My Family and Other Animals

Meredith Greene describes herself as "Writer for Belator Books. Novelist. Wife. Mother."

Belator books website

Belator books blog


Literature, natural history and hilarity all wrapped up in a rich, pleasant layer of memory.
Written about his family's 5-year sojourn to the Island of Corfu in pre-WW2 Greece. Rampant eccentricity and colorful word-pictures of life, locals and scenery. Prepare to laugh hard; do not drink liquids while reading.

BubbleCow: Get your book edited for free!

Black Boxes

DJ Kirby's main blog is here. You can find links to all her other blogs are on the right hand sidebar.


Black Boxes by Caroline Smailes is a book that gives you your money's worth on every page. Once again Caroline has taken one of life's most important and rarely discussed issues and with her very unique voice, made it into a very readable novel.

Black boxes is compelling reading.

I expect readers who are not familiar with Caroline's writing will think that the topic is used to allay one's fear of the situation but as usual she does no such thing. Instead, she bravely examines each nuance of this emotive topic, detailing the root cause and perpetuating factors, following the path of destruction that unrecognised postnatal depression can become. Although this is not an academic work, it accomplishes what no textbook will ever do and I strongly recommend it as reading for Health and Social Care students.

I admire Caroline hugely for writing this book and know that each person who reads it will develop a greater understanding of some very sensitive issues that are very much a part of many people's lives. Postnatal depression is the main issue but emotional abuse, neglect, bullying, love and hate are also seamlessly blended in this book written from the mother Ana's and daughter Pip's perspective. Pip's voice also speaks for her brother Davie. Ana speaks with imperfect and egocentric hindsight, Pip cries out from the harsh, damaging reality of the present time. The parallels are sharp, perfectly honed, gleaming. There is white hot pain contained within the pages of this book. Pip and Davie need a hiding tree, a place to escape the tsunami like destruction of their parent's madness's. Their pain rings out like the tones that can be coaxed from the rim of wet crystal and I found myself reading with the certainty that one of their songs was going to stop.

I challenge you to read Pip's closing words without a tear in your eye...

  • Find out more about Caroline Smailes here.
  • Read about her first novel In Search of Adam here.
  • Download her novella Disraeli Avenue for free from here.
  • Buy Black Boxes with free delivery from here.

Sponsored by BubbleCow.


Juliette is an unpublished writer living in London. To make her stand out from all the other unpublished writers living in London she hennas her hair, wears fabulous shoes and is generally found on the arm of a ginger actor/songwriter. Her blog can be found at The Lady with the Laptop and she likes visitors, old pianos, gin and coconut macaroons.


If you only read one book this year, make it this one. Richard Mayhew, a City type from 'London above', helps Door, a girl whom he finds bleeding in the street. Unknown to him she is Lady Door of the House of Portico from 'London Below' and he swiftly finds his world changing as his flat is sold from under him, his job given to someone else and his fiancee forgets him. Like the other inhabitants of London Below, he has been removed from the city above and must survive along with Door, the Marquis de Carabas and the mysterious bodyguard Hunter in the murky, shadowy world of the Neverwhere.
Neverwhere is the kind of book that stays with you long after you have read it. Certainly I cannot go to certain places in London without thinking (perhaps even hoping!) that I might see the Black Friars, the Knight's Bridge and its rat-speakers, and the Seven Sisters. From Neil Gaiman's intricately dancing prose which captures the true spirit of magical London, to the wonderful characters such as the exquisite Marquis de Carabas, the terrifying Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar (which one is more scary? You decide!) and the glassy-cool Angel Islington, each page just leads to more eerie, darkly beautiful discoveries.

  • Read what Wiki has to say about this book here.
  • Here's Wiki's wise words on the man Gaiman.
  • This is Gaiman's blog.
  • To buy a new copy with free postage go here.

Sponsored by BubbleCow.

I am Legend

Patrick Chapman's poetry collections are Jazztown, (Raven Arts, 1991), The New Pornography (Salmon, 1996), Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights (Salmon, 2007) and A Shopping Mall on Mars (BlazeVOX, 2008). He has also written a collection of stories, The Wow Signal (Bluechrome, 2007); an audio drama, Doctor Who: Fear of the Daleks; and an award-winning film, Burning the Bed (2003), which starred Gina McKee and Aidan Gillen.  He won first prize, story category, in the 2003 Cinescape Genre Literary Awards. With Philip Casey, he co-founded the Irish Literary Revival website. He lives in Dublin. His own website is at


For many decades, people have attempted to make a film of I am Legend (1954), Richard Matheson's gripping and brilliant dystopian science fiction novel about vampires. Vincent Price starred in a version called The Last Man on Earth; Charlton Heston appeared in a loose adaptation called The Omega Man; Will Smith recently helped us suffer through a film with the book's name, which perverts the meaning of that title in its witless, cop-out ending. But that's Hollywood, sometimes. The book itself is a study in despair and loneliness, the story of Robert Neville, the last man on Earth after a plague has wiped out most of humanity and turned the survivors into vampires. By night, they come for him — howling his name and trying to tempt him with sex — while he holes up, terrified, in his fortified house. By day, they sleep — and he goes on the prowl, killing those vampires he finds until the coming of dusk forces him to retreat back into his house. It's a neat inversion of the usual vampire story. To say more will spoil the book. Let's just say that if you've seen any of the movies, you haven't yet seen the true I am Legend. Do yourself a favour and go directly to Matheson's source.

  • Here's wiki's page on the whole I am Legend phenomenon.
  • This is wiki's page on the author Richard Matheson.
  • Here's an interview with Matheson.
  • And this is a review of the book.
  • You can grab a second hand copy of the book from here.

And as a treat for all those who were forced to sit through the Will Smith "version" of the book:



I AM LEGEND (well kind of...)

Erik Ryman

We haven't had a Free Book Friday for a couple of weeks, so here's one to keep you going.

Straight from Ryman's blog:

I think I said a while back we were going to do this, but if you fancy a free eBook of the full text uncorrected proof of Erik Ryman's Doggone, pop along to his blog and help yourself. HERE

It has had a few reviews, the latest being from Authortrek, but if you do download it and want to have a go at writing one yourself, we'll love you forever, or at least until I'm plugging something else...

If however paper is your bag, you can pre-order a beautiful hardback edition HERE and we can eat, damn you, we can eat and put shoes on the bairns feet and generally LIVE, and have hope for a future out of penury, a chance to ... etc.

If you like Eric Ryman's work then check out these other free downloads:

The Tsetse Fly Chronicles

The Recidivist


Bulletproof Suzy

Kate Allan writes historical romance and adventure, her website is Her fifth novel, The Smuggler Returns, a tale of love and revenge in 18th century Cornwall, will be published in 2009.


Bulletproof Suzy is one of those rare beasts: a book you still remember two years after reading it. The author, Ian Brotherhood, has a distinctive voice and rare talent which I find very hard to categorise.
The story concerns a teenage girl in an unnamed British city of the near future who, with her gang of girls, takes up a bailiff/bounty hunter type job against those who have not paid their poll tax.
This is a very unusual debut novel that hasn't had the attention it deserves.

  • Go here to read a couple of reviews for this book.
  • Read an extract from Bulletproof Suzy here.
  • A brief biog for Ian Brotherhood here.
  • You can pick up a second hand copy of the book here.

The Other Boleyn Girl

Jamieson has been writing since a young age when he realized he could be writing instead of paying attention in school. Since then, he has created many worlds in which to live his fantasies and live out his dreams.  He is the author of several novels which include: Valentine, Hunted, Hope Falls, Eagle Valley, Dragons Cove and the forthcoming Finding Beauty. Jamison currently lives in Ottawa Ontario Canada with his husband Robert and his cat, Mave, who thinks she's people.

For more info about Jamieson, check out his web site here.


I normally don't like historical fiction. It's dry as dust and dull as white bread dipped in water. It never catches my attention and never holds it. In fact, it's a genre that I normally ignore completely. At the urging of my husband, I'm currently reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory and all I can say is: WOW!
Everyone knows the story of Anne Boleyn and how she ensnared Henry VIII. But what about her sister Mary?
The book is absolutely incredible and an intimate portrayal of long ago court life. Gregory peppers her historical fact with just enough believable fiction that you feel as if you're reading a literary bodice ripper.
Fantastic, wonderful stuff. And a perfect summer book!

  • Go here to check out the Wiki entry about the book.
  • This will tell you more about Philippa Gregory.
  • Read a book review here.
  • Find out about the recent blockbusting film adaptation here.
  • Pick up a second hand copy of the book here.

A Fine Balance

David O'Connor Thompson writes this about himself:
"Every writer needs a shed somewhere to retreat to, or so I have discovered. I have written to earn my crust all my working life, first in advertising then on anything that I could lay my hands that would pay. For the last couple of years I have been struggling to write novels. I have two on the go, one fully blocked out but the other, the one that most engages me, is wrestling back. At the moment it seems to be winning. I put it down to the fact that my shed is at the end of my bedroom. It is not a workspace and, consequently, I find that instead of buckling down I at present just buckle. However, I have a plan, to be revealed here, at my blog.


My OneBook is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. I stumbled on it by chance in an Oxfam shop and have rejoiced in the fact ever since. It is an astounding book in its breadth, its narrative and characterisation.

Set in India, from the days of its partition to some 30 years later but concentrating in particular on the emergency years of 1975-1977, the story follows the fortunes of two untouchables, Ishvar and his nephew, Omprakash, as they move from their home village to Mumbai to seek work. There they meet Dina and her student lodger, Maneck, where life changes but doesn’t necessarily improve.

Mistry employs his characters to illustrate the terrible struggles of the sub-continent as it comes to terms with the responsibilities of its independence. He spares the reader no detail in his description of the brutalities arising out of the caste system, appalling poverty, religious intolerance and the social engineering exercises of the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi. It is, sometimes, too much to bear. However, if there is one quality that carries the reader along, it is the indefatigable optimism of the book's two main protagonists, Ishvar and Omprakash. Though never shying from reality, Mistry reveals himself to be, at heart, a humanist who believes in the indomitable spirit of mankind.

Everyone to whom I have lent my copy of A Fine Balance has been equally struck by the power of this novel. It is, to repeat myself, simply an astounding piece of writing.

  • Go here to read Wiki's view on the book.
  • And here to find out more about Rohinton Mistry.
  • Follow this link for an interesting article about Indian literature.
  • Get a used copy of A Fine Balance from here
  • A new copy here.

Two book Friday Fun

No Free Book Friday this week, instead a couple of quickies.


My_Life_As_A_Small_Boy Tor Hershman describes himself as simply a 'geezer'.

Here's his blog.

My Life as a Small Boy by Marlon Brando's old roommate, Wally Cox, is most amusing.

People should this read this because if'in they don' may come and visit them (sinister music plays here).

  • Here's what Wiki has to say about Wally Cox.
  • Grab a second hand copy of the book here.
  • A new copy here.


Flora Jones describes herself as 'a serious reader with twenty years in the US publishing industry'.

Voss Patrick White, the author of Voss, won the Nobel In literature in 1973. Here is a review excerpt:

"Re-reading Voss demonstrates again that although White wasn't "a nice man", and indeed was--perhaps rightly--scathingly dismissive of my and other Australian writers' work and origins unless they were his friends, he was a genius, and VOSS one of the finest works of the modernist era and of the past century."
- Thomas Keneally, The Guardian

  • Here's a bit about Patrick White.
  • A second hand copy can be obtained from here.
  • A brand spanking new copy from here.


Kayleigh J Moore is a writer with aspirations to become a Creative Writing lecturer in the very near future. Her first book, 'Dolls', is out in March.
Kayleigh's website is here.

Dry Augusten Burroughs made me understand what it was to have a 'favourite' author. I hadn't had one before - lots I liked but none whom I'd single out above all others and pick their books for a desert island over a hair brush. 'Dry' is what got me hooked. Autobiographical, it follows his being forced into rehab by work because of his alcohol problem and finding it to be the opposite of the trendy, spot-the-celebrity spa that he had in mind. Dysfunctional friends, agonisingly tedious but significant therapy follows, and then he has to stay on the wagon all on his own.

This should be an awful book - bleak, barely comprehensible and depressing, much like Burrough's troubled childhood. However, he writes with such sharp wit and a blade of humour through his words that the poignant parts stand out that much more and the rest will have you laughing out loud. This is what good writing is, and this is what you can come back from with a sense of humour.

  • This is Augusten Burroughs website.
  • More excitingly this is his blog.
  • Here's what Wiki has to say about Burroughs.
  • Go here to listen to an interview with Borroughs.
  • This is a link to buy a second hand copy.
  • A new copy? Then here.

And the famous video...

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