Archives for category: book review

campfollower coverarmybrat


“You are not from anywhere in particular but you are all a part of the same community.”
“You might get itchy to move every couple of years, or, conversely, never want to move ever again.”
“You’re very patriotic. You cry at the national anthem anytime, anywhere…You probably touch, even fondle the tank now sitting as a monument in your town’s armoury square.”
“You have to catch up to the real world at some point but the adults we became carried this base-brat upbringing with us.”
“The moving on, excitement and anticipation was the best part of growing up military… Just the scale, geography and weather were different.”

Review of Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story

“Life happens everywhere. We all get there in the end. It’s the stories that we live and share along the way that make things interesting.” So writes Canadian author Michele Sabad in the introduction to her first book Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story. The first sixty years of her life happened in Calgary, Edmonton and Cold Lake, AB; Dortmund, Germany; Goose Bay, NL; Yorkton, SK; Kingston, Brantford and Petawawa, ON; and Aylmer, QC. In her 194-page, four-part, big-print book we journey with her as army brat, air force wife, hockey mom
and retiree. She lived in rented quarters on military bases, sometimes beside a runway, with her young mother, sergeant/recreation director father and three younger brothers. With an easy style, detailed descriptions and sense of joy in her craft she shares more than 40 short stories of her memories of moments along the way. One I love is, “The moon landing happened when we were in Goose Bay. July 20, 1969. Of course we didn’t watch it on TV but I remember it vividly. On such a pure black cloudless night in Labrador, the moon was brilliant. Although only in waxing crescent phase that night, we could still see the outline of the whole moon against its fluorescent quarter. My brothers and I imagined the men walking on it at that exact moment. We jumped up and down and said we could see them.” By age 18, Sabad was engaged to be married, worked four nights a week as a swimming instructor and graduated from high school in the town of Petawawa as top student and
valedictorian. She tackled the problems of adjusting to the real world, finishing her education, helping her air force husband get a degree, earning a living and raising a family. She had a long, successful IT career as a systems analyst with the Canadian government and then as a consultant. Thanks were due to a calculus course she toughed out to “keep my options open,” although the guidance counselor had advised her to drop it. Upon retirement she and her husband acquired something she had never had before: a hometown! At last, she lives amid a variety of people who may include the elderly, those with special needs, relatives perhaps and, some day, grandchildren. One of their two grown sons with his wife has also bought a home in Aylmer, QC. Sabad likens her careful observations, faithful recording and perceptive comments on her army-brat upbringing to “inventing anthropology.” The reader is enriched by the inside information, critical analysis and points of identification the book contains. Camp followers have existed ever since humanity has sent people — historically men — off to fight wars  on behalf of the societies, cultures or countries they represent. This way of life is pursued by about 10 million Americans (fewer Canadians) today. Yet, because of changes in society and the military, Sabad’s unique experiences cannot ever be repeated.  Her book is far too good for you to deny yourself the pleasure of reading it. Whatever your age, you will have a delightful growing-up experience all over again as the author generously and skillfully shares her own journey. Review written by Margaret Kell Virany
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Happy Reading and Writing from Cozy Book Basics!


fizafaceTwins clash and a teacher is ruined by his peers in Raman and Sunny: Middle School Blues, author Fiza Pathan‘s inspiring new full-length novel. It is a crown of jewels to entertain readers and sit atop her several award-winning books.

  • She tackles bullying, being a twin, parenting and suicide risk while disastrous tween-age errors in judgment and villainous teacher politics wreak havoc. Her fresh outlook as a child of the nineties (now a seasoned teacher and tutor of grade-six-plus students) brings sound content and intelligent resolution to the story.Raman and Sunny ebook (1)Raman Sharma, only a few minutes older than his brother Sunny, is fed up with leading the life of a twin and desperate to establish his own, separate identity. At the beginning of the book they don’t even walk to school together any more, although they are in the same class. Uncontrolled emotions of lying, anger, jealousy and revenge take over, leading to despicable acts of betrayal and violence. A new teacher with a revolutionary philosophy of education as a “holistic experience” made up of “Question, Research, Debate” arrives on the scene. Sunil Sir is exceedingly popular with the students and, also, a pretty good detective.
  • Pathan’s work attains classic standards with its interesting plot, satisfying structure, universal theme (of redemption), suspenseful climax and elegant style. It falls into the categories of ‘literary’ fiction for its social commentary and in-depth characterization, and ‘paraliterary’ fiction for its fast pace and focus on action. The “pizza” forgiveness scene made this reader cry.
  • The novel is set in Pathan’s native Mumbai, with a few chapters retreating for a bittersweet interlude at a school for orphans surrounded by beautiful roses, but occasionally disrupted by unwanted wild life.
  • This book is very worthwhile reading, particularly for children and their parents involved with middle schools. Unforgettable sentences such as, “A child with an inquiring mind will always achieve academic excellence” and “Now I realize the importance of having a brother in my life who cares for me” could even transform readers’ lives.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” from Act 3, Scene 2, The Mourning Bride (1697) by English playwright and poet William Congreve flamealwaysburn

Fiza Pathan, author of The Flame Always Burns

Fiza Pathan, author of The Flame Always Burns

Using vivid imagery, raw emotion and superb writing, Fiza Pathan’s forty-four poems selected in The Flame Will Always Burn take us inside the heart of a young woman who is totally, irrevocably traumatized by a first experience of love transformed into utter disaster. It is not a pleasant sight, not easy to stomach, but needed to be written not only as a soul’s cry for help but also as heroic self-help and a desire to help others. Some of the titles like “Love Comes with a Knife”, “Your Reeking Flesh” and “They Found Me in a Pool of Blood” have vicious content but here are some gentler samples: In the opening poem “My Two Hearts” Pathan writes, “When this poor heart of mine is set on fire By infidelity and sudden awakened heartbreak, Then what’s there in a drink or two To abate the end of my world? I will not forget this laceration in my chest, Forever shall I remember my eternal grief. Someone who has given me this wound in my soul Has also handed me a glass of strong wine. Wounds of the soul don’t get healed in a year or two As they remain like fungus around a loving red heart. Therefore how I wish I had two hearts, One for the bottle and the other for the balm.” On page 21, the title poem “The Flame Will Always Burn” says, “My charming lover, please return to this fire so scorching To call out your promises again and again and again. There is this distance and there is a sea that separates us, But these smouldering lips of mine still cry out In the twilight hour for you.” By page 37, in “I Sing My Guitar to Sleep”, she obsesses, “I try to sing the song I wrote for you, But the silence echoes as I, the mad one, cut Each of the instrument’s strings with a scissor. The tune resonates where there is no noise, The tune is quiet in the midst of my screams of terror. I strip out ribbons from my flesh and string it to my guitar. They sound so sweet like the melting snow running into gentle waters. The notes of music so divine press me on and on Until my senses are no more. Tired and weary without hope for your love, I sing my guitar to sleep entwined in the obsessional note.” The Flame Will Always Burn holds potions of rage, pain, addiction, self-loathing, murder, suicide, intoxication, infatuation and outrageousness but ends on page 90 with a plea. In the history of medicine and literature, the disease of love sickness has baffled doctors and poets. Pathan’s poems are a major contribution towards understanding it more thoroughly and comforting its millions of sufferers.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

The beautiful Saguenay Fjord on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, Canada

The beautiful Saguenay Fjord on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River at Tadoussac, Canada. Image courtesy of Saguenay Fjord National Park

While I vacationed on the beautiful Saguenay Fjord this month my baby, otherwise known as A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, was in the hands of Dunlop House Books. Their background in teaching English and History, and their expertise in writing prehistoric fiction was turned to reviewing my work and accepting me as a member associate. Here’s what they have to say:

“A unique story, all the more compelling because it is true.  A young seaman marries an English bride and carries her off to his preaching and teaching Mission at God’s Lake, a community of 328 Swampy Crees located six hundred miles northeast of Winnipeg, Canada.  The reader is swept along with them, paddling the fur trade routes and keeping tabs on a mission, establishing a church and a farm, suffering terrible winters and thriving on northern summers. They find themselves alone in a frozen universe trying to find a place for their baby to be born.

The story does not stop there. The Great Depression and World War II intervene.   The missionaries’ grown child must find a delicate balance between ego and soul. The adults, away from the romance of the North must live a difficult life and perhaps it is only in the future that their daughter will rescue her parents’ lost egos.

This is not just a northern adventure, it is a journey into the souls of its characters.”

Written by Donella Dunlop

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website. To order a copy of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride  for Christmas or Valentines giving, please contact V&V Publishing, Bookstores selling my books in the Ottawa area are Black Squirrel, Books on Beechwood, Brittons, Michabou, Octopus and Perfect Books.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!