Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni by Mary Smith

Mary Smith

Mary Smith

People sometimes write and tell me, ‘Ohh you’re brave, I couldn’t do that.’ Which always makes me grin, because bravery doesn’t come into it really. It began when I upped and offed to Canada with a 9-year-old in tow. Friends behaved  for all the world as though this was as worrisome as sailing steerage across the Atlantic for weeks on end, risking disease and destitution if we didn’t make it by the sweat of our brows because there was no way back. But in reality, in the days of jet travel and credit cards, it was a mere jaunt.

Today though, I want to introduce you to a lady who really is brave. She spent ten years in Pakistan and Afghanistan, setting up training programmes for volunteer female health workers. She didn’t just face language and culture problems, not merely the sort of plumbing and insect issues that would have sent me scuttling home on the next plane, but the sort of armed bandit issues you normally only read about in fiction.… Read on...

My Name is Hardly by Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie

You already know I tend to review  non-fiction; apart from the fact that it’s what I write, it’s also frequently passed over by ‘proper’ book blogs. But I set myself a rule last year that I could do whatever the hell I liked really and you are visiting the blog of a person with an ‘ooh shiny’ approach to most things in life. So, a spot of fiction today. Why? It’s a terrific book, it’s by a bit of a writing superstar who happens to be a fellow Indies Unlimited staffer and because I can.

A bit about the chap himself…Martin Crosbie’s website says

“In a press release, Amazon referred to Martin Crosbie as one of their success stories of 2012. His self-publishing journey has been chronicled in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. Martin’s debut novel, MY TEMPORARY LIFE, has been downloaded over one hundred thousand times and became an Amazon bestseller.… Read on...

The Red Skirt: Memoirs of an ex nun by Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson

Patrica O’Donnell-Gibson

Well I’ve gone for a total opposite this week. From the guy who began writing in prison, to the kid who decided to be a nun, and then made a fascinating journey out of the convent and into herself. I have to add that Facebook writers’ groups are marvellous for finding new things to read, especially since you know in advance that if the writer interests you, getting in touch will be easy.

I was immediately drawn to Pat’s book, since it promised to open up a closed world to me which I would like to be able to understand. I should maybe begin with my own religious leanings, which these days are zero. I grew up in a secular Jewish household and flirted briefly with evangelical Christianity in my teens. But it wasn’t hard to leave, when I realised that the things I was being expected to believe, share and do made no sense to me.… Read on...

How to Survive When the Bottom Falls Out by Jt Sather

Jt Sather

I found this book by accident while hanging out in a few Facebook writers’ groups. Jt is a bit of a force of nature when it comes to reviewing books and before I knew it I’d agreed to give it a go. I have to say that I was as intrigued by the cover and the title as I was sort of put off by the idea of having to read a ‘How-to’.

I am now heartily glad I read it and I ended up with a load questions for Jt.

Does your heart sink a little when you contemplate a ‘How To’ book, like mine does? In that case it might be good to know that this little volume is possibly the only one out there that matters. It could save your life. If you take fewer risks and have better luck than average, it might merely change it.… Read on...

Dissolute Kinship—A Personal 9/11 Journey by David Antrobus

David Antrobus

I had a feeling I was going to like this book, its story resonated with me on a number of levels. It’s a road trip for a start, you may have noticed I like those. It was also born from one of those those ‘you couldn’t make it up’ coincidences that make narrative non-fiction such a vital addition to the bookshelf. You couldn’t easily fictionalise a chap who planned to drive from Vancouver to New York, setting out on September the 11th 2001, heard the news and set off anyway.

Add to this premise that the traveller in question is a poet, a philosopher and somewhat acquainted with trauma and you have a book that transcends genres such as ‘memoir’ or ‘travelogue’ and even ‘poetry’. It is simply unique.

When I downloaded Dissolute Kinship, I had recently returned from a visit to New York and had been an early visitor to the newly opened 9/11 memorial.… Read on...

Helicopter Flight Instructor Course Diary by Helen Krasner

Helen Krasner

Helen Krasner is a helicopter flying instructor. I should confess up front to having known Helen for many years, since before she took up flying. In my world she was superwoman for getting her PPL. Then super-super for graduating to helicopters and, as for instructing, well my awe knows no bounds. So, when she recently published a warts-and-all diary of her time on the instructor’s course I had to blag a copy to review.

The diary began as a series of posts on an internet forum for other fliers, in the days before blogs. Helen was already a writer for several aviation publications so it seemed the obvious thing to do, until she hit the rough times. It must have been tempting not to publish some of the more difficult entries but she did. Possibly because of the rough times as well as the triumphs, the diary became very popular as an encouragement to people doing the same sort of learning.… Read on...

Roll On by Fred Afflerbach

Fred Afflerbach

Some people just have to keep on moving. I was delighted when I received my review copy of Roll On, for several reasons. Firstly it confirmed to me that the trucking life, and the subculture that goes with it, were fascinating to people other than me. It also offered me the opportunity to read about the trucking world from the point of view of a seasoned pro…and it was a novel, which intrigued me.

‘How do you write a novel about trucking,’ I wondered, ‘without making the driver the culprit in a lazy murder mystery plot?’ I mused on the intended readership, there are lots of people writing about trucking for truckers but very few opening a window for people who don’t yet think the freight transport life is interesting.

Roll On will fascinate whether you are a seasoned trucker, a rookie, an armchair traveller, or someone who has never really considered what goes on in the cab of that monster you curse on the interstate.… Read on...