Tag Archives: British authors

British Author Steve Petrou Offers Insightful Wisdom In heartfelt Story Of His Family’s Battle With Infertility


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

This is a book that reads like a classic Greek tragedy.

But not all Greek tragedies end in despair and disaster. Sometimes they result in what the ancients called a “catharsis” – and a catharsis can bring healing, hope and understanding.

As it happens, the author is a Greek-Cypriot. Greek was his first language. STEVE PETROU immigrated to England and established himself there as a successful owner and operator of a fish-n-chips shop, what the Brits call a “Chippy”.

His wife Vaso is also Greek-Cypriot. After falling blissfully in love and marrying, the two soul mates set out to complete the perfect picture of their lives by producing children – and that’s where the odyssey of the Petrou Clan begins.

Vaso was unable to get pregnant naturally. After years of suffering, the desperate couple opts to try IVF – In Vitro Fertilization. Anyone who thinks this is always a simple, clinical process that just sort of “zaps” a healthy fetus into a woman’s womb will be well-informed here about the potential pitfalls and enormous challenges that can result from the IVF process.

Author Steve Petrou, his wife, Vaso, and son, Petros

The couple’s experience was a nightmare of such monumental proportions it seems a miracle they persisted through three arduous trials of IVF before finally achieving success.

You can read all about the incredible journey of battling infertility in the author’s first book – All I Ever Wanted to Be Called Was Mom. In this follow up, and as the title implies – I Only Wanted To Be A Dad – you are going to get much of the same story, but this time focused through the eyes, mind and experiences of a father – and it’s important to say this – a male – a man!

Yes, having babies and then raising children is not 100% “woman stuff.” The man may perform just 1/1000 of what a woman does in the physical process to create a new life – but ahhhh – his role is still vital, integral and a lifetime commitment.

In these pages, Steve Petrou brings remarkable insight to the critical role the father/man/figure plays in the real-life drama of bringing children into the world, especially when that process takes extraordinary measures.

FROM “CHIPPY” TO “AUTHOR”

In my review of the first book I noted that it read like it was written by a person who was a professional fish-n-chips man first and a writer second.

But just a few pages into I Only Wanted To Be A Dad, I was amazed at how vastly the writing had improved. I think it should be recognized that in between the first and second book Steve Petrou evolved from “Chippy” to bona fide “Author.”

The first book was a powerful read because of the story and content. This book is just as powerful, but we get the added benefit of reading the prose of a man who is coming into his own as a skilled writer.

Indeed, in telling a true story, the narration takes on the riveting quality of a thrilling work of fiction. Consider this paragraph as the author accompanies his wife as she is being wheeled into surgery for a dangerous C-Section operation:

“Walking down that long corridor, expecting death to meet you as soon as that door opens, make your legs tremble. You do not want that walk to continue, wishing you could go back into the room where you felt safe. You are scared, want to cry and scream because deep down in your heart you know that if you enter through that door, you will lose everything. You think you are screaming, asking them to stop, but not a sound leaves your mouth. The distance between you and that damned door keeps getting shorter.”

That’s a compelling passage and there’s a lot more where that came from.

This is certainly a book that will help an uncounted number of people because of the insight it offers in dealing with the agonizing condition of infertility which a growing part of the world population is confronting every day.

But also, this book serves as a  kind of Man’s Manifesto, in that, it lays out a viewpoint and philosophy for the modern male in our society who aspires to be the best father, family man, husband and care giver he can be.

The view offered is an appeal for compassion, understanding and an encouragement for men to make a brutally frank and blunt self-examination — and then strive to be the best kind of man one can hope to become – keeping in mind that none are perfect and that we should all expect to learn lessons from bad mistakes we will inevitably make along the way.

I found this book to be an extraordinary narrative on many levels. Every man should read it, married or unmarried, father or childless, young or old.

NOTE: You can read my review of this author’s first book HERE.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Hologram Dreams by British author R.G. Knighton is about as much fun as you can have reading science fiction

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

This is the second novel I have read by indie British indie writer R.G. Knighton, and it just happens to be his second book.

After being outrageously entertained by his debut offering, TIMELOCK, I was eager to get my hands on Knighton’s follow-up effort, HOLOGRAM DREAMS. I am delighted to report the second is even better than the first.

In this novel Knighton gravitates away from horror and toward science fiction, but the result is the same – bloody, but energetic and wacky fun featuring wonderfully conceived characters embroiled in a well-designed plot. There’s also surprisingly rich descriptions of scenery, action and background.

I have no idea how hard this author works, or how much he sweats over writing and rewriting, but the final effect is prose that flows so effortlessly that all you have to do is sit back and just enjoy the ride.

And what a ride it is!

The premise is a setting 50 years in the future. Think of a massive multinational corporation like Disney, except the Hologram Dream Corporation provides more than mere theme park escapism. Technology has advanced to allow full-immersion experiences in virtual reality scenarios generated by a massive computer-generated infrastructure that can create any “dream” anyone might want to experience as if it were real.

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R.G. Knighton

The holograms are supported by brick-and-mortar Hollywood set building – the result is that the filthy rich (drug lords and movie stars) can be transported to a thrilling adventure in ancient Egypt, a big-game hunting safari, a bloody gladiator match in a Roman amphitheater – anything.

But where there are greedy and powerful corporate creeps, and hedonistic millionaires willing to pay unlimited cash to have their deepest desires brought to life, you’ll find the wretched folly of human nature — people who will stop at nothing to live out the darkest lusts lurking in the basements of their diseased psyches.

The tone oscillates between dark humor and light-hearted wit. Knighton’s bent is often wry, dry, and biting, perhaps almost cynical. He’s a writer who does not flinch from brutality and violence –- blood and gore, described in sweaty detail –- and he pulls no punches in creating characters of absolute lowest-common-denominator morality.

But Knighton also gives us pure-of-heart heroes who display enormous courage, along with an immense capacity for self-sacrifice to help others.

Yes, it’s basic pure and sweet good guys versus scummy bad guys – and for that matter – the entire premise is not strikingly original, having been explored by many authors over the years (and decades old movies, such as West World, and TV shows, such as Star Trek’s “Holodeck”).

However, what matters is the execution. On this count, R.G. Knighton really delivers. I said it in my review of his first book and I’ll say it again, Mr. Knighton is a writer of natural talent.

He takes standard science fiction conventions, breathes new life into it all, innovates a little, adds a few new “plot gimmick attachments” — and comes away with a book that does not pretend to be anything but fantastic entertainment.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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British author Martyn Wilson’s “Enlightenment: The Keys to Consciousness” is a worthy addition to an ancient topic

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

One of my favorite sayings from the Zen tradition is: “To talk about Zen is to not know Zen.”

I think it’s also true, then, to say that, “To write about Zen is not to know Zen either.”

Furthermore, reading a book about Zen is no way to get to really know or understand Zen.

We can substitute the word “Enlightenment” for Zen in all of the above statements. To talk about Enlightenment, to write about it, to read books it is no way to truly understand Enlightenment.

I suspect the author of this book, a down-to-earth, working-class British man by the name of MARTYN WILSON, would agree.

No one else can describe for you or explain Enlightenment. No one else can give it to you. You can only find it for yourself. And once you find it for yourself, you’ll never in a million years be able to fully explain to someone else just exactly what it is that you have found.

Why, then, did Martyn Wilson write this book? Indeed, why have whole forests been cleared by gurus, shamans, yogis, monks, teachers, etc. — all writing books about Enlightenment? For something that can never be truly explained, people sure like to blather on about it endlessly.

Mr. Wilson explains his motivation for writing his book this way:

“I believe that I have been given a gift that has completely changed my life. I also believe that it would be a waste of this gift not to share what I have learned and experienced, not because I am on some spiritual mission to convert the entire population of earth, but to point out that there is another way of living, another choice.”

He also says:

“Whatever you think Enlightenment is, it is not … Enlightenment cannot be thought no matter how many books you read, how many seminars you attend, how many meditation workshops you take part in or how spiritual you think you are. Enlightenment can only be experienced and this is why it is so difficult to explain to others.”

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Martyn Wilson

It can’t be explained, can’t be done … but Mr. Wilson certainly makes a heroic effort in this slim volume. And you know what? He comes as close as anyone or book I have read to giving the reader an inkling of what Enlightenment might be, and how to at least start your journey toward getting it for yourself.

(Yikes! I’m already in trouble! If you think that you need to go on a “journey” to find Enlightenment, then you will never find it. There is no journey to take, and nothing to find!)

But let me struggle on.

Keep in mind that when writing about Enlightenment, both authors and guys like me who review their books are grappling within a situation pitted with paradoxes. You’re always saying something seemingly contradictory, such as , “You must seek something that can never be found.” Or, “There is no journey because you are always already there,” Or, “You can never arrive because there is nowhere to go.”

So if I say that Martyn Wilson has written an excellent book and that these pages are a good place to start on your search for Enlightenment, I am already veering off track and headed for the ditch.

If you think you have to “start a journey to Enlightenment” then you are already lost. Also, if it is anything that is “out there” — such as a book, seminar or some guru, then that is something that is “outside yourself” and will do you no good.

At the same time, I will dare to say: This is as good a book to read as any if you want to seek Enlightenment.

After all, Mr. Wilson’s started somewhere, albeit someplace unusual — an all-out effort to prove that there really is no such thing as Enlightenment!

It was his wife who was really into all this stuff. She was one of those people who was deeply involved in reading books on the subject, going to seminars, practicing meditations, and so on.

Wilson thought his wife’s pursuit was 100% preposterous. Thus, he became determined to do everything he could to prove that all this stuff was just a bunch of baloney — a loony pile of eastern-religious-mystical nonsense for modern-day hippies and delusional New Age flakes.

He did tons of research on the Internet, read books, and then started testing methods, such as meditation and other “techniques” to show that they did nothing for anyone. Indeed, he found meditation to be worthless in his own case.

But then Mr. Wilson stumbled upon a certain method that seemed so simple and ludicrous, he called it “laughable” — and yet he tried it anyway, and (laughable or not) kept at it for weeks and months on end.

And guess what? Martyn Wilson was stunned one day to find that he had become Enlightened!

I’m going to say no more because I don’t want to give too much away. I would encourage all readers to buy, discover and encounter this fine and delightful book for yourselves.

Just a couple of last points. Wilson drops a couple of delicious bombshells in these pages:

1. His comments on the subject of forgiveness may cause some people to have a brain aneurysm!

2. His opinion on the subject of non-duality is unique, bold and matter of fact!

Not to be missed! I like it when an author of a book about Enlightenment manages to break new ground. Martyn Wilson does it. This is one of the best books on the topic since the sublime LAZY MAN’S GUIDE TO ENLIGHTENMENT by THADDEUS GOLAS. If it’s not as profound as Shunryu Suzuki‘s masterpiece ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND, it packs a similar punch in a more “common-working-man” sort of way.

Go ahead, get the book, have a read — just don’t expect this to be your road map to Enlightenment. There is no road map.


Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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A gruesome look at reality: Gang rape in India

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

The news cycle today is brutal: Shocking reports of monstrous beheadings, people burned alive in cages, entire African villages murdered by militarized thugs.

Well, prepare to have a tad more of your hope for humanity wrung out (if you have any left). This compelling Kindle Single, 13 MEN, written by SONIA FALEIRO, is a riveting, unflinching piece of long-form journalism looking at the dark and hope-sapping phenomena of gang rape in India.

Faleiro takes apart the complex case of a charming, hardworking, but perhaps headstrong young woman recently returned to live in her remote village in West Bengal, India. She dared to flout centuries old local tribal customs – but paid for it with an even greater corruption of those same traditional moral codes.

The topic is timely, to be sure, noting the recent controversial decision by the government of India to ban a BBC documentary about the gang rape of a New Delhi woman. Debate about this censorship is raging across the Internet and world media.

Gang rapes by roving packs of men has long been a huge problem in India, but the country seems determined to bring this deeply taboo subject out of the darkness into the light of greater public consciousness – a painful process as India’s multifaceted, complex and ancient culture lurches into modern times.

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Author Sonia Faleiro

Faleiro’s 13 Men should serve as a significant contribution to the discussion. With the withering gaze of a journalist determined to get all the facts and capture the complexity of a single case, the author demonstrates how enormously difficult and vexing finding truth and justice can be.

What’s involved is not just a clash of cultures, but economic injustice, greedy capitalists, corrupt and/or inept public officials, competing interpretations of laws and customs, illiteracy, alcohol abuse and just the plain-old lack of moral character by certain drifting, good-for-nothing men – and perhaps the women who enable them.

Navigating all this territory and churning it back out into a piece of writing that is clear and concise is no easy task, and I give Fareiro enormous credit for bringing clarity to an almost impossibly muddy issue.

If you have the stomach to confront more of the tragedy, cruelty and heartache of our troubled world, pick up a copy of 13 Men – it’s a marvelous piece of journalism on a timely subject that brings much-needed light to a deeply dark issue.

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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