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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FROM YELLOW STAR TO POP STAR by Dorit Oliver-Wolff @doritoliver @RedDoorBooks @PublishingPush

From Yellow Star to Pop Star: How one young girl survived the Holocaust and became a singing sensationFrom Yellow Star to Pop Star: How one young girl survived the Holocaust and became a singing sensation by Dorit Oliver-Wolff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Yellow Star to Pop Star is a memoir of a remarkable women who survived the Holocaust, mal-nutrition, cruelty, greed, injustice and went on to have a singing career, bring up a family and be part of a team raising awareness of the holocaust.

Dorit Oliver-Wolff began her life as Theodora Handler born into a Jewish family in Novi Sad, in 1936. In 1941 she was living in Belgrade when the war rained its relentless bombs down on the city. They escaped to the hills and were aided by the partisans. Next they headed for Hungary, but soon found this a dangerous place as the authorities administered ethnic cleansing. Constantly running to keep one step ahead of the Germans and arrest Dorit and her mother were living in the catacombs of Budapest when the Russians drove the Germans out. They were still not safe, they found themselves under Serbian rule at the end of the war and behind the Iron Curtain.

The next stage of their lives saw them emigrating to Israel in 1948. It was here that she changed her name to Dorit, but the story doesn’t end. Constantly moving home, Dorit and her mother were in Turkey when the authorities wanted to deport her as she had no passport. Swift action got her to her German grandparents and later her mother joined her, forming a singing and dance troop. They travelled widely on artist’s visas, so that Dorit could finish her education and earn money in the process. Dorit had many extraordinary experiences with her singing career which took her around much of Europe and Asia. She became a famous singer in great demand, but her story is one of an amazing women, knocked down many times but constantly picking herself up and fighting back.

This is a very inspiring story, the war years were truly horrific and their tale should be told to generations to come, many lives were lost, many never lived to tell their tale, Dorit was one of the lucky ones and her story will stay with me for a long time.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author via Red Door Publishing & Publishing Push

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AGAINST THE FLOW #FridayFiveChallenge Outback Life

Welcome to my Friday Five Challenge.

Mug 1

Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

(then write a little analysis about your decision)

This week with the overcast English sky, I extended my book search to the Australian Outback.

Find a copy here from or

Book description

Life growing up in outback Queensland was tough in the 1930’s. Ruth Ann Jellet should know, she lived it. In Against The Flow she recalls the hardship and memories of a Queensland long gone. She recalls a life lived on the river, of rabbit fences and Model Ts. Of a family that survived against the odds. Against the Flow is her first book, an improbable family history captured before her 80th Birthday.

Price; £0.99 Kindle or $1.53

Pages; 126

No reviews

Would I BUY or PASS?…. I would BUY


This cover stood out against many other travel books to do with the outback. I liked the calm still water and the golden writing, with the tinges of orange peeking over the riverbank suggesting heat and the Australian harshness. This era appeals and the idea of real life memories offers escape from the English autumn days and dark evenings. No reviews bothers me slightly and perhaps suggests the author has not pushed to market her work, the book was published in 2014 by MadHouse Media, but they don’t look like they have anything to do with the marketing. As the author is around 80 years old, I expect this book is the result of a wish to write and publish a book as a celebration of her life. Still it has piqued my interest.

Here are links to other bloggers taking part in this weeks challenge

Shelley is back in the school playground

Cathy has found a Paranormal book to cheer up Autumn

Alison is thinking ahead to December

Liz has been looking at British History

Traveling The Two-Lane by Marilyn Berman @booklogix @TwoLaneTravel #Bookreview #wwwblogs

Traveling the Two-Lane: A Memoir and TravelogueTraveling the Two-Lane: A Memoir and Travelogue by Marilyn Berman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Travelling The Two-Lane is travelogue and memoir of author Marilyn Berman. At aged 63 she boldly set off travelling across Northern America for 18 months from her home in Atlanta. In a decked out campervan and her trusty SatNav Marilyn headed off on May 1st 2004 with an ultimate aim of reaching Alaska.

Marilyn’s journey was both physical and mental, hence the book title. For the majority of Marilyn’s life she struggled with her sexual orientation and found she lived a double life. The one she showed her family, the world where she tried to lead a “normal” life and the second life where she met with and had relations with other women. The second life forced into secrecy and hiding so often by legislation and closed minds of those around her.

By taking to the open road, Marilyn met new people and experienced the riches of the world. She met Maureen an art teacher who helped women in need and took Marilyn to discover the head waters of the great Mississippi river. In Rugby, North Dakota she stopped at the geographical centre of North America. In Calgary she visited the Glacier National Park and in Winnipeg the Mennonite Heritage Village. At Thunder Bay she found the Terry Fox memorial for a man who fought cancer and raised $25million dollars for cancer research before he died aged just 22 years old.

She changed her mind about visiting Alaska, heading to Maine for the winter where she rented a house for six months because it would be too cold in her campervan. Here she was welcomed to a tiny community and found people didn’t judge her, they accepted her. In the spring she set off once again and discovered Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, before travelling down to New Mexico to meet friends and finally returning to Atlanta.

An interesting book about fighting for the right to live your life as you want while enjoying the experiences of the world’s riches.

My favourite lines were these;

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways…totally worn out, screaming ‘WOO-HOO, What a ride!'”

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me from the author via BookLogix

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Confessions Of An Assassin by Linda Heavner Gerald @LindaHeavnerGer #bookreview

Confessions of an AssassinConfessions of an Assassin by Linda Heavner Gerald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Confessions of an Assassin is a memoir style book. The storyline then rolls out the life of Catherine Carnegie from childhood to her age of around 50 when she is looking back on her life.

The author’s familiar writing style is to tell us about the events of her life and I picked up the writing voice from another of Linda’s books, which I had previously read. The first 23 chapters tell us about Catherine’s privileged upbringing, her love of “Gone With The Wind” and a wish to live a Southern style life in a house like Tara. We learn of the choices she made, the loss of her parents and the introduction to Frank, who has unsettling characteristics.

Catherine first met Frank at college and she remembers his wish to enter the CIA and it’s Frank who reveals he’s been following her and recruits her. Catherine is used as a glamorous assistant to Frank as he gathers information and her big chance is when she is asked to play a game to get close to a new target.

When Catherine quickly falls in love with Farid, she begins a new life of luxury as a kept woman. Farid has his own secrets, but showers Catherine with expensive gifts and they share a love of painting.

When the CIA go one step too far asking Catherine to kill Farid, she turns to God for help and confesses all.

The author wants to tell us through Catherine’s story that regardless of your actions, God will always welcome you back.

From the title I thought this book was going to be full of stories from a hardened assassin, it’s not, in fact Catherine doesn’t kill anyone. It was always going to be a memoir, this one has a religious moral it wants to portray.

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Noelle reviews Stranded In The Seychelles by Bev Spicer @BevSpicer

Today we have a review from Noelle, she blogs at


Noelle chose to read and review Stranded In The Seychelles by Bev Spicer.


Stranded in the Seychelles is a fun, frothy memoir of two young women looking for adventure before they have to make a life decision about settling down. It is written by Bev Spicer, who has written several humorous memoirs of her life, including Bunny on a Bike, telling of the time she was a Playboy croupier in London.

Bev and Carol, her bosom buddy, have come to a fork in the road. Carol has just returned from teaching English to monks in Tibet, while Bev has held a series of uninspiring jobs, including typing out legal contracts and folding and labelling bin bags to send off with a quote to possible customers (that one really impressed me!). She finally gets a postgraduate teaching certificate from Cambridge and, at the time of this story, has been teaching English to uninterested secondary school students for a year. When Bev comes across an ad for qualified English teachers for the National Youth Service of the Seychelles, they both bite. I had to look up the Seychelles: the Seychelles Islands are an archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the eat coast of Africa, in the same general region as Zanzibar, Madagascar and Mauritius. The two friends fly out to their new island home, picturing a luxury villa on a beach, tropical fruit and air-conditioned class rooms. They should have been alarmed by the lack of information or even a syllabus for the classes they were to teach. By this time the reader is thinking too good to be true, don’t do it!

They step off their plane into the climate of a convection oven, peopled by native and mixed raced individuals who speak mainly Creole, with strange customs and even stranger food. Eventually they are given their own house, with a steady breeze from the ocean and electricity. Also lizards and a wondrous variety of spiders, which spin webs like nets overnight.

Their school is on another island, which they reach by landing craft each morning, together with other recruited teachers. The voyage is spent gagging on the acrid black smoke from the engine. Their classrooms are outside under tin roofs, which heat the air beneath to baking levels by the end of each day, and have poisonous centipedes dropping in from time to time. Teachers at the school come from various European countries as well as Sri Lanka and Mauritius, making a colourful, multilingual lot. The students, by contrast, are perpetually sleepy and unengaged in learning, despite Bev and Carol’s best efforts.

This memoir is filled with eclectic characters, surprising and humorous adventures, lots of local beer, and experiences on and with an ancient Kawasaki 250 cc motorbike they purchase for getting around. Along the way, the reader is nicely schooled in the sometimes harsh realities of life in a poor, politically unstable country. A concatenation of events lead to Sue and Carol’s long and eventually successful attempt to terminate their contract after the first school term: most significantly to them was the ban on traveling anywhere during their breaks except within the Seychelles and Mauritius. Not to mention the lack of eligible men.

This was a fun read, written with a sharp wit and keen sense of humour, with an eye to the ridiculous and candour with the politics. It’s a great memoir. It made me want to be young again, carefree and open to any adventure.

Bev Spicer was born in a small market town in the Midlands of England and educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge. She was a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University before moving to live in France with her husband and two of her children; there she writes full-time. Along the way, she has been a teacher, blackjack dealer for Playboy, examiner, secretary (various sorts – most boringly ‘legal’) and Sunday checkout girl at Tescos. As well as France, she has lived in Bridgnoth, Cambridge, Rethymnon (Crete), and Mahe (Seychelles). The next place she has said she wants to explore is probably Spain. She reports that her husband is very tolerant.

She loves people, reading, writing, speaking French, astronomy (quantum theory addict), gardening, traveling, and hates housework, cooking, drizzle and honey.

Sounds like my kind of author!

Find a copy here from or




Guest Author Nigel R. Hicks

Today our guest is Nigel Hicks author of “Some People Prefer Hotels, Motorhome Novices Tour Cornwall”. Here’s a link to the review post.

Nigel & Monty

Let’s find out more about Nigel

1) Where is your home town?

I was brought up in Fleet (Hampshire) and in January 1960 was amongst the first intake into the brand new Court Moor Secondary Modern School. My favourite subject was English and Miss Holt, my first English teacher, always encouraged me to write. Unfortunately, when it was time to leave school, the only careers advice given to us was “Boys get an apprenticeship: Girls become secretaries or nurses, but you don’t really have to bother as you will get married and give up work.” I followed the advice and became an engineering apprentice at the old Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. Although, given better guidance, I’ve often felt I could have had a career in journalism.

I moved around in my job with the MoD and lived on the South Coast, near Lee-on-the-Solent; Farnham, Surrey; the beautiful village of Chiselborough, near Yeovil in Somerset, and now reside in Highcliffe, Dorset, where we bought a tired bungalow as a retirement project.

2) Is this your first book that you have written?  

Yes it is – maybe the first of many?

3) What made you want to write about holidaying in a motorhome?

I’ve always been an avid reader, particularly enjoying memoirs, nostalgia, travel and humour, and for a long time it was an ambition of mine to write something of my own – but what?

Inspiration came whilst driving to Cornwall on our maiden motorhome tour. During torrential rain my windscreen wiper packed up; we endured twenty-four hours of rotten weather cooped up in our confined space with Monty, our faithful Border Terrier, surrounded by dripping wet weather gear and muddy boots; I encountered a wobbly campsite WC pan and temperamental showers, and started to think that buying the motorhome was a terrible mistake. Thankfully the weather improved, but as my wife, Emm, and I got to explore some of Cornwall’s most idyllic and historic places, some for the first time and others we’d been to before, if something could go wrong, it generally did…

I wrote down everything that happened, and when a grumpy old work colleague said he’d only ever stay in hotels, I knew I had a catchy title, Some People Prefer Hotels, and started to write in earnest. The result isn’t simply a travelogue: it’s full of humour, and as well as writing about the places we visited, the farcical situations we found ourselves in and my crotchety observations about our campsite experiences, I also go on a personal inner journey as sentimental old memories – for example of schooldays in Fleet – were triggered off.

4) Can you tell the readers why you and Emm decided to buy a motorhome?

Before we were married we’d go on camping trips in our small tent (it was the only way we could spend the night together!) and, later enjoyed staying in static caravans with our young daughters.

Approaching retirement, Emm had hankered after a holiday home abroad and we’d been tempted with a property in the South of France. Finance didn’t seem a problem as, in the days before the credit crunch, the building society were happy to give us – or rather loan us – enough money to buy it. However, increasing our mortgage by tens of thousands of pounds and extending it for another twenty-five years didn’t seem a good idea. Also, as Emm hates flying, I didn’t think we’d get much use out of it.

But with a motorhome, I reasoned, once we’d both retired, we’d be able to travel to loads of different places in the UK and Europe, as well as revisit many of our favourite haunts.

5) What is the best bit about having a motorhome?

 Having the freedom to: –

o   Go where we want, stay as long as we want.

o   If we particularly like a place, to be able to stay longer.

o   If we don’t like a place, to be able to move on to pastures new.

o   Being able to make a cup of tea or snack at any time.

o   Having our own on-board toilet.

o   To be able to take Monty, our beloved Border Terrier, with us.

6) What drawbacks are there to holidaying in a motorhome?


  • Getting out and about on holiday, have to carefully plan routes and avoid narrow lanes.
  • Parking can sometimes be difficult or downright impossible where height barriers are installed.
  • If wet and confined to motorhome for any length of time, can be cramped in such a confined space and difficult to dry wet clothes and muddy boots.

7) Tell us some unusual items you would recommend to take on tour with your motorhome.


  • For some unknown reason, some campsites we’ve stayed at have had their washbasin plugs missing. Why people pilfer the plugs is beyond me, and it’s really annoying having to shave in a plug-less basin. So it’s a good idea to spend a couple of pounds in the plumber’s merchant and take some plugs with you. Only problem is that if someone sees you with a plug, they are liable to think you are one of the idiotic plug thieves!
  • Good idea to have an old pair of gloves to use when coiling up the electric hook-up cable. When on grass, even if it hasn’t been raining, I’ve found that the cable was usually wet from the morning dew, as well as muddy from worm casts, and it was really annoying to get my hands wet and slimy.
  • No matter what, always take your sense of humour!


8) What are your top 3 warning for novice drivers of motorhomes?


  • Avoid muddy pitches at all costs. It’s a nightmare if the wheels start spinning, sink deep into the mud and you get stuck!
  • However tempting, don’t try to take shortcuts and drive down narrow lanes. I speak from experience and got hopelessly lost driving on an ever narrowing lane near the Helford River in Cornwall. The bushes and overhanging branches seemed to engulf us, and not daring to carry on we struggled to reverse round a bend and up a hill before we could turn back onto a wider lane.
  • Don’t trust Sat Navs. There are loads of examples of vans getting wedged between houses in very narrow streets, especially delivery vans in Polperro, and there’s no way you want to find yourself in that situation!


9) How much can you expect to pay for an overnight pitch at a campsite for a motorhome?

It varies enormously depending on the facilities on offer. Some pubs allow motorhomes to overnight on their car parks for free if eating a meal in the pub; otherwise they may charge £5 or so. Certified Locations (CLs), which are usually just a field with a tap and no toilets or showers, typically charge £8-£10 or thereabouts. And at the best camp sites, with superb washroom facilities, swimming pools, bars, etc., it’s possible to pay over £40 per night in the high season, reducing to around £15 – £20 in the low season.

10) In your book, you’ve toured Cornwall, where else have you taken your motorhome since?

We do tend to go to the West Country a lot. But have also been to the Lake District many times where our eldest daughter and granddaughters live. We’ve often been for several weeks, and in the middle of our stay gone off for a few days to do our own thing, chill out and explore on our own. Once we followed Hadrian’s Wall and went to the Beamish Museum which was fantastic.

We’ve also been to France several times and explored Brittany, Normandy (le Mont Saint-Michel was incredible), La Dordogne and Le Val de Loire. Motorhomes are made incredibly welcome in France, parking is easy and there is far less traffic on the roads. We are planning to go again soon and, maybe, I’ll write a book about our French experiences!

Find a copy here from or Troubador Books

Thank you Nigel it’s been great reading about motorhome travels.

Visit Nigel’s website to read the first 3 chapters of his book for free. 

Guest Author Robyn Oyeniyi

Today my guest author is Robyn Oyeniyi, who has an interesting story behind her book. Please join me in welcoming Robyn.

I hope you may consider my book interesting!

1)       Tell me your name   Robyn Oyeniyi

2) Where do you live?    Melbourne, Australia with my wonderful husband and four noisy step-children from Nigeria.

3)When did you start writing?     On and off for years, but this is the first time I have published a book. I’ve written articles for professional and hobby journals in the past and write technical manuals – very dry and boring stuff! Our story is important. Civil Rights is important. Human Rights is important. So I wrote.

4)What type of books do you like writing the most? My published book is a memoir. Now I am writing a science fiction piece. Defining my sci-fi characters is fun, much more fun that writing about government bureaucrats in my memoir.

5)Pass on 3 tips about writing or publishing. 1) Edit until you just can’t face reading it one more time, then get an editor. 2) Network. 3) Believe in your work.

6)What was the last book that you read? How would you rate it? I haven’t read anything for ages – fighting the government doesn’t leave a lot of time. However I have three books on my side-table that I am going to start every night. One has to read in order to write, but life has been more hectic than I ever bargained for.

7)Now choose just one of your books and add a link to it. Love versus Goliath or information page on my website:

Product Details

Kind regards