Frequently Auto-Approved
Reviews Published Challenge Participant

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Art of Love The Romantic and Explosive Stories Behind Art's Greatest Couples by Kate Bryan

This was an interesting and enjoyable book about the often tumultuous romances of art's greatest couples. As Bryan writes, romances between artists raise lots of issues, such as how does the relationship affect the work, where do they work and the prospect of competition between them. Many of the women artists in the book suffered from 'little woman syndrome,' such as Sonia Delaunay, so it is good to see that she gives them their due.  Others had to be very strong and independent to get ahead, and to not let their relationships destroy them or destroy their art. Georgia O'Keefe, for example, would not put her art into all-women exhibitions.

My favourite couple were the Delaunays who were so in sync that they described their art as 'simultaneity'! I like the bright colours and modernist designs of Sonia Delaunay and I was pleased that she regarded her decorative work as equal to her paintings.


This is well-worth reading for anyone who likes art, and is interested in the love affairs of great artists.

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

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Her Own Rules by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Klaus with K, edit by Thegreenj [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

I usually find Barbara Taylor Bradford's books soothing, in spite of her heroines having lots of troubles. However, this one was quite harrowing, partly because of the connection with Australia. Bradford's characters were likeable and sympathetic, however, and the descriptions of Yorkshire and Connecticut were evocative and atmospheric.

Meredith is a successful hotel owner with two lovely adult children, but her childhood and her divorce upset her.  She had a difficult childhood in Australia, and decided to live in Connecticut when she was very young. When she travels to one of her hotels in Yorkshire, she feels the urge to visit Fountains Abbey nearby, and she feels that something tragic happened to her there. Haunted by strange dreams and a strange illness, she decides to resolve the dark secrets of her past before they start to destroy her health. She is lucky enough to have the support of her new French boyfriend Luc and her friends and children.

I found this psychological story quite hard to put down, and I enjoyed the settings and reading about Meredith's business dealings which were very detailed. I am not sure if I would call it holiday reading, however.

The Art of Mindful Reading Embracing the Wisdom of Words by Ella Berthoud

Did you love reading when you were a child or a teenager? Do you find it hard to make the time to read now? This wonderful little book will help you to regain that love, and deepen your experience of reading. Ella Berthoud discusses how to discover what kind of reader you are, and provides several reading exercises to choose from.

Research has shown that reading fiction is similar to meditation, so it is actually good for you! Ella Berthoud shows readers how to make it even more 'mindful'. First, she suggests that you decide what kind of reader you are - visual, aural or kinaesthetic, so that you can use your imagination to better effect. For example, I think that I am mostly a visual reader, so I like to imagine the details of scenes in my head, rather than actually acting it out.

The exercises which Berthoud suggests include having a reading nook, so that you can settle down with a good book in your private place, learning poems off by heart, and re-reading beloved children's books. I also like her ideas about writing about a book in six words and keeping a book journal. A book treasury for favourite quotations, scenes and poems is another idea. Some of these exercises do seem like a lot of work, unfortunately, but they are worth it - I used to keep a Commonplace Book, another name for a book treasury and I remember loving it. If only I had kept it!Many famous people, including Vivien Leigh and Alec Guiness, have kept Commonplace Books.

This lovely book is well-worth buying if you want to make your reading more mindful and enjoyable.

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

EDITION  Other Format

ISBN          9781782407683

PRICE       $14.99 (USD)




Friday, June 28, 2019

Making Space, Clutter Free The Last Book on Decluttering You'll Ever Need by Tracy McCubbin


Christopher had a huge amount of correspondence from the IRS, which he was scared to open because he knew that he owed them a lot of money. He had stacks of papers in his house. He wanted to propose to the love of his life, but he had this big secret. After   helped him to organise his paperwork and advised him to see a lawyer and accountant, he found out that he didn’t owe as much as he thought. Now he is happily married!

Christopher was suffering from one of the seven emotional blocks which prevent people dealing with clutter – avoiding stuff. If he hadn’t faced it, he would probably be extremely unhappy and alone. Maybe, he would owe even more money!

This useful book will help you deal with the blocks preventing you cleaning up clutter. Tracy McCubbin also has practical advice for dealing with each room.  Unfortunately, my problem is mainly books and magazines, and she doesn’t write much about them!  I found The Toothbrush Principle better, but this is an excellent book if you need to declutter, but it really should be studied in depth to see where the dilemma lies, and what you should do.

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Austentatious The Evolving World of Jane Austen Fans by Holly Luetkenhaus; Zoe Weinstein University of Iowa Press

I only read a little bit of this. It was too 'modern' for me - I really prefer more traditional studies of Jane Austen.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley

Embers of Childhood by Flora Millers Biddle

This is a haunting book about a childhood of great privilege and luxury. Flora, the granddaughter of Gertrude Whitney lived a Downton-Abbey style life surrounded by servants, partly in the Deep South and partly in the Arondiracks.  It wasn't really idyllic, however, because her parents were busy with their own artistic and somewhat Bohemian lives and left her to her own devices. She really led a rather lonely childhood, although she enjoyed hunting and fishing with her parents. She only learnt to become more assertive much later in life - bullying and loneliness left her with some scars.

Nevertheless, Flora describes her childhood and teenage years lyrically and with much affection. I was mostly interested in the Vanderbilts, I must admit, but Flora was very likeable and it is an enjoyable autobiography.

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

This is an unforgettable  book about love, romance, heartbreak and friendship. Most of all, it is about resilience. Although it is extremely miserable at times, the luminous writing and carefully constructed story will keep you reading from the dramatic start to the end. The settings are also beautifully described - I am sure that Cremona can look forward to more visitors!

The leading character Grace has a successful life as a 'cello and violin maker with her own shop and she also enjoys her romance with the seemingly wonderful David but the problem is that David is married with children and waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Grace doesn't feel very guilty - David's wife knows that he has a girlfriend - but she is growing tired of waiting and travelling between England and France is also a strain at times. Although lonely, Grace is friendly with a troubled teenager who works for her and a dapper, elderly customer.

Haunted by the death of her parents and having to forsake her musical career, when Grace faces a crisis, she can't deal with it...

I loved this almost perfect book and I am looking forward to more books by Anstey Harris. Her website is also great, and provides a list of music that is important to the story.

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

EDITION
ISBN
PRICE

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

This enchanting story involves three women, all trying to begin new and meaningful lives. Sophia is a therapist, but when her abusive fiancee dies, she struggles with her conflicting feelings, and seeks answers in a new life in Cornwall, a world away from her practice in America.  Ginny, her new boss, also has to deal with a broken heart, wondering why her husband left her. Emily lived in the nineteenth century, but when Sophia finds her journal,she wonders if there is a message there for her.

This is a beautifully written and captivating novel with engaging characters, lovely heroes, wonderful descriptions of Cornwall and excellent Christian values. You can almost smell the salt from the sea and taste the Cornish food! Reading it would make anyone want to escape to Cornwall, like Sophia. It's a good place in which to rediscover hope and faith.

However, I found the modern stories better-written than Emily's tale. I also found that there were a lot of characters when I first started reading this book, and this was a bit confusing until I got used to it. I highly recommend it, and I will start looking for Lindsay Harrel's other novels.

I received this free book from BookLook Bloggers in return for an honest review.

All For Her The Autobiography of Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. by Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. Ave Maria Press

Father Peyton, came from a harsh background of almost unremitting poverty in Ireland, to found the famous Family Rosary and Family Theater Productions, and mix with movie stars, such as Loretta Young and Bing Crosby.  A clever boy, he despaired about his future in Ireland, because his father died young and his mother found running the farm together with a large family impossibly difficult.  He was lucky enough to have his talents spotted, and travel to the US with his brother. There, he received a good education and decided to become a priest, but his troubles were not over. He had a terrible time with TB and it was a miracle that he recovered.

This first half of the book was interesting, although harrowing, and a bit like a rags-to-riches story. The second part about his campaigns and TV shows got rather technical, even though he met movie stars. This was disappointing. I have to admit to thinking that it would be the other way around! However, he was a very wise man, who overcame great difficulties due to his devotion to the Virgin Mary, and started a crusade to bring prayers and the Rosary back to families.

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

EDITION
ISBN
PRICE

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Prince Albert. The Man Who Saved The Monarchy by A.N. Wilson

A.N. Wilson does the extremely talented and multi-faceted Prince Albert justice in this long biography.  Prince Albert was a surprisingly progressive prince with liberal ideas and attitudes, who liked to be involved with politics, technology, the arts, and even helping the working classes. He was the President of The Anti-Slavery Society, and interested in getting rid of the oppressive Corn Laws. His supreme achievement, however, were the wonderful museums in Kensington and the Crystal Palace Exhibition.

When Queen Victoria came to power, the monarchy had a bad reputation due to the dissolute George IV and the Dukes and their mistresses.  Prince Albert and Queen Victoria with their stable family life and large number of children restored the reputation, and Prince Albert, once regarded as a German interloper, came to be admired and respected.

This book is an excellent study of his private and public life - it goes into the storminess of the marriage, for example. However, I found it a bit heavy-going. Also, Wilson writes that there hasn't been an extensive biography for a long time but I have another one from the 1980s.

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