Women Reading Letters

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window by Johannes Vermeer, 1657

Woman Reading a Letter by Gabriël Metsu, mid-1660s

An Elegantly Dressed Lady Seated at a Table, Reading a Letter by Pierre-Alexandre Wille, 1776

The Letter Print by Vittorio Reggianini

The Letter by Vittorio Reggianini

A Woman Reading A Letter by Francisco De Goya, 1812-14

The Love Letter by Petrus van Schendel

The Love Letter by Alexander Mark Rossi

Woman Reading a Love Letter by Auguste Toulmouche

The St.Valentine letter by Georges van den Bos

Confidences by Carlton Alfred Smith, 1904

Love Letters by Delphin Enjolras

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany

After giving birth to seven children, Queen Victoria didn't look forward to go through all that pain again. So, when on 7 April 1853 she went into labour again and her doctor suggested the use of chloroform, the Queen was only too willing to try it. Thanks to the anaesthesia, the birth of her son Leopold caused her considerably less pain, and she became a staunch advocate of this new, controversial practice. The medical establishment of the time, convinced that God wanted women to excruciatingly suffer during childbirth, were horrified. But the Queen knew better, and would use chloroform again during her next and last delivery too.

Although the birth of Prince Leopold George Duncan Albert was easy, the rest of his life would be plagued by ill health. Shortly after his second birth, the little prince showed signs of hemophilia, and even suffered from occasional epileptic seizures. This obviously worried his parents exceedingly. Albert, and especially, Victoria, wanted to protect him and keep him safe. But Prince Leopold wasn't having it. He was lively, active, and adventurous, and wanted to live his life to the full, which would often lead to wounds that, albeit small, required bed rest and took a long time to heal.

An intelligent boy, Leopold wanted to attend Oxford. With the help of his brothers, he got his wish, although he was never allowed to complete a full course of study, but had to make due with a honorary degree. Still, the prince enjoyed the university life and made a lot friends. One of these was Alice Liddell, who inspired Alice in Wonderland. His cleverness, though, meant that he was prone to argue. As a result, he never got along too well with his mother.

This didn't prevent the Queen from employing her argumentative son as her private secretary, a job that allowed him the opportunity to frequently meet with ministers and that he came to love. But there was a part of the job he hated. Being at her mother's disposal, always available whenever she needed him really grated on him. He wanted to break free, become independent, and get married.

It took a lot of persuasion, but the Queen eventually consented. Getting the consent of an eligible marriageable princess was just as arduous. Because of his illness, poor Leopold was rejected by a few before Princess Helen of Waldeck-Pyrmont agreed to marry him. The couple tied the knot in 1882. Although when they married they barely knew each other, they soon grew to love, and became very devoted to, each other. The following year, Helen gave birth to a child, Alice.

Unfortunately, Leopold didn't get to spend a lot of time with his beloved family. In March 1884, he went, alone (his wife was pregnant and couldn't travel) to the south of France, something he always did to escape the cold English winters. While there, he slipped, bruising his knee and hitting his head. That night, he died. The cause is unclear, but the most likely explanation is that he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. Four months later, Helen gave birth to their second child, a boy named Charles Edward.

Further reading:
Queen Victoria's Children by John Van der Kiste
Queen Victoria's Youngest Son: The Untold Story of Prince Leopold by Charlotte Zeepvat

Twenty Hints To Strangers On Their First Arrival In Paris 1830

Before travelling abroad, it is always good to do your research. That way, you'll be sure to see everything worthy of a visit, avoid unnecessary trouble, and know what to do should you have any problems. In the pre-internet era, travel guides were one of the best sources for all this information. Here's the advice one gave to British people eager to visit the French capital in 1830:

1. Be careful of being out in the streets after the shops are closed, nor prolong your stay at the Cafe, or Restaurateurs till you are in danger of describing something more than a straight line in walking to your hotel.

2. Never join a crowd in the street, nor answer the questions of those who stop you at a late hour under pretext of enquiring the time,—the pickpockets of Europe are not confined to London.

3. Ask some French friend to shew you the morgue in the morning, and to give you the history, —you will never pass the quays after dark.

4. Always notice and remember the number of the cabriolet or fiacre which you may hire, even when you have not any thing with you which you are in danger of leaving behind.

5. Never make an unnecessary display of your present riches in a Cafe or other house of entertainment.

6. If you have lost your road, enter some respectable shop for the purpose of making the necessary enquiries; you will always be politely directed. If, with this precaution, you cannot readily find your way home, and no coaches are at hand, request the master or mistress of the house or shop to allow some one to conduct you—a franc is often well bestowed on such a guide; never, on any account, make these enquiries in the street or at a public-house.

7. If wantonly insulted or molested in the street, knock the party down (if you can), and, in nine instances out of ten, you may walk on without interruption.

8. Be careful that the charms of your blanchisseuse (washerwoman) do not cause you to neglect the necessary inspection of your linen on its return from the wash—changes are not always for the best.

9. Beware of purchasing dearly, cheap bargains at the perambulating shops which infest the Boulevards.

10. Never be tempted to enter the gaming-room, even out of curiosity; many a young man has been ruined by "only just taking a peep to see how they play."

11. Pay your bill at your hotel weekly.

12. Talk not of politics in France, it is not political.

13. Leave every thing under lock and key when you go out.

14. Be cautious of forming indiscriminate acquaintances, even with your own countrymen, in France.

15. If you are a man of large fortune, do as you like; if not, dine not at Very's, and be content with apartments on the third or fourth story of your hotel.

16. Make your purchases for home at the best shops,—they are the cheapest in the end.

17. In travelling post, be cautious of answering or accepting the offers of advertising companions.

18. Always carry your passport or license of residence in your pocket.

19. Make a point of seeing the following places before you quit Paris :—

The Interiour of the Tuileries,
The Exteriour of the Morgue,
The Louvre,
The Chamber of Peers,
The Chamber of Deputies,
The several Fountains,
The Hospital of Invalids,
The Gobelins,
The Cathedral of Notre-dame,
The Garden of Plants,
The several Gates of Paris,
The Flower and other Markets, especially the Corn Market,
The Place Vendome,
All the Bridges,
The Catacombs (if not of a nervous habit),
The Canal de 'Ourcq,
The Floating Baths,
The Swimming Schools,
The public Libraries,
The Deaf and Dumb Institution,
The Blind ditto,
The Museum of French Monuments,
The Luxembourg Gallery,
All the Theatres,
Some of the Balls,
The Porcelain manufactory, and a thousand other things, which the preceding list is sufficient to make you acquainted with, though it seems a paradox.

20. Recommend this little Manual to all your friends and acquaintance.

Further reading:
A Guide to France, Explaining Every Form and Expense from London to Paris

Book Reviews: The Financially Confident Woman, The Self-made Billionaire Effect, Sticky Branding, & The Curious One

Hello everyone,

are you wondering what I've been reading recently? Read on:

The Financially Confident Woman: What You Need to Know to Take Charge of Your Money by Mary Hunt
Like most women, Mary Hunt was told that it was the man's job to take care of the finances. She never worried where the money came from, and she and her husband kept spending everything they earned, until they found themselves deep into debt. That's when Mary decided to turn her life around. In this book, she shares her journey and the techniques she used to finally take control of her finances, get out of debt, and develop good money habits.
According to Mary, women's biggest problem is a lack of confidence. They see money as something bad and learn to delegate all financial matters to the men in their lives. They simply aren't comfortable dealing with it on their own. But, unless they want to get deep into trouble, it is essential that they learn how to manage it themselves. After debunking the most common myths about women and money, Hunt shares the nine habits of a finally confident woman. They include giving, saving, becoming an investor, preparing for emergencies, and more.
Hunt also shares a six-week plan of action that'll allow you to implement her advice easily, and keep you on the right track. At the end of the book, you'll also find a glossary with all the most important financial terms you need to be familiar with to be able to make the best decisions money-wise.
Although none of her advice is new or ground-breaking, it is still valuable and useful. Her personal experiences makes this an honest and refreshing read. You'll be able to relate to her story and learn money management without being bored or preached to. I highly recommend it to all women who are struggling financially.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

The Self-made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value by John Sviokla, Mitch Cohen
Steve Jobs. Michael Bloomberg. Steve Case. They are just some of the entrepreneurs that became self-made billionaires when they left the corporations they worked for (and had even founded) before and built one or more businesses. Businesses that are now some of the most popular brands around. Why did this happen? What traits do these people have in common? And what would have happened if they had stayed in their previous jobs? How can corporations recognize and nurture, rather than kick out, these men and women?
In their study on self-made billionaires, John Sviokla and Mitch Kohen answer these questions and more. Drawing on research, studies, and personal interviews, the authors are able to debunk common myths about self-made billionaires, such as that they're smarter, luckier, and take more dangerous risks. Instead, their success, the authors argue, is due to their Producer mentality.
Corporations usually reward employees with a Performer mentality. They are people who specialize in one area, get really good at it, are able to meet the goals set by their bosses, and conform to the way things have always been done. Producers, on the other hand, are disruptors. Armed with creativity, imagination, and good judgement, they are able to think up new products, strategies, and business models. They don't do things the way they've always been done, but are constantly trying to come up with new and better ways to do them.
A corporation, to succeed, needs both performers and producers. If you are a business executive, this book will teach you how to recognize performers and help them thrive, so that they'll put their talents at your service and make your corporation even more successful. But it's also a great read for entrepreneurs. To them this guide will provide some valuable insights on what traits and talents they need to develop to create successful businesses. Engaging, informative, and inspirational, this is a must read for business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Sticky Branding: 12.5 Ways to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand by Jeremy Miller
Every business, no matter how small, is a brand. And, to succeed and thrive, that brand must become "sticky", instantly recognizable by your consumer. Think that's something only big corporations with massive budget can afford? This book will prove you wrong. It will teach techniques that even more business operating locally can use to make an impact in their marketplaces.
These strategies includes figuring out what your mission and values are, who your customers are and need, engage their eyes with your marketing, over-deliver on your promises and more.
Each chapter is full of tips, backed up by personal experiences and case studies, and exercises that will help you put the advice in practice so you can create a brand, and a business, that keeps making old clients come back again and again and always attracts new ones. Sometimes, this will mean making big changes in your company, such as change its culture, values, and even offerings, but the pain will be worth it. One example cited in the book is a logistics company that transitioned from a general company to an industry leader in retail and fashion. It was a long process that took 18 months, and involved turning away some of their clients and look for new ones, and even layoffs, but now the company is thriving and more successful than ever.
Sticky Branding doesn't promise you overnight success, but, if you follow its tips, you will create a business that attracts more customers, inspires employees, earns more and won't be badly affected by the competition. Engaging, honest, and easy-to-read, I highly recommend it to all business owners who want to make their brands sticky.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

The Curious One: From Food Stamps to CEO - One Woman's Journey through Struggle, Tragedy, Success and Love by Chelsea Berler
I love biographies. In particular, biographies of female entrepreneurs who have overcome difficult odds to create successful businesses and live life on their own terms. Even if you're not interested in becoming an entrepreneur yourself, these women possess qualities such as resilience, confidence, and intuition that anyone should develop, and that helped them take on hard challenges and make their dreams come true. Their stories are inspirational and motivational.
So, I was eager to read the story of Chelsea Berler, a young woman who often felt judged for being curious and different. Her childhood wasn't easy. So many bad things happened to her while she was still very young that some would consider it a miracle that she was able to function at all, let alone become a successful business owner married to her soulmate. But she did it. It took a lot of work, mistakes, and confidence in herself, but now Chelsea is the CEO of a marketing agency that supports businesses around the world, and a successful author who inspires people to live life on their own terms. And her passion for it shines through every page of the book.
Problem is, I didn't find her style of writing very inspirational. The book is very short, and thus feel very rushed. Each chapter only skims the surface of her life, never analysing things in depth. As such, if you're feeling sorry for yourself and unhappy with your life, and just need to know that you too have what it takes to turn your life around, you'll find this book inspiring. But if you're looking for practical tips on what to do to make that happen, then the book falls short. Had it been longer, and provided more information, it would have been a much better read.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 3/5

What do you think of these books?

Disclaimer: this book was sent by PR for consideration. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.

5 Fashion Trends Inspired By The French Revolution

Once the Terror was finally over, the survivors felt the need to celebrate and live life to the full. The following years were marked by an outbreak of luxury, decadence, and even silliness. But the past couldn't be easily forgotten.

Perhaps it was the need to exorcise it that prompted many women to create and wear fashions inspired by the Terror. These women were called Merveilleuses and, among their leaders, were fashion trendsetters Theresia Tallien and Rose de Beauharnais, both of which had narrowly escaped the guillotine thanks to Robespierre’s fall.

Here are five of the Terror inspired trends they made popular:

A lot of victims, including Marie Antoinette, went to their deaths dressed in plain white dresses and chemises. After the Terror, white muslin and gauze gowns, low cut and almost transparent, became very popular. Some women, to make the loose dresses better adhere to their curves, liked to damp them with water! Others finished off the look with a generous dusting of white powder to their faces and decolletes to look like corpses or ghosts.

This trend was inspired by the tragic execution of Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe, who was condemned with her family on trumped up charges of murder. They were accused of plotting to kill Robespierre, but it was their royalist sympathies that sealed their fate. At their execution, Emilie and her family wore red, the colour of murderers, or would be murderers. Her beauty and her courage made an impression on the crowd and soon, women started sporting red scarves.

To facilitate the truculent job of the guillotine's blade, victims' hair was cut short. The practice inspired the coiffure à la Titus, a hairdo that was long at the front but cut very short at the nape of the neck. Tendrils of hair were, with the use of scented pomades, messed up for a chic, dishevelled look.

White muslin gowns and scarves loosely wrapped around their bodies were reminiscent of the tunics worn by the ancient Greeks and Romans. So it was only natural that shoes followed the same trend. Greek-style sandals, tied above the ankle with either crossed ribbons or, if you were wealthy, a string of pearls, became all the rage.

The award for the most macabre and distasteful trend inspired by the Terror was the thin red chocker. Made of ribbon (if you were poor) or rubies (if you were rich), it was meant to imitate the droplets of blood around a severed head!

What do you think of these trends? Would you have worn them?

Interview With Greer Macallister, Author Of The Magician's Lie

It's a great pleasure today that I welcome to HAOT Greer Macallister, the author of The Magician's Lie. Raised in the Midwest but now living on the East Coast with her family, Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist! She has just published her first novel, which tells the story of the Amazing Arden, a female illusionist accused of killing her husband. She has just one night to convince a police officer of her innocence. Will she succeed?

To find out what inspired Macallister to write The Magician's Lie, what's next for her, and a lot more, read on:

1. What inspired you to write The Magician's Lie?
I was inspired by an absence. I realized one day that I’d seen countless references to a male magician cutting a woman in half, but never once seen anything about a female magician cutting a man in half. The image of stage magicians in our culture is almost completely male-dominated, but as with other male-dominated fields, there were definitely women who carved out their place in that world, against the odds. So I wanted to write about a female magician whose most famous illusion involved cutting a man in half, and decided to set it in a time when that would have been almost unbelievably shocking. The late 1890s and early 1900s turned out to be just the right setting.

2. Have you always been fascinated by magicians and illusionists? If so, why? Or was it just a coincidence that you ended up writing about one?
I do find magicians fascinating, although much of that is because of the parallel with writers – we’re creating something out of nothing, and we’re trying to get the audience (or reader) to care about something that they absolutely know isn’t true. If we do our jobs, people believe us even though they know we’re lying. It takes a special kind of talent to pull that off – a talent which I definitely don’t have in the stage magic department, but I hope I’ve been able to do with my words. That I ended up getting to explore the parallel between magic and fiction by writing a novel about an illusionist was kind of a happy accident.

3. Part of the story is based in Janesville, the Midwest city you grew up in. What has changed, and has anything stayed the same, since 1905, when the Amazing Arden visited it?
Because of the way the book is structured – many of the Janesville scenes are set in the police station, with just two characters present – readers don’t get to see a whole lot of the Janesville of the time. I can tell you one thing that’s absolutely the same, though: when I was growing up there, our police department was a single officer. That’s key to why I set the story up the way I did. Virgil Holt, who captures and interrogates The Amazing Arden, is the only police officer in the town. I wanted Virgil to be completely alone, and that makes him do all sorts of things he might not otherwise do.

4. Have you made any fascinating discoveries while doing your research that didn't make it into the book?
I tried to pack as much of the fascinating stuff into the actual pages as I could! But there was so much about Adelaide Herrmann that just didn’t fit. If I was going to keep the book focused on Arden, I couldn’t get distracted with Adelaide’s real exploits, but there were many. Especially in the time before she enters Arden’s story, when she was traveling with her husband as his assistant. She was doing things that women of the time just didn’t do, like performing at the Russian court, and getting fired out of a cannon in South America. Totally crazy stuff.

5. What was most enjoyable, and what instead more difficult, about writing The Magician's Lie?
I loved picking out historical details to include, and using them to draw readers into the world of the book. The way New York City would have smelled, for example. What dishes would have been served to visitors at the Biltmore. Real illusions that were done onstage at the time. I really love how historical fiction can just take you away to a time and place you know nothing about, and as a writer, I enjoyed creating that experience. As far as what was more difficult, there’s a not very nice central character in The Magician’s Lie, and spending time in his head was pretty unpleasant. You want your villains to be as richly imagined and three-dimensional as your heroes, but in order to do that, you need to think like they think. And that’s not always fun.

6. What is your writing process like?
Oh, it’s a mess. I tend to write a really fast first draft and then spend epic amounts of time revising it. And I’m not talking little revisions, either – throwing out thousands of words, ditching characters, inventing new ways to get from point A to point B, moving revelations from Chapter 20 to Chapter 2. It’s a very sloppy way to write a very structured book. I’m hoping I’ve learned enough to not do it next time, but we’ll see.

7. If you could invite three people, dead or alive, to dinner, who would you invite and why?
I’m absolutely paralyzed by choice if I let myself consider the whole wide-open field, so let me tell you which three magicians I’d invite to dinner. First, Neil Patrick Harris, because he is hilarious and sharp-witted and because I will never get over Doogie Howser, M.D. Also, Adelaide Herrmann, because she was so ahead of her time as a female stage magician, I’d love to ask her about her adventures, and I also want to know how much of her memoir is fact vs. fiction. Third, I’d invite Ricky Jay, who is an amazing sleight-of-hand magician who absolutely blew my mind when I saw him perform a few years ago. I’m sure he wouldn’t tell me any of the secrets of his act but I could just watch in rapture.

8. And, finally, what's next for you?
Right now it’s mostly the planes, trains and automobiles of book tour, which I’m really enjoying. It’s wonderful to get to talk to real readers about the book after having it be just mine for so long. Book two is coming along – some of that plane and train time is good for writing – and hopefully it won’t be another five years before we see that one on the shelves. But I’m deep into the research and having a great time.

Thank you Greer!

You can purchase The Magician's Lie on Amazon. You can also keep up with Macallister on her blog and on twitter.

Pauline Fourès, Napoleon's First Mistress

During the first years of their marriage, an infatuated Napoleon constantly begged his wife to accompany him on campaign trips, be they in the lively city of Milan or the unforgivable deserts of Egypt. Josephine always refused. She didn't want to leave her comforts, her friends, her fun, and her lovers in Paris, to go on a boring campaign trip with a husband she wasn't that fond of. Much better to stay behind, in the arms of the dashing and elegant Hussar lieutenant Hippolyte Charles.

It wasn't long before one of Napoleon's siblings, all of which hated Josephine, told him what she was up to when he was away. Napoleon was devastated. And furious. He soon decided to take a mistress too. But who? He was in Egypt at the time, and the plump and voluptuous local women weren't to his taste, which leant towards tall and slender figures. Then, one day, as he was taking a stroll though the Tivoli gardens he had had created in Cairo to please his officers, he saw a beautiful young woman playing a game of cards. Her name was Pauline Foures.

Pauline shouldn't have been there. An ex-milliner, she had married the soldier Jean-Noel Foures and, when told she couldn't accompany him to Egypt (no soldier’s wife was allowed to come), she simply put on an uniform and hid on board the ship La Ducette, which was headed to Alexandria. Only when she arrived safe and sound at her destination, she discarded her disguised and donned dresses again. Her courage and audacious spirit quickly gained her many fans. Everyone loved Pauline, and no one was surprised when she caught Napoleon's eye.

Napoleon started sending the beautiful Pauline many gifts, and even had many officers plead his cause, but she always refused him. So, he took a more drastic measure. He sent her husband away on some mission, so that he wouldn't spoil their fun. Then, he invited Pauline to lunch. While they were eating, Napoleon "accidentally" spilled some water over Pauline, and took her to another room to fix the mess. But when they returned, Pauline was even more dishevelled than before. It was clear to anyone what had happened between the two.

The next day, Pauline moved into her own private villa, where she and Napoleon could spend a lot of time together, away from prying eyes. It was no secret, though, that they were having an affair. Pauline, dressed in a general's uniform, her hair tied up with a tricolour sash, was often seen riding beside him. She also acted as hostess when he received dignitaries and officers. She soon gained the nicknames of La Generale and Cleopatre.

But Jean-Noel Foures, who during his mission had been briefly captured by the English, couldn't stay away for long. When he returned, he was furtious to discover his wife had become Napoleon's mistress. He threw a scene, demanding she leave Napoleon, but she refused, and declared she wanted a divcorce instead. Everything moved quickly when Napoleon was in charge and, just a few days later, Pauline had her divorce. She was now Napelon's official mistress.

But her reign only lasted two more months. Then, Napoleon went off to Syria with his troops, leaving Pauline behind. Although he wrote her passionate love letters, and the two hooked up again when he returned, things between them just were never the same again. Napoleon wanted to return to France. Alone. When Pauline said goodbye to Napoleon in August 1799, she didn't know she would never see him again.

Before leaving, Napoleon entrusted Pauline to the care of General Kleber, and the two soon became lovers. Pauline arrived in Paris a year later and tried to see Napoleon, but he always refused. Although at the time of their affair, he had hoped that rumours of it would reach the unfaithful Josephine's ears, the couple had now reconciled and Napoleon wanted no trouble. But he granted her an allowance and a house on the outskirts of Paris.

Pauline would never cease to scandalise polite society. She smoked, took her dog into church, and read the Paris gazettes sitting outside the door of her solicitor. During the Russian campaign, she was sent to the provinces for being too friendly with some Russian aristocrats. Under the Restoration, she frequently travelled to South America, where she sold furniture made in France and bought precious woods. Once her fortune was restored, she returned to France permanently. Pauline was a decent painter who loved to collect art, and also wrote three novels Lord Wenworth (1813), Aloïze de Mespres. Nouvelle tirée des chroniques du XIIeme siècle (1814), and Une chatelaine du XIIeme siècle (1834). She died in March 1869.

The Execution of Louis XVI

On this day in 1793, King Louis XVI went to his death. He was accompanied by his confessor, the Abbe Edgeworth. Here's his account of the execution:

"The King, finding himself seated in the carriage, where he could neither speak to me nor be spoken to without witness, kept a profound silence. I presented him with my breviary, the only book I had with me, and he seemed to accept it with pleasure: he appeared anxious that I should point out to him the psalms that were most suited to his situation, and he recited them attentively with me. The gendarmes, without speaking, seemed astonished and confounded at the tranquil piety of their monarch, to whom they doubtless never had before approached so near.

The procession lasted almost two hours; the streets were lined with citizens, all armed, some with pikes and some with guns, and the carriage was surrounded by a body of troops, formed of the most desperate people of Paris. As another precaution, they had placed before the horses a number of drums, intended to drown any noise or murmur in favour of the King; but how could they be heard? Nobody appeared either at the doors or windows, and in the street nothing was to be seen, but armed citizens - citizens, all rushing towards the commission of a crime, which perhaps they detested in their hearts.

The carriage proceeded thus in silence to the Place de Louis XV, and stopped in the middle of a large space that had been left round the scaffold: this space was surrounded with cannon, and beyond, an armed multitude extended as far as the eye could reach. As soon as the King perceived that the carriage stopped, he turned and whispered to me, 'We are arrived, if I mistake not.' My silence answered that we were. One of the guards came to open the carriage door, and the gendarmes would have jumped out, but the King stopped them, and leaning his arm on my knee, 'Gentlemen,' said he, with the tone of majesty, 'I recommend to you this good man; take care that after my death no insult be offered to him - I charge you to prevent it.'…

As soon as the King had left the carriage, three guards surrounded him, and would have taken off his clothes, but he repulsed them with haughtiness- he undressed himself, untied his neckcloth, opened his shirt, and arranged it himself. The guards, whom the determined countenance of Louis and Queen of France the King had for a moment disconcerted, seemed to recover their audacity. They surrounded him again, and would have seized his hands. 'What are you attempting?' said the King, drawing back his hands. 'To bind you,' answered the wretches. 'To bind me,' said the King, with an indignant air. 'No! I shall never consent to that: do what you have been ordered, but you shall never bind me. . .'

The path leading to the scaffold was extremely rough and difficult to pass; the King was obliged to lean on my arm, and from the slowness with which he proceeded, I feared for a moment that his courage might fail; but what was my astonishment, when arrived at the last step, I felt that he suddenly let go my arm, and I saw him cross with a firm foot the breadth of the whole scaffold; silence, by his look alone, fifteen or twenty drums that were placed opposite to me; and in a voice so loud, that it must have been heard in the Pont Tournant, I heard him pronounce distinctly these memorable words: 'I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France.'

He was proceeding, when a man on horseback, in the national uniform, and with a ferocious cry, ordered the drums to beat. Many voices were at the same time heard encouraging the executioners. They seemed reanimated themselves, in seizing with violence the most virtuous of Kings, they dragged him under the axe of the guillotine, which with one stroke severed his head from his body. All this passed in a moment. The youngest of the guards, who seemed about eighteen, immediately seized the head, and showed it to the people as he walked round the scaffold; he accompanied this monstrous ceremony with the most atrocious and indecent gestures. At first an awful silence prevailed; at length some cries of 'Vive la Republique!' were heard. By degrees the voices multiplied and in less than ten minutes this cry, a thousand times repeated became the universal shout of the multitude, and every hat was in the air."

Book Reviews: The Magician's Lie, The Kennedy Wives, Van Gogh A Power Seething, & Once Upon A Time

Hello everyone,

ready for this week's reviews? Read on:

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister
The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day. Her most notorious trick? Sawing a man in half. But, one night, rather than a saw, she uses a fire axe. A few hours later, her husband is found dead. When police officer Virgil Holt happens upon her as she's fleeing later that night, her guilt seems certain. But has she really done the horrible deed? Arden has only one night to convince Holt of her innocence and regain her freedom. Her only hope is to tell him her story. Her whole story. It's a fascinating but chilling story full of twists and turns, and a dark secret she's ready to lie for. Although a bit slow at first, her story captivates you, like it has captivated Holt, and you won't be able to put the book down until you know exactly what happened to Arden's husband, and what fate will befall her.
The story goes back and forth as Arden reminisces about her past and Virgil tries to get her to talk about the present and the murder. Yet, it never felt confusing. The reader always knows what's happening, when, and to whom. On the contrary, the flashbacks give us plenty of insights on Arden, on who she is, how she became an illusionist, and why she acts the way she does. Although strong and clever, at times her fear and vulnerability get the best of her and cause her to make the wrong choices. But that just makes Arden more relatable. Like all the other characters, she's well-rounded and developed. The only exception is Ray, the psychopathic villain. He's a bit too one-dimensional.
The story is also well-researched. I especially loved reading about how the illusions and magic tricks worked and how they were carried out on stage. The attention to detail is wonderful and make the world the characters inhabit come alive.
Overall, this is a beautiful, quite creative debut. I highly recommend it to those who love a good historical mystery novel with a magical element.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

The Kennedy Wives: Triumph and Tragedy in America's Most Public Family by Amber Hunt and David Batcher
The Kennedys are the most famous and fascinating family in the US. Blessed with power, wealth, political influence, and charm, they were, however, struck by a series of tragedies that shook not just the family but the whole world. The women who married into the family lived a privileged and glamorous life, but they paid a high price for it. They had to put up with their husbands' infidelities and the intrusion of the press, and do their fair share of work during electoral campaigns.
Rose, married to Joe Kennedy, was the matriarch of the family. Her incredible inner-strength, toughness, and faith allowed her to deal with everything life threw her way, such as her husband's loss of reputation in the UK during the Second World War, the mental disability of one daughter, and the deaths of four of her children. Ethel, Bobby's wife, was a tomboy and a bit of a rebel. She loved throwing parties and having a good time, but was also a devoted mother to her 11 children. Her and Bobby had a true partnership, and she was very supportive of his work. Jackie, the most famous of the Kennedy wives, charmed, with her elegance, graceful manners, and penchant for languages, everyone she met. She restored the White House to its former glory and forged the myth of Camelot when her husband died. Joan was the most beautiful, but also most fragile, of the Kennedy wives. Her husband Teddy's philandering awakened her insecurities, causing her to find solace in the bottle. She bravely tried her best to overcome her alcoholism, but her marriage didn't survive. She and Teddy divorced, and he remarried to a much younger woman, Vickie. Despite their age difference, the clever and supportive Vickie was the perfect wife for Ted, and she took great care of him during his last years.
The book is quite short and straight to the point. Although they don't delve too deeply into their lives, the authors skilfully and vividly bring to life the essences of these women, their strengths and their weaknesses, what made them tick, and the influence they had on the Kennedy family and American history. It's fast-paced, informative, and very engaging.
If you are already very familiar, with these women I doubt you'll discover anything new in this book. But if you want an introduction to the Kennedy wives, this is a great place to start.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Van Gogh: A Power Seething by Julian Bell
Van Gogh is one of the most famous painters in history. The rough beauty and bold colours of his works shocked the world, never gaining him the recognition he deserved in life. And then there's his madness. He's just as famous for that as he is for his paintings.
If Van Gogh has always fascinated you, but you don't feel like delving into a 800 pages long, super detailed biography, you should pick up a copy of Van Gogh A Power Seething by Julian Bell. This short volume covers all the most important events in the painter's life and captures the principles of his artworks, providing lots of interesting insights, all drawn and backed up by Vincent's words (he was a prolific letter writer as well) on both. It is also a very moving account. Van Gogh didn't have an easy life and, at times, just thinking about what he went through can bring a tear to your eyes.
The book is fast-paced and a quick read. Bell is a painter, not a writer, so while his style may sometimes be a bit convoluted and not all that elegant, his love for Van Gogh's work shines through every page. That alone makes this a joy to read.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 3.5/5

Once Upon A Time: A Short History Of Fairy Tale by Marina Warner
Beautiful princess, wicked stepmothers, monsters, magical objects, talking animals... fairy tales have all the ingredients to enchant both children and adults alike. It's no wonder that these fantastic stories are evergreen, passed down from generation to generation, changing and losing or acquiring new details in each retelling.
But what is a fairy tale? Where do they come from? Those are the questions I thought Marina Warner was gonna answer in her new book, Once Upon A Time. And she does. Briefly. Most of the book is not dedicated to the history of fairy tales at all, but to their analysis. She discusses the main characters and events in fairy tales, the role magic has in them, the reason why they were created and the messages they convey, and they way different times and epochs have put their stamp on the genre. The fairytale genre really exploded during the Victorian era, when these stories were aimed at children. It was then criticized, in the past century, by feminists who thought they were sending the wrong messages to young girls and boys. They are now being reclaimed by adults in new movies and musicals with ever darker overtones.
Because the book is more of a critical analysis of the genre than a history of fairy tales, Warner rarely backs up her claims. For instance, she claims that female characters get maimed in fairy tales more often than male ones, but you'll have to take her word for it. And that's not the only missed occasion for an in-depth analysis. The book, albeit full of fascinating insights, is overall quite shallow, skimming only the surface of the topic. The fairy tales mentioned in the book are mostly of Western origin too, and not all of them are well-know, which can be confusing for the casual reader. On the plus side, you'll discover lots of new fairy tales to read.
Despite its shortcomings, Once Upon A Time is a nice introduction to fairy tales. Those with a budding interest in the topic will find it more enjoyable than fairytale enthusiasts. The latter won't likely find anything new in this short book. It is a joy to read, though. Warner's passion for fairy tales is infectious and can be clearly felt in every page of the book.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 3.5/5

Are you going to read one or more of these books?

Disclaimer: this book was sent by PR for consideration. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.

Marie Antoinette's Adopted Children

Marie Antoinette loved children. She couldn't wait to have a bunch of her own, and the lack of intimacy, and therefore children, in her marriage must have been very hard for her to bear. But she found other ways to be a "mother". When she first arrived at Versailles, she often asked her ladies-in-waiting to bring their children with them. The 15 year old dauphine grew particularly close to a 5 year old boy and his 12 year old sister, the children of Madame de Misery, chief femme de chambre.

The children, and Marie Antoinette's pets, livened up her apartments and life. They played noisy games, breaking furniture and tearing clothes in the mayhem. Not everyone was a fan. Count Mercy, the Austrian ambassador at the French court certainly wasn't. He believed Marie Antoinette should occupy herself with more important and seemly matters. Never mind that Marie Antoinette was still a child herself, and one whose education had been seriously neglected and who now found herself out of her depth when talking to most adults at court. No wonder she enjoyed the company of children more, but their fun and games were eventually put an end to.

A few years later, she decided to adopt less fortunate children. The first was called Armand (or Jacques). Madame Campan remembers him in her memoirs:

A little village boy, four or five years old, full of health with a pleasing countenance, remarkably large blue eyes, and fine light hair, got under the feet of the Queen's horses when she was taking an airing in a calash, through the hamlet of St. Michel, near Louveciennes. The coachman and postilions stopped the horses, and the child was rescued without the slightest injury. Its grandmother rushed out of the door of her cottage to take it; but the Queen, standing up in her calash and extending her arms, called out that the child was hers, and that destiny had given it to her, to console her, no doubt, until she should had the happiness of having one herself.

"Is his mother alive?" asked the Queen. "No, Madame; my daughter died last winter, and left five small children upon my hands." "I will take this one, and provide for all the rest.; "Do you consent?" "Ah, Madame, they are too fortunate," replied the cottager; "but Jacques is a bad boy. I hope he will stay with you!" The Queen, taking little Jacques upon her knee, said that she would make him used to her, and gave orders to proceed. It was necessary, however, to shorten the drive, so violently did Jacques, scream and kick the Queen and her ladies. The arrival of her ladies at her apartments at Versailles astonished the whole household; he cried out with intolerable shrillness that he wanted his grandmother, his brother, Louis, and his sister, Marianne; nothing could calm him.

He was taken away by the wife of a servant, who was appointed to attend him as a nurse. The other children were put to school. Little Jacques, whose family name was Armand, came back to the Queen two days afterwards; a white frock trimmed with lace, a rose-colored sash with silver fringe, and a hat decorated with feathers, were now substituted for the woolen cap, the little red frock, and the wooden shoes. The child was really very beautiful. The Queen was enchanted with him; he was brought to her every morning at nine o'clock; he breakfasted and dined with her, and often even with the King.

She like to call him my child and lavished caresses upon him, still maintaining a deep silence responding the regrets which constantly occupied her heart. The child remained with the Queen until the time when Madame was old enough to come home to her august mother, who had particularly taken upon herself the care of her education. This little unfortunate was nearly twenty in 1792; the incendiary endeavors of the people, and the fear of being thought a favored creature of the Queen, had made him a most sanguinary terrorist of Versailles. He was killed at the battle of Jemmapes.

It is unclear much of this story was embellished, but the basic facts are true. Marie Antoinette took care of Armand until her first child, Marie Therese, was born, and then continued to fund his education. She also took an interest in the rest of his family. His brother Denis was given a musical education and became cellist to the King, while his two sisters were given an allowance and were left with a large sum of money after the Queen's death.

Marie Antoinette continued to adopt children even after she became a mother herself. The next child was a girl, Marie Phillippine Camriquet. Renamed Ernestine, she was the daughter of one of Marie Therese's maids. The Queen chose her as a young companion for her daughter. At first, Ernestine would come to the palace to spend the day with Marie Therese and then return home, but when her mother died in 1788, she moved into the young princess' apartments. She was dressed similarly to Marie Therese, was given the same toys, and the same lessons.

In 1790, one of Louis’ gentlemen ushers and his wife died. When Marie Antoinette heard of it, she instantly decided to take care of their three daughters. The two eldest were sent to a convent. The younger, Jeanne Louise Victoire, who was 3 like the Dauphin, was installed in the royal apartments and became his companion. She was also renamed Zoe.

Three years previously, another boy had joined her household. The Chevalier de Boufflers had just returned from Senegal and presented the Queen with a parrot and a young boy. Usually, such boys entered the service of the people they were gifted to, but Marie Antoinette had other ideas. After having him baptized and renamed Jean Amilcar, she asked one of the houseboys to look after him. When the royal family was forced, during the revolution, to abandon Versailles for the Tuileries, Jean Amilcar was placed in an institution for children at Saint-Cloud.

Marie Antoinette paid for his upkeep there. It is said that, when the Queen couldn't afford to send him money anymore, the poor boy was cast out of the institution and died of starvation on the streets. The girls had a better fate. Zoe joined her older sisters at the convent, where she eventually took the vows. She died there during the restoration. Ernestine remained with the royal family until the fall of the monarchy and their subsequent imprisonment.

The girl's father was guillotined during the Terror, but Ernestine survived the revolution. When Marie Therese was finally freed from prison and allowed to go to Austria, she wanted her young friend to go with her, but she couldn't be found. The princess never forgot her friend and, when her family was restored to the throne of France, looked for her again. Unfortunately, by then it was too late. Ernestine had died a few months before.

Further reading:
Marie Antoinette by Philippe and Marguerite Jallut Huisman
Tea At Trianon
Memoirs Of The Court Of Marie Antoinette by Madame Campan

Movie Review: Lost In Austen


I am a stickler for accuracy. That's especially true when it comes to movies taken from or inspired by my favourite books, such as Pride & Prejudice. That's why it took me a long, long time to sit down and watch Lost In Austen, an insane movie (originally a TV series) about Amanda, a fellow Janeite, who suddenly finds herself in the world of Pride & Prejudice, swapping places with Elizabeth Bennett. Sadly, I wish I hadn't bothered.

I was warned that, to enjoy it, you really need to suspend all disbelief. But I was able to do so only to a certain extent. I could accept, although only barely, the travel details. Finding a door in your bathroom that leads to the world depicted in a book doesn't make any sense whatsoever, but then what time travel trick does? You must take a leap of faith to believe and enjoy these stories.

What I found a lot less believable was Amanda herself. Here is a girl, we are told, who has read Pride & Prejudice a thousand times and yet, once she finds herself in that world, she keeps making one mistake after another. It's true that a lot of things are different, that the "plot" don't exactly go forward as Austen planned, and that the characters aren't very cooperative, behaving very differently from how we expect them to (they have no idea they are in a book after all).

But, you'd think that someone who has read the book so many times would at least know how to speak in 19th century English and have a basic knowledge of Regency manners. Apparently not. She tries, but fails miserably most of the time. She also keeps mumblings about how things aren't going as they are supposed to, and how this person should end up married to that other person and so on, making me wonder why none of the other characters never summoned a doctor or something. I can't blame Mrs Bennet for thinking that Amanda was some sort of contagious illness. She doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

I found it even more unbelievable that Mr Darcy should fall for Amanda. Mr Darcy wasn't particularly fond of Elizabeth at first, but her devotion to her family, her upright character, and her wit eventually won him over. Amanda, every time they meet, either behaves like a lunatic or lies to him. And yet he falls in love with her. Why? How? This stuff could happen only in a movie. Jane Austen so wouldn't have agreed.

What to say of the ending? To start with, it was way too rushed. Not all the loose ends were properly tied up, with is always disappointing. And so was Amanda's decision to stay with Darcy rather than go back home. I can easily see why Elizabeth Bennet decided to stay in modern Hammersmith, but how can a modern woman used to the freedom and right to work we now enjoy be content with being a lady of leisure? Don't get me wrong. I love Darcy as much as any other girl, but this ending just reinforces the myth that a husband, children, and a lot of money are all a woman needs to be happy. But we all know that, in a few years, Amanda will be bored stiff with it all. What then?

It's not all bad, though. The actors are good, their lines witty, their costumes beautiful (well, as beautiful as Regency clothes can be, which isn't much) and funny moments abound. I couldn't help but laugh out loud when Amanda asked Mr Darcy to get into the water. I'd really like to know how she managed that! If, unlike me, you don't mind all the crazy inconsistencies and are in the mood for something light that will just entertain you, rather than make you think, you may actually enjoy this. But, for sticklers like myself, there are just too many things that are wrong with it.

Henrietta Knight, Baroness Luxborough

Henrietta St John was the only daughter of Henry, viscount St. John, and his second wife, Angelica Magdalena, daughter of Georges Pillesary, treasurer-general of the marines, and superintendent of the ships and galleys of France under Louis XIV. She had a half-brother, Henry, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, who made her a "half-scholar". Henrietta often hang out with his friends, which included Voltaire and Alexander Pope, and enjoyed talking about all sorts of cultured topics with them.

Henrietta married fairly late compared to most women of her class. She was already past her teens when, in 1727, she tied the knot with Robert Knight, a businessman. It was a bad choice. He was rude, crass, and didn't share the same interests as his wife. His favourite topic of conversation, rather than poetry and art, was money. But it was the loneliness Henrietta found the hardest to bear. Because of Robert's work, the couple lived mostly in Paris, miles away from Henrietta's family and friends.

The miserable wife at first found solace in her two children, a boy and a girl. But soon, her husband started suspecting she relieved her loneliness in the arms of other men. First, he believed she was having an affair with her physician, Charles Peters. Maybe her portrait of her husband, which she kept in her luscious black hair, saved her that time. But when, in 1736, Robert found some love letters she had written to John Dalton, a tutor in the household of Henrietta's friend Frances Seymour, Countess of Hertford, the marriage irretrievably broke down.

Robert accused his wife of becoming pregnant with her lover's child, banished her to the remote estate of Barrells and forbade her from ever seeing her children again. She was also banned from London and forced to live on a small annuity he paid her for her basic expenses. He chose, however, not to divorce her. But Robert's plan to completely isolate her failed. Henrietta was determined to make the most of her life, whatever the circumstances.

So, she got back into gardening, a pastime she had greatly enjoyed before her marriage, transforming the gardens of the estate. The farmeress, as she started calling herself, had created such a lovely artificial Arcadia that a constant stream of visitors began arriving to visit it. She also corresponded and met up with her educated and literary friends, which included poets William Shenstone and William Somervile. But her life was quiet and scandal-free.

She missed her children, though, and was undoubtedly happy when, once they were all grown up, they started visiting her. Henrietta died in March in 1756 and was buried in the church of Wootton Wawen. Her remains were later removed to a mausoleum near Barrells Halls. About 20 years after her death, her letters to William Shenstone, Esq., four of her poems, and some of her correspondence were published.

Further reading:
The Duchess Of Devonshire's Gossip Guide To The 18th Century

Pouf Aux Insurgents

Madame Bertin's creations were often inspired by contemporary political events. Here's an example:

At the end of 1777 the hair was dressed in the fashion called The Insurgents. "It was," says the author of the "Memoires Secret," an allegory, made up of the disturbances between England and America. The first was a snake, so perfectly imitated that in a committee meeting held at the house of Mme. la Marquise de Narbonne, Lady of the Bedchamber to Mme. Adelaide, it was decided not to adopt this ornament, as it was likely to upset people's nerves. The maker then decided to sell it to foreigners only, who were anxious to obtain our novelties; it had been proposed to advertise it in the papers, but the Government, prudent and circumspect, forbade it. Crowds went to see it out of curiosity."

Further reading:
Rose Bertin, the creator of fashion at the court of Marie-Antoinette by Rose Bertin

Books Reviews: The Art Of Social Media, Living Well Spending Less, Leading Women, & Say What You Really Mean

Hello everyone,

it's once again time for some reviews. Here we go:

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
Social media has become a must-have for brands, marketers, authors, and bloggers. And yet many, me included, still struggle with it. If you're tired of it and are ready to go pro, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Art Of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. Kawasaki is the legendary former chief evangelist for Apple, one of the pioneers of business blogging, tweeting, facebooking, tumbling, and has now joined startup Canva with Peg Fitzpatrick. Although Peg didn't write any chapters in this book (the authors decided that, to maintain consistency and make it easier to read only one person should pen it), she's an expert in social media too and a lot of the tips are her own.
The Art Of Social Media provides more than 100 tips and resources to really up your social media game. They cover all the main social media channels, explaining how to make the most out of them. Although I read a lot on this topic, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a lot of tips that I had never heard of and that I look forward to implementing in the near future. The authors also stress that the rules of social media change frequently, so don't waste too much time before trying these tips, and always keep up with the latest trends.
The book is short and to-the-point, yet engaging and very useful. My only problem with it was the link format. Usually, when pointing to an online resource, authors share the page's url. Not this time. You need to click on the link to be redirected to the page, but this works only if you buy an e-copy. A physical copy, or my netgalley copy, doesn't have this feature, preventing you from accessing these resources. I don't think this is fair. Anyone who reads the same book should have access to the same content. They might have put the urls in an appendix in the physical book or something. But I guess most of their target audience would opt for the ebook anyway, so for a lot of people this won't be a problem. Unfortunately, though, this decision has left me no choice but to lower the rating a bit (it is still pretty high though!).
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup
Ruth Soukup is the successful blogger behind Living Well, Spending Less. She has just released her first book, of the same name. Although I wasn't very familiar with her blog, as a blogger myself I am always happy to support fellow bloggers and their new ventures. Plus, the blurb of this book sounds intriguing: "lots of creative, helpful ideas and advice for moms on a budget along with stories from her own journey to discovering what the Good Life is really all about." Unfortunately, I've found that to be quite misleading. The second part of the book, Spending Less, does feature a few tips on how to save money. For example, Soukup explains how to cut your grocery bill in half without giving up meat or healthy vegs and fruits, and how to make your own DIY house cleaning products. But most of the book is about changing your mindset.
Soukup used to be a shopaholic. She tried to fill the void inside of her with expensive pretty things, but this never worked. When she found herself on the brink of divorce for the second time, she knew things had to change. In this book, she shares her story, explaining how she did it. It wasn't easy. After all, we live in a society that encourages us to buy all sorts of things we don't need, but this mindset can be quite dangerous. But in the end, as she shares in the first part of the book, Living Well, she learned to find contentment with her life as it is , and strive for the things that are really important in life, and that no amount of money can buy. During this process, her faith helped her a lot.
Overall, Living Well, Spending Less is an engaging, honest, and inspiring read that would help overspenders change their ways and develop healthier habits. But I wish it had included more practical tips as promised.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 3.5/5

Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life by Nancy D O'Reilly
Leading Women gives women all the advice they need to get the career and life they deserve. This powerful advice comes from 20 powerful women, such as "New York Times" bestselling author Marci Shimoff, advocacy leader Gloria Feldt, and Emmy-winning television host Aurea McGarry, all strong women who took the reigns of their lives and achieve their dreams. Here, they share their secrets. And nope, there's no repetition. That's because these women don't share their whole life stories. This is not a collection of mini biographies. It is so much more than that.
Each chapter is written by a different woman and covers a different topic, such as how to get your voice heard and become a natural leader. Each woman shares her personal experiences and the challenges she has overcome, and offers tips on how you can do the same. Their stories are easy to relate to, and their words inspiring. Once you've finished the book, you'll be better equipped to make the most of your life... and won't be able to wait to do so!
I have one small problem with the book though. While most of the chapters are very engaging and flow easily, I've found a few harder to read. They are a bit dry. But that's to be expected when a book has so many authors, I guess. Still, that's no reason to pass up on this book. It's a very inspirational read for any woman.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Say What You Really Mean!: How Women Can Learn to Speak Up by Debra Johanyak
We all value honesty, but a lot of us are afraid to say what we really mean. We are scared of standing up for ourselves, of hurting people's feelings, or to be made fun of, so we either dilute the message by using the wrong words or tone of voice or don't say anything at all. In the long run, this can cause much bigger problems for us.
Johanyak knows this and wants to help. Using case studies, statistics, quizzes, and personal experiences, she covers many aspects of successful communication such as how to use silence effectively, bridge gender differences, and say no without causing friction. Although all her tips are very helpful, they are hardly groundbreaking. In fact, most of them are just common sense. I was expecting some new psychological insights or detailed exercises to do, but instead, there's no much here that you can't find in other communication books or even magazines. But I guess having all these tips in one place helps, and the book, written in a colloquial style, is a quick and easy read.
Available at: Amazon
Rating: 3/5

Have you read these books or are planning to?

Disclaimer: this book was sent by PR for consideration. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.