Frequently Auto-Approved
Reviews Published Challenge Participant

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Dressmaker's Gift by Fiona Valpy Amazon Publishing UK General Fiction (Adult) , Women's Fiction

Harriet, traumatised by her mother's untimely death, arrives to work as a PR assistant at a fashion house in Paris. Haunted by the story of her grandmother's mysterious time in the war, she is anxious to find out more about it. The book then flashes back to Harriet's grandmother Claire and her friends who worked as seamstresses. These brave young women secretly worked for the French Resistance...

Fiona Valpy describes France beautifully, and captures the exciting but dangerous time of The Second World War. The characters are all very real, although Harriet doesn't play a big part in the book.  It's a lovely book, although one part is extremely harrowing, and I will read more of Fiona Valpy's books.

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

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Elizabeth Widville, Lady Grey Edward IV's Chief Mistress and the 'Pink Queen' by Dr John Ashdown-Hill


I am sorry to say that this book really annoyed me.  Although Dr John Ashdown-Hill was a distinguished historian, and very knowledgeable about the Woodvilles, he really disliked his subject, and his arguments failed to convince me. Even the pre-contract with Eleanor Talbot seems tenuous.
Much of this book is pure speculation, I thought.

Ashdown-Hill accuses the Queen of being involved in several murders and mysterious deaths without much evidence.He also includes fairly snide passages, for example, about her ordering meat during Lent and whether she was considered an 'Essex Girl'! I actually felt sorry for her, and anxious to read a nicer book about her in the end!

I bought the book because I didn't download it from NetGalley before the archive date.

A House in the Mountains : The Women Who Liberated Italy from Fascism Caroline Moorehead

Ada Gobetti. Unknown. The original uploader was Gian- at Italian Wikipedia.. [Public domain]

Four young Italian women all came from Turin, a city in the Piedmontese region, which had a long history of independence and rebellion. They would need this more than ever to face Mussolini's harsh laws and the viciousness of the Nazi occupiers. These young women and their friends in the Italian Resistance had to cope with 'death, air raids, violence [and] penury' instead of the quick victory promised by Mussolini.  These women and thousands of others printed underground newspapers, organised escape routes, helped to sabotage transport, stole explosives and even became commanders of bands. Although the Italian Resistance didn't receive much help from the Allies for various reasons, they formed a united force and managed to liberate Piedmont and the north on their own. The heroines of the book also stayed actively involved in politics.

This book is quite harrowing and upsetting, but fascinating, and it should restore the reputation of the Italian Resistance, and it informs readers about the little-known and hugely important role of the women involved in the Resistance. Sometimes, there are lighter moments. For example, Ada went to a political meeting, and she was only one of two women not dressed as if to go to a party! It seems that Italian women retain their sense of style even in the midst of chaos.

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

Sir Francis Bryan Henry VIII's most notorious ambassador by Sarah-Beth Watkins

This is a very factual book about this diplomat and soldier, who was nicknamed the 'Vicar of Hell' because he liked womanising and drinking. It's hard to feel as if you really know what he was like from reading the book, but it is filled with interesting details about the sixteenth century, Henry's court and Sir Francis's heavy involvement in The Great Matter, and it includes extracts from letters and other documents.

I enjoyed it, but not as much as the author's other books.

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

EDITION    Paperback

ISBN           9781789043419

PRICE        $12.99 (USD)

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Drawing: Colored Pencil Basics Learn to draw step by step by Cynthia Knox

This is a great introduction to using coloured pencils. Cynthia Knox shows readers the basic materials and techniques and she includes beautiful exercises to attempt. It is a very short book but useful and the pictures are inspirational.

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

EDITION
ISBN
PRICE

Thursday, February 06, 2020

He's Got Rhythm : The Life and Career of Gene Kelly Cynthia Brideson, Sara Brideson

film trailer screenshot (MGM) [Public domain]

This book was interesting but extremely long and a bit plodding. I found it hard-going to wade through it! It also almost turned me off Gene Kelly! I like his acting and he had a tough childhood and worked hard, but he was quite unlikeable at times.

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

Anne Bancroft : A Life Douglass K. Daniel

NBC Television [Public domain]

Unfortunately, I didn't finish this one. She is a great actress,but I didn't find her life terribly interesting, unfortunately.

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

Occupation Journal Jean Giono, Jody Gladding (Translated by)

I didn't finish this one, unfortunately. I thought that it would be similar to Iris Origo's War Diaries, but it was strange and disjointed, I thought.

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

Overkill : When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far Paul A. Offit, M.D.

After reading this book, you will think twice about having an annual or biannual mammogram! Dr Paul Offit explains the risks involved, and he also delves into many modern myths about medicine. For example, he asks whether Vitamin C is really good for colds and if taking an aspirin a day to prevent heart attacks is really worthwhile.

This is an eye-opening book to read if you are interested in health and you have questions about modern medical practices.

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

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Clutter-Free Home Making Room for Your Life by Kathi Lipp

This is a really useful book if you want to do the hard work involved in decluttering. Kathy Lipp used to have thirteen bookcases, and tells a story about thanking her friend (who has five children) for cleaning the house for her.  The friend said that she actually didn't clean the house before Kathy visited! Kathy Lipp then decided to try and follow her example.

This is different from most decluttering books because it allows for messiness, and it is also written from a Christian perspective! Kathy Lipp wants readers to repurpose and reorganise their houses so that they become relaxing and warm spaces. She has helpful chapters on how to declutter every room, according to the purpose of the room, the zones of the room and how you would like the room to look and feel. I found that her chapter on the living-room was not as detailed as the other chapters, unfortunately. She also has general advice on what to keep and what to throw away, and on daily and weekly decluttering tasks.  It's all extremely difficult but it's certainly helpful. (It's difficult for me!)

This is certainly a keeper!

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Mutual Admiration Society How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton

I thought that I would enjoy this but I found it too long and detailed, unfortunately. The only one who I was really interested in reading about was Dorothy L. Sayers.

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

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Love Without End by Melvyn Bragg

This is a radiant story about the tragic love affair between the revolutionary philosopher Peter Abelard and the beautiful and clever Heloise.  Bragg is, surprisingly, better at bringing Heloise's radical and defiant character to life than Abelard's until the end of the book when Abelard becomes more understandable.  This may be because Abelard appears to today's readers as extremely domineering and self-centred to Heloise.

Bragg deals with this to some extent by making the story a novel within a novel.  He combines the love story with a modern-day tale of the father who is writing it telling his daughter about it, and discussing it with her. This gives it ballast and helps explain medieval religious views and attitudes. I didn't find the characters of the father and daughter as convincing as those of Abelard and Heloise, although their story is quite moving.

I always like Melvyn Bragg's books and this made me want to read more about Abelard and Heloise. The only part that I was upset with was his suggesting that Abelard's arch-enemy William of Champeaux had any part in his castration. There is no evidence for that.

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