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review 2017-03-29 01:20
I would have been a runaway
Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding-Schools, 1939-1979 (Slightly Foxed Editions) - Ysenda Maxtone-Graham

Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding Schools, 1939-1979 by Ysenda Maxtone Graham is exactly what I was looking for this week. As the title suggests, this is a non-fiction book about what it was like to attend a boarding school for girls from the years of 1939-79 (in the United Kingdom obviously). The author conducted numerous interviews of women who attended these school who recalled startlingly vivid memories (both ill and pleasant) of their time there. From what it was like to be separated from family at a young age (some incredibly young) to the traumatic recollections of the horrible food they were forced to eat to what really went on when a bunch of hormonal girls were kept sequestered without any boys in sight this is a book that is both informative and interesting. (It's also super funny.) I've read some fanciful stories about what it's like to live in a boarding school but never true accounts from the girls themselves about what actually went on behind those austere facades. (Seriously a ton of them were in manor houses and castles which makes me super jealous.) There are many similarities between the institutions and also some gargantuan differences. For instance, some of the places (Cheltenham for instance) were strict, highly academic, and the girls that left there were more likely to continue into higher education. Others were more practically minded (or obsessed with horses and sports) and the girls that left there were generally encouraged to go to secretarial college and then look for a husband almost immediately after entering the workforce. It's an eye-opening read about what it was like for these upper-crust girls who were sent away by their families and then suppressed by these same people into wanting less for themselves. I highly recommend this not only because it's extremely well-written and researched but also because it's so fascinating comparing it to the way young women of today are educated and their expectations after leaving school. 10/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-03-28 05:18
Beach Breeze
Beach Breeze - Joanne DeMaio

By: Joanne Demaio 

ASIN: B06WD4QFZ2

Publisher: Joanne Demaio 

Publication Date:  3/7/2017 

Format: Kindle 

My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

Blog Tour, Coming March 28.

A long time favorite New England author, Joanne DeMaio returns following Wishing on Snowflakes and Beach Blues (2016) 2016 Best New England Summer & Holiday Reads with her latest BEACH BREEZE, as we continue the journey with the memorable characters of charming Stony Point, a beach town on the coast of Connecticut.

Having read all DeMaio’s books, was anxious to catch up with the characters we have come to love and care about, as family and close friends. There has been a lot of tragedy and some of the characters (more than others), are having a very difficult time with their grief and loss.

An entire community has been shaken to the core, with the loss of a dear friend, Salvatore Deluca. He came into their lives and brought second chances to many. He made a huge impact (larger than life attitude, touching many), and his presence will not soon be forgotten.

Jason is having a particularly hard time. He had a second chance to live when his brother Neil died nine years earlier in an accident. He was able, to walk away after the wreck with the help of a prosthetic leg, below the knee. He also was given a chance at love two years earlier when Maris unexpectedly returned to Stony Point and his life. They married a year earlier.

Then Sal came into their lives like a breath of fresh air. Someone for Jason to fish with. Someone to talk with about construction, design, his father’s Vietnam war stories, and his brother. It felt as though Neil had returned in the guise of Sal. He had just given the eulogy and left shortly afterward.

 

He was asking himself if he had run out of chances. Everyone was concerned about him but he was not ready to face everyone and his grief. He is not sure he will be anytime soon. He did not get to say good-bye to his friend. He feels cheated. Jason feels as though he has lost his brother all over again.

. . . “In his happiness, he’d been foolish enough to forget one important lesson: On any given day, hour, or minute, life can spin out from under you. It happened nine years ago, when he lost his brother, and Jason nearly didn’t survive the day. So it’s important to be wary and not trust happiness, not too much.”

In addition, Sal’s mom Elsa is also making some drastic decisions, since the passing of her son. She had planned to renovate the Bed and Breakfast Inn (the old Foley’s cottage) and Jason was the architect. However, now she is putting a stop to the project and putting it up for sale; ready to return to Italy.

Celia is also filled with sadness over the life she and Sal will never have. She is also considering going back to Addison. Their engagement only last two days before Sal’s heart surgery. Sal, age 36, would be dearly missed by everyone. Even though his visit to their town this past summer was brief.

Maris is also making changes in her life. She had returned to Stony Point from a Chicago fashion career to settle her father’s estate and reunited with her sister Eva. Now Maris is considering quitting her job since it appears the people in town need her more now than ever.

Everyone was supposed to make a pack not to make any sudden grief-motivated decision that they would regret in time. Not until at least six months had passed. There were many who wanted to pack up and leave their paradise to escape their loss and pain.

Michael, Sal’s friend from New York is back in town to deliver all of Sal’s messages and letters, as well as few surprises for those he left behind. Emotions run high. Jason is out of control and pushing everyone away.

Cliff and the entire community hold an inn-intervention. The entire family is in crisis. They try and stop the tag sale. Elsa does not want to think about the business team: Jason, Celia, and Lauren. It was to be the future Ocean Star Inn, and now Sal was gone, Celia has left, and her dream had evaporated into the sea’s midst.

Jason is also upset thinking he no longer hears his brother for inspiration. Now Elsa DeLuca no longer needs his service. He had been so excited about the plans.

Everyone is concerned about the Inn and their loss. A place that holds all their friend’s history. However, will Jason and Elsa be able to bond and carry on with their dreams in Sal’s loving memory as well as the rest of their friends and community?

“It’s never the end, even when we really believe it is.”

Just when Jason thinks he has reached his lowest, Sal has a surprise for him to honor his brother. He had written special notes for everyone. Where second chances happen in the most unexpected ways. New beginnings.

From sadness, love, loss, friends, and special memories of the sea, we get a sneak peak (excerpt) from Joanne’s upcoming book, THE BEACH INN, coming May 16. Where we continue with the special friends of this charming seaside community. Coming up is "Operation, Heal Jason’s heart."

 



Appears there are some big changes coming. The toughest challenge―learning to heal, love and trust again. Looking forward to seeing what lies ahead.

"A new season of love, adventure, and heart-healing awaits in the quaint seaside village of Stony Point. So pull up a sand chair and book your stay for a page-turning getaway in The Beach Inn."

If you have not read Joanne Demaio’s books, you are missing a rare treat. Full of emotion, heart, and soul, with vivid descriptions and settings, memorable characters and sea breezes which transport you.

Highly recommend reading in order, to enhance your overall reading experience. Still hoping for a Hallmark TV series.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/01/Beach-Breeze
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review 2017-03-26 06:07
An Inside Job
The Moonstone (Evergreens) - Wilkie Collins

I had no idea that this book existed until my bookclub decided to make it the book of the month. In fact I had never heard of Wilkie Collins until this book was mentioned in passing. As it turns out (or at least according to some of the members of my bookclub) Wilkie lived under the shadow of Charles Dickens. In fact Wilkie and Dickens were good friends, that is until they had a falling out, and Dickens went out of his way to trash the works of Wilkie (and vice versa – I guess we can work out who won). I'm not really all that sure of any of the details beyond that, namely because I can't be bothered looking it up, even though this statement seems to be based upon a rumour that I heard from another person. The other thing about Wilkins, and this book in particular, was that I had some trouble finding it in a bookshop and ended up having to order it in, only to wander into a secondhand bookshop a week later to see a copy of this book, and Woman in White sitting on the shelf – it always happens like that.

 

So, the Moonstone is about this huge diamond that is stolen from India and finds its way to England and into the possession of a wealthy young lady (who inherited it from her uncle, who had originally stolen it from India). On her eighteenth birthday party she proudly wears it, but later that night it goes missing, and suddenly the mystery as to what happened to the diamond and who stole it begins. However, unlike most detective stories that I have read, where the mystery is pretty much solved within 24 to 48 hours of it happening, it isn't and everybody goes home. However, a year later the hunt for the diamond begins again in ernst and the mystery is eventually solved, though not as we would expect it to be solved.

 

Apparently The Moonstone is the first ever detective novel, though there was a discussion as to whether Wilkie or Poe were the first to write in this specific style of genre (apparently Poe was first, but because his story was a short story Wilkie is attributed to having the first full length novel). However the interesting thing is that it doesn't necessarily set the standard for how the genre developed in the future, though as I have said numerous times in the past, the detective novel, or even crime fiction, isn't a genre that really catches my attention. I have tried to read Agatha Christie, and despite really enjoying And Then There Were None I wasn't able to get into any of the other novels of hers that I read (though I'll probably try a couple more but I am not rushing out to do so). As for Doyle, as I have also previously mentioned, while at first I really enjoyed Sherlock Holmes, as the series dragged on I become less and less enthralled with the character and the stories.

 

The thing is that in my mind the idea of the detective fiction is that it is a game between the author and the reader to see if they can actually solve the problem before everything is revealed at the end, however my Dad, who is an avid reader of the genre, suggests that this generally isn't the case. For instance the Butler never, ever actually does it, and if he does it is generally considered to be so clichéd that the book is tossed into the recycling bin before anybody else can pick it up and have their intelligence insulted. As for Agatha Christie, my Dad suggests that her conclusions are so contrived that it is almost impossible to work it out (for instance in one of the books it turned out that everybody did it, though I still hold to my theory that Miss Marple is the real criminal, it is just that she is so clever at being able to throw the scent off the trail and pin the crime onto somebody else that she is never ever suspected, let alone caught).

 

Mind you, when I read a detective novel I generally give up trying to solve the problem pretty quickly, namely because that isn't the reason why I read – if I wanted to solve problems I would go and try debugging computer programs, or even write my own, or have an extended session on Duolingo – to me novels aren't designed to solve problems, but rather to open up one's mind to other possibilities, and to explore these possibilities through sites like Goodreads, or even my own blog. The other thing is that I suspect this style of detective fiction is rather new and wasn't the way that the original authors of the genre intended it to be.

 

The other thing about The Moonstone is that it was surprisingly amusing, which also baffled me because I never considered classical literature to actually be funny. Mind you, they probably are quite amusing, it is just that the style of humour, and the subtle references, are something that we generally wouldn't understand. Okay, I have known, and even done so myself, people who have burst out laughing at the plays of Aristophanes, and I also note that we have a few Roman comedies available, however it seems as if for quite a while most pieces of literature were actually quite serious, but then again we do have Shakespeare so I guess I am just talking rubbish again.

 

The really amusing thing about this book was the character who swore by the book Robinson Crusoe, which I have to admit does have a tendency to poke fun at those of us who happen to be religious. In fact sometimes I wonder myself at the absurdity of putting one's faith in the writings of a group of people that lived thousands of years ago. In fact a lot of people completely write off the writings of the ancients in that as far as they are concerned, if it was written over a thousand years ago then it has absolutely no application to the world today. Personally, I would disagree, though I guess the whole idea of basing one's life around Robinson Crusoe is that there is a difference between somebody who simply blindly follows a religious text, and those who go out of their way to completely debunk the text only to discover that no matter how hard they try the text stands up to scrutiny. Mind you, this does eventually come down to the way that you go about debunking the text.

 

As for basing your life around Robinson Crusoe, well, I'm sure it is possible, but I'm not really going to give it a try. Maybe I'll just stick with Mr Men (though I hope I haven't lost the one that I thought I put in my bag this morning).

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1938970519
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review 2017-03-24 21:00
A good book to gain an overview on a particularly complex and fascinating topic for those working in law and/or psychiatry.
Mad or Bad: Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain - David J. Vaughan

Thanks to Pen and Sword History for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book that I voluntarily review.

As a psychiatrist, and having worked in forensic psychiatry in the UK for a number of years, mad or bad is indeed one of the questions that we’re asked very often. (Of course, the two categories are not mutually exclusive, but in the eyes of the law there are certain prerequisites that need to be complied with to be able to apportion guilt). Therefore, I was very curious to read this book that dealt with the issue of insanity and criminal justice in the Victorian era.

The book is divided into five parts, discussing the main players in the debate, the conditions that were listed under the insanity label, the history of the debate, a part discussing ‘mad women, bad women’, and the last and longest part that discusses in more detail the case studies that caused the debates and the legal changes discussed in the book.

Personally, I was fascinated by reading details about the cases behind some of the defences and legal terms still in use today. Having an overall view of the period and what was behind the discussions illuminates and helps explain the legal changes, placing them at a historical and social moment in time. As a psychiatrist, I was particularly interested in the issues of diagnosis and the discussions as to the different categories used to classify disturbed mental states, including some that sound difficult to believe now (like the many ‘women’s conditions’ that justified all kinds of crimes). Although the details of some of the cases and the discussions might sound bizarre, the truth is that matters are not that clear even now, and even if the debates are framed differently, a decision is not always easy to reach.

The case stories are fascinating to read in their own right and cover the most famous and relevant cases of the era. They provide a great overview without going into excessive detail and would be a good starting point for people who want to delve deeper into the subject, whilst providing a general background to others who might be looking for orientation and general reading on the topic. The book is well organised, written clearly, and provides a good summary of the main issues whilst illustrating them well without excess detail or the use of unnecessarily complicated terms.

A good read for anybody interested in issues of criminal justice, insanity and law in Victorian England, particularly those that pertain to the treatment of women by the legal system of the time. A word of warning: the passing of time hasn’t made these cases less upsetting or shocking, so although the book doesn’t dwell unnecessarily on the gore details, you might find some of them hard to read.

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review 2017-03-20 16:10
A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2)- Deanna Raybourn
A Perilous Undertaking - Deanna Raybourn

While Victorian England is not generally my go-to time period (Usually I am a sucker for anything Tudor-Era or Dark Ages), one Miss Veronica Speedwell is quickly making me think I should venture out of my bubble more often. This is the second novel in the Veronica Speedwell series. It is just as much fun as the first. Hopefully there will be many more adventures to follow. 

 

The mystery wasn't anything overly complicated and shocking. I had most of it figured out rather quickly. The characters are what sell. Veronica borders on anachronistic at times but her snark and wit are enough for me to forgive the offense. Stoker hits just about every point on my literary boyfriend checklist. The eye patch is just a delicious bonus. I imagine him to be much like Alan Van Sprang's Sir Francis Bryan from The Tudors. Just in Victorian dress. Lady Wellie was a fantastic addition to the ever growing cast of characters. 

 

In addition to getting to know Veronica and Stoker better, I was also introduced to how to say dildo in a variety of languages. Seriously, I don't think I've seen the word phallus so many times in a book since the textbook I had for a college class on Human Sexuality. If that isn't enough to peak your interest, I'm not really sure what more I can offer. I can't recommend this series enough for people interesting in taking a quick romp through Victorian England. And really, how can you say no to that cover? 

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