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The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence – Book Review

Beautiful Woman - Book ReviewWe choose books for lots of different reasons.

I chose this one because we went to Florence on a recent holiday. I could imagine the heroine walking down streets to places I had visited.

Plus I am intrigued by the lives of artists and the subtitle of this book is ‘A Story of Botticelli’.

Simonetta Cattaneo is the woman of the title and is not so much a heroine as a young woman in 15th century Italy living her life as best she can.

This is a story based on truth – for history records little of the doings of women.

Alyssa Palombo has taken the people, the places, the morals, the intrigues and the fickle nature of life to create a story about a young woman determined to be more than her beauty.

As Alyssa says in her author notes, she has written a story of ‘Simonetta’s relationship with Sandro Botticelli, whatever the truth may have been.’ It is not simply a story of Simonetta and Sandro and his most famous painting ‘The Birth of Venus’. It is a story of Simonetta’s life from the time of her betrothal to her death. The story revolves around her relationship with four men – her husband Marco Vespucci, the Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano, and Sandro Botticelli.

Simonetta is from a noble family in Genoa and is married at 16 (old for the time) to Marco Vespucci from Florence. Her beauty dazzles the Florentines. While at times it is a nuisance and a curse to Simonetta, she is more interested in accessing the Medici cultural treasures, especially Lorenzo Medici’s library. As a painter, Botticelli also is captivated by her beauty.

As a man, he can see past it to her soul. After facing a humiliating betrayal, Simonetta finds a small sense of peace in Botticelli’s honesty.

Alyssa has made Simonetta bold, opinionated and fiery. I like that. There are no cardboard or clichéd characters here. I could picture each scene like a personal movie. That to me is good writing.

I happily recommend this story and look forward to reading her earlier book ‘The Violinist of Venice’ which is about Vivaldi.

 

Stylish Baby Boomers EzineAre YOU a Baby Boomer Woman looking to Shine Confidently?

 (While I enjoy writing a personal Blog about life topics, including my love of reading, I also send out a fashion and dressing advice for the modern business and professional Baby Boomer woman.

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The Dress – Book Review

The Dress - Book Review ‘The Dress’ is the story of one black dress that becomes ‘the Dress of the Season’.

 ‘I wish I had somewhere to wear this dress?’says one of the women who try it on. ‘A dress like that has no business waiting around for a chance to go somewhere’ says the saleswoman at Bloomingdales. Andie is not the first to wear this dress.

Jane Rosen has crafted an intriguing story around nine women who try on the dress and wear it only for a short while. Nowhere is it described in detail. You create it in your imagination because we’ve all had a dress that makes us feel beautiful. I imagined the women from Sally Ann to Sophie wearing my favourite beautiful dress in black.

The dress is lent. It’s bought. It’s returned. Along the way it’s aided by Ruth and Tomas from Bloomingdale’s Dress Department to create its magic.

 Woven in is the story of Morris Siegel, a pattern maker, who at nearly 90 is retiring. He’s proud that in his long career he has ‘made thousands of women feel beautiful’. He made the sample dress of this story.

 I enjoyed the book. it’s a light red and I got drawn into the lives of the women and their trials. Some I cheered for. Some, I didn’t.

I would re-read this story. It has mix-ups, surprises, accidental co-incidences, deception, blind love and dissatisfaction in Paris. That’s plenty to keep me happily reading.

 

 

Stylish Baby Boomers EzineAre YOU a Baby Boomer Woman looking to Shine Confidently?

 (While I enjoy writing a personal Blog about life topics, including my love of reading, I also send out a regular Newsletter called  – ‘Stylish Baby Boomers’ every Thursday. Don’t miss out on receiving fashion and dressing advice for the modern business and professional Baby Boomer woman.

CLICK HERE or on my photo to sign up for the ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ Newsletter.)

Little Paris Bookshop – Book Review

Paris Bookshop - ReviewA book about the feelings of men and love written by a woman – that was to me, unexpected and unusual.

 I am not quite sure how I came to want to read this book. I had placed a library hold on it and had two weeks left to read it before I had to give it back. No extensions allowed. Better start reading it.

‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ is a book about a man, Perdu, who runs a bookshop he calls a ‘literary apothecary’ on a barge in Paris on the Seine. You could tell him which book you were looking for and you might or might not be sold it. Perdu had the gift of, after a few questions and some astute observations, being able to prescribe whether that book was suitable for your soul at this time in your life.

 But Perdu is harbouring a secret about his own fractured soul. Finally it is another hurt soul who moves in opposite his little flat, that forces him to open a letter he has dreaded opening for 21 years.

 Perdu ups anchor and takes his literary apothecary canal barge on a journey through the waterways of France down south to Province to make his peace. He is joined by Max, a young best-selling author who is suffering from ‘second-book drought’ and later Cuneo whom they rescued from furious men who crash a secret tango dance gathering.

 The three men have adventures and Perdu sells and barters his books along the way to fund their travels. Finally after leaving the barge, Perdu finds the man with the answers and the peace he seeks. Do all three men find love? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

 As a book lover, I was enthralled by the many references to books, both old and new. And Perdu finally setting about writing his own book. As one who first tasted lavender ice cream in Province and loved it, I relished the references to lavender foods in this book.

 This book touched my heart in many ways and Nina George writes so many beautiful sentences that express feelings of love and life, sometimes vividly and sometimes painfully.

 I will buy my own copy and keep this book as I feel there is more to be relished and discovered with future re-readings.

 PS  There are recipes from Province and a guide to Perdu’s book medicine choices for minor or moderate emotional turmoil at the back of the book.

 

Stylish Baby Boomers EzineAre YOU a Baby Boomer Woman looking to Shine Confidently?

 (While I enjoy writing a personal Blog about life topics, including my love of reading, I also send out a regular Newsletter called  – ‘Stylish Baby Boomers’ every Thursday. Don’t miss out on receiving fashion and dressing advice for the modern business and professional Baby Boomer woman.

CLICK HERE or on my photo to sign up for the ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ Newsletter.)

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Book Review

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto - Book ReviewI cannot explain it. I don’t want to.

You know how sometimes, from the very first sentence, a book simply seems magical. With every word your heart is purring like a contented cat. Somehow you, your heart and the story are in unison. That’s how I felt as I read this book.

I finished reading it in 24 hours. I didn’t rush. At times I stopped to savour the words and picture the scenes.

To me it’s a love story to Music – that’s Music with a capital ‘M’. Music is the main narrator and is as much a character in the story of Frankie Presto as the other cast of characters. Frankie has died suddenly. As musicians gather to pay their respects, they add their small bit to Frankie’s life by telling what they know to the gathered media. It’s not chronological and that makes you want to read on to find out who will fill the missing gaps in Frankie’s life.

The book had a surprise ending. I didn’t have a clue it was coming. It threw another emotion at me.

Have you ever picked up a book and your soul quietly tells you that you have to read this. And you buy it. They’re not necessarily classics or best sellers. The whole story touches you. The words do not soothe your soul. Your soul is OK. They soothe your mind. The words quieten your mind while your heart and soul hum happily in the background. These are the books you read over and over again.

I have four fiction and two non-fiction books that fall into this group. ‘The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto’ has now joined my special list. Thank you, Mitch Albom.

If you choose to read this story, please read the acknowledgments to the musicians who helped to make Frankie’s life seem so plausible. If you love music -whether you play, sing or not- I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

Stylish Baby Boomers EzineAre YOU a Baby Boomer Woman looking to Shine Confidently?

 (While I enjoy writing a personal Blog about life topics, including my love of reading, I also send out a regular Newsletter called  – ‘Stylish Baby Boomers’ every Thursday. Don’t miss out on receiving fashion and dressing advice for the modern business and professional Baby Boomer woman.

CLICK HERE or on my photo to sign up for the ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ Newsletter.)

– Full House – Book Review

Full House - Book Review

A ‘Quick Read’ Book Review

 

Dee and Liam are parents to three adult children. They all live at home rent-free and take their Mum for granted.

Dee works hard as one half of a cleaning business with her friend. Every afternoon when she comes home, Dee grits her teeth and wishes that things were different. An empty nest would be perfect. When her loving husband loses her job, Dee discovers her true grit. Things are about to change drastically.
‘Full House’ is a ‘Quick Read’.

It is more than short story. It is a short book. This one is 116 pages and you can read it in a day. About five authors a year are approached to write a short book to encourage those in the UK and Ireland ‘to read more and discover the joy of books’. They come in hard-copy and electronic versions.

I love Maeve Binchy and eagerly borrowed this from my local library. I wasw not disappointed. Will the children leave home or stay? Will Dee and Liam be able to afford their dream 25th wedding anniversary trip? It’s a story for all those whose children have left the nest or who wish they would leave.
Last Words:

I went to the website – www.quickreads.org.uk – to check other story titles. Three more I have put on hold from the Library and five I have purchased from www.bookdepository.co.uk (Amazon’s freight charges are way too high.)
I’m hooked. Now that I have discovered them in the treasure trove that is my local library, they’ll be my go-to for a quick relax or any time I have to wait for doctors, friends etc.

 

 

Stylish Baby Boomers Ezine

Are YOU a Baby Boomer Woman looking to Shine Confidently?

(While I enjoy writing a personal Blog about life topics, including my love of reading, I also send out a regular Newsletter called  – ‘Stylish Baby Boomers’ every Thursday. Don’t miss out on receiving fashion and dressing advice for the modern business and professional Baby Boomer woman.

CLICK HERE or on my photo to sign up for the ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ Newsletter.)

The Secret Chord – Book Review

The Secret Chord - book ReviewI was not sure if I wanted to read this book.

It was these words in the blurb on the back that caused my reluctance – ‘he rutted without restraint, butchered the innocent, betrayed those most loyal to him’. I am not a prude nor am I naïve. I have simply read enough stories and articles with violence and depravity that I choose now not to read them for pleasure.

This is a story about David, a shepherd living about 1000 BC who slew Goliath, rose to be king and created an empire. There was bound to be lots of violent deaths in that era.

I loved ‘People of the Book’; was left lukewarm by ‘Caleb’s Crossing’ and uncertain about this story. So I borrowed it from the library rather than buying it.

 
I take all of the above back.

Ok! There are violent deaths, rape and sexual depravity but not in excessive detail. I got the point without having nightmares. Yes, I am a wimp in that department.

The story of David’s life is told through the eyes of Natan, his prophet, courtier and conscience. I found it fascinating. It’s not a biography. It is a novel – an imaginary account of a national hero. David used all the qualities of powerful charismatic leaders to do ‘whatever it takes; what was necessary and no more’. He had flaws. His people knew this and loved him more because of them. Music is a revealing part of David’s character. I loved the way it was used to end the story.

I was taken in by Geraldine’s writing in this novel. I lived the character’s lives with them. In the ‘Afterword’, Geraldine let me into the reason behind her choice of the book’s title. What more can a reader ask of an author.

Geraldine is back in my favour again. I have already started to research which of her previous books I will read next.

 

Stylish Baby Boomers EzineAre YOU a Baby Boomer Woman looking to Shine Confidently?

(While I enjoy writing a personal Blog about life topics, including my love of reading, I also send out a regular Newsletter called  – ‘Stylish Baby Boomers’ every Thursday. Don’t miss out on receiving fashion and dressing advice for the modern business and professional Baby Boomer woman.

CLICK HERE or on my photo to sign up for the ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ Newsletter.)

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra - Book ReviewMy Book Review

 

Inspector Chopra has been forced to take early retirement. Policing is in his blood and when, on his last day, a mother cries that no-one cares about the death of her son, the first few days of his retirement will not go as his wife imagined. Add to that his Uncle Bansi has sent him a gift of a baby elephant.

I picked this book up from my local library because it was described as ‘delightful and uplifting’. I’ve been longing for a crime story with humour.

Set in Mumbai, the crime is serious, the criminals are determined and vicious (not sadistic or I would have stopped reading) and corruption is ever present.

Both Inspector Chopra (retired) and his wife, Poppy are behaving secretively and Ganesha, the baby elephant that he’s inherited, is depressed. Every dogged, honest, retired Indian police officer need an elephant assistant. Will it rise to the challenge and why?

There was a diverse cast of characters, enough humour and slowly-leaked clues about the suspicious death of the young man to keep me interested. The ending surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it. I liked that.

Last Words:

This is British writer, Vaseem Khan’s first book. His next book is due out in May 2016. It’s on my list of books to buy and read.

 

Stylish Baby Boomers EzineAre YOU a Baby Boomer Woman looking to Shine Confidently?

 (While I enjoy writing a personal Blog about life topics, including my love of reading, I also send out a regular Newsletter called  – ‘Stylish Baby Boomers’ every Thursday. Don’t miss out on receiving fashion and dressing advice for the modern business and professional Baby Boomer woman.

CLICK HERE or on my photo to sign up for the ‘Baby Boomer Personal Style’ Newsletter.)