Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Passeggiata–Strolling Through Italy by G.G. Husak


            Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011


  • Paperback: 355 pages
  • Genre: Travel memoir
  • Publisher: Booksurge Publishing  2008
  • Source: Sent to me by another blogger Maggie of Normandy Life via Bookmooch
  • First Sentence : Prologue ‘for almost fifteen years, March has signified not only the coming of spring, but my husband Al’s and my pilgrimage to Italy.’
  • Quote From : Ms. Husak’s memoir of travels to Italy with her husband will appeal to those who love travel in general and Italy in particular.
  • My Opinion: Suited especially to the first time visitor or virtual traveller to Italy.



    The November post for the list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. November Reviews

    Although I enjoyed this memoir about this couples travels in Italy, I did not really find it excited me. I hope that does not mean I have been living here too long for a travel memoir of Italy to inspire me. Personally I feel this is more suited to the first time visitor or virtual traveller to Italy and better read in small doses as it did tend to be repetitive in parts. The repetitiveness was a shame as I felt it was due to poor editing as were some of the mistakes I found. Mistakes I hasten to add that those that do not live here or speak any Italian I doubt will even notice, so I am not going to be pedantic and will not even mention them in detail.

    The Cinque Terre is one of the couples favourite places and it  also saddened me somewhat to be reading this so soon after the recent disasters caused by flooding in the area. That withstanding they covered many of the major tourist centres on their annual holidays, including Roma, Florence, Venice, Milan, Orveito, Siena, Naples, Sorrento and Positano.  A wide selection indeed. Some of the things that they had to say about various places and the way things work here in Italy did niggle me a bit at times.  Again this was probably a case of knowing both the places and the vagaries of life in Italy, a little better  in some aspects, not others) than this intrepid pair of adventurers. Also one must remember that this was the early nineties they were writing about for their first trips and times have changed a lot since then.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Italy has got under this couples skin and really enriched their lives, otherwise why would they still be coming here, as we are led to believe they still do. I would be very interested in a sequel as I think they may have learnt a lot more about Italy since those early days. Although even on those early trips they soon learnt to relax and go with the flow, it is the only way to happily exist in Italy.

    ‘Passegiata strolling through Italy’ certainly has a lot to recommend it to lovers of all things Italian, who wish to immerse themselves in the personal details of the Husak’s adventures.


    Since 1993, Glen Grymes Husak has made an annual pilgrimage to Italy. Glen brings her background and insight as an English teacher and museum docent to the history and art of Italy.

    Glen Grymes Husak has travelled with her husband Al to Italy since 1993. Their adventures in Italian cities and villages and growing love for the Italian experience provide the inspiration for her writing. She brings the background and insight of an English teacher and museum art docent to historical sights and art of Italy. She tells her friends that she enjoys writing about Italy almost as much as being there.
    In more recent years, Glen and Al have added other Mediterranean destinations to their travels but always end up in Italy. They have not found a place that they like better. The author is I believe currently based in Houston, Texas.

    Other sources of information used in this post :-

    Author's Goodreads Profile

    G.G. Husak's Official Website



    I also post these ‘Italy in Books’ reviews on my other blog.
    News From Italy

  • Monday, November 21, 2011

    The Golden Sky by E.C. Stilson


                                               The Golden Sky

  • Advance Proof Paperback: 284 pages
  • Genre:  Personal Memoir
  • Publisher:  Wayman Publications 2011
  • Source: Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • First Paragraph : Entry#1 Being pregnant isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. On the days I don’t feel like I have Alzheimer’s, I’m like Hercules journeying from hell. Here I am at the age of nineteen, with a seven month old girl and another kid on the way.
  • My Opinion: This true story about the death of a baby hit me in a way I did not quite expect it to, it was emotionally draining.


    I defy you not to be moved by this memoir written by a young woman who at times seems so innocent and others so wise. It might not be a great literary work but it is truth and real and something that happens to far too many people. When Elisa was just nineteen her second born child, a son died, she and her husband Cade became a sad statistic, which sadly many thousands of others can relate to. We have all experienced grief and loss but the acute pain of losing a child was just so hard to imagine, until I read this.

    One day Elisa Stilton aged 26 found the strength to reread the journal she wrote at the time of his death, when she was hurting more than most of us can ever imagine! It was painful and difficult to read her journal again but it helped Elisa at last find peace with Zeke’s death. Grateful that she had written down her experience at the time this brave young lady decided to share her families pain with the world. Published on November 18th 2011, the anniversary of Zeke’s birth she hopes that by doing so she can help others that have experienced the loss of a child.

    The memoir is written in a very honest and personal way and Elisa bares her soul to the world in this diary, leaving nothing out. There are a lot of personal details about her relationships, her pregnancies, her thoughts when they discover the baby may be handicapped, the trauma of his birth, personal letters from her family on his birth and how her marriage nearly falls apart because of all the trauma. However Elisha is one amazing young lady who never gives up, seems to remain cheerful through it all and is determined to find a way of keeping her husband and daughter Ruby together as a family. She is willing to work hard to do so and her fighting spirit and humour will draw you to like this young woman.  In Elisa’s own words I echo that publishing this memoir In honour of Zeke, was a wonderful thing to do, ‘because after every storm, there is a golden sky’.

  • I was hoping to share a video trailer with you but have been unable to get the embedding to work, so I am just including the link The Golden Sky Trailer - You Tube. It is just 1min 24 sec, do pop over and take a look.

    Author Profile – Elisa Stilson

    bookThe autobiographical information and photo published here was kindly provided for me by the author herself.

    Elisa Hirsch has her degree through the University of Phoenix. Her particular degree has a counselling emphasis and she finds it very useful when leading grief counselling groups for parents who have lost children.
    For the last six years she owned and operated EC Boutique. Her company received various awards including, Best of Show at the Utah State Fair, Top Ten Award from Boutique Customs Mini Mall and last year on e-bay it was even rated as the fifth largest custom handmade kids' clothing store in the world. Elisa designed and created outfits for children, but has since decided to close her business and work on her writing career.
    Elisa plays six instruments; the violin, piano, drums, alto sax, tenor sax and the clarinet. Her husband is also a musician. They love to play at weddings, funerals, coffee shops and restaurants.
    She also enjoys speaking publicly and meeting new people. She has spoken at M.O.P.S., been Juliet in the local play and made it to the final three for the Salt Lake Story Tellers contest in 2001. She hopes to continue being asked to speak at functions and counsel people who need help overcoming grief.
    Her husband and four beautiful children are a blessing. She is so proud to have them in her life especially since one of her little boys passed away eight years ago. He was born with birth defects and he changed her life. Since his death, writing has become an even stronger passion of Elisa's. She always wrote, even finishing a ninety page manuscript at the age of ten, but now writing is one of her best driving forces. She tries to write for at least two hours each morning and is in a writing critic group as well as the Writers League of Utah.

    Elisa has also put together a selection of the private family photos of her son’s birth,  Zeke Jackson

    Elisa and her husband Cade are also musical, listen to some by visiting  Our Music

    A young writer to watch take a look at her blog The Crazy Life of a Writing Mum.

    A talented couple who went through so much so young, I wish them a successful and happy future together, also thankyou Elisa for asking me to review The Golden Sky, it was a privilege to do so.

  • Friday, November 11, 2011

    Rebellion by Rachel Cotterill


            Rebellion (Chronicles of Charanthe #1)


  • Ebook: 371 pages
  • Genre:  Fantasy Adventure Fiction
  • Publisher:  Rachel Cotterill (10 Oct 2010)
  • Source: Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • First Two Paragraphs : Prologue: His attention was caught by the snapping of a twig down in the valley. He held himself still, forcing even his breathing to silence, and turned his eyes to follow the sound. The disturbance came not a moment too soon; he'd been starting to doubt the quality of his informants. 
  • It was a few moments before the girl emerged from the dense cover of the trees. She walked barefoot up the slope, a purposeful look on her face, and though she looked up she didn't seem to see him hidden between the branches. She was a thin child, short for her thirteen years, with stunning red hair which flowed down her back. She looked so like her mother.
  • My Opinion: This is a well written novel and despite it being fantasy a genre that does not normally appeal, it proved to be a better read than expected. Thanks Rachel for encouraging me to read your novel.

    Although Fantasy is not a genre I am fond of I was impressed with the writing and the way that Rachel has created a whole fantasy world in this first novel in the trilogy the Chronicles of Charanthe. It is a strange world but through the protagonist Eleanor you will be able to step into this world where children are taken away from their parents at birth to be educated. Upon graduation the students are awarded lifetime job assignments, but Eleanor’s posting is not the dream job she had always hoped for. The job offered to her is one she feels far below her abilities so she decides to reject the offer. This is where her problems begin as suddenly free for the first time in her life, she recalls the legends which tell of a secret society of elite assassins, who live outside the laws of the Empire and who may or may not truly exist. As she seeks out the truth she has many adventures, of which if you are not a fan of this genre may seem incredibly far fetched, as she cheats, steals and kills her way to succeed.  I coped as I liked the way the author portrayed her characters and it was a fast paced read. I did however find the descriptions of weaponry, fighting and even torture a little too much at times, but this was a personal issue and other readers probably love all this fast paced action. 

    If you are a fan of this genre or someone that likes to stretch their comfort reading zone from time to time than I recommend you try the work of this talented young author. I will also admit that I am looking forward to reading Revolution, which is published today 11.11.11, to see how the story progresses and the characters develop.

    Author Profile – Rachel Cotterill

    Rachel Cotterill

    Born on January 06, 1983 in The United Kingdom Rachel now lives with her husband in the Cotswolds. When she's not writing, she's studying for a PhD in computational linguistics. On her website she describes herself as a writer, photographer, computational linguistics PhD student, and someone who collects skills the way other people collect stamps - so far including dry-stone walling, taekwondo, sugarcraft, EFL teaching, rope-splicing, skiing & snowboarding, knitting & crochet, cooking, juggling, and coppicing, an enterprising young lady indeed, she also enjoys learning a little of the languages of the countries she visits, so that she can ask for directions when she gets lost.

    If you are unsure if her novel Rebellion is going to appeal to you, the first few chapters are available to read online here

    You can find out more about Rachel her writing and her photography on her website Rachel Cotterill, her Goodreads Author Profile  or her Flickr Profile.

    Chronicles of Charanthe Website  Rebellion is the first Chronicles of Charanthe novel. Revolution, the second, will be published in November 2011, and the final book of the series, Reformation, is due in 2012.

  •  Revolution - Chronicles of Charanthe 2 is published today 11.11.11

  • Monday, November 7, 2011

    Zlata’s Diary – A Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic




    • Audiotape: 2 tapes Abridged 3hrs listening
    • Genre : Biography/Autobiography
    • Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
    • Source: From a selection I have languishing on shelves.
    • Read By : Dorota Puzio


    Reviewing an Audiobook here is a recent  departure for me, as this is just the second time I have done so. I recently discovered a collection of approximately twenty audio books that we have moved from house to house for years. It is time that most of them were moved on as tapes are rather out dated, although I might keep the classics. My first audio book review was back in April and I was planning to review about one a month. So much for good intentions, somehow the plan never materialised until the other day when I came across this copy that I had originally purchased for our younger daughter in 1995.  Never a great fan of reading, unless we read to her, we did manage to get her into the habit of listening to tapes. Thankfully it worked and although she might not have read them herself, she has a reasonable knowledge of many children’s classics either from us reading to her, or listening to tapes.

    She was eleven years old herself, the same age as Zlata, when Zlata’s Diary was originally published and it was an excellent way to introduce to her the effects of war on children.

    At the beginning of 1992 Zlata Filipovic was living in Sarajevo, the normal everyday life of a young girl, school, holidays and time with friends were uppermost in her thoughts. She did mention the war in her diary but at first it was just a distant threat. Until suddenly that April war broke out in Sarajevo and her main concern became survival! It was dangerous living in the city as snipers were active there. Inevitably the war meant hardships for her family and they had to adapt to living without the things we all take for granted especially food and not being able to move around outside safely! There was always the constant fear of death in the air never knowing if family and friends would survive the atrocities. In writing this diary I felt that Zlata shows amazing fortitude for one so young and learning about the war through her perspective is a moving experience. As she does not fully understand the politics behind this war she tends to have more to say about how the war affects her life, rather than about the culture clash which is at the root of the troubles.

    The diary does end rather abruptly which I felt was a shame when Zlata and her family are moved to safety in France, because of the publicity her diary attracted!

    An insightful read for adults and children alike.

    Author photograph.

    Zlata Filipovic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1980. At the age of ten, she started keeping a diary, which, when conflict began in the former Yugoslavia, became a record of the war and survival in her city. Zlata’s Diary was published first in France in 1993 and was an instant international bestseller. It has since been translated into thirty-six languages and is required reading in many schools around the world.

    She holds a B.A. in Human Sciences from Oxford University and an MPhil in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. She has spoken extensively at schools and universities around the world and has worked on many occasions with organizations such as the Anne Frank House, the United Nations, and UNICEF. She is also a three-time member of the UNESCO Jury for Children’s and Young People’s Literature Prize for Tolerance.

    Her written work includes contributions to several books, radio programs and newspapers, including a foreword for The Freedom Writers Diary(Doubleday, 1997) and the English translation of Milosevic: The People’s Tyrant (I.B. Tauris, 2004), for which she has also written a foreword. More recently, she co-edited Stolen Voices: Young People’s War Diaries from WWI to Iraq (Penguin, 2006).

    She recently worked within the UN Children and Armed Conflict Division in New York under Olara Otunnu and is collaborating with Amnesty International USA on developing human rights education material based around her most recent book, Stolen Voices.

    Zlata now serves on the executive committee of Amnesty International Ireland and is currently making documentary films.

    For a visual insight into the atrocities in Sarajevo please take a five minutes to watch this video.

    Uploaded by Freeweezy6290 on Mar 8, 2011

    For more background I also recommend reading an excellent interview with Zlata Filipovic published in April 2011  Starting A New Life in Ireland –   on the  globalcitydublin blog.

    Author biography and photography is taken from The Penguin Speakers Bureau

    Other sources of information used in this post were:-

    Zlata Filipovic - Wikipedia

    Wikipedia - Zlata's Diary

    Zlata Filipovic - YouTube

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Guernica by Dave Boling




  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Publisher: Picador 2009
  • Source: My sister-in-law.
  • First Sentence : Prologue (Guernica 1939)Justo Ansotegui returns to the market now to hear the language and to buy soap.
  • Review Quote : 'Where Picasso's painting so vividly captured the hellfire of the town's destruction, this book fills in the humanity. The characters, the culture and the landscape are all lovingly described.'
    --New Statesman
  • My Opinion: One of my favourite reads this year.


    Until I read this novel my only knowledge of ‘Guernica’ was as a place in the Basque region of Spain that had come under attack during the Spanish Civil War. I had also heard of Picasso’s painting of the same name, but had never looked at it closely. Although I have now done so online, it would be a moving experience to see it in reality, especially now I know more about the events behind the creation.  I understand when reading historical fiction that fact and fiction are sometimes difficult to separate. So I enjoy the fact that reading a novel like this one, besides being a pleasure to read has also taught me something along the way.

    The novel concentrates on the story of two Basque families related by marriage the Ansotegui’s and the Navarro’s. An extraordinary fictional tale of their  family life from 1893 – 1940 with appearances by some real people from history. The story is woven around the characters Miguel Navarro and Miren Ansotegui, when the two of them meet they believe they have a love that nothing can destroy.

    While reading this I felt thoroughly immersed in the surroundings and so connected with the characters that I felt their grief and happiness as if I knew them personally. This is truly a wonderful love story not just between individuals but a love of family, traditions and place, definitely one of my favourite reads this year.


    Image of Dave BolingAuthor photo

    Dave Boling was born in Chicago, USA and has been a journalist in the Pacific Northwest since 1980. Prior to that, he worked as a logger, iron-worker, boat-builder, bartender, bouncer, short-order cook, painter and college football coach. He lives on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Guernica, his first novel, was voted Richard and Judy's best 'Summer Read' for 2009.

    The interview with Dave Boling is less than six minutes but split into three parts, in the first part he discusses the novel, no spoilers. I have also included the links to the next two parts in which he discusses why he became an author and the reasons behind why he wrote Guernica.

    Uploaded by picadorbooks on Jul 15, 2009

    Dave Boling Interview Part 2

    Dave Boling Interview Part Three

    Information for this post is with thanks to the following websites.  
  • Amazon - Author Profile   

  • Guernica - The Painting – Wikipedia

  • Author's Official Website

  • YouTube