Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Rise of Thomas Cromwell Power and Politics in the Reign of Henry VIII, 1485-1534 by Michael Ever

Portrait of Cromwell by Hans Holbein, the Younger

This is an extremely dry but thoroughly researched account of Thomas Cromwell that dispels several myths.  Apparently, he didn't rise to fame because of the 'Great Matter' - instead the King was impressed with his administrative and legal skills, especially when he worked on land exchanges and other matters concerning lands.  His influential friends also helped.  However, there is evidence that he was corrupt, so the tales about his being a 'Master Manipulator' are not completely wrong.

Cromwell has often been depicted as a radical religious reformer, but there is little evidence for this. Although he dissolved monasteries, he was friends with Catholics, and there are indications that he held some conservative Catholic beliefs himself.

This book concerns his work, not his personal life.  Cromwell still remains rather mysterious.  I would only recommend it for people who are very interested in the Tudors, or students of Tudor history at school or university.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lone Star by Paullina Simons

I usually like Paullina Simons's books, but I found it too difficult to get into this one.  The main character, Chloe, is only 18 and lives in an American backwater, although she isn't poor.  She and her friends share a dream of going to Barcelona, and they decide to enter a writing competition to get the money to go.  Chloe has a few problems, however - her parents don't want her to go and her friend Hannah is having an affair with a much older married man, even though she has a boyfriend.

I think that the characters are just too young and silly, and the writing is a bit 'slangy'.  This got on my nerves.  I also found Chloe a bit selfish and she seemed to be intent on getting what she wanted at all costs.  However, maybe it's her youth that's my problem.

Lone Star by Paullina Simons
576 pages
William Morrow Paperbacks

Thank you to Net Galley for providing me with an advance copy of the book.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Bracelet by Dorothy Love

Celia, a beautiful and sweet Southern belle, has many dilemmas. What is the dark family scandal that a journalist is threatening to report? Can she trust her jealous cousin, Ivy? Who has sent her a mysterious bracelet with a frightening code that tells her that she is in grave danger?

Celia navigates her way through these problems bravely. A charming and likeable character, she deserves to marry her handsome fiancée Sutton, but he is struggling financially and Ivy also has her sights set on him...celia also has to cope with her extensive charity work and her ailing father.

I really enjoyed this romantic mystery by Dorothy Love and I want to read more of her stories. It is slightly religious but it's not preachy, and the religion doesn't distract from the story. Love captures the atmosphere of historic Savannah so that it is easy for readers to picture the dark streets and polished carriages. The exciting mystery and believable characters also make this a good read.

I received this from Booklook bloggers , but my opinion is entirely my own.

The Bracelet by Dorothy Love
Thomas Nelson
Kindle $9.67


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Stuck in the Passing Lane. A Memoir by Jed Ringel

Depressed about his separation from his wife, Jed Ringel turns to online dating and drink. Unfortunately, his dating experiences exacerbate both his anguish and his drinking problem! It is no wonder because Ringel's masochistic trait leads him into going out with a lot of 'unsuitable' women, including an old friend, two Russian women and a literary woman who loves Jane Eyre.

When Ringel discovers that the old girlfriend wants to make her husband jealous and the literary lady has an apartment full of rags and broken things, he has a mini-breakdown.  However, someone suggests that he try dating Russian women.  He finds an intellectual woman who he likes so much that he ends up on a plane to Moscow! I found this the most interesting part of the book, because of his grim description of Moscow - everyone wants bribes and he has to run away from a 'policeman' who demands his passport in one frightening incident.  He also gets into trouble when he accidentally starts dating a Russian prostitute online.

I enjoyed the book, although it was rather miserable most of the time.  However, Ringel's self-deprecating humour and amusing tales livened it up somewhat.  He does describe his experiences with the women in rather clinical detail, and I felt that this was 'too much information'.  However, it's worth reading if you like this kind of autobiography.

Stuck in the Passing Lane by Jed Ringel
Smith Publicity
Kindle Price: $7.99

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Between the Dark and the Daylight by joan Chittister

This is a beautifully written book that discusses success, loneliness, excessive consumption and many other important matters. Joan Chittister helps us to navigate our way through these problems, combat depression, and feel more at peace. I especially liked her chapter on loneliness. As she writes, loneliness can bring despair and make us want to retreat further, but it can also provide opportunity.

This is not an ordinary self-help book, but a spiritual guide to life. It requires deep reading and readers may turn to it often for assistance. The problem is that it is a little bit vague and esoteric at times, but I recommend it. This book reminded me of Thomas More's The Dark Night of the Soul.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Inside Isis: The Brutal Rise of A Terrorist Army by Benjamin Hall

Everyone should read this harrowing and concerning book! Benjamin Hall explains the convoluted rise of Isis and the complex politics of the Middle East, a region that is going up in flames as the dominoes fall. He studies whether Obama's foreign policy is working, and what we should do to combat this 'death cult' as our PM calls it.

There is no doubt that it is a death cult. Hall describes in graphic detail the brutality of Isis - the story of the death of James Foley will bring tears to your eyes. The treatment of its enemies and enslaved women is unbelievably cruel. Unfortunately, the Westerners who join Isis are the nastiest.

Hall provides details of how Isis takes over cities gradually, pleasing people at first and then ruling with harsh laws and punishments, such as beheadings. Unfortunately, Isis is making so much money from oil, extortion and kidnappings that it is hard to fight.

Hall makes some excellent suggestions about strategies to defeat This frightening terrorist group.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner

Rebecca Wilding, an archeology professor, has an enviable lifestyle at the beginning of this book. She has a happy marriage, successful children, a good career, and she lives in a beautiful country setting near the sea. Here there are wild kangaroos and lots of Australian wildlife.

Soon Rebecca's life begins to change, however. She can't get on with her smooth and good-looking boss, and she starts to suspect that her husband is having an affair. But her life really begins to unravel when she is suddenly accused of fraud.

This is a beautifully written and gripping story. We are caught in Rebecca's story from the beginning. A likeable and interesting character, she is easy to sympathise with. The suspense builds gradually as she attempts to find out what's happening.

I also liked the history and classical and mythical allusions. The descriptions of the countryside and Italy and Greece are also evocative.