Articles

Swampwise by Okefenokee Joe

 

In this amazing book the author treats his readers to his incredible recollections and observations about the animals who lived with, and around him in the Okefenokee Swamp Park in the south east of Georgia.

When I finished reading this incredible book, I turned to my husband and said, “WOW, how can a review ever give this book the acclamation it deserves?”

The author had his first real taste of nature and the natural world when he was sent aged 9 to the YMCA Camp Carson, in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. At first he missed his mum and dad, however, before long, it was the wildness and natural world of Camp Carson he craved when back home. He loved being amongst the natural world, discovered a fascination for it — especially snakes. With this came, a deeper understanding of God’s work in giving us the wonderful natural world, which is all around us.

After a successful career as a singer/songwriter/entertainer for over twenty years, burnt out and tired of the Nashville scene, his marriage in tatters, he cancelled his remaining shows. A broken man, at the age of 41, in desperation, while others would have started on the way to ruin, he remembered those years he had spent at camp in childhood, and the love he had of camping. Searching for answers and with only a tent and other essentials provided by a friend, he set off in his jeep into the swamps of South Central Florida. Alone with his thoughts, he began to ask God for guidance and became one with nature. He learned how to trap and sell snakes, surviving by his skills, he was beginning to find inner peace.

It was the offer of work by another friend who managed the famous Okefenokee Swamp Park near Waycross in Georgia which was to take him onto the next stage of his life.

The great Okefenokee Swamp is in the south east of Georgia. It is not really a swamp and contains many small islands. Covering about seven hundred and fifty square miles, it is a large designated wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, and is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with all its wildlife protected by law. Heaven indeed, and the place which the author would call home for the next nine years. And what an interesting nine years they were.

Through the vividly descriptive writing of this talented man, we the readers are treated to some amazing stories and observations about the animals who live with, and around him. We discover how he befriends the abandoned dog, who is to become his canine companion Swampy before he moved to the park in South Central Florida, and how the next day Swampy appeared in the jeep ready to go with him on the adventure to his new home. Indeed, it is Swampy who finds the little calico kitten Skeeter, who becomes part of their small family, in the picnic area of the park.

However, we also learn through these tales of the animals, which are truly wild and live alongside him, and through his example realize that their territory is not automatically ours to walk over and claim. As he says, true wild animals are born to be self-reliant and self-sufficient; it is the way God intended them to be.

I loved the way that throughout this amazing book the emphasis is on understanding nature, living with it, respecting it, and recognizing that the creatures around us have just as much right to be on this earth as we do. There is so much to learn at the turn of every page, and even more if you read between the lines and take away from it the understanding that the natural world is out there for all to enjoy.

However, in the natural world there is also cruelty, and the author doesn’t hide this side from his readers; after all, ‘nature is not cruel, it is just sublimely indifferent’ as anyone with a pet cat will tell you.

After over nine years at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, ‘Okefenokee Joe’ as he had become known decided to spread the word, and for over four decades he has done just that. He has delivered his “Earth Day Every Day” message to school children of all ages, bringing along with him a selection of native venomous and non-venomous snakes, to help as visual aids, and in teaching the children to be ‘swampwise.’ He has written, recorded and sang songs praising all God’s creations, and now he has written this truly amazing book, and I for one am in total awe of what this man has achieved.

The author has also released an audiobook “Swampwise Secrets Songs and Stories from the Land of the Trembling Earth!” and will soon be releasing “Snake Hunter Snake Talk.”

In Summary: Throughout this amazing period of his life the author learned how to be ‘swampwise’ – really looking at, studying and taking notice of his surroundings. In this modern world, where ‘Mindfullness’ is very much the ‘in’ word, how I wish more people could be like the author and learn to appreciate the amazing natural world around us the same way. Highly Recommended!

About the Book:

Experience the thrill and amazement as Okefenokee Joe uncovers and explains “The Golden Rule of Nature”! Share with Joe the love & faithfulness of his two best friends in the swamp; Swampy the Dog & Skeeter the Cat! Come along with Joe step by step, as he plays momma’ & nursemaid to ‘Streak’ the Bobcat Kitten! Learn with Joe as he discovers the Character Lessons all wild swamp plants & animals so clearly demonstrate! Enjoy Okefenokee Joe’s Enlightening “Earth Day Every Day” message taught by, believe it or not, The Snakes themselves!

Author’s website: https://www.okefenokeejoe.com/

Swampwise is available in Paperback from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Swampwise-Okefenokee-Joe/dp/0997337109/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1567413824&refinements=p_27%3AOkefenokee+Joe&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Okefenokee+Joe

and the Author’s website https://www.okefenokeejoe.com/

 

Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, Book One (Champagne, Alsace, Lorraine, and Paris regions) (The Savoring the Olde Ways Series) by Carole Bumpus

 

 

NEW RELEASE TODAY

 

A wonderful insight into French family life and traditions.

Carole Bumpus a retired family therapist and the author of this absorbing book has within its pages shared her abundance of experiences which she and her husband Winston enjoyed whilst travelling from Paris in the Île-de-France, through the Champagne, Alsatian and Lorraine regions, and then returning to Paris. Her travels through these eastern regions of France enjoying the food, and experiences of their local inhabitants were enhanced immeasurably by the presence of her French Californian friend and translator Josiane Selvage.

From the first page, this book is packed to bursting point with information, details of the villages they visited, the history of the regions, and the lives of the families they were welcomed into. Reading through it, the impact WWI and WWII had on family life and circumstances is clearly apparent. However throughout the centuries, ‘family favourites’ have, for the most part been conceived through necessity of one kind or another, either because of food shortages (whether it be conflict or caused through natural events,) or quite simply the necessity to create good, tasty, family food using the vegetable and fruit produce and the animals which are abundant where they live. As the years have passed these dishes may have been embellished by food companies and sold for the masses frozen, bottled or canned, but it is in the family kitchen that the best versions are made, with love, and with fondness because of the memories they evoke. For those readers who are keen cooks traditional recipes from each of the regions can be found at the end.

Living in France and enjoying sharing the last 16 years with our neighbours has taught my husband and I about the closeness of French families, and the importance of food and ‘family time.’   These values are wonderfully apparent in this book, and I am looking forward to book two in the series which is due to be released in August 2020. In it the author completes her journey, beginning again in Paris, and then heading north into Pas-de-Calais, Normandy, Brittany, to the Loire, my chosen region, and then completing the tour in the Auvergne.

Highly recommended: This book is compelling reading, its pages overflow with memorable moments, family secrets, and delicious recipes, and it will hold a prized place on the bookshelf of readers who love France, its food, people and history.

About the Book:

Part culinary memoir and part travelogue, Carole Bumpus gathered this compilation of intimate interviews, conversations, stories, and traditional family recipes (cuisine pauvre) in the kitchens of French families as she traveled throughout the countryside. Travel with her through Champagne caves/wineries and historic cathedrals, local farmers’ markets, ancient potters’ guilds, and restaurant kitchens with wood-fire ovens. Learn how to make homemade Spinach-stuffed Tortellini with Bolognaise Sauce from the Champagne region, Crêpes and Watercress-stuffed Ravioli from the Lorraine, and Baekeofe and Kugelhopf from the Alsace. “Go blind” from the family stock of Eau de Vie liqueur and be treated to tales of foraging for snails for the infamous and now extinct Escargots Festival. And, on a somber note, listen to accounts of families forced from their communities during the German occupation of WWII in the Alsace and Lorraine, only to continue to struggle for survival after finally making their way home.

This book is a compilation of stories about making ends meet; about people being grateful for all they had, even when they had almost nothing; about the sharing of family jokes and laughter; and about family trials and triumphs. This book is about people savoring the life they have been given.

Available in Paperback and eBook format

from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Searching-Traditions-Champagne-Lorraine-Savoring/dp/1631525492/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Searching+for+Family+and+Traditions+at+the+French+Table%2C+Book+One+%28Champagne%2C+Alsace%2C+Lorraine%2C+and+Paris+regions%29+%28The+Savoring+the+Olde+Ways+Series%29&qid=1566894183&s=gateway&sr=8-1

and

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/searching-for-family-and-traditions-at-the-french-table-book-one-carole-bumpus/1129474979?ean=9781631525490

A Stranger in Paris: 1 (A French Life) by Karen Webb

 

A story of love, life and adventure in Paris.

It’s amazing what we will do for love. Its magnetism draws like nothing else, as the readers of this fast paced and exciting memoir will discover.

It is possible to break free from your traditionally expected path in life and live a totally different one. The author, Karen Webb, discovered this when one day when she suddenly realised with certain clarity that she didn’t want to just get her degree, and the settle down with her fiancé Steve to a lifetime of beer and rugby in Neath.

Instead in 1989 this story begins at Aberystwyth train station, where she is saying goodbye to her university life and friends, who all think she is mad. Why, well because running headlong out of one relationship has led to her falling hopelessly in love with David Azoulay, a naturally charismatic French Orthodox Jew. Charming and caring he quickly takes her heart, and then heartlessly tells her that she must let him go. Hurt, rejected, and sure she can change his mind, what does she do, she follows him back home to Paris.

Reckless, impetuous perhaps, however this decision is the first of many she is destined to make. I for one, having become an expat English living in France 16 years ago understand totally the draw of adventure, the wonder of Paris and the wonderful experiences living in France has to offer.

Encouraged by her friend, or perhaps as we discover devil on her shoulder, Jessica, Karen, like many girls before her finds a job as an au pair to a French couple with three children. Settled in their bourgeoise house in Paris she quickly discovers what is expected of her, and to her surprise some amazing insights into the French attitudes to sex, married life, and relationships.

Karen also very quickly discovers how totally lost you can feel when everyone around you speaks French at double time, and expects you to understand them. Her experiences provide entertaining and interesting reading, and gives her readers a real feel for French family life.

However, the appearance of her friend Jessica at her employer’s house one night is destined to change everything, her relationships, career, home, indeed her whole life.

There is so much of everything packed into this story, her life is truly a rollercoaster of an adventure, yet, throughout Karen has the amazing ability to adapt to whatever life throws at her, however the question is, did she get her man?

This is the first of a three part memoir by this talented author and I for one cannot wait to read more of her loves, experiences, and adventures.

Highly recommended – whether you love a great memoir which enables you to peeping into other people’s lives, adore Paris or France, or just want an excellent story you can get totally absorbed into, this is the book for you!

About the Author:

Born in Cheshire, Karen graduated with an English Literature degree from Aberystwyth University, moving to Paris in 1989 for what was intended to be a six-week course in French. She stayed on first working as an English Language teacher for schools and then setting up her own training centre teaching English in companies across the city. In 2005 she moved with her two children to the South West of France where she spent the next couple of years renovating dilapidated French farmhouses. Since then she has qualified as a real estate agent, gained an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and began a programme of literary retreats in France, inviting authors and publishers from all over the world to come and teach to aspiring writers. ‘A Stranger in Paris’ is her first book, and the first in a three-part memoir covering her life in France, and integration into French culture.

About the Book:

The first in a three-part memoir exposing the darker side of French culture, a brilliantly funny and poignant study of French life that begins when a young graduate makes a spontaneous decision to follow the man she loves to Paris. He is, however, nowhere to be found … Now a penniless singleton she must work in order to survive. With only a smattering of French she begins a new life. ‘A Stranger in Paris’ follows Karen in her formative years as she searches for friends, family, and love. A portrayal of French life from the inside by a narrator who has seen the various echelons of French society from rich to poor, from the capital city to the rural South West.

A Stranger in Paris is available from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle formats  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stranger-Paris-French-Life/dp/1911293311/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1560506217&sr=1-3

 

 

About the 

You Can’t Drive Your Car to Your Own Funeral by Ann Marie Hancock

 

A real insight into caring for a loved one with compassion and the strength of God.

 

Ann Marie Hancock, the author of this book is a retired television personality, talk show host and model, but she is also a wife, mother, grandmother and daughter. In this, her third book she shares with her readers how she had a life changing experience in 1981, when she visited the Medjugorji in Yugoslavia.

Her experiences at Medjugorji led her to travelling the world, and carrying out healing services with a Benedictine Abbot.

Then in 2012 her strong, independent, and very private mother was diagnosed with cancer. Stoic and determined that it wouldn’t change her the ‘c’ word was not even spoken, let alone discussed. This was how she coped, if she didn’t say it, it didn’t exist. However, tragically not long after she started undergoing treatment, her husband died expectantly.

Everyone copes with grief in their own way, and now alone after many years of marriage, the author’s mother remained strong and controlling. In this honest and sometimes heart rending book the author, through her recollections of this terribly sad period of her life gives her reader a real insight into the strong character her mother was. Forthright, not suffering fools lightly, and certainly not being told what to do, or when to do it. I have a mother much of the same ilk and I am full of admiration for the way the author handled the multitude of events which occurred, and yet stayed loving and caring.

It was Ann Marie’s belief in God which was her strength, and this enabled this wound healer to face her greatest challenge yet. Because in caring for her mother and coming to terms with tragic events in her own life she embarked on a different journey, a journey of the spirit.

Through God and the teaching of the bible Ann Marie learnt to accept who she was, and come to the realisation that finding spiritual happiness is a life’s journey. That knowledge she imparts in this book, teaching the reader that the paths which they travel along in life are their own uniquely special journey. Along the route of life they will be tested, and will gain strength in accepting God’s will, even if they don’t understand it at the time. This epic spiritual journey is one which must be travelled alone. It is not about what others think you should do, or impressions you are given, your unique life events make you who you are, and the repercussions on your life evolve and change as you do. Depending on what life throws at you, these challenges empowers you to develop strengths, understanding, and happiness. It is easy in life to blame others when things don’t go as expected, get angry, put up a guard, however once you learn to listen to God, and take time to pray and talk to him, amazing things will be revealed, and you will realise that it is in your power to find true happiness, and inner peacefulness.

In conclusion, Ann Marie has in this beautiful story shared a hard, yet very special time of her life with her readers. Within its pages is a very clear insight into the strength needed emotionally to care for someone with a terminal illness.

About the Book:

You have reached a milestone in your life when the fire department is on standby as you blow out your birthday candles. If you have pondered going to heaven but without dying, this book is for you! As Father Ralph Pfau said, “You can’t be a good egg all your life. You either have to hatch or go bad.” Adventure into one courageous woman’s journey through later life as seen through her daughter’s eyes. Unique in every way, this woman operated completely without filter, remained in denial about her cancer diagnosis, and challenged the prognosis and thoughts of doctors, nurses, family, and friends. Written from the heart, Ann Marie Hancock shares her experiences in loving and caring for her mother through the heartaches and the joys and the times of laughter and sadness.

Available from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/You-Cant-Drive-Your-Funeral/dp/1641386436/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1553508004&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/you-cant-drive-your-car-to-your-own-funeral-ann-marie-hancock/1129135430?ean=9781641386432

and Books A Million https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Cant-Drive-Your-Car-Own/Ann-Marie-Hancock/9781641386432?id=7500558173697

 

In Foreign Fields: How Not To Move To France by Susie Kelly

 

I just loved this book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a firm fan of Susie Kelly’s books about her adventures and experiences of living in rural France, I couldn’t resist downloading this, her latest book, and I am so happy that I did.

In it I discovered how it is that Susie Kelly came to live in her house in the Poitou-Charente region of France. Throughout this wonderful book she shares her incredible adventures of this time, and I found myself laughing, sighing, and sometimes nearly crying, as I read them described in truly ‘fly on the wall’ style.

Like many others before and after them, Susie and her husband Terry set off armed with practical advice, hope and lots of information and tips on house buying in a foreign land. Needless to say, despite this, we all know the draw of the Estate Agent’s window, all those amazing properties, interesting, and sometimes slightly misleading descriptions, plus the financial restrictions which we all have. Susie and Terry were just the same and settled for, as my dad would say ‘a doer-upper.’

From the moment you open this book and start reading, Susie Kelly’s frank and humorous style of writing draws you in, and, as an expat myself, I have to say it really is a very honest look at the wide range of characters of people, both English and other nationalities which you encounter here. Through her amazingly descriptive writing she paints a vivid picture of the countryside and life around her in this beautiful region of France, and recounts honestly many of the situations she finds herself in, and the antics of her menagerie.

Whether you dream of moving to France, want to know what life here is really like, or just want to be a fly on the wall enjoying someone else’s experience, then this is the book for you.

About the Author:

Susie Kelly was born in grey post-war London, and spent much of her childhood and young adulthood in the beautiful country of Kenya.

She now lives in south-west France with a menagerie of assorted animals, and is passionate about animal welfare.

Her first book “Best Foot Forward” was published by Transworld Publishers in 2003, followed by “Two Steps Backward” in 2004, and “A Perfect Circle” in 2006.

Since 2011 Susie’s books have been published by Blackbird Digital Books, whose theme is strong, adventurous women living life to the full. Blackbird Digital Book people love birds and animals, travel, history, romance, natural health and environment, resourcefulness, humour, the surreal and magic.

If her house caught fire and she could only save three things (apart from her animals, of course), they would be courage, compassion and a sense of humour.

About the Book:

Susie and Terry dream of living in France. The dream comes true, but not in the way they had imagined. Sometimes it feels more like taking part in a musical comedy than starting a new life in France.

Yes, the countryside is spacious and peaceful. On summer nights the stars skim the rooftops, the owls hoot and the nightingales sing. Sunflowers smile from their fields. The wine is cheap and the baguettes are crusty. The French neighbours are generous and gentle.

But then come the drug addicts, builders who cannot build, demanding compatriots, undercover cops and unwelcome guests. Susie begins to lose hope of attracting the fabled French philanderer and, far from appreciating their new home, the animals do everything they can to make life as difficult as possible. With her house literally crumbling around her, the number of odd characters Susie manages to attract are only matched by the assortment of creatures appearing from in and out of the woodwork. Terry almost dies, and Susie’s resilience and good humour are tested to the limit.

Available from Amazon in Kindle and Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Foreign-Fields-How-Move-France-ebook/dp/B07KN1TF1J/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1548246187&sr=8-3&keywords=susie+kelly

 

 

Swerve: The Little Bastards 2 by Jim Lindsay

 

Swerve, an opportunity to travel back to the time of rock n’ roll, fast cars and a childhood in 1950’s America.

In SWERVE, we return with Jim Lindsay to America in the 1950’s, the era of rock n’ roll, fast cars seemingly eternal youth. Discover what it was like to live that life, with the thrills and consequences captured in this exciting sequel to his unforgettable The Little Bastards.

The story opens with the main character Sonny Mitchell’s parents reading in the news of the antics, (which happened at the end of the last book) their son had been up to and their outcome. At this point I would like to say that although this is a sequel, this book happily stands alone.

Sonny soon discovers that once his notoriety settles down he still has a lot about life to learn. The Little bastards are growing up, yet being typical boys, they cling onto their youth, and through the authors vividly descriptive writing, the reader tumbles through Sonny and his friend’s lives experiencing through them the fun, freedom, and innocence, which young people enjoyed at this time. Their antics are wide and varied, from tracking down the local legend Lucifer, discover girls, larking around, getting into scrapes, and finding out ways of making money so they could do up their precious cars, you name it they are up to it.

However, despite their fun ways and the thrills and spills of the drag racing scene, the boys are growing up. With his friends beginning to get serious and his own hormones rising, Sonny knows there is only one girl for him, but can he overcome her father’s prejudices and prove himself a worthy suitor?

Refreshingly open and entertaining, Swerve really does allow the reader to time travel back to an era which had so much to offer which was new and full of potential. And yet, through Sonny we glimpse underneath the ‘brave new world’ façade and discover the traditional outlook of the older generation at this time, and how totally revolutionary this era really was to them.

A wonderful story, not a biography, yet it could be as the author has put so much of his memories of his childhood into it. Highly recommended.

 

About the Author:

I was born in Corvallis, Oregon on Feb. 18 1947, and raised on a farm nearby that sustained my parents, brother Bob, and myself. After 8 years of education in a 2 room grade school, I entered and graduated from Albany Union High School. A stint in the Navy Reserve and a year and a half of college was followed by 42 years of farming. I have 2 children, Caralee and Jake, both of Portland, Oregon, and a girlfriend, Kathie. I live on the same farm with my dog Ruby.

I have several hot rods that I drive and an altered roadster that I drag race. I have developed a disease for land speed racing driving a modified roadster I have built.

After two years of writing my novel “The Little Bastards,” I can truthfully say I also have a disease for storytelling. The “Bastards” sequel has now been released..

It is difficult to write a bio without talking a lot about oneself and using a lot of I’s. Pardon me.

Author’s Website: http://jimlindsayauthor.com/index.html

 

About the Book:

In Swerve! we return with Jim Lindsay to America in the 1950’s, the era of rock ‘n’ roll, fast cars, and seemingly eternal youth. Discover what it was like to live that life, with the thrills and consequences captured in this exciting sequel to his unforgettable The Little Bastards.

–Susan Keefe, Midwest Book Review

For starters Sonny has fallen in love with a beautiful girl whose life he has saved, but she’s from the wrong side of town–her father owns the bank and doesn’t cotton to hot rodders in leather jackets. This love story, along with the strong vibes of class distinction, weaves through the book, and it’s just one of the elements that will keep you turning pages to find where it goes.

The extra treat in this sequel is a well-plotted detective mystery that Sonny sniffs out at the lumber mill, and that develops into another action adventure with multiple outcomes to finish off the book. It’s even better than the first one. There’s no question that author Lindsay is a natural

born storyteller. The pace never slackens. This one starts out with a bang and ends with a bang. And what’s between is darn good storytelling.

 

Swerve: The Little Bastards 2 is available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Swerve-Little-Bastards-Jim-Lindsay/dp/1732637903/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537175757&sr=1-1

One Pilgrim’s Tips, Tricks, Advice, Stories and Insights for the Next Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago by Scott E. Bell

 

A truly inspiring and amusing guide to hiking the Camino de Santiago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confession time, I brought this book because I am longing to hike the Camino de Santiago and I wanted a honest to goodness, personal opinion of what it is really like to do this amazing walk.

I couldn’t have chosen a better book. The author Scott Bell somehow manages to encourage his readers to participate in the Camino whilst giving a warts ‘n all, no holds barred account of his own journey.

Scott starting his adventure at Saint Pied du Port in southern France, although there are various starting points. As we walk this beautiful, historical, journey with him he not only honestly gives his opinions on the sheer physical and mental strain which is put on the body, but he then offers advice on how to overcome them.

Of course on such a long route, accommodation is also very important, and the author discusses the various types of accommodation available, and the pros and cons of each, including some nasty little critters.

For some people the Camino is a spiritual journey, for others it gives them the time to find themselves, some are youth groups, friends, and others are families. During his travels he met and befriended many people from across the world, each with their own story, and reason for doing the Camino, and so human interest stories abound throughout the book.

The one overwhelming thing about this book is that it is truly one man’s journey, recounted with the purpose of helping others discover not only what they will need to undertake it, but also what they don’t need. The size of your backpack and weightiness of unnecessary gear is discussed and recommendations given by the self-named ‘snail’ of the route.

As the author says, the Camino de Santiago is different for each person, and during their journey that person will discover things about themselves they never knew before.

I found this book totally enthralling, and reading it, the author has inspired me to walk my own Camino when I can. I have to say though that even if you have no intention of doing the Camino, this book is jam packed with wonderful information about the villages and landscapes which the walk goes through and it is littered with historically interesting facts. – Highly Recommended!

About the Book:

So you’re thinking about walking the Camino de Santiago? Congratulations! This is the book you’re looking for.

This is not your typical travel guide. You won’t find lists of all the towns along the Camino, distances between them, recommended restaurants, tourist must-sees, yadda, yadda, yadda. There are plenty of good Camino guidebooks and apps out there for that. Nor is this a novel, diary, spiritual journal or reference manual. It is some of each… and a lot more!

Here you’ll find advice to enhance YOUR Camino. Practical stuff, like what to pack. What NOT to pack! Tips to keep you safe and healthy. Advice about carrying money. Key Spanish phrases. Stories to entertain you. I keep it light, I keep it simple, and I keep it real.

My experiences and insights on the Camino Francés will help prepare you for the Camino. But I don’t just want to prepare you to walk the Camino… I want to inspire you! My stories, after all, are MY stories, and my experiences are MY experiences. Your job is to get out there and create your own.

Your adventure awaits.

Available from Amazon in Paperbackhttps://www.amazon.com/Pilgrims-Stories-Insights-Pilgrim-Santiago/dp/1981042601/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1536847910&sr=8-1

and Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/Pilgrims-Stories-Insights-Pilgrim-Santiago-ebook/dp/B07CXKNNS9/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1536847910

 

 

One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence by Keith Van Sickle

 

Can a two-career couple really pick up stakes and move to Provence?

    

When Californian Keith Van Sickle accepted an overseas work post to the French speaking Neuchatel in Switzerland, he and his wife could have believed that this event would be the stimulus which would change their lives forever.

You see, they loved their time abroad so much that on their return to America they decided to become self-employed as consultants. This decision gave them the flexibility and freedom to follow their dream of living in Provence France for periods of time.

So, together with their dog Lucca, they headed for Provence, and in springtime, for three years they stayed in three different locations, Mollégès in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Ventabren in Aix-en-Provence, and Le Thor in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

They were keen to learn the language, make new friends, and immerse themselves in the culture and customs of this beautiful region of France.

Keith’s wonderfully descriptive writing brings alive for his reader the amazing scenery, majestic mountains, incredible chateaux, beautiful villages and culinary delights which they sampled on their visits, and gives a real feel for living there.

As an expat his experiences made me smile as he so eloquently describes the so very unique ways of the French people. There are many examples of how in many different ways they differ so much from the English, some make you smile and some are downright frustrating, but all are interesting to observe, unless of course you are waiting for something or someone to arrive, when their manana sense of time isn’t funny at all.

Reading this book you get a true sense of how important time spent with family, and friends is in France. They are very patriotic and loyal to their country and region, indeed each department has its own culinary specialities, and festivals to celebrate the harvesting of the local produce.

Who could not be amazed at the incredible range of breads, pastries and gateaux which are offered in the boulangeries, and the wide range of produce which can be bought at the markets which are in all the villages however large or small. These markets really are wonderful to investigate, there you can find everything you need from fruit, and fresh goats cheeses direct from the farm, to chickens ready to lay your breakfast eggs.

I highly recommend this fascinating and entertaining book. Whether you love reading about other people’s lives, want to know more about ‘real’ France, or would like to live or holiday there, this very interesting book will captivate and amuse you.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Van Sickle grew up in Alameda, California, the son of public school teachers. He got his first taste of overseas life while spending a college term in England and later backpacked around the world for six months.

Grateful for the scholarships that helped him pay for college, in 1987 he started a foundation that helps students from Alameda pursue a college education.

Keith fell in love with Europe during a five-year expat assignment in Switzerland, where he and his wife Val lived in a village with more cows than people. After returning to the US, Keith helped start a company whose product was so geeky that he still doesn’t quite understand it.

Keith and Val dreamed of living abroad again but were unable to find another expat gig. So they decided to invent their own. Now consultants, they and their trusty dog split their time between Silicon Valley and Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Read more at www.keithvansickle.com

 

About the Book:

Keith and Val had a dream – to live in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight and charming hilltop villages.

But there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs. So they came up with a plan…

Follow their adventures (and misadventures) as they quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries. Laugh along as they build a life in Provence, slowly mastering a new language and making friends with the locals over long meals and just a bit too much wine.

This light and breezy memoir is full of wry observations on France, like the power of cheese to sway elections, the right and wrong ways for men to kiss each other, and the law requiring that blood donors must speak French.

If you’ve ever dreamed of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is really all about, you won’t want to miss this delightful book.

From the Book

Joyeux Anniversaire: The chef had written a cookbook and I bought one for Val, which he signed. His inscription read, “Valérie, vous êtes jeune et délicieuse comme les fèves du printemps” (“Valerie, you are young and delicious like the fava beans of springtime.”) . . . I had so much to learn from the French.

How to Kiss a Frenchman: Here, not far from where we had stayed the year before, it was two kisses on the cheek rather than three. How were we supposed to know this? Was there a border we had crossed but somehow missed the sign? (“Welcome to Eastern Provence. Please Follow the Local Kissing Regulations. And Enjoy Your Lunch, Especially the Asparagus, Which is Delicious Right Now.”)

A Night at the Opera: There are many words that are the same in French and English, like nation, pause, and danger. If I don’t know a word in French, sometimes I will just fake it by using the English word with a French accent. It works most of the time. But you have to be careful. There are words that exist in both languages and have entirely different meanings. These are the infamous faux amis, or “false friends.” Ask Val about the time she shocked her co-workers by talking about preservatives in food. Oops, preservative means “condom.”

Interregnum: France had started to capture our hearts. It wasn’t just a place we visited; it was becoming one of the places we lived. Thomas Jefferson is supposed to have said, “Every man has two countries – his own and France.” Maybe he was on to something.

 

One Sip at a Time is available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/One-Sip-Time-Learning-Provence/dp/0998312002/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/One-Sip-Time-Learning-Provence-ebook/dp/B01N24CGEE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

and as an Audiobook https://www.amazon.com/One-Sip-Time-Learning-Provence/dp/B073ZLMPVG/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

The Little Bastards by Jim Lindsay

 

A true celebration of life in the 1950’s, this coming of age story encompasses the good, bad and the ugly side of this amazing decade.

Although not a biography, the author of this exciting story has utilised his experience of growing up in these times to make this incredible fiction story really unforgettable.

The main character is Sonny Mitchell and it is he and his group of friends who became known as the ‘Little Bastards’ in Willamette, the small town in America where they grew up.

The story begins in the August of 1954, it is Sonny’s 14th birthday and excitement is in the air when his friend Joe informs him that a train wreck has just happened at the golf course. What did the boys do? Well, just like boys would now, they hopped onto their bikes and raced to take a look, oblivious of the chaos they wreaked in the process.

Thus follows years of carefree existence for the ‘Little Bastards’ intermingled with some scary experiences and life lessons. However generally it’s just good fun as being typical boys they build a hideout, giving them a place to smoke, listen to Elvis and Buddy Holly, and generally learning first-hand about life, sometimes the hard way.

Then as they go through their high school and senior years their interests evolve into the drag racing scene, transforming one of the gang’s 1940 Ford standard coupe into a hot rod. Behind a wheel, with driving licences they are free to do what they want, until life brings them up short when they discover that they are not invincible. A truly sobering time. However, nothing can quelled their zest for life for long and so their adventures to go on, with new things and experiences to discover, the world is their oyster.

The 1950’s was a time of freedom, after the wars and depression anything seemed possible, and life was for living. As we follow Sonny and the other ‘Little Bastards’ on the rollercoaster which was their teenage years, through the author’s wonderfully descriptive writing we are given the opportunity to experience those years in a truly unforgettable story.

 

About the Author:

I was born in Corvallis, Oregon on Feb. 18 1947, and raised on a farm nearby
that sustained my parents, brother Bob, and myself. After 8 years of education in a 2 room grade school, I entered and graduated from Albany Union High School. A stint in the Navy Reserve and a year and a half of college was followed by 42 years of farming. I have 2 children, Caralee and Jake, both of Portland, Oregon, and a girlfriend, Kathie. I live on the same farm with my dog Ruby.

I have several hot rods that I drive and an altered roadster that I drag race. I have developed a disease for land speed racing driving a modified roadster I have built.

After two years of writing my novel “The Little Bastards,” I can truthfully say I also have a disease for storytelling. I plan on starting the “Bastards” sequel next fall.

It is difficult to write a bio without talking a lot about oneself and using a lot of I’s. Pardon me.

 

About the Book:

Sonny Mitchell and his friends are blue collar boys who are bursting out of the restraints of tame suburban life. They yearn for action, fast cars, and something more.
A bond forms between members of his club as they progress from bicycles to hot rods, and take on experiences of white-knuckle street racing, beer guzzling…and girls.
But as these kids approach adulthood, a dark edge jeopardizes lives as some take these new exhilarations too far. It will be up to Sonny to stop a tragedy that could destroy the girl he loves and alter the course of his life forever.

 

Available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Little-Bastards-jim-lindsay/dp/1494356732/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1527238436&sr=1-1

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Little-Bastards-jim-lindsay-ebook/dp/B00R377NAI/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1527238436&sr=1-1

and as an Audiobook https://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Bastards/dp/B00S6QKZB4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1527238436&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mumbai Matinee by Ajay Kaul

 

The magical lure of Mumbai

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ajay Kaul is an Engineering Manager who received his degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, and his master’s degree in business administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He loves travel and world history, and in this, his memoir, he has used the substantial time he has spent in Mumbai, to gives his readers the chance to see beneath the surface of this city, the financial capital, and Hollywood of India.

His story begins in February of 1993 when he leaves his home in North India, to accept an internship at Tata Consultancy Services, in the impressive Air India Building, an attraction in the Nariman Point business district of Mumbai. Very quickly he falls in love with the city and so when he graduates the following May as a Chemical Engineer he is happy to return to TCS to work.

Through Ajay the reader is treated to a real glimpse of his life in Mumbai. On his first day he has to forget his mother’s warnings not to eat the food cooked by street vendors, after all he reasons, everyone does so, why shouldn’t he? Just outside his office at his first lunch time he is introduced to Patil, by his mentor Venky. Patil makes pav-bhaji’s at his stall, and Ajay becomes a regular visitor.  Patil’s food is delicious, and soon Ajay discovers that the tale he has to tell about how he became a pav-bhaji seller demonstrates the true entrepreneurial spirit which thrives in Mumbai

Throughout the book the importance of family, and the support the network of family members provides is clear. However, with the passing of the years, the world becomes a smaller place, and the restrictions with strict religious beliefs put on the younger generations can begin to cause problems. There is so much more free will in the modern world, and inter religion marriages are becoming less common. This problem, along with death, crime, and others, are prevalent in today’s society, not only in India but other countries throughout the world. In the telling of this memoir they all have a place.

As we journey with Ajay on the adventure which is his life, we travel to other parts of Mumbai and then farther afield, to the USA when he is accepted into Arizona State University. However, even when he lives in America he is still very much in touch with his family and friends in India, and he loves to visit his beloved Mumbai to catch up with them and watch cricket of course!

In this interesting book, Indian culture, taboos, traditions, food, cricket, and many other things are brought alive by the author, and through his writing we celebrate the amazingly vibrant city which is Mumbai.

 

About the Author:

Ajay Kaul is an engineering manager, writer, and blogger based out of Orange County, California. His work led to him spending a significant amount of time in the city of Mumbai, India, and his stories in Mumbai Matinee show the many different sides of the colorful city.

Kaul received his degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, and his master’s degree in business administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He loves traveling and studying world history.

About the Book:

Ajay doesn’t know what to expect when he moves to the bustling city of Mumbai. He himself hails from North India, and the culture shock of the dynamic city takes a bit of getting used to. He’s captivated, though, and Ajay falls in love with the colorful metropolis and its many inhabitants. In the city, he will find love, friendship, and community—but also danger and the threat of disaster.

It all begins in 1993, when Ajay comes to Mumbai on a short internship assignment. He is caught in the shock wave of the 1993 serial bombings. Despite this brush with death, Ajay is determined to learn the secrets of the city.

After graduation, he comes back and finds new stories in the city’s streets. Ajay meets an interfaith couple who teach him about the power of love, a local labor leader who is more than he seems, and a dynamic acting teacher who could become something more. He also suffers another close call more than a decade after the bombings. Still, for every troubling experience, there’s one that pushes Ajay beyond his comfort zone and spurs him to embrace all his adopted city has to offer.

Available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Mumbai-Matinee-Ajay-Kaul/dp/1974413284/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522140804&sr=8-1&keywords=mumbai+matinee

and Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/Mumbai-Matinee-Ajay-Kaul-ebook/dp/B078PS5JYC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1522140804&sr=8-1

and

Barnes & Noble in Paperback https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mumbai-matinee-ajay-kaul/1127702250?ean=9781974413287