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Thursday, September 19, 2019

This Is Happiness by Niall Williams

This is a lyrical and very Irish coming-of-age story, well-worth reading.

The story begins when Noe looks back at his youth, and remembers his path to maturity. It takes a leap back in time to when he decided to leave the seminary, and found himself at a loss. He stayed with his extremely old-fashioned grandparents in a  village which seemingly hadn't changed for centuries.  When Christy, a lodger, came to work on the electricity, and to search for his old love, Annie, Noe's life changed When he fell in love himself, he had to work out what was really important.

This is a beautifully-written, extremely evocative and moving book. You can almost see the misty sunshine and smell the freshly-mown grass in the Irish village. However, it is written in a stream-of-consciousness style, and I am not a big fan of that kind of writing, so I found it difficult to read at times.

I read another book by Niall Williams many years ago, which I preferred.  I think that it was Four Letters of Love , which Mum also enjoyed.

I received a free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Church and the Roman Empire (AD 301–490) Constantine, Councils, and the Fall of Rome by Mike Aquilina

This is a simply-written but lively history which dispels many myths about the early Christians, and includes lots of interesting characters and saints, such as Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine.  Aquilina explains the fight between true Christianity and heresies, such as Arianism, and gives a clear account of the several councils.  He tells the history as if it is a story, at times, making the different characters have conversations.

One myth concerns transubstantiation. According to Aquilina, the early Christians all believed in the Real Presence, and there were no arguments against it.  I found this especially interesting.

This book isn't like a textbook at all, and I will be keen to read the rest of the series, and more about some of the famous Christians mentioned in the book.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

Simply Spaced Clear the Clutter and Style Your Life by Monica Leed

This is different from most decluttering books, because the author gives advice on style as well as tidying up.  It's very useful, and the worksheets are especially helpful, but I found it difficult to read as an  ebook. I may have to actually buy it!

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

Still, in the City: Creating Peace of Mind in the Midst of Urban Chaos Angela Dews (Edited by)

I was wanting a quick read about practising meditation and mindfulness in the city, if there is such a thing.  This is based on the principles of Buddhism and requires slow and careful reading. It is very useful, no doubt, but I didn't finish it.

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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Nuremberg Trials: Volume I Bringing the Leaders of Nazi Germany to Justice by Terry Burrows Arcturus Publishing

This is a clear and concise, but surprisingly eloquent account of the Nuremberg Trials. It is extremely difficult to read, however, because it is just so grim and horrific.  I couldn't even read some of it.  For example, children were actually thrown into the ovens at some of the concentration camps! The horrors are just never-ending.

I have read a lot about the war, but I didn't know that Russian PO W's were branded and deliberately malnourished, and that Tchaikovsky's and Tolstoy's houses were desecrated by the Nazis.

There was some criticism of these trials - that the laws were made by the victors, for example, and that the Axis powers were not signatories to all of the treaties and agreements in question.  However, as Robert Jackson pointed out in his closing speech, the defendants 'prepared and waged wars of aggression, rearming in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles, and launching unprovoked attacks...' They also 'enslaved and plundered the populations of occupied countries...'and persecuted and murdered Jews and Christians'.  I agree with the conclusion that criticism of the judgments in the face of the horrific crimes which the Nazis committed is really just quibbling.

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

The Case of Miss Elliott: The Teahouse Detective: Volume 2 Baroness Orczy

This is an enjoyable, interessting and well-written set of detective stories. I found that I could only read a few at a time, however. Otherwise, they started to become a bit dry and repetitive, unfortunately. 

The book features 'the old man in the corner' who meets a young woman journalist in a coffee shop and solves a different case each time with reason and logic. This old man has watery blue eyes and a piece of string which he twists into knots as he tells her the stories, which range from the case of a poisoned horse and the robbery of expensive black diamonds to the murder of a young matron and other mysterious matters..  They are clever stories, but I would have liked to know a bit more about the young journalist.  Although I'd like to read all of the Baroness's detective stories, they don't have the magic of The Scarlet Pimpernel series.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

All That Glitters: Anna Wintour, Tina Brown, and the Rivalry Inside America’s Richest Media Empire Thomas Maier

Grace Mirabella, the editor of American Vogue, was a bit irritable one day so she asked one of her employees, Anna Wintour, which job she really wanted. Anna replied, 'Yours!' (That's the way to get ahead!) Everyone knows how this story ended.

This book is an excellent analysis of Conde Nast in the glittering, powerful magazine world of the late 80s and early 90s. It features the rivalry between Anna Wintour of Vogue and Tina Brown, who turned Vanity Fair around by focusing on celebrities and money, making the magazine extremely commercial. Lots of wealthy people, such as Donald Trump, get a look in. They were both extremely powerful career women, so it is surprising that two men, Si Newhouse and Alexander Liberman really pulled the strings.

This is a fascinating book.

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

Monday, September 09, 2019

Creative Calling: Establish a Daily Practice, Infuse Your World with Meaning, and Succeed in Work + Life Chase Jarvis

This is an inspiring book, which has excellent advice about why you should explore your creativity and how to focus on creative pursuits, instead of giving up.  Chase Jarvis also tells how he became a successful sports photographer and provides tips on how to get ahead in a creative career.  However, this book is worth reading even if you want to  draw or write in your spare time.

I do wonder if the author is really too optimistic. Not everyone can make money in a creative calling which they love - it requires talent as well as hard work.  However, it's a useful book to read with wise advice.

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

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Condé Nast The Man and His Empire -- A Biography by Susan Ronald

This is a fascinating biography of the great magazine publisher, who was a surprisingly charming and elegant man. It goes into great detail about his tough childhood, driving ambition, wonderful ability to spot talent and his marriages. He also had a huge fight with Randolph Hearst, his main competition.

Interesting characters, such as the femme fatale Claire Booth Luce, Edna Chase and Carmel Snow also fill its pages. The story which I really liked was how ambitious creative people had to meet Conde Nast by invitation or accidentally to get anywhere. Elizabeth Miller spotted him one day and he saved her from a traffic accident. She fainted in his arms and babbled uncontrollably when she came to, and he immediately saw that she epitomized the 'Modern Look'. Elizabeth Miller became... the famous war photographer Lee Miller.

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


 Format     ISBN9781250180025

PRICE      $32.50 (USD)