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His Eye Is on the Sparrow: An engagement in black and white
His Eye Is on the Sparrow: An engagement in black and white
Price: 1.88

3.0 out of 5 stars Sad Reflection upon Society, 23 Mar 2014
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This is a memoir of the impact a white, Jewish girls engagement to a Negroid man has upon their lives and those of their families.

I found the book interesting not only for the personal tale but also from a historic point of view. It is very easy in these so called days of equality, to forget how life was for people who dared break the ‘rules’.

We are told how violence was always on the edge. How the reaction of each family was so different. And how the girl’s father tried to bring an end to the relationship in a most unfair and dramatic manner. I do not want to share any more of the story so as not to spoil it for potential readers.

The book has been written in what I would refer to as a rapid fire style: a little like a machine gun. This style is not particularly to my taste but then we are all unique and different. Reading after all is a subjective experience. Nevertheless, I admire the fact that within this short sharp narration Ann Pearlman has successfully included all the relevant facts. She has also, again successfully, provided sufficient for us to understand the backgrounds and attitudes of the people and societies involved.

As regular readers will know, I have taken to commenting upon cover designs because so many writers, and readers, appear to put great store by them.

However, before I do I would mention the actual title. I thought it rather incongruous that such a short book should have such a long title. If it was intended to be one in a series then perhaps the ‘His eye Is on the Sparrow:’ may have a place. But, as far as I can tell this is a one off. Readers will understand from the text where this part of the title originates. To me the sub-title ‘A black and white engagement’, on its own, would have been more appropriate.

Now to the cover: I like the design but have to say it conveys nothing of what the book is really about. Okay it depicts two birds, in black and white, sitting close together but I certainly would not have picked up what the book is about from that. However, at the same time I have to acknowledge I do not really like the modern trend for over the top obvious cover designs. The issue appears to be, sadly in my opinion, unless the cover is eye catching the majority of book browsers will not even take it off the shelf to have a look. I shall resist commenting further upon this here.

I happily award a three *** rating for this book. The account given in this memoir is interesting and provides insight into sixties American attitudes. In many ways it is also shocking and sad. I believe the majority of books fall within the three star range unless they are abysmally poor or exceptional.

The book is available from Amazon:

You may read more at: [...]

Shebooks.net have stated all their books are priced at $2.99 (1.88).

You may see this review and others at: [...]


21 Hours
21 Hours
Price: 0.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Well paced action, 9 Feb 2014
This review is from: 21 Hours (Kindle Edition)
As a rule I do not usually review this type of book. However, the author had sent me a request to do so which remained unseen for a considerable time. This was due to three factors; my involvement for a protracted period with family medical issues; subsequently catching up with hundreds of e-mails and social media messages and poor internet access, which did not allow me to get into many sites for sometime. I considered it would be unfair to reject his request after so long. I have seen several comments where authors complain that such requests are frequently ignored without even an acknowledgment. Such behaviour is so ignorant and ill mannered. Even if it is to decline, as I have had to do from time to time, it is only fair to acknowledge such requests. How do we like it when someone simply ignores our requests, messages or e-mails?

When reviewing, I usually try and avoid giving too many details about the story. I do not want to spoil the read for potential readers. However, in this instance, the book’s own synopsis provides much of the detail.

21 Hours is an easy reasonably paced action story. In many ways it is heartrending. Although a fictional tale, it portrays a realty which is horrible to imagine. It reminds us that such things not only go on but appear to be on the increase i.e. ‘human trafficking’. But this is not the place to discuss such matters. The story is consequently, in part, an emotionally human one.

The protagonist fulfils the role of ‘hero’ well. He undergoes no end of physical hardships his survival of which sometimes boarders on the unbelievable. But after all that is the nature of ‘heroes’.

The pace is just right, maintaining the reader’s interest throughout. The desire to know what is going to happen next and ultimately continues right through. The scenarios are varied and the twists and turns are often unexpected. In my opinion the book could easily be adapted into a good television drama/film.

Because of all the discussions surrounding book covers and how they impact upon sells I usually comment upon them. The cover for this book is of good quality but for me did not really convey anything particular. Certainly I did not feel it gives any clue to the story except for the fact it takes place in a city. Those of you who have read my posts here and in other social media know I personally do not put much store on book covers. As far as I am concerned it is the synopsis that decides whether I purchase a book or not. However, as said, the cover is good quality and fresh looking.

This is a good tale and for me falls within the general reading bracket. I happily give it a three *** rating. That is not to decry the quality. However, when it comes to a ‘general’ read I think the book has to be very exceptional to warrant four or five stars.


In the Beginning
In the Beginning
Price: 1.87

3.0 out of 5 stars It is possible, 19 Jan 2014
This review is from: In the Beginning (Kindle Edition)
As always I would like to make clear this is my personal review. I am not a qualified critic or professional journalistic reviewer. Nor do I usually review books of this nature; please see the `Personal note' at the end of this review for an explanation.

This in many ways is a tale of mystery within which we are taken on a virtual treasure hunt. Faith and belief and a fear of them being undermined are central to the story. Although biblically based, the protagonist is a Biblical Archaeologist, this is a work of fiction. Those who would naturally shy away from anything religious should think twice because this is more of an adventure story than a critique of faith or belief.

The plot and characters are well written. Indeed it is easy to visualise not only the people themselves but also the conversations they have. It is, to quote an old saying, "like being a fly on the wall". The plot unravels at a reasonable pace although there are occasions when it gets a little bogged down on detail. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the story too much and is obviously intended to set the background, roots and understandings from which the protagonist is working.

I found the idea behind the story intriguing and because I enjoy hearing about archaeological discoveries it caught my interest. It is a bit of a mystery tour which takes in a number of different global locations. We are not overburdened with descriptions of these locations, although there is probably enough for those who have visited the places to identify where the action occurs. For the rest of us, it means very little except when a well know district e.g. Gethsemane is mentioned.

The plot and ultimate conclusion are very plausible and, in my opinion, should not offend or challenge those with strong beliefs. If matters had occurred as suggested it does not diminish or negate traditional beliefs. If anything it gives them broader scope. I have intentionally avoided detailing the actual story so as not to deprive a reader of their enjoyment.

The protagonist's character has been written with considerable understanding. It could almost be autobiographical or based upon someone the author knows or has known who suffers from such neurosis and paranoia. Nevertheless, for me there were occasions when there was a bit too much of it.

There are several small errors throughout the book, which imply the author has done their own proofreading. The relevant word or phase may easily be determined but it tends to cause the reader to momentarily stop. An external proof-reader would have hopefully spotted these. I sympathise because I have also encountered this problem. I have learnt we cannot proofread our own work because we are too close to it and consequently continually blind to errors.

Due to the different definitions for star ratings across social media sites I had difficulty in deciding a rating but in the end have opted for three*** stars. I liked the story but, despite how well it is written, could not say it was amazing or extra special for me.

Please note: I do not usually review books of this nature on my blog. However, Abby Vandiver, in response to a post of mine on Goodreads, suggested we undertake a review book exchange. In other words I read and review hers and she would read and review mine. To date neither of us has done so. My available time is very limited and therefore it has taken a while to get round to reading and reviewing Abby's book. I did mention this to her at the time. For your information: I recently suggested she need not bother reading mine as I am now in the process of heavily revising it. Perhaps she will be kind enough, if her time permits, to read and review the new edition when it comes out.

The book is available either in paperback or as an e-book from Smashwords and Amazon.


Against All Odds: The Most Amazing True Life Story You'll Ever Read
Against All Odds: The Most Amazing True Life Story You'll Ever Read
Price: 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Hitting, 5 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an honest hard hitting autobiography.

It helps those, who have not had direct contact with the sort of characters involved, understand what motivates them to behave the way they do. Hopefully it may also help overcome some of the prejudice that exists in society.

In my opinion Paul Connolly has indeed been brave to expose himself so thoroughly without attempting to shield his identity. His neighbours, work colleagues and clients will now be able to point him out to others. Let us hope they read his book properly so as to understand why he led the life he did and do not condemn or censure him.

Having been put out with the rubbish by his mother at two weeks old Paul Connelly goes on to have a terrible childhood in `care'. He shows all too clearly how social services and `care' systems failed not only him but so many children and young people.

The book details many difficult and horrible situations and circumstances. However, it has been written with a degree of sensitivity that avoids depressing or horrifying the reader too much.

* Sexual Abuse: Sufficient details are given, without being licentious or over graphic, for us to understand what was going on.

* Psychological Abuse: The author suffered very much from this. He effectively shows us how such abuse has long-term or rather life-long impact upon the abused. Much of his account explains how he dealt, or did not deal, with his own undermined personality.

* Violence: Paul Connolly bravely admits to his own violent nature. Although he very obviously regrets having such a nature, he shares unashamedly what are really the consequences of abuse. He explains very plainly what motivates his behaviour and where this motivation originates. It is so sad that someone who should have cared for him almost destroyed him and is in fact responsible for other peoples' destruction.

Mr Connolly also talks about his feelings of guilt and self-recrimination with regard to his boyhood friend Liam. I consider these feelings to be unfounded and, if not already done, would advise him to seek help in coming to terms with the realities. He had his own problems to deal with and probably could not have helped his friend. The psychological and physical damage to Liam had already been done and was most likely irreversible. It is easy to understand his feelings but they are not justified.

It is to his credit that he retained a sensible and pragmatic outlook on life. This enabled him not only to seek appropriate tuition, even if it was late in life, but also to go on to have a successful career. He has achieved far more than many who have had comparatively easy lives. It is to be regretted he has to endure a life long struggle with the violence that lurks just below the surface due to the failure of family, so called carers and an inadequate system. He is to be admired for his endeavours to control it and for his success in doing so.

I found this an interesting and informative read even though it is upsetting. It also provides a window onto some of the social behaviour of the time. Due to my own background I find all accounts of violent behaviour abhorrent and distressing. However, I must say although Mr Connolly describes his encounters to good effect the descriptions of brutality are kept at a reasonable level so as not to traumatise too much.

The work has evidently been edited but in such a way that it unmistakably retains Paul Connolly's own voice. It is a personal tale personally told and it would have been a shame to have lost the personal style. It reads easily and I think should be included in any collection of English social history. It may not be the most gratifying historical record but it is a true account which is supported and confirmed by public domain legal records.

This may not be the most literary book you will read but, for me, it definitely deserves a four **** rating.

Please bear in mind this is my personal review of the book. I am not a trained or professional critic.


Jane Austen: A Life
Jane Austen: A Life
by Claire Tomalin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good biography, 22 Dec 2013
This review is from: Jane Austen: A Life (Paperback)
Considering the dearth of detailed records or documented occurrences, Clair Tomalin has done an excellent job with this biography.

We must commend her upon the depth and breadth of her research. It must have taken considerable time to gather so much information and to `interpret' it so far as it relates to Jane Austen herself. I believe, when writing any of her biographies, Clair Tomalin insists upon travelling to the places where her subject(s) lived their lives. All very time consuming but also indicative of the thoroughness of her research, which inevitably shows through in the final book.

By focusing upon the lives and history of Jane Austen's relatives the author has succeeded in bringing out many aspects, which would have otherwise been lost to us. She has certainly succeeded in showing that Jane Austen's life was not a quiet, uneventful, homespun existence as has been implied by others in the past.

Thankfully, although the majority have been destroyed, there remain a few, a precious few, letters in existence. The author has used these effectively to draw out some aspects of her protagonist's character and sense of humour. Jane Austen never shied from exposing some of the incongruous behaviour of the society of her time, especially `high' society. Indeed she herself occasionally suffered from it. There was her one true love, or so we are led to believe, who was not permitted to marry her because she had no fortune. Then there were members of her own family who looked down upon her because of her poverty. In truth, if it had not been for the charity of one brother who had inherited a large estate, she, together with her mother and sister Cassandra, could have easily ended up on the street subsequent to her father's death.

Throughout we get the impression of a strong but quiet character. She undoubtedly supported feminine liberty and equality but, probably due to her reliant position, kept within the confines of acceptable society when expressing any opinion. Despite these restraints her satirical wit frequently came into play on such occasions. She also readily made friends with female domestic staff. Again this tended to be frowned upon by her peers. Nevertheless, to her credit, Jane never gave up her friends and in fact left a little money to one such domestic friend in her will.

Sadly it took years to get her books printed and even then she could not be attributed with their authorship. Society was very narrow-minded and largely hypocritical. Even when the books sold and became popular she made little money from them; the publishers retained most.

In the latter part of her book Claire Tomalin analyses Jane Austen's own works and draws out some thoughts upon what her attitudes and beliefs may have been. She does admit that in this and in the `interpretation' of some letters she has had to speculate to some degree because there is no concrete evidence to support her theories. Nevertheless, you are left with the comprehension that she is correct in her conclusions. For me I felt she sometimes went too far in the analysis of the books although she has used her `discoveries' to good effect.

We are also unmistakably shown that although Jane Austen based her plots upon her observations of society she did NOT frame her characters upon anyone she knew or met. Something I believe she should have been commended for. Nonetheless, her characters are all life-like and contain all the human frailties, and strengths, we may observe for ourselves in our fellow beings.

Without a doubt Claire Tomalin gives us a genuine feel for who Jane Austen was as a person.

Even though we know the outcome, I suspect most readers form a connection through the book and feel the loss of Jane Austen at the end.

Whether you like or dislike Jane Austen's works I believe, if you are at all interested in biography or English social history, you would enjoy this book. I did and happily allocate a four**** rating.

Of course as usual these are my personal observations. I am not a qualified or professional critic.

The book is available in paperback and as an e-book.


The Church of Tango:  a Memoir
The Church of Tango: a Memoir
by Cherie Magnus
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sincere, honest memoir, 8 Dec 2013
This is a very personal, honest, unashamed, sincere memoir. Essentially it is a story of survival and overcoming; lose of loved ones; despondency; disappointment in friends (which of us cannot empathise here); serious illness; thwarted love, broken dreams etc. It is a very human tale.

After struggling with her despondent feelings, following the untimely death of her husband, the author unexpectedly finds new energy and hope within herself. This sets her off on a global journey which has an unforeseen destination.

The tale unfolds by moving back and forth in time rather than following a strict chronological order of events. A style the author uses to good effect to build for us an understanding and an image of who she is and what has made her so.

Her travels to a variety of different countries and cultures are never without incident and frequently involve disappointment. Nevertheless, throughout Cherie Magnus displays a determination and resilience which has to be admired. I doubt there are many who would have put up with what she did and ultimately still come through smiling and with an undaunted zest for life.

The book unmistakably conveys her passion for dance and her determination to find it wherever she can. This sometimes leads her into districts I certainly would not wish to traverse on a darkened night. Tango does not occupy a large percentage of the book but in the end does turn out to be the fulfilment of so much of her deepest longing.

I will not say more than this as the synopsis which you may read here on the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk sites really sets the framework of her tale very clearly.

The book contains many statements in French but in the majority of instances without an interpretation. I confess I found this tedious. This may have been okay for classic novels most of which were written at a time when French was the salon as well as the political language of the day. However, in these modern days those who can read it are in an overall minority. Although the story is not unduly impaired it would have been nice to understand what was being said. The same problem, on a much reduced scale, is encountered where Mexican and South American terms are used again without interpretation or explanation.

It is clear we are reading about a sensual, sensitive person who has always loved life and enjoyed much with her husband. His absence brought her very low and threatened to be her end. However, her passion for life resurfaces and despite all the difficulties and obstacles wins through in the end; not only to her gratification but also to that of the readers.

Although this memoir finishes it does not end. You are left with a sense of `more to follow'. I believe a sequel is in fact under preparation.

In these days when there is much discussion about the impact of book titles and covers. I therefore consider it appropriate to also comment upon these when writing a review.

Title: At first `Church of Tango' may appear to some as a little sacrilegious but it is also intriguing. As you read you come to understand where the title comes from and its relevance. Whether the title would draw those who have little or no interest in dance is debatable.

Cover: I love the warm colours. The shoes depict the author's love of dance, not just tango, and would appeal to anyone interested in dance. However, it may be off-putting for others, which would be a shame as the book is about far more although dance does play an important part in the author's life. The suitcase portrays Cherie's mobile life as related within the book. Hopefully this will draw those interested in travel and other cultures.

Rating: This is an interesting read although it has to be admitted non-dancers may become distracted in places. Again I would emphasise dance plays but a small part in the narrative. Nevertheless, it is a well written memoir within which the author's emotions of the moment are conveyed in such a clear manner that the reader cannot help but identify with, and feel, them. I therefore happily allocate a 4**** rating.

Please note: I am not a trained or professional critic. Consequently I may only share my personal opinions and observations regarding this book. Nonetheless, I hope you find my review of interest and perhaps of some help when deciding your next read.

The book is available both in paperback and as an e-book from either the Amazon.com or the Amazon.co.uk sites.

Paperback:

ISBN 10: 615573541
ISBN 13: 978-061557354Q

E-book: B0073KQHF2

ASIN:B0073KQHF2

Cherie Magnus has two blog sites:

[...]
[...]

Her Facebook page is: [...]

Should you be interested in reading other reviews of books I have read you will find them at: [...]


Seesaw - Volume I
Seesaw - Volume I
Price: 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Readable, 24 Nov 2013
This review is from: Seesaw - Volume I (Kindle Edition)
As I frequently say, reading is a subjective matter. In addition I am not a professional or qualified critic. Consequently the following is my `personal' review as a reader and not intended to be anything but.

This first collection of short stories by Rosen Trevithick is very readable. With both longer and shorter stories there is something for everyone and for every time slot. Whether you simply want a quick lunchtime read or to while away the time of a tedious journey, provided you are not driving of course, you will find something suitable within this anthology.

There is absolutely no question that the author is creative, insightful, honest, an acute observer of life and has an excellent sense of humour. The fact she has achieved so much, despite her own ill health is a marvel; Rosen is a prolific writer and maintains more than one website. We should all take encouragement from her example when facing our own `petty' upsets and setbacks.

I will not spoil your reading and enjoyment by going into detail about each story or hinting at each plot. Nevertheless, to give you some idea of the variety and nature of the tales I make the following observations about some.

The Other Daughter and The Other Mother: Both of these are sensitively written drawing out the difficult and varied emotions of all the participants. Such understanding of people's inner fears, hopes and frustrations is remarkable. I have to say, although in the preface we are told these are fictional tales, I was left with the sense that the author must know or have known someone who has experienced such a situation. These are heart rending tales but at the same time remain readable.

On the Rocks and The Selfish Act: These two stories are insightful, honest and moving. They depict the frustration, limitations and fears serious illness can cause. The highs and lows, the fears and uncertainties, the trauma and subsequent respite are all conveyed in a clear, readable and entertaining manner. Again I must admit, though we are told all the stories are fictional, there is a strong sense of the autobiographical here.

Introducing Boris: For any budding writers out there this is a great introduction on how to develop a story. It also deals with the issue of how to introduce the protagonist(s) at the start. I started writing fairly recently and found the ideas helpful and useful, especially as I need to revise and re-structure my existing book.

The remainder of the stories fluctuate between fear, fun, physiology and insight. Some are really funny and prove that life may often be more bizarre than fiction. Occasionally, rarely, it is possible to have an idea where the tale is going but you are held in suspense until the end to see if you are correct in your assumption.

Rosen Trevithick has a wonderful command of words and conveys clearly and easily a multitude of different emotions, scenes, situations and circumstances. There is humour, sorrow, frustration, fear, depression, uncertainty, love, commitment, re-direction and joy all of which come across in a manner easy to assimilate and identify with. I admire her talent, her proficiency and her prolific output.

With all the discussion there is these days about the value of a book cover and title I, whenever writing a review, have decided to also comment on these. The title at first did not convey much to me. As it was a series of short stories I simply assumed `Seesaw' was referring to the fact they would be different. To some degree I was correct, however, having read the book as well as its description wherein it is stated the stories move between the humorous, the sinister and the physiological I find it very appropriate. Also, again having read the book, the cover image is pertinent and personal, although initially I just considered it pleasant as it was clearly a scene from the author's county of residence.

I enjoyed reading the stories and happily give a four star **** rating to the book as a whole.

The book is available in paperback and as an e-book.

It may be purchased from Rosen Trevithick's own website:

[...]

It is also available from Amazon.co.uk

The ISBN's for the paperback are:

ISBN10: 1781761337
ISBN13: 978-1781761335

For the e-book version go to:

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007GC5J9M

Rosen has since written a further collection of short stories entitled `Seesaw Volume II' which I believe is now available or will be soon.

She has also written a number of children's books which are also available from the same sites. Unfortunately I have limited free time for reading and have only been able to glance at the first few pages of one of these. From the little I read these also appear to be written with the same clarity and insight as her adult tales.

Tanya ([...]
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2013 1:52 PM GMT


Here We Are & There We Go - Teaching and Traveling with Kids in Tow
Here We Are & There We Go - Teaching and Traveling with Kids in Tow
Price: 2.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Diary of family events, 27 July 2013
Before I commence my review I want to point out that I am a private individual and not a trained or recognised critic. Consequently, the following comprises my personal observations and views. We should also bear in mind that reading, when not of technical or scientific material, is primarily a subjective experience and therefore, when we write about a book it is usually about how the story impacts upon us as an individual. At the author's request I received this book as an exchange for mine (`What a Life! An Autobiography' B00ADYWS76 agreeing to each review the others. I look forward to hearing Jill Dobbe's thoughts upon my autobiography, which to be honest was not easy to write.

`Here we are & there we go' is a personal account of how the author and her husband travelled to a variety of different countries on teaching assignments with their two very young children and of their lives in those countries. Sometimes you may feel like agreeing with some of their relatives who thought them crazy to undertake such a life style with their children who at the start where only one and two years old.

In the prologue Jill Dobbe effectively shares how having been born and brought up in a provincial town she has a desire to travel and see the world; you find yourself empathising with her feelings. However, before she can put any of her plans into practice she is married to her soul mate and has two young children. Fortunately her husband turns out to have similar desires and with both of them feeling restless they ultimately venture out into overseas teaching assignments; they are both qualified teachers.

Now before going on I have to confess I was initially a little disappointed. Having travelled fairly extensively myself I was looking forward to reading about countries and places I had not visited anticipating detailed accounts of the landscapes, architecture, culture, history and social conditions and life styles of the indigenous people. Although the book does in places contain a little of this it is primarily about the family themselves. A point I had to remind myself of. It was I who had made an erroneous assumption and consequently initially took the wrong approach to my reading of the book. Realising my mistake I undertook a second speed read of the story and having set aside my presumptions was able to enjoy the account of their adventures and experiences.

Their adventures start in chapter 1 on the island of Guam in the Pacific and move in chapter 2 to Singapore. In these chapters we are taken from event to event in quick succession with some descriptions of how the local inhabitants celebrate certain events, what is considered bad mannered and how daily life such as shopping was conducted. As I have said I had to remind myself this was a personal account of one family's experiences and not an exegesis of different cultures and countries. Nonetheless, as previously mentioned it would have been nice to hear more about the places themselves. One of my relatives lived in Singapore for a while so I let them read the second chapter. They did say there was so much to see and enjoy not only in Singapore but also in adjoining Malaya and considered it would have enhanced the read if more had been shared. For example; Tiger Balm Gardens are mentioned but no description of this unusual place is given. Also there is a quick reference to `exotic' flowers but not mention of the myriad of different and wonderful orchids which are grown and cultivated in the area. But again I must remind myself this is a personal family tale.

I found chapter three to be very different and absorbing. Here we have the account of their five year stay in Ghana, Africa. It quickly becomes clear they loved it here and in the telling you feel more involved and share the enthusiasm for the country and culture. How the scenery takes the breath away and how the locals deal, fairly or unfairly, with perceived wrong doing are but a couple of the qualities that come through. You are left in no doubt of Jill and her husband's pleasure with the place and I would not be surprised to hear of them returning to an African country for a further teaching assignment in the future.

Chapter 4 deals with their stay in Mexico, which they choose on this occasion because it meant a less arduous journey to and from their home in Wisconsin. No longer would they endure twenty-four hour flights and could in fact drive to and from their home. Of course, as Jill points out, it was also nice that they were in the same hemisphere and consequently did not have to get up in the middle of the night to telephone their relatives at a reasonable hour for them.

I found chapter 5 very interesting. Something few of us would have even considered is the idea of `reverse culture shock'. The family had been away from the United States for so long that the children really had little idea of what life there was like and their parents had virtually forgotten what it was like. Jill Dobbe's description of this reverse culture shock creates a feel for what they were undergoing. It also honestly shows how easy it is to be quickly drawn into what is considered acceptable and necessary for life, whereas in fact many of these `necessities' are not such. She also compares how they lived life without these items in the foreign countries they stayed in and got on well enough, even though it was uncomfortable at times. Certainly anyone who is contemplating leading such a life would do well to read this chapter before attempting to resettle in their homeland no matter were that is; the principles apply in general to all life styles.

In addition to telling us about the countries they lived in we are treated to some information about places they stopped over in on their way to and from the USA. Understandably, these are recorded in chronological order however, for me personally, I think it would have been preferable to have these lumped together in a separate chapter `Incidental visits' or something like that.

As mentioned earlier some of their relatives thought Jill and her husband were crazy for taking their children on such adventures of life and even irresponsible. In fact some could not understand their desire to live in foreign places, and many of those without the facilities they took for granted. Such attitudes are regrettably often displayed by people who have lived in rural and provincial locations all their lives. I personally think, as difficult as it was, by enduring the hardships and difficulties they have provided their children with a broad, multicultural education and upbringing from which they will benefit all their lives.

I have said this is a personal tale personally told. Although I have never met Jill Dobbe or her family, I do feel that if we did meet it would simply be a continuation of the discussions from the book; it is almost as if I can hear her voice in my head. For those who are considering travelling long term or living in third world countries with young children this would be an interesting read. I give a three star rating.

The book is available from Amazon at: B008PV3N9G also from .co.uk.


BITTER MEMORIES: A Memoir of Heartache & Survival
BITTER MEMORIES: A Memoir of Heartache & Survival
Price: 2.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Bitter Memories - A Review, 14 July 2013
This is a shortened version of my review of Bitter Memories by Sue Julsen. To see the complete review, which contains further information about the book and several other observations and points visit: [...]

Before I say anything else I wish to state that I consider Sue Julsen to be a very brave woman. To put these experiences of hers into writing, let alone publishing them for all the world to see, must have taken considerable courage. But as I explain later I think we should all be very grateful she has done so. Since writing the book and initially concealing her and other's identities "To protect the innocent-and the guilty" as Sue puts it, she has been brave enough to now reveal her identity by publishing photographs of herself; yet another courageous step.

For those who do not know this book is an account of how the author was kidnapped by her own father twice! Sue Julsen was two the first time but thankfully the family and authorities caught up with them very quickly and retrieved the little girl. Regrettably, her father had learnt from his first attempt and when he took her at the age of three changed his tactics and got away from the area undetected. The book primarily deals with the awful and heartrending circumstances, situations and treatment the little chid was subjected to for the following seven years.

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In the opening chapters Sue Julsen has done an excellent job of capturing how a two and three year old would talk and you do hear a child's voice in you mind, despite the occasional adult word, which threw me at first. Nevertheless, in the subsequent chapters I found I had to constantly remind myself that this was a very young child we were listening to as the language does become increasingly adult in style; the terms used were those she heard all the time and therefore it is understandable that she uses these because to her it was `normal' language. In addition the author tells us in her prologue she had to revert to some adult information to remind her etc. of what happened and consequently some of this may have come through. Of course there is also the fact, although not referred to, that many young people who experience such traumatic events, grow up very quickly and therefore will talk and consider in a far more mature manner than would be expected from their years.

The author has had to write about horrific and unwonted sexual abuse of all kinds. Despite the warning "Adult language and graphic content" and "Not suitable for children", which it is not, I must commend her on how, thankfully without, in my opinion, being over explicit, she has conveyed her terrible experiences so that we are left in no doubt as to what was going on.

Also in order to deal with these experiences Sue suffered a multiple personality with not just one but four different characters. Without this defence mechanism she probably would not have remained sane if she survived at all. I congratulate her upon how these multiple personalities are written about and conveyed to us. It must have been very confusing for her as a child; goodness knows adults suffering such find it difficult enough. When reading these passages I at times found I was getting a little confused with who was whom. For me this was a good point because it helped me understand and identify a little with what she was experiencing.

This is a very emotional read and in no way can it be described as pleasant. But it is a tale that overall is well told. I find it hard to give a star rating due to the content, which is emotive, and to the fact that reading for us non-professionals is always a very subjective experience. Nevertheless, in the absence of any real guide as to the value attributed to each and largely taking into account the nature of this tale, I give it 4 stars ****.

The following link will take you to Sue Julsen's website where you may learn more about her and her numerous books. [...]

The book is available from Amazon at:

For USA: B009BBSUF6

For UK: B009BBSUF6

Remember you may see my complete review at: [...]


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