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Showing posts from June, 2017

Book Review: Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich

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Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious. When you read non-fiction history, you often go in knowing that you're going to have to slog through the slow bits, and you accept this, because that's just the way it is. Well. Not with THIS book. Four Princes has been written by the incomparable John Julius Norwich, himself a man about whom a book should be written! He's not concerned with political correctness. He's not trying to throw your 21st century morals onto 16th century people. He understands how important religion could be to a man, or a woman, that it would profoundly affect why they did things, and he doesn't apologize for it. He doesn't blink at the horrid-ness of life during the Reformation. He tells wonderful anecdotes about the various persons involved in the lives of the Four Princes, and brings in that human factor tha…

Book Reivew: The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

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The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sound of Gravel is a harrowing read. It's the biography of Ruth Wariner, who was her mother's 4th child and her father's 39th.

Ruth was the daughter of the "prophet" Joel LeBaron, a leader of Colonia LeBaron, a fundamentalist Mormon community in Mexico. Ruth's mother Kathy married Joel when she was 18 and he was 42, as his fifth wife. Ruth never knew her father, as he was brutally murdered by his own brother Ervil, a rival for power over the community, when she was but 3 months old.

After Joel's death, Kathy was left with four children, living in Colonia LeBaron in poverty. She then married a man called Lane, as his "second, second" wife (the first second wife had left him), and began to have children just about every year for the next several years.

Ruth's life was so hard. Kathy and "her kids" lived in a shack in the desert, with no running water or electricity. T…

Book Review: This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett

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This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Carol Burnett's memoir, "This Time Together". I loved Carol Burnett's show when I was a kid, I always thought she was a wonderful person, and her book is also wonderful. It's based on questions asked by audience members in her live show, and is a collection of stories, basically from the time she left her home to be an actor on Broadway, up to the present.

I laughed right out loud at some of the recollections of events from the early days of the show, and found myself blinking back tears as I read about the deaths of people she loved. This is no "tell-all" scandalous gossip rag of a book, it's the genuine and heart-felt remembrances of a TV legend. You won't see scathing commentaries on stars' foibles here - rather a collection of sweet, funny stories about all the greats - Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence (her story is really …

Book Reivew: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do by Sarah Knight

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The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do by Sarah Knight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This little book is a hoot! In the midst of the funny, there are some very good lessons to be learned.

Sarah Knight starts off the book with a mission statement:

"The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck" is for all of us who work too much, play too little, and never have enough time to devote to the people and things that truly make us happy."

The author is a Harvard-educated former editor, who quit her corporate job to go freelance - to stop taking a 45 minute commute two times a day, sleep in, and have more time with her husband and for the things she wanted to do. She acknowledges that everyone can't just quit their jobs, but gives examples of ways to stop wasting time at work with useless meetings and memos, and how to stop attending coworker functions withou…

Book Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I Capture the Castle was written by Dodie Smith in the forties, but it's set in the 1930's, after the Great War and during the Depression. It's narrated by a 17 year old girl named Cassandra, who lives with her father James Mortmain, step-mother Topaz, older sister Rose, younger brother Tom and sort of adopted servant Stephen.

They all live together in a crumbling castle, for which James has taken a 40-year lease. James had once written a book that was fabulously famous, and made them a lot of money. Since that book, though, he has written nothing, and the children's mother has died, taking her small income with her. James has remarried a model called Topaz, who he ignores, along with everyone else, as he sits in the gatehouse hour after hour, reading books brought by the local school teacher, Miss Marcy. Tom is in school, Cassandra and Rose are done with school, and Stephen works at the hard chores. They liv…

Homemade Oven Cleaner Test

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This is a tale of two outcomes. Two very different outcomes.

How it happened: My oven was very dirty. So dirty that when I tried to bake pizzas, the stench of burning material filled my house. I reluctantly decided it was time to clean the oven. To my dismay, the can of oven cleaner I was sure I had under the sink was not there. So, I went where I always go when faced with a lack of the "real thing" - to Google!

In my search for alternatives to oven cleaner, I found this video. It was put out by a cleaning service in Detroit, and since it only had three ingredients, I decided to give it a try, because that oven was messed up.


I pulled out the products, which I fortunately had on hand:


I mixed the Baking Soda and Vinegar together very carefully. The video didn't give specific measurements, but it looked like about 2 cups of baking soda and maybe 3/4 cup of vinegar. I used an old plastic bowl and a small plastic scraper. It was pretty fun to mix together, especially after…

Book Review: Then and Always, by Dani Atkins

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Then and Always by Dani Atkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Then and Always is the story of a young woman who wakes up after a terrible incident with a different life than she left. Rachel has two histories - they feature the same cast of characters, but the outcomes couldn't be more different. What is true? What is fantasy? What caused the "amnesia", if that's what it really is...

Without going into spoilers, I can say the set-up is great, and the finale is great. It's such a cool idea, and the author does a pretty good job of it, but in the hands of a really good writer, this book could have been excellent. It seems like a low-rent version of "What Alice Forgot", a wonderful, engaging, keeps-you-guessing book by Liane Moriarty with a somewhat similar theme.

If you want a quick read, with a bit of a mystery and a dab of a love story, this book will do ya.



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