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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Catholic Hipster: The Next Level How Some Awesomely Obscure Stuff Helps Us Live Our Faith with Passion by Tommy Tighe

Mother Teresa once told a group of priests: "Celebrate this Mass as if it is your first Mass, your last Mass and your only Mass". Tommy Tighe has written a beautiful exposition on this statement. It is probably easier for converts to do this, even if their first Mass was way back in their adolescence or even childhood, but great advice for everyone.  This book is full of excellent advice for how to live your Catholic faith, interesting anecdotes about saints and suggestions for prayers. I loved it.

However, it is directed mostly to a young American audience. At the risk of being thought old-fashioned, I think that some of  the advice was really too self-consciously 'cool'. For example, I didn't agree with the suggestion about considering a religious tattoo.  The fashion of tattoos comes and goes over the years, and it can still be dangerous to get one, and a risk to career prospects, as well. Apparently, it can be even more dangerous to get tattoos removed!

Apart from this, it is a great book for all Catholics.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Christmas Book by Andy Thomas

Did you know that Christmas was once banned in England and Scotland, or that Queen Charlotte introduced the Christmas tree to Great Britain? Andy Thomas relates these stories, and other interesting facts about Christmas in this charming and interesting book about the history of Christmas.  I knew a lot about the history of Christmas already, but I learned even more from this book. 

Thomas writes from a secular point of view, and annoyed me by using the modern abbreviations BCE and CE for B.C. and A.D. He also focuses somewhat on the Roman and pagan origins of Christmas. However, if you want to read more about the history of Christmas traditions, such as wassailing, carol-singing and Christmas greenery, this is a great book. I liked the illustrations as well.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Becoming C. S. Lewis A Biography of Young Jack Lewis (1898–1918) by Harry Lee Poe

C.S. Lewis concentrated heavily on his incredibly harrowing school days in his autobiography, yet many biographers think that their effect on him has been exaggerated! Professor Poe noticed this, and decided to restore Lewis's young life back into prominence. This was when his tastes and dislikes were formed - the older C.S. Lewis still liked and disliked the same things. This was also when he read the books which eventually led him to Christianity.

Poe delves deeply into Lewis's dark school days, his relationships with his father and brother, his friendship with Arthur Greeves and his atheism and conversion.  He spends much of the book Lewis's reading and how it influenced him to become a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and, more importantly, to become a Christian.  The conflict between the materialist philosophy and atheism of his teacher and his spiritual leanings is especially interesting, although heavy.

Any fan of C.S. Lewis will enjoy this deeply thought-out and insightful look at the great man. I am sure that Lewis himself would be pleased with this book!

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

Cozy : The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World by Isabel Gillies

Coziness isn’t just about hot chocolate or roasting chestnuts on a fire, according to Isabel Gillies.        It is also about finding your authentic self, discovering your purpose in life, and what you enjoy most. It also means finding something to hang on to, and finding order and peace in the midst of chaos. Even when everything is collapsing around you, it is still possible to find some vestige of coziness!

It can even help to save your life, Gillies argues. When the amazing explorer Shackleton’s schooner sank in Antarctica in 1914, he and his nineteen crew members survived for another two years until they were rescued.  According to an article that Gillies quotes, Shackleton knew that his greatest enemies were severe anxiety, disengagement and pessimism.  He had to keep the cosiness. He did this by trying to keep warm, being organised, keeping journals, making lists and finding structure to help everyone survive the ordeal.

This is one of the most enjoyable and helpful self-help books I’ve read.  Gillies has a lovely, engaging style, and it is worth dipping into often!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Little Women Cookbook Tempting Recipes from the March Sisters and Their Friends and Family by Wini Moranville; Louisa May Alcott Quarto Publishing Group – Harvard Common Press

Food plays a big role in Little Women.  It features on occasions of love and affection, such as family gatherings and friendly picnics, and it is also there to help provide sympathy and comfort. Food is also used on different occasions in the book, such as when poor Amy submits to peer pressure, and takes pickled limes to school - the latest trend.

The authors have researched historical recipes, and combined them with modern ones with attractive, mouth-watering pictures. Imagine that you are Jo on a family picnic with roast beef sandwiches or Amy eating richer French recipes! Most of the recipes look fairly easy, even for those who are not good cooks.

This book is enchanting, and I look forward to trying some of the recipes.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Indistractable How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

When a young academic bought herself a pedometer, she started becoming obsessed with walking. She found herself walking up and down stairs in the middle of the night, playing walking 'games' and even entering competitions. This affected her work and her marriage. Luckily, she began to realise that this was an escape from other problems and started to slowly.overcome her addiction.

Usually, distractions like this are an escape, and it is important to work out what the real problems are. Eyall gives great advice on how to do this in this useful book, especially on how to stop being distracted by the ubiquitous social media. He also provides advice on raising 'Indistractable' kids. I found this very helpful.

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

The First Lady and the Rebel A Novel by Susan Higginbotham SOURCEBOOKS Landmark

I enjoyed this moving story of Mary Lincoln and her rebel family very much. All that I knew √°bout her before reading this captivating historical novel was that she came from the South, and she suffered from mental illness. Susan Higginbotham brings her to life, and she also tells the tales of her half-sisters who actually married men who fought for the Confederacy! As Lincoln himself said, America was truly a 'house divided'.

It would have been easier to just tell Mary's story, because many readers may find it difficult to sympathize with Emily and Elodie Todd. However, Higginbotham manages to show all points of view, and she made me interested in learning more about this complicated family.

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