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review 2018-02-14 08:46
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection - Carol Burnett

As I said in my recent status update, I loved this book.  The Carol Burnett show was such a staple growing up in the 70's; it wasn't until I started reading/listening to this book that I realised how much I missed the kind of comedy she and her cast served up every week.


The book is broken into individual anecdotes that cover her early life and career.  Almost all of them are light, interesting, amusing and often laugh-out-loud hilarious.  A couple towards the end will bring tears as she relates particularly heartbreaking moments, but mostly the tears are from laughing so hard.


I don't know how well this book's promise would translate for anyone who hadn't at least watched a few episodes of The Carol Burnett Show, but for those that have and enjoyed it, this is a welcome trip down memory lane.


Burnett herself reads the book, and she does an amazing job.  At no point did it ever feel like she was 'reading' anything; her delivery is as natural as if she was right there talking to you.


I'm thrilled to find out she released another book last year, In Such Good Company.  All behind the scenes stories from the show.  It's taking all my self control to not check it out and immediately start listening, but I'm going to make myself listen to a book from my shelves first.  

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review 2018-02-08 09:54
A Thousand Days in Venice
A Thousand Days In Venice: An Unexpected Romance - Marlena de Blasi

This was part of a box of books I was given by my neighbour, and as I'd previously read A Thousand Days in Tuscany, I was interested to read how de Blasi's story began.  When I first picked up A Thousand Days in Tuscany it was billed as 'romantic' but was not at all romantic (beyond the romance of living in Tuscany); it was far more about her and her husband's work on their land and home and I found it more interesting than I expected.  So when I saw this one touted as romantic as well, I took it with a grain of salt.


Turns out this one is all about the romance.  How she met her husband on a trip to Venice and had sold everything back home and married him within the year.  This might seem implausible to a lot of readers, but as I met MT, sold everything and moved to AU within 10 months, I'm not one of those people.  Our beginnings, however, weren't nearly as romantic; I suspect the setting had a lot to do with that.  Exotic (for me, anyway), but definitely not Venice-Italy-romantic.  (This might sound like a wistful complaint; it's not - I do not have a romantic bone in my body.)


So, generally, I did not enjoy this one as much.  I mean, I enjoyed the Venice bits, of course, but reading about her romance and her struggles to fit in to an entirely new culture, while getting to know her new husband were, even though they felt very realistic, not really my cuppa.  


Reading this did leave me with a very strong hankering for pasta though.  Three guesses what we had for dinner.  ;)

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review 2018-02-02 03:07
Bella Tuscany
Bella Tuscany - Frances Mayes

Very much more of the same from Under the Tuscan Sun but with more travel and more poetry and more philosophical musings.  


I really just wanted to hear about the house and their village, so I found myself skimming whenever the chapters covered their travels.  I usually love the travel bits, but a combination of my mood and her tendency to write about their trips within Italy the way academic historians write about battles made it all feel too tedious.  But I loved hearing about the house, the restoration, re-building the gardens, and harvesting the olives.  That took up about half the book, so I went with a down the middle rating of three stars.

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review 2018-01-28 06:56
The Ludicrous Laws of Old London
The Ludicrous Laws of Old London - Nigel Cawthorne

Interesting, but not precisely what it says on the tin.  The title and summary on the back would give the impression that the book is a collection of crazy laws enacted throughout the ages that are still in effect.  There are a few of these sprinkled throughout, but most of the entries are really more a historic overview of London laws through history; laws that seem insane to us now, but made sense to citizens at the time (for good or bad).


As I said, it's still a very engaging and interesting read; I learned heaps about London (did not know, for example that there's a city of London and a City of London (the latter being the 1 square mile section within the old Roman walls).  But I admit when I saw "Ludicrous" in the title, I was expecting something far sillier, the UK version of silly laws I've heard about in America like:


In Gainsville Georgia, you are not allowed to eat fried chicken any other way than using your hands.


In Arizona, having more than two vibrators in your home is illegal. If you own more than two in your house, you can be subject to criminal possession.


In Iowa, it is illegal for a man with a mustache to kiss a woman in public.


In Florida it is illegal for a divorced or a widowed woman to skydive on a Sunday afternoon.  Also, if an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.  


The closest this book comes to this version of ludicrous is a law that states you cannot have a pack of playing cards within one mile of any building storing explosives or ammunition.  Which, I admit, is a stumper.


All in all, a good read; very informative, well-written and entertaining.  Just not silly.

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review 2018-01-27 10:07
The Bee Friendly Garden: Easy Ways to Help the Bees and Make Your Garden Grow
The Bee Friendly Garden: Easy Ways to Help the Bees and Make Your Garden Grow - Doug Purdie

I think I mentioned in a post just after Christmas that MT got me bees for Christmas.  An old schoolmate of his runs a beehive management business, and either Tuesday or Wednesday next week, after dark, he's delivering our hives to us.  MT has decreed that all the bees will be named Barry.  I've pointed out that all the worker bees are female, which temporarily stumped him.  I'm sure by the time I finish this review he'll have rallied.  Stay tuned.


Anyway, my garden is pretty close to jungle status as is, but I'm always looking for excuses to plant new things, and our bees need to feel welcomed.  But I know not all flowers are bee friendly (size, shape, and whether or not they make pollen/nectar), so I wanted a list of particular plants the bees would love.  Our bee guy recommended this book, and MT bought it for me for my birthday, and I guilted him into giving it to me a day early, because he also gave me this cold.


The Bee guy did not steer me wrong.  This is a great book for anyone who just wants to attract more bees to their garden.  It's a tiny bit preachy - he's (rightfully) passionate about NOT spraying your garden - but there's a lot of compelling reason to preach it.  Without bees we can kiss about 80% of our food goodbye and bees are in serious decline world wide.  


The Bee Friendly Garden is strongly geared toward Australia, primarily in the chapters where he discusses native bees (some of which are SO cool), but more than half the book would be useful to anyone, as a lot of the suggestions are geared toward the European honey bee and the plant lists are almost universal in their availability.


I now have a list of plants to look for at the nursery.  Now I just have to find a place to put them.  


Update:  MT has named all the bees Betty.

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