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Archive for August, 2010

The Musician’s daughter
By Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury
2008
978-1599903323
Young adult/historical

Music and violin enthusiasts who love mystery and adventure fiction will relish Dulap’s latest novel, The Musician’s Daughter.

The story takes place in 18th Century Vienna and begins on Christmas Eve, as 15-year old Theresa Maria’s beloved father is brought to her home, dead. Though Maria is stunned and devastated by the event, her practical nature soon takes charge and she becomes the head of the household. Her mother isn’t able to help, as she is pregnant and dazed by her new widowhood. Theresa’s other family member is her little brother, and they need money soon if he is going to become a luthier’s apprentice, as it had been planned from the beginning. But who would hire a 15-year old viola player, anyway, in a time when musician women were frowned upon? Thus Theresa seeks the help of her father’s dear old friend, composer Franz Joseph Hayden. All along, however, Theresa is keen on investigating her father’s death. Why was her father’s dead body found near a gypsy camp? Why was his violin missing? Her instincts tell her there’s more to it than a vulgar petty crime.

Indeed, as Theresa begins working with Hayden, she begins to suspect a conspiracy, a mystery reaching the high levels of the government. Was his father a simple violinist in the orchestra of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, as she always thought he was, or was his real job more sinister?

Music, mystery, espionage and a light touch of romance will keep readers turning the pages. Dunlap’s prose flows beautifully and I loved Theresa’s strong yet sympathetic character. She’s smart, resourceful and independent in a time where women were expected to behave just the opposite. The gypsy element adds an exotic, sensual flavor to the story. Musicians will particularly enjoy the musical descriptions. The story has an ambitious plot and I think Dunlap did a good job in tidying up all the loose ends. This is a novel to be enjoyed not only by teens but also by adults.

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Complexion Perfection offers a fair amount of useful information for people who are interested in making their skin look better. Not a dermatologist but a paramedical esthetician, Somerville shares her years of experience helping people of all skin types achieve healthier, more beautiful-looking skin.

In the introduction, the author begins by relating events from her childhood and her ordeal dealing with severe eczema while growing up. In the story she stresses the relationship between a positive mental attitude and healthy skin, and talks a bit about the dangers of stress. The reader learns how the author grew from an insecure young girl to a successful esthetician and owner of a popular clinic sought out by celebrities.

The core of Somerville’s method rests on her Skin Pyramid, which consists of protecting, hydrating, stimulating, feeding, and detoxing the skin as a way of achieving a healthy complexion. The author describes various skin problems such as Sun Damage, Melasma, Pigmentation, Acne, Scarring, Redness, Rosacea, and Aging, and proceeds to offer helpful advice on how to address these issues.

Daily skin care includes the right diet (food and supplements) as well as adequate treatments for the skin. The treatments range from laser/light to injectables to pharmaceutical products to professional peels. Though most of these treatments are too expensive for the average person, Somerville states that there’s something for every budget. Particularly informative is the section on ingredients found in different products, what to look for and what to avoid depending on one’s skin type. Toward the end of the book there are many before-and-after photos highlighting the various skin types and issues mentioned.

Complexion Perfection is written in an engaging, interesting style. The prose is light and straightforward, making this book an easy read. The author’s approach is encouraging and motivational, giving the reader the feeling that healthy skin is accessible to everyone who follows her advice, tips, and suggestions. This reviewer particularly enjoyed the chapter on diet and supplements, as well as the author’s list of top 15 beneficial foods for the skin. Readers interested in how to improve their complexion will find this book useful.

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