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E. Browne "BookishE" (London)
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For God's Sake: Religion, Atheism, and why I gave them up
For God's Sake: Religion, Atheism, and why I gave them up
Price: 5.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A routinely hung over, junk food guzzling seeker after truth...", 13 Jan 2014
This book describes - in an engaging and often amusing way - the author's life really, by way of taking the reader along with him on his quest for spiritual enlightenment via the above (see title of review). It is not a carefully crafted memoir, rather it is part stream of consciousness, part thinking out loud, part 'raconteur essay', reflecting on past mistakes and childhood influences, but throughout there is this awareness that the author is seeking for answers and that is what takes the reader along, because, aren't we all? At times I felt that it could have done with a bit of pruning or editing, but then again that may have sanitised the writing. And because the author has been given free rein reading this book is like listening to a one man show, with many bits that made me chortle and a more than a few that made me laugh out loud e.g. "post traumatic faith disorder". Perhaps it also has to do with the author being pretty much of the same generation as me, and therefore there is a sense of identification with much of it e.g. the books he read (remember Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael"?); the music of his youth which "spoke to him".

Although in reading between the lines one suspects that the author is heading that way, this is not an addiction memoir, and when the reader learns that the author is a person in recovery from alcoholism it fits in seamlessly with his journey, almost as if the addiction is simply a detour. However the brief chapters devoted to when he at his lowest ebb are ruthlessly honest. And becoming sober provides a perfect opportunity for him to revisit and expand on his theories around "tribes", and of course again get back on the spiritual track.

The latter half of the book is devoted to the author's involvement and belief in participatory budgeting and local government systems. Along the way he also tackles some of the big questions - global warming, anyone? - and the seriousness of what he wants to convey is apparent, but he maintains his light touch, so that the reader can add their own opinions and views to these major issues which are, well, in our face.

A thought provoking and sympathetic trip of one man's search for meaning. I have a feeling this is merely Part One.


The Cleaner of Chartres
The Cleaner of Chartres
by Salley Vickers
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book with engaging characters, 7 July 2013
This book gently draws the reader in because the characters are interesting, some are irritating - and all of them are engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed it and like the gentle wisdom that flows through it.

It took me a while to realise that the book was set in modern times, possibly because of the style of the author, but also because the first chapter doesn't make that clear. That's small grumble, though, overall it's a great book, the central character Agnes immediately gains the reader's sympathy.


When We Dance: A Memoir
When We Dance: A Memoir
Price: 11.96

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You couldn't make it up, 6 Jan 2013
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Fascinating story - the lives some people live! Here we have a bright young 'boeremeisie' (Afrikaner girl) who rises quickly through the ranks to become a cabinet minister in South Africa at a very young age - being in the right place at the right time possibly also had something to do with her stellar career, not to mention Nelson Mandela's foresight at the political coup of having a member of the Verwoerd family in his ANC cabinet. (Not taking away from Melanie's own prowess, she is clearly politically astute). Bored with South African politics, she then offs to Ireland with her family as South African ambassasor to the country, and in time, with her marriage on the rocks and having secured a top job with UNICEF, she falls for one of Ireland's national treasures - TV talk show host Mr Gerry Ryan, and she has to face more outdated attitudes than what she ever encountered in South Africa, from his friends, and what seems like insurmountable difficulties brought about by his inability to extricate himself cleanly from a Roman Catholic wife and marriage of 26 years and 5 children. He lives off the kindness of Melanie and friends because is completely broke, despite earning a small fortune, perhaps because he can't bear to lose face e.g. still likes the best restaurants and hotels - and a penchant for 15 year old whisky. But most of all, the thing that finally floors her after his untimely and unexpected death, is the discovery at the inquest that he also couldn't entirely distance himself from what seems to have been a longstanding cocaine habit. Was he a 'bon vivant' or a substance misuser? Was she indeed a 'fool for love'? Read the book and decide, as we are invited to do by the author.


Halfway Gone - Life and Love after Stroke
Halfway Gone - Life and Love after Stroke
Price: 3.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartsore but ultimately satisfying, 6 Jan 2013
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Matt Padmore has written an honest, at times painful, and reflective account of the stroke that changed his life, and which came at an age (36) and stage in his life where he was poised to be in his prime. He manages to turn what could be prosaic, every day experiences (rehab, getting up stairs, taking a walk to the bus stop) into a journey that takes the reader with him as you will him to overcome obstacles and succeed in rebuilding his life with Jun. The book is set against the backdrop of his life in Japan, allowing the reader to experience a slice of Japanese culture. Observing his slow recovery as described by Matt every step of the way, we come to terms with the inevitable: that life goes on, but life will never be the same again; and that he has been on the receiving end of unimaginable bad luck, and because he doesn't dwell on the 'what ifs', in the conclusion, there is a sense of acceptance and surrender which is strangely comforting.


The Varnished Untruth
The Varnished Untruth
Price: 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I quite like Pammy, 26 Dec 2012
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... from the little bit I know about her from 'Shrink Rap' and 'Strictly' and reading her 'straight to video' books (there was one where she followed in the sailing footsteps of Robert L Stevenson, or his wife, can't remember now). Anyway, I enjoyed gaining a better understanding of some of the things she does - e.g. where she notes in the book "What is the matter with me!?" - I've thought that on occasion (about her) and now I know a little bit more about why she does some of the things she does - I hope from the sessions with herself as therapist, she has realised that she doesn't have to try so hard to be "babelicious" or "adventurous". I wouldn't give this 5 stars, unless you are a huge fan of Pamela Stephenson, but some of the revelations are quite heartfelt and touching. Relax Pammy, you've made it.


Nothing to Declare: Confessions of an Unsuccessful Drug Smuggler, Dealer and Addict
Nothing to Declare: Confessions of an Unsuccessful Drug Smuggler, Dealer and Addict
by Mark Dempster
Edition: Paperback

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From hopeless dope merchant to dopeless hope merchant, 26 Nov 2012
Mark Dempster's book is a must read for anyone who ever feels like giving up on someone who has an addiction, and for those who themselves are immersed in an addiction from which they feel there is no escape. Mark describes a life where using drugs from a young age was the norm, and graduating from that to the business of drug dealing was but a small step - with far reaching and life changing consequences. Running throughout his hectic life story is the sense for the reader that his mother never gave up on him, and towards the end - his dawning desire to find a way out of the nightmare duality of life on the streets as an addict. People can and do recover. Which Mark not only has done, but he has gone on to share his experience in his addiction counselling practice. This book is highly recommended.


Trailing: A Memoir
Trailing: A Memoir
Price: 3.07

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will resonate with many, a tale of the Wild West in Africa, 21 Oct 2012
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Dunscombe's book opens with a scene that could have taken place anywhere in many places in sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa where I am from (now living in England). Against the gripping backdrop of the work that Medicines Au Frontieres does in Africa, she follows her 'cowboy' into the unknown and in the process loses herself. But only for a while. A very brave book.


Be Careful What You Wish For
Be Careful What You Wish For
Price: 4.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read - and I'm not interested in football!, 29 Aug 2012
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Picked this book on Kindle whilst on holiday for no other reason than having seen the author some years ago on a 'not very good TV show'(as he says in the book) where he and others gave some of their money away, and having quite liked the way he came across, he seemed like an interesting person. Events described in the book have a ring of truth about them, and the tale held my interest, despite all the exclamation marks! And some repetition! And Simon has left some loose ends. I read it in a couple of sittings and learnt a lot about how football operates (awful), got to know some of the personalities that I see on the telly from time to time (managers and footballers), shared his disappointment at losing youth academy proteges to predatory managers and to the inevitable lure of money. Laughed out loud more than once, shook my head at the wasted money and the somewhat chaotic personal life running alongside. All in all I'm happy to have contributed towards rebuilding the Jordan fortune by buying this book, especially as there was a lot of bad luck involved in terms of timing. Shoulda woulda coulda... And I'm sure at some time, there will be a Part Two.


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