Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: DVD Agatha Raisin

Agatha Raisin, Series 1

Agatha Raisin
DVD
This DVD is based on the books of M.C. Beaton and her beloved character Agatha Raisin. Agatha has always dreamed of living in the English countryside and as a result she's left her successful PR Firm in London to make a go of country life, in the small and picturesque village of Carsley in the Cotswolds.

It doesn't take long for her to get involved in the community, and at the opening of this series, it's the local pie contest she's joined. But when a murder occurs she feels compelled to try and solve it, albeit with the help of a few new friends, giving her the much deserved reputation of an amateur sleuth. The series contains nine episodes that will keep you coming back for more. It's become one of my favorites, and how could it not be with the wonderful, fun, endearing characters and a slice of mystery on the side. I'm so hoping there will be a season two.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: The Heirs

The Heirs

The Heirs
Susan Rieger

The Heirs follows the story of Rupert Falkes and his wife Eleanor Phipps Falkes and that of their five sons. When Rupert dies, secrets emerge that the remaining members of the family must come to terms with, all while making sense of their own lives.

I wanted to like this book but, it's one that left me with mixed feelings. While it isn't a long book, it felt long. It often went on and on with perhaps too much detail. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I didn't feel a great connection to the main characters, Rupert and Eleanor, which made the first half of the book seem somewhat dull to me. Some bits of the first section were well observed, but I couldn't help feeling that it sometimes seemed pretentious, like the author is trying too hard to sound intellectual, which was slightly off-putting.

I only felt drawn into the book about mid-way through, when I reached the character of Jim, who, oddly enough, wasn't even part of the Falkes family. I'm not sure why this section seemed more appealing than the first section, maybe I was able to feel or empathize more with this character. He felt more genuine to me and more interesting than some of the others in the story. Overall, I felt the second half of the book was more engaging than the first half; it had more of a story to tell that connected some of the characters, without just describing characters to me. It was less boring, and it seemed to have a better, faster pace. In general, this book didn't have that spark of electricity I was hoping it would have.

Thanks to Librarything for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Catherine of Braganza

Catherine of Braganza: Charles II's Restoration Queen

Catherine of Braganza
Charles II's Restoration Queen
Sarah-Beth Watkins

This book provides a fascinating look at the life of Catherine of Braganza. She was born in 1638 in Portugal, and married Charles the II of England in 1662. She must have been an amazing women since she had to come to terms with the numerous mistresses of the king and the fact that, as hard as she tried she was never able to give the king an heir.

When she wasn't dealing with domestic hardships she had her detractors to contend with, particularly those who wanted to rid themselves of a Catholic queen. Even though the king stood by her during her most difficult times it seems true happiness may have come at long last when she was able to return to Portugal, where she was to rule as regent for João V.

I recommend this well written book for anyone who wants to know more about Catherine's role as queen and her life at the English court.

Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Vibrant India

Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn

Vibrant India
Chitra Agrawal

I love the cover of this cookbook, like the name suggests it's vibrant and enticing. It was this cover that first drew me in. Inside, the author focuses on the food of Southern India, which is distinct from that of the North, which many readers are probably more familiar with in the form of creamy curries and meat dishes. The author goes into more detail explaining the differences and the importance of the history and culture in the development of southern cuisine, and how it focuses more on vegetarian dishes.

While I must admit, some of the recipes in the book seem a bit daunting to me, and if I'm honest, there are quite a few things I would prefer to eat in a restaurant, rather than try and attempt myself, I did find some recipes that were easier to prepare. I loved the idea of peaches in summer yogurt, for example, and the variations on yogurt raita as well as some new ways to make lentils.

I like that this book has some interesting recipes with unexpected ingredients. For instance, Lemon Peanut Rice, is something I wouldn't have expected, or Apple, Ginger Coconut Hand Pies. I think that is what makes this book and Southern India food unique and worth a look, especially for adventurous cooks who want to try something fresh and healthy.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: My Life to Live

My Life to Live: How I Became the Queen of Soaps When Men Ruled the Airwaves

My Life to Live
Agnes Nixon

I grew up watching One Life to Live and All My Children, but I didn't know anything about the creator of these two long-running soap operas. Therefore, this was quite an interesting book for me to read. I loved hearing about Mrs. Nixon's childhood and how she came to be interested in writing and creating characters.

It was also nice to read about a woman who was able to make both her family and her career a priority. It obviously helped that she had a loving and supporting husband. And while it did seem that her younger life with a father who appeared bent on controlling her and her future was tough, it no doubt led to her determination to chart her own path.

Although it was mentioned that she found writing a book more challenging than writing for television, I don't think many readers would ever guess this was the case. In fact, I thought more than once as I read this book; if Mrs. Nixon hadn't been writing soap operas she no doubt would have been writing best-selling novels. She clearly had a talent for keeping the reader hooked, not only on television but also in her autobiography.

I was saddened when I got to the end of the book and found out that before finishing it she suffered a debilitating stroke. But I was not surprised that she had the help of her family that allowed her to complete the work. I enjoyed getting the chance to read such an interesting book about an amazingly talented woman.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: The Postman's Fiancée

The Postman's Fiancée

The Postman's Fiancée
Denis Thériault

Tania has moved to Montreal from Germany, where she works as a waitress in one of the city's numerous restaurants. She has fallen in love with one of her regular customers, Bilodo, a local postman. Unfortunately for Tania, Bilodo has fallen for his Haiku writing pen-pal from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. But, when he has an accident that leaves him with amnesia, Tania sees her chance to claim Bilodo as her own betrothed. If only things would work out the way, she planned. But alas, fate and destiny might stand in the way.

This is a fabulous and original story which I couldn't put down. I don't remember reading anything quite like this one before. I loved the characters and the events which take place throughout the story. In fact, I think this is my favorite book so far this year. It is one I would definitely recommend.

Thanks to LibraryThing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: The Inkblots

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and The Power of Seeing

The Inkblots
Damion Searls

This book takes a look at the interesting life of Herman Rorschach and his iconic inkblot tests. The first half of the book analyzes in depth the scientist's short but extremely productive life. The second half is basically devoted to spread of the inkblots and how they were subsequently used.

Before reading this book I was unaware of the profound impact that Rorschach had on the field of psychology. I was fascinated to learn about his work in both Switzerland and Russia in the early 1900's. And while he died at the early age of 37 one has to wonder what he would have achieved had he lived even longer. It also made me wonder how or if he would have gone on to make further developments to his ground breaking tests. Nevertheless, the author provides a sympathetic and humane view of Rorschach and his work making this a must read for anyone interested in psychology or those who want to know more about the development of his infamous inkblot tests.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.