Review: Irish in the Blood, by Marie Gray

Pic20171207_05.jpgA Family History – an oldie but a goodie, rediscovered

This is the story of a family before and after emigrating to New Zealand in 1887, and is the answer to the question Marie and indeed her uncles and aunts often asked her grandfather (their uncle), to which the answer was an infuriating “Tell you one day.”

After his passing, Marie’s husband encouraged her to travel back to Ireland to find answers. She did so, and more. After receiving only hints of knowledge during her visit, she returned to New Zealand and began a full journey of research, aided by her grandmother’s journal, kept whilst travelling on the powered steamer Cuzco under Captain Murdoch.

Husband and wife Patrick Magill and Mary-Jane Pic20171207_07
(née Campbell) sailed with their children James (Jim), Mary, Robert (Bob) and Annie, heading to South Africa (Capetown), then east to Australia (Melbourne). There they took the Governor Arthur up the Yarrow River, to visit with Uncle Jack, who had travelled out some years before to try his luck at the gold fields. After losing his friend, he settled to the land, now a flourishing homestead.

The Magills shipped to New Zealand aboard the Arawata, arriving in the Hawke Bay Ahuriri port close to Napier.

Gray relates the events as she saw and heard them, and those of ancestors she has cleverly written as a narrative built from tales told by family members back in the old country. Her place in the genealogy of the family is included.

A delightful story,  told with both regret and wit, and you may have trouble getting your hands on a copy. But if there’s any Irish in you, you’ll find it.

Published 1997, by Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Limited, Auckland, NZ
ISBN: 1-86958-481-3



Tuesday, 3rd February, 1931, was different. Even before it happened, the air had a hot, sticky feel to it, a sort of a gasp before a coughing fit.

“There’s something eerie going on,” mumbled Pat Scott mysteriously. “You wait! Look at the clouds coming over from Raglan Harbour.”

Jess ignored her prattle.

“There’s someone riding along the road for Te Akau. It’s not Len or Mr Magill either, Pat Scott yelled. She crossed herself devoutly.

The figure became clearer. “It’s the police from Ngaruawahia. Holy Mary Mother of God. What’s happened?”

“A message came through from Napier, Pat. Have you got the Magills staying here?” said the policeman.

Pat Scott flopped into a chair sideways, legs sprawled over the arm rests.

Jess came forward with her chin up.

“What is it Sergeant? I’m Jessie Magill.”

“Sorry to tell you, ma’am, but there’s been a mighty big earthquake in Napier. The town’s in ruins and the whole place is on fire. We got this message from Naval Headquarters. There’s no electricity or gas. They’re cut off completely. Here’s your telegram.


“By the way, ma’am, two ships are on their way down the coast with supplies and a medical team aboard.”

“Thank you, Sergeant,” Jess said mechanically. “Are there many casualties?”

“Afraid so, ma’am, but we can’t give numbers yet. I;ll go and find the men.”

Da went white and started blowing his nose. “It sounds desperate. We’d better get going….”


My Dalek Has a Puncture by Simon Fisher-Becker

Doctor Who fans don’t often get to hear a lot about the people
with a small recurring partFront cover image in the show–and Simon is quite funny.
He first appeared as ‘Dorium Maldovar’–the large, blue intergalactic Black Marketeer–in a brief exchange with Dr Song (then played by Alex Kingston) in 2010. Almost immediately he was called on to appear at Sci-Fi fan conventions he kindly describes as “part car boot sale, part antiques fair–crossed with a zoo”.
When asked about his autobiography, he set about the challenge. In this, the first of a planned trilogy, he explains the source of the title and also what to expect in the following two books.
The memoir is well structured, following a time line from his origins his career, and those who have influenced him. The anecdotes are entertaining and the entire memoir lets us “hear” his voice and personality. Beginning on stage at age sixteen as Mr. Bumble in a school production of Oliver, he also appeared as the Fat Friar ghost in Hufflepuff House. He tells of his many other performances, and includes anecdotes of other film and stage personalities and professionals he has worked with or befriended.
Within the pages, Simon explains what works for one who wants to become an actor, and much of the advice can be paraphrased to apply to any career beginner. His Trials and Tribulation are ironically amusing.
Overall it is thoroughly enjoyable to read–amusing and insightful–one of three “must own” books by the man who played Dorium Maldovar

Publication date: 2015
ISBN: ebook: 978-1-909 163-79–9
print: 978-1-909 163-80-5

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Velvet Lies, Muted Cries –

Velvet Lies Muted Cries – silence – the most powerful scream
Author Melanie WADHAM
Cover Design Excerpt from Velvet Lies Muted Cries by Melanie Wadham
You can purchase the book from 
Publisher  M Wadham, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-473-22391-5
I was offered Ms Wadham’s book to review as it’s known I enjoy reviewing crime novels. But this is not a novel – it is truth, and a harsh truth at that. And this is not a crime story – it is a litany of crimes: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, manipulation, control – against a child and growing woman.
[Quoting the rear cover]:
A compelling, true story of courage, survival and voice. A woman’s journey of healing and recovery after witnessing her mother’s murder and surviving heinous abuse, to ultimately reach a victorious freedom.
There is no single antagonist – she was brutalised by many men in her life, of whom she should have expected to trust for care, if not love. Her life is spent seeking a source of nurturing love, making errors as she makes choices, finding self-protection by closing in on herself. The cycle of seeking love, finding abuse, and retreating within, became well established.
[Quoting p 114]:
It had been years since my first sexual abuse, and three years since the last one, but major damage had been done. After each traumatic experience my system of self-preservation seemed to go onto permanent alert – startling easily, reacting irritably to small provocations – and I suffered poor sleep plagued with nightmares. Although I was no longer in danger, or even in an anvironment of stress, the physiological phenomena persisted and I was now maladapted to a life of safety and security.
I could not resume the normal course of my life as a mother, wife and employee; the traumas repeatedly interrupted this, as flashbacks during waking hours and nightmares in my sleep. Small, seemingly insignificant reminders also evoked memories, which returned with all the vividness and emotional force of the original event.
I felt as if I lived in a frozen and wordless capsule of unwanted memories that laced verbal narrative and context but were, rather, encoded in the form of vivid sensations and images, and I was continuously buffeted by terror and rage.”                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 Her revelations of her experiences, her hardships, her discoveries about love and loving oneself are conveyed almost dispassionately. You, as reader, are free to wonder, to chill, to worry, to weep.
As adjunct to Ms Wadham’s story, is a collection of copies of notes and journal entires she wrote during her life: some, crumpled or stained; some bearing  adornments she’d drawn. Many are difficult to read (due to the limitations of reproducing old mementoes) but all are worth the effort.
They were her weapons against loathing, her tools for affirming her worth, her self affirmations, her connection with faith. The selection we are offered covers a range of emotional yearning and release, as she works, alone or with counsellors, to build a stronger self.

Please Comment about this entry or about the author, or the book. If you have read the book itself, then Rate the Book (not this post, please). Thank you.

Brian JOHNSON – Rockers and Rollers – an automotive autobiography

Book Review
Rockers and RollersAn Automotive Autobiography by Brian Johnson
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-0-141-04651-7
Genre: autobiography
Hubby and I aren’t enrapt completely in each other’s interests. He’s an ex motorcycle road racer, and loves watching Formula One. I like blogging, reading and rocking to the greats. So, in the local Library: husband’s looking for racing car drivers’ stories, I’m looking for .. never mind , I didn’t find anything. At home later I spotted what he’d borrowed – a Formula One driver’s biography, and this book.
This book! By lead singer of AC/DC!!!
So husband and I are having a cuppa, and I’m glancing through the pages, my eye caught by (no not the car photographs) the humour and dialogue. I’m roaring aloud with laughter. I’m reading extracts – between chuckles and laughter – aloud to hubby. I’m distracting him from his book, so he moves to read in the lounge. I don’t mind – now I can really laugh with myself.  I go to the beginning, and start really reading the book, fully – front to back, end to end, cover to cover.
Brian takes us through his life with cars – so many cars, of such a quality range! Humour, nostalgia, wit, and a few choice phrases, as he tells about his cars from early Tyneside (born Gateshead, 1947) days to being on the road with other rock bands, to him being asked to join AC/DC (post Bon Scott’s death) in 1980.
The cars mean little to me, but the anecdotes (not in order of time) are almost too familiar, or I wish they were. Enjoy ‘The Hummer’,  ‘From Bedfords to Bedknobs’ and ‘The Wolsley’. Or ‘Airbus 320’, ‘Jimmy Nail’, ‘Angus Young’ and ‘The Not-So-Greats’. Oh to heck with it – enjoy every chapter!
(Caveat: although your teen rocker may want to read it, the language can occasionally be a bit R13 if you know what I mean, and it’s not an AC/DC memoir – it’a an “auto”biography, if you get it.)
Brian Johnson has also written Rockers & Rollers – A Full-Throttle Memoir published 2012
Do Comment about this entry or about the author, or the book. If you have read the book itself, then Rate the Book (not this post, please). Thank you

To Hell and Back by Audie MURPHY

I read this when I was 13 or 14, being at that time hooked on WW2 P.O.W. escape novels, and finding this one on the library shelf – a Real Soldier’s account, not fiction – was a self-hugging moment. The local librarian even, who knew my choices of the past, spotted I had something terrific. She was a bit dubious, at first, as this was shelved in the Adult section, whereas up to that date I’d only looked through the Young Adult section. But the sweetie let me have it.

And how terrific it was. Murphy’s accounts of the real blood, guts and thunder of the battlefield satisfied my seeking for understanding of the soldier experience (I’d picked up that the novels I’d read had softened a few blows, so to speak, here and there).

Throughout the autobiography, Murphy describes horrific scenes of battle and poignant loss. During service . Co-written with  David “Spec” McClure, he narrated the events without glorifying his own part in the play of war, nor mentioning  his many awards, (he became the most decorated US soldier)

Clicking the picture of his tombstone allows you to view its engraving more easily.

Going to Wikipedia article will allow you to learn much more about the man himself.

Please comment on the blog post,
but if you, too, have read the book,
please react – rate the book