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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Lady Clementine A Novel by Marie Benedict

Marie Benedict brings the independent and feisty Clementine Churchill to life in this lovely epic novel. Surprisingly, although Clementine was aristocratic, she came from a very troubled background and she had to work for a living, as well as cope with strange parents and early family tragedies. This probably gave her the strength to become Winston Churchill's 'rock,' and help her handle his constant demands on her and exceedingly dominant personality.

Benedict captures the significance of the historical times, and makes readers aware of quite what an admirable woman Clementine Churchill really was. For example, during the Second World War, she would tour bombed-out sites practically every night, and she made it her mission to make air-raid shelters more comfortable, as well as doing a lot of other war work.  I was imagining Kristin Scott-Thomas in the movie about Clementine, instead of Winston, while reading this book!

It's certainly an inspiring and enjoyable book to read during these extremely stressful times. I look forward to reading Marie Benedict's other books.

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

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Unravelled Knots: The Teahouse Detective by Baroness Orczy

When the young woman journalist sees her old friend, the teahouse detective, in the cafe, she wants to avoid him. However, this strange creature with baggy trousers, horn-rimmed glasses and claw-like hands exerts a strange fascination with his mystery tales, and she can't help listening again...

Although, Baroness Orczy was one of the pioneers of women's detective stories, and these are well-written and meticulous, her Scarlet Pimpernel books are really the ones to read.  These became rather dry, repetitive and detailed.  I liked some of them, but I am not sure whether I will read any more of these books.

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

Friday, March 13, 2020

How to Wash the Dishes by Peter Miller

This is a very useful book if you want to improve your washing-up. Mine seems to need more work
according to the book. When I have more time, I will write lists of what I should buy and study this again.
The author also suggests ways to relax while washing-up.

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

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Pray Fully by Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet

Do you really pray, or do you just rattle off a rote prayer before bed and go to Mass?  This book contains excellent suggestions for praying more fully, and having a meaningful relationship with Jesus. These include telling him all your worries, staying quiet and waiting for answers, and spiritual exercises, It is also important to follow the example of the saints, and to pray more profoundly during Mass. The authors explain how these will help clearly and concisely.

Prayer requires time and effort, and this book will assist you to develop the practice.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Dressmaker's Gift by Fiona Valpy Amazon Publishing UK General Fiction (Adult) , Women's Fiction

Harriet, traumatised by her mother's untimely death, arrives to work as a PR assistant at a fashion house in Paris. Haunted by the story of her grandmother's mysterious time in the war, she is anxious to find out more about it. The book then flashes back to Harriet's grandmother Claire and her friends who worked as seamstresses. These brave young women secretly worked for the French Resistance...

Fiona Valpy describes France beautifully, and captures the exciting but dangerous time of The Second World War. The characters are all very real, although Harriet doesn't play a big part in the book.  It's a lovely book, although one part is extremely harrowing, and I will read more of Fiona Valpy's books.

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

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Elizabeth Widville, Lady Grey Edward IV's Chief Mistress and the 'Pink Queen' by Dr John Ashdown-Hill


I am sorry to say that this book really annoyed me.  Although Dr John Ashdown-Hill was a distinguished historian, and very knowledgeable about the Woodvilles, he really disliked his subject, and his arguments failed to convince me. Even the pre-contract with Eleanor Talbot seems tenuous.
Much of this book is pure speculation, I thought.

Ashdown-Hill accuses the Queen of being involved in several murders and mysterious deaths without much evidence.He also includes fairly snide passages, for example, about her ordering meat during Lent and whether she was considered an 'Essex Girl'! I actually felt sorry for her, and anxious to read a nicer book about her in the end!

I bought the book because I didn't download it from NetGalley before the archive date.

A House in the Mountains : The Women Who Liberated Italy from Fascism Caroline Moorehead

Ada Gobetti. Unknown. The original uploader was Gian- at Italian Wikipedia.. [Public domain]

Four young Italian women all came from Turin, a city in the Piedmontese region, which had a long history of independence and rebellion. They would need this more than ever to face Mussolini's harsh laws and the viciousness of the Nazi occupiers. These young women and their friends in the Italian Resistance had to cope with 'death, air raids, violence [and] penury' instead of the quick victory promised by Mussolini.  These women and thousands of others printed underground newspapers, organised escape routes, helped to sabotage transport, stole explosives and even became commanders of bands. Although the Italian Resistance didn't receive much help from the Allies for various reasons, they formed a united force and managed to liberate Piedmont and the north on their own. The heroines of the book also stayed actively involved in politics.

This book is quite harrowing and upsetting, but fascinating, and it should restore the reputation of the Italian Resistance, and it informs readers about the little-known and hugely important role of the women involved in the Resistance. Sometimes, there are lighter moments. For example, Ada went to a political meeting, and she was only one of two women not dressed as if to go to a party! It seems that Italian women retain their sense of style even in the midst of chaos.

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

Sir Francis Bryan Henry VIII's most notorious ambassador by Sarah-Beth Watkins

This is a very factual book about this diplomat and soldier, who was nicknamed the 'Vicar of Hell' because he liked womanising and drinking. It's hard to feel as if you really know what he was like from reading the book, but it is filled with interesting details about the sixteenth century, Henry's court and Sir Francis's heavy involvement in The Great Matter, and it includes extracts from letters and other documents.

I enjoyed it, but not as much as the author's other books.

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

EDITION    Paperback

ISBN           9781789043419

PRICE        $12.99 (USD)

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Drawing: Colored Pencil Basics Learn to draw step by step by Cynthia Knox

This is a great introduction to using coloured pencils. Cynthia Knox shows readers the basic materials and techniques and she includes beautiful exercises to attempt. It is a very short book but useful and the pictures are inspirational.

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

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Thursday, February 06, 2020

He's Got Rhythm : The Life and Career of Gene Kelly Cynthia Brideson, Sara Brideson

film trailer screenshot (MGM) [Public domain]

This book was interesting but extremely long and a bit plodding. I found it hard-going to wade through it! It also almost turned me off Gene Kelly! I like his acting and he had a tough childhood and worked hard, but he was quite unlikeable at times.

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

Anne Bancroft : A Life Douglass K. Daniel

NBC Television [Public domain]

Unfortunately, I didn't finish this one. She is a great actress,but I didn't find her life terribly interesting, unfortunately.

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

Occupation Journal Jean Giono, Jody Gladding (Translated by)

I didn't finish this one, unfortunately. I thought that it would be similar to Iris Origo's War Diaries, but it was strange and disjointed, I thought.

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

Overkill : When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far Paul A. Offit, M.D.

After reading this book, you will think twice about having an annual or biannual mammogram! Dr Paul Offit explains the risks involved, and he also delves into many modern myths about medicine. For example, he asks whether Vitamin C is really good for colds and if taking an aspirin a day to prevent heart attacks is really worthwhile.

This is an eye-opening book to read if you are interested in health and you have questions about modern medical practices.

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

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Clutter-Free Home Making Room for Your Life by Kathi Lipp

This is a really useful book if you want to do the hard work involved in decluttering. Kathy Lipp used to have thirteen bookcases, and tells a story about thanking her friend (who has five children) for cleaning the house for her.  The friend said that she actually didn't clean the house before Kathy visited! Kathy Lipp then decided to try and follow her example.

This is different from most decluttering books because it allows for messiness, and it is also written from a Christian perspective! Kathy Lipp wants readers to repurpose and reorganise their houses so that they become relaxing and warm spaces. She has helpful chapters on how to declutter every room, according to the purpose of the room, the zones of the room and how you would like the room to look and feel. I found that her chapter on the living-room was not as detailed as the other chapters, unfortunately. She also has general advice on what to keep and what to throw away, and on daily and weekly decluttering tasks.  It's all extremely difficult but it's certainly helpful. (It's difficult for me!)

This is certainly a keeper!

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Mutual Admiration Society How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton

I thought that I would enjoy this but I found it too long and detailed, unfortunately. The only one who I was really interested in reading about was Dorothy L. Sayers.

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

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Love Without End by Melvyn Bragg

This is a radiant story about the tragic love affair between the revolutionary philosopher Peter Abelard and the beautiful and clever Heloise.  Bragg is, surprisingly, better at bringing Heloise's radical and defiant character to life than Abelard's until the end of the book when Abelard becomes more understandable.  This may be because Abelard appears to today's readers as extremely domineering and self-centred to Heloise.

Bragg deals with this to some extent by making the story a novel within a novel.  He combines the love story with a modern-day tale of the father who is writing it telling his daughter about it, and discussing it with her. This gives it ballast and helps explain medieval religious views and attitudes. I didn't find the characters of the father and daughter as convincing as those of Abelard and Heloise, although their story is quite moving.

I always like Melvyn Bragg's books and this made me want to read more about Abelard and Heloise. The only part that I was upset with was his suggesting that Abelard's arch-enemy William of Champeaux had any part in his castration. There is no evidence for that.

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

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Optimal Outcomes : Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home, and in Life Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, PhD

It is very easy to get stuck in conflict, especially about politics, but, more importantly, at work. I usually try not to discuss politics or controversial topics at all, but as Goldman-Wetzler writes, this isn't a good way to resolve conflict! I think that her system is probably more useful for those who have conflicts in work and business situations, however, and it is incredibly useful there.

She has developed a set of eight practices to help readers break free from their conflict loops, and she provides useful examples about how these helped people in various situations. It takes a lot of work and thought, but it is certainly worth reading and even just the first practice of just pausing really helps on several occasions.

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

The Imprisoned Princess The Scandalous Life of Sophia Dorothea of Celle by Catherine Curzon

By Jacques Vaillant - Wikimedia Commons

Poor Sophia Dorothea might have been the first Hanoverian Queen, but she became a prisoner instead because of a tragic love affair and the several evil forces against her. A heartbroken bride from the first, Sophia hated her husband Prince George - when she knew of her intended betrothal she threw his miniature across the wall and shouted, "I will not marry the pig snout!" The handsome soldier and adventurer Phillip von K√∂nigsmarck   was a very different matter. Sophia Dorothea would pay a terrible price for loving him...

Catherine Curzon brings intelligent and likeable but rather naive Sophia to life in this book, as well as such characters as the evil Clara von Platen. Sometimes, it is a little bit difficult to tell when she is writing actual history or speculation, for example, she theorises somewhat about what happened to von K√∂nigsmarck. Although this is a sad story, Curzon tells it in a lively, engaging and enjoyable way. Sometimes her language is very modern, but I didn't find it jarring.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Fell Murder A British Library Crime Classic by E.C.R. Lorac Poisoned Pen Press

The Garths, an old farming family in the North Country who own a large house which has been there since before Flodden Field, are a 'rum lot'. The old Squire is a curmudgeon who controls the family and has disputes with all of his children. Richard, the heir, fell out with him when he married and left for Canada, but he has come back after several years although he is keeping a low profile. Malcolm, sensitive and nervy, hates farming and writes poetry as well as keeping bees. Charles, his half-brother, has come back from Malaya. He hates farming too, being used to lots of servants. Marion, the single daughter, wants to modernize the farm and is arguing with her father. Elizabeth is in the Land Army and staying at the home. Her name is often shortened to 'Lisa'.

When the old father is murdered, suspicion falls on several people, including the mentally-challenged boy who works for him, and a farmer who has a dispute with him. Sensible Inspector MacDonald arrives to solve the dilemma, but finds that getting anywhere with most of this tough and hardened North Country crowd is like getting blood out of a stone...

This was enthralling reading which kept me awake until the small hours. The characters were all interesting and the description of the country was do detailed that I felt as if I was actually there! I also liked the old-fashioned British words like 'gey' and 'trigg'. The Kindle dictionary helped here! I would like to read all of this writer's books.

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

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Abandoned Castles by Kieron Connolly

This is a must-read for anyone who lives castles. Filled with spectacular pictures of abandoned castles all over the world, it contains short introductions describing castles all over the world in each era and short passages about the images. The only thing I didn't like about this book was the author's use of the abbreviations BCE and CE for B.C. and A.D. which always really annoys me.

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

Monday, January 06, 2020

The Paris Girl by Natalie Meg Evans Bookouture

This is a rather miserable and melodramatic book with the redeeming features of a lovable hero and an atmospheric setting in a glamorous era.  The self-sabotaging heroine, Tatiana, goes from one disaster to another, although she is likeable enough and her reasons for this are explained. Although I enjoyed the book, I won't be reading it again. Miserable books seem to be very popular at the moment, I am not sure why. The times are bad enough!

The book begins with the evil brother of Tatiana raping her and getting her pregnant. A Russian refugee in Paris, Tatiana works in the couture business and her pregnancy leaves her in grave danger of losing her job. Will her aristocratic fiancee stand by her? What are her feelings about handsome Regan, a smart young American photographer?

I loved the descriptions of life in Paris and the fashion and photography businesses in the 1920s, and I thought that this was a well-written historical novel, although the writing wasn't smooth at times. It is worth reading if you like historical novels.

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

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