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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Only Yesterday by Frederick Lewis Allen

This is probably the definitive book about America in the 1920s. Allen begins by describing the rather sedate and dull life of a typical couple in 1919. Then he provides a vivid account of the explosive changes of the 1920s, such as the obsession with sex, the rise of Communism, the corruption of President Harding's administration and the wild rise of the stock market. He ends the book with the mortgage crisis in Florida that led to the Great Depression. I disagreed with some of Allen's views, but this is a classic of journalism and extremely well-written.

This should be required reading in schools, I think! Perhaps we could have avoided the GFC if more people had read this brilliant book.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Called for Life by Kent and Amber Brantly with David Thomas

'Simon Davis/DFID, Donna Wood, British Volunteer Nurse, Wikipedia.

Kent Brantly, a medical missionary in Liberia, was in charge of an Ebola unit when he caught the disease himself. He was taken back to the United States and treated there, a controversial decision.

This is a factual and fairly graphic ccount of Kent and Amber's experiences. Kent treated many people with Ebola and only one survived - a young male teenager. He describes the symptoms of the disease and its dehumanising effects on the poor patients graphically. He also describes the effects of Ebola on life in Liberia and how it affected local customs and even funerals.

The book is also written from Amber's point of view. She tells about how terrible she felt when she heard the news about Kent and how she handled it. In the midst of all this, she had to deal with a

hungry media and even change her Facebook settings.

This is an inspirational but harrowing story. Both Kent and Amber have great faith and courage, traits that helped them through this awful crisis.

I received this free ebook from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Collector by Anne-Laure ThiƩblemont Le French Book Mystery & Thrillers, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

I am afraid that I couldn't get into this, but it's had good reviews. I will try one of Le French Book's cosy mysteries instead.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Living a Life That Matters – A Memoir of the Marquis de Lafayette by David M. Weitzman

This is a detailed and factual biographical account of Lafayette.  Although well-written in a sensitive and suitably old-fashioned way, I am not sure about this new combination of biography and novel.  I would rather have read a straight biography of the handsome hero who famously rebelled against his own kind and country and risked his life as a volunteer for the American cause.  However, I realise that many people will disagree and it could be argued that this format helps to bring the main characters to life.

Weitzman certainly describes the horrors and the terrible defeats of the battles of the American Revolution vividly, and the characters of Lafayette and George Washington are well-rrounded and sympathetic - as they should be!

I enjoyed this book but I would prefer to read a biography.

Living a Life That Matters – A Memoir of the Marquis de Lafayette by David M. Weitzman

Smith Publicity

Kindle: $6.03

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Must You Go? by Antonia Fraser

Several years ago my mother gave me a newspaper article to read and stated that my heroine had feet of clay.  That heroine was Lady Antonia Fraser.  According to the article, Harold Pinter's wife had been driven to drink and despair because of his affair with Lady Antonia.  It even inferred that she may have committed suicide as a result.  The scandal involving the couple certainly shocked England, partly because Lady Antonia was married as well with six children! They eventually married and the relationship lasted thirty years until Pinter's death in his seventies. Some reviewers have criticised their eventual marriage in the Catholic church as bending the rules, but as both of their spouses were dead, I couldn't see anything wrong with it.

The love story between this couple was wonderfully romantic and they were destined to be together, however, I did get the feeling that Lady Antonia regarded Vivian (Pinter's wife) as rather a nuisance and she didn't see her side of it at all.  Vivian got her own back by saying that if Harold needed a pair of shoes he could always wear Fraser's because her feet were so big!

This book was a delight to read with interesting snippets about Pinter's plays and Lady Antonia's biographies and their travels together.  It also has a lot of details about Pinter's very left-wing politics and protests. Be warned that the account of Pinter's illness is extremely sad and harrowing.

Is she still one of my heroines?  I still greatly admire her, so yes, she is.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Decade of French Fashion, 1929-1938 From the Depression to the Brink of War Mary Carolyn Waldrep

( Infrogmation of New Orleans, Grandma was stylish and up-to-the-minute back in 1935, Wikimedia Commons)

Kashamoussa, cashmere, georgette, velvet, taffeta.  The very names of the materials of these materials evoke a decade of glamour and luxury, even though it was the Depression era! These beautiful gowns and dresses accompanied by excellent descriptions will appeal to everyone interested in the history of fashion.  It's also likely to inspire fashion illustrators and designers.

This is certainly a must-buy!

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Catholic Advantage by Bill Donahue

I also gave this book up fairly quickly? This is because it is filled with surveys showing why Catholics and most Christians are happier and more likely to be successful people with more friends, etc. Surveys have shown that people who go to church are more likely to be happier and live longer lives than others. There is also evidence that prayer is powerful. However, I couldn't help feeling that Donahue chose the surveys which supported his thesis!

Reading about all these studies was rather tedious. However, I recommend dipping into this book whenever you need to feel better about being Catholic!

The Irish Brotherhood by Helen O'Donnell

I love to read books about the Kennedys but I am afraid that I didn't finish this one. I found it a bit dull, unfortunately.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

After Perfect: A Daughter's Memoir by Christina McDowell

"Waldorf Louis XIV bedroom" by George Boldt - The Waldorf-Astoria, New York. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Christina McDowell  grew up in the lap of luxury as Christina Prousalis. Her family owned a private jet, stayed in the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and associated with famous people.  She had a happy childhood with her family, and her parents appeared to have the perfect marriage.  Then it all suddenly went wrong...

After her lawyer father was arrested for fraud, Christina's life descends into a life of near poverty, drinking and drugs.  She doesn't know whether she can trust her father, who still has big ideas and gives her expensive presents even though he is in jail.  Her mother gets a new boyfriend who Christina doesn't like.  She has to work in seedy nightclubs to earn money, and even her mother's accountant offers her a part in a porno movie! No one believes this when she tells them.

This is an extremely depressing and harrowing story, but Christina describes the situation well, and it's certainly worth reading. One has to hand it to the author for getting through her struggles and managing to make a new life for herself.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest reviews.

Article in The Guardian

Christina's Open Letter to The Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street