Americanaland by John Milward #BookReview

A musical genre forever outside the lines

With a claim on artists from Jimmie Rodgers to Jason Isbell, Americana can be hard to define, but you know it when you hear it. John Milward’s Americanaland is filled with the enduring performers and vivid stories that are at the heart of Americana. At base a hybrid of rock and country, Americana is also infused with folk, blues, R&B, bluegrass, and other types of roots music. Performers like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Gram Parsons used these ingredients to create influential music that took well-established genres down exciting new roads. The name Americana was coined in the 1990s to describe similarly inclined artists like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and Wilco. Today, Brandi Carlile and I’m With Her are among the musicians carrying the genre into the twenty-first century.

Essential and engaging, Americanaland chronicles the evolution and resonance of this ever-changing amalgam of American music.

My thoughts on Americanaland…

Read More »

Elizabeth I’s Last Favourite by Sarah-Beth Watkins #BookReview

About the book…

Despite widespread interest in Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, little has been written about him in decades past. In Elizabeth I’s Last Favourite, Sarah-Beth Watkins brings the story of his life, and death, back into the public eye.

In the later years of Elizabeth I’s reign, Robert Devereux became the ageing queen’s last favourite. The young upstart courtier was the stepson of her most famous love, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Although he tried, throughout his life, to live up to his stepfather’s memory, Essex would never be the man he was.

His love for the queen ran in tandem with undercurrents of selfishness and greed. Yet, Elizabeth showered him with affection, gifts and the tolerance only a mother could have for an errant son. In return, for a time, Essex flattered her and pandered to her every whim.

But, one disastrous commission after another befell the earl, from his military campaigns, to voyages seeking treasure, to his stint as spymaster. Ultimately, his relationship with the queen would suffer and his final act of rebellion would force Elizabeth I to ensure her last favourite troubled her no more.

My thoughts on Elizabeth I’s Last Favourite

Read More »

Unofficial Guide To Ancestry.com by Nancy Hendrickson

 

Unofficial Guide to Ancestry

A few years ago, I got the ‘ancestry bug’, an overwhelming desire to find out more about my family tree.  Not knowing where to start, and too impatient to do much reading into the best ways to start a family tree, I signed up to Ancestry.com.

I’m still on there – though my initial energy for finding out more has died down a bit, mainly because there are so many records and so many hints being flagged for me, I feel overwhelmed.

The Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com promises to help people like me find their way around the site and get the most out of their searches, something I think I need if I’m every to finish my family tree.  Read More »

The Skincare Bible by Dr Anjali Mahto

The Skincare BibleI love beauty products.  I can’t help it.  I have a Birchbox subscription and excitedly wait each month to see what samples I’m being sent to change my life, to turn me into the soft, wrinkle-free and glowing beauty I know I am inside.  They never work but it doesn’t stop me trying.

Dr. Anjali Mahto, tries to do just that in The Skincare Bible, or at least make me more aware of what I’m putting on my skin and what is likely to work and what isn’t.  Starting with an introduction to just what the skin is and how it works, it then takes me through all I need to know to deal with a range of skin issues including acne, rosacea, enlarged pores, freckles and liver spots.  Read More »

The Feather Thief by Kirk W. Johnson

The Feather ThiefNon-fiction books are a wonderful way to learn more about the world and the people who live in it.  In The Feather Thief, I learnt more than I thought was possible about the world of fly-fishing, or more specifically fly-tiers who have a passion for Victorian fly tying designs and a commitment to recreating them.

It’s a passion that led to one man, Edwin Rist, breaking into the British Natural History Museum and steal over 200 rare birds specimens.  Scientists consider the specimens priceless.  And, while Rist said that the theft had nothing to do with money and was all about his art, he ended up making thousands of pounds from the brightly coloured feathers he harvested and sold on.Read More »

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Margaret TudorMargaret Tudor was the oldest sister of Henry VIII and the wife of James IV of Scotland.  For someone who is more than a bit fascinated by the Tudors, I realised on seeing this book up for review, I knew nothing about her – something I immediately felt the need to rectify.

What I found was a woman who seemed to be passionate, determined, and unable to not make the wrong choices (so when her husband died, his will said that she would be regent for their baby son as long as she didn’t remarry – which is what she went and did pretty much straight away, spending the next decade then fighting for her right to rule and to see her son).Read More »

Monthly update: November, 2017

Month in review

So this is it, the final countdown to Christmas is one day away – time to dig out the advent calendars and start shopping earnest!  I am officially getting excited (it helps that it has snowed here today, and I love snow).  I’m not sure what the season will do to my reading and blogging but I imagine for a lot of us it will start to slow down as we focus on other things.  November, though was a good reading month (bar a mini-slump half way through).  Here’s what I liked, loved and just weren’t for me this month…Read More »

Queens of Georgian Britain by Catherine Curzon

511nSyVLUYL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_For a history buff, I know very little about Georgian Britain.  I have seen a few TV shows and films but that’s about it. So, in a effort to stretch my brain cells a bit, and increase my knowledge, I picked up a copy of Queens of Georgian Britain by Catherine Curzon, which had the added bonus of being about women embroiled in politics and fighting to gain meaningful power – another favourite subject of mine.

I find it fascinating to see how women were treated and how they were seen if they behaved in any way which saw them stepping outside the norm; it always makes me feel very lucky to be living when I am (though, given recent events, maybe attitudes to women haven’t changed as much as I had thought?).  Read More »

Monthly Update: October, 2017

Month in review

So it’s bye, bye, October and hello November, with the dark nights now fully here and the cold weather making itself known, it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle down with a good book – well, at least it is in my part of the world!  Thankfully, I’ve had some good books this month and have the promise of more to come (yay!).  Here’s what I liked, loved and just weren’t for me this month…Read More »

The Real Guy Fawkes by Nick Holland

This is officially my favourite time of year.  First, you have Halloween.  Then, it’s Bonfire Night.  As a child, living in a small village, we would have a real community bonfire, with potatoes baking in the embers and a small – but perfectly formed – fireworks display.  I don’t know how many of these type of events exist anymore.  Our local bonfire is a huge affair, run by the local council and so many fireworks it makes your head spin.  There is no more baking potatoes – or kids wandering the streets asking for a “penny for the guy” (and how much does a penny get you nowadays?).

For all of this love of Bonfire Night though, I know very little about the man himself – no more than the legend that has grown up around him and the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  Which is why I wanted to read The Real Guy Fawkes by NIck Holland, especially as I was promised the truth about the man behind the myth.Read More »