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Books Read Lately

I''m a bit pressed for time lately.  I hope to be a better blogger soon! I intend to join a few challenges, include a few interviews, and start a series.  Please keep reading!

Here are some new short reviews.

Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart

This was a cleverly plotted mystery involving Jenny's search for her cousin in the French Alps.  The eerie atmosphere and strange characters make this book difficult to put down.  The ending is especially exciting.

Jenny is a sweet, but immature and innocent girl at the beginning of the book.  She is likable, but she might seem old-fashioned to the young women readers of today.  She has to grow stronger and much more mature, however.  In the end she discovers where her heart lies.

Marie Lloyd by Richard Anthony Baker

This book will interest anyone who likes to read about music-hall stars and music-halls.  It is probably rather too factual and dry for other readers, however.  Some of the descriptions of music-halls are evocative and t…

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

A charming and beautifully written historical mystery about an engaging heroine.  Read my review here: An Appealing Historical Mystery

An Eloquent Journey Towards Grace

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber is almost like a non-fiction Brideshead Revisited.  Like that wonderful novel, Surprised by Oxford, is a moving love story and a tale of conversion.  Set in Matthew Arnold's "sweet city of dreaming spires", this is an eloquent memoir of the journey to faith.

When Weber is a young undergraduate student studying Donne in Canada, she is criticised by her lecturer for not understanding the poem.  She is surprised to discover that her professor is a devout Christian who tells her that "anything not done to the glory of God is doomed to failure..."  She begins to think about this in a deep way.  This is the first sign that, like the great poet, Weber is on a spiritual pilgrimage.

When Weber arrives in Oxford on a graduate scholarship, she is engaged to a nice young man but she feels dissatisfied with her life.  She has an anguished relationship with her clever father who apparently threw his life away to a great extent.  A tall, d…

Books Read in September

That Woman by Anne Sebba

Sebba created controversy with this biography of Wallis Simpson because of her theory that Wallis suffered from a strange sexual disorder which may have even rendered her incapable of sleeping with her husbands.  This would have meant that Prince Edward told King George the truth technically when he said that he and Wallis had not had "sexual relations".

Sebba really doesn't appear to have much evidence for this hypothesis.  There are also rumours about abortions and trouble with her ovaries.


The author dismisses some other tales as myths. For example, she writes that Simpson really wasn't very interested in politics and that she probably didn't have affairs with Guy Trundle or Ribbentrop.  There's also no mention of any drug-smuggling in China.


She still paints a picture of Simpson as very ambitious, materialistic and unlikeable.  She married the Prince because she'd gone too far and couldn't get out of it without incurring e…

Books Read in August

Was She A Gold-Digger Or A Woman In Love?

Did Wallis Simpson want to be Queen or was she just desperately in love with King Edward VIII? According to Charles Higham in Mrs Simpson, she 'wanted to have her cake and eat it too'.  She liked the grand life-style and the stunning presents she received as Prince Edward's mistress and she wanted to remain his mistress after he became King.

This is about the best thing about her, according to this book.  Apart from being vulgar and common, Higham writes that she was also a Fascist, promiscuous, and even a drug-runner in China!  The Duke of Windsor was also sympathetic to the Nazis and even gave secret information away.  He even suggested that England should be bombed more heavily so that the country would be more inclined to want peace!

They were apparently an extremely nasty couple if this information is correct, and Great Britain was extremely lucky that this King abdicated!

This book is full of salacious gossip and scandal but …

How To Find Cheap Textbooks

Do you need affordable textbooks? Many college students have trouble finding cheap textbooks.  Textbooks are often printed in limited editions which makes them extremely expensive. Don't despair! There is a way to solve this.

You can use this excellent comparison site to find affordable textbooks.  Here you can search 20 different partners for a book.  You can search for books easily by searching by college, university, title, or keywords.  You can also search for multiple college books at once.  There is even a free iPhone app that you can use to search for books!

This site also has other interesting features, such as a featured book and some of the New York Times Bestsellers.








Books Read in July

Marrying Anita by Anita Jain

Anita Jain is a clever, Indian-American journalist who is over thirty and wants to get married.

She becomes tired of the dating scene in New York.  Most of the men she dates tell her at the start that 'they're not looking for anything serious'.  She writes that if they say that at the beginning, they think that they can easily date women for a while and then leave them.  Honesty, she writes, is about their only good quality.

Jain thinks that the Indian attitude to marriage is better.  Indians don't see anything wrong with wanting to get married and they don't place as much value on  independence and freedom.  She decides to live in India and try her chances there.  The men who she dates in India seemed to me to be just as bad or worse, unfortunately.

Jain annoyed me a bit by drinking too much and taking drugs.  There seemed to be even more of this in India than America, surprisingly.  She also struck me as rather silly in other ways at …

A Great War- Hero of Many Countries

My mother worked for the U.S. Air Force in Australia during the Second World War, so I was very interested in reading Macarthur by Mitchell Yockelson.  She used to see the General in the lift (elevator) and she told me how nice and pretty his wife was.  She's also told me hair-raising stories about typing letters begging for more planes.  Macarthur is certainly a hero to my mother and should be a hero to all Australians as well as Americans.

Yockelson's book is an excellent introduction to the life and legacy of the great general.  It outlines the importance of Macarthur's noble family background, the facts of the wars and the general's struggles with Presidents and other war-leaders.  Unfortunately, there is only a small chapter on Macarthur's time in Australia.  This was, of course, the part that interested me the most.  However, I couldn't really expect more because the book is written to appeal to American readers.

 The writing is, unfortunately, a bit dull…

No Way Home by Carlos Acosta

The troubles of Lee Cunxin (Mao's Last Dancer) were bad, but seem like almost nothing when they are compared with those of the famous ballet star, Carlos Acosta.  This book made my hair stand on end!<br/><br/>Born in a poor area of Havana, Acosta overcame terrible conditions to become a ballet dancer.  He really wanted to be a footballer so he played truant from his first school and played football and joined breakdancing groups.  His father gave him a good thrashing when he found out.  Luckily, another school accepted him.  Once Acosta was inspired by going to the ballet, he decided to put up with his coackroach-ridden shed in a swamp, absence from his family, and long bus-rides to school. His teachers saw his potential and helped begin to achieve his ambitions.

These weren't his only problems.  His father was injured in a car accident which worsened his already bad temper.  His mother suffered a stroke at only 35 and one of his sisters was diagnosed with Paranoid…

Books Read in June

To Hellas and Back by Lana Penrose

Penrose jumped at the chance to go to Greece with her Greek-Australian boyfriend.  However, she was very miserable in Greece.  She found herself amongst unfriendly people who were difficult to understand and lost without a career or friends.  Learning the language was impossible.  Her partner loved it and his career was leaping ahead. This had drastic effects on their relationship.

Penrose tells a hilarious but sad tale.  I enjoyed this book but the author was too 'out there' for me.  She reminded me on occasion of why many people avoid being known as Australian when they go overseas! She liked drinking a bit too much and only became happier when she found some New Zealanders who also seemed to be drunk a lot of the time.  The Greeks can apparently enjoy a few civilised glasses of wine over dinner without getting drunk afterwards.  I am not a 'wowser' but this can only be praised.

* 'Wowser' means someone who wants to stop peo…

Absorbing the Liturgy

Chittister shows  how absorbing the liturgy throughout the year makes one a better Christian.  This is a deep, thoughtful and philosophical book about the importance of the liturgy and its history.  It is well-worth reading.

Do you go to sleep during readings and sermons?  Do you know whether its Lent or Advent?  Reading this book will help you if you do! The Liturgical Year shows the importance of the different spiritual times of the year, for example, the sacrifices and fasting of Lent and the candles and decorations of Christmas. Chittister studies the origins of these periods of the year and their connection with the story of Christ.  She even goes into the different colours of the church decor of these times, for example, purple for Advent.

She writes that the symbolism, the readings, and the drama of the liturgy all correspond with Christ's life.  If we follow them and absorb them, this will help us become better Christians.

 This book is written from an extremely Catholic p…

Beautiful Medical Uniforms at Blue Sky Scrubs

Are you tired of wearing unfashionable medical uniforms?  There is an answer.  Blue Sky Scrubs specialize in making beautiful nursing uniforms.  They manufacture custom made scrubs which have a slimming flit and high quality fabric.

The company makes two types of scrubs for women: Original Scrubs and Simple Scrubs.  The Original Scrubs feature fashionable stitching on the two back pockets of the scrub bottoms and matching stitching on the pocket of the top.

These very attractive uniforms will help you look good at the hospital or wherever you work in the medical field. They are designed to flatter any figure.  The uniforms are available from http://www.blueskyscrubs.com/categories/Scrubs/Scrubs-for-Women/Original Scrubs.

Why You Should Use Repair Pal

Do you want to find the best information about your car?  If so, you should look up Repair Pal.  This useful site contains reviews of different car models and information about recalls and technical service bulletins of many different cars.

Repair Pal also provides price estimates for repairs.  They tell you what you need to know about particular repairs.  They will even send a printable version of the estimate to your email.

You can also find a list of repair shops in your area by looking up Repair Pal.  You do this by entering your city or postcode. Then the company shows you the best repair shop in your area.  It also has user ratings and reviews of the shop.

This is an excellent website with lots of helpful information for car owners.

Books Read in May

Elizabeth of Glamis by David Duff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Elizabeth of Glamis provides evocative and descriptive accounts of royal events and ceremonies.  The royal history is interesting.

However, you won't learn much about the Queen Mother from this book. She must have had a will of steel and she was very supportive of her husband.  She was also devastatingly charming and a wonderful hostess.
Duff seems to regard her as almost verging on sainthood! You won't find any criticism of her in these pages, let alone any scandal or gossip.

I am a fan of the Queen Mother's, but this book even got on my nerves in the end.  The writing was just too cloying.  The style is also rather old-fashioned and breathless, although I didn't mind that.

Me & Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow

This is a coming of age story full of excitement and drama.  When Richard is 'discovered' by Orson Welles and placed in his innovative Caesar, his life changes for ever.  He falls in love with t…

Books Read in April

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

This is a haunting book about a young Irish girl who has to leave Ireland for a new life in Brooklyn in the 1950's.  When she gets there, she suffers from terrible homesickness but she gradually starts to enjoy her new life and fall in love.  Eventually she has to return to Ireland where she faces difficult choices...

Toibin certainly captures the atmospheres of Ireland and Brooklyn in the 1950's and cleverly compares them.  He also has an uncanny ability to describe the way that Eilis, the main character, would feel in that situation.  He also makes her extremely likeable and memorable.

The only problem that I had with this book is that I felt that I had to read every word.  It seemed to require a lot of concentration for some reason, although it isn't by any means a difficult book to read.

Books Read in February

I hope to write about the books that I read in January when I have time, but I'll have to start off with my February books.  The first one was a biography of James Stewart.

James Stewart by Marc Eliot

Jimmy Stewart lived a life full of integrity and had a stellar acting career.  He began his career as a rather sweet and innocent young man who'd lived a reasonably sheltered life.  He became a war-hardened man able to identify with many different types of characters and show anguish in his face.  In his greatest role in the film, It's A Wonderful Life,  Stewart took his character from an ambitious, cheerful young man to a despairing, disappointed man on the verge of suicide.

Stewart was a war hero - he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for showing incredible bravery during the Second World War.

This book is long and full of interesting anecdotes, many of which should probably be taken with a grain of salt.  Did Jimmy Stewart really lose his virginity to Ginger Rogers…