhorse.

In an age of the overblown, under-conscious, and marginally grammatical tomes, Brando Skyhorse's taught and intricate book of stories is a delight to have in hand.Every season, a few books stand out as far and away better.You pick them up, read anywhere, read all, and know.Frustrating pin-headed expectations of a minority boilerplate, Skyhorse has written the Great American collection; we are strangers to ourselves and one another, and our heroism is in not, not, accepting any de-facto identity.

4-0 out of 5 stars Strong new voice
The Madonnas of Echo Park is Brando Skyhorse's debut novel. It wasn't a book I'd heard of so I started read without any preconceived notions. I was so glad I read the author's notes in the beginning - it absolutely captured me. Brando grew up in Echo Park, a ethnically diverse neigbourhood in Los Angeles. The novel sprang from an interaction he had at a 6th grade class dance party. Aurora Esperanza asks Brando to dance to the first song - Madonna's Borderline. He declines, but with the phrase "I can't dance with you - you're a Mexican." When he returns to school the next week, he is ready to apologize, but Aurora is gone. When he asks his teacher " How am I going to apologize to her?", she replies "You'll have to find another way to do it." Twenty five years later - here is the apology - the fictional book, The Madonnas of Echo Park. Now ironically - Brando's mother brought him up to believe his biological father was native, not Mexican. He was unaware of this until later in life.

The novel is a series of short stories, with each linked to the next. It begins with Aurora's estranged father waiting for day labour. We see the neighbourhood of Echo Park through his eyes. The story then segues through seemingly unrelated stories - a bus ride gone very wrong, a woman who believes she has seen the Virgin Mary, a young girl shot down as she dances to Madonna music on a street corner, and more until we 'meet' Aurora in the last chapter. The links are sometimes very surprising, jumping out and heading in a direction you least expect. (Madonna did film the video for Borderline in Echo Park)

Brando brings this neighbourhood to life and the characters, locale and dialogue have the ring of authenticity. The stories are powerful and some are unsettling. The fourth story, Rules of the Road, is about Efren, a Mexican born naturalized American who starts a race war after inadvertently killing a black man. His mind set and determination to follow the rules was unsettling.

Skyhorse presents many different voices and outlooks, male and female, all with equal talent. This was a completely different read for me, but I really enjoyed it. A really strong debut novel. The follow up - Things My Fathers Taught Me - about life with 5 stepfathers - should be an interesting read as well.

And did the 'real' Aurora ever read the book? Brando did meet and talk to her, but wasn't sure if she would read the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book--you'll want more!
It's a cliche to say you can't put a book down, but that is literally what my experience was.It's frustrating that this wonderful novel hasn't gotten the attention it deserves (I'm sure it's even more frustrating for the writer!)Do yourself a favor--check it out.You won't be sorry.

4-0 out of 5 stars CULTURE OF ECHO PARK
Very different book.Each chapter is about a different character; however, they all twine together in the end.The setting is the Echo Park section of Los Angeles.The theme is Mexican immigrants and all that this entails. ... Read more

3. Life with My Sister Madonna
by Christopher Ciccone, Wendy Leigh
Paperback: 352 Pages (2009-03-03)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416587632
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Madonna up close, by the brother who knows her better than anyone.

Christopher Ciccone's extraordinary memoir is based on his forty-seven years of growing up with, working with, and understanding the most famous woman of our time, who has intrigued, scandalized, and entertained millions for half a century.

Through most of the iconic star's kaleidoscopic career, Christopher played an important role in her life: as her backup dancer, her personal assistant, her dresser, her decorator, her art director, her tour director.

If you think you know everything there is to know about Madonna, you are wrong.Only Christopher can tell the full scale, riveting untold story behind Madonna's carefully constructed mythology, and the real woman behind the glittering façade.

From their shared Michigan childhood, which Madonna transcended, then whisked Christopher to Manhattan with her in the early eighties, where he slepton her roach-infested floor and danced with her in clubs all over town -- Christopher was with her every step of the way, experiencing her first hand in all her incarnations. The spoiled daddy's girl, the punk drummer, the raunchy Boy Toy, Material Girl, Mrs. Sean Penn, Warren Beatty's glamorous Hollywood paramour, loving mother, Mrs. Guy Ritchie, English grande dame -- Christopher witnessed and understood all of them, as his own life was inexorably entwined with that of his chameleon sister.

He tangled with a cast of characters from artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, to Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Demi Moore, and, of course, Guy Ritchie, whose advent in Madonna's life splintered the loving relationship Christopher once had with her.

The mirror image of his legendary sister, with his acid Ciccone tongue, Christopher pulls no punches as he tells his astonishing story.

Life with My Sister Madonna is the juicy, can't-put-it-down story you've always wanted to hear, as told by Madonna's younger brother. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (227)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fairly written.
I am a huge Madonna fan and was very interested in reading this. I think this was written in a very unbiased way by Christopher. Every celebrity has faults and talent and I think we should all stop and think about what our brothers or sisters or best friends would/could write about us before we critique this or any other biography of a celebrity. There were things in here I did not want to read because I am a huge fan of Madonna's but she is human just like the rest of us and there are two sides to every story.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not insomnia -- MANIA
Madonna has pretty much run out of fake personas (aka the False Self of the narcissist, designed to attract constant attention) to project to the world.She systematically cut off her family and, now, she has no significant other. Loneliness will continue to be a problem for her. Through adoption, she assured herself a continued source of narcissistic supply. But she also increased the chances that one of her kids will grow up to write a book about life with their famous, narcissistic/bipolar mother.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting But Tainted
Interesting read. Basically confirms all the things you thought you knew about Madonna and how difficult she could be. You do get the feeling that her brother carries a lot of annymosity toward her and that definitely taints his perspective. I felt sorry for him that so much of his success was tied to her. I wanted him to be the hero at the end, but I walked away just feeling sad for him.

3-0 out of 5 stars Another narcissistic personality disorder horror story
I have a sibling with NPD so I can relate to the searingly hurtful and mind-boggling betrayal expressed in Christopher's story. Madonna is a very cruel woman and her spirituality is as fake as the English accent she faked while married to Guy Ritchie. Her lack of empathy for her own brother is awful. I went to see Truth or Dare with a boyfriend back in the early nineties and after it was over, he remarked how cold and mean she was to her brother Marty. That's what I thought too. In the book, when she pushes Christopher into rehab and is acting like she knows more than the therapist, I wished Christopher would tell her she is the one who needs therapy! She was trying to make him seem like the one with the problem so she could skate. Narcissiists require scapegoats. And people with personality disorders don't change behavior because the very disorder is all about their being perfect and maintaining their childish defense mechanisms. I hope Christopher makes a lot of money, finds peace and confidence within himself and stays away from her. Narcissists are poison. They seduce and control others, use them, drain them, blame them, drive them crazy and then systematically devalue and ultimately discard them.

Seems to me, Christopher is the authentic artist and spiritual person. She's a fake. Very wooden actress. I like some of her music, though. But knowing how she exposed and inflicted upon her own sensitive, helpful and caring brother so much psychological pain without caring about the impact on him makes me never want to hear her voice again. She's harsh, exploitive and lacks nobility of spirit. Christopher seems like an emotionally generous, good human being.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Author, But Ultimately Disappointing
I am intrigued by Madonna's public persona, but indifferent to her talents. I've only heard Madonna's music by accident, and I've never seen her act. I thought Christopher Ciccone's story would be interesting, and it was. Unfortunately, Christopher never takes full responsibility for his dependence on his sister. He laments that he can't be appreciated for his own talents, but that's not precisely true. He could have lived his own independent life anytime he insisted on it. He could have changed his name [as Paul McCartney's brother did] and stayed away from show business. If Christopher had done this, he would have led a quieter life. In that life, there would be no super models, no snorting cocaine with Donatella Versace and Courtney Love, no dinners with Sting or Warren Beatty. He had every right to choose life with the glamourous crowd, but it's bad sportsmanship to complain afterward that he was used by his bitchy, stingy sister. He knew, better than anyone else, what to expect from her. He wanted into her party, and he knew the price of admission. ... Read more

4. The Kitchen Madonna
by Rumer Godden
Hardcover: 103 Pages (2010-02-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1932350233
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Marta is unhappy. For quietly aloof Gregory and his sister Janet, Marta, with her thick Ukrainian accent, her good cooking, and her stories, is the anchor of the house. Mother and Father, both busy architects, are gone all day and sometimes at night. Marta is always there; and the children, sensing her unhappiness, do not want her to go away. When they find out that Marta desires a good place in the kitchen, nine-year-old Gregory, with precocious young Janet in tow, sets out to find her a Ukrainian icon in busy, modern London. Master storyteller Rumer Godden deftly brings to life a portrait of a lonely boy discovering the creative power of love. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't judge this book by the cover!
This new paperback edition has a totally inappropriate cover for this incandescent story of faith and love and the incarnation of those gifts.

This is just as good a read for adults as for children. I don't think anybody under twelve will really understand the weight and complexity of the characters' emotions. They would still enjoy the "crafty" aspect of the story, though, so it could go on any family's shelf.

I LOVE this book and hope to find the old hardback with its simple blue cover, but I'll live with this *very* reasonably priced one in the meantime.

5-0 out of 5 stars Happiness is found in bringing joy to others
Shy, possessive and tired of changes, Gregory is attached to the family's housekeeper, Marta. But Marta is unhappy. Will she go away like the others? Gregory fears the worst. Marta, a late middle-age woman from Polish Ukraine, is too grateful to the family to reveal the source of her unhappiness. Gregory thinks he knows the cause and along with his younger sister Janet, he hatches a plan to make Marta happy and keep her longer. Together they search for a Ukrainian icon to create a "good place" in Marta's kitchen.

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth it
Perhaps the only way you can get this now is to pay for a used copy.I don't know.I do know that if you're contemplating it, and you can at all manage, it is worth it.This is a gentle, kindly book.Doesn't it seem like there are very few of them being written any more?Instead of poking you, or dragging you, it takes your hand, as a friend does, and takes you somewhere wonderful, and says it's okay to believe in love.Okay to teach love.

I don't know about you, but to me, that's worth an awful lot.

5-0 out of 5 stars A heartwarming story
Rumer Godden is a consummate storyteller--and this is one of her most accessible tales.

Peter is a very introverted little boy, perhaps because he has been taken care of by a string of nannies and housekeepers or perhaps he is just that way by nature. But his latest housekeeper/nanny is Marta, a Ukranian who barely speaks English. She is an unhappy exile from her homeland, and is sad because the kitchen has no "good place"-- an altar with candles and an icon of Mary and the Infant Jesus. At home, the kitchen would have been a warm and cozy place with a candle-lit icon twinkling with little jewels in a dim corner.

For some reason, Marta's inchoate expression of her homesickness touches Peter, and he goes about making an icon for Marta. The story of how he finds materials to make the icon including foiled toffee wrapper "jewels" is a great little adventure and the puzzlement of Peter's parents, who have written him off as cold and strange is delightful. In the end, both Peter and the family are changed by the "good place" in the kitchen but more so by the lesson that doing something wholly for someone else has rich rewards.

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite book...
Let me put it to you this way...I am considering buying this book for $45 and I am a poor college student.The most touching story of childhood generosity ever. ... Read more

5. Madonna: Five Books for Children (The English Roses / Mr. Peabody's Apples / Yakov and the Seven Thieves / The Adventures of Abdi, and Lotsa de Casha)
by Madonna
Hardcover: Pages (2005-10-06)
list price: US$59.95 -- used & new: US$29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670060879
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good read for kids
I've got this set for my 9 year old daughter and she loved it so much that now we are collecting all the books from English Roses series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love these books
Who knew Madonna could write great childrens books?! These books are wonderful and each has a great message. I would HIGHLY recommend them!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Books
I didn't even know Madonna had written books, until a mother was telling me about the books on the school playground.I ordered the set for my six year old granddaughter.Stories teach life lessons and the illustrations are beautiful. I enjoyed them as much as my granddaughter.Loved Mr Peabody's Apples.

I was so impressed with the children's book MR. PEABODY'S APPLES by Madonna that I decided to read it to my fourth through sixth grade classes too.I bought the entire set and am anxious to read her other books! My six year-old daughter loved it and was able to understand the important theme addressing the dangers of spreading rumors and the dishonor in defaming someone's character.The story follows a small town's beloved Little League coach who is suspected of stealing apples.Ultimately, the coach leaves his players with an important life lesson after asking one of his players to climb to the top of the bleachers with a pillow on a windy day. Mr. Peabody advised the player to cut the pillow and shake the feathers into the wind. "The wind carried the thousands of feathers far and wide."The coach then advised the playr to retrieve all the feathers.Impossible!"It would be just as impossible to undo the damage that you have done by spreading the rumor that I am a thief," Mr Peabody explained."Each feather represents a person in Happville."Madonna's inspiration came from a 300 year old story by The Baal Shem Tov "Master of the Good Name" who dedicated his life to helping others, stressing the importance of LOVE FOR ALL PEOPLE.Madonna: Five Books for Children (The English Roses / Mr. Peabody's Apples / Yakov and the Seven Thieves / The Adventures of Abdi, and Lotsa de Casha)See link for other children's stories by Madonna.

5-0 out of 5 stars lovelychildrensbooks
I am delighted that I was able to get hold of thisbox set of Madonnabooks...they are no longer available in the UK. My girls love the stories very much.Kind Regards...Rachel Davies
... Read more

6. The Black Madonna (Storm Syrrell Adventure Series, Book 2)
by Davis Bunn
Paperback: 336 Pages (2010-09-07)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$8.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416556338
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Following the internationally acclaimed Gold of Kings, Storm Syrrell returns in the compelling story of The Black Madonna.Antiques expert Storm Syrrell heads to Europe to investigate the clandestine trade in religious artifacts. She dismisses superstitious tales of miraculous healings and divine omens. Yet when an obsessive Russian oligarch calls—just as her friend Harry Bennett vanishes—all assumptions must be cast aside. Storm seeks answers in a medieval monastery. There, the scarred visage of an icon provokes ever more startling questions. Is she prepared to confront both earthly and spiritual powers? Storm remains haunted by lessons in love and betrayal that lie just outside her grasp. But hesitation now holds mortal consequences. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Black Madonna
It is hard to put down any T D Bunn once you start the book.Highly recommend reading this factual fiction piece.I appreciate his level of authenticity and research which went into this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Black Madonna
In Palm Beach, Antiquarian Storm Syrrell is in desperate need of cash. When a nameless, faceless client calls her with a request to track down an antique that is just a make believe. Rumored to bear healing in its being, Storm should say no, But the man offers too much.

Storm knows Syrrell Galleries' business has been saved by the buyer's agent Raphael Danton. However her friend Emma, high up the power ladder at Homeland Security is sent to be with Storm. Emma is told that treasure hunter Harry Bennet died in Hebron; she is heartbroken with grief until he calls her from a hospital.

She leaves Storm to see first hand that her Harry is okay; Emma takes him to a hospital in Germany, and rejoins Storm who with a few more auction bids with the same people and results, she is taken to Poland where she sees for herself the Black Madonna is a fake. They need to get it back at all costs again but somehow Harry's injuries Storm's winning bids are linked, but nothing makes sense even who is the bidder competing with Storm.

The Black Madonna, is a novel full of antique artifacts, history, and suspense, follows Bunn's novel of Gold of Kings, where he first introduced Storm Syrrell. Sadly, I didn't get to read that novel first. The Black Madonna, while not one I would have normally purchased from a book store, really turned out to be skillfully penned and gripping. I have read some of Davis's books and a lot of them are with Janette Oke.

This book was sent to my by Glass Roads Publishers for review.

4-0 out of 5 stars Action and Romance, a Win-Win in Fiction
From the first chapter, this plot gripped me and never let go until the last page. In fact, I'm not sure I have quit looking over my shoulder yet. Just when the reader is sure a character is safe and the worst is over, there's more. Long gone is the T. Davis Bunn, now just Davis Bunn, of the Jeanette Oake days. There is nothing cliché or fluffy here.

In The Black Madonna, antiques expert Storm Syrrell and Homeland Security agent Emma Webb get caught in the middle of a scheme where a mystery bidder wants to purchase artifacts through Storm at exorbitant prices. At the same time, friend harry Bennett vanishes and is assumed dead after an explosion in the middle east.

The story takes Syrrell and several other main characters on a chase through dangerous trek around the world, through the mountains in Switzerland, the desert in Pakistan and much more. I know nothing about antiques auctions, bidding, or security agents, yet I found myself in the world of these people as though I lived it. The glamour of jetting off to this country and that will tickle the adventure bug and thrill the imagination of the reader. And the fast action of this thriller will keep the reader enthralled right to the end. With murderers on the tail of every lead character, no place is safe. Female readers will likely enjoy the thread of romance in the book as well.

I enjoyed this book very much. If there is a drawback it's that the plot is complicated enough that I'm not sure I truly understood how it all ended. I got a little lost in my understanding of the motive of the mystery bidder. However, that was likely because I was rushing to get to the end to see how everything resolved. Perhaps I missed something.

One other drawback is that it seems the editors overlooked passive voice (use of "be" verbs) all over this book. I'm assuming it's because of the extensive publishing record of this author that he can get away with it. What's the big deal? Well, it made some of the description kind of flat. As if he were listing off facts rather than weaving a story. Here's an example from page 42. "The ancient stone breakwater was rimmed by a road...The seafront promenade was as packed...Old women dressed in black were accompanied by...Their speech and soft footfalls were.." And here's another from page 92. "The ceiling above Harry's canvas bunk was rusted through...His side window was cracked...Harry was dressed in...The bandages were wound...A wheelchair was jammed into the space..." Thankfully, the dialogue and action made up for the passive description.

I give the book 4 stars and highly recommend it. I was given a complimentary copy of the book from Glass Road PR in exchange for my fair and honest review.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Adventure/Romance
There is often nothing better than a well-written thriller. Davis Bunn has a terrific new book that takes you away - `The Black Madonna.'

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

Following the international acclaimed Gold of Kings, Storm Syrrell returns in the compelling story of The Black Madonna.
Antiques expert Storm Syrrell heads to Europe to investigate the clandestine trade in religious artifacts. She dismisses superstitious tales of miraculous healings and divine omens. Yet when an obsessive Russian oligarch calls - just as her friend Harry Bennett vanishes - all assumptions must be cast aside. Storm seeks answers in a medieval monastery. There, the scarred visage of an icon provokes even more startling questions. Is she prepared to confront both earthly and spiritual powers? Storm remains haunted by lessons in love and betrayal that lie just outside her grasp. But hesitation now holds mortal consequences.

Here is the biography of the author:

Davis Bunn ([...])is an award-winning author, recognized for literary excellence in genres as diverse as historical sagas, contemporary thrillers, and inspirational gift books. His novels have sold more than six million copies in sixteen languages.
Davis has received numerous accolades, including three Christy Awards for excellence in fiction. He currently serves as writer in residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University. He divides his time between England and Florida, and lectures internationally on the craft of writing.

I have read one other book by this author - `The Hidden Flame,' co-written with Janette Oke (you can read my review here - [...]). He is an amazing writer!

The book opens with one of the primary characters, Harry Bennett, a treasure hunter, getting into some trouble in Hebron on the West Bank in Israel. That area has been historically renowned in terms of biblical people:

After sunset, the Hebron air cooled at a grudging pace. Harry watched as the city square filled with people and traffic and shadows. The café became crowded with people who avoided looking Harry's way. Across the plaza, the Tomb of the Patriarchs shone pearl white. Beside the cave complex stood the Mosque of Abraham, a mammoth structure dating back seven hundred years.
The caves had been bought by the patriarch Abraham for four hundred coins, such an astronomical sum that the previous owner had offered to throw in the entire village. But Abraham had insisted upon overpaying so that his rightful ownership would never be questioned. He had wanted the caves as his family's burial site because supposedly they were also where Adam and Eve had been laid to rest. Besides Abraham himself, the caves also held the remains of his wife, Sarah, along with Rebecca, Isaac, and Jacob. (pp. 5-6)

Harry had an unusual mission this time:

After nearly three years of roiling conflict, the Israeli Antiquities Authority had basically lost control of smuggling in the West Bank. In the past, the IAA had nabbed about ninety thieves each year for pilfering tombs, ruined cities, palaces, and forts. Since the latest political trouble began, however, arrests had slumped to almost nothing. The IAA knew without question that the worst culprits were getting away. The international arts market was being flooded with ancient Hebrew treasures. What was more, a growing number of these items were bogus. Extremely well crafted, their workmanship often able to fool museum directors and other supposed experts, but phony just the same.
The Israeli government had needed someone with Harry Bennett's credentials, known throughout the world as a dedicated treasure dog. Somebody capable of infiltrating the system and identifying the source of the fake artifacts. (p. 11)

The main character, Storm Syrrell, finds herself in the midst of the aftermath of the thievery of Bernie Madoff - a slice of real life in this fictional book:

Not even Manalapan's [a city in Florida] superrich had managed to escape the Madoff plague. Bernie Madoff had wintered in Palm Beach. His clientele had included many of Palm Beach's finest. There were some streets on Palm Beach Island where every family faced bankruptcy, every multimillion-dollar home awaited the auctioneer's hammer, every bank account was wiped clean. The locals called these areas Bernievilles, after the depression-era Hoovervilles that had infested U.S. cities.
Needless to say, it was not ideal timing for a lady to establish herself in the Palm Beach antiques and treasures trade. (p. 17)

Storm did obtain a new client, Raphael Danton, who was in the business of provided exemplary service to his wealthy clients, doing whatever they needed to have done. Storm's friend, Emma Webb, employed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was able to give Storm some information on him before she had the opportunity to meet him in person:

"This guy is hot. Not to mention rich. And he's single. There must be something seriously wrong here. I'm thinking some secret wasting disease."
"His attitude is about the worst I've come across."
"Honey, a rich single hunk isn't allowed to have a personality. It's the law."
"He's really a hunk?"
"Let me put it this way. When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's kid grows up, he's going to look like armadillo roadkill beside your new client."
"Why does Homeland Security have a file on him?"
"Probably because he's so hot. I can imagine some lonely chief investigator spotting this guy in line somewhere and ordering her crew to find his home address." (pp. 31-32)

Storm and Emma ended up seeing Mr. Danton in person for the first time together:

Storm tightened her grip on her purse as Raphael Danton crossed the tarmac, climbed the stairs, and entered the terminal. Even the two ladies behind the counter stopped their conversation.
He wore a suede jacket the color of sand that probably cost more than Emma's entire wardrobe. A gold watch blinked on his tanned wrist. His eyes were more copper than brown. His jaw was straight from a movie by Cecil B. DeMille. Wavy hair to match his eyes. Long and strong body. Gorgeous tan. (p. 90)

One of the main plot points in this harrowing novel is the acquisition of religious artifacts by a mystery person. One of the items sought after is the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. A gentleman named Antonin Tarka and a Polish priest named Father Gregor explains to Storm:

"The Black Madonna of Czestochowa is a painting of Mary holding the baby Jesus. According to tradition, this icon was painted by Saint Luke himself. The painting was completed while Mary told Luke of Jesus' life. Luke then incorporated these stories and teachings into his Gospel. He painted the Black Madonna upon a cypress tabletop made by Mary's mother, Joseph."
...Father Gregor went on, "The picture remained in Jerusalem until the year 326, when it was gifted to Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine. She brought it back to her son's new capital, where it was housed in the city's cathedral. When the eastern Roman Empire fell to the Ottomans, the picture was first taken to Belz, then brought to its current home in 1382. The painting is called the Black Madonna because of the soot residue that discolors the figures, caused by centuries of votive candles and incense."
..."There have been almost two thousand years of miracles associated with this painting," Father Gregor continued. "Spontaneous healings, the repulsion of invaders - the list is endless."
Tarka said, "What you must understand, Ms. Syrrell, is that the painting's importance goes far beyond any particular miracle. The Black Madonna of Czestochowa represents Poland's ability to survive as a nation."(pp. 159-160)

I did not read the previous book featuring Storm Syrrell, `Gold of Kings.' If it's anything like this, I think I will have to backtrack into Mr. Bunn's catalog to read that one, and look forward to the continuing exploits of Ms. Syrrell. I am interested in seeing where her love life takes her (you will have to read this book to find out which of the many fascinating gentleman in this book capture her heart!).

I really enjoyed this book. It's great escapist reading, well-written, and could be converted into a terrific movie! Mr. Bunn is skilled at writing with a fashionable and classy flair. He certainly sent me all over the world - Israel, England, Switzerland - and all with excitement and intrigue.

This book was published by Howard/Touchstone, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, and provided by Glass Road Public Relations for review and giveaway purposes.

Reviewed by Andrea Schultz - Ponderings by Andrea - [...]

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Thriller
Although the beginning was a bit slow and confusing I did enjoy this Christian thriller. It is the second in the series featuring Storm Syrrell. It can stand on its own but it is better after reading the first to me. Once the action picked up this book was page turner. It had mystery, suspense, and little romance too. It reminded me of National Treasure the movie and Laura Croft: Tomb Raider. The characters and plot were interesting and mostly developed. I hope there is a third book featuring these characters. I recommend the first book and this one. :)

Review copy provided by Glass Road PR. ... Read more

7. Friends for Life! #1 (English Roses, The)
by Madonna
Hardcover: 96 Pages (2007-09-13)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$5.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142411140
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Meet the five most fabulous friends in London! This handy guide features everything you always wanted to know about the English Roses--from each girl's secret crush to her most embarrassing moment.The 96-page book has a section on each Rose, plus one for the reader to fill out about herself. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
We love all of the books in this series! Perfect for girls as young as 9, especially if an older sister reads this to a younger sister. Wonderful!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun
My daughter who doesn't like to read loves these books! They're fun and easy for them to read which encourages more reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars these books make a wonderful gift to give and you can keep adding to give a collection
i have been a fan of madonna her whole career and i love these sweet books..the illustrator did a fabulous job and the whole book is cheerful and fun... ... Read more

8. Mr. Peabody's Apples
by Madonna
 Hardcover: 40 Pages (2003-11-10)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$14.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001Q9E9EM
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"Mr. Peabodyís Apples takes place in 1949 in Happville, USA. Mr. Peabody is the beloved elementary school teacher and baseball coach, who one day finds himself ostracized when rumors spread through the small town. Mr. Peabody silences the gossip with an unforgettable and poignant lesson about how we must choose our words carefully to avoid causing harm to others.

Madonna dedicates Mr. Peabody's Apples to teachers everywhere."Amazon.com Review
With Mr. Peabody's Apples, her gorgeous sophomore venture into the realm of children's literature, Madonna sustains her transformation from material girl to mom. Inspired by a 300-year-old Ukrainian story and illustrated by the talented Loren Long, Madonna's tale is about the dangers of gossip. As a frequent target of the rumor mill, who better to teach the young ones about the "power of words" and their potential to cause "harm to others" than the newly reformed diva?

Set in a tiny American town, Madonna's story features the big-hearted and much beloved Mr. Peabody, an elementary school teacher and Little League coach who dedicates his summer Saturdays to the local losing team. The kindly teacher seems to savor life the way he savors his weekly apple--taking pleasure in the little things. One weekend after the game, Tommy Tittlebottom watches Mr. Peabody take his apple without paying for it. The following weekend Tommy calls in reinforcements to witness Mr. Peabody's transgression. By the next Saturday, Mr. Peabody's apparent theft has become grist for the Happville rumor mill and no one comes to Little League practice. These moments truly highlight Long's talents as an illustrator--the handsome Mr. Peabody (part Harry Connick Jr., part Robert Redford) comes to life on the page, his disappointment as palpable as that of Billy Little, the young boy who idolizes him. A simple explanation puts the rumors to rest, but as Mr. Peabody points out in a poignant demonstration, small talk can often lead to big trouble for everyone.

In a wonderful departure from her debut children's book The English Roses, Madonna has created a tribute to 1940's small-town America that delivers a fundamental message about respecting others. Children will love Mr. Peabody and parents will appreciate the gentle nudge with which he delivers his message. Mr. Peabody's Apples unfolds slowly, but readers young and old will want to linger over each illustrated page lovingly rendered in a muted pallet of rich color. --Daphne Durham ... Read more

Customer Reviews (108)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
I would recommend this book to any teacher or parent who wants students to learn a lesson on spreading rumors. It pictures are artfully completed and its tale is heartwarming.

5-0 out of 5 stars Madonna... really?
Madonna... Really?That is what I though about the book at first glance.I was given a copy of the book and never opened it because it was written by Madonna.Once I actually read the book I was impressed withthe message about being careful about what you say. Now, I read it at the beginning of every school year to introduce how rumors and gossip can have an impact on others.

Great 4th grade book!

1-0 out of 5 stars Published Only Because a Celebrity "Wrote" It
First off, when a celebrity's agent approaches a publisher about a book, the celebrity's name is instantly the deciding factor in whether or not to publish, and NOT the quality of the story.Secondly, having kids does not make you suddenly qualified to write children's books.

Having said that, this story is incredibly preachy, cliche, dreary, and predictable.After reading it you'll feel like Madonna hit you on the head with a sledgehammer of obvious knowledge.I get it, don't spread rumors and judge people.Perhaps we are supposed to sympathize with the author (and I use that term ridiculously loosely) because she has lived a life of being judged unfairly in tabloids, and we might've actually if Madonna actually knew how to compose a story to do so.But instead what we get is a unorganized mess pasted on the backdrop of some pretty good artwork.

Madonna's use of quirky names like Mr. Funkadeli leads me to believe she thinks she is writing the next Harry Potter, because the names of the characters completely distract from the story and setting.They have NO place in the story whatsoever (which any basic writing student would even know) and I can only imagine Madonna sitting behind her computer giggling about how everyone will have thought she was so witty to be able to come up with these names.

Don't get me wrong.This book probably sold tons of copies because a celebrity's name was on the cover - the same celebrity who probably promoted it on major network TV shows not only in the US but likely international too.It's no wonder publishers want to publish these cash cow books every once in a while.But unless trained in proper writing composition, celebrities should leave the writing to folks who are actually devoted to their craft.Celebrities writing kid's books perpetuates the idea that "anyone can do it!" just because it's short and supposedly simple.Just rhyme a few words and make some kooky names and voila, look ma I'm a children's book writer!Wrong...any creative in any field will tell you composing something simple and to the point is the MOST difficult challenge.

Stick to performing and adopting ethnic babies Madonna.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of Madonna's Best
I bought a few other titles in Madonna's children's book repertoire.. this was far superior to the others. I am an illustration major and I collect children's books for their artwork and the illustrations by Loren Long were absolutely beautiful.To be honest, the illustrations are what made this book for me, however the story is well written and has a nice moral as well.This would be a nice gift for any child or collector of children's books.

5-0 out of 5 stars What You See Is Not Always What Is
This is a great children's book.

It is also one for adults.And, when I think back to what Madonna once said, while receiving an award, "I want to thank even my critics," I knew that "Mr. Peabody's Apples" would be a simply written, yet powerfully demonstrated book about the power of one's words.

More than words, this is about the power of your thoughts.When we see something, or someone tells us something, it is important to verify the truth.Your interlocutor could have an agenda, and if you buy into the story, you will be just as culpable, as she or he is.

In "Mr. Peabody's Apples," one child witnessed his mentor from a distance doing what he thought was inconceivable.Yet, this child, in this small town, used the power of his thoughts, enthusiasm and peers to destroy a good person's name.

And, rather than to seek revenge, what this child experienced was a great lesson in the impact of his thoughts, intentions and actions.

Although this book only takes a few minutes to read, I believe that no matter who you are, and where you are in your life's journey, this story, and especially how the problem was turned into something good, will last a lifetime.

... Read more

9. Sex
by Madonna, Steven Meisel, Glenn O'Brien
Hardcover: 132 Pages (1992-11)
list price: US$49.95 -- used & new: US$244.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446517321
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Madonna takes a provocative look at sexual fantasies in photographs and words. Specially packaged, "Sex" combines enticing prose, photography and an exclusive CD included with the book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars Sex by Madonna
The book was not in as good as shape as I would have liked; however, it was still in good shape.The seller was quite conscientious.He was out of town when the order came in and fedexed it to me (at his own cost) when he returned.I would defintely buy from this seller again and recommend him to others.

5-0 out of 5 stars AWESOME
I always thought the book was cool, but now that I have it it is AWESOME!!
Great service too, fast, reliable. Will buy again in the future!

5-0 out of 5 stars A book of art
Why was Madonna's 1992 book so shocking? Because this is the first time an A-list star published sexually explicit photographs of herself.

This book isn't just naked pictures. It's much more than that. Madonna gets out all of her sexual frustration in this photographic book. It also includes letters and poems by Madonna's alter ego, Dita. And a comic book with a special edition CD, "Erotic" (a takeoff of Madonna's single "Erotica" which was released simultaneously.)

Everyone thought that Madonna really lived like one big whore in her private life; which could not be further from the truth. Both Warner Bros. and Madonna were only too glad to perpetrate this lie.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pseudo-arty-farty Crap!
The only value this pseudo-arty-farty book possesses lies in the name of its author, namely, Madonna [the queen of mass market endeavors]. Yes, this is a wonderful collector's item, if you're a fan, and you want to see Madonna in all her 'staged glory', however, this books adds nothing to the genre of erotica. I would have to agree with another reviewer who said it was "an over-priced picture book of amateur erotica" because at the end of the day it's only the price that truly blows you away!

3-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Failure
When this book came out in 1992, I was surprised how stark the book was and what a dark tone it took on.This was not a fun, erotic book but a rather somber look at sex and relationships.Back then I was turned off and thought Madonna had made a mistake.By all accoounts, it probably was as Madonna's image suffered and her status as 'pioneer' came to an end.It just wasn't as cool to like Madonna anymore.From 1992 to 1995, Madonna could no right in the public's mind, and although songs like 'Secret' and 'Take a Bow' were major hits and proved Madonna was still a musical force to be reckoned with, 'Sex' was the turning point in Madonna's career as cultural icon.

Now 12 years later, 'Sex' actually does carry some merit.It's still amateurish, particularly the packaging (what were they thinking with the binding??) and some of the phots (ie. with the skinhead lesbians and Naomi Campbell, Big Daddy Kane and Vanilla Ice) are pointless and silly, but some of the text is quite sexy, and Madonna explores some provocative themes such as S/M, power dynamics in relationships and bisexuality and homosexuality that are both sexy, insightful and funny.

I think Camille Paglia said it best in her 1992 review in 'Us' Magazine that the best photos in the book were the ones of Madonna on her own.I agree.The pictures of Madonna playing sexy housewife, hitchhiking nude, hand gliding nude and eating pizza in the nude are both voyeuristic and exciting, as Madonna plays out these roles with the sense of humor and fun that we've come to expect.The rest of the book is quite dark and yet you have to admire Madonna for showing the negative side of sex rather than just flashing her body for a quick buck.She actually makes an attempt to be intellectual about sex and pornography.

'Sex' is interesting reading and viewing.It is a fascinating failure.I think Madonna should have gone the route of playing characters rather than interacting with others and she should have concentrated more on the text.She could have also used a more original title.

As for the Christian reviewer who says that Madonna 'regrets' the book.I don't remember Madonna saying she regrets it but she wishes she had presented it in a different way.Deep down, I think she regrets it from a career standpoint but she should be proud of the things that she presented in this book.Her comments at the beginning of the book where she distinguishes fantasies from the dangers of AIDS are pointed and she also poignantly remarks that there is nothing better than sex with love.

In this book, it's almost like Madonna is searching for that love, and this book admirably points out the loneliness and unfulfillment that even sex brings. ... Read more

10. Goodbye, Grace? (The English Roses #2)
by Madonna
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2007-09-13)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$4.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142408832
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
When Grace's parents start exhibiting some odd behavior, the Roses put their sleuthing skills to work--and determine that Grace's family may be moving! Can the Roses' friendship survive if one of them leaves London? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
We love all of the books in the English Roses series! Perfect for girls as young as 9, especially if an older sister reads this to a younger sister. Wonderful!

5-0 out of 5 stars " The English Roses," books
My Grandaughter is 8 years old and loves these books. She breezes through them and keeps asking for more!
These books will be passed down to my 6 year old Grandaughter, so she can enjoy them just as much!!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book
Goodbye Grace is Book 3 of the English Roses series and in it Grace almost moves away.
Grace, one of the English Rose girls, who live in England, wanted to stay living in England and not move. Her dad had a job offer at a hospital that was better position, in another country. Grace told her friends that she might be moving away and they got really worried. A fairy visited each of her 4 friends in their dreams and showed them where Grace would move to and how they could email her, visit her on the train, or send postcards. Hher parents told her that her dad got a raise at his job, so he didn't have to move far away. The English roses were all happy then and went out for ice cream. My favorite part is when all the girls had a sleepover.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great books
this is a great book i am reading them so far they are so so so good!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars grace
perfect story for a girl between 7 and 13.Best "level"reading is 3rd grade BUT my brilliant 5th grader says it is her faveorite series. ... Read more

11. Madonna Confessions
by Guy Oseary
Hardcover: 224 Pages (2008-10-07)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$13.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1576874818
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In conjunction with this summer's most talked about concert, Madonna's highly anticipated "Sticky and Sweet" Tour, powerHouse Books will release Madonna Confessions, the official book of quintessential images taken by über-manager Guy Oseary during the course of over 50 performances around the world during the Material Girl's sold out 2006 Confessions Tour.

With over 250 never-before-seen images, the book showcases various provocative themes from that show including an iconographic equestrian opening to an urban Bedouin segment and on to glam punk and disco fever.

The photographs celebrate what the New York Times called "the sheer spectacularity of her physical form" along with show stopping highlights and groundbreaking staging. Oseary, who is also Madonna's manager and has worked with her for the past twenty years, traveled with the artist and was given unprecedented access to each performance. As a result, the photographs in Madonna Confessions capture the essence, sheer energy, and excitement that came alive onstage every night. The photographs were each lovingly handpicked by Oseary and Madonna and are interspersed with quotes from Madonna. Long considered one of the most exciting live performers of our era, Madonna Confessions is a visual delight that highlights the multi-Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee's astounding career.

“powerHouse is delighted to collaborate with one of the world's greatest live performers; Guy Oseary's exclusive access to each night's Confessions show allowed him the opportunity to capture unparalleled iconic moments in live performance photography. The intimacy and the sweep of the work put you front row center of an incredible experience.”
—Daniel Power, CEO of powerHouse Books. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Reviving Madonna Confessions Tour
Personally, I think this was the best Madonna's tour so far. And this book it's the perfect closure for that era. It's full with high definition pictures, phrases, dates, and photos you have never seen before. Although some of them are not quite what I'd expect, the book succeeds in putting on images what this concert was about. Definitely a must for Madonna's fans.

2-0 out of 5 stars Just A Picture Book
I expected a little more than just big pictures. Nothing else is here. Pictures of her posing. Pictures of her trying to play her guitar. If you like her I guess it's OK, but to me it seemed like another way to milk people for cash. As if her ticket prices and souvenirs aren't expensive enough! Naturally her fans have been sent here to give everything 5 stars, but honestly I wasn't impressed. As I said, if you like her you may like this book but a casual browser would be just bored.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nice book but strange odor
This is a very nice book but it has a strange odor.Is it the ink?The paper?I'm not sure.Strange.

5-0 out of 5 stars I confesse! Amazing Photo Book!!!
Very nice and beautiful photos took by Guy Oseary, Madonna`s Manager. Hope to see the same project at Sticky & Sweet Tour with Brazilians Concerts...Madonna Confessions

3-0 out of 5 stars The Confessions Tour up Close and Personal
Guy Oseary is the CEO of Maverick Records, Madonna's record label, and not a professional photographer. Yet, he took it upon himself to photo-document Madonna's 2006 Confessions Tour and did a tolerably good job. The book is all photos, with the occasional quote from Madonna overlaid on the picture. The pictures are mostly full-page and close to the action, giving the viewer a feel for the concert energy and productions. While the book is not organized in a sequential format, it focuses on each song, showing different views from the different performances around the world.Each page is labeled with a mostly transparent font, with the date and location of the show it was taken at, but often the text blends in with the background so much as to be unreadable. Proceeds from the book help benefit Madonna's Raising Malawi Foundation, benefiting orphans in Malawi. ... Read more

12. The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete Known as the Iron Nun
by Sister Madonna Buder, Karin Evans
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2010-10-05)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$11.27
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439177481
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Editorial Review

Product Description
SISTER MADONNA BUDER is 80 years old, has run more than 340 triathlons, and doesn’t know what all the fuss is about. In The Grace to Race, she shares the no-nonsense spirit and deep faith that inspired her extraordinary journey from a prominent St. Louis family to a Catholic Convent and finally to championship finish lines all over the world. As a beautiful young woman, she became an elegant equestrian and accomplished amateur actress. But as she describes in this intimate memoir, she had a secret plan as early as 14: she wanted to devote her life to God. After being courted by the most eligible bachelors in her hometown, she chose a different path and became a Sister of the Good Shepherd. She lived a mostly cloistered life as a Nun until her late forties, when a Priest suggested she take a run on the beach. She dug up a pair of shorts in a pile of donated clothes, found a pair of second-hand tennis shoes, and had a second epiphany. This time, she discovered the spiritual joy of pushing her body to the limit and of seeing God’s natural world in all its splendor. More than thirty years later, she is known as the Iron Nun for all the triathlons she has won. Just five years ago, the age 75–79 category was created for her at the Hawaiian Ironman in Kona, where she completed a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full 26.2-mile marathon in record time. Now she has set her sights on a new goal: inaugurating another new Ironman age group, 80–84, in 2010.

Sister Madonna holds dozens of records, has broken dozens of bones, and tells of dozens of miracles and angels that propelled her to a far-flung race. "It is my faith that has carried me through life’s ups and downs," she writes. "Whenever injured, I wait for the Lord to pick me up again and set me on my feet, confidently reminding Him, ‘God, you know, my intent is to keep running toward you.’"

The Grace to Race is the courageous story of a woman who broke with convention, followed her heart, and found her higher mission. ... Read more

13. The Bellini Madonna: A Novel
by Elizabeth Lowry
Paperback: 368 Pages (2010-05-25)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$2.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312429665
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Thomas Lynch was once a brilliant young art historian. Now he is a disgraced, middle-aged art historian, overly fond of the bottle and of his fresh young students. But everything will change now that he's on the trail of a lost masterpiece, a legendary Madonna by the Italian master Giovanni Bellini.
Insinuating himself into the crumbling English manor house where the painting could be concealed, Lynch discovers that his search had just begun and he himself may be the pawn in a more elaborate game. A Victorian diary that draws Robert Browning into the complicated provenance might provide the key—if only Lynch can manage to beat his hosts in the search. Interlaced with complex clues and hidden jokes, "this sophisticated, parodic puzzle" (Booklist) reels from the lush English countryside to the sternly lovely hill towns of the Veneto, from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first.
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Customer Reviews (7)

1-0 out of 5 stars Contrived, implausible, and far too long
Set aside the impossible length of the book, the endless self-flagellation of the narrator, and his implausible failure to find the Bellini Madonna he set out to discover.Lowry never makes it clear just why he should hate himself as he does. The only possible answer is thrown in at the last minute -- unfair to readers who have waded through 300+ plus pages thinking the narrative is going somewhere.

3-0 out of 5 stars An insane appetite for lost art, roasted asparagus and words...
In September of 1506, or so the story goes, Albrecht Durer, the famed German artist, writes a letter to a friend regarding a visit on his second trip to Italy to the workshops of Giovanni Bellini. He found the Old Master in his workshop painting a very different and startling Madonna, a last aging Madonna.She seems weary and tired stripped of her religious gildings, sitting with an empty lap.
Enter Thomas Lynch, a quirky art historian with a doctorate on Bellini altarpieces, former professor of fine arts at a small Vermont College, now middle-aged.He has been searching for this last and lost Bellini for ten years.
Lynch has found in a 1972 catalog a minor Victorian art collector, one James Roper VI, whose Italian wife has inherited an uncataloged Madonna attributed to the workshop of Bellini; he wrangles an invitation to Mawle, the 17th century manor home in the Berkshires of the present-day Ropers.Most of the story centers at Mawle.We meet Maddalena, the often-absent mistress of the house: her daughter Anna, a free spirit, a young girl named Vicky, a second cousin, twice removed from the Italian side of the family; a yokel gardener who pries bottle top with his front teeth.
When he's not reclining on a deck chair on the south lawn in a "calf-length maroon paisley dressing gown with corded waist and starched black cuffs," Lynch searches the large and rambling mansion for the lost Bellini.He finds Roper's diary revealing a trip to Asolo in 1889 in a trunk in a small dressing room; Anna gives him the family Bible. There are many well-written fantasy scenes provoked by Roper's Italian remembrances.
Elizabeth Lowry's debut novel, THE BELLINI MADONNA needs a bit of editing.If we delete Lynch's childhood dalliance with a Catholic priest, wash out Anna's mouth with soap, and remove most of Lynch's lecherous thoughts, we'll have a pretty decent lost art mystery.Lowry has a tremendous vocabulary and an immense grasp of the Italian fin de sicle period of the 19th century.
Oh, the recipe for roast asparagus is in the hardcover edition, page 249.

2-0 out of 5 stars Too much work to enjoy
A thoroughly unlikable protagonist visits an unlikable country estate inhabited by unlikable people, looking for a lost masterpiece.The prose is deft, but way too dense.Too much detail obscures the plot, making the reading a chore.All that work for a rather unpleasant story with an unsatisfying ending.Was quite glad to be done with it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Her Master's Voice
At first, I thought that I had strayed into a novel by James Hamilton-Paterson (`Cooking with Fernet Branca' etc.), but I soon realized that Ms Lowry strove for much more than flippancy and was busy worshipping at the altar of a much grander deity called James, i.e., Henry James.

Thus, the book comes with much that endears Henry James to some and makes him loathsome to others, i.e., exquisitely crafted, though at times enervatingly oblique or even pretentious prose and a plot that unfolds at the utmost leisure and at times seems to be more or less treading water. There is, of course, something very un-Jamesian about the generous helpings of sex; healthy reminders that we live in a age of fewer inhibitions; though I could well have done without another variation on the perennial evergreen of Roman catholic clerics abusing children.

And though I was soon aware that the epithet`thriller' used in one of the rave reviews on the blurb is wildly off the mark, I would have wished for something more of a surprise in the course of the book's denouement. On the other hand, the atmosphere of gloom and failure pervading the last pages is undeniably impressive.

4-0 out of 5 stars Stylish Art Mystery
Reviewed by Enid Grabiner for Rebecca's Reads (7/09)

Thomas Lynch, once a respected and gifted art historian, has a penchant for too much drinking and a fondness for young students, reducing him to disgrace among his peers. He is fired from his professorial position in a small New England college and sets off in pursuit of a fabled missing painting, that of a Bellini Madonna. In newly found letters, its provenance is attributed to a James Roper.

Hoping to recover the painting and receive fame and fortune for the find, he travels to the Mawle, in the English countryside, hoping to wheedle his way into the deteriorating home of Roper's granddaughter under pretense of inventorying her art collection.As he secretly searches through the manor in hopes of finding clues, he discovers a diary providing evidence of the painting's existence and whereabouts. He becomes embroiled with provocative Anna, daughter of the frequently absent landlady, Maddalena, her young relative Vicky and a large menacing gardener. As the search continues, the reader wonders if Lynch becomes the betrayer or the betrayed?

This mystery is complicated by the author through the overuse of erudite prose, compelling the average reader to have a thesaurus at hand. "The Bellini Madona" offers a very complex narrative and plot with a very unlikeable central character. This first novel by Elizabeth Lowry is not easy reading for the typical mystery enthusiast. It is rather for the lover of literature and art who is willing to put in some effort appreciate the humor and intricate story line. ... Read more

14. Big-Sister Blues (English Roses #5)
by Madonna
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2008-05-29)
list price: US$10.99 -- used & new: US$5.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142410934
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amy's convinced that her life as she knows it will be over after the arrival of her new baby sister. When pregnancy forces her mother to cancel their long-planned trip to Milan, she feels that things couldn't possibly be worse...until the English Roses have to take Charlotte's younger brother to the circus! Patrick is the brattiest of all brats and his tantrums make Amy glummer than ever at the thought of having a younger sibling. But when she visits her mother in the hospital and holds the baby for the first time, Amy realizes she can't wait to be a big sister after all! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book, Website doesn't work --Disappointing!
I love the books but the games don't work on the website.The "super secret" passwords provided at the back of each book don't work. It's a shame that the website is of such poor quality, when the books are wonderful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great set of books!
My daughter loves these books!She's nine, so eventhough some of the story lines include crushes on boys (the girls in the book are a bit older) they mostly focus on these girls, their lives, their unique personalities and friendship. She gets through each one pretty quickly and I have to rush to get her the next!I'm glad I have another daughter who will be able to enjoy them too when she's older. Great girl stuff! ... Read more

15. The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot: Marranos and Other Secret Jews--A Woman Discovers Her Spiritual Heritage
by Trudi Alexy
Paperback: 320 Pages (1994-09-03)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$24.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060603402
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Acclaimed in the Progressive's "Best Reading of 1993," these thrilling and harrowing firsthand stories of survivors and their rescuers vividly reveal the secret history of the Jews who found asylum from Hitler's Final Solution under Franco's Fascist regime.

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Customer Reviews (13)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not as interesting as we hoped.
This was recommended for our book club to read.The majority of members were disappointed as it is very narrow in scope and repetitive.The first portion appears to be the author's attempt to heal herself psychologically (less a discovery of spiritual heritage than of her "self"); the second is mostly biographies of people who had experiences similar to hers.So after the first few, our members pointed out, it was just the same story with different names.

I had hoped for more history, since the subtitle is "Marranos and other Secret Jews," but there was none of that.Really, it should have been "Crypto-Jews of the Holocaust in Spain," if you want accuracy.She never really explained what "The Mezuzzah in the Madonna's Foot" means; we had to interpret.The book is well-written, but could have done better with some more aggressive editing, a different perspective, and a more accurate title (at least, one that relates more directly to the contents, instead of appearing to belong to a different book on the same topic).There are other books on the history of crypto-Jews or Conversos that people can read if they are really interested in the history, instead of just a bunch of Holocaust-era biographies.

5-0 out of 5 stars Uniquely memorable.Should be back in print.
I went to a public reading by the author when this book was first published (1984 or 85) and bought the book because when I hear a good reading and discussion of a book, I figure the least I can do to repay the author and the bookstore for the "free" entertainment is to buy the book, often not much more than a movie ticket.So I bought the book.

When I started reading it, I found myself astonished to be unable to put it down.I finished it in just a couple of days.

After that, everytime I had a friend announce an upcoming trip to Spain I would give her or him a copy of this book.I could never bear to "loan" my copy for fear of never getting it back.I had never been interested in visiting Spain myself but after reading this book a trip to Spain became a high priority ambition.

I won't say anything about the contents because other reviewers have done that so well and in such depth.But I will say that although I probably read two hundred books a year, I have never forgotten this book and many of its details. And now that many of people are getting their genetic histories "done" and discovering unknown Jewish histories for themselves, this book has gained new value on top of that already discussed.

If you have a chance, a happy chance, to find a copy of this book, read it.You won't regret it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A riveting story of a little-known part of Holocaut history
Alexy was a child in Prague, in 1939. When World War II broke out, her father suddenly announced that the family was leaving, and that they would be baptized as Catholics. Up to that point, the author had not even known that her family was Jewish.From Prague, they fled to France, and then to Spain.

Years later, after she was living in America, she learned that many Jews had fled to Spain during the Holocaust, but that most had not converted or hidden their Jewishness.

As she began to trace her roots, she discovered the irony of Jews seeking protection in a country that, centuries before, and persecuted and expelled them.

There are a couple of books here, fighting for supremacy!

The first book is about how and why Spain opened its borders to Jewish refugees from the Holocaust.

"The irrefutable fact remains that, although the presence of Jews placed the whole country at risk of being drawn into another ar or occupied by Hitler's forces, Fascist Spain, both officially and unofficially, accepted thousands of foreign Ashkenazic Jews within its borders and allowed them to remain until they were able to secure residence elsewhere."

Why? The question is probably unanswerable, though Alexy tries her best. Guilt over the expulsions of 1492? Maybe, but this does not account for the welcome to Ashkenazic, as well as Sephardic, Jews. Maybe Franco had Jewish ancestors? There's no proof of that. A political decision in case the Allies won? Perhaps, but in a country devastated economically by the Civil War, Spain gave much. One interesting suggestion is that because of the expulsion, and the concomitant absence of a Jewish population, Spain did not develop the kind of anti-Semitic attitudes seen in other European countries.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that thousands owe their lives to an official blind eye, and open Spanish arms.

Alexy begins by explaining her quest, her need to understand her own family history that sent her to Spain, and to the New York archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee ("the Joint"), the organization that was responsible for helping stateless Jewish refugees in Spain. She interviews several people who found, or whose parents found, a haven across the Pyrenees, and in the section called "The Rescuers" she writes of those, Jews and non-Jews, who provided the means to safety. People such as Lisa Fittko, who acted as a guide, and Renée Reichmann, who from Tangier arranged material support, and Spanish diplomats who told the Gestapo, "these are our Jews" and taught the children a few words of Spanish in case they should be challenged.

The next two parts seemed to me as though they should be in a different book. "The Reformers" writes of present-day liberalization of Spanish laws and attitudes about non-Catholics (not merely Jews). It's interesting but although it touches on some theories as to why Spain helped, it is really more focused on the present and seems out of place.

The same is true of the final section, about contemporary Marranos and other "secret Jews". This is a huge topic about which a whole book could, and should (and probably has, I'll have to look) be written. In fact, the subtitle of this book suggests that that's what it's about. But it isn't.

Either this book should have been much longer, and made into a history of Spain and the Jews (and that would be a seriously long book!), or it should have been shorter, and the last two parts saved to become another book or books.

But those are quibbles. This is a fascinating, and very personal, discussion of an unexpected and little-known part of the Holocaust.

4-0 out of 5 stars A valuable addition to Holocaust literature about rescue
Highly-readable account of Spain's indirect role during the Holocaust as many Jews sought escape to the West through Spain.There are interesting portraits of both the rescued and rescuers, with additional chapters on modern Spanish Jews and Marranos or Crypto-Jews of Spanish descent.Alexy did a great service bringing these stories to our attention as very few have thought of Jews in Spain beyond the Inquisition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Interviews if you will.
This is a good book, all the stories gathered and told really paint the picture of what people went through trying to escape the Holocust, and how Spain really did help them. ... Read more

16. Catch the Bouquet! #12 (English Roses, The)
by Madonna
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2009-12-24)
list price: US$10.99 -- used & new: US$3.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142411299
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The final installment to the chapter book series featuring Madonna’s bestselling characters,the English Roses!

The English Roses’ number-one teacher, Miss Fluffernutter, is getting married—to Binah’s father! The Roses couldn’t be happier for their beloved teacher, or for Binah, whose own mother died when she was just a baby. And Binah is thrilled at the idea of having a stepmother like Miss F—that is, until she realizes that a new woman in her father’s life means less time for Binah. Binah misses her father terribly. And it doesn’t help that Charlotte is driving everyone nuts trying to plan the perfect wedding. Can the English Roses save this walk down the aisle from going totally awry? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
We love all of the books in this series! Perfect for girls as young as 9, especially if an older sister reads this to a younger sister. Wonderful!

3-0 out of 5 stars Catch the bouquet- English Roses
A very good book, although I was a bit disappointed for its lack of colourful illustrations comparing to the first book of the series. ... Read more

17. Madonna: Sticky & Sweet
by Guy Oseary
Hardcover: 308 Pages (2010-01-09)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$19.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1576875326
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Following the critical success of Madonna: Confessions, the powerHouse team, Madonna, and Guy Oseary return with a knockout punch: Madonna: Sticky & Sweet, a dynamic look at Madonna's celebrated Sticky & Sweet Tour, which broke all previous records and became the number-one highest grossing tour of any solo artist ever--with Madonna playing before 2,350,282 fans and selling over 280 million dollars' worth of tickets. The tour has been extended through the summer of 2009 and will have passed the mark of 400 million dollars in ticket sales by the time it's complete.

In over 500 full-color photographs taken on, and backstage, during the course of this historic 58-show tour, Oseary documents the four acts of the rock-driven, pop journey that is the Sticky & Sweet show--Pimp: A mashed-up homage to 1920s deco and modern-day gangsta pimp, with Madonna making a grand entrance dressed in Givenchy; Old School: Madonna tips her hat to her early-80s, downtown, New York City dance roots, with flashes of Keith Haring and the dance culture vibe of the time, including the birth of Hip Hop; Gypsy: A VIP trip to La Isla Bonita, infused with the spirit of Romanian folk music and dance--a tour de force; and Rave: Far-eastern influences emerge all sparkly and sporty. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Awesome, but not all that.'
It is HUGE. Really. And heavy. There's nothing you haven't seen already. Tons of incredible pictures in a book. And if you expect to see yourself in the crowd on one of the pics, just give it up. There's only 4 or 5 pictures of the crowd, most of them in Buenos Aires.

It's good to complete your collection, though. It's not extraordinary.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lots of beatiful picture and unforgettable moments
A book full with picture from the unforgettable show.
Amazing moments in a good quality photos

4-0 out of 5 stars Great, not perfect
The book is really nice, definetly worth the price. It has some really cool pictures (including backstage), although is clear that guy is not a professional photographer.

4-0 out of 5 stars Madonna: Sticky & Sweet by Guy Oseary
Great photos of the "Queen Of Pop." Definitely a must for Madonna fans or anyone who wants a cool keepsake from the tour.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous!!!
This is the book that finish all about the great tour of Madonna!!! If you went to show, bought the dvd+cd and got the tour book... you must have this one!!!! ... Read more

18. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, Second Edition
by Robert A. Orsi
Paperback: 320 Pages (2002-03-01)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$15.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300091354
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In a masterful evocation of Italian Harlem and the men and women who lived there, Robert Orsi examines how the annual festa of the Madonna of 115th Street both influenced and reflected the lives of the celebrants. His prize-winning book offers a new perspective on lived religion, the place of religion in the everyday lives of men, women, and children, the experiences of immigration and community formation, and American Catholicism. This edition includes a new introduction by the author that outlines both the changes that Italian Harlem has undergone in recent years and significant shifts in the field of religious history. Awarded the Alpha Sigma Nu National Book Prize (sponsored by Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States) for outstanding book in the humanities. Winner of the 1986 American Catholic Historical Association's John Gilmary Shea Prize. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Madonna of 115th Street By Robert Anthony Orsi. Review By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA
The Madonna of 115th Street is the study of Italian immigrants who settled in East Harlem, New York City.It is additionally, a story of a religious celebration, the annual festa of the Madonna of Mount Carmel on East 115th Street in New York City. The book highlights personal experiences of this particular ethnic group as they adapt to life in America while striving to preserve their heritage.These Italian immigrants use the festa to pass on to the children their deepest, most important values of faith in God, rispetto (mutual respect), and the domus (family).

Above all else, the domus was the most important thing to the Italian immigrants, and everything that they did was related back to concern for their family.Perhaps because of their oppression in the old country, southern Italians understood that first and foremost, they must support and protect their family because that is the only thing that truly matters."They had traveled by steamship away from the world of la miseria, the great suffering of southern Italy, best translated as slow dying, an emptying of hope and ambition in the face of oppression and neglect. The immigrants themselves knew the spiritual consequences of this economic disease-a numb posture of hopelessness and despair.The world they left was characterized by unemployment, overpopulation, disease, over taxation, and internal colonization.They left to save themselves and their families."The decision to emigrate was a family decision, taken as part of a broader family strategy for survival.Some member or members of the family would leave home and travel to America to make money and send it back to the family."(18)"The family provided for everything.We ate as one family.We had no use for money as individuals."(78)The immigrants memories of the old country were memories of the domus."The immigrants did not know an Italian nation-they only knew the domus in their paesi.So their memories and images of Italy were memories of strict family order and discipline, of family loyalty and mutual support."(78)"...And when I saw how industrious the Italian girls in the community were, how they brought reverently the weekly paycheck to the mother...I was willing to forgive their layers of lipstick and marry one of the American Italians."(78)Respect for each other within the family was also sacred."Rispetto indicated a general attitude toward life, affirming the dignity of the person respected as well as the person respecting.This same respect was present in the their relationship with God, the Madonna, the Saint's and their community."There was not one kind of respect for the Madonna and another for the community and domus; the posture was the same in both cases, and this was recognized and blessed during the celebration."(228)

The annual festa was a visual and spiritual celebration of faith in God and respect for Him as well as respect for the family here on earth.It was a way to preserve southern Italian traditions.The festa was a yearly event that brought all generations together through the celebration of the Mass, the saying of the Rosary, the Magnificant, a grand procession of the statue of the Madonna, and the traditional making of the vows.Heavenly vows of young and old were made during the festa and family vows were passed on from parents to children.Traditional Italian food was always prepared and the preparations for the festa began weeks in advance."For one week a year, the immigrants could refresh themselves, reestablish their memories, and relocate their stability by returning to their hometowns in religious spirit.The immigrant was able, temporarily, to experience the smells, tastes and sounds of the lost world of his or her past.This annual moral reorientation and resituating could give the immigrants confidence and hope in the face of their fears that immigration had undermined their moral world."(169) "Parents and children together fulfilled vows, usually made by the former, to the Madonna; together they prepared for and welcomed guests into the domus, shouldered the heavy burden of the family's pain, cleaned the apartments and streets of the community."(170)"The invisible cables of rispetto which bound the members of a domus together and which bound one domus to another in Italian Harlem were revealed, celebrated, sanctified, and maintained on the sacral occasions of weddings, baptism, and funerals.These events, clearly important in the life of the domus, were the central public events, along with the religious feste, of Italian Harlem."(100)

The festa represented everything that mattered to the Italian immigrant; the communion of people and saints, the domus, and respect for all.Through popular religion, and the festa, these Italian immigrants shared their heritage with the next generation in America.Orsi succeeds in communicating that the domus was first and foremost to the Italian immigrants and that they took great pains to teach this value to their children here in America.The book contains rich immigrant stories and antidotes of a passionate, deeply spiritual people."What was valuable about the mezzogiorno and what needed to be passed on to the younger generations in Italian Harlem was the domus."(78)

3-0 out of 5 stars A highwayscribery "Book Report"
Like the many penitents he renders, Robert Orsi sees all things in "The Madonna of 115th Street."

A scholar of things religious, and connoisseur of matters Italian-American, Orsi combines these two interests so that one defines and explains the other.

To the uninitiated, the Madonna of Mount Carmel is just a statue like countless others throughout Europe and the Americas that interprets the Virgin Mary in plaster relief.

But in Orsi's erudite hands La Madonna (and the faith she engenders) becomes an analytical tool that unlocks doors to discussion on Italian-American family life, the role of work, the trials of immigration, the history of colonization in the old country, and, of course, food.

His base of scholarly operations is the now-vanished Italian East Harlem, but those raised in the culture will recognize themselves, their families, and neighborhood networks in its residents.

The author did years of in-depth research, but found most of his truths on the streets of Little Italy. The resulting interviews may have informed the text, but don't make many actual appearances.

Much of "Madonna" is given over to Orsi's ornate reasoning, and even speculation, about the meanings of the religious icon, and how they can be discerned in the behaviors of mid-century Italian-Americans in urban New York.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Somebody had to do it and his thoughts mostly ring true. Where they don't, the opportunity for debate and discussion naturally arise, and that is a second service the author rendered.

Don't give this book to your Aunt Rosina in Coney Island unless she's got a college degree and a sociological bent. "Madonna" is a scholarly text that can be dense as a zeppole with academic jargon or leavened as a sfogliatelle with deeply meditative conclusions.

But it is a delightful trove of considerations on the Italian-American and immigrant experience; a beautiful piece of history that might have otherwise been lost to those who care about them.

5-0 out of 5 stars highly recommended, a wonderful book.
A fantastic book by Orsi! If you like Italian, Catholic, religious or NYC history, then try this out. Not a typical history book. Orsi adds a great mix of sociology, anthropology, psychology, anecdotes and solid research to create a fascinating read.

4-0 out of 5 stars THE THEOLOGY OF THE STREETS
Robert Orsi's Madonna of 115th Street is a brilliant multi-dimensional research on the meaning of "popular religion" in the Italian community of Harlem in New York. However, to be just, Orsi himself is rather cautious about labeling his study by the term "popular". It is "religion in the streets," Orsi says, that is in the center of his examination: "This study began in a sense of the limitations of the meaning of popular religion and a desire to broaden and deepen our understanding of this phenomenon" (Orsi, 1985:xiv). Robert Orsi raises pertinent and engaging questions regarding the melding of ethnicity, religion, and community values which have implications beyond the scope of the present work.
The study of Italian American religion begins with the people themselves as a story of suffering, conflict, and hope intimately related to Mary. The men and women of Italian Harlem, the Sicilian refugees brought to the United States along with their modest material goods their incredibly rich religiosity and devotion to the Marian cult. The latter, unlike in the case of Polish Catholics (Orsi, 1985:xvi), was hardly controlled by the Church structures. This unique feature of the Southern Italian Catholicism defined people's religion as the totality of their ultimate values, their most deeply held ethical convictions, their efforts to order their reality, their cosmology: "This also could be called their "ground of being", but only if this is understood in a very concrete, social-historical way, not as reality beyond their lives, but as the reason that, consciously and unconsciously, structured and was expressed in their actions and reflections" (Orsi, 1985:xvii). Orsi's analysis resembles Durkheim's research on The Elementary Forms of Religious Life who believes that religion is "a fundamental and permanent aspect of humanity". The reality of religious forces is to be found in the real experience of social life, according to Durkheim (Durkheim, 1995:36). Interestingly enough, in the same way as Durkheim finds the birth of that idea in rites, as moments of collective effervescence, Orsi finds the annual festa of the Madonna of Mount Carmel in the 115th Street in the heart of the socio-religious dynamics of the Italian Harlem.
Symbol, ritual, and myth - the entire experience of Mount Carmel emerged from and referred back to the people's lives; the men and women of Italian Harlem shared and found themselves in the destiny of symbolic meanings when they attended the festa of the Madonna of 115th Street. In turn, their experience of the Madonna shaped their American destiny.

4-0 out of 5 stars Best Depiction of Italian-American Life I Have Ever Read!!
Great book! Covers not only the Catholicism of Italian Americans, but also a great deal about their home and family lives.Neither PC nor arrogant, this book depicts the Italian American world better than anything I have read! I kept nodding in agreement and underlining passages while reading. Forget the movie stereotypes and sentimental recollections;this is the real thing.It helped me understand my own culture a great deal.

The only letdown was the part about a "Theology of the Streets." That section struck me as a tad unrealistic. ... Read more

19. The Missing Madonna: A Sister Mary Helen Mystery
by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie
Mass Market Paperback: 272 Pages (2005-08-02)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312936958
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Sister Mary Helen is sinfully good at snooping through the San Francisco fog. Now a fellow OWL (Older Woman's League) member has disappeared. The police believe Erma Duran simply flew the coop, but Sister feels a Higher Authority pushing her to investigate. A gold medal entangled in Erma's bedsprings and a cryptic clue to a Byzantine madonna deepens the mystery. By the time Police Inspector Kate Murphy joins the hunt, Sister's good intentions have already paved her way straight to the Mission District--and a hellish encounter with sudden death.

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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Missing Madonna Mystery
I have read all of the Sister Mary Helen murder mysteries.I find them quite enjoyable.They are easy reading and keep my attention,I have the whole series.

3-0 out of 5 stars Just what I expected--a little light reading
I have read this entire series as a little light reading for those evenings when I don't want my brain to work.I thoroughly enjoyed the flow of the story, even with the predictable ending.The light personalities are a bit sketchy, but drawn nicely enough that I pretty much got the picture.The characters remind me of my aunts and their friends.They'd be the type to get into just the same type of mischief as Sister Mary Helen and crew.If you liked the other Sister Mary Helen books, you'll like this one.If you thought the others were too much fluff for your liking, then this is no different.

1-0 out of 5 stars A too sweet&silly narrative.
A poor-to-average attempt at a murder mystery. The main characters are too cute, the murderer too obvious, and the entire story is too dull. I read this simply out of curiousity to see if the author, who is a nun, couldbring an interesting perspective. Alas.

It's not terrible, but neither isit good.

Sorry, Sister. ... Read more

20. Madonna: A Biography (Greenwood Biographies)
by Mary Cross
Hardcover: 152 Pages (2007-05-30)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$28.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313338116
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

As the Material Girl, Eva Perón in Evita, and most recently, queen of the disco floor, Madonna's transformations and assumed identities keep her fans wanting more. She has inspired university professors and cultural critics to enshrine her as a postmodern icon. Known for her persona as much as for her music, Madonna has stirred controversy through her use of religious and sexual depictions in her songs, music videos, concerts, and in one notorious publication. This biography traces Madonna's ambitious journey from a Midwest upbringing as part of a large family to achieving fame on a global scale. It also brings readers up to date on her latest incarnation as a wife and mother, living on a country estate in England. Students researching cultural studies topics will accurate information on the musician's life and body of work, as well as critical commentary on her impact and lasting significance as one of the most influential female entertainers of our time.

She has been the subject of countless magazines and newspaper stories around the world, whether for her sold-out concerts or as an advocate for Kabbalah, the spiritual movement rooted in Jewish mysticism. This book shares her story and provides a way to consider the influence Madonna has had through her ever-evolving career in shaping our popular culture. A timeline of significant events and a bibliography of print and electronic sources for additional research round out this volume.

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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A correction in reply to critics
As the author of this book, Madonna: a Biography, I'd like to correct the view that it was written for schools. This book was not written for high school students. Yes, Greenwood Press is an academic publisher but its Biography series is published for the general public as well as for university and public libraries and has major academic readership.

2-0 out of 5 stars Decent but not enthralling
Had I known this book was written for students I would have never purchased it. In saying that the book was factual and a tad on the boring/borderline high school text come keep it clean dare not revealing the TRUE Madonna. For such a sex icon I would like to have read more of a "juicy" tale.Anyhow I can happily pass this book onto anyone under the age of 12 and feel safe knowing they will not venture out wearing cut off lace gloves as they needed to have hit the clubs in the 80's and 90's to understand The Madonna.

5-0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book!
The answers to anything you ever wanted to know about Madonna that AREN'T on the gossip pages lie within the pages of this book. Mary Cross unleashes a deluge of well-researched, and accurate, information about Madonna the mega-star and how she came to be.

A fascinating and easy read, Cross tells the story of a woman with a "never say die" attitude, in an entertaining way, without resorting to trashy, tell-all techniques. The book is organized in a very accessible format, including a detailed timeline that chronicles Madonna's rise to stardom right from the day she was born. Her #1 hits, albums, music videos, films, books and plays are also organized into individual timelines. The book even includes a section of photographs that takes the reader through the varied incarnations of Madonna's frenetic life.

As a lover of historical biographies, I'd rank this book up there with some of the best I've read. I wouldn't be surprised if "Madonna: A Biography" became the official the go-to source for Madonna fans around the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A lively and interesting read!
I picked up this book on a whim and was captured after the first three pages. The writing is so lively that it kept my interest up even when the subject veered into areas that I might not otherwise care much about. And the author's dry understatements tell volumes. Ms. Cross seems to know just about everything about Madonna and she shows interest and respect for her without being silly on the one hand or critical on the other.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unearthing the Real Madonna
While it's a formidable task to unearth the real Madonna, Mary Cross gets as close as any journalist or writer has to date to penetrating Madonna's multiple reincarnations.Cross offers up a full sketch of Madonna's life in all its complexities and outrage.

Cross suggests that Madonna's bad girl teen years, where she learned the power of shock, gave her the instincts for making it and the confidence to succeed--traits which have served her to good advantage throughout her long career. At age 20 she was cocky enough to take herself to Manhattan where she didn't know a soul.Even a series of failed artist ventures didn't dissuade Madeonna. She stayed the course, always with the ability to be on the cutting edge.She was among the first big names to use MTV to her advantage.Madonna was also in the forefront of milking publcity through the power of shock.She shoved her panties in David Letterman's face as a guest on his late night show,and later took delight in the outrage caused by her photographic book, "Sex." Her last concert took aim at political leaders and conveyed an erotic relatinship to horses.

Cross is in awe of Madonna's capacity to keep us guessing as she pushes 50.Madonna can still create some of the most imaginative and entertaing concerts around while positioning herself as a loving mother and wife.

Maybe the real feminist message here is never to lose faith in what you believe in and to be willing to try the new."Truth or Dare" is the Madonna story andCross tells it with juicy details, balance and even respect.This is a well-written (Cross is a seasoned journalist) guilty pleasure supreme.The perfect summer vacation read.I read it over a rainy weekend and, much to my surprise, found myself admiring Madonna in ways I hadn't counted on.

Pat Taub

Tenants Harbor,Maine

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