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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Advent in Narnia Reflections on the Season by Heidi Haverkamp

This is a lovely way to prepare for Christmas. The author relates the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
 to the coming of Christmas very well. She discusses the effects of fear and revenge, reconciliation, feasting and many other important considerations from the book. At the end of each chapter there are exercises, and you can follow along with the novel as well.

I will definitely read this again this year and concentrate on it more.

This was a free ebook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 29, 2016

L M Montgomery Challenge at Reading to Know

I am very late for this challenge because we've been away.  However, I am going to try to read The Blue Castle very quickly and write a review.  I've always loved Montgomery and I think that this is a great way to start a new year!

The Naked Writer by G. Miki Hayden


According to legend, there was once a dying Zen master.  The master shocked his pupils when he got up and suddenly started dancing.  Then he went back to bed and told them: ‘That’s effort!’

Hayden uses this story to tell her readers that clear and concise writing requires a lot of hard work.  Luckily, she actually manages to make a grammatical style guide interesting and not at all like many dry textbooks.  She explains the eight different parts of speech, the difference between active and passive writing and how not to be repetitive. Hayden also provides a list of the most common mistakes that writers make and easy ways to correct them. I especially enjoyed the chapter about finding the right word.

This is an extremely helpful book for writers and I certainly intend to buy a paperback copy!

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

She's Got Legs: A History of Hemlines and Fashion by by Jane Merrill & Keren Ben-Horin, Photography by Nasser K

Did you know that there is a legend that women shave their legs because of the Queen of Sheba or that the Etruscan ladies wore pretty, tiered skirts?  I didn't! This book is full of fascinating anecdotes about royalty and strange myths, but it also provides an excellent analysis of the fashion of hemlines.

I especially liked the illustrations and pictures.

Unfortunately, this was hard to read because the e-book kept freezing.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Serving the Word My Life by Raniero Cantalamessa

This book about the longest serving and very spiritual papal preacher is in interview form so I found it a bit hard to read.  Father Cantalamessa is quite intellectual and philosophical so it's really not an easy book but it's worth reading for Christians interested in the Vatican and the spiritual life of the Capuchins. I also liked the Father's comparison of the different Popes that he has served.

The River House by Janita Cunnington

It is easy to imagine that you are in the middle of the Australian bush when you read this evocative and moving story about a family that is beset by dark secrets but bound together by their beautiful river house in Queensland.  Laurie, Tony and Miranda come here for holidays with their parents and love to share adventures until one day that changes everything...

Laurie likes to study the luminous insects and enjoys wandering through the bush with Tony but as she grows up the river house doesn't play such a big part in their lives.  A trusting and kind-hearted girl, she becomes the one who everyone relies on, until she realises that you have to toughen up to live in this world. Even her beloved river house may eventually come at a cost.

Laurie grows up after the Second World War and the author captures this era perfectly. Laurie's friendship with Carol and her experiences with boyfriends ring true to life and the effects of the Vietnam War on the family are also very well-done.  Her fraught relationship with her brother Tony, however, is probably the most important part of the book and the most unsettling.

Janita Cunnington describes the wild coastal region near Brisbane beautifully and conveys the terrible danger of floods as well.  Fighting the wilderness is always difficult with a 'river house' and Cunnington conveys just how hard it can be to keep a place like this.

Many families in Australia have a house like the river house. Expect this book to bring back memories!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Simple Matters by Erin Boyle

Erin's first apartment had a ceiling that almost fell in and An oven that leaked carbon monoxide, but she and her partner managed to make it into a home. She suggests ways in which you can follow her example in this book.

This book is full of useful tips for people who want to declutter and buy less, such as throwing away everything that you don't use in the bathroom and how not to replicate things. She also has helpful lists of kitchen and baby essentials and suggests ways to get rid of toxins.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Elegant Entrepreneur The Female Founders Guide to Starting & Growing Your First Company Danielle Tate Ten Eleven Press

According to Danielle Tate, the founder of Miss Now Mrs, entrepreneurship is much 'more than a job'.  It is also a 'community, identitiy,' and many other things. This book is full of useful tips for budding entrepreneurs and well-worth reading.  It is even worth reading if you are self-employed and just want to improve your career and achieve more goals.

Tate provides helpful advice, such as how to find an idea, how to test your idea and how to find a mentor.  She also has chapters on the importance of market research, achieving your goals and visualising your business.  Her book includes quotes from successful business owners and those who failed with their startups.  Each chapter lists suggestions for further reading.

I would have liked more help with actually finding the idea.  I found this section a bit vague. Otherwise, it's a great book for people who want to set up their own business.

Hippy Fit Mum interviews Danielle

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

The House of Worth Fashion Sketches, 1916-1918 by Litchfield Historical Society

This is another beautiful book from Dover Publications with interesting articles about the history of Maison Worth, upper-class women in Lichfield, and even the history of fashion in the early twentieth century and during the war. Most of the exquisite sketches also have descriptions and back views of the outfits.

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

Art Nouveau The Essential Reference by Carol Belanger Grafton Dover Publications

Alphonse Mucha, F. Champenois Imprimeur-Editeur, Wikipedia 

This is a gorgeous book, ideal for any lover of Art Nouveau. It has a short introduction about the romantic art style with its sinuous curves, floral patterns, and designs based on the natural world which is interesting, but it is really worth getting for the beautiful pictures of tiles, posters and ceramics.  Artists include Seguy and Mucha.

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon, Wanda McCaddon (Narrator)

Unfortunately, I found Wanda McCaddon's voice a bit soporific, so I will read the book instead. I didn't finish listening to it, but it's an unusually interesting story about an aristocratic lady in the early years of the twentieth century.  I will post another review when I have read the book. Fans of "Downton Abbey" will love this tale!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Life and Times of Mary Vaux Walcott by Marjorie G. Jones Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

This is a nicely written but very factual biography of this scientist, writer and illustrator.  Mary was a formidable woman.  Her mother died when she was young, so she had to care for her difficult father and her two younger brothers.  Her father was a Quaker, however, and Quakers encouraged women to be educated, so her father didn’t object to her love of science which she inherited from him.  The family often travelled out West where Mary drew wildflowers and studied nature.  Later, she went to the Rockies where she studied the glaciers and wrote articles about them.

Mary married Charles Walcott, the President of the Smithsonian Institution when she was 54 over her father’s objections.  An intrepid scientific couple, they explored caves, wrote articles and gave speeches.  Mary had a book of her beautiful floral illustrations published.


She also became an accomplished Washington hostess and led an active social life in the capital.  There are extracts from her correspondence and Charles’s diaries which lend more colour to the book.  It’s worth reading if you like reading about interesting women. 

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

Christmas at America’s Landmark Houses by Patricia Hart McMillan & David Strahan Schiffer Publishing Ltd.


This beautiful book certainly enhanced my Christmas! I hope to buy it when I have more room.

The houses featured in the book range from Woodrow Wilson’s grand Regency house in Washington and a chateau-like Beaux Arts style home to the rather bare former Spanish Governor’s palace in California.  There is also the Whistler museum and a fairy tale castle, which was built with concrete, surprisingly.

My favourite story was the one about the Pitcairns, the wealthy couple who owned the Gilded Age Beaux Arts country house.  They celebrated Christmas by going to church in the morning and opening their tastefully decorated house to the community in the afternoon.  Children thought that all their dreams had come true when Mr Pitcairn presented them with bright and shining fifty cent coins.

Favoured Christmas decorations included massed pointsettias, big Christmas trees with electric lights, ropes of greenery with flowers and miniature villages. Traditional foods were roast turkey, mince pies and plum pudding, but they were apparently slightly different in earlier days. Benjamin Franklin would have eaten roasted boar’s head meat when he hosted dinner at Philadelphia Hall in 1775. He would have also enjoyed a card party.

I was also interested to learn that Thanksgiving was a more important holiday than Christmas until the mid-1800s.  This was the time for lavish meals and charitable present-giving.  Governors of New England states also proclaimed state holidays for Thanksgiving after 1815.


Be warned, however. There are so many pictures of dining tables with cakes that looking at this book might make you hungry!

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

The Life of Queen Elizabeth by Agnes Strickland

I know that Agnes Strickland is regarded as one of the great historical writers, but I found this difficult to read.  It’s wordy, old-fashioned and slow-moving.  The accounts of ceremonies such as the coronation are very vivid and detailed. Also, Strickland provides an excellent analysis of  the strength and resilience of Elizabeth 1's character from her struggles with Thomas Seymour to her dying days. This is certainly worth reading if you want to learn more about this great Queen!

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

Monday, January 04, 2016

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy The Revolutionary 1805 Classic by Hannah Glasse

Nicholas f Matranga, Dutch farmhouse Staten Island, Wikipedia

Would you like to imagine that you're a Georgian woman trying to learn the art of cooking? You can with this book! I am really not much of a cook and the old-fashioned language can be difficult to interpret, however, there are lots of tips for roasts that probably still apply today. Many of the recipes seem complicated, such as the beautiful-sounding 'tansey', but there are also easy ones, surprisingly.
For example, I really like spinach, and I intend to cook poached eggs with spinach for breakfast.
There are lots of recipes for spinach. I doubt that any self-respecting Georgian woman would eat that awful kale!

Here are some more Georgian recipes.

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

Saturday, January 02, 2016

St Martin's First: Winter 2015 Sampler

This was an interesting look at extracts from soon-to-be published books.  Although the first police procedural was very well-written, it was a bit too gruesome for me.  However, Her Name Is Rose, The Figaro Murders,  and Secrets of Midwives are all on my TBR list!

Churchill's Trial: Winston Churchill and The Salvation of Free Government

I didn't finish this book, because it is just too heavy, dry and long. It's well-written but very similar to a textbook. I liked the premise behind it, however.  Perhaps, I just have too much on my mind at the moment.  It's a pity because I usually enjoy books about Churchill.

I received this free ebook from Booklook bloggers in exchange for an honest review.