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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Life Cycles-Relationships Discover Confluence. Is Your Relationship Fated? by Neil Killion

In this interesting book, Neil Killion applies his Life Cycles Theory to famous relationships, including friendships, and to careers. He also develops the concept of 'Confluence,' i.e. when couples share 'Significant Years' in common, and applies this to many relationships, such as Prince William and his beautiful wife, Catherine and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and business relationships, such as Charles and Louis Tiffany. The study of this theory can help you in your life and relationships.

The  Life Cycles Theory is a twelve-year cycle, with each twelfth year being 'A Year of Revolution,' markedd by new beginnings and achievements, through sudden upheavals. The seventh year after each Year of Revolution is also important, bringing with it a 'direction change and uphill challenge'.
On this basis, a Life Chart can be developed showing the 'Years of Revolution'and the 'Years of Broken Pathways' with their underlying themes.

This can not only be done for individuals; it also applies to relationships using their confluent years.
This is the time that they have in common during their significant years. For example, William and Kate have almost seven months of 'Confluence' for every significant year of their relationship. Killion explains how their significant years have had a huge effect on their love affair, for example, they met when they were 19, both in their 'Year of Broken Pathways'.  Their 'Confluence' has helped them develop a strong marriage, likely to last.

Studying this theory and applying it to your own life and relationships will definitely help you see how your life is developing.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Girl, Arise! A Catholic Feminist's Invitation to Live Boldly, Love Your Faith, and Change the World by Claire Swinarski

Is being a Catholic feminist an oxymoron? Many people think that it is, mainly because practising Catholic women usually don't believe in abortion. This is surprising because many early feminists were actually very anti-abortion.  Claire Swinarski discusses this, and other controversial questions in her book.  However, this is not just about divisive issues; it is an inspiring look at what it means to be a Catholic feminist in today's world.

Claire Swinarski didn't come from an especially religious home, and she was somewhat lapsed when she found herself at a low ebb and found herself in a welcoming Catholic group of women. This helped her see how women can assist each other and work together. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength, and eventually decided to create a Catholic feminist podcast which led to this book.

Another reason why people don't think that the words 'Catholic' and 'feminist' go together is because of the image of the good, quiet, submissive Catholic woman, and Saint Paul's words about women. But Claire explains why his words have been misinterpreted, and she also gives examples of powerful Biblical women and women saints, such as the fierce Joan of Arc and the sweet Saint Therese, her opposite. She shows how to be a Catholic woman with 'moxie' - courage and determination. Her chapters on loving your neighbour and loving yourself are especially good.

This is well-worth reading for aspiring Catholic feminists, especially young ones.

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

The Grace of Enough Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture by Haley Stewart

When Haley Stewart and her husband and children moved to a 650-square-foot apartment on a working farm with no flushing toilets in central Texas, many friends thought that they were mad. They were going a long way from friends and family, and they were leaving a house for a small apartment. Daniel was going to receive much lower pay. How would they cope?

However, life in the city was a struggle. Daniel was working long hours at a job he didn't like and didn't believe in, and Haley was working part-time while homeschooling. Daniel missed out on the children's bedtime, and Haley was considering increasing her working hours. In the end, they worked out that it was an expensive way to live, because they were eating out or getting fast food more often. Family time was declining.

Moving to the farm was the best thing they ever did.  Haley combines the story of their move and how they regained what was essential in life with suggestions for readers in an interesting way. She has many lessons to share about the importance of simple things, such as eating with the family, involvement with the community, and sharing with others. This is about how to avoid the throwaway culture no matter where you live.

It is not just a decluttering book, and I must admit to being pleased that Haley and Daniel don't like the idea of parting with books!

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

Mother Country A Novel by Irina Reyn St. Martin's Press

This is a beautifully written and insightful glimpse into the life of an Eastern European migrant in America and class distinction in New York.  Deeply-layered, it compares many different stratas of society, including the Ukrainians and Russians in America and it also compares life in Ukraine with modern life in the USA. Irina Reyn captures all this through her heroine Nadia's eyes, showing us a different world.

Nadia has a hard life in a seedy part of Brooklyn, struggling with two jobs. She works as a nanny for ambitious Regina and cares for an annoying old man at night, so that she can eventually bring her diabetic daughter to America from war-torn Ukraine.  She doesn't have many friends, isn't happy with her life, and she has a fraught relationship with her daughter Larisska, because she left her in war-torn Ukraine. The horrors of the war came suddenly, and the emptiness and snobbishness of life in New York doesn't compare favourably with the community spirit and the old beauty of Rubizhne. But Nadia has a steel will and a strong spirit. Will these be enough to help her cope with her new life?

This is a haunting story, well-worth reading. I highly recommend it.

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

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

I find Joshua Becker's decluttering books helpful, but not as good as the 'toothbrush' system.  However, he looks at decluttering from Christian point of view, which is a little unusual and more philosophical than most of these books.  He shows how minimalising helped him change his life and even move to a smaller house.

Becker provides tips for tidying each room, emphasizing the kitchen and dining room, the heart of the home. He also has a guide for each day, and how to continue living in a minimalist way.  His checklists at the end of the chapter are especially helpful.

The trouble with these books is that tidying up the clutter is easy to read about. It is much harder to do. This is an excellent guide, however.

I received this free ebook from Eidelweiss.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Well-Behaved Woman A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

Photographed by Jose Maria Mora -, Public Domain, Alva photographed in costume for her 1883 ball

As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to read it again! I love reading about the Gilded Age and Alva Vanderbilt was one of its main characters. This beautifully-written novel certainly does her justice.

The novel starts when Alva, one of several sisters, is struggling to cope with financial and social problems, and faced with an uncertain future when her beloved father dies. Her good friend, Consuelo Yznaga, introduces her to William Vanderbilt, who is seemingly the answer, although not that wealthy and not in the higher echelons of New York society. Alva impressed young William with her wit and charm, and her 'hustling' soon make her family leading lights in New York. However, this practically arranged marriage doesn't bring Alva happiness and she has to cope with many difficulties in an old-fashioned patriarchal society. Soon her daughter, the beautiful Consuelo, will have her own mighty struggles...

This captures the atmosphere of the Gilded Age, and Alva is an engaging and sympathetic character.  The novel also shows Alva and Consuelo's relationship in a very different light than usual, and this is explained at the end, and probably largely correct. However, I am not sure whether a major part of the story is true - I can't find any evidence for it, and it may have been added for dramatic effect.  It  is not beyond the realms of possibility. Also, I am not sure about the characterisation of Winthrop Rutherfurd.

This is a must-read for fans of historical novels, especially those who love the Gilded Age.

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot by Lettice Cooper Agora Books

Although the facts are true, this is written in the form of a novel - one which could easily be read by children.  The  oppression of Catholics by King James I is made clear and the characters and settings are well-drawn but there is a lot of dialogue.  There is no analysis of the plot and its implications but this is an excellent book to read before looking into the Gunpowder Plot in more detail.  I enjoyed it.

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Sarah-Beth Watkins paints a fascinating picture of this fiery Tudor queen, who loved fine clothes, dancing and special occasions. She uses letters and excellent historical research to bring Queen Margaret to life. I was sorry to finish the book!

Queen Margaret led a rather tragic life. When very young, she married the much older, handsome and charismatic King James IV of Scotland who treated her well, but she must not have been too happy to discover that he was determined to keep his mistresses. She had many children but only one survived - a son, luckily.  King James's terrible death in a battle against her own brother, King Henry VIII was terrible for Margaret.

She was forever caught between Scotland, England and France and trying to please her dominating brother and keep the Scottish nobles on side proved incredibly difficult. Queen Margaret even had a terrifying struggle to keep custody of her son - she was fiercely protective of him and proudly attempted to gain custody against all odds. Unfortunately, she chose two adulterous and thieving husbands after James died, which almost destroyed her credibility. Her brother kept criticising her morals, rather hypocritically!

Luckily, her old age was somewhat more relaxing. She enjoyed spending time with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren. It sounds much more peaceful than the rest of her turbulent life!

This is a must-read for anyone interested in the Tudors or British Royal history.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

This Is Cuba An American Journalist Under Castro's Shadow by David Ariosto St. Martin's Press

As soon as young American journalist arrives in Cuba, he has to cope with an attempted honey trap, a stolen sink (stolen by the workers who came to fix it), lack of air-conditioning in sweltering heat and a near-empty house because of the delay in receiving his furniture. As Cubans told him: 'This is Cuba'. A journalist for CNN, he is much luckier than most of the Cubans, who are used to all this and much, much worse.

Ariosto arrives at an interesting time when the Internet was beginning, the economy is changing, the old regime is dying out, and things are starting to become more open.  It still sounds incredibly difficult to live in Cuba, however, in an island where private property was turned over to the State and shortages and surveillance are just a fact of life. He has to quickly get used to the reality being different from his romantic vision of  a sun washed island set in another time. As he interviewed some of the residents, he realises that life can be incredibly tough here. For example, there is the extremely poor black man whose brother can't afford treatment for his diabetes, and the young law graduate who can't get ahead and has been working in a restaurant for years.

This is an interesting and lyrically-written book about a journalist thrown into the deep end who has to 'wise up' and a country on the verge of a new revolution. I greatly enjoyed it.

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