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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Life Cycles-Relationships Discover Confluence. Is Your Relationship Fated? by Neil Killion

In this interesting book, Neil Killion applies his Life Cycles Theory to famous relationships, including friendships, and to careers. He also develops the concept of 'Confluence,' i.e. when couples share 'Significant Years' in common, and applies this to many relationships, such as Prince William and his beautiful wife, Catherine and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and business relationships, such as Charles and Louis Tiffany. The study of this theory can help you in your life and relationships.

The  Life Cycles Theory is a twelve-year cycle, with each twelfth year being 'A Year of Revolution,' markedd by new beginnings and achievements, through sudden upheavals. The seventh year after each Year of Revolution is also important, bringing with it a 'direction change and uphill challenge'.
On this basis, a Life Chart can be developed showing the 'Years of Revolution'and the 'Years of Broken Pathways' with their underlying themes.

This can not only be done for individuals; it also applies to relationships using their confluent years.
This is the time that they have in common during their significant years. For example, William and Kate have almost seven months of 'Confluence' for every significant year of their relationship. Killion explains how their significant years have had a huge effect on their love affair, for example, they met when they were 19, both in their 'Year of Broken Pathways'.  Their 'Confluence' has helped them develop a strong marriage, likely to last.

Studying this theory and applying it to your own life and relationships will definitely help you see how your life is developing.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Girl, Arise! A Catholic Feminist's Invitation to Live Boldly, Love Your Faith, and Change the World by Claire Swinarski

Is being a Catholic feminist an oxymoron? Many people think that it is, mainly because practising Catholic women usually don't believe in abortion. This is surprising because many early feminists were actually very anti-abortion.  Claire Swinarski discusses this, and other controversial questions in her book.  However, this is not just about divisive issues; it is an inspiring look at what it means to be a Catholic feminist in today's world.

Claire Swinarski didn't come from an especially religious home, and she was somewhat lapsed when she found herself at a low ebb and found herself in a welcoming Catholic group of women. This helped her see how women can assist each other and work together. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength, and eventually decided to create a Catholic feminist podcast which led to this book.

Another reason why people don't think that the words 'Catholic' and 'feminist' go together is because of the image of the good, quiet, submissive Catholic woman, and Saint Paul's words about women. But Claire explains why his words have been misinterpreted, and she also gives examples of powerful Biblical women and women saints, such as the fierce Joan of Arc and the sweet Saint Therese, her opposite. She shows how to be a Catholic woman with 'moxie' - courage and determination. Her chapters on loving your neighbour and loving yourself are especially good.

This is well-worth reading for aspiring Catholic feminists, especially young ones.

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

The Grace of Enough Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture by Haley Stewart

When Haley Stewart and her husband and children moved to a 650-square-foot apartment on a working farm with no flushing toilets in central Texas, many friends thought that they were mad. They were going a long way from friends and family, and they were leaving a house for a small apartment. Daniel was going to receive much lower pay. How would they cope?

However, life in the city was a struggle. Daniel was working long hours at a job he didn't like and didn't believe in, and Haley was working part-time while homeschooling. Daniel missed out on the children's bedtime, and Haley was considering increasing her working hours. In the end, they worked out that it was an expensive way to live, because they were eating out or getting fast food more often. Family time was declining.

Moving to the farm was the best thing they ever did.  Haley combines the story of their move and how they regained what was essential in life with suggestions for readers in an interesting way. She has many lessons to share about the importance of simple things, such as eating with the family, involvement with the community, and sharing with others. This is about how to avoid the throwaway culture no matter where you live.

It is not just a decluttering book, and I must admit to being pleased that Haley and Daniel don't like the idea of parting with books!

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


Mother Country A Novel by Irina Reyn St. Martin's Press

This is a beautifully written and insightful glimpse into the life of an Eastern European migrant in America and class distinction in New York.  Deeply-layered, it compares many different stratas of society, including the Ukrainians and Russians in America and it also compares life in Ukraine with modern life in the USA. Irina Reyn captures all this through her heroine Nadia's eyes, showing us a different world.

Nadia has a hard life in a seedy part of Brooklyn, struggling with two jobs. She works as a nanny for ambitious Regina and cares for an annoying old man at night, so that she can eventually bring her diabetic daughter to America from war-torn Ukraine.  She doesn't have many friends, isn't happy with her life, and she has a fraught relationship with her daughter Larisska, because she left her in war-torn Ukraine. The horrors of the war came suddenly, and the emptiness and snobbishness of life in New York doesn't compare favourably with the community spirit and the old beauty of Rubizhne. But Nadia has a steel will and a strong spirit. Will these be enough to help her cope with her new life?

This is a haunting story, well-worth reading. I highly recommend it.

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

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

I find Joshua Becker's decluttering books helpful, but not as good as the 'toothbrush' system.  However, he looks at decluttering from Christian point of view, which is a little unusual and more philosophical than most of these books.  He shows how minimalising helped him change his life and even move to a smaller house.

Becker provides tips for tidying each room, emphasizing the kitchen and dining room, the heart of the home. He also has a guide for each day, and how to continue living in a minimalist way.  His checklists at the end of the chapter are especially helpful.

The trouble with these books is that tidying up the clutter is easy to read about. It is much harder to do. This is an excellent guide, however.

I received this free ebook from Eidelweiss.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Well-Behaved Woman A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

Photographed by Jose Maria Mora - https://www.nyhistory.org/, Public Domain, Alva photographed in costume for her 1883 ball

As soon as I finished this book, I wanted to read it again! I love reading about the Gilded Age and Alva Vanderbilt was one of its main characters. This beautifully-written novel certainly does her justice.

The novel starts when Alva, one of several sisters, is struggling to cope with financial and social problems, and faced with an uncertain future when her beloved father dies. Her good friend, Consuelo Yznaga, introduces her to William Vanderbilt, who is seemingly the answer, although not that wealthy and not in the higher echelons of New York society. Alva impressed young William with her wit and charm, and her 'hustling' soon make her family leading lights in New York. However, this practically arranged marriage doesn't bring Alva happiness and she has to cope with many difficulties in an old-fashioned patriarchal society. Soon her daughter, the beautiful Consuelo, will have her own mighty struggles...

This captures the atmosphere of the Gilded Age, and Alva is an engaging and sympathetic character.  The novel also shows Alva and Consuelo's relationship in a very different light than usual, and this is explained at the end, and probably largely correct. However, I am not sure whether a major part of the story is true - I can't find any evidence for it, and it may have been added for dramatic effect.  It  is not beyond the realms of possibility. Also, I am not sure about the characterisation of Winthrop Rutherfurd.

This is a must-read for fans of historical novels, especially those who love the Gilded Age.

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