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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why Cleaning Has Meaning: Bringing Wellbeing Into Your Home by Linda Thomas

I am afraid that I didn't finish this book, however I will try again. It is extremely esoteric and on philosophical, and a bit difficult to read.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis and Mayhem in Moscow by Jennifer Erimeeva

After I got over my disappointment that 'HRH' didn't mean His Royal Highness and the author didn't know Prince Charles (!), I really enjoyed this book. Erimeeva was once in love with the idea of imperial Russia, but she never dreamed that she'd end up actually living in Russia during the last days of the Soviet Union. She tells amusing tales of being culled from a book club, battles with the Red and White Queens and strange expat balls. This is a must-read for anyone interested in real life in Russia and Russian history.

Two things did upset me a bit - there was no need for so much swearing and Erimeeva seemed to have a patronising attitude to religion.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Digital Branding. A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Strategy, Tactics and Measureme by Daniel Rowles

This extremely useful book is filled with wise advice about adding value and authenticity to your brand and how to use social media.  Rowles provides examples of what worked for his company Target Internet, and he also gives examples of successful campaigns and failed campaigns. He shows why Pepsi's charity advertising campaign was a great idea that didn't succeed, because it lacked authenticity.

If you take the time to read this book and apply the excellent suggestions to your brand, you will be sure to see the benefits soon!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Irene: A Designer from the Golden Age of Hollywood: The MGM Years 1942-1949 by Frank Billecci & Lauranne B. Fisher

Extremely talented, Irene Lentz designed costumes for several Hollywood movies, including the all-white costumes of Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Judy Garland's exquisite dresses in Easter Parade and beautiful Greer Garson's costumes in Mrs Parkington. She won the prestigious Nieman Marcus award and she opened her own business.  Irene also played the piano well, was good to her staff, and made lots of friends in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, her first husband died when he was quite young, and Irene never got over it.  She started drinking.  Her second husband's affairs didn't help. Working for MGM was stressful, and they treated her very badly in the end.

This book is worth buying for the magnificent costume sketches alone.  However, I found the writing a bit dull.  There are interesting anecdotes about Katherine Hepburn's bitchiness, Ava Gardner's refusal to wear 19th century underclothes and several other stars.  Lucille Ball and Judy Garland are described lovingly.

An interesting website about Irene.  Here is my article about Irene. Greg LaVoi has launched a line inspired by Irene:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Playboy's Dark Secret by Madeline Ash

Rafi is tired of her strenuous life of ballet and her pushy mother. A struggling young mother herself, she escapes to a beautiful vineyard to pick grapes, taking her baby with her.  Here she meets Dean, a world-weary footballer, who came back to his farm because he was sick of his shallow world of money and women. Rafi is attracted to Dean in spite of his cynicism, but should she tell him about the baby? She also worries about the age difference.

I enjoyed this romance, but I found the staccato style of Madeline Ash a bit annoying at times. However, she wrote lyrically about the Australian landscape, and the main characters were likeable. It was easy to identify with their feelings.

The Playboy's Dark Secret by Madeline Ash.
Penguin Destiny Romance e-book  AUD 3.99

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ever Higher. How High Will You Climb by John C. Maxwell

A successful life and career all depends on a person's attitude, according to John C. Maxwell. In this inspiring and interesting book, he provides suggestions and lessons about how to cultivate the right attitude, how to keep spirits up when the going gets tough and the importance of faith and prayer.  This is a very religious book that reminded me of The Power of Positive Thinking, but I found it much more useful.

Maxwell provides plenty of examples of people who had the right attitude, including St Paul.  St Paul had a terrible background to overcome but he looked forward instead of back, and he even managed to be happy in prison! He wrote that he had taught himself to be content in any circumstances whether they were humble or prosperous. Maxwell also cites people such as Raleigh who wrote a book during his long time in prison and Beethoven who was almost totally deaf and 'burdened with sorrow when he produced his greatest works'.

This book also has advice about the usual setbacks that prevent people from reaching their potential or their goals.  These include the fear of failure, discouragement and giving up easily.  It's a great book to dip into when you encounter these problems.

I will buy a paperback soon, so that I can really study this book and learn from it.  It's one of the best self-help books that I've read!

This was a free e-book from BookLook Bloggers. My opinion of the book is entirely my own.

The Mad Herringtons by Jane Myers Perrine

The antics of Aphrodite's passionate parents embarrass her, and she unfortunately finds the rest of her family almost as bad.  Young sister Athena is always kissing men; Terpsichore runs a literary salon and is highly unconventional; and her brother has got into a scrape at Cambridge.  Aphrodite wants to marry a dull, sensible man to escape all this, and she also wants to escape the surprising attentions of the attractive Lord Warwick.

However, in spite of becoming engaged to Mr Horne, she finds that escape is not so easy.  When she travels to his country house to meet his ghastly mother, she discovers that Lord Warwick and her sisters are there too!  Her brother is pretending to be an Italian aristocrat!

This was a highly amusing Regency romp by Jane Myers Perrine with delightful main characters.  The only trouble was some of the modern language.  I doubt that a Regency heroine would have called a man 'gorgeous'!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

London's Strangest Tales: The Royal Palaces by Iain Spragg

(Hampton Court, Wikimedia Commons)

This is an enjoyable, light-hearted and witty collection of stories about the royal palaces. Read about Cardinal Wolsey's fear of spiders at Hampton Court, King Charles I's betrayal by his dog and the first escapee from the Tower of London.  This is a great book to while away the time, especially for royalty lovers!

I recommend this if you want to learn more about English history and royalty in an easy way, or as a book to read on your travels in 'the Old Country'.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Northern Lights Trilogy by Lisa Bergren


A flirtatious runaway, an ambitious woman who wants to travel with her sea-captain husband, and a pirate disguised as an English gentleman. These are just some of the interesting characters in this enjoyable and adventure-filled trilogy about Norwegians who migrate to America in the Victorian era.  It is easy to feel that you are becoming friends with most of the people in these books as you follow their journeys towards love and faith. Religion plays an important part in the novels which may annoy people who just want to read a historical novel, but I didn’t think that this was overdone, and it added to my enjoyment of the book.

Lisa T. Bergren's books certainly involve a wide sweep of characters and settings.  There are exotic settings, such as Hawaii and Japan, and pioneering tales about the difficult life in the Wild West. Some real historical characters such as the Emperor of Japan are mentioned, and I also liked this. Bergen is especially good at creating atmosphere.

Her novels do have a few flaws, however.  The characters sometimes used extremely modern expressions that clashed with the historic setting.  I also found her writing a bit amateurish and much too wordy, on occasion.

However, it was a relaxing trilogy to read, and I recommend it if you like Christian historical novels.


Friday, June 06, 2014

City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

(Midan, Damascus, 1929)
This is another fast-paced romp from the wonderful Deanna Raybourn filled with adventure, romance and excitement.  The story involves brave and sassy Evie, an aviator, who sets off on a journey to Syria when she discovers that her husband may still be alive. Here, she joins an archaeological dig, but nothing is as it seems. Evie has to escape the clutches of kidnappers, help her husband on his quest, and learn how to be a better judge of people.  But can she deal with her own heart? That will be the most difficult part of Evie's journey.

It was hard to put this book down, because I wanted to see how Evie would get out of her many incredible situations, and I was interested in the development of the romance. Cleverly written and engaging from beginning to end, this is well-worth reading if you like historical romances and adventures.  I especially enjoyed the historical detail about Raymond of Toulouse, ancient relics, and Syria.

An interview with Deanna Raybourn

Monday, June 02, 2014

Why be Catholic. Ten Answers to a Very Important Question by Patrick Madrid

This is a convincing, interesting and well-written book that will inspire Catholics, gain converts and bring back some who have left the flock. Madrid compares the Catholic church to a hospital, and explains how God's grace conveyed by the Sacraments and living by the rules of the church heals the soul.  He also explains why Christ built his church on the Papacy, the Communion of Saints, and the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.

I still feel in-between Catholic and Anglican, so I found the Papal infallibility a bit difficult to deal with. However, I actually like the Catholic reverence for Mary - the usual problem for those who want to convert or convert.  I enjoyed his chapter on this.  I also especially liked his chapter on the saints and how many saints were great sinners.  He mentioned some saints who I certainly want to research, for example, Pelagia, who was once a promiscuous actress!

This is recommended for Catholics and anyone interested in becoming Catholic.