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Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Prince Who Would Be King The Life and Death of Henry Stuart by Sarah Fraser

Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Stuart would probably have been an excellent King.  He was clever, literary and interested in foreign affairs and politics and even science and foreign expeditions. He also had a mind of his own and even managed to defy his father, the rather intimidating James, enlist his own adviser and establish his own court! He was also strongly Protestant, which may have suited the English at the time. Henry's early death lead to his brother becoming King. Charles 1 was heavily criticised for his Catholic leanings and for having a Catholic wife, the Portugese Henrietta Maria.

This was an interesting book but I found Sarah Fraser's style a bit abrupt at times. I hope to read her other book, however.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Fraver by Design Five Decades of Theatre Poster Art from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Beyond by Frank “Fraver” Verlizzo Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

'How does one come up with these things? A gargoyle with a gun...a philosophical frog with a book and a martini...' Actor and singer Jared Bradshaw asks these questions about Frank Verlizzo, the famous poster designer.  'Fraver' certainly must have an extraordinary imagination to produce such flamboyant and dramatic posters! This book includes background stories by Verlizzo and commentaries by Hollywood stars, such as Bernadette Peters.

This is an excellent book for art-lovers and for those learning the craft.

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

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Secret Houses of the Cotswolds by Jeremy Musson

This is a gorgeous book which includes the history and pictures of such beautiful houses as Burford Priory, whose owner once defied Charles 1, and Clevenage - Trenwith in the Poldark series. These historical houses have stunning features, such as decoration in the Arts and Crafts style, antique stained-glass, and Regency four-poster beds.  There are interviews with the owners who tell how why they bought the houses (unless they were inherited) and how they restored them.

I found the writing a bit staid and it was hard to read online because the print is quite small.


This is a must-buy for anyone who loves beautiful historical houses and architecture.

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

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

First Impressions by Debra White Smith

Although Eddi, a bright young lawyer, thinks that Dave, a handsome cowboy, is arrogant and pleased with himself, she can't help feeling attracted. But after she overhears him describing her as 'too short and too prissy,' she is horrified to be cast as Elizabeth alongside his Darcy, when his aunt produces the play of Pride and Prejudice!

I really enjoyed this sassy American version of Pride and Prejudice. It moves along at a fast pace; the characters are well-rounded'; and it's interesting to see how it's been changed. The country setting was excellent.  I also found the dialogue quite amusing at times. I liked this Mr Darcy having a secret. However, I didn't like this novel as much as Jasmine Field and Pride and Prejudice by Melissa Nathan, which was similar but set in New York.

I received this free ebook from Bethany House in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Being Creative: Be inspired. Unlock your originality 20 thought-provoking lessons (BUILD and BECOME) by Michael Atavar

Everyone is creative, but they just don't know it. Michael Atavar provides a toolkit to help you unleash your creativity, focusing on five areas, including persistence and ending, with a specific example for each. He also provides exercises and suggestions for each area.

Even if you just use one suggestion from the book, it will expose you to a whole new way of noticing the world around you and this is sure to help your creativity!

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

May 3, 2018/ $16.99 / hardcover

Celestial Bodies by Laura Jacobs

The great critic Theophile Gautier wrote in 1839 that: '...A good ballet is the rarest thing in the world; tragedies, operas and dramas are nothing in comparison with it'.

Laura Jacobs brings the magic and beauty of the ballet to life in this beautifully-written book.  She conveys the excitement and wonder of ballet to beginners and devotees alike, filling the book with stories, anecdotes and history. I especially liked her chapters on the history of pointe shoes and Tchaikovsky, the godfather of ballet.

This is a must-have for any ballet fan.

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

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Faith, Angels and the Poor by Keith Hooper

Charles Dickens wrote near the end of his life that: 'I have always striven in my writings to express
veneration for the life and lessons of our Saviour'.  He certainly did that, writing novels that enlightened Victorians about the terrible poverty in their midst and even helping to change cruel laws. He also tried to live a Christian life, helping many people and charities, agitating for change, and even starting a home for 'fallen' women.

Dickens had a religious Anglican upbringing. His parents went to church, sent him to Anglican schools and sent him to stay with an Anglican minister, the Reverend Giles and his family at one stage. The wise minister and schoolteacher and his family made a deep impression on ten-year old Charles and he became good friends with Reverend Giles's sons. His mother read him Bible stories as well and he had a good knowledge of the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer.

Dickens's time at the blacking warehouse when he was a young boy after his father was imprisoned for debt working in terrible conditions and drudgery not only made him determined to succeed but it also made him aware of what the poor had to endure.  His early careers as a legal reporter and journalist with the Morning Chronicle deepened his knowledge of laws relating to the poor and their conditions.  John Black, his editor, remembered the kindness of his young colleague when they walked through the markets and saw a poorly-dressed boy being carried by his father. As they followed the father and son, Dickens fed the boy a whole bag of cherries without his parent knowing.

 The great writer believed in a practical Christianity and that Christians had a responsibility to care for the underprivileged.  Hooper relates how Dickens used his knowledge of social conditions in his novels to awaken the social conscience of his readers who had old-fashioned ideas about poverty.  He achieved great changes with his books.  For example, there was such an outcry about the terrible Yorkshire schools after the publication of Nicholas Nickleby that the government introduced strict regulations and the worst of them were closed down.

This is an inspiring and interesting analysis of Dickens's Christianity and how he exemplified it in his life and novels.  There are detailed analyses of his novels and how he used the Christian 'angels' featured in them.    also explains Dickens's attraction to Unitarianism but his decision to stay Anglican. There is not much detail about Dickens's rather shabby treatment of his wife, however.  This is a book that is well-worth reading for any fan of Dickens or any student of Dickens.

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

EDITION    Paperback

ISBN9780745968513

PRICE        £9.99 (GBP)


Thursday, May 03, 2018

How to Pray Reflections and Essays by C.S. Lewis

This is a beautifully written collection of reflections and essays, full of great wisdom and insights, and it includes some lovely poems.  However, I felt that it mostly concerned reflections about the power of praying and persuasive reflections about why one should pray, rather than how to actually pray.  However, the collections from the marvellous Screwtape Letters were somewhat easier to understand and very helpful

This is a worthy addition to C.S. Lewis's writings.

I received this free ebook from Edelweiss Plus in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

In Praise of the Useless Life. A Monk's Memoir by Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O.


‘Man’s unhappiness springs from one thing alone, his incapacity to stay quietly in one room’. This is a beautiful set of reflections by   about a monk’s life.  Quenon writes about the importance of solitude, how to pray, how to find rest in God and spiritual growth.  It is not all deadly serious, though. There is plenty of charm and humour. I especially liked his battle with a certain little bird which disturbed his sleep.

   Quenon also shares many anecdotes about his mentor Thomas Merton and how Merton helped him. He also gives details about Thomas Merton’s life and thoughts.

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