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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

In the Valley of Blue Gums by J.H. Fletcher Harlequin Australia, HQ (Fiction, Non Fiction, YA) & MIRA MIRA Historical Fiction , Women's Fiction

J.H. Fletcher is one of my favourite novelists. His books are usually large family sagas with sympathetic characters, a wide range of settings and moving love stories.  This one is no exception. It tells the tale of mother and daughter Thea and Allison, but it is mostly Thea's story and involves her looking back on her life and attempting to start again after the death of her husband. Although Thea is very much in love with winemaker Peter, she is an ambitious journalist and her career takes her to the Vietnam War where she discovers a dark secret...Allison, a single mother, is struggling to look after the Tasmanian winery but she now has help from a handsome South African.

I found some of this story rather confusing because it jumps between time periods and it has several different settings and characters. However, I enjoyed it but the novel is quite harrowing and a bit unbelievable in one instance.

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


Monday, July 16, 2018

Zen for Christians A Beginner's Guide by Kim Boykin Dover Publications

When Kim Boykin studied Zen, she found the rich tradition of Christian contemplation which had always been there. She decided to combine Zen meditation and practices with her Christian meditation and prayer. This is a clear and easy-to-read guide about how to practise Zen meditation, which includes breathing and walking meditation and shows how to incorporate these habits into your daily life.  She writes about Buddhist beliefs and shows their similarity with Christian beliefs in a concise and interesting way.

I found this book especially easy to relate to because Boykin converted to Catholicism and I share her love for the beautiful liturgy and I  could understand her journey to faith.

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

EDITION  Hardcover
ISBN         9780486824406
PRICE      $19.95 (USD)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Fire in the Thatch A British Library Crime Classic by E.C.R. Lorac

When Nicholas Vaughan, a respectable tenant farmer, dies in a fire, many people come under suspicion.  These include the disliked Gressingham, a wealthy businessman, with an interest in buying country property, Gressingham’s rather sleazy friend and even Vaughan’s sister. When Scotland Yard Inspector Macdonald gets on the case, the mystery thickens even more. Why did Vaughan settle in Devon instead of his beloved North and who was the girl he was planning to marry?

This was an enjoyable and cosy mystery with well-rounded characters and lyrical descriptions of the beauty of the countryside.  It was clever as well, keeping the reader guessing until the end.  I am looking forward to reading more of E.C. R. Lorac’s classic mysteries.

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


Sunday, July 08, 2018

The King and the Catholics. England, Ireland, and The Fight for Religious Freedom 1780-1829

Charles Green [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lady Anne Erskine, a Scottish lady living in Clerkenwell, watched the flames rise nearby in horror from her window. She wrote that ‘the sky was like blood in the direction of the fires’.  She was looking at the Gordon Riots in 1780, the worst riots in London until that time. These riots were in reaction to the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 which introduced mild changes to discrimination against Catholics.

Those who fought bravely against the horrendous discrimination against Catholics in Great Britain had a tough fight on their hands. Before 1778, no Catholic could re eave political office, become an official, or receive a commission in the army or navy. Running a Catholic school or exercising the function of a Catholic priest were both punishable by life improvement. There were countless other laws against Catholics.  Until the nineteenth century MP’s had to swear the ‘sacrifice of the Mass and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints, as now practised in the Church of Rome, are impious and idolatrous’. The King promised to maintain…’the Protestant reformed religion established by law’ to the ‘utmost of his power!’ 

Lady Antonia Fraser writes a fast-paced and thoroughly researched tale of Catholic emancipation which includes fascinating characters, such as the great Irish hero Daniel O’Connell, the urbane Cardinal Consalvi and the vehemently anti-Catholic Sir Robert Peel.  She describes the largely lacklustre Catholic aristocracy, who tended to take the easy way out, and the role of the ‘Irish Question’ which played a huge part in Catholic Emancipation. George IV, who secretly married a Catholic, but who was also strongly anti-Catholic, was the most important man of all in this story, and Antonia Fraser can even make the reader feel sympathetic with him at times.  When he was Prince Regent, he told Cardinal Consalvi to: ‘Hush, hush, Cardinal Tempter: when listening to you I seem to see Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth following me as avenging spirits’.

I have read most of the wonderful Lady Antonia Fraser’s books and this one is another must-read for history-lovers. It also has resonance today when religious freedom is again in question.

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

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Political Correctness Gone Too Far

I am furious about the renaming of the Laura Ingalls Wilder legacy award. Here is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Foundation response to renaming of ALA award which is excellent.

Charleston by Quentin Bell, Virginia Nicholson Quarto Publishing Group - Frances Lincoln

By APB-CMX at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone who is interested in the artists and writers of the Bloomsbury Group will enjoy this book with its beautiful pictures of Charleston, the paintings and decorations of Vanessa Bell, Clive Bell and Duncan Grant and the memories and stories of Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson. This is not just a book about a house but a book written with love by the authors. A substantial but attractive English country house with a walled garden and orchards, this was a holiday home for Virginia, who has fond memories of the smell of new cake and the dahlias in the garden. It was a place of 'messy ceativity' which had no telephone, radio or central heating. Tea was eaten by the fireside and children went to bed by candlelight.

I especially enjoyed the anecdote about T.S. Eliot being invited to a dinner party.  Vanessa apparently became confused and mistakenly ordered a bird for each guest! The great poet was delighted with the 'covey'.

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


Thank You For Shopping by Kristal Leebrick

By Elkman [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

I would love to go back in time and visit the opulent department stores of Minnesota, especially Young-Quinlan with its 'crystal chandeliers, walnut and brass trimmings, elegant merchandise and sophisticated clientele.' Enjoying lunch in the Fountain Room with its 'high ceilings and mirrored walls' must have been a magical experience.  It is such a pity that most of these stores have closed, and it really does signify the end of an era.

This book will evoke fond memories of visiting the department stores for people who visited them or worked in them, and delight other fans all over the world with its beautiful pictures and lively anecdotes. The story of Elizabeth Quinlan, the ambitious woman who became the only female merchandise buyer in the country, and some of the obstacles which she faced was particularly interesting. For example, she had to climb stairs to 'dingy lofts' and speak to condescending women who looked down on her. In spite of all this, she managed to build a great business, largely through her own efforts.

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

Monday, July 02, 2018

A Collar for Cerberus by Matt Stanley Thistle Publishing You Like Them General Fiction (Adult) , Literary Fiction

By Inkey [CC BY-SA 3.0  (], from Wikimedia Commons

When this story begins, the young narrator is in a bad way. Bored with his life and unhappy with a recent break-up, he 'runs away' to the beautiful Greek islands to search his soul about his future. He wants to write, but his family and former girlfriend wanted him to face reality and choose a dull office career. He is looking for his hero, the Nobel-Prize winning author, Irakles Bastounis, only to find that he is an unlikeable, sarcastic old man who has given up writing!

However, Bastounis persuades the young graduate to drive him on a journey and gives him several challenges, including killing an octopus and saving a prostitute from a pimp. Along the way, they discuss Greek mythology, writing and facing fear. But when he discovers that Bastounis has a secret, the narrator has to deal with the biggest challenge of his life...

This is an inspirational story filled with philosophy, although I found it a little bit pretentious at times. This coming-of-age story is certainly worth reading at least twice.

I received a free copy of this ebook from Thistle Publishing in return for a free review.

EDITION          ebook

ISBN                 9781786080622

PRICE              $14.99 (USD)