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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Catholic Advantage by Bill Donahue

I also gave this book up fairly quickly? This is because it is filled with surveys showing why Catholics and most Christians are happier and more likely to be successful people with more friends, etc. Surveys have shown that people who go to church are more likely to be happier and live longer lives than others. There is also evidence that prayer is powerful. However, I couldn't help feeling that Donahue chose the surveys which supported his thesis!

Reading about all these studies was rather tedious. However, I recommend dipping into this book whenever you need to feel better about being Catholic!

The Irish Brotherhood by Helen O'Donnell

I love to read books about the Kennedys but I am afraid that I didn't finish this one. I found it a bit dull, unfortunately.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

After Perfect: A Daughter's Memoir by Christina McDowell

"Waldorf Louis XIV bedroom" by George Boldt - The Waldorf-Astoria, New York. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Christina McDowell  grew up in the lap of luxury as Christina Prousalis. Her family owned a private jet, stayed in the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and associated with famous people.  She had a happy childhood with her family, and her parents appeared to have the perfect marriage.  Then it all suddenly went wrong...

After her lawyer father was arrested for fraud, Christina's life descends into a life of near poverty, drinking and drugs.  She doesn't know whether she can trust her father, who still has big ideas and gives her expensive presents even though he is in jail.  Her mother gets a new boyfriend who Christina doesn't like.  She has to work in seedy nightclubs to earn money, and even her mother's accountant offers her a part in a porno movie! No one believes this when she tells them.

This is an extremely depressing and harrowing story, but Christina describes the situation well, and it's certainly worth reading. One has to hand it to the author for getting through her struggles and managing to make a new life for herself.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest reviews.

Article in The Guardian

Christina's Open Letter to The Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson

(The very beautiful Marie Mancini)

This fast-paced novel about the engaging Marie Mancini kept me captivated until the end. Well-researched with interesting characters, this was an excellent historical novel. Marci Jefferson also evokes the splendour and glamour of the era, while contrasting the competitive and ruthless nature of the court.

Marie has to contend with her controlling and manipulative uncle who throws her at the Sun King and her determined sister Olympia who wants him all to herself. This makes Marie tougher and more devious, but she is in love with the enigmatic Louis, and sometimes love makes the heart rule the mind...

The main flaws in this book were the suggestion that the Cardinal could be Louis XIIII's father, and Marie's rather calculating nature, I thought. I read Antonia Fraser's wonderful biography a long time ago so I could be wrong, but Louis's mother seemed too pious to sleep with Cardinal Mazarin and Marie was rather an innocent character in real life.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann

Luminous writing, a sensitive and charming heroine and an evocative coming-of-age story! What could be better?  I loved this novel about young and clever Olivia who longs to escape from her dull village and who is sometimes envious of her pretty sister Kate.  Olivia gains a new lease of life when she is invited to her first dance.  Told that she can 'carry off something out of the usual' by her dressmaker, she starts to see her attractiveness and grows more confident.

However, will the dance really be as exciting as Olivia imagines? Will she be able to cope with the rather intimidating upper-class family holding the dance?  Will she be a success or  a 'wallflower'? All of these thoughts run through Olivia's mind as she prepares for her big night. During the course of the long night, Olivia learns many difficult lessons.

I must read all of Rosamond Lehmans's novels after reading this!

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Invitation to the Waltz published by Open Road Integrated Media

Paperback  $14.99

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rimsky-Korsakov: Letters To His Family and Friends by Tatiana Rimsky-korsakov

Unfortunately, I found the style of writing dull, so I didn't continue with this book. However, it is useful for people researching the life of the great composer, and I will probably give it another try.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer Leah Libresco Ave Maria Press

Edmund Herger Ulmer Munster, Painting of a ChurchMary's Rosaries

A  relative once wrote: "Why can't we all just be good, kind and caring people?" I think that she meant that we could do this without being religious. I don't think so....This is one of the struggles that famous Catholic convert Leah Libresco discusses in this book. Did we learn moral law naturally or did we need religion?  What is the point of being good without believing in God? She also writes intelligently and lucidly about the sacraments, the Rosary and praying to the saints.

I found the first part of this book rather heavy and philosophical, and wondered whether to go on with it.  However, I liked reading about Libresco's prayers to the saints, and I also liked her literary and cultural references.

This is highly-recommended for anyone interested in the Catholic Church.

I received this ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Better and Faster by Jeremy Gutsche

This highly competitive 'dog-eat-dog' world bankrupts any company or entrepreneur who fails to keep up with the times.  For example, Kodak didn't see a future for digital cameras and left the field open to competitiors.  Encyclopedia Brittanica thought that the home computer market was very small, so they didn't want to hurt their traditional method of selling.

In this book,  Jeremy Gutsche, the founder of Trend Hunter, discusses the three 'hunter instincts' - insatiability, curiosity, and willingness to destroy - and how you can use them to your advantage in business.  He lists all sorts of ways in which managers or budding entrepreneurs can do this, such as associating a product with something greater, discovering a narrowly defined niche, or having a pattern-obsessed mindset. He includes examples of companies and entrepreneurs who used these skills successfully.  One of the most interesting is the redirection of De Beers.  In the early twentieth century, demand for diamonds was plummeting and diamond engagement rings were uncommon, so De Beers hired a top New York advertising company who decided to associate diamonds with romance.  They wanted men to think that diamonds were a gift of love, and 'the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love'!

Jeremy Gutsche includes useful summaries at the end of each chapter.  This is especially helpful if you want to look something up quickly.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to get ahead in business!

I received this ebook from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Strolling through Rome by Mario Erasmo

X Posid, Saying, Public Domain Pictures

This is a great companion for any trip to Rome with its well-researched history, varied walks and excellent directions. Artists, princes, queens and other interesting characters populate these pages, and who could fail to want to read about them while touring Rome's gorgeous piazzas, churches and fountains? There is a lot of information to absorb here, so it is probably best not to do too many walks in too short a time!

I will definitely be using this guide on my next trip to this radiant city.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

In The Front Row. How Australian Fashion Made The World Stage by Simon P. Lock

When Simon Lock told important Australian fashion designer Peter Morrissey about his idea for an Australian Fashion Week, Morrissey said that he didn't know who Lock was or how he would pull it off, but he loved his vision and his passion.  Simon P. Lock needed every inch of that vision and passion to fulfill his dream.  He encountered several obstacles along the way, including huge debt, negative press and even betrayals by designers.  He tells the story in imitable style here, and enlivens the book with his anecdotes about many famous people. Anita Keating gave him a lot of help with afternoon teas at The Lodge and Cate Blanchett was also a big fan.

The beautiful Australian designer Carla Zampatti

When Lock began his career in fashion, Australian fashion designers were little-known.  Australia was regarded as a cultural desert, and a land of 'ockers'.  It didn't help when a French journalist who was sent here to cover fashion shows criticised Australian designers for ripping-off European couture, and he was right! Lock was actually laughed at in Paris and New York when he wanted to present Australian fashions there.  One person said that taking fashion to Paris was like 'taking coals to Newcastle'.

However, he made it, and now Australian fashion is better-known worldwide, and adds much more to the economy.  Lock ensured that the fashion industry was highly-regarded.

It's a great tale, although it's a bit technical at times.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to start a business, especially in the fashion industry!

I received this ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.