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Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Rubber Brain: A toolkit for optimising your study, work, and life! Sue Morris, Jacquelyn Cranney, Peter Baldwin, Leigh Mellish, Annette Krochmalik


Jen is effervescent, adaptable and resilient, ‘a mixture of scholastic goddess and comic genius’. However, when it comes to exam time, Jen changes completely. She convinces herself that she is going to fail and annoys everyone. Lecturers avoid her emails and Jen falls into a gloomy state of mind.

What happened? Jen is stressed and finding unsuitable ways to cope. Her sub-optimal thinking is making exam time even worse. Jen needs to change her thinking and deal with her stress. Does this sound familiar? Most of us indulge in these kinds of thoughts, leading to over-reactions, panic and even self-destructive behaviour.

Luckily, this book by five different psychological educators contains many different tools to help readers learn to think optimally, so that they can deal with many different situations, become realistic optimists and achieve their goals.  These tools include mindfulness, relaxation exercises and CBT. The authors also discuss the importance of self-knowledge, including knowing your core beliefs and values, and knowing more about your personality. This is especially helpful for young people working out their futures. There are lots of exercises, useful summaries at the end of each chapter and resources if you want to read more. These are personality tests, for example, finding out which words best describe your character.

This was written for students and it has lots of useful suggestions for coping with exams, but it is also useful for all ages. I found the section about realistic optimism and the myths about optimism especially helpful, for example.  It contains a lot of information and I found it a bit technical, so it is best to read it slowly, keep a notebook handy and try the exercises. There’s a lot to absorb! I think that it will be a useful book to dip into whenever it is necessary, and the resources, especially the TED talks, will be worth finding.

I received this free book from Australian Academic Press in return for an honest review.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

How to Live Japanese by Yutaka Yazawa Quarto Publishing Group - Aurum Press White Lion Publishing Home & Garden , Travel

I thought that this would be about Zen, minimalism and meditation. However, it seems to be more about how the Japanese actually live and the geography of the country. I didn't finish it because it wasn't what I was looking for, but I may try again.

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

The Girl on the Balcony Olivia Hussey Finds Life after Romeo and Juliet by Olivia Hussey Kensington Books Kensington


By UnknownUnknown author (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One day Olivia Hussey was being fitted for a dress to wear in a ball scene in Romeo and Juliet, when Franco Zeffirelli astonished her by starting to tear it! He had a sudden, volcanic temper which the young teenager would have to live with. Hussey relates this, and many other anecdotes about making her most famous film, the beautiful Romeo and Juliet, the movie which defined her life, taking her from a tough upbringing in London to the joys of Italy and world-wide stardom.

However, this book is not just about Romeo and Juliet. Olivia Hussey takes the reader on her journey through life in this luminous book about her career, including playing Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary, and her loves, her travels and the importance of her guru, Swami Muktenanda. I especially liked her poignant story of her first love and marriage. Parts of the book are harrowing, because of an abortion and her struggle with breast cancer, but she displayed such resilience that it is also inspiring – something that I certainly didn’t expect!

If you like reading about famous people, there are several in this book! Olivia Hussey met many of the greats, including Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave and Burt Lancaster. She even met Pope John Paul 11 who asked about her after she acted in a film of one of his plays.

I loved this eBook so much that I will certainly be buying the paperback or hardback. A big regret is that my mother who also adored the stunning movie of Romeo and Juliet is not here to read it.

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


EDITION                    Other Format

ISBN9781496717078

PRICE                         $26.00 (USD)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Soul's Slow Ripening 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred by Christine Valters Paintner Ave Maria Press

This is a beautifully-written book about Celtic practices to help you seek God and discover the divine in everyday life. Paintner discusses practices, such as crossing thresholds and encircling, clearly and eloquently, making it easy to include them in your life. She relates stories about the saints and the ancient Celts and her own experiences and  includes lovely poems.

This is a very profound book which will help anyone on their Christian journey. I would suggest reading it slowly and studying each chapter.

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

Bloodmoon A mystery of Ancient Ireland by Peter Tremayne


When Sister Fidelma, her husband Eadulf and the warrior Enda travel to an abbey in to give
Abbott Nessan a message, they are in for a shock. When the Abbott is suddenly murdered, suspicion falls on Cairenn, a young girl, who runs away. But the trio soon find themselves in a much deeper mystery which may concern a plot to assassinate Fidelma’s brother, the King of Cashel. 
Unfortunately, Fidelma is restricted by a geis, an ancient oath, which restricts her ability to ask for help from the other two.

This is an enjoyable mystery with a rather involved plot, engaging characters and vivid descriptions of the Irish landscape.. Fidelma is an interesting and clever character well-versed in Brehon law who usually remains calm in the most extreme circumstances. The other two are also likeable, but a bit irritable in this book because of the geis. I have read many of these books and this trio are like old friends. I will be very sorry to see the series end!

The trio do eat hedgehogs at one stage. I was a bit upset about that! 

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Gospel in Dorothy L. Sayers: Selections from Her Novels, Plays, Letters, and Essays Dorothy L. Sayers, Carole Vanderhoof (Edited by), C. S. Lewi

I read Dorothy L. Sayers’s mysteries a long time ago, and enjoyed the stories, without realising what
Tortured consciences Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane actually had, or really noticing the Christian values of the books. This book shows how the Gospel shines in her mystery novels, cleverly interspersing the relevant extracts from her religious plays and essays, so that you can see how she wrote her beliefs into her novels.

In one example, Lord Peter sees an Anglican minister, troubled about whether he should bring a person guilty of hastening someone’s death to justice. The minister is much more practical and gives excellent advice, but doesn’t dwell on the situation like Lord Peter! He thinks to himself how scrupulous someone of Wimsey’s class, but how vague they are outside their ‘public school code’.


The essays and even the extracts from the plays can be convoluted and sometimes a bit difficult, but in many of them, Sayers shares her enthusiasm for Christianity. She points out that many people who sneer at it have it wrong. If they knew how interesting, exciting and dramatic the Creed really is, they might think again, but they ‘heartily dislike and despise Christianity without having the faintest notion what it is’.

She can also be extremely prescient. In one essay, she studies feminism, and although she agrees in women’s equality, she concludes that we should be treated as individuals in the end, and not put into categories. She argues that we shouldn’t fall into the ‘aggressively feminist “point of view” about everything’ because opposing one class perpetually to another can ‘split the foundations of the State and if the cleavage runs too deep, there remains no remedy but force and dictatorship’.  

This is worth reading if you want more of an insight into Sayers’s Christian beliefs and how she included them in her novels.

I received a free copy of this ebook from Edelweis in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters. The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger





Gore Vidal once said about Jackie and Lee Bouvier that they ‘were brought up like geishas, to get money out of men’.  This book is fair, but, unfortunately, both sisters do appear to have been rather mercenary, according to the writer. Lees, for example, Lee wanted to live well beyond the means that her first husband could provide. (There were other worse problems in the marriage, however). Jackie allegedly sold second-hand clothes to get extra money when she was married to Onassis.


Kashner and Schoenberger tell an account of the cultured sister’s fierce rivalry – even over Ari Onassis - and fascinating lives which anyone interested in the Kennedys will enjoy.  He also provides a lot of strange anecdotes, such as how someone thought that Lee was actually Jackie because she looked so like her when she visited her when she was dying – even being dressed like her!  I also found the opinion of one of the “friends” that Jackie chose some of her husband’s mistresses odd. Jackie set such a wonderful example at her husband's funeral, though, that my opinion is that this makes up for any flaws in her character!

It’s a gossipy book, but the writer does give the sisters credit for their career achievements, describing Jackie’s work as an editor and Lee’s luxurious interior design business. It’s a good character study and an interesting glimpse into the era. It was a good read, but the writing was a bit staid.

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

Friday, September 07, 2018

None of My Business by P.J. O'Rourke

I love to listen to P.J. O'Rourke but I didn't like reading his writing nearly as much, although he makes a lot of sense and the book is amusing. However, I didn't finish it.

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

The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull

Although I usually like Poison Pen Classics, this one was very wordy and I just couldn't get into it. I may try again later.

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

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

An Inspiring Story by Rachel Hauck. The Love Letter


Broken-hearted actress Chloe is on the verge of despair. Her last boyfriend betrayed her and she thinks that she is ‘the Queen of Death’ because she has died in so many parts! However, she decides that she is going to be assertive for once, and actually ask for a role which she really wants…

Jesse, the young screenwriter of Chloe’s new film, has also had his heart wounded, but he regards it as his own fault and he has a big burden to bear. Attracted to Chloe, he finds it difficult to get close to a woman again. He wonders whether he can ever find a love story like the one in his family past, that of Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther, star-crossed lovers on opposite sides of the American Revolutionary War.

Rachel Hauck deftly combines the modern story of Chloe and Jesse with the historical one of Hamilton and Esther. The main characters are all likeable and engaging and the intriguing story keeps one reading, although I found the book a bit long. Hauck also shows how a strong faith can help her characters and the importance of trust and forgiveness and believing in true love.

I preferred the modern story to the historical one, however. I thought that it was better written and more believable.

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

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

Although this book vividly described the Civil War and Sarah Bird cleverly depicted her heroine's life, this wasn't my kind of book because it was written in the vernacular. This is a brilliant idea but I didn't go on with the novel.


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

Constance Garnett

Janet Malcolm defends Constance Garnett's translations: Socks by Janet Malcolm,

Gaze Upon Jesus Experiencing Christ’s Childhood through the Eyes of Women by Kelly M. Wahlquiest Ave Maria Press

Have you ever wondered how Mary felt at the Annunciation? Have you ever wondered how Elizabeth felt? This book is full of lovely stories and exercises to help women realise the significance of Mary and to follow her example.  These exercises include many examples of the ancient spiritual practice of visio divina using beautiful medieval paintings and there are also discussions for groups and refelctions on praying.

Many people today regard Mary as passive and submissive, but she is actually a figure of "cosmic significance," according to this book by Kelly M. Wahlquiest, and, in choosing to be like her, we can become more powerful as well, and live lives of freedom and authenticity. One way to do this is to imagine going back in time, and imagining what it was like for her. This us to see Jesus as she did and to be closer to God in our hearts and lives. This is a book worth reading for all Christians, not only Catholics, although Catholics may find it easier to understand.

I found the exercises of visio divina difficult on my black and white kindle, so I am certainly thinking of buying Gaze Upon Jesus.

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