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Showing posts from June, 2015

Talent for Humanity Stories of Creativity, Compassion and Courage to Inspire You on Your Journey Patrick Gaffney Smith

These fascinating stories show that suffering and hardship can develop into passion and a desire to change the world. Most of the people featured in this book knew times of darkness and despair but they didn't become bitter.  Instead, they decided to grow from their experiences and use them to help others.  Patrick Gaffney's organization, Talent for Humanity, gave them Human Spirit Awards because they embody positive human values and inspire others.

The people in this book include Reza, a famous photojournalist who has founded many humanitarian projects across the world, Deeyah Khan, an award-winning documentary maker, and Sherry and Bob Jason, two attorneys who brought the arts to poor school children in Los Angeles. They explain why they decided to start their organizations and how they began them.  At the end of each chapter there are letters from these people to the readers.

This is well-worth reading, especially if you are interested in starting even a small humanitarian …

The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport

St Martin's Press has a new paperback edition of The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport!  As you can see, I loved this book, so I will definitely be buying the new edition. Watch a short video to learn more about the book here: Romanov Sisters video.

Each Romanov sister had their own special personality and everyone has their favourite.  It is fun to do the quiz and see which sister you resemble the most! I did a short quiz about this and got this result: Olga!

Refilling Your Inkwell by Kellie Sheridan

This is the perfect book for writers with 'writer's block'! Kellie Sheridan suggests all sorts of ways for writers to jumpstart their writing, such as keeping a writing journal, writing in 200-word sprints, and writing for five minutes. She also gives helpful tips for finding ways to do this with other writers, for example, joining writing sprints on Twitter or joining National Writing Month. Sharing writing experiences on a blog is another idea.

Sheridan also includes sections on setting specific goals, finding different ways to put the joy back into writing, joining writer's communities, and writing apps.  It's a great book to read for writers who haven't written for a long time, or for  those who are having difficulty completing a novel or a non-fiction book.

I probably found the information about apps and websites the most useful part.  I will definitely be trying Todoist and Asana.

I will certainly be buying this book!

Kellie Sheridan has an excellent seri…

French Toast, Waffles and Pancakes for Breakfast. Comfort Food for Leisurely Mornings by Donna Leahy

Jonathunder, French Toast toast served at Mac's Restaurant in Rochester, Minnesota. Wikimedia Commons
Do you want to start your weekend or holiday with a delicious cooked breakfast?  These scrumptious recipes will ensure that you have a happy start to the day! The recipes have easy-to-follow instructions and the beautifully photographed pictures will send you running to the shops for the ingredients.  
The recipes have wonderful names, such as Baked French Toast with Peaches and Blueberries, and Buttermilk Pancakes with Walnuts and Apple Rings.  I love French Toast, so I'll certainly start trying these concoctions by Donna Leahy soon!

London from My Windows by Mary Carter

(Duncan, London from Primrose Hill, Wikimedia Commons)

I am afraid that I couldn't get into this book although I was attracted by the title and the interesting cover image.  The problem was that I had a relative nicknamed Queenie, and there is a drag queen in the book called Queenie.  I also didn't like the characters very much.

I  will try Mary Carter's other books.

The Way Home. Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed by Sonia Choquette

Scheihoffer, Stefan. Jacobsweb, Pixabay

After Sonia Choquette's experienced the trauma of her father's and her brother's deaths within a short time, she decided to walk the Camino. Some people told the fashion and luxury-loving Choquette's that she was crazy, but she knew instinctively that something good would come out of her pilgrimage.

She had read that the Camino provides a gift each day to those who pay attention, and pay attention she did. She endured terrible pain, pouring rain and gusts of wind, and rude people in bare hostels. Even that wasn't as bad as the struggle with her 'demons,' including her anger with her father and brother, and her volatile marriage. But she also encountered warm and kind people, saw stunning scenery, and great spirituality. Her cute talisman helped her along the way.

I loved this book, and I could read it again and again! It's a bit 'New Agey' for some at times, but I cheered when Sonia Choquette overcame her…

Day's End by H.E. Bates

, Hogweard, Thatched Cottage in Higham Ferrars, Northamptonshire, Wikimedia Commons

This is a beautifully written collection of short stories with excellent character studies and exquisite descriptions of the English countryside and weather.  Most of them are fairly miserable, however.There's Israel, an aged farmer struggling to keep his farm for his daughter, an unhappy baker's wife whose only joy is a short-lived affair, and a minister's wife who finds a poor, homeless person in her church.  I preferred the happier ones, such as the one about a young boy who is keen on a girl at a birthday celebration.

I like novels better than short stories, but I have always been a big fan of H.E. Bates, and these didn't disappoint, although I occasionally found them a bit irritating.  Unlike Lesley Pearse, who wrote the introduction to this book, I admire H.E. Bates's novels more than his stories.  However, I am not surprised that he has been compared with the great Chekhov.


The Cost of Courage by Charles Kaiser

(French army returns to France, Wikipedia)

When Christiane Boulloche was about to cook the dinner in her secret Paris apartment, she realised that she had forgotten a few items and rushed out to buy them.  It was the best shopping trip that she ever made.  When she came back she saw German cars outside and she had to take a long Metro ride to warn her sister of the dangers.

This incredible and moving story of the French Resistance by Charles Kaiserconcerns a family of two sisters and a brother who did clandestine work despite constant fear of torture or death.  The two sisters smuggled arms, distributed information, and helped run Resistance groups, while their brother eventually fought with the Free French and became a leading politician. Many of their fellow resisters endured terrible tortures, and some, like Christiane's boss, paid the ultimate price.  It's a harrowing story because the bravery of the siblings led to such an enormous cost, and they blamed themselves...

I a…

Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Barry

Scared and lonely, Rifqa tried not to listen to the swearing of the man beside her on the Greyhound bus.  The sixteen-year old was on a long journey to Florida from Ohio, and a run-away.  She was terrified of her family but she didn't know what was ahead of her. If she had, she might not have had the courage to make the journey.  But she found strength in her devout Christianity.
Rifqa grew up in Sri Lanka where she was a happy little girl for a while.  However, everything changed when she injured her eye.  Her parents and even her brother were moody and violent towards her. After her uncle sexually assaulted Rifqa, the family moved to America, but the situation grew steadily worse.  She walked a long way to school alone past homeless men; her parents and brother became more abusive; and she had to live the very strict life of a pious Tamil Muslim girl.  She wasn't allowed to associate with her friends and she had to endure several hours of learning the Koran in the summer hol…

Brekky Central Behind the smiles of Australian breakfast television Adam Boland

This was another book that I didn't finish.  I used to watch "Sunrise" years ago, but I gave it up and started listening to the radio instead, and I was never a big fan, unlike lots of people in Australia. This book was well-written and interesting if you want to know about the show, I am sorry that I didn't finish it now, because it does have snippets of gossip about famous people.

A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde

Florence Blume on her wedding day in Brisbane in 1931 (Wikimedia Commons)

I usually love Katie Fforde's novels, and I am looking forward to the next one.  However, I didn't finish this.  It got a bit dull when the characters kept discussing the restoration of the village hall.

JFK and LBJ: The Last Two Great Presidents by Godfrey Hodgson

JFK mesmerised the American public with his good looks, intelligence, sophistication and urbanity. Many influential members of the press such as Ben Bradlee considered him their 'golden boy, and he appeared to be the working man's friend but impressed everyone with his wealth and privilege.  For a short time after his death, he was thought of as leading a new 'Camelot'.  However, his reputation soon received a beating because of his womanising and other scandals.

By contrast, LBJ was a nasty bully and crass.  However, he was also energetic, intelligent and had a desire to improve the lives of Americans.  Many of the media looked down on this rather vulgar 'Southern' President, and common knowledge that the Kennedy's hated him was not helpful.

Hodgson, a young British foreign correspondent in Washington had the opportunity t study both of their presidencies.  He argues that although they were the last two great American presidents, they've both been mis…

The Ballet Lover's Companion by Zoe Anderson

A group of balletomanes in Russia admired Marie Taglioni, a 19th century prima ballerina, so much that they cooked her pointe shoes in a sauce and ate them! I can only hope that the sauce was so delicious that it hid the no-doubt rubbery taste of the shoes.
Ths is one of many anecdotes shared in this book about the history of ballet.  Although the writing is still a bit dry, Zoe Anderson provides a well-researched and comprehensive guide to ballet from its beginnings in Italy to the modern era.  Anyone wanting a brief introduction to the different eras of ballet, such as the Romantic era with its eerie love stories and the explosive time of the Ballet Russes, will find this an easy guide.  Anderson includes thorough synopses of famous ballets and their interpretations at the end of each chapter and a glossary.
She will leave you wanting to learn more about the beautiful world of ballet!