Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book 3 Part 5.10

General Information:

Name of Book: Tree of Souls

ISBN: 9780195086799

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Year it was published: 2004

Overall theme:

"With only one God, heaven would be a barren place, at least in mythic terms. Yet the actual Jewish view of heaven is quite different. There are seven heavens, filled with angels and other divine beings, such as the Messiah [Not jesus!], who is said to have a palace of his own in the highest heaven. The clestial Temple can be found there- the mirror image of the Temple in the earthly Jerusalem- as well as an abundance of heavenly palaces, one for each of the patriarchs and matriarchs and sages, where he or she teaches Torah to the attentive souls of the righteous and the angels..." (xliii)

"Drawing on the full range of Jewish sources, sacred and nonsacred, ten major categories of Jewish mythology can be identified: Myths of God, Myths of Creation...Each of these categories explores a mythic realm, and, in the process, reimagines it. This is the secret to the transformations that characterize Jewish mythology. Building on a strong foundation of biblical myth, each generation has embellished the earlier myths, while, at the same time, reinterpeting them for tis own time." (xlv)

Book Three: Myths of Heavens

Part V: The Seven Heavens

217. The Seven Heavens

Issue: Begins with description of heavens and their purposes or deeds, from first heaven to fifth heaven. It also describes the sixth and seventh heaven, mentioning that seventh is the greatest and its where treasures of all sorts can be discovered and where G-d is situated.

218. The Eighth Heaven

Issue: A possibility of Eighth heaven is raised, and its purpose is for the hidden mysteries, although they're not allowed to be told or revealed by others.

219. The Pargod

Issue: Within paradise there is a curtain that tells of past and future deeds and that is used to separate G-d from angel Metatron as well as G-d's bride. Rabbi Ishmael, thanks to the angel Metatron taking him up, witnessed all generations from Adam to the days of Messiah. Afterwards, Rabbi Ishmael praised G-d for the work and creations.

220. The Map of Time And Space

Issue: A king of sorts possesses a map that illustrates everything from structure of the worlds to the possible smallest detail.

221. The Place of the Stars

Issue: Rabbi Ishmael who ascended to heaven was shown stars that surrounded G-d's throne by the angel Metatron. Metatron clapped his hands so the stars flew away, and as they walked, he mentioned each star by name. The angel Rahatiel counts all the stars in the firmament and they praise G-d. In future times G-d plans to create them anew.

222. The Rainbow of the Shekhinah

Issue: Description of the rainbow such as where it rests and who carries it as well as the angel's appearance.

223. The Music of the Spheres

Issue: In heaven there is always music, and there are thoughts as to the source of music. If mortals hear this type of music, then unimaginable consequences would happen. Something like this happened to Moses and it continued to be with him for the rest of his life.

224. The Treasury of Merits

Issue: Heaven also has Treasury of Merits which sounds a bit similar to Pandora's Box, although if G-d is praised, then the curses are not allowed to leave the room. There are also treasuries of comfort where angels create various things such as crowns and comfort others. At one point Moses went up to heaven and was shown these wonders. He also sees Treasury of Gifts and asks G-d about it. G-d says he will give it to whoever He wants.

225. The Wings of Heaven

Issue: Both wings of heaven as well as wings of the land are tied to one another, and the seal that is used is of G-d's name.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

BookGrabbr Spotlight Tour


​BookGrabbr: A
 great way for readers to discover new books and an innovative marketing tool for authors. 
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​For Readers:




BookGrabbr is a social media-marketing tool that allows authors to share both full books and previews of their books with readers. Readers, you can have access to these books by signing in through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and using their ability to share as a form of currency. The “Share” is the payment! Share the book, and it will allow you to read it. Just click the “Grabb this book” button next to the book and our system will prompt you to share in exchange for reading!



BookGrabbr contains books of many genres, so visit today, "grabb" a book that catches your eye and start reading!





For Authors and Publishers:



Through their unique marketing tool and platform, BookGrabbr helps authors connect to readers that they wouldn't generally be able to connect to through their friends and their friend’s friends. The noise in the marketplace is deafening, and at times can be a bit overwhelming for authors trying to promote their books.



BookGrabbr created a way to generate some more buzz by harnessing the power of each individual author’s social media platform.  Once you create your profile on BookGrabbr it allows potential readers to read a preview of your book or the full copy and then directs them to your site of choice to purchase your book in the format that you desire. And since BookGrabbr doesn’t make any money on book sales, you can send them to a retailer, or to your own personal page or wherever you choose! BookGrabbr's purpose is to help you sell more books, gain momentum and generate exposure.





See how it works:

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​How does iRead Book Tours help?






For Readers: 



We help you discover new authors that have put their profile and books on BookGrabbr through our BookGrabbr Promotion Service.



For Authors and Publishers:



Don't have time to dedicate to yet another marketing campaign? Let us take care of it for you. Through the BookGrabbr Promotion Service we create your profile, help you share your books on your social media and ours too, of course. In addition, we provide you with ideas and the support on how to best use your BookGrabbr profile. This is a cost-effective, efficient way to publicize your books! Contact us to see how we can help you spread the word about your book through BookGrabbr.



Like the idea? Enter the giveaway below to win a BookGrabbr Promotion Service worth $75 and $100 in cash!

Not an author? You can still win the $100 in cash.


Giveaway starts March 14 and ends April 15, 2016.



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Monday, March 21, 2016

Book Blast: The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

02_The TapestryThe Tapestry (Joanna Stafford #3)
by Nancy Bilyeau

Paperback Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Paperback; 416 Pages

Series: Joanna Stafford
Genre: Historical Mystery

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"Fans of the Tudor era, you're in for a treat" --InStyle magazine

Henry VIII's Palace of Whitehall is the last place on earth Joanna Stafford wants to be. But a summons from the king cannot be refused.

After her priory was destroyed, Joanna, a young Dominican novice, vowed to live a quiet life, weaving tapestries and shunning dangerous conspiracies. That all changes when the king takes an interest in her tapestry talent.

With a ruthless monarch tiring of his fourth wife and amoral noblemen driven by hidden agendas, Joanna becomes entangled in court politics. Her close friend, Catherine Howard, is rumored to be the king's mistress, and Joanna is determined to protect her from becoming the king's next wife--and victim. All the while, Joanna tries to understand her feelings for the two men in her life: the constable who tried to save her and the friar she can't forget.

Ina world of royal banquets, jousts, sea voyages and Tower Hill executions, Joanna must finally choose her future: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier.

The Tapestry is the final book in a trilogy that began in 2012 with The Crown, an Oprah magazine pick. Don't miss the adventures of one of the most unforgettable heroines in historical fiction.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound


Praise

“In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values.” (Deborah Harkness)

“Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books and transports us back to the dangerous world of Tudor England. Vivid characters and gripping plots are at the heart of this wonderful trilogy, and this third book will not fail to thrill readers. Warmly recommended!” (Alison Weir, author of The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I)

"A rip-roaring Tudor adventure from Nancy Bilyeau! Novice nun turned tapestry weaver Joanna Stafford returns to the court of Henry VIII. She's that great rarity of historical fiction: a fiercely independent woman who is still firmly of her time. A mystery as richly woven as any of Joanna's tapestries." (Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City)

"The Tapestry takes its history seriously, but that doesn't stop it from being a supremely deft, clever and pacy entertainment. This is Nancy Bilyeau's most thrilling - and enlightening - novel in the Joanna Stafford series yet." (Andrew Pyper, International Thriller Writers Award winner of The Demonologist and The Damned)

"A master of atmosphere, Nancy Bilyeau imbues her novel with the sense of dread and oppression lurking behind the royal glamour; in her descriptions and characterizations . . . Bilyeau breathes life into history." (Laura Andersen, author of The Boleyn King)

"In The Tapestry, Nancy Bilyeau brilliantly captures both the white-hot religious passions and the brutal politics of Tudor England. It is a rare book that does both so well." (Sam Thomas, author of The Midwife’s Tale)

“In spite of murderous plots, volatile kings, and a divided heart, Joanna Stafford manages to stay true to her noble character. Fans of Ken Follett will devour Nancy Bilyeau’s novel of political treachery and courageous love, set amid the endlessly fascinating Tudor landscape.” (Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl)

“These aren't your mother's nuns! Nancy Bilyeau has done it again, giving us a compelling and wonderfully realized portrait of Tudor life in all its complexity and wonder. A nun, a tapestry, a page-turning tale of suspense: this is historical mystery at its finest.” (Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire)

About the Author02_Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013, and THE TAPESTRY in 2015.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Stay in touch with her on Twitter at @tudorscribe. For more information or to sign up for Nancy’s Newsletter please visit her official website.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, March 22
Just One More Chapter
Historical Fiction Addicts
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Wednesday, March 23
Passages to the Past
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book

Thursday, March 24
Impressions In Ink
The Life & Times of a Book Addict

Friday, March 25
The Reading Queen
Queen of All She Reads

Saturday, March 26
A Holland Reads

Sunday, March 27
Layered Pages

Monday, March 28
A Book Drunkard
Historical Readings & Reviews

Tuesday, March 29
Book Nerd
Carpe Librum

Wednesday, March 30
The Lit Bitch
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Thursday, March 31
A Book Geek
What Is That Book About

Friday, April 1
CelticLady's Reviews
A Dream within a Dream

Saturday, April 2
So Many Books, So Little Time

Sunday, April 3
Susan Heim on Writing

Monday, April 4
100 Pages a Day
A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 5
The Tudor Enthusiast
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Giveaway

Two paperbacks of The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US addresses only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Tapestry Book Blast


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Sunday, March 20, 2016

G698 Book Review of Shylock is my name by Howard Jacobson

Name of Book: Shylock Is My Name

Author: Howard Jacobson

ISBN: 978-0-8041-4132-1

Publisher: Hogarth Publishing

Type of book: Incest, Oedipal alert between father and daughters, based on a Shakespeare play Merchant of Venice, Shylock, modern times, anti-Judaism and its relation to others, reality shows, control, relationships

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson brings his singular brilliance to this modern re-imagining of one of Shakespeare’s most unforgettable characters: Shylock

Winter, a cemetery, Shylock. In this provocative and profound interpretation of “The Merchant of Venice,” Shylock is juxtaposed against his present-day counterpart in the character of art dealer and conflicted father Simon Strulovitch. With characteristic irony, Jacobson presents Shylock as a man of incisive wit and passion, concerned still with questions of identity, parenthood, anti-Semitism and revenge. While Strulovich struggles to reconcile himself to his daughter Beatrice's “betrayal” of her family and heritage – as she is carried away by the excitement of Manchester high society, and into the arms of a footballer notorious for giving a Nazi salute on the field – Shylock alternates grief for his beloved wife with rage against his own daughter's rejection of her Jewish upbringing. Culminating in a shocking twist on Shylock’s demand for the infamous pound of flesh, Jacobson’s insightful retelling examines contemporary, acutely relevant questions of Jewish identity while maintaining a poignant sympathy for its characters and a genuine spiritual kinship with its antecedent—a drama which Jacobson himself considers to be “the most troubling of Shakespeare’s plays for anyone, but, for an English novelist who happens to be Jewish, also the most challenging.”

Characters:

Here are the characters as best as I can understand them: first is Simon who is very wealthy but also has an incredibly unhealthy obsession with his own daughter, describing her as luscious, a pomegranate and someone who wants to possess her and even follows her around as she goes out. He is not religious in any fashion, but seems to be obsessed with how anti-Judaism impacts him. I don't know Shylock from the play, and from reading the book I will not touch the play with a ten-foot pole. Shylock is difficult to describe, but he is someone complex (literally not in a good way) and seems sort of? regretful of his actions. It is not mentioned whether or not he is a time traveler or embodies the myth of the Wandering Jew. Beatrice is not a well developed character and although she does attempt to rebel against her father's authority, in the end she comes to realization that rebellion will not do any good to her. Anna Livia Plurabelle Celopatra A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever Christine (Seriously, that's her name...) is a very shallow woman who has lots of money and only cares for her own pleasures rather than anyone else's. Of course there are other male characters but I have to be honest in saying I don't recall their names. One is a man who loves Jewish women and is a soccer player and has no issues with making Hitler salutes. Another is an older man who only wants to please Plurabelle, and there is also another man who attempts to court Plurabelle.

Theme:

I have no clue what the story should have been about.

Plot:

Its written in third person narrative mainly from Simon's, Plurabelle's, and few other characters' points of view. Allow me to pick a few bones with the book: the first bone I have to pick is that the women aren't portrayed in a realistic fashion, and are merely caricatures of what he thinks women should be like. The women care only for themselves and not for anyone else. The author doesn't care to delve deeply into their motivations. For example, Beatrice seems to detest the environment she grew up in, but when she and her father talked, and later on, she seemed to change without a reason and is in fact an intelligent woman. Plurabelle is a vapid young woman who seems to not have any brain cells within her head. The author could've gone into some details as to why Plurabelle acts that way aside from the fact she's rich. And I really wish the author could have used another reason for Beatrice to return to her Oedipal origins. Second bone I will be picking is the male character of Simon. Umm seriously, what father in his right mind would describe his own flesh and daughter as "luscious. A Levantine princess. A pomegranate...[he sees her checking herself out] smoothing her thighs, pushing out her breasts, amused by the too-muchness but overwhelmed by it at the same time...was this really hers to do with as she chose?" (76 in my copy.) Anyone else sees the beginning of the incest overtones the author is adopting? Third bone is hypocrisy. Simon was married twice; once to a christian woman, and second marriage is to a Jewish woman. Yet he's refusing Beatrice to date non-Jewish men and feels as if she is more of his property rather than a human being with her own emotions and thoughts. My last bone is can someone also tell me what in nine hells is the book about? Is the story about anti-Judaism in the world? About the incestual overtones between fathers and daughters? Is it about the relationships between christianity and Judaism and how tense they are? (And before I forget, how can someone have no idea they're circumcised?)

Author Information:
(from back of the book)

Howard Jacobson has written fourteen novels and five works of nonfiction. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question and was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for his most recent novel, J. Howard Jacobson's first book, Shakespeare's Magnanimity, writen with the scholar Wilbur Sanders, was a study of four Shakesperean heroes. Now he has returned to the Bard with a contemporary interpretation of The Merchant of Venice.

Opinion:

Cha...you know what? Nuh-uh. I'm really beginning to think that either there's something wrong with me, or else I shouldn't be reading books that are written in the present times by male Jewish authors. With one exception, (Zinsky the Obscure) I detested all the authors I have had a chance of reading and reviewing; I detested Boris Fishman's writing, Simon Sebag Montefiore, and now I have a new author whose book I greatly detest; Howard Jacobson. First of all, if someone is thinking of accusing me of being anti-Jewish or a racist or a bigot, please search my blog for book reviews that have Jewish authors: (Michael Gold, Chaim Potok, Jurek Becker, Ilan Mochari, Matthias Freese, and yes most of these authors' books are rated 4 stars.) To be fair, I am hesitant in reading stories that contain anti-Judaism, which means I will not be reading Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare anytime soon, and after reading this book, what little I have of desire to read Merchant of Venice has greatly decreased into the negatives. So, what exactly is wrong with the book? Extremely creepy Oedipal overtones of father and daughter relationships, then the constant overthinking and over analyzing of everything where I had no idea what they were thinking or talking about. Also, is Shylock a time traveler or an immortal man that represents the stereotype of the Wandering Jew? The author also seemed to lack understanding in fashioning a believable female heroine, and just simply created caricatures of how he thinks women should behave. And the ending...ugh. Without spoiling anything, it definitely is a cherry on the Oedipal wedding cake.

This is for Librarything 

0 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

G703 Book Review of Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson

Name of Book: Moonlight Over Paris

Author: Jennifer Robson

ISBN: 978-0-06-238982-4

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: Paris France, 1923-1925, history, friendship, family, finding self, romance, art, writing, daily life, class differences,

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

USA Today and internationally bestselling author Jennifer Robson takes readers to 1920s Paris in an enthralling new historical novel that tells the riveting story of an English lady who trades in her staid aristocratic life for the mesmerizing salons and the heady world of the Lost Generation.

It’s the spring of 1924, and Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr has just arrived in France. On the mend after a near-fatal illness, she is ready to embrace the restless, heady allure of the City of Lights. Her parents have given her one year to live with her eccentric aunt in Paris and Helena means to make the most of her time. She’s quickly drawn into the world of the Lost Generation and its circle of American expatriates, and with their encouragement, she finds the courage to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

One of those expats is Sam Howard, a journalist working for the Chicago Tribune. Irascible, plain-spoken, and scarred by his experiences during the war, Sam is simply the most fascinating man she has ever met. He’s also entirely unsuitable.

As Paris is born anew, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, Helena realizes that she, too, is changing. The good girl she once was, so dutiful and obedient, so aware of her place in the world, is gone forever. Yet now that she has shed her old self, who will she become, and where, and with whom, does she belong…?

Characters:

In the story the main characters include Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr, a woman of about 28 who is reeling from a recent bout of Spanish flu as well as a broken engagement which makes her an outcast in the society. She is best described as generous, loyal, someone who tries very hard and she becomes determined to set up an identity separately from what she is given. Sam Howard is a journalist from America who works as a correspondent for Chicago Tribune in Europe as someone who creates news from cabled dispatches. He also carries his own secrets and wishes. The secondary characters would be Auntie Agnes Pavlovna, Etienne Moreau, and Daisy Fields. Auntie Agnes is an eccentric wealthy woman who breaks conventions and has unusual ideas for her time and class. Etienne Moreau is a good male friend of Helena who goes to an art academy with her and is thought of others to be a genius. He is loyal and is always there for Helena. Daisy Fields is a young American woman who is extremely devoted to her father at the cost of her own happiness and unfortunately she earns the ire of Maitre Czerny.

Theme:

Its important to be true to self

Plot:

The story is written in third person narrative from Helena's point of view. Helena does have cameos in the previous two books; Somewhere in France as well as After the War is Over, but the cameos are just cameos and nothing in-depth is learned about her in the previous two books. Its also not necessary to read the other two books because this one stands on its own very well. What is also interesting is that in this book the story is told straight from Helena's point of view. In the previous two books, the points of view were divided between the female heroines and the men, although in After the War is Over, the male of point of view tended to be diminished, and here its absent. Although it has been a while, this story tends to be antithesis to The Beautiful American by Jeannie Mackin which takes on more serious topics during the same time period in the same city.

Author Information:
(From HFBVT)

About the Author03_Jennifer Robson

Jennifer Robson first learned about the Great War from her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and young children.
For more information visit Jennifer Robson’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

Opinion:

In the last few years, I have had a chance to read the author's two other books; Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. While I enjoyed both of them, I felt that those two books needed some polishing and more confidence. With Moonlight Over Paris, the author steps up and creates a very polished story and at last she seems to have found her voice, or the style that brings out the best. The previous two books cover WWI and post WWI and they deal with very serious issues of war, emancipation of women, and PTSD. Strangely enough, Moonlight Over Paris offers a different perspective and tone than that of Somewhere in France and After the War. I could also sort of describe it as a very lighthearted attempt of historical fiction in 1920s in Paris, France. The issues of post WWI loom over but never conquer the story, and there is also more focus on Helena, which allows for the reader to watch her grow up from a young uncertain woman to someone confident and unafraid of being true to self. I also enjoyed seeing a brief glimpse of daily life in 1920s Paris and of meeting some famous personages. I also was surprised that I haven't heard of some personages that made appearances in the book. If the reader is looking for something lighthearted that takes place in Paris among the crowd of Lost Generation then this is not a book to disappoint.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 29
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Tuesday, March 1
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, March 3
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, March 7
Review at Book Nerd
Wednesday, March 9
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, March 11
Review at Bookish
Monday, March 14
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, March 16
Review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Friday, March 18
Review at She is Too Fond of Books
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For
Monday, March 21
Review at I’m Shelf-ish
Wednesday, March 23
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, March 24
Review at Creating Herstory
Friday, March 25
Review at A Holland Reads
Review at New Horizon Reviews

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, March 11, 2016

G695 Book Review of No One Writes Back by Jang Eun-Jin

Name of Book:   No One Writes Back (Original title: Amudop'yonji haji ant'a)

Author: Jang Eun-Jin, translated by Jung Yewon

ISBN: 978-1-56478-960-0

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Type of book: South Korea, travels, vagabond existence, communication, family issues, blind dog, friendships, relationships, letter writing, old fashioned phone calling, unresolved issues, 2009, quirky characters, fascinating hotels.

Year it was published: 2009 (translated in 2013)

Summary:

Communication–or the lack thereof–is the subject of this sly update of the picaresque. No One Writes Back is the story of a young man who leaves home with only his blind dog, an MP3 player, and a book, traveling aimlessly for three years, from motel to motel, meeting people on the road. Rather than learn the names of his fellow travelers–or invent nicknames for them–he assigns them numbers. There’s 239, for example, who once dreamed of being a poet, but who now only reads her poems to a friend in a coma; there’s 109, who rides trains endlessly because of a broken heart; and 32, who’s already decided to commit suicide. The narrator writes letters to these men and women in the hope that he can console them in their various miseries, as well as keep a record of his own experiences: “A letter is like a journal entry for me, except that it gets sent to other people.” No one writes back, of course, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some hope that one of them will, someday . . .

Characters:

Main characters include Jihun, the narrator of the story who seems to have run away from the recent family troubles he is having. He is about 32 years of age, stutters a lot which is a big deal, I'm surprised to find out (Not really sure why, but maybe its because I grew up in a family that also has two stutters so I'm used to it?) He also assigns numbers to people instead of using their names and is old fashioned when it comes to communication, which means that despite the fact that its 2009 in the story, Jihun doesn't use a cell phone and doesn't use a PC. Instead its old fashioned paper and pencil for him, which, I guess, has something to do with his background. He is planning on finishing his vagabond life as soon as one of the people he meets replies back to him. The dog, Wajo, is an old dog and has a history of being a guide-dog for Jihun's grandfather. Jihun's grandfather, shortly before he dies, asks Jihun to take care of Wajo. Along with being extremely loyal, Wajo also happens to be blind, although he doesn't forget the role he had and many times Jihun takes advantage of it when he wants Wajo with him. 751 is a woman and an author of the book titled The Toothpaste and the Soap. She also leads a vagabond existence, traveling and trying to sell her novels to customers and she also continues to write. She is loyal as well and although she doesn't seem to have any ties, she becomes attached to the narrator and Wajo throughout the travels.

Theme:

Journeys end in ways no one expects

Plot:

The story is written in first person narrative from Jihun's point of view, and yes, it is chronological. A lot of the story focuses on the travels and the people that Jihun meets, who happen to be unique characters of their own. The author though, barely gives these characters limelight and they seem to be mentioned in passing, aside from 751 who decides to tackle along with the narrator, the dog, the narrator, and the friend that the narrator constantly calls to check the mail. If one is thinking that this is a travelogue novel where the reader will experience various cities, then I'm sorry to say its not.

Author Information:

Jang Eun-Jin
She was born in Gwangju, Korea, in 1976, and graduated from Department of Geography at Cheonnam National University. She won the Joongang Daily New Writers Award for her debut, and has since published four novels and a collection of short stories.

Jung Yewon
She was born in Seoul, and has moved to U.S at the age of 12. She received a BA in English from Brigham Young University, and an MA from the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University.

Opinion:

This was another one of the odd but highly likable books that I recently discovered and enjoyed a lot. I'll be honest in saying that I didn't really understand the issues the author tries to tackle within these pages, but it is a good story without a 100 percent definite message. What I understood is that the messages that were attempted to be tackled included communication, or lack of, and also old fashioned way communication versus new way communication.I also think that the story is more coming-of-age and self-discovery. But I didn't really understand how that theme or message were being tackled or what the author was trying to say by having the male character be the way he is. Smaller messages included dealing with isolation, trying to build relationships, and loyalty, which I understood far more than the communication theme. If the reader is a dog lover, then yes, there is a dog that acts as a character and which the male narrator, Jihun, takes care of.

This book was given to me by Dalkey Archive for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G685 Book Review of Pavane for a dead princess by Park Min-Gyu

Name of Book: Juguen Wangnyeoreul Wihan PavanePavane for a Dead Princess

Author: Park Min-Gyu (Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim)

ISBN: 978 1 62897 066 1

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Type of book: South Korea, 1985-1986, relationship, beauty, aestheticism, low wage jobs, wealth, poverty, love, modern music, art, work, philosophy of life without answers

Year it was published: 2014 (originally 2009)

Summary:

Following the relationship between a man with matinee-idol good looks and “the ugliest woman of the century,” Pavane for a Dead Princess examines how contemporary Korea’s obsession with beauty is its popular culture’s newest canker.

Both celebrated and condemned for his attacks upon what he perceives as the humorlessness of contemporary Korean literature, author Park Min-gyu uses a myriad of references to Western music and art, and the addition of a ‘writer’s cut,’ to suggest various ways of looking at his country’s extreme aesthetic fetishization.

Characters:

Unfortunately I don't recall the hero's name nor the heroine's name. Main hero is the son of a father that eventually becomes a movie star and dumps his mother for someone else, as well as marrying the beauty. He is easily likable by Yohan, loyal and seems to look beyond appearance into the person's soul. Heroine has low self-esteem due to her looks (was even told that she was ugly when she smiled or when she wore nail polish) and just tries to get through the day. She suffers from low self-esteem and doesn't really believe that good things are meant to happen to her. Yohan has his own parental issues, namely with his mother, and he is best described as extremely cynical, intelligent but someone who lacks the drive to do something with himself.

Theme:

Beauty and ugliness are more than appearance.

Plot:

97 percent of the story is told in first person narrative from the man's point of view, while the last three percent are from Yohan and the ugly girl. The story begins in mid-action, at the end of 1986, but then goes back to 1985 when the hero first met the ugly girl and Yohan and how the three of them became very good friends, and perhaps a little something more. I enjoyed how the songs, lyrics and Yohan's cynic philosophy were integrated into the pages, really causing the reader to think about what they are talking about. The ending and alternate endings are interesting and really add dimension to the story as to what is true and what might be fiction, which is left for the reader to decide.

Author Information:
(From back of the book)

Park Min-Gyu
He was born in South Korea in 1968 and published his first book, Legend of the World's Superheroes, in 2003, for which he was awarded the Munhakdongne New Wrtier Award. He has since published four more novels, and numerous short stories.

Opinion:

Where do I start on why I loved this book? I think I'll start off with the fact that relationship between the male hero and female heroine isn't conventional; male hero has movie star looks while the female heroine is, unfortunately, best described as ugly. Yet he falls in love with her, and she didn't even get plastic surgery or anything to attract his attention. One of my pet peeves is when the heroine gets plastic surgery, meets a guy, but, I notice, she never goes back to her previous appearance. (Yes, I hated 200 lb Beauty, a Korean movie about a woman who got plastic surgery.) I also loved the three main characters, and enjoyed the way philosophy and music of 1985-1986 played a big role in the characters' lives. There are a lot of unexpected twists, which might be a bit melodramatic, but it didn't really deter my enjoyment. And ending, is, well, something one won't forget for a very long time.

This book was given to me by Dalkey Archive for an honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G689 Newspaper boys always deliver; a personal journey into pop and technological change of the last fifty years

Title of the book:  Newspaper boys always deliver; a personal journey into pop and technological change of the last fifty years

Author: Joseph Gulesserian

Publisher: Self published

Publishing Date: 2015

ISBN: 9781507898628

Summary:

The days of our lives are like pages out of a newspaper, sprinkled with glory, tragedy and enigma, but when these pages are assembled together, they become the journal of our times and existence. It is this story that is told in how in just fifty years, Western culture has gone from culture to techno-culture-from the swinging sixties to rap, encyclopedia to Wikipedia, slide rule to supercomputer. We're too busy scrolling through social media to flip through the newspaper, and too invested in hashtags to ponder how people even spent their time before Twitter. As our attention spans are dwindling, we seem to know a little about a lot of subjects, but with no deep knowledge of any, perhaps due to the modern phenomena of "time poverty."

Like other members of the baby boomer generation, Joseph Gulesserian has seen these changes appear like magic before his eyes. Since his days of delivering newspapers in the late sixties and early seventies, he hasn't just witnessed the slow demise of the print medium-but the plethora of amazing technological inventions that has turned us into a culture reminiscent of science fiction. In Newspaper Boys Always Deliver, Gulesserian combines personal essays and historical insights for an enlightening look at how we got here and the earlier inventions that paved the way for current cutting-edge technologies. While exploring pop culture trends, unexpected impacts, and memorable moments in time, this collection of thought-provoking and humorous reflections paints a fascinating picture of the changes half a century can bring-and its implications for what could be just around the corner.

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the book here:   Amazon   Barnes and Noble 
Joseph Gulesserian
Meet the author: 

Joseph Gulesserian came of age during the seventies, and was exposed to many changing technologies with a career that has ranged from metallurgic to manufacturing, from business equipment to information technology, and brand creation.

After earning his MBA, he taught Corporate Finance, Marketing and Statistics as an adjunct professor at Toronto colleges, and in 2000 established a Toronto-based company that designs and produces health and beauty brands for both domestic and international markets.

​Currently, Gulesserian lives in Toronto with his wife.

Connect with the author:   Website   Facebook   Instagram

Personal Opinion:

I think when I picked this book, I expected it to mostly talk about newspapers and the evolution from newspapers to media net. I got that wish indirectly, but it wasn't a fun ride as I had hoped. The author begins in 1960s with how things were and how they ultimately became. I enjoyed reading some sections, but others for me were a chore. And there are two things that I felt he didn't understand. One of the things he talks about early in the book is that Japanese people are descendants of Koreans. Here's a sentence from an English translated Korean history book: "[Earlier on the book talks about the development of iron and how it came to Korea.] Moreover, these cultural waves went on to cross the sea and penetrate even into Japan, where they gave rise to the Yayoi culture." (page 14, A History of Korea, Ki-baik Lee) from my own memories, Koreans helped Japanese technologically and culturally, but Japan had its own native people. If they had come from another land, wouldn't the Japanese work by the name of The Kojiki mention that fact? Second thing that I felt he didn't understand is why American-Jews were unhappy with communism in Russia when in fact it was invented/created by Jews themselves. "[Previously there was discussion of Jews in Canada protesting the treatment of Jews in Soviet Union] However, what made this protest ironic was the fact that many of the key leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution, including Trotsky, were Jewish academics who had bought into the egalitarian philosophies of Karl Marx." (49) Trotsky didn't rule or control Soviet Union. During the time he was dead in South America, trying to get away from Stalin. And also, communism did not get rid of prejudices that Russians held against Jews. As a little girl, my mother was denied further entry into the necessary groups for Russian youth simply because of her ancestry; my grandfather was denied entrance into the party because of the ancestry; when an uncle was studying medicine, everyone treated him as if he would be immigrating to Israel when back then he had no intention of doing so.

I read the book from cover to cover and although yes, there is nostalgia and I enjoyed learning about the Disco culture as well as going back to my early childhood in the '90s before the Internet, majority of the book I didn't enjoy at all. The tone the author employs towards the Millennial generation is not what I would call a friendly one and for me it sounds condescending and isn't an invitation to have a friendly talk or debate. Also, maybe because I didn't grow up watching the Superheroes movies and cartoons and never cared for comics, I really couldn't relate to the author talking about Batman or Star Trek, nor could I relate to sports because I didn't grow up with that. Other section, namely Business and Technology is a fascinating history of 1800s to modern times but yeah, really did not appreciate the tone or opinions about how a lot of people from my generation are vapid degenerate, or that we don't have necessary skills and so forth. I also suspect that if one is a liberal, one should skip the Business and Technology section as well as Editorial section because they might find them offensive.

This is for iRead Book Tours

TOUR SCHEDULE:

​March 7 -   Amie's Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
March 8 -   Book Reviews Nature Photos and Everything in Between - review
March 9 -   A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
March 10 - Sahar'sBlog - review
March 11 - The Cheshire Cat's Looking Glass - book spotlight / giveaway
March 11 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
March 14 - Brian's Book Blog - review
March 15 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review
March 16 - #redhead.with.book - review / giveaway
March 17 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - guest post
March 17 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
March 18 - She Treads Softly - review 
March 21 - Readers' Muse - review / guest post
March 22 - Take It Personel-ly - review / guest post / giveaway
March 23 - Room With Books - review / author interview / giveaway
March 24 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
March 25 - 3 Partners in Shopping - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

G678 Book Review of A Good Family by Seo Hajin

General Information:

Name of Book: Chakhan Gajok/A Good Family

ISBN: 978 1 62897 118 7

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Year it was published: 2008 (translated in 2015)

Summary:

This collection of eight stories cynical and sympathetic by turns represents the author's attempt to document and understand the conflicts, resentments, hatreds, and anxieties of contemporary family life. The title story depicts a mother's busy day playing numerous roles ashamed, fearless, or humble depending on which member of her family she's tending to. In "The Privacy of My Father," a daughter tracks her father to Hong Kong in order to spy on what she thinks is an illicit affair. All in all, says Seo Hajin, family means deception--but these masks aren't so easily removed."

Author: Seo Hajin (Translated by Amy C Smith and Ally H Hwang)

About the Author:

Seo Hajin
She was born in 1961 in Youngcheon, North Kyungsang Province. She studied Korean literature at Kyunghee University in Seoul, Korea, and is currently an assistant professor of Korean literature at the same school. Her story "Tidal Path" was shortlisted for the Yi Sang Literature Award.

Amy C Smith and Ally H Hwang
They have together translated two collections of Seo Hajin's short stories. Smith is an Associate Professor fo English at Lamar University (TSUS) and Hwang is currently completing a book on Virginia Wolf.

1. What Grows Out of Sadness

One Sentence Summary:

A woman by the name of Hee-sook and her husband have a normal and ordinary relationship until the day Hee-sook learns of tragic news which causes a lot of shifts and changes in her relationships with her family and friends.

2. Dad's Private Life

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a young woman begins to suspect that her father is cheating on her mother. One day the father travels to Hong Kong to meet his mistress, and the young woman with a friend follows him and reflects on the relationship between them.

3. A Good Family

One Sentence Summary:

This story tells of a woman's day from morning to evening as she deals with various family members; first that of her son's issues, then her husband's issues and last but not least her daughter's issues.

4. Where Is Everyone Going?

One Sentence Summary:

M is a doctor is described as insolent. One day he gets into a car accident and learns that he might be suffering from cancer and scheduled the operation to get rid of it. While that is going on, his wife and family and friends are trying to learn how to deal with the possible diagnosis.

5. The Interview

One Sentence Summary:
Manja is a writer who has a pen name of Hye-Young Yi. One day she is asked to interview another author by the name of Yeon-sook Kim and throughout the interview, Manja reflects on her own writing as well as the author's writings, their emotions on being writers and the quick friendship the two have struck.

6. Sugar or Salt

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a woman named H is meeting a friend, K who has recently married a foreigner in a Catholic church in America. Along with hanging out with K, the narrator begins to recount her family life and listens to stories about K's family back in Korea, in particular K's relationship with her mother and about K's former marriage, which causes her to remember less than fond memories of the past.

7. Who Are You?

One Sentence Summary:

A woman whose a writer goes to a bookstore where she learns the bookstore will be closed and the building demolished. As the story goes on further, the woman begins to narrate her feelings and experiences of being a writer and of everyone thinking she writes TV Dramas as well as the relationship she shares with a man named K.

8. The Little Thing

One Sentence Summary:

From Min's point of view, a mysterious document was posted online by a woman named Young-joo Yi who accuses several men of sexual harassment, in particular the Director Min-ho Shin. The men are trying to figure out the issue and how the statement is considered harassment and they seem to put down her feelings.

Personal Opinion: 

Aside from the last few middle stories, I really enjoyed other stories, my favorites included the top three, and the last story, The Little Thing. There is an easy flow to the stories that compels the reader to  keep reading and find out what is going on and why its going on. I think the common theme is the focus on relationships between friends, family members, co-workers and those working in the same field.

This book was given to me for an honest review by Dalkey Archive

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G665 Book Review of My Son's Girlfriend by Jung Mi-Kyung

General Information:

Name of Book: My Son's Girlfriend/ Nae adul ui yonin

ISBN: 978 1 56478 910 5

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Year it was published: 2013 (Original year 2008)

Summary:

At once an ironic portrayal of contemporary Korea and an intimate exploration of heartache, alienation, and nostalgia, this collection of seven short stories has earned the author widespread critical acclaim. With empathy and an overarching melancholy that is at times tinged with sarcasm, but always deeply meaningful, Jung explores the ambition and chaos of urban life, the lives of hte lost and damaged souls it creates, and the subtle shades of love found among them.

Author: Jung Mi-Kyung (Translated by Yu Young-Nan)

About the Author:

Yu Young-Nan
She lives in Seoul. She has translated numerous Korean novels into English, including Park Wan-suh's Who Ate Up all the Shinga? and Yom Sang-Seop's Three Generations.

Jung Mi-Kyung
She is one of the most distinguished writers of contemporary Korean literature. She attended Ewha Woman's University, and was the recipient of hte prestigious Yi Sang Literary Award in 2006. She is the author of the novel The Strange Sorrow of Wonderland.

1. I Love You

One Sentence Summary:

Told from a young man's point of view in first person narrative. He and a woman, Y, are dating on and off d, and at one point, in order to get ahead, the young man convinces Y to be his boss's mistress.

2. The Bison

One Sentence Summary:

A man, Myeong-Jo, is friends with a woman named Su-hye who happens to be an artist. One day Myengo-Jo goes to a gallery opening and sees the bison that Su-hye was working on, which causes him to reminisce about the friendship he shared with Su-hye as well as Ha-yun who has passed away a year ago and was Su-hye's husband.

3. In the Wind

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a woman and her husband, Yeong-Jo, are seeking infertility treatment. Between the waiting period, the woman contemplates whether or not she and Yeong-Jo want the baby; recalls her relationship with a man prior to Yeong-jo, and of the issues she has at work and with her mother.

4. My Son's Girlfriend

One sentence summary:

In a first person narrative, a wealthy woman's son, Hyeon, is dating a girl that's poor. While becoming friends with the girl (Do-Ran) the mother begins to examine and reflect on the classicism between the wealthy and the poor.

5. Cicadas

One sentence summary:

In a first person narrative a man is constantly haunted by the endless sound of cicadas and can't find someone to help him cure it. While trying to figure out the problem, he begins to reflect on his studies in German literature and why he majored in it. One day he meets a young woman who has problems of her own.

6. Signal Red

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a woman is friends with a man named K who is blind to the color red and has recently passed away. The narrator reminisces how she and K met staging a play and even listens to K's history which includes relationships with his stepmother, and ultimately its up to her to make sense of the puzzle.

7. Night, Be Divided! 

One Sentence Summary:

In a first person narrative, a man comes to Oslo to meet up with a friend named P. While there, he hears about P's new project that is designed to be immunity for the soul named Lovepia. While staying, he remembers the friendship he had shared with P and M in the past and he also learns about P's dark secret and how M is trying to cope with life.

Opinion:

I feel that the short stories were mostly focused on borders or on things that people are unable to reach in their lifetimes. I also feel as if the author seems to be bucking tradition for traditional or hopeful endings and instead she is giving the readers endings that they don't want or expect. While some of the stories are love stories and even have a love triangle between some of the characters, I don't feel as if they are focused on love but instead are more focused on opposite forces and whether or not these forces are capable of overcoming the impossible odds.

The book was given to me for an honest review by Dalkey Archive 

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book 3 Part 4.10

General Information:

Name of Book: Tree of Souls

ISBN: 9780195086799

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Year it was published: 2004

Overall theme:

"With only one God, heaven would be a barren place, at least in mythic terms. Yet the actual Jewish view of heaven is quite different. There are seven heavens, filled with angels and other divine beings, such as the Messiah [Not jesus!], who is said to have a palace of his own in the highest heaven. The clestial Temple can be found there- the mirror image of the Temple in the earthly Jerusalem- as well as an abundance of heavenly palaces, one for each of the patriarchs and matriarchs and sages, where he or she teaches Torah to the attentive souls of the righteous and the angels..." (xliii)

"Drawing on the full range of Jewish sources, sacred and nonsacred, ten major categories of Jewish mythology can be identified: Myths of God, Myths of Creation...Each of these categories explores a mythic realm, and, in the process, reimagines it. This is the secret to the transformations that characterize Jewish mythology. Building on a strong foundation of biblical myth, each generation has embellished the earlier myths, while, at the same time, reinterpeting them for tis own time." (xlv)

 Book Three: Myths of Heavens

 Part IV: The Divine Chariot

215. Ezekiel's Vision

Issue: On 30th year in Chebar Canal a vision comes to Ezekiel. A stormy wind came over and the man sees four creatures. Description of these creatures follows as having four of each limbs. More description of these creatures follows but it focuses on faces and wings. Fire seemed to be with them. There is also description of their movements and wheels. More descriptions of the vastness above them as well as wings. After all that, Ezekiel finally beholds G-d and he falls down and begins his worship.

216. Mysteries of the Chariot

Issue: When Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakkai and Rabbi Eleazar ben Arakh ride through a field on their donkeys, Rabbi Eleazar asks Rabbi Yohanan to teach him something about Mysteries of Chariot. Rabbi Yohanan reminds the student that such mysteries cannot be revealed to soeone who doesn't understand and encourages Rabbi Eleazar to begin discussion. Rabbi Eleazar dismounts and begins to pray and explains why he does so. While they were talking, an angel descends and tells them that these are the mysteries discussed on Pargod. Rabbi Yohanan blesses Rabbi Eleazar after discussion. Later on other  two Rabbis, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Yossi ha-Kohen stopped at the same spot and had a group of angels listening to their discussion. When Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Yohanan meet, Rabbi Yohanan reveals the dream he had.

To be continued...

Interview with Judith Works, author of Coins in the Fountain


What was the first book you remember reading?
The first book I remember reading was The Wizard of Oz. Actually, my mother read it to me and I learned to read from following along. I loved all the books in the series. I loved them so much they finally fell apart from over use. What a marvelous story the Wizard is: a travel adventure with all sorts of amazing characters – who can resist a scarecrow, tin man, and a lion all of whom get the fix they desire, and Dorothy who finds that there is no place like home

What genres do you read?
I read a lot of non-fiction, particularly history, as well as literary fiction, popular fiction including women’s contemporary, mysteries, and thrillers. I don’t seem to relate to erotica, science fiction or fantasy.

Who are your favorite authors today?
A recent non-fiction book is Hotel Florida by Amanda Vaill, about the Spanish Civil War was fascinating. All the Light We Cannot See, a novel set in World War II by Anthony Doerr is perfectly structured. Hemmingway’s For Whom the Bells Toll and A Farewell to Arms will always be favorites. I have recently enjoyed novels about women including Sarah Dunant’s Blood and Beauty, and the engrossing Hild by Nicola Griffin. And I can’t wait for the third book in Hillary Mantel’s evocation of the life and times of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies deserve every award there is.

What do you like in a story?
The novel has to have that magical combination of setting, character and plot to make me desperate to know what will happen next as the characters search for the answers to their quest. And the quest has to have a goal I care about – the spy for “our” side must deliver the important document; the woman must find her lost baby; the man must rescue the drifting lifeboat; the lovers must reconcile.

What do you like to write about?
Because I lived in Italy I like to write about the country, both on my travel blog as well as the memoir, Coins in the Fountain and a novel, City of Illusions. The marvels and complexity of history and culture make the country irresistible for me.

What are you currently working on?

Besides flash fiction and my travel blog (http://aLittleLightExercise.blogspot.com), I’m working on a second novel. It is partly set in Rome and partly in on an island near Seattle. It will have a murder!
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