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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Drawing and Painting Botanicals for Artists How to Create Beautifully Detailed Plant and Flower Illustrations by Karen Kluglein

This is a beautiful book with lots of exercises and clear instructions which will inspire readers to practise their botanical art. It has sections on drawing and painting and lists all the materials you need for each project. I loved this book and I will definitely be buying it, although I feel that I need to use simpler art books first, unfortunately!

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

Learn to Draw (Almost) Anything in 6 Easy Steps by Rich Davis

This book shows you how to draw almost anything in a popular, cartoon-like style. The drawings are cute, especially the birds, and the instructions seem pretty easy.  Look at Rich Davis's website to get an idea of the drawings, although they are, of course, much more basic in this book. This book is probably more fun for children.

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

The Neglected C.S. Lewis. Mark Neal and Jerry Root

In this beautifully-written but fairly demanding book, the authors argue that readers can't really know C.S. Lewis until they have read his works of literary criticism,  the history of words and the medieval world-view. They include chapters on each of these works. Some sound much more interesting and readable than others, although the authors present an excellent argument about why people should read them. For example, C.S. Lewis's book on his fellow Inkling's rather obscure poem about King Arthur would be worth reading if you really wanted to study Williams's influence on Lewis and his thoughts about King Arthur relate to theology, but I would rather read Lewis's books on chivalry and literary criticism.

The Neglected C.S. Lewis certainly provides an excellent introduction to all of these works, explaining their reasoning and philosophy, and their relationship with his novels.  The way to read this book is to read the chapter about the book and then read the C.S. Lewis work.

I received a free ebook from Paraclete Press in return for an honest review.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Life Under Nazi Occupation The Struggle to Survive During World War II by Paul Roland Arcturus Publishing

Churchill condemned the Nazis strongly early in the war:
               'Every week (Hitler's) firing parties are busy in a dozen lands. Mondays he shoots
                Dutcchmen, Tuesdays, Norwegians, Wednesdays, French or Belgians stand against
                the wall. Thursdays it is the Czechs who must suffer and now there are the Serbs
                and the Greeks to fill his repulsive bill of executions. But always, all the days,
                there are the Poles'.

Paul Roland studies the effects of the Nazis on every occupied country in this thoroughly researched book, and what a tale of woe it is. They terrorised every occupied country; they were responsible for the Holocaust, and killed and tortured millions of others, as well as plundering and looting most of these countries.  It's incredibly harrowing reading and written in a fairly dry way, so it is really mostly useful for students and researchers, however, it is certainly worth reading if you are very interested in the subject.

I found the sections on Poland, the Channel Islands and Greece the most interesting, probably because I have read a lot about France during the war.  Roland restores the reputation of the Polish treatment of the Jews to some extent by pointing out that up to 90,000 Poles risked their lives and the lives of their friends and families to give shelter to 28,000 Jews in the months before the Warsaw uprising. The treatment of the Polish by the Nazis was especially horrific because they considered them to be an inferior race, so resistance was incredibly difficult, especially when Poland's leaders, elite, and members of the aristocracy were murdered. The Nazis also made every effort to destroy Polish culture.

If you are interested in The Second World War, this is worth buying.

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

Sunday, April 19, 2020

That Affair Next Door by Anna Katharine Green Poisoned Pen Press

When Miss Amelia Butterworth finds a dead lady next door, she decides to investigate, and finds herself emotionally involved in the affairs of the wealthy and mysterious family next door.  Her investigation leads her into interesting paths, but she finds herself up against the sarcastic and irritating Detective Ebenezer Gryce who seems determined to block her inquiries.

This was an enjoyable detective story, although rather wordy compared with today's mysteries. Amelia is snobbish, proud and rather pleased with herself, but likeable and I certainly wanted her to outwit the annoying Gryce. The mystery is reasonably complicated, but I liked the way that Amelia kept writing her reasoning down and employing logic to solve it. Some readers may be a bit shocked by Amelia's racism, but it wouldn't have been unusual at the time when this early detective story was written.

I will definitely read more books by Anna Katharine Green.

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

Mayhem Unanswered Questions about the Tsarnaev Brothers, the US Government and the Boston Marathon Bombing by Michele R. McPhee

This was an interesting book discussing whether Tamerlan, one of the brothers in the Boston Marathon bombing, was protected by the government because he was an intelligence agent. Unfortunately, I found it complicated and I found it difficult to concentrate on the book, probably because the present crisis is so involving that it is hard to read about another one.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2020

After She Wrote Him by Sulari Gentill Poisoned Pen Press

This is a very clever and well-written book which explores the relationships between authors and their characters, and it is also an unusual murder mystery. It concerns writers writing about each other, so there is quite a distance between the reader and the characters until later in the story. Sulari Gentill has written an unusual and experimental book which manages to be intriguing as well.

Madeleine, married to a country doctor, struggles to escape from her dull but middle-class life, and write a new novel. Her crime series has become tiring. In the process, however, she starts to see her sometimes unlikeable husband with new eyes, and fall in love with her character Edward, holding converstions with him in her head about the book.  It is easy to see why. Handsome, wealthy and sensitive Edward treats her with much more sympathy and respect, although he is disdainful about crime writers.

Edward, a writer of intellectual novels, also writes about Madeleine, but he finds himself with little time on his hands as he becomes involved in a murder mystery, and he tries to separate his true love Willow from her nasty husband.  He also holds conversations with Madeleine, discussing their writing and their exploration of characters.

My problem with the novel was the ending. Although a big dramatic shock and quite brilliant, I found it disappointing. However, I won't say anymore about that, for fear of giving it away.

I am looking forward to reading more books by Sulari Gentill.

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

Friday, April 03, 2020

The Dharma of Fashion by Otto von Busch

This is a very helpful book concerning desire, addiction and the importance of considering what you buy, but the author does suggest writing a lot of lists.  I will leave it till later because we are having a lockdown at the moment, and there is not much point in dressing up to go to the supermarket.  It's probably an even better time to reconsider what you need to buy and when you need to buy it for many people if they can find something positive in the situation.

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

Inebriated by Katey Taylor

I couldn't read this teenage novel. It would probably suit the teens of today with its raw, emotional story, but I just found it too dark and depressing.  Cait has lots of troubles, and she doesn't help herself with her constant drunkenness! When she meets Adam Cross, things start looking up, I think. I didn't get beyond that, I am afraid.

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

Code Name Madeleine A Sufi Spy in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Arthur J. Magida

 This is photograph HU 74868 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums

I love to read about the SOE and the French Resistance, and this is one of the most fascinating and detailed books that I've read about it.  Although extremely sympathetic to the courageous Indian princess Noor Inayat Khan, Magida also investigates why she was sent to France at all when she was arguably unsuitable for the role. He also tells how awful life under occupation really was for the French, and captures the atmosphere of the dark times in a well-written and thoroughly researched book.

Noor had an interesting upbringing, partly in Moscow, but mostly in Paris, where she was taught Sufi philosophy by her studious musician father. He taught her the importance of bravery and self-sacrifice, but he also emphasized the importance of honesty. This was not helpful when Noor joined the SOE, where she needed to be devious and dishonest and even pretend to be another woman entirely! Noor studied at university, and became a musician and a writer of poetry and fairytales, but when the war came, she wanted to play her part.  The problems were that she was innocent and careless and tended to make mistakes. Noor joined the biggest Resistance organisation Prosper but the Nazis soon managed to break this up, and it was a time when anyone you knew could be a traitor. But Noor knew that she was in danger, and stayed in France while sending her fellow agents and members of the British airforce back to Britain...

This is an inspiring story about Noor and her incredible courage, especially in these miserable times.

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