Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2018

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot by Lettice Cooper Agora Books

Although the facts are true, this is written in the form of a novel - one which could easily be read by children.  The  oppression of Catholics by King James I is made clear and the characters and settings are well-drawn but there is a lot of dialogue.  There is no analysis of the plot and its implications but this is an excellent book to read before looking into the Gunpowder Plot in more detail.  I enjoyed it.

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

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Sarah-Beth Watkins paints a fascinating picture of this fiery Tudor queen, who loved fine clothes, dancing and special occasions. She uses letters and excellent historical research to bring Queen Margaret to life. I was sorry to finish the book!

Queen Margaret led a rather tragic life. When very young, she married the much older, handsome and charismatic King James IV of Scotland who treated her well, but she must not have been too happy to discover that he was determined to keep his mistresses. She had many children but only one survived - a son, luckily.  King James's terrible death in a battle against her own brother, King Henry VIII was terrible for Margaret.

She was forever caught between Scotland, England and France and trying to please her dominating brother and keep the Scottish nobles on side proved incredibly difficult. Queen Margaret even had a terrifying struggle to keep custody of her son - she was fiercely protective of him and proudly attempted to gain custody again…

This Is Cuba An American Journalist Under Castro's Shadow by David Ariosto St. Martin's Press

As soon as young American journalist arrives in Cuba, he has to cope with an attempted honey trap, a stolen sink (stolen by the workers who came to fix it), lack of air-conditioning in sweltering heat and a near-empty house because of the delay in receiving his furniture. As Cubans told him: 'This is Cuba'. A journalist for CNN, he is much luckier than most of the Cubans, who are used to all this and much, much worse.
Ariosto arrives at an interesting time when the Internet was beginning, the economy is changing, the old regime is dying out, and things are starting to become more open.  It still sounds incredibly difficult to live in Cuba, however, in an island where private property was turned over to the State and shortages and surveillance are just a fact of life. He has to quickly get used to the reality being different from his romantic vision of  a sun washed island set in another time. As he interviewed some of the residents, he realises that life can be incredibly toug…

Drawing: Basic Textures in Pencil Diane Cardaci, William F Powell, Nolon Stacey

This is an excellent book which explains the process of drawing with pencil clearly and simply, providing examples of flowers, still life pictures, birds, animals, trees and landscapes.  It goes into the types of pencils which you need and the different kinds of techniques.

I would recommend it for beginners.

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

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots The Life of King Henry VIII’s Sister by Melanie Clegg

Queen Margaret, ,Daniël Mijtens [Public domain]

Melanie Clegg (otherwise known as Madame Guillotine) captured my attention when she dedicated her book to Margaret Tudor, because she was seemingly without any female friends.  This was a lovely thing to do.

Queen Margaret was certainly in need of friends! She had to cope with a warring husband and brother, the loss of several children, fierce Scottish nobles and thieving and adulterous husbands.  She also had to navigate her way through the Auld Alliance (with France) and the difficult relationship between Scotland and England. Like another famous Scottish queen, she was unfortunately a bit silly about men. She was relatively lucky with her first marriage, however. This was an arranged match to the handsome, intelligent and charismatic King James IV. He treated his much younger wife well, although it surprised and saddened Margaret that he wanted to keep his mistresses. As it wasn't unusual for royal husbands, she really couldn'…

A Light So Lovely. The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle by Sarah Arthur

Madeleine L'Engle, the author of the beloved children's classic A Wrinkle in Time, wrote in Walkingon Water that Christians 'draw people to showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it'.  She certainly did that in myriad ways. This book explores her spiritual legacy to her readers and fellow writers in several different areas, including faith and science and religion and art. Although Sarah Arthur writes extensively about Madeleine l'Engle's life, this is not a biography, but a study of her faith and her writing. It also details the criticisms of her writing and about why some of her books were sometimes banned. I found this book a bit scattered, until I got used to it, but the last chapter was so beautifully written that it made me cry!

l'Engle is probably mostly remembered for her ability to combine faith with science in her famous children's stories, but this was almost an accident!…