On My Radar

A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews became a favourite historical author of mine from her very first book, and a huge part of her books’ appeal is her extensive knowledge of the Victorian era.

Matthews also writes nonfiction books about the era, and this one seems like it will be invaluable. I can’t wait to read it:

A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews

What did a Victorian lady wear for a walk in the park? How did she style her hair for an evening at the theatre? And what products might she have used to soothe a sunburn or treat an unsightly blemish? Mimi Matthews answers these questions and more as she takes readers on a decade-by-decade journey through Victorian fashion and beauty history.

Women’s clothing changed dramatically during the course of the Victorian era. Necklines rose, waistlines dropped, and Gothic severity gave way to flounces, frills, and an abundance of trimmings. Sleeves ballooned up and skirts billowed out. The crinoline morphed into the bustle and steam-moulded corsets cinched women’s waists ever tighter.

As fashion was evolving, so too were trends in ladies’ hair care and cosmetics. An era which began by prizing natural, barefaced beauty ended with women purchasing lip and cheek rouge, false hairpieces and pomades, and fashionable perfumes made with expensive spice oils and animal essences.

Using research from nineteenth century beauty books, fashion magazines, and lady’s journals, Mimi Matthews brings the intricacies of a Victorian lady’s toilette into modern day focus. In the process, she gives readers a glimpse of the social issues that influenced women’s clothing and the societal outrage that was an all too frequent response to those bold females who used fashion and beauty as a means of asserting their individuality and independence.

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

Once at the centre of the American conservative movement, bestselling author and radio host Charles Sykes is a fierce opponent of Donald Trump and the right-wing media that enabled his rise.

In How the Right Lost Its Mind, Sykes presents an impassioned, regretful, and deeply thoughtful account of how the American conservative movement came to lose its values. How did a movement that was defined by its belief in limited government, individual liberty, free markets, traditional values, and civility find itself embracing bigotry, political intransigence, demagoguery, and outright falsehood? How the Right Lost its Mind addresses:
*Why are so many voters so credulous and immune to factual information reported by responsible media?
*Why did conservatives decide to overlook, even embrace, so many of Trump’s outrages, gaffes, conspiracy theories, falsehoods, and smears?
*Can conservatives govern? Or are they content merely to rage?
*How can the right recover its traditional values and persuade a new generation of their worth?

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes

It’s very hard to keep up with the political landscape at the best of times, but in the chaotic era of Donald Trump, it’s downright impossible. This becomes even more the case when someone wants to write a book about it, but I found Charles J. Sykes’ take on the situation fascinating (and fact-filled, which is always nice).

Not being American, I had no idea who the author was when I received and began to read this book (he’s a *conservative* political commentator who goes by the name of Charlie Sykes). What makes this book so fascinating is that it is written by a man on the Trump/Republican side of things, and it’s an honest look at a conservative movement self-imploding and becoming a personality cult.

While I sympathise with domestic American causes that have come under attack since 2016, for me, as a foreigner, my two main issues with Trump and his supporters are the hatred he fosters for anyone without US-of-A on their passports, and his support for Russia (my now-homeless family members in Ukraine would really like him to stop supporting Putin’s war).

I suppose the most hard-line right-wingers will detest this book and label Sykes a “loser” and a “traitor” and every other word Trump likes to throw his critics’ way, but How the Right Lost Its Mind should be read by people on both sides of the political divide.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 21st – 27th January

canberra summer heatwave sunset australia sonya heaney 20th january 2019

Summer heatwave sunsets in Canberra.

A very scruffy red wattlebird trying to cope with the heat (this bird lives on our back deck), and what it looks like most of the time (second image from Wikipedia).

Rome: City and Empire

In Defence of the Unlikeable Heroine

I Kissed a Rogue (Covent Garden Cubs #3) by Shana Galen

Out Now: All is Fair by Dee Garretson

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

Out Now: Prisoner by Jason Rezaian

prisoner my 544 days in an iranian prison—solitary confinement, a sham trial, high-stakes diplomacy, and the extraordinary efforts it took to get me out by jason rezaian

Australia Day

Out Now: Prisoner by Jason Rezaian

prisoner my 544 days in an iranian prison—solitary confinement, a sham trial, high-stakes diplomacy, and the extraordinary efforts it took to get me out by jason rezaian

Prisoner, the true story of what Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian went through when detained in Iran on false charges from 2014 to 2016, is out now.

Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi – also a journalist – was also imprisoned.

In an era where the US president uses Soviet-style language to call the media ‘the enemy of the people’, and in an era where journalists are routinely murdered in countries like Russia, this is an important book.

I’ve come across readers who say they’ll never read a book with a hero or heroine who is a journalist, which is disappointing. If only more people appreciated the risks they take to put the truth out there.

Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out by Jason Rezaian

In July 2014, Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian was arrested by Iranian police, accused of spying for America. The charges were absurd. Rezaian’s reporting was a mix of human interest stories and political analysis. He had even served as a guide for Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Initially, Rezaian thought the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding, but soon realized that it was much more dire as it became an eighteen-month prison stint with impossibly high diplomatic stakes.

While in prison, Rezaian had tireless advocates working on his behalf. His brother lobbied political heavyweights including John Kerry and Barack Obama and started a social media campaign—#FreeJason—while Jason’s wife navigated the red tape of the Iranian security apparatus, all while the courts used Rezaian as a bargaining chip in negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal.

In Prisoner, Rezaian writes of his exhausting interrogations and farcical trial. He also reflects on his idyllic childhood in Northern California and his bond with his Iranian father, a rug merchant; how his teacher Christopher Hitchens inspired him to pursue journalism; and his life-changing decision to move to Tehran, where his career took off and he met his wife. Written with wit, humor, and grace, Prisoner brings to life a fascinating, maddening culture in all its complexity.

“Jason paid a deep price in defense of  journalism and his story proves that not everyone who defends freedom carries a gun, some carry a pen.”
John F. Kerry, 68th Secretary of State

Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Marciuliano

Claw the System Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Marciuliano

Cats are done with humans’ crap. For too long they have put up with baby talk, the humiliation of holiday costumes, and the social injustice of being told, “No.” They will not sleep through this anymore. We humans have woken the beast, and in this book they have gathered together to reclaim their voice, loudly and repeatedly until we pay attention. Watch the uprising unfold, through anthems such as “Redefine Terms,” “Accepted,” “Decide,” “A New Dawn,” and “Just What Do You Think You’re Doing?” Show support for your feline friends and try to understand why they’re so spitting mad.

Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Marciuliano

I’m not a poetry person. I had to spend a whole semester at university studying it, and I hated every moment of it!

However, this isn’t your usual poetry book! Grumpy cats are always hilarious (to me, at least!), and you don’t need to be a fan of poetry to enjoy reading Claw the System. I knew I would like it as soon as I saw the cover.

This is the kind of book any cat owner would appreciate.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

 

The Week: 15th – 21st October

The gorgeous Friday we had in Canberra!

1 Currawong Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 15th october 2018 Australian Birds Nature

2 Currawong Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 15th october 2018 Australian Birds Nature

We had some beautiful spring weather in Canberra this week, but every time I tried to work outside, this currawong would steal my chair the second I stepped away from it!

What a stunning by-election result in Sydney last night. Maybe a message to the Federal Government to remind them Australia didn’t vote for the far-right government we were handed behind closed doors a few weeks ago…? May we please have an election NOW?!

Also, what stunning news out of Queensland. I didn’t expect it.

So many terrible things in the world this week. A question: when a Russian guy goes on a shooting rampage in Ukraine’s Crimea, killing more people than in high-profile Parkland, Florida, why does nobody seem to care? Why do we treat lives in one country as so much more important than lives in any other?

In fact, I was taught in *first semester* journalism at university that the media DOES consider people of different countries to matter more. We were taught (in one of the top two journalism courses in Australia) to start thinking of different countries as holding different levels of importance. It disgusted me back then, and it disgusts me more with each year.

Judy Blume on the Big Screen

My review of The Makings of a Lady by Catherine Tinley

Want to Read: Dominion by Peter Ackroyd

Royal Wedding

12 October 2018 Newlyweds Princess Eugenie of York and Mr. Jack Brooksbank leave following their wedding at St George_s Chapel in Windsor, England. © Getty Images +

Coming Up for Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

Want to Read: Dominion by Peter Ackroyd

Released last week, I saw Dominion reviewed in Canberra Weekly, and now I *have* to have it! This is the fifth of six planned instalments about the history of England, and the time period it covers (1815-1901) is probably the one that fascinates me the most.

Dominion: The History of England from the Battle of Waterloo to Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (The History of England #5) by Peter Ackroyd

Dominion The History of England from the Battle of Waterloo to Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (The History of England #5) by Peter Ackroyd

The fifth volume of Peter Ackroyd’s enthralling History of England

Dominion, the fifth volume of Peter Ackroyd’s masterful History of England, begins in 1815 as national glory following the Battle of Waterloo gives way to a post-war depression and ends with the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901.

Spanning the end of the Regency, Ackroyd takes readers from the accession of the profligate George IV whose government was steered by Lord Liverpool, whose face was set against reform, to the ‘Sailor King’ William IV whose reign saw the modernisation of the political system and the abolition of slavery.

But it was the accession of Queen Victoria, at only eighteen years old, that sparked an era of enormous innovation. Technological progress―from steam railways to the first telegram―swept the nation and the finest inventions were showcased at the first Great Exhibition in 1851. The emergence of the middle-classes changed the shape of society and scientific advances changed the old pieties of the Church of England, and spread secular ideas among the population. Though intense industrialization brought booming times for the factory owners, the working classes were still subjected to poor housing, long work hours, and dire poverty. Yet by the end of Victoria’s reign, the British Empire dominated much of the globe, and Britannia really did seem to rule the waves.

#SAD! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump by G. B. Trudeau

#SAD! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump by G. B. Trudeau

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist whose acclaimed Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump blew up the bestseller list, comes the sequel millions prayed would be unnecessary. #SAD!: Doonesbury in the Time of Trump tracks the shocking victory, the inept transition, and the tumultuous eternity of POTUS’s First 500 Days.

Citizens who rise every morning in dread, braced for disruptive, Randomly Capitalized, atrociously grammarized, horrably speld, toxic tweeting from the Oval Office, can curl up at night with this clarifying collection of hot takes  on the First Sociopath, his enablers, and their appalling legacy. Whether resisting or just persisting, readers will find G.B. Trudeau’s cartoons are just the thing to ease the pain of remorse (“Could I have done more to prevent this?”) and give them a shot at a few hours of unfitful sleep.

There are worse things to spend your tax cut on.

#SAD! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump by G. B. Trudeau

We all know that Donald Trump is throwback to the days of Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin. We all know he is an outspoken misogynist, proud racist, enthusiastic supporter of murderous Vladimir Putin – and an idiot to boot.

Well-known American cartoonist G. B. Trudeau has covered Trump for years. As he writes in this book: Trump is severely sensitive to ridicule. Anything anti-Trump isn’t going to change the minds of his cultists, but it is a surefire way to get to him when nothing else will.

Unfortunately, the review copy I had of #SAD! was nearly inaccessible (I got mostly scrambled pages with a bit of text), but Trudeau’s work can be widely found, and is worth seeking out.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein

Video game villains and real-life dictators dominate daily life for eleven-year-old Ali

Ali Fadhil has very simple likes and dislikes. It is 1991 in Iraq and all Ali wants to do is read his comics and play football and video games. But President Saddam Hussein has other plans. After he invades neighbouring Kuwait, the U.S. and their allies launch Operation Desert Storm to force him out. Over the next forty-three days, Ali and his family would survive bombings, food shortages and constant fear.

Cinematic and timely, this is the story of how war changed one boy’s destiny forever and would one day bring him face to face with Saddam himself at the UN trial.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy

Based on the childhood of Ali Fadhil, who went on to become an interpreter during the trial of dictator Saddam Hussein, this book shows what life was like for the people of Basra, Iraq during the beginning of the war in 1991.

While this is definitely a book geared towards children, who – of course – were not even born when these events took place (in fact, they weren’t even born when Hussein was executed), it is an interesting read for anyone who remembers the events of the 1990s and early 2000s.

A side note: I had no idea what “Atari” was, and had to look it up. I feel like it’s something I should have known!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman

How to Speak Cat A Guide to Decoding Cat Language by Aline Alexander and Newman Gary Weitzman National Geographic Kids (Editor)

We know cats are beautiful, secretive, and independent … but even the most loyal cat owners are often baffled by their own pet’s behavior. With veterinarian expert Dr. Gary Weitzman as guide, this fun book helps kids understand what cats are trying to communicate by their body language and behavior. So if you’ve ever wondered what Fluffy means when she’s purring or moving her tail emphatically from left to right – this book is for you! It’s full of insights, expert advice, and real-life cat scenarios, and showcases more than 30 poses, so you’ll soon learn what each meow and flick of the tail means!

How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman

Apologies to people who don’t visit this blog for reviews about cat books!

 

How to Speak Cat might be marketed as a being for younger readers, but I actually think it’s one of the best books you could pick up to learn about cat care and cat behaviour.

I should have expected National Geographic to put together an excellent guide: they definitely did. Anybody who’s been around cats will know quite a bit of the information already, but what I loved best was that the author took all the theories that are often stated as fact, and questioned them. I learnt more about cats from this than any other “how to” sort of book I’ve read on the subject.

A note, however: DO NOT get this in ebook form! The formatting is – predictably – a mess. The pictures are grey and broken up over a few pages. Some of the text, which I guess is a different colour in the paper version, is in a very light, nearly unreadable shade.

That said, I’d recommend this.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.