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Sunday, May 31, 2015

You Should Be Dancing My Life with the Bee Gees by Dennis Bryon

When a musician told young Dennis Bryon hat guitarists were 'two a' penny' and that he should be a drummer instead, his life was changed. The rather grumpy musician staying at Bryon's parent's Bed & Breakfast in Cardiff, also taught him to play his first set of drums and set the talented boy on his way to stardom.

Several twists of fate helped guide Bryon's way, so that he escaped the gloomy life of an apprentice electrician in Cardiff, and he eventually toured the world with the Bee Gees.  This book is full of tales from the music world. Bryon got into big trouble when he flirted with a local girl; he jammed with Jimmy Hendrix, and drove Supertramp around Germany!

Many 'musos' write very boring books about their lives.  This isn't one of them.  Bryon writes at a cracking pace, and keeps the story interesting.  I especially liked reading about the Bee Gee's.  They seemed a nice bunch of brothers with an addiction to tea! (Andy had a tragic life, however).  Bryon's love story was also very moving.

You Should Be Dancing My Life with the Bee Gees by Dennis Bryon
ECW Press

Clearing Clutter. Physical, Mental and Spiritual by Alexandra Chauran

This book probably won't help inveterate hoarders, but it is filled with excellent advice for those who have some hope of getting rid of 'stuff'.  Chauran's advice mainly fits the old Italian saying that you should only keep things that are either beautiful or useful.  She suggests that you only keep things that bring you joy every time you look at them.

Clearing Clutter contains lots of tips to help people overcome compulsive shopping, such as not going grocery shopping when you're hungry and stick to a list.  She also advises against retail therapy, and suggests that readers ask to be given experiences as gifts instead of things.  For example, tickets to a concert might be a better present than another book.  She also suggests that you should immediately decide whether to return, regift, donate or keep presents.

Chauran does get a bit 'New Agey' at times - she is a practising psychic!  For example, she likes Feng Shui, and she suggests purifying floor washes and spiritual ways of clearing clutter.  These are probably worth a try, however.

The section on mental clutter includes advice about meditation, retreats, and other ways of clearing thoughts.  It's well-worth reading.

This book is highly recommended for reader struggling with clutter.  The hard thing is applying it!

Clearing Clutter
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd

Saturday, May 30, 2015

This is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life by Gavin McLeod and Mark Dagostino

Dinner with Bette Davis, working with Mary Taylor Moore, and meeting President Reagan.  Gavin McLeod includes these anecdotes and many others in his enjoyable tale about a small-town boy who 'made good'.  This is a great book to read for people interested in Hollywood tales and fans of "The Loveboat" and "The 'Mary Taylor Moore Show". McLeod even has some excellent career advice.

The book is not just about good times, however.  McLeod certainly endured his fair share of troubles, including alcoholism, divorce, and career failures. He suffered a tough childhood.  His father scared him when he was drunk even though he loved him very much, and his mother had to look after the children herself when his father died at just 39. Luckily, his sophisticated uncle introduced him to the world of theatre and McLeod won an acting scholarship.

Life was still difficult when McLeod was a young actor, however.  He was so poor that he could hardly afford a hot dog and he often ate 'ketchup soup' (ketchup with water).  He had no agent after acting for four years.

These are just some of the hard times that he describes.  Feelings of worthlessness drove him to drink, but luckily he 'kept the faith' in his heart, and  this enabled him to get back on the right track and improve his career. His 'lucky breaks' were definitely"The Love Boat" and "The Mary Taylor Moore Show".  His agent told him that "The Love Boat" script sucked, but he went with his intuition and did it anyway.

This is written in a colloquial style, which I found hard to get used to at first.  However, I really liked the story, especially the anecdotes about the "Love Boat," such as the way in which the actress who played Julie was found.

I received this from Booklook bloggers in return for a review. My opinion is entirely my own.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lessons Learned as a Bridesmaid: What Every Single Woman Should Know Before Becoming a Bride

When I was young, there was a saying: 'Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride!'  Larissa Dayana Jean has been a bridesmaid 24 times however, and she is not taking any notice of this old saying.  In fact, she believes that her time as a bridesmaid will make her a much better bride, because it has taught her bitter and hard lessons about relationships, faith and how to be a confident, happy and good 'singleton'.  She writes about her journey toward equilibrium as a single in this book, full of excellent advice for young women.

Born in Haiti, Larissa went to America with her family when she was quite young, but her relatives never 'got' the modern American belief that it's OK to marry late.  If you are not married by 25 in Haitian culture, your relatives apparently think that there is something wrong with you!  Larissa's father told her that: 'The next wedding you walk into, it had better be your own!' She was under a lot of pressure to find a husband.

Bridesmaids dressed in pink lehnga cholis, photo by Sibil at Wikimedia Commons.

Larissa shares her experiences of having a broken heart, struggling with envy of her married friends, and why you shouldn't compare yourself with others.  She writes from a Christian point of view, emphasising the importance of purity before marriage and sexual morality.  Many people probably won't agree with this, but she puts her case well.

There was one piece of advice that I am not inclined to support all the time - at least in Australia.  Larissa argues that young women should wait for men to show that they're interested.  Many Australian and English men are shy, so I don't think that this applies so much here! American men are generally much more confident.

I do agree that men shouldn't initiate relationships via technology, however.  They should approach them personally! As she writes, a man who is serious about a job position wouldn't conduct an interview via text or telephone.

This is quite a charming book.  I enjoyed it even though I am married and fairly old!

I received this from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A David and Goliath Battle. When Britain Saved The West by Robin Prior

In the dark days of June 1940, Britain stood alone against the Germans.  Most of Europe including much of France was under German control; the British army had been expelled from Europe; the major allies were crushed, and the Dominion armies were small and distant.  Prior tells the story of how Britain overcame these terrible problems, and why he thinks that Britain and not the United States ultimately saved the West.

Historian Robin Prior gives a well-researched and well-written account of Churchill's fight against the appeasers, the fall of France and how Dunkirk inspired the British to keep going until the end.  His account of the Battle of Britain and the importance of radar and tactical skills is especially comprehensive. His discussion of Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park's role is also excellent - apparently he was quite the hero! Prior explains how the British managed to win this battle even though they were often outnumbered by 8:1 and the Germans attempted to induce mass panic by the terror of the Blitz.

This is highly recommended for readers interested in the Second World War. (I received a free copy from the publisher Yale University Press via Net Galley.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Permanent Equilibrium? meQuillibrium by Jan Bruce

Amost everyone wants to find permanent equilibrium.  I doubt that this book really provides that, but I found it helpful.  It's better than most self-help books, because it does cover almost everything, including how to create a sustainable centre of calm, how to make better choices, and suggestions for how to have a good sleep.  I didn't agree with one suggestion - don't read in bed! It might work, but I think that I'd rather read in bed than improve my sleep, anyway!

The chapters that contain unusual advice are the ones on identifying 'iceberg' beliefs that cause big emotional outbursts and how finding the meaning behind tasks makes you feel better about them.  For example, paying the bills helps keep your family secure.

This is worth buying and keeping, because I can practically guarantee that most readers will want more than 14 days to practise these helpful stress-relieving skills!

The SFP LookBook: Atelier to Runway New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015Andrea Kiliany Thatcher, Morgan Beye

(Nancy Cunard)

I recommend this book highly for anyone interested in the latest styles, because it includes fascinating insights into the inspirations of the designers, information about hairstyles and accessories, and glimpses into what goes on backstage, as well as stunning fashion photos. The striking florals of Carolina Herrera, the wild vintage-influenced outfits of Betsy Johnson, and the floaty and feminine dresses of Badgley Mischka can all be found here.
This LookBook will also be extremely useful for budding designers with its quotations and its stories about muses.  For example,  there is an interview with Bibhu Mohapatra about her muse, Nancy Cunard, and how Nancy fought against racism and Fascism and wore unusual styles.

If only I could keep this book of beautiful photos, but it is on loan from Net Galley.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

London Tides by Carla Laureano

I loved Five Days in Skye, so I snapped this up when it was offered to me through Net Galley. However, I am finding it difficult to get into, unfortunately. I think that it's a just a bit too hip and young for me, and it isn't as Christian as Carla Laureano's first novel in the series. However, I will try again!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends by Mary Claire Kendall

(Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in Mr Deeds Goes To Town.

Hollywood is a deeply spiritual place, surprisingly.  This interesting and well-written book about stars who converted to Catholicism reflects this little-known aspect of a place commonly regarded as frivolous and silly.

Mary Claire Kendall's book includes several fascinating anecdotes, such as Hitchcock's moving deathbed confession, Gary Cooper's dropping rosaries at the Pope's feet, and Bob Hope's wife praying for him every day. It is often harrowing to read, however, because the stories of these movie-stars include so many bad marriages, and several of them became addicted to drink or drugs.  Mary Astor's tale of sorrow is especially upsetting.  However, most of them overcame their troubles with the help of the Church and lived long lives.  For example, Bob Hope lived until 93.

This inspiring book is the perfect combination for people who like to read  about Hollywood and Catholicism!