Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Michael Kelly, Tales From The Home Farm

Michael Kelly, Tales From The Home Farm

Usually I stick religiously to the reading order of my books.  First acquired, first digested, no argument please.  This is probably the only pedantic tendency in my otherwise messy life :)

Sometimes, though, an Event of Magnitude comes along and even my sacred reading order gets turned upside down.  Yeah, I know, I've been hinting at some big news for weeks now.  Well, today is the day, the curtain is up.

I'm moving!  Not only from one street to the next, I'm uprooting my whole way of life and turning it into something entirely different.  From a cramped, one-bedroom apartment in a busy city centre to a spacious farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.  Yeah!  I'm going to start a garden!  Keep hens!  Get a dog!  Make cheese!  And ten thousand other things...

With all the excitement surrounding the move, my usual reading list gets pretty much kicked aside and substituted with all sorts of Guides to Rural Pursuits.  I'm a city girl, born and bred, and if my experiment is to work, I need to gather as much information as I can.  Normally I would spare my readers any details of the countless how-tos I'm digging through, but sometimes I come across one that is actually worth mentioning.  Like Michael Kelly's Tales From The Home Farm.

A few years ago, Kelly did something similar to what I'm doing right now:  he ditched a corporate job and relocated to the countryside, to live the dream.  Some time into his adventure, he's far on the road to self-sufficiency.  The Home Farm is producing meat, eggs and veggies straight from the garden.  The author shares whatever he managed to learn on the journey - his tips on growing food in Irish climate, keeping chickens and turning pigs into pork are invaluable. 

The book is divided into twelve chapters, one for each month in a year.  I find this arrangement incredibly helpful, especially with each section followed by a brief summary:  what to do, what to sow, what to eat.  I'll probably be photocopying those pages for future reference!

Still, homesteading lore is only a half of Kelly's book.  The rest is filled with musings on sustainability, organic food production and life in general.  'Tales', you see?  This is not a guide or a textbook as such, it's farm-oriented storytelling.  Good storytelling, I hasten to add:  funny, warm, lighthearted, nothing sermon-like.  It's obvious that downshifting has served Mr. Kelly well - passion and contentment shine through every page.

To top it all off, Michael Kelly and I seem to share the same taste in books.  Quite a few titles mentioned in Tales From The Home Farm have been reviewed here, on Bookworm's Cave.  How cool is that?

The book is still worth recommending even if you're not planning to move away from the city lights, .  A word of warning, though:  after reading the tales, you might find that you want to!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Danny Seraphine and Adam Mitchell, Street Player

Danny Seraphine and Adam Mitchell, Street Player

Despite my recent promises of improvement, Bookworm's Cave is still terribly quiet these days.  There are many causes, some of which are happy and will be revealed soon.  Other reasons for silence are not so great, but today I'm going to get at least one of them behind me, so that it can never haunt me again.  You see, I've been dreading writing this post, for weeks.

I was approached with a request to review Street Player back in...  July.  There, I've said it, the skeleton is out of the closet.  Despite the fact that I'm not getting paid for this and the only thing I receive in exchange is a free pdf of a book that I would never choose otherwise, I still feel terribly embarrassed.  How unprofessional of me!

At first sight, the book did not seem tempting at all.  For many years, Danny Seraphine was a drummer in a world famous band, Chicago, and Street Player is his autobiography.  I'm not particularly keen on musicians' memoirs.  Once you've read one, you've read them all.  From humble beginnings to fame, blah blah blah, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, rehabs in between and a handful of celebrity names to glamour it all up.  Hardly worthwhile, once you've left the high school.

Despite the initial lack of interest, one evening I sat down with my laptop and opened the Street Player file, just to see what I'm supposed to drudge through.  I started reading and...  after only a couple of pages, I was totally hooked.  It turned out to be a very long evening :)

OK, let's be frank - Street Player does not differ very much from the abovementioned recipe for a musician's autobiography.  Still, it reads like a dream.  It's dynamic, not too pretentious, well-written and engaging.  I suspect this might be attributed to the non-famous co-writer, Adam Mitchell.  I can't be sure, but it smells very much like the kind of team where one side supplies the story plus trademarks and the other writing skills.  Well, if I'm right then Mr. Mitchell is a very decent writer indeed.  One just feels like turning (or, in my case, scrolling down) page after page, just to find out what happens next. 

As to the story...  There are all the usual stages of musical career, but also Chicago mafia (and here I mean the town, not the band), glimpses of Seraphine's personal life, big dramas when band members leave or *gasp* die, even bigger dramas when the author gets kicked out of the group, multi-digit figures, groupies, flying wigs, behind-the-scenes yarns and yes, the appropriate share of celebrities.  Not necessarily in this particular order. 

You may have guessed that the popular music scene is not exactly my pair of shoes.  Never before have I heard of the band Chicago either (although, as it turned out, I AM familiar with some of their tunes).  To tell you the truth, I'm not star-struck.  I don't think I'd like Danny Seraphine much, if we ever met.  Then again, I don't think I quite match Street Player's target market.  If you're a Chicago fan, or young and dreaming of rock'n'roll career, you'll probably love the book.

Uff, I'm done.  I hope this monster of a review will be at least some compensation for my monster of a delay :)