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review 2014-06-18 00:41
Excllent bio -70's surf culture, survival story, and a bond between father & son
Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival (P.S.) - Norman Ollestad

Opening Line: “February 19,1979. At seven that morning my dad, his girlfriend Sandra and I took off from Santa Monica Airport headed for the mountains of Big Bear.”

Set amid the wild uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970’s, Crazy For The Storm is a fascinating memoir that was hard to put down. It centers around 11 year old Norman Ollestad and the complicated relationship he had with his father. Demanding, charismatic and free-spirited, it is ultimately the thrill-seeking lifestyle and continual test of skills that Norman Senior puts his son through which are responsible for saving his life, when the chartered Cessna carrying them to a ski championship goes down in the California mountains killing everyone else on board.

This devastated 11 year old must then descend the treacherous icy mountain alone. Relying on tools subconsciously learned from an early age and with the voice of his father echoing in his ears “Go for it Boy Wonder. You can do it.”

“The fog undulated, as if breathing and it lifted off the snow for a moment. Fifteen feet across the slope the pilot’s shoes wandered in disparate directions. His legs twisted in the snow. The hem of his shirt folded back and his belly was pale. Am I still asleep?”

Now obviously if I’m reading his memoir then I know that Norman survives but there is still a huge element of suspense maintained throughout this story. The initial scenes with the plane crash are so riveting that at first I was super annoyed when the author decided to start alternating chapters back and forth between his life leading up to the crash and the hours directly after, I wanted to stay at the crash site. I’ll admit though I soon became equally engrossed in Norman’s unusual upbringing in Topanga beach, with its hippie culture, surfing lifestyle and his Mothers alcoholic and often violent boyfriend. Plus you never knew what adventure his father was going to drag him on next.

There are several chapters devoted to a road trip he took into Mexico to deliver a washing machine to his grandparents. With his father’s mantra “This is life Ollestead,” they end up broke, on the run from trigger happy Federales and finally hiding out in a village eating mangoes and surfing the perfect waves while they try to figure out how to get their car fixed.

His father may have been a charmer but he had dubious ideas when it came to parenting (the cover photo shows Norman at about a year old strapped to his father’s back while he surfs) He often placed his son in danger to challenge him and Norman both resented and idolized him and in my opinion was more than a little afraid of him.

While the writing is fantastic it does tend to get a little technical with the skiing and snow terms and I had a hard time visualizing the crash site (the slope -a curtain of ice) so that I never really had a clear picture of what he was facing. From what I understand it does however contain some very good “surf writing”.

I’m a real fan of true-life survival stories but this turned out to be more than a tale of adventure. Powerful and unforgettable, at its heart this is the story about the complex bond between fathers and sons, nurturing and teaching and what we pass on to our children. Leaving me close to tears at the end as we watch a grown Norman teach his own son how to ski and face his fears. Cheers

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review 2014-06-12 02:10
Heartbreaking as I knew it would be
Mourning Heaven - Amy Lane

Opening Line: “Daisy, California Population 2,726."


As much as I love Amy Lane I have to admit this one was a struggle for me to get through. Don’t get me wrong the writing is still fantastic and there are passages that literally take your breath away but the story is so painful, so angry, so freaking desperate and depressing that it almost became more then I could take. I wasn’t even convinced of the love story taking place here, it just seemed a little frantic, a little violent, a little for the moment.

You’d think with a title like “Mourning Heaven” I would have been prepared though, especially after already having my heart shredded (in a good way) by several of Lane’s other books. I was expecting angst and pain here but I was also expecting awesomeness or at least something redeeming or hopeful to cling to throughout this sad story. But with every page angst-riddled and every character broken, tormented and grief stricken this was ultimately just exhausting.

“Oh shit he was disintegrating, dissolving, coming apart again and Peter needed to be there for once, someone needed to be there to catch Bodi as he fell. Peter was up and wrapping his arms around Bodi before one more painful word happened and Bodi was crying like he hadn’t cried when (spoiler) and Peter was crying with him because this was Michael Bodi was crying about and Michael had hurt and Michael had broken and he hadn’t let them fix him and now he would never be fixed and they’d always be a little bit broken in their souls where he’d left a Michael shaped hole.”

Peter moved to the small prejudiced town of Daisy at the age of 12. He’d moved around a lot in his short life and while his mother loved him she was just never able to provide for him eventually depositing him with his Aunt Aileen and her son Michael. It wasn’t all bad though because there was Michael. For Peter his cousin is the sun and the moon, he is everything good and strong and protective and right in the world. Just to hear him breathing through the thin bedroom walls at night makes him feel like everything is going to be okay. And then there’s Michael’s friend Bodi, the boy that Peter loves from the moment he sets eyes on him. Of course it’s not easy being gay in a town like Daisy the church is …well very vocal in its views on that sort of evil behavior and everyone in this backwards town goes to church so it’s not a place you want to be out.

“He’d told his mother that he thought boys were more beautiful than girls, and she’d told him that he would have to be either brave or quiet about that, especially in Daisy.”

The meat of this story however takes place years later; Peter is now 23 and the only one still living in Daisy. Michael his hero, his everything who he hasn’t seen in 6 years is finally coming home and Peter now has the task of finding Bodi and bringing him back too because Michael is coming home in a casket. Slowly we the readers learn what happened 6 years ago that splintered the trio, sending Bodi off in the middle of the night into parts unknown and Michael to the nearest recruiting office where he enlisted in the service.

Together Bodi and Peter have to get through their grief and pay homage to Michael, restoring his motorcycle and giving him a proper send-off while trying to get through the hate, ignorance and prejudice that this town tends to feed on. Bodi is so broken that it will be a miracle if he survives even with Peter’s love and Peter; well he has to learn that even heroes aren’t perfect.
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review 2014-04-23 00:54
“The truth will out”
Daddy Was a Punk Rocker - Adam Sharp

Opening Line: “I am torturing my father, Colin.”

I’ll be honest (based on the blurb) this wasn’t quite what I was expecting; yes there’s punk rock, heroin abuse and dysfunctional parents. But there’s also you Adam Sharp, and your life story is so much more than that.

Daddy Was a Punk Rocker is an inspiring, funny, horrific, surprisingly relatable and often sad memoir that at the core is a story about the child-parent relationship. This is little boy lost while he waits for his parents to get their shit together.

Adam takes us back to the very beginning with a mother who didn’t want him, refused to touch him or show him any form of kindness. His father Colin was a junkie, but more than that he was a disappointment, swearing that he wouldn’t abandon him yet continually doing just that. Subsequently raised by his grandfather and “Andrew” in Manchester England Adam grows up trying to be the bravest, smartest boy in the whole world so that his father will return and his mother Martine will visit more often and maybe not hit him as much. He tries not to cry, to lift the most weight in gym class, to never let a soccer ball into his net. Adam continually tries to prove himself while growing up. Eventually he comes to a sort of placidity about who his parents are and then it becomes all about escaping Manchester and who he is.

“His house smelled of cigarette smoke and violence.”

Throughout this Adam is always trying to escape; geographically from Manchester but mostly from himself. He relocates a lot; in Sydney, Melbourne, The Channel Islands, Spain, he recreates himself becoming funny and charming and successful and confident. It was kind of heartbreaking actually watching Adam try so hard to be someone else because he felt who he was wasn’t good enough.

I liked that this book followed Adam out of his childhood, I liked watching him attend college for a law degree he doesn’t want, meet girls, travel the world, be a stilt walker. I liked seeing him immigrate to Australia and live in a shed with spiders, be a “sexual experimenter” and then meet his wife Lee. I suffered with you while you bartended and served sandwiches in a casino. And attempted suicide. I watched you eventually find a relationship with your father and allow punk rock into your life. And the epilogue… the epilogue had me choking back tears. Oh No!

My only criticism would be that the beginning felt sort of repetitive, by putting us into the story in short form and then starting all over again with more detail. On the flip side there were certain sections of dialogue that were hilarious (like the nonsensical banter between Adam and his mates or when he first meets Lee at the wedding) I can only hope to read something along these lines in the future.

Thank you Adam Sharp for allowing me this intimate look into your life, what a brilliantly entertaining memoir you’ve put out there into the world.~4.5~

** A copy was generously provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. 366jb45

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review 2014-03-23 01:28
Another great addition to one of the best rom-susp series going
Striking Distance - Pamela Clare

Opening Line:"Socs Javier "Cobra" Corbray sat in the dimly lit belly of the modified C-130J "Super" Hercules, waiting with the other operators of Delta Platoon for the signal to start their oxygen."


So Pamela Clare does it again with another fantastic addition to the I-Team series (#6) If I’m honest it wasn’t my favourite but that’s a bit like saying it’s not your favourite chocolate; you still loved it and want to eat it every day.

I’m so glad I read the extended prequel (First Strike) before starting this. Not only is it a hot little read but it made a huge difference in understanding who this couple was before… well before events changed them.

This is an excellent read but the general tone of the story is slower, without as much of the hard hitting action we’ve grown accustomed to. I think the fact that both characters are damaged and suffering from PTSD had a bearing too. They spend a ton of time just recovering and healing each other with a slow burning (yet still super sexy) romance.

If I’m nit-picking (which I only do with books I’m invested in) I also disagreed with a couple of the h’s decisions, not so much the big one -that moved me to tears and I understand the why’s but the medical one. [ tubes tied -why did she take away her future by doing that especially in the traumatized state she was in when she made the decision? (hide spoiler)]I also got to the point of eye-rolling with Laura constantly Skyping her G’ma and mother back in Switzerland. However I'd have hated to miss the whole naked, manscaped Javier in the background scene, which was hilarious.

I loved so many things here too; Javier and Laura are awesome characters and I really felt like I knew them by the end. Watching the sweet moments as they fall in love and heal, *big sigh*

Javier… Gah, Clare really knows how to write the perfect heroes. I loved how he sacrificed everything for her and that she trusted him to bring parts of her back to life. I loved that he was her mystery SEAL and she didn’t know and he couldn’t tell her. And yay we get the inclusion of past characters, in particular Marc & Julian and their ongoing bromance and Gabe’s continued affair with adrenaline.

Navy Seal Javier Cobray can’t forget his weekend in Dubai with the “Baghdad Babe” It was only meant to be a no-strings affair, but watching her get kidnapped on live TV eighteen months ago almost broke him and since then he’s thought of little else but revenge on the terrorists that subsequently “killed” her. His latest mission however surprises everyone and finds Laura very much alive, being held at an Al Qaeda compound in Pakistan. He can’t give away his identity but he is taking her home.

Two years later see’s Laura Nilsson now working with the I-Team in Denver. She’s struggling but has come a long way in her recovery and is now about to testify against the extremist leader who kidnapped her.

The romance gods are at work again because it’s during this time that Javier (on medical leave) also finds himself in Denver, staying with his Seal buddy Nate West (Skin Deep) When Laura’s life is threatened and a fatwa is placed on her head Javier makes it his mission to keep her alive.
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review 2013-12-09 00:37
Loved this!
One Day - David Nicholls

Opening Line: "I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference"


So I’m going to try to write a somewhat sensible review here that doesn’t come across as all gushy fan-girl. I will say (hopefully only once) that I adored this book but you should know that I'm a bit of a sucker for a tragedy too. ONE DAY was brilliant in every way; making me laugh and cry while filling me with nostalgia and longing. And because I’m the same age as Dexter and Emma the time frame here was also totally relatable (see nostalgia) with little details I had forgotten about from the past two decades.


Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious yet also suspenseful as each chapter takes place a year to the day after the last one so you have to figure out what’s happened in that time between. And of course you want the H/h to get together so you’re waiting with bated breathe for them to finally “see” each other too. In the end this also made me want to seize the day like it’s my last, phone up all my long lost friends and lovers and look at old photographs. Hmmm and I haven’t even gotten into the genius of the writing yet (how do you put that into words?)

  I knew that writing a review here was going to be difficult (when you love a book this much there doesn’t seem to be enough correct words to do it justice) and I promised myself to just keep this short and to the point so here goes... This is one of the most hilarious, perceptive, witty, moving and heartbreaking books I have ever read.


Told in 5 parts in alternating POV’s and over a span of twenty years Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley meet in 1988. Em has just graduated from university and hooked up with that boy she’s seen around for ages. He is Dexter, beautiful, pretentious and in his mind destined for greatness. As the sun rises they drink wine and talk about their futures. They have their whole lives stretching out ahead of them in an endless number of days and isn’t it going to be wonderful they can achieve anything they want to.

 Starting as lovers Dexter and Emma continue as friends and the book joins them on July 15th of each year (St Swithin’s day) through their 20’s and 30’s and into their 40’s. As anyone in their 40’s knows, life happens and it doesn’t always go as planned, missed opportunities and the like.


“When I was younger everything seemed possible. Now nothing does.”


Through phone calls and letters, in different countries and towns, through assorted relationships, jobs and life’s little surprises and ruts we join Em and Dex each year in a unique snapshot of their life. They don’t always get along but they do think about each other everyday in some way and in case you haven’t figured it out this is ultimately a love story.


I can’t say much more about this without giving it all away. But when I read the last word I wanted to start it again and nothing I’ve tried to read since compares. Cheers.


“Live each day as if it’s your last, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that?”

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