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Monday, August 20, 2018

Playing to the Gods Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, and the Rivalry that Changed Acting Forever by Peter Rader

Mark Twain once said, 'There are five kinds of actresses, bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses -- and then there is Sarah Bernhardt'. The very name still fascinates many people. This charismatic and beautiful actress was courted by royalty, inspired works of art and stunned her eager audience with her antics, such as travelling with a chimpanzee named Darwin, having a pet alligator which drank champagne and sleeping in a coffin. She loved publicity.

Eleanora Duse was the opposite of Sarah in several ways. The shy actress kept away from publicity, was rather reclusive, and she liked a more natural form of acting rather than Sarah's artificial posing, which was rapidly becoming dated. However, she was just as ambitious, if not more, seeking to grab the limelight from the 'Divine Sarah' at every opportunity.

This is an enjoyable book to read, sympathetic to both great women, but not sentimental and always interesting. It is a must-read for history and lovers of the arts!

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

EDITION        Other Format
ISBN               9781476738376
PRICE             $26.00 (USD)

Friday, August 10, 2018

A History of France by John Julius Norwich

This is a whirlwind tour through the history of France. Although the writing is
Lively, and I enjoyed some sections, such as the story of the beautiful Eleanor of Aquitaine,
There was just too much information. It is useful if you want a basic history and introductory information on an era, but I found it difficult to read much of the book at a time. I didn’t finish
This one, unfortunately.

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

Monday, August 06, 2018

Blog Tour for The Art of Royal Poison by Eleanor Herman.

Welcome to my review for the blog tour of The Art of Royal Poison by Eleanor Herman, published by the wonderful St Martin's Press.

Eleanor Herman

A Devious and Arcane Art

As the French King Henry IV went to receive Holy Communion, his dog suddenly started barking loudly.  The wise King immediately thought that something was wrong and decided not to drink from the Chalice.  He was right!   An evil Cardinal had hoped to poison him.

Others were neither so wise nor so lucky.  Eleanor Herman tells many stories of Royals who were probably poisoned, such as the beautiful Agnes Sorrel, mistress of  Henry VI , who was found to have died after suffering from a huge amount of mercury and  the charming sister of Charles II who was thought to have been poisoned by her husband. Some even poisoned themselves accidentally like Charles 11 who played with his dangerous alchemy experiments in his laboratory too many times, or some of the women who actually wore cosmetics filled with lead and arsenic.. 

This fascinating, well-researched and well-written book will take away any fanciful ideas of travelling back in time, even as a royal! Life really was ‘nasty, brutish and short,’ no matter how glamorous it looks in movies about royalty. If you were not in danger of being poisoned by mercury, arsenic, or another nasty substance, you could die from a terrible disease often caused by the filthy living conditions of the era, such as cholera and typhoid. Until relatively late in the nineteenth century, cholera was believed to have been caused by germs in the air.

I enjoyed much of this book, but I found some of it difficult to read because it was either too gruesome and creepy or the story of the dirt was too revolting! I hope to read more books by Eleanor Herman.

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

EDITION    Other

Format        ISBN9781250140869

PRICE         $27.99 (USD)

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Review for Blog Tour Tomorrow!

I will be taking part in the blog tour for The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

In the Valley of Blue Gums by J.H. Fletcher Harlequin Australia, HQ (Fiction, Non Fiction, YA) & MIRA MIRA Historical Fiction , Women's Fiction

J.H. Fletcher is one of my favourite novelists. His books are usually large family sagas with sympathetic characters, a wide range of settings and moving love stories.  This one is no exception. It tells the tale of mother and daughter Thea and Allison, but it is mostly Thea's story and involves her looking back on her life and attempting to start again after the death of her husband. Although Thea is very much in love with winemaker Peter, she is an ambitious journalist and her career takes her to the Vietnam War where she discovers a dark secret...Allison, a single mother, is struggling to look after the Tasmanian winery but she now has help from a handsome South African.

I found some of this story rather confusing because it jumps between time periods and it has several different settings and characters. However, I enjoyed it but the novel is quite harrowing and a bit unbelievable in one instance.

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


Monday, July 16, 2018

Zen for Christians A Beginner's Guide by Kim Boykin Dover Publications

When Kim Boykin studied Zen, she found the rich tradition of Christian contemplation which had always been there. She decided to combine Zen meditation and practices with her Christian meditation and prayer. This is a clear and easy-to-read guide about how to practise Zen meditation, which includes breathing and walking meditation and shows how to incorporate these habits into your daily life.  She writes about Buddhist beliefs and shows their similarity with Christian beliefs in a concise and interesting way.

I found this book especially easy to relate to because Boykin converted to Catholicism and I share her love for the beautiful liturgy and I  could understand her journey to faith.

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

EDITION  Hardcover
ISBN         9780486824406
PRICE      $19.95 (USD)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Fire in the Thatch A British Library Crime Classic by E.C.R. Lorac

When Nicholas Vaughan, a respectable tenant farmer, dies in a fire, many people come under suspicion.  These include the disliked Gressingham, a wealthy businessman, with an interest in buying country property, Gressingham’s rather sleazy friend and even Vaughan’s sister. When Scotland Yard Inspector Macdonald gets on the case, the mystery thickens even more. Why did Vaughan settle in Devon instead of his beloved North and who was the girl he was planning to marry?

This was an enjoyable and cosy mystery with well-rounded characters and lyrical descriptions of the beauty of the countryside.  It was clever as well, keeping the reader guessing until the end.  I am looking forward to reading more of E.C. R. Lorac’s classic mysteries.

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