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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.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop by Elaine Roberts Aria

This is a heartwarming family saga with engaging characters, interesting details about working in a bookshop during the Great War, and a touch of romance. Elaine Roberts captures the atmosphere of wartime London well, although she sometimes has the characters use jarring modern expressions. Unfortunately, this is really the kind of book which should be read as a paperback - Kindle didn't suit it, I thought.

This is really the story of Victoria who is struggling with getting over her parent's death and not hearing from her boyfriend Ted, a soldier in the war. Luckily, Victoria has her sisters and good friends to help her, but when they assist her to finally clean out her parent's bedroom, she discovers a family mystery which may be more than even she can cope with...

I really enjoyed this story of love and friendship. This is the last one in a trilogy, so I am anxious to read the rest now!

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

Friday, October 04, 2019

Living with Coco Chanel The homes and landscapes that shaped the designer by Caroline Young

I love to read about Chanel,although she was a collaborator, and this book is no exception. It describes Chanel's life and how the places where she lived and her lovers influenced her fashion designs in intricate detail, with interesting quotes and anecdotes. The main influence on Chanel was the stark convent high in the hills where she was sent as a teenager, with its mosaic floors and simple patterns. She loved black, white and beige, the colours of the convent, and often designed black and white dresses, influenced by the nun's habits.

However, some of her lovers were aristocratic Englishmen, who also inspired her designs. For example, the Duke of Westminster took her to Scotland where she learned how to incorporate tweed and boucle material into her designs. Boy Capel took her sailing and she designed clothes influenced by the world of sailing. She used to go hunting, and she also played golf and tennis with her aristocratic friends and soon realized that modern working women wanted fashionable, but comfortable clothes so that they could move easily.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in Chanel.

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

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Song in the Daylight by Paullina Simons

Larissa Stark has a lovely husband and three very good children, but she is busy, tired, and feels that her husband takes her for granted at times, and she is also suffering from a mid-life crisis. She is forty, but looks about twenty. When her husband buys her a Jag for her birthday, she finds herself attracted to the young and surprisingly mature salesman. They start meeting for lunch, but, of course, that's not enough, and Larissa soon finds herself having a torrid affair. It really is torrid - there are pages of it!

This leads to her neglecting her husband and children and her best friend in the Philippines, who is having a terrible time, and another friend who needs a kidney transplant. Larissa soon finds out what 'a terrible web we weave...'At one stage, she sneaks out to meet Kai for dinner in NY only to run into a friend in NY. Fearful of discovery, she pretends that she hardly knows Kai, who is very upset, and catches the train back to Summit with her friend.

Larissa eventually has to make a choice, and learn that there is a price to pay for doing exactly what one likes.

I almost gave this book up because it was a bit anti-Catholic at the beginning (the author makes up for this), but I persevered, and although it could have been just another steamy airport novel, it actually raises big questions about the meaning of life, the selfishness of modern life, the difference between true love and infatuation and the significance of marriage. Also, I like Paullina Simons's writing and her many literary references. I have also enjoyed some of her other books.

Clementine Churchill A Life in Pictures by Sonia Purnell

Clementine Churchill had to face the hardest decision of her life. The doctor had warned her that her husband, the PM, had a heart condition which could cause his death, and Great Britain was in the middle of a dreadful war. Should she tell Winston?

Clementine was a highly political wife whose role in supporting her husband and, indeed, in playing her own part, has been vastly underestimated. Sonia Purnell details the wonderful work that she did, including raising a vast amount for the Red Cross to help the people of Russia and being the president of the YWCA. The marriage was often difficult, and she even felt that she needed to escape from Winston's bad temper a lot, but it remained very strong. Clementine apparently had failings as a mother, however.

This was an interesting book, accompanied by photographs from the time. I would like to read much more about Clementine Churchill.

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