🪑Ideal For Armchair Travel. Georgia Reviews Tales From The Hamlet by Cassandra Campbell-Kemp for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Georgia.

Georgia blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Georgia has been reading Tales From The Hamlet by Cassandra Campbell-Kemp

Book cover for Tales from The Hamlet by Cassandra Campbell-Kemp
Tales From The Hamlet by Cassandra Campbell-Kemp

After taking up a job which required this author to pack up and move to Italy, she was then made redundant 15 months later. Naturally this was terribly unsettling and left her unable to return home due to a lack of funds and the fact her own home was rented out. However, Campbell-Kemp is a gregarious character and although her dream of a new life appeared to be over and her belongings and aged Siamese cat had nowhere to go, a friend kindly offered them a home in his tiny converted barn in his family’s ‘Borgo’. This is a cluster of rustic properties around a late-Medieval manor house and this one is situated in the beautiful Apennines in northern Italy.

This book tells in detail the tale of the move to this new home, and the many explorations, both by car and culinary, undertaken by the author during her stay. She makes more friends and becomes well-known in the area being something of an oddity; a British woman with no husband, who drives too fast, apparently, in a right-hand car and who can speak Italian, as well as several other languages.

Campbell-Kemp writes well and honestly recounts the worries and issues she faced with her health, her lack of funds and the Italian bureaucracy. However, being a resourceful, intelligent woman, she once again finds her fortunes turning as another opportunity presents itself. Although even as this door opens the realisation that her living arrangements cannot continue as they are hits and things are about to change once more.

This memoir is richly descriptive and gives the reader a lot of information about the area, its history, culture, people and of course, mouth-wateringly delicious food. Recommended for all who like to experience different parts of the world from their armchair.

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Book description

At the age of 61, Cassandra, a single and peripatetic Brit, was asked to pack up her house and move to Italy to take up the offer of a much-needed job. 15 months later she was made redundant, leaving her unnerved, broke and unable to return home. Her dream of a new life was rapidly turning into a nightmare and, saddled with all her belongings, her antique furniture, over 800 books and her aged Siamese cat she had nowhere to go.

A kind friend offered them sanctuary in a tiny converted former barn in his family’s ‘Borgo’, a cluster of rustic properties grouped around a late-Medieval manor House in the mountains; the beautiful and mysterious Emilian Appenines of northern Italy. There she was befriended and watched over by the owner; an eccentric octogenarian, his household ghosts and 14 semi feral cats.

The experience proved to be challenging yet deeply transformative as she struggled to recover her equilibrium and rebuild her life.

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🐶Adventure Caravanning with Dogs: It Never Rains But it Paws by Jacqueline Lambert, is reviewed by @SueBavey for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Adventure Caravanning with Dogs: It Never Rains But it Paws by Jacqueline Lambert.

Book cover for Adventure Caravanning With Dogs by Jacqueline Lambert, set against a photo of a dog sat on the beach from a free photo from Pizabay.
Adventure Caravanning With Dogs by Jacqueline Lambert

Jackie’s writing is extremely witty and clever. She makes you feel like you are travelling alongside her and Mark and their four adorable dogs, due to her chatty and engaging nature. This comes across well in her “Adventure Caravanning with Dogs” series. In the case of “It Never Rains but it Paws”, the story takes place against the backdrop of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the fourth book in the series, but each one can be read as a standalone. The shortish chapters keep the story flowing as the couple and their four dogs travel around Europe. Jackie and Mark  are up against a deadline to set off before Brexit happens, in order to escape the bureaucracy caused by travelling with four dogs and a caravan around Europe. They aim to travel through France and spend the ski season in Italy. Delays due to family illness cause them to panic as their deadline looms nearer,, but eventually they are off on their way! Jackie includes plenty of historical detail and background information about the places they visit  to make you want to go to the locations on their trip, although possibly not during a pandemic!! Their experiences of lockdown in Italy, up a mountain in a deserted ski village with scarcely any Italian between them were eye opening.

A highly entertaining adventure!

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Book description

Five years after giving up work to travel full time, Dog-ma Jacqueline (Jackie) and Dogfather Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain exits the EU. If Brexit happens, their four Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby, and Lani will lose their puppy passports, and the Lambert Family will be unable to travel together. But Brexit isn’t their only obstacle. A few months into their adventure, the pandemic suddenly shatters their plans, and leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot.

The fourth road trip Europe adventure in author Jacqueline Lambert’s “inspirational and hilarious” series of true travel memoirs invites you to join the couple as they discover even more amazing and little-known places, this time in France and Italy. However, this isn’t just a priceless escape travel story filled with humorous mishaps and mountain adventure. The coronavirus pandemic separates the family from their loved ones at home, and leaves Jackie stranded alone during a blizzard in a remote Italian village, with Mark thousands of miles away, back in the UK.

Between terrible weather, political mayhem, and a global pandemic, Jackie and Mark try to take lessons from each hardship. Yet, even with a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, and a caravan full of loved ones, you can’t stop all the obstacles life rolls your way. These “amusing and informative” travel stories are certainly proof that It Never Rains… But It Paws! 

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👮‍♂️’#Memoir of a Compton police officer’. Sherry reviews Black, White And Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT.👮‍♂️

Today’s team review is from Sherry.

She blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sherry has been reading Black, White And Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds

Memoir

This memoir of a Compton police officer appealed to me for several reasons. First, the time period of the officer’s service which was partially during the Rodney King trial and the Los Angeles riots. Other important events were the gang wars and murders of rap and hip hop artists. Second, the officer grew up in Detroit and initially was headed down the wrong path and ended up turning his life around. He was a bright, sensitive child who was led astray when he got a bit older. Trying to find a way to fit in as well as to find a way to escape from his difficult home life.

The author did not try to sugarcoat his past or the difficulties he faced in his marriage and relationships with his children. The memoir was intriguing and educational. The fact that the author didn’t paint a rosy, perfect picture of himself was admirable. Not many people have the kind of insight to themselves as he does. He came from a hard background and grew up with issues between his parents and that seemed to lead to his desire to escape his reality that led him down the wrong path to start with.

I admire how he shared his journey and how we, as readers, were able to follow along and watch him grow and change. There’s a strength in that kind of honesty. He seems like he’d be a great person to sit down and share a beer or coffee with and chat long into the night. His front row seat at many events that shaped the world we live in is intriguing and being able to have a chat with him about those various events would be a great way to spend an evening. His perspective as a black man was enlightening to this reader. Race relations are volatile in our country (and have been for a very long time) and learning how people of other races see and interpret the world is vital. Those endeavors can hopefully go a long way toward peaceful coexistence in our time.

If I have one complaint about the book, it would be how it got bogged down with names and descriptions of all his coworkers and the perpetrators he arrested. There was way too much of that in the book. It dragged down the prose. The reader doesn’t need to know everyone in the room or at the crime scene or what they looked like—unless it adds to the story.

Overall, this is an interesting read and journey through a snapshot in time in the Midwest and along the west coast. Events that had national impact here in the United States. And it is, above all, the tale of one man’s story of the obstacles he faced on the way from anger and a life of crime to well-respected law enforcement officer, and ultimately, to his happiness and destiny.

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From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds’ early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s—Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life—something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.

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A Police Officer’s #Memoir. Black, White, and Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds, reviewed by @OlgaNM7, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Olga. She blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Olga has been reading Black, White, and Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds

This is a memoir, and as far from fiction as one could imagine. In fact, it is so full of facts and data that it can become overwhelming at times. The sheer number of events, of characters (well, not really characters, but real people: relatives, friends, neighbours, infantrymen, police officers, detectives, criminals, victims, local authorities, politicians…), of dates, of cases… make the book overflow with stories: sometimes those the author, Frederick Douglass Reynolds, participated directly in; others, stories providing background information to the situation or events being discussed or introducing some of the main players at the time of the action. I think anybody trying to recount even a small amount of what happens in the book would have a hard time of it, but anybody interested in the recent history of Compton law enforcement and local politics will find this book invaluable.

The author goes beyond the standard memoir, and although his life is the guiding thread of the book, he does not limit himself to talking in the first-person about his difficult childhood, his traumatic past, his petty criminal activities as a gang member in his youth, his time as a Marine Corps Infantryman, his less than stellar experience with personal relationships (until later in life), his allergy to compromise for many years (to the point of even refusing to get involved in the life of one of his children)… This well-read and self-taught man also offers readers the socio-historical-political context of the events, talking about the gangs, the rise of crack cocaine, the powerful figures moving the threads and holding authority (sometimes openly, and sometimes not so much), and he openly discusses the many cases of corruption, at all levels.

There is so much of everything in this book that I kept thinking this single book could become several books, either centring each one of them on a particular event, case, or investigation and its aftermath (for example. although Rodney King’s death didn’t take place in Compton, the description of how the riots affected the district makes readers realise that history keeps repeating itself unless something is done), or perhaps on a specific theme (as there is much about gangs, racism, corruption, the evolution of police roles and policing methods, violence in the streets, LA social changes and local politics, drugs…). Another option would be to focus on the author’s life and experiences growing up, on his personal life (his difficulties with relationships and alcohol, his PTSD…), and later his career, but perhaps mentioning only some of the highlights or some specific episodes, and with less background information about the place and its history (although some brief information could be added as an appendix or in an author’s note for those interested in knowing more).

This is a long book, dense and packed with a wealth of data that might go beyond the scope of most casual readers, but there are also scary moments (forget about TV police series. This is the real deal), heart-wrenching events (the deaths of locals, peers, colleagues, personal tragedies…), touching confessions (like the difficulties in his relationship with his son, becoming grandad to a boy with autism and what that has taught him), shared insights that most will find inspiring, and also some lighter and funny touches that make the human side of the book shine. Although Reynolds openly discusses his doubts, and never claims to be spotless, more upstanding, or better than anybody else, his determination to get recognition for his peers fallen in action, and his homage to those he worked with and who kept up the good fight clearly illustrate that his heart (and morals) are in the right place.

Most people thinking of reading this type of memoir are likely to know what to expect, but just in case there are any doubts, be warned that there is plenty of violence (sometimes extreme and explicit), use of alcohol, drugs, and pretty colourful language. 

I recommend this book to anybody interested in the history of policing in LA (particularly in Compton) from the 1980s, gangs in the area, local politics, corruption, and any major criminal investigations in the area (deaths of rappers included). It is also a book for those looking for an inspiring story of self-improvement, of managing to escape the wrong path, and helping others do the same, and it is a book full of insights, inspiration, and hope.

I wonder if the author is planning to carry on writing, but it is clear that he has many stories to tell yet and I hope he does.

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From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds’ early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s—Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life—something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.

AmazonUK AmazonUS

‘Minute in detail, rich in history, and unflinching in personal reflection’. Jenni reviews #Memoir Black, White, and Gray All Over by Frederick Reynolds #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Jenni. Find her here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenny has been reading Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement by Frederick Reynolds

As a young white woman, I’m not sure that this was necessarily a book written “for me”, but as an American, I can tell you that Federick Reynolds’ Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement is a tale that all of us should sit up and pay attention to.

Opening with his tumultuous childhood in 1960s Detroit, Michigan, his time in the military stationed on the West Coast, and eventually documenting his life and career as first a police officer, and then a sheriff’s deputy in one of the most notorious cities in the country, Reynolds’ memoir is aptly named, he has lived an odyssey of a life. As much the story of a city, its various governing and policing bodies, and a very specific few decades in our nation’s history as it is the life and times of a single man, Black, White, and Gray All Over showcases many of the things that seem to have made Reynolds a great law enforcement officer.

Rich in the specific details of the crimes he investigated, the men and women he served with, and the pain he endured, this is a memoir that makes me wish I knew more about my country’s recent history so that I could comment more precisely on the accuracy of what Reynolds lays out. As it is, I can firmly tell readers that this is a harrowing piece of literature, documenting racism, violence, corruption, and those who stand in the gap despite it all.

Black, White, and Gray All Over swirls through time, moving fluidly through the years as Reynolds is able to look back over long-running investigations or cases with the clear-sightedness that comes from decades of separation. At times the moving back and forth in time can get minorly distracting, but Reynolds’ prose is engaging throughout, and the chronicle he gives us: one of good people, bad people, people who hide their true selves, and those who wear their truth on their sleeves, is breathtaking.

Through his eyes, Compton itself, the community he spent decades policing, becomes a living, breathing, bleeding character. One that has been a victim of corrupt officials, plagued by violence beyond reason, and yet Reynolds never loses sight of the people that lived and worked there during his tenure. Those who struggled, scraped, and fought to rise above what Compton had been to make it better for their children.

The success, or failure of those struggles, I will leave up to other readers with greater understanding of the full context to decide.

Minute in detail, rich in history, and unflinching in personal reflection, Black, White, and Gray All Over is unique memoir from a man who has, quite frankly, seen more than his fair share of sh*t and lived to tell the tale.

5/5

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From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds’ early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s—Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life—something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Home Boys is a memoir from therapist Seth Kadish, about the street gangs of Southern California.

Home BoysHome Boys by Seth C. Kadish

4 stars

Home Boys is a memoir from therapist Seth Kadish about his experiences  while working in a boys home for probational teenagers in Southern California.

After a brief introduction we are guided through the cases of a variety of teenage boys who have been placed in the home. Many have come from city gangs and have seen violence from an early age. The boys, their peers and families have often been involved in substance abuse, shootings and have horrific tales about their youth.

Seth and his fellow workers use group work and individual therapy sessions to help the boys and to encourage them to make changes in their lives, many of whom have deep psychological wounds; some of the stories are hard to read.

Kadish has tried to keep the content of this book upbeat and the reader gets a good insight into each of his cases. It is heart-breaking to read about the gangland upbringing that many of these youngsters endured and I can only hope that some of them benefited from their time in the home with Seth.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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“Home Boys” is the poignant and humorous story of a beginning career psychologist learning about diagnosis and treatment, and more importantly, discovering ways to connect with troubled teens — manipulative Timothy, jokester Enrique, wanna-be gangster Antonio, and many more.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Memoir 10 10 10: My 10 year journey from suicide attempt to ultra-marathon runner by Laura Bird

10 10 10: My 10 year journey from suicide attempt to ultra marathon runner10 10 10: My 10 year journey from suicide attempt to ultra marathon runner by Laura Bird

4 stars

10 10 10: My 10 year journey from suicide attempt to ultra-marathon runner is the inspiring memoir of Laura Bird.

Aged eighteen, Laura attempted suicide after a culmination of events from a challenging childhood. While recovering in hospital, Laura took her psychological well-being into her own hands and decided that as she was offered another chance in life, she would take it.

Laura’s recovery wasn’t without its hardships and pain, but through it all Laura began building her own mental strengths. She went on to push both the barriers of her physical and psychological abilities while taking on some amazing tasks: marathons, triathlons, ironman, SAS: Who Dares Wins reality TV show and a mammoth ten marathons in ten days.

Throughout the book Laura speaks candidly about her own journey through mental health and talks about how she now deals with everyday life issues. I was very interested in her ten year turn around and how she is driven to keep on trying while accepting that we all need to fail at things so that we can learn valuable lessons.

A very interesting and moving story to read, and one that I would happily recommend to a wide reading audience.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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Fighting for her life after a suicide attempt, Laura ‘Birdy’ Bird ended her turbulent adolescence physically and psychologically broken.

Fast forward 10 years and she has run 10 marathons in 10 days to raise money for the people who saved her life.

Join Birdy on her moving and motivational 10-year journey from learning how to walk again, through the challenges of training for an Ironman, to taking on the brutal Directing Staff as a recruit on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins. Culminating in taking on the biggest

ultra-marathon running challenge she has ever faced.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of #Memoir BIPOLAR COMEDIAN by Harriet Dyer

Bipolar ComedianBipolar Comedian by Harriet Dyer

3.5 stars

Bipolar Comedian is the memoir of Harriet Dyer. Written in short, easy to read chapters, Dyer talks about her upbringing in a very frank and honest overview.

With a homelife mixed with good memories and shocking events, Dyer’s undiagnosed mental health was further affected by broken friendships, sexual abuse, drinking and drugs. It’s a wonder that Dyer found the strength and perseverance to carry on; in fact more than once she considered ending it all. Comedy was the one theme which gave Dyer hope; I see-sawed between wanting to cry for her or laugh with her as I read this.

While I was humbled by Dyer’s experiences, I think that with the help of a good editor and a thorough proofread this book could be lifted to the level it deserves. At the moment it reflects the memories as they tumble from Dyer’s mind, but the delivery style could be tidied up so that this important book could reach a wider critical audience. 

However, there is a lot to commend about this book. Now a multi-award winning comedian, Dyer uses her mental health experiences to support others who are going through their own challenges. She focuses much of her stage work on mental health, and hopes to be an inspiration to others with her candid approach. Good Job!

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

From dying twice to wanting to be a boy, her Dad leaving her Mum for a man and once doing so many drugs she thought she was Kat Slater from Eastenders… It’s been eventful.

Of course there was the abuse too.

A funnier than it should be, honest tale of a bipolar, working class girl from Cornwall who overcame an awful lot of trauma to become an award winning comedian and mental health advocate.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Memoir Viking Voyager by @Sverrir_Sigurds

Today’s team review is from Liz. She blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Viking Voyager by Sverrir Sigurdsson

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From a childhood in wartime Iceland to retirement in Chesapeake Bay, Sverrir Sigurdsson followed the life of a modern-day Viking. Working and travelling widely in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa through turbulent times he has given us a life story full of fascinating encounters and observations. The development of Iceland from its simple, traditional lifestyle to the modern successful country of today is shown in the lives of Sverrir’s family and friends and you can’t help but admire his personal adaptability and skills. The range of languages he has acquired have enabled him, as a trained architect and later project manager of educational developments all over the world, to gain satisfaction in his achievements. There have been problems along the way in his personal life, but he has two successful children and happiness with his second wife Veronica Li who co-wrote this biography.

I learnt a great deal about world history in the second half of the twentieth century from this informative book and the extraordinary escapades Sverrir experienced driving his family through remote parts of Asia and southern Africa are amazing to read. The inclusion of maps and photographs enhance the content.  I would certainly enjoy sitting next to this energetic Viking at a dinner party, as I suspect he has many more tales to tell.

Book description

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favourable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Memoir Pointe Patrol: How nine people saved their neighborhood by @EarikB

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Pointe Patrol by Earik Beann

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This is an inspiring book and a fascinating account of what happened to a group of people who were fortunate enough (with a fair amount of human help as well) to have their houses survive a terrible fire that killed forty-four people, burned over 245000 acres and cost at least $9.5 billion in insured damages (and around $85 billion to the US economy). As the author notes, these group of people were not all house owners (he and his wife, Laura, were renting, and so were a number of the people who formed the #Pointe Patrol), but they somehow took it upon themselves to keep the neighbourhood safe.

The story reads like one of those fiction books (or movies) where a bunch of people —who have little in common and are pretty normal— discover their inner heroes and come together achieving great things. Only, this is not a fictional account. Yes, these are pretty normal people, and although some knew each other from before, the author makes the point more than once that due to his job, mostly online, he did not have much contact with the neighbours, and it is his wife who comes up with the idea of creating a chat group for the neighbours that they use to keep everybody informed of what is happening, both the people who have managed to return to the evacuated area, like they have, and also those who are outside and whose houses are still standing. As we read, we learn information about the neighbours, although not necessarily in a lot of detail (some are stubborn, some are control freaks, other have an interesting sense of humour, they are not always truthful…), and we also hear some of their opinions and prejudices (yes, we might not always agree with their politics, with their ideas on certain subjects) and, thankfully, they are not perfect. Earik and his wife are ‘the yoga people’, and other than some regular get-togethers, many of them knew each other only superficially, if at all. There is also a couple who remain in the area and never participate in any of the general efforts, and they sound quite disagreeable. So this is not an idealised version of reality, although it is an inspiring story that illustrates that people can get on when they have a sense of purpose and a mission higher than themselves, and they all work together towards a goal.

Saying that, it is difficult to read the book and not think that it would make a good TV movie. You have the retired fire-fighter, stubborn and determined, who ends up being known as Chief, you have another neighbour who works in the SQUAT team, Wayne, Eddie, who turns his garage into the neighbourhood coffee-shop and bar, two Mikes, the police and the national guard, Oscar —Earik’s Doberman, who loves his new role as proper guard dog—, their two cats, and also the people outside who keep in touch via text and provide as much support as they can with food supplies, medications, and also updates on news and life in general.

I was surprised at times at how vivid a picture the book portrays of the situation, and how, despite the fact that they are pretty much isolated and become, as the author describes it more than once, ‘a tribe’, the bigger society and its trappings interferes every so often, giving everybody reason to pause. There are the looters, always trying to get in and rob whatever they can, there are times when the reactions of the police to different individuals vary a lot depending on who they are (yes, race do matters, even in emergency situations, it seems), and although in this case the emergency seems to get the best out of this group of people, that is not the case with everybody involved.

Is there anything I didn’t enjoy? Well, the story is told from the author’s perspective, and as can happen with memoirs, it is not written as a thriller where action is everything and no extraneous information is offered. The author sometimes goes off on tangents, including information about his and his wife’s personal circumstances (they had moved very often up to that point), stories about their cats and dogs, also about how to handle a big dog, his point of view on firearms (not one I share, and the arguments he uses to try to convince his wife would definitely not convince me), a long dissertation on a particular local beer and its merits, and some pretty personal things, and although I mostly enjoyed those and they made it come more alive for me, I suspect they might be frustrating for some people, and I’ve read some reviews that mention those.

My other worry was the fact that, no matter how well they did and the amazing thing they achieved, their circumstances were very special, and it is not something that everybody should consider if faced with a similar situation. They had a retired fireman living in the neighbourhood, and they were lucky enough to have a sufficient number of neighbours taking part, with necessary materials, water, and enough outside support to manage to pull it off. (I could not help but wonder what would have happened if that was not the case and how different the results might have been in a neighbourhood without resources, financial and otherwise). Basically, keep safe and follow advice. Readers might take issue with other things: there is no gender equality at work here (Laura is the only woman there, she leaves at some point, and the rest of the women are supporting from outside, although there are policewomen and a woman member of the National Guard as well, but not members of the group), and, as I mentioned, some of the personal attitudes and comments might not be to everybody’s taste, but that is understandable when we are reading a true account, rather than a fictional one.

I enjoyed the narration, and felt as if I had shared in some of the sense of community and joint purpose of the group. I also enjoyed the off-track comments (some), learning more about how the emergency services work and are organised, and I loved Oscar and the cats as well. The fact that the profits for the sale of the book will go to support fire victims and to the families of fallen first-responders is another good reason to recommend the book. If you’re looking for an inspiring true-account of people dealing with an emergency situation, and you are fascinated by community spirit, I definitely recommend this.

Book description

On October 9, 2017, California suffered one of the most destructive fires in its history. The Tubbs Fire burned 5,643 structures and killed twenty-two people in Sonoma County. The fire department was completely overwhelmed and was so busy trying to save lives that they had to let many houses burn rather than waste resources in trying to protect them. During this chaos, nine of us snuck back into our neighborhood in the mandatory evacuation zone and formed a vigilante fire force. We called ourselves the Pointe Patrol, and saved our neighborhood, as well as an apartment complex across the street from certain destruction.

As if the fires weren’t enough, we found ourselves in the midst of anarchy, with looters running unchecked through the streets. We chased them out of houses with shovels, confronted them when they showed up in disguise, and patrolled the area with a completely over-the-top Doberman. The other neighbors who had evacuated organized themselves into our support network and supplied us with food and equipment, which they passed through to us across the police lines. My wife and I were part of that nine-person team and experienced all of this firsthand. This is the story of what happened at Viewpointe Circle during those two weeks in October.

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