Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Beyond the Pasta by Mark Leslie

The title epitomizes exactly what Mark Leslie did. He went beyond the basic pasta!

The story tells of how Mark in between jobs as a stage director in England, went to Viterbo and lived with an Italian family, living as one of the family. Taking cooking lessons from the grandmother and Italian language lessons from the mother of the house, he got slowly assimilated as one of the family living their life on a day to day basis.

This is something most people would dream about.  Living with a local family especially when you are in love with all things Italian - so that you capture all the nuances of the Italian family life. Very few people can actually do it.

Interspersed with outings to all the places of local interest and daily cooking for both lunch and dinner the book also includes recipes from Nonna's kitchen with side notes of how it can be adapted for those outside Italy. I loved the zucchini recipes particularly as with a surfeit of zucchini from the garden I never know what to do with it. There are plenty of recipes in this book.

The recipes aside the book deals with the marketing for groceries which is an important aspect of food in Italy. Quality of ingredients and from specialist shops is a necessity. Not just picking it up from the closest most convenient shop which most people tend to do. The family dinners and entertainment of the family are also an integral part of the whole exercise and Mark Leslie excels in its description.

This book is a keeper.

Sent to me by Netgalley via Gemelli Press LLC

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday What are you reading?

The books that came into my Mailbox this week are


Both these courtesy of Netgalley


Just finished one book and undecided on what to read next. Its also Monday here and generally the list of things to do is huge! Looking forward to the reading as so many good books around. 

I also won an Amazon Gift Card (my first win of an Amazon card) so I used it to buy this!

Twelfth Night at Longbourn (Given Good Principles)

Now that I've actually bought something from Amazon (instead of the amazing free downloads I usually indulge in), I will be able to post my book reviews on Amazon as well. That is a plus for the host of people who send me books as well.

Have a good week folks!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Girl at the Lion D'Or

The Girl at the Lion d'Or

Anne has had a life full of injustice. Her father was killed and her mother committed suicide. She comes to Janvilliers seeking a new life with a new community and to put the past behind her.

Getting involved with a married man was not the best of choices, but that is life. The story of Hartmann and Anne with a third wheel of his wife Christine, on the sidelines and always waiting is a story of love, passion, but with a great deal of sadness. 

Very descriptive of everyday life both at the inn and in the surrounding country of the area, the book is full of atmosphere especially of French village life. 

Not a book one should read fast. This is one of those reads which should be read slowly to get the nuances of this story.

I read this book after reading about it on Cosy Books. My copy came to me via Open Library.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Return to London by Terence Jenkins

A easy to read book of trivia and history behind some of the known and the unknown of London. 

I think native Londoners may be passing these landmarks and not having a clue as to why such an such got this name or the significance of that - the author here gives you an inkling as to why and how and when London became the city it now is. The facts are not boring, very interesting in fact and for someone like me who is an armchair traveller brought the city very much to life. 

I loved the eccentricities of London - the fig leaf which covered the sensitivities of the ladies of the time rather than the privates of the statue! the polar bear and of course I do love the pubs and their names. Great reading.

This book was sent to me by Netgalley via Troubador Publishing Ltd.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Other Side of the Bridge by Katharine Swartz

Ava has beaten a retreat. Her marriage has failed, she has lost a longed for baby and she feels she needs to take a step back to see whether she can retrieve her life in England. 

Her grandmother has bequeathed a house to her - a house in far off central Greece. Her grandmother though being Greek has never spoken of her Greek heritage, has never disclosed how she came to England and even her daughter Ava's mother knows very little of her mother's past.  Despite having several grandchildren, Ava cannot understand why the house was given to her.

She decides to go, sight unseen, without informing anyone of her arrival and finds a dilapidated cottage,in a very remote village. Luckily for her she is befriended on her arrival by Eleni, who offers her accommodation and hospitality till she settles down. Ava's interest other than pulling herself together is to find out what she can about her grandmother and Eleni's own mother is very shaken on her first sight of Ava. However Eleni is not willing at all, for Ava to question her mother about the subject of Sophia - Ava's grandmother because the Nazi occupation of Greece and the partisan warfare that also was part of this area are subjects that are extremely painful to recollect. Eleni fears for her mother's wellbeing and Ava has to look elsewhere for information.

Piecing together bit by bit, and in alternate chapters telling the story of Sophia during the 1942 period and the way Sophia had to live with her father and sister Angelika, her subsequent involvement in the Resistance despite her not wanting to do anything which would bring attention to their family and how she found herself in London is very eloquently told.

Ava's struggle to come to terms with her loss, her reconciliation with her husband and putting her grandmother's story to rest is this story.

Very descriptive of rural Greece even in the present times, and detailed in the telling of the 1942s this is a mix of history as well as a family story. 

The book was sent to me from Netgalley courtesy of Tute Publishing. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday/ It's Monday! What are you reading?

The following books came this week:


These came courtesy of Netgalley.


These were from edelweiss


The meme is from Sheila at Book Journey.

Reading two books almost alongside each other!

Vanessa and her sister - historical fiction and good. Lots of reference to Leonard Woolf who was Government Agent in Jaffna, Sri Lanka during the time of the British in Sri Lanka.

The Diary of a Pissed Off Flight Attendant. I am almost thinking of giving this up because it is very off hand kind of writing. Almost as if the writer has a pleasure in giving a comeuppance to anyone!

Its mid day here on a Monday and already I feel oppressed with the list of things to do!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

The Boston Girl: A Novel

I had read The Red Tent by this author and liked the historical detail of ancient Jerusalem in that one. In this one set in 1900 Boston and moving forward eighty five years, we find the same attention to detail which seems to be a mark of Diamant's books and her success.

Addie is recounting her life story to her grand daughter starting from the time of the arrival of her immigrant parents and how difficult it was for them to put down roots and how suspicious they were of anything modern that America had to offer.

For Addie who was vibrant, intelligent and curious it was an uphill battle to get an education against a mother who was only interested that her daughters earn some money, and then get married as quickly as possible. Getting an education, going to college was beyond her understanding and she certainly made no bones about what her feelings were on the subject. She tyrannized not just her daughter Addie but also Celia who was so submissive that she just gave in to everything and everyone and even Betty the sassy one, who gave her lip, left home to work in a departmental store and who was certainly no pushover. 

Addie's success at her studies, her love affair which did not turn out well, her marriage which was a stable one and the progress that has been made for women from 1900 to the present 1985 is the subject of this story. A coming of age book of women from a great grandmother to the grandmother the narrator of this story to the present grandchild who is now going to become a rabbi which for Addie is a huge achievement for womenkind.

I really like these stories. The story of survival in the first instance, invariable immigrants are escaping pogroms, persecution, civil unrest. They come to another country as aliens - no language skills, totally different in looks, food and temperament, they assimilate, they do well, they progress, and one thing they all do, they educate their children!!!! 

Loved this one which was a book downloaded from the Edelweiss site.