Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT DANGEROUS by Ian Probert @Truth42 #Boxing industry #Memoir

Today’s team review is from Chris, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Chris has been reading Dangerous by Ian Probert


An unexpected read that delves deep into the issues that athletes and fans face when things go wrong in sport.

A few decades after leaving the sport behind following a rather harrowing event, ex sports journalist Ian Probert returns to investigate boxing and all the changes that have occurred since his last foray into the sport. And change it has…

Based on the blurb, I was expecting a book on boxing but, instead, I got a memoir punctuated by meetings, memories, and the good (and bad) that the sport brought out in the author. This was an interesting story that delved into the depths of the human psyche, and charts the effects that wins, losses, and retirement can have on fighters and fans alike. It is not always comfortable or indeed pleasurable reading, but it is a very interesting memoir cum investigation that makes you think about the sport in very different ways.

*Thank you to the author and to #RBRT for my free review copy.

Book Description

A quarter of a century ago journalist and author Ian Probert decided never to write about boxing again. His decision was prompted by the injuries sustained by boxer Michael Watson during his world title fight with Chris Eubank. Now, in common with so many fighters, Probert is making an inevitable comeback. Dangerous sees Probert return to the scene of an obsession that has gripped him from childhood. In the course of numerous meetings with a number of leading figures in the fight game, including Herol Graham, Steve Collins, Michael Watson, Nigel Benn, Ambrose Mendy, Rod Douglas, Frank Buglioni, Kellie Maloney, Glen McCrory and Jim McDonnell among others, Probert takes a look at how lives have changed, developed and even unravelled during the time he has been away from the sport. From an illuminating and honest encounter with transgender fight manager Kellie Maloney to an emotional reunion with Watson himself, Probert discovers just how much the sport has changed during his absence. The end result is one of the most fascinating and unusual books ever to have been written about boxing.

About the author

Ian Probert

Ian Probert has been scribbling down words ever since he learned to spell the phrase: ‘Once upon a time…’. He is the author of Internet Spy, Rope Burns and a bunch of other titles. Internet Spy was a bestseller in the US and made into a TV film. Rope Burns is a book about why books shouldn’t be written about boxing. Ian has also written things for a shed load of newspapers and magazines. When Ian was a student he used to write lots of letters to the bank manager.

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THERE’S ALWAYS MORE TO SAY by Lynda Young Spiro #Memoir @lyndaspiro

There is Always More to Say: A Never-Ending Story About an Everlasting FriendshipThere is Always More to Say: A Never-Ending Story About an Everlasting Friendship by Lynda Young Spiro
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three Point Five Stars.

There is always more to say reads as a memoir about a long friendship between two people who first met in London in 1984. The narrator had a job in a Soho café and met Alex when she swapped shifts one day. Alex was here from the States and the pair bonded and kept in touch sporadically throughout their later life.

This a pouring out of all the unsaid emotions, passions and frustrations the narrator felt about their relationship. The sub-characters all have suitable cross gender names which leave the reader guessing and double guessing as to who they really were; Sam, Charlie and Ashley are all cleverly written to give little away. Sometimes it worked and other times the lack of any real labels to attach them too became annoying. There were also some places where the narrative became repetitive which slowed the storyline. I did enjoy the quotes at the beginning and ends of chapters. This is an unusual book, but a quick read.

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Book Description

A heartfelt novel about the connections that bring people together.
Soho 1984: Two people meet and their worlds are changed forever. An unexpected meeting – a look that means their lives will never be the same again. 
In There Is Always More To Say Lynda Spiro chronicles the lives of the couple through friendships, marriage, fleeting moments and snatched time. It is a passionate account about a connection between two people that never dies even when tested by distance and when life throws the unexpected at their feet.

About the author

Lynda Spiro

Lynda Young Spiro is a mixed media artist whose love of textiles, found objects and recyclable materials are incorporated into her colourful work. Lynda was born in 1959 in Hampstead, London, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. Her previous book Latch-Hooking Rugs is published by A & C Black. There is Always More to Say is her first novel.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT A MINGER’S TALE: BEGINNINGS by @rbnbookmark #Memoir

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading A Minger’s Tale: Beginnings by R.B.N Bookmark



There are many reasons why someone writes a book and for this author it was the death of his father that was the trigger for him to start telling his story which is in the form of a memoir, and this, as the subtitle promises, covers the early days of his life, from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.

I was a little behind on some of things this writer experienced for two reasons. Firstly, I am a few years younger so my terms of reference are a little off, and secondly, we grew up in very different worlds. Ribban, for that is what everyone calls him, was born to strict, hardworking Irish immigrants and was brought up on the harsh council house streets of Manchester, while I was not.

I really enjoyed the reminiscences of his family and of a childhood growing up among the regeneration (or as he calls it disintegration) schemes that gave the local children an unusual playground of empty houses awaiting demolition to play in. Ribban was a naughty child who struggled to settle into school, and later into work, and he was in and out of hospital which set back his education. He talks candidly about the corporal punishment he endured (something seen as perfectly normal at the time) and about being rubbish at maths and with women, although that became more apparent later on. I have to add that I absolutely loved his mother – her defence of him when he started at St Iggy’s was priceless and the time when she went to get a job – I could picture her perfectly.

The things I did not enjoy so much was the author putting himself down all the time by using the term minger. As we are told at the beginning of this book the British slang definition of this term is someone who fell out of the ugly tree at birth and hit every branch on the way down. I suspect some readers will also find some of the one liners a little cheesy. But you know what this is an honest book, telling things like they are so I guess these are pretty true to life.

There is so much to comment on as you read this book, unemployment, riots, the effect the Thatcher era had on the North that it’s well worth a read if only to compare lives and experiences during this time.

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THE SECRET PIANO by Zhu Xiao-Mei #Autobiography #Memoir #China Revolution #TuesdayBookBlog

The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg VariationsThe Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations by Zhu Xiao-Mei
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Secret Piano by Zhu Xiao-Mei is an autobiography or true-life memoir of a talented Chinese pianist. It deals in detail with the Cultural Revolution in China which took place between 1966 and 1971 and how extreme it was.

Mao Zedong’s vision was of a China fee of Capitalism, Imperialism and with a victorious Communist way of living; no rich, no poor, only well fed workers and peasants. The reality was very different.

Xiao-Mei’s family pre-revolution were given opportunities, her mother was a music teacher and at times the sole bread-winner. A change from traditional Chinese upbringing where wives were often seen as being “useful wife” or “wise mother”. Ziao-Mei’s mother had gone to school and been the best student, she stood up to the proposal of an arranged marriage and married the man she loved. They had five girls and no sons which was disapproved of in Chinese society.

As a child Xiao-Mei fell in love with music and her mother taught her to play the piano. she got a place in the Beijing Conservatory a music school where she was intensely taught piano. However Mao’s Cultural Revolution soon caught up, a campaign against culture, and anyone seen as having any connections to a once privilege lifestyle. The people were forced to look inside at themselves and self-criticise first themselves and then others in daily self-denunciation and enforced brain-washing. It seemed that no one was allowed to feel more important than the lowest person in China.

Demonstrations, public humiliation and violence spread out of control, splitting up families, pitting everyone against each other. Millions of Chinese were uprooted and sent to re-education camps which in reality were imprisoned labour camps. Xiao-Mei spent five terrible years suffering in such prisons.

With Mao’s death the harsh grip on China dissolved, but the people were left dazed and disoriented years behind other world cultures. Throughout it all Xiao-Mei’s love of music kept her strong enough to survive. She left China, first for Hong-King , then America and finally found a home in France. The second half of the book tells of her struggles to understand the “free” society first in America and then in France, but she found many helping hands and her music saw her through. Xiao-Mei’s renditions of Bach’s Goldberg variations are very well known in the music world and this book is her life-story.

Find a copy here from or available free from Kindle Unlimited

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT RUNNING IN HEELS by Mary A Peréz @MarysReflection #Memoir

Today’s team review is from Aurelia, she blogs at

#RBRT Review Team

Aurelia has been reading Running In Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace by Mary A Peréz


In Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace Mary A. Peréz tells her life story – a Puerto Rican girl who experiences severe poverty as a niña, teenage marriage and subsequent divorce, single parenthood with cuatro niños, and a second marriage in which the finally proves to be satisfying. But, it’s not just the story line that makes this book alluring, it’s the way the story is told. Every word is rich and carefully selected. Every page grasps the readers’ attention. Every chapter demonstrates the fine art of writing. The dialogue, the letters, and the descriptions evoke imagery. Indeed this book reads like a movie. And, without being preachy in the slightest bit, Mary A. Peréz shows how God-given principles shape her decisions. For instance, she writes:  “My kids happily camped out in their backyard in a tent under a full moon. Out of respect for Mark’s Jehovah’s Witness family, I slept on their couch while Mark spread out nearby on the floor.”

Anyone can benefit by obtaining and reading a copy of Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace. (5 out of 5) I highly recommend it.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT BREADLINE by Alain Dizerens

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Terry has been reading Breadline by Alain Dizerens


Breadline by Alain Dizerens

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

Hmm – a strange one! It’s not very long, probably novelette or short novella length, a memoir of the jobs taken on by the author, from experience of Vietnam, to a distributor for washing powder samples, a nightwatchman, and time on a kibbutz.

The whole presentation is quite ‘experimental’, a series of memory snapshots with little to link them together. It needs editing, for sure, and the style is eccentric, but it’s not without charm. I liked some parts, like the author’s take on pretentious art critics, while working as a caretaker at a Picasso exhibition, and of the banal attitude of the masses who passed by the works of art as if they were wallpaper or worse, and I very much liked his observation about how, when returning from Vietnam, even things like being able to switch on a light or sit in a comfortable chair felt like luxuries, but how quickly one got used to them, and began to complain about stuff that didn’t matter, again…

This books reminded me of the early days of self-publishing on Kindle, before writers were urged to make their books conform to professional standards, and to be aware of their market; I imagine that with some re-drafting, more detail and a more enticing cover this would appeal to the reader who seeks the unconventional.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT BREADLINE by Alain Dizerens #WeekendBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Noelle has been reading Breadline by Alan Dizerens


Book Review: Breadline by Alain Dizerens

It took me a while to get through this book, mostly because it is so descriptively rich that it was like eating a double chocolate fudge cake with dark chocolate icing: you can only digest a little at a time.

This is an autobiographical novel of a man trying to experience, and find his place in, the world – while trying to support himself. He is a self-proclaimed “adventurer of dreams” and his first adventure is in Vietnam during the war there. He experiences the conflict first hand, never expecting to see the next day’s dawn, until he decides he’s had enough and returns home.

He wallows in the comfort of western civilization for a few weeks, before the feeling of well-being wears off. There follows a series of experiences that leave him discouraged: a distributor of laundry powder samples to housewives, never being able to fulfill his quota; an assembler of tiny components in a sewing machine factory; a hunting guide who’s never fired a gun in Cameroon; part-time custodian at a Picasso exhibit; a night watchman who’s afraid of the dark; a volunteer in a kibbutz after the Yom Kippur War, where he works in a brush factory while reading the Torah at night – all of these jobs are described with great wit and not a little humor.

His descriptions of being a custodian at the Picasso exhibit resonated profoundly with me; as a tour guide I experienced many of the appalling and curious tourist behaviors he did, but was never as sanguine. I certainly couldn’t describe them with as much fun.

His descriptive paragraphs are vivid, if composed of one long run-on sentence:

“On miniature stuffed wicker stools in front of small bistros with a single, naked light bulb and walls painted in absinthe green of Sahara blue, unshaven men in the black and white checkered keffiyeh drink coffee in tiny dirty glasses while others, wearing turbans and wrapped in old coasts, string their sup’ah absently to the sounds of lamenting Arabic music.”

Home again in Europe, he takes a dream job (good pay, nights off, and the use of his creative skills) in a professional training center with several thousand, minority apprentice mechanics, masons, electricians, fitters, butchers, hairdressers and florists. There he teaches a bit of law, accounting, correspondence, French, civics and economics. More laughs, this time out loud.

Unfortunately, he runs into the brotherhood of ‘sworn-in methodologists,’ which make his job a nightmare. And more laughs, this time based on my own personal experience.

And then, he writes a book…

To read Breadline is a unique experience, and one I recommend everyone try. Part philosophy, part humor, part captivating prose – this book has it all. The one minor flaw was the tendency of the prose to assume a shade of purple in some spots, a little over the top. Perhaps because this book is a translation from the French?

In any event, I recommend Breadline. I know many of Rosie’s followers will enjoy it, even in small bites.

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CODE NAME: PAPA: My Extraordinary Life While Hiding In Plain Sight by John Murray @CodeNamePapaBk

Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain SightCode Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight by John Murray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Code Name: Papa – My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight is a literary memoir / political thriller / true crime that tells the story of John Murray. He was the head of US covert operations for a large international group. This group, while not connected to the US government, operated with the full blessing of top people in our government.”

Code name Papa is part one of a trilogy, written in first person it is the memoir of a trained assassin and leader of a group of men and women who travelled the world secretly taking down the “Bad Guys”.

The story begins in 1965 when 3 marines meet and become friends. The narrator, Jake and Bill are sent to Vietnam where they are lucky to escape with their lives. Helped home by Jake’s father, the three once more are gathered together and offered a chance to join a secret group of protectors. They undertake strict physical and mental training and are prohibited from telling their families anything about their new jobs.

In 1976 Jake’s father dies and the narrator takes over the code name “Papa” and leads the group on missions which take them across the world, crossing borders, working under the radar with others from opposing political and national countries, these missions are about the rouge agents, the people high up in lines of command who are no longer trustworthy and ridding the world of baddies.

A compelling read spanning the years between 1965 and the 21st Century. I liked the fact that this is a memoir so you know what you are reading is pretty true. There is room to streamline the sentences and dialogue, they are often clumsy and overlong, over-explaining minor details like walking, driving and opening doors, too much use of “she told me… I replied, that…she then told me…” a bit of slimming would make the book flow easier for the reader and make it a 5* read.

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A free copy of the book was given to me by Book Publicity Services.

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AMERICAN FEMALE: A TRUE TALE OF ADVENTURE By Emily Carpenter #Memoir @american_female

American Female: A True Tale of AdventureAmerican Female: A True Tale of Adventure by Emily Carpenter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

American Female is a memoir set in approximately one year of Emily Carpenter’s life 2013/2014 while she worked for businessman Rune Andromeda.

Based in St Louis, Rune runs a camera bag business called “Click”, bags for adventure photographers. Emily is employed as Rune’s Deputy Director, entering the business knowing nothing, Rune grooms Emily via extreme controlling and manipulating actions alternating positive and negative appraisal which reflect a sociopathic personality disorder.

Emily accompanies Rune on trips to Asia to meet suppliers, factories and new business contacts. Emily later organises their stand at a trade show in Cologne and is even asked to organise Rune’s wedding in Central America. A ruthless businessman Rune expects his workers to be available 24/7, adhere to strict company rules and accept his withdrawal of performance related pay over minor details. He is a manipulative monster, constantly berating Emily to the point of collapse, then switching on his “Mr Nice Guy” routine.

The punishing demands of Rune put paid to Emily’s personal life and at a low point she meets Dmitri and there is Instalove, but does this even stand a chance?

The writing style of this book takes the role of “Telling” rather than “Showing” us Emily’s story, which makes it hard to empathise with her. The year is filled with a mass of characters and it is hard to know which need remembering because they are key players, or which just have minor roles. I was disappointed by the ending. Part of me is not convinced about the seriousness of the work, when the work is advertised as a Doo Doo publication, a main business supplier is called Dumbo and even Rune’s camera business name “Click” is a poor choice. Add weak dialogue tags and a few disbelief moments at the credibility of several action scenes with timing, makes me suggest the book goes through another edit.

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DO NOT WASH HANDS IN PLATES by @BarbTaub #Travel #India #Memoir #Bookreview

Do Not Wash Hands In Plates: Elephant frenzy, parathas, temples, palaces, monkeys...and the kindness of Indian strangersDo Not Wash Hands In Plates: Elephant frenzy, parathas, temples, palaces, monkeys…and the kindness of Indian strangers by Barb Taub
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do Not Wash Hands In Plates is a fun travel memoir. Three women who have been friends for 35 years, since they roomed together at University decided on a re-union in India. Their aim was to eat their way across the country and slip in a temple viewing or two, plus see some of the vibrant colours and culture this continent has to offer.

Luckily one of them is a “local gal” Jaya lives in India, but Barb and Janine were the ultimate western travellers. With Jaya’s language knowledge, planning, family members spread across India and her negotiating skills, Barb and Janine were treated to some brilliant hospitality and experiences.

I laughed at the image caused by the over-night train to Delhi, where late booking meant top bunks for the friends. Jaya’s constant optimism that “People are Kind in India” was wonderful and opened many doors for the travellers.

They weren’t the only tourists on their trip and they were hampered a little when places were closed down for cleaning and redecoration due to the impending visit of President Obama, but it didn’t stop them for long.

I really enjoyed the tea museum, elephant trip and the textile museum chapters. Plus who couldn’t be excited by all the delightful food they sampled. The book is interspersed with lovely pictures from the trip for the reader to immerse themselves in the people and nation that is India.

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