Monday, July 27, 2009

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke

France is a romantic country. Paris is the epicentre of business, long lunches, the Eiffel Tower and everything totally French; and Peter West should know. He's an Englishman who's accepted a job there for a year; and has he got a lot to learn! Firstly, the year doesn't start in January, like it does for the rest of the world; nope! It begins in September, when everyone comes back from a month's holiday away from the city. And a holiday to the average Parisian is anything which is over 10 kilometres outside the city limits of Paris.
After Peter's first month of working with a team of people who barely spoke English to him - yet went against him every step of the way in developing a name for a whole selection of tearooms to be opened up in France - he found that trying to mix with the Europeans was going to be harder than he first thought. After all, he had another 11 months to go to make this work.

Stephen Clarke was born in Bournemouth where he played in some bands for a while before he studied German and French at Oxford University. After completing his courses, he did some grape-picking and was a dish-washer in a German hotel and he taught some French businessmen English. While doing all this, he was writing some books; which never got published due to some problems in the publishing world. Stephen then moved to Glasgow where he was hired to put some rude words in French dictionaries (no, seriously, folks!). He moved to Paris and got a job as a journalist at an English-language magazine. He was still writing fiction and decided to finally self-publish through his own (fictional) company. Stephen Clarke has written three more books following on from 'A Year in the Merde'.

Good Reading Magazine

Okay, I'm going to do something I don't normally do here on my review site. I'm going to recommend a really great magazine. It's 'Good Reading' Magazine. I've been keeping up to date with the best reads from the last couple of years through this little baby. Throughout the times of birthdays and Christmas, I've looked through the sections for children, 'word of mouth' and read the articles with avid interest; and every month, there's always somethint that catches my eye on the front cover to keep me interested for the full month.
This magazine has had me hunting for books from all kinds of bookstores and rarely fails me in the reviews. The people it interviews are second to none, making me realise that I'm not the only person out there in Australia addicted to these wonderful things on my shelves. However, they've added a new lot of pages in... a website page. It's sites for us loyal readers to look at for more books, publishing and just for the sheer joy of looking at books and their authors.

So, if you haven't begun reading 'Good Reading' Magazine yet, go out and buy your copy now; sold at almost all newsagencies or you can look through it online and subscribe for it there. It's well worth a look and a pore through. I do have a good collection of them in my house. The problem is, I'm not sure what to do with them when the time comes to recycle them... should I toss them or take them to the nearest school or doctors' surgery and share the love of books with them?

Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist

For almost a year, peace has reigned over the breath-takingly beautiful kingdom of Rillanon. However, new challenges are waiting for Arutha, the Prince of Krondor, when Jimmy the Hand - the younest thief in the Guild of Mockers - comes upon a Nighthawk poised to assassinate him.
Now, there's an evil power that raises the dead; causing corpes to do battle with the living at hte behest of the Guild of the Dead... and now the new King of Midkemia is threatened, and a life or death quest is to be undertaken for a poison which befalls his wife-to-be on her wedding day. What will happen next to the King and his fellow travelers on their way to find the antidote?

Raymond E Feist has been entertaining his large following of fans over a decade. His various series of books have been a favourite across the globe and translated into many languages. Raymond E Feist lives in California with his wife and children.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tongue-Lashing by Jean Kittson

This fun and lively book was found in a bag of books that was doing the rounds. I saw it and thought it would be a good giggle. And believe me when I say I made the right choice in picking it out!

Jean Kittson writes about everything in this no-holds-barred book on marriage, sex and big feet, school lunches and Stone's Green Ginger Wine. It's not a heavily written one either, keeping your eyes forever wondering from one page to the next quite easily - as a funny book should do - and yet I keep going back for more hilarity; just when I think she's covered every other subject, she finds something I didn't think of and makes it funnier than ever! This book is well worth a read.

Jean Kittson began her comedy career in Melbourne's comedy heartland of Le Joke. Her series of solo performances established her as a natural comic and actor who was just at the beginning of her career. From Le Joke, Kittson's career took off when she starred in the on-stage show of 'Let the Blood Run Free' as Nurse Pam Sandwich. This show was later turned into a television series and Britian's Channel 4; being distributed worldwide.
Her success was inevitable as 'The Big Gig' was aired and her characters on the show were so completely different from each other that she became a chameleon onstage. She became a regular guest on 'Good News Week' and works also on 'The Great Debate' series with Paul McDermott and Jason Byrne that 'Coming First is All That Matters'. Jean has also been a guest on 'The Einstein Factor' where she shows not only her comic gift but her wide-ranging knowledge. She has also been a regular guest on 'The Glasshouse' on the ABC.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

What a book! I received this for my first birthday when I joined; along with four other copies! It was hilarious that other people across the miles had the same idea for a pressie as each other. I had to e-mail them all and let them know of the bungle immediately. However, I kept the one I was supposed to receive and handed out the others to people I thought needed them. It wasn't until I read the book that I found out why it was so popular; and why I never want to let it go from my bookshelf... ever.

Eddie, a lonely war veteran, dies in a tragic accident on his 83rd birthday trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his and then; nothing. He wakes up in the afterlife to find that Heaven isn't the Garden of Eden but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. They may have been loved ones or distant strangers you barely remember. Whichever way, they have changed your life and what path you took to lead you where you are now forever.

Mitch Albom was born on May 23, 1958 in Passaic, New Jersey, the middle of three children to Rhoda and Ira Albom. The family moved to the Buffalo, N.Y. area briefly before settling in Oaklyn, New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia. Mitch grew up wanting to be a cartoonist before switching to music. He taught himself to play piano, and played in bands. He is an internationally renowned and best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold over 28 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world.
After attending high schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he left for college after his junior year. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1979 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, majoring in sociology, but stayed true to his dream of a life in music, and upon graduation, he worked for several years as a performer, both in Europe and America. One of his engagements during this time included a taverna on the Greek island of Crete, in which he was a featured American performer who sang Elvis Presley and Ray Charles songs. All three of Albom’s best sellers have been turned into successful TV movies. Oprah Winfrey produced the film version of Tuesdays With Morrie in December 1999, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. The film garnered four Emmy awards, including best TV film, director, actor and supporting actor. The critically acclaimed Five People You Meet in Heaven aired on ABC in winter, 2004. Directed by Lloyd Kramer, the film was the most watched TV movie of the year, with 19 million viewers. Most recently, Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day aired on ABC in December 2007 and earned Ellen Burstyn a Screen Actors Guild nomination.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Michael Whelan's Works of Wonder

I just had to write about this brilliant book. It's by a cover artist who I greatly respect and admire simply because I'd love to have him design my bookcover one day when I get published; however that'll take time.

Michael Whelan is one of the most well-known cover artists around. He had designed many covers of the books of the greatest authors from Isaac Asimov to Stephen King; and not only that, he has also put his hand to designing record covers and calendars (I own one of his calendars; and that's how I got to know his work!).

This book was found in a charity store by pure chance and once I got it home, I found it was in the most beautiful condition. None of the pages are spoiled, marked and nobody had been eating or drinking around this book. The dustcover is still intact and the main cloth cover is unmarked and well-cared for.

Michael Whelan was born in Massachusetts on 29 June 1950. During his early years, he fell in love with the arts and spent all his money on art supplies and brushes; something his father didn't approve of. However, the Whelan family was always on the move, and so Michael went to 5 elementary schools, 3 junior highs and 4 high schools in California and Colorado. Since 1980, Michael has been making his mark on the covers of books, cds and vinyls and also establishing his own fine art gallery work. To read more about his life and achievements, I've included a link on the sidebar as there's just too much info to put here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands

Lissianna Argeneau's birthday party has been given a twist; a couple actually. First, she's taken out on the town by her cousins and then she's taken home where the party continues in the massive Argeneau house where she finds in her Aunt Marguerite's house a man tied to one of the beds... in fact it's Lissianna's own bed. After two hundred years of being a vampire, she had yet to find the right man to settle with; and here he seems to be all tied up to her bed, a present from her Aunt. However, the man isn't a present, he's Dr. Greg Hewitt - a psychologist - who was brought in to help Lissianna with an embarrassing phobia that has affected her for her entire life. However, nobody ever told him she was this hot-looking; and he's not sure if it's ethical to fall in love with his patient.

I've been reading Lynsay Sands' books for a while now; seeing I can't get into ordinary romances, and have found them brilliantly worded and very well-plotted. This is the first of the entire series; and I'll be looking out for the rest of them.

Lynsay Sands absolutely loves what she does - whether or not she'd get paid for it. She says that she loves to play God in her books: saying who lives and dies, who succeeds and who fails. It's how much she loves to write about vampires. Lynsay believes that most writers are secret control freaks who want to control the world; and from their own books, they do in a way. Find out more from her official website on the sidebar.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Magician by Raymond E Feist

Pug is an orphaned boy who is apprenticed to a master magician at Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil King of the Isles. Abruptly, the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders come through from the land and Pug is swept up into the conflict; but for his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun, as he will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilisation. However, Pug's destiny will lead him though a rift into the very fabric of time and space to the unimaginable power of strange new magicks he's never experienced before.

I first found this book in a second-hand shop (as I find most of my books) and I thought it was a one-off book. However as I came to the end, I discovered that this was the beginning of a marvelous and brilliant journey through a five-book series that I loved - and still love - that takes me on the same road each time; but I feel as though it's the first.

Raymond E Feist is a brilliant writer who has entertained his fans for well over a decade. He lives in California with his family and is still writing. However, I've put in a link to his biography for you so you can take a wonder around his official website.

From A Buick 8 by Stephen King

For the last twenty-two years, at the back of the state police barracks in Pennsylvania, there's a terrifying secret being held in Shed B. It lures its victims in scared and terrified. However, look beyond the gorgeous chrome fenders, silver grille and exotic exhaust system; you'll find that nothing on this car works; this is because the power of the Buick 8 is not under the bonnet.
This car - this particular Buick - has lured curious officers to watch its horrifyingly memorable displays; from blinding lightshows to feeding time. Go on, take a look at it; because this particular car is an absolute work of art; it's really something that's out of this world... but don't get too close or you may be next.

I bought this book at a second-hand shop and immediately got my nose into it; finding it as mesmerising as 'Christine' and a bloody good story. I don't wish to let this one go as I want to read it again and again as the years go by.

I find that Stephen King is a writer who gets better with each book he puts out. When we think he's topped his books, he goes and amazes us one more time and does what we think is impossible and pulls out another best seller. He is one of the highest paid horror writers around and no wonder; he's a brilliant storyteller to boot! I have already talked about his life and works earlier; however there is a link to his official website on the sidebar.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Complete Yoga Course by Howard Kent

This was my first Yoga book that my Mum helped me purchase. I had to hunt it down through Folio Books in Brisbane City and it cost a small fortune to get it from Canada; as it was out of print at the time. I am so glad that I did go to the trouble of finding it as it's a wonderful book. This book gives you month by month exercises to do so you can formulate your own routine and pick out your own programme to suite your needs, lifestyle and so you can work out how fast - or slow - you want to go with your Hattha Yoga.

I've talked about Howard Kent in the previous book review. I'll be putting in a link so you can all go to a site where you can find out more about him and his books; which I've found some are out of print. So, if you're looking for books by him, you'll have better luck looking online at Amazon, Bookfound or

The Big Little Book of Yoga by Howard Kent

This rather ugly-looking book was quite a find for me at a bookstore. I actually wasn't looking for it at all; instead, I was looking for a book on yoga (yes, that) but something a little more about the history of it that wasn't so thick. However, it was how I found it that was interesting... shoved down the back of a bookcase in a bookshop where new books were sold. I was kind of happy and disgusted at the same time at my find. Happy because it was a book no longer sold there, but disgusted that I had to reach all the way over the back of the bookcase and to the floor to find it. However, here it is in my possession.
Howard Kent is one of the world's best minds in Yoga. This little book has a lot of history about this practice in it and is well worth the read when you have time after a session of Hattha Yoga and you want to feed your mind. It's not the most attractive book - being a fluorescent green and hot pink colour - but it's certainly eye-catching and very informative. In all it's twelve parts, you'll be well-informed about the history, teachers, benefits, Chakras, the body's natural design, the importance of breathing, positions, stretching, Yoga in daily life; right up to Yoga for special needs people. This book is a must for anyone who wishes to get the right information about this very old - yet beneficial - lifestyle.

Howard Kent is the founder and director of the Yoga for Health Foundation in the United Kingdom, where he continues to practice and teach. The Foundation has approximately 125 branches in the British Isles and has branches or representatives in 23 other countries. Howard's television series, "Yoga for Health, was broadcast in over 20 countries, and he has written nine previous books on yoga, including "Day by Day Yoga, Yoga: Key Facts, The Complete Yoga Course, and "The Complete Illustrated Guide to Yoga. Claire Hayler, D.C., M.M.CA., is a registered chiropractor and has two clinics in the United Kingdom. She has been practicing yoga for 25 years and teaching since 1986. She has been closely associated with the Yoga for Health Foundation for many years and was invited to become a trustee in 2001.
Unfortunately, Howard passed away on 15th, February, 2005 at the age of 85; leaving behind the brilliant work of Yoga For Health Foundation behind; which had built a membership of 120 locations within the UK and had opened up others in 20 other countries.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

50 Ways to Make Your House & Garden Greener by Sian Berry

I recently received this book from a friend online and found it very resourceful and beautifully written - as well as a lot of fun and well-thought out. This book has fifty ways to help make you think greener and make you operate your home and garden in a better - more environmentally-friendly way. I enjoyed reading parts of it on the way home from the post office; and found that it's an easy book to get into, and I found my way through to the parts of the house I wanted to get to just as easily.

Sian Berry is just 33 years old, was born in Cheltenham, UK, to two teachers and is one of the youngest candidates to throw her hat into the mayoral ring in London. She is the co-founder of Alliance Against Urban 4X4s campaign group and she once picketed against Chelsea FC dressed as a footballer's wife with a placard that said: 'Your range rover is over'.
Despite the political side of her, Sian Berry has penned four books to inform people on how to save the planet starting in their homes. This book is just one of them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Uncommon Reader

Her majesty is a very busy woman in this day and age. And when she has brought to her attention a mobile library outside the back kitchen of her residence by her 'snobby' dogs, she thought to be polite and borrow a book. This starts a reading habit that would take her away from important public duties, make her late for appointments and annoy her husband to no end; all in the name of looking for her book to read on the way there. So, that she doesn't have to look up books herself, she hires a young man, Norman, who worked in the kitchen of Buckingham Palace who she found at the mobile library to hunt for books that would interest her.
This worked for her for a little while; however, her staff did not like the way Her Majesty was acting; and so after a disasterous afternoon with authors in the garden, her private secretary began to make things more difficult for her; and for Norman. First, he sent her luggage to a different city when she traveled abroad, then, he convinced Norman that Her Majesty wished for him to go to university. But did she? And will all be well when she returns from her business overseas?

Alan Bennett was born in Leeds and educated at Leeds Modern School, learned Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguistics during his National Service and gained a place at Cambridge University. He applied for a scholarship at Oxford University and went on to take a first-class history degree at Exeter College, Oxford, where he remained for a few years before realising he wasn't the academic type.
In 1960, he achieved instant fame by appearing in the Edinburgh Festival alongside Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke. Bennett's first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968; and he had written many short stories.