Oh my gosh…

The other day I was talking to a librarian at my local library and mentioned how I belong to a Book Club in town and how I also had a blog, this blog, the very blog that I have not paid attention to for such a while so if you are still following me, thank you.

If you are wondering what has happened to me between now and before I must explain although I am sure you (if you have read my blog for awhile) may be sick of my excuses by now.  But there are a number of legitimate reasons why I have not been on here, all very excusable excuses.

I am surprised I have not have a nervous breakdown…

Let me start, (these surely will fit into that page that talks about the biggest stresses that a person can go through).

  1. I have been dealing with death not once, not twice not even thrice I have dealt with it in several ways and therefore I have been and still are grieving
  2. I have dealt with a change of location not once or twice but thrice since I last wrote
  3. I resigned from my job after working with an overseas employer
  4. I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome, I have a rare disease
  5. I have been in hospital
  6. I am still here and smiling… yippy!

 

So as you can see its been a bit of a weird time for me. My deaths that have happened in my family hit me hard. The first to go were my aunt and my cousin after my cousin went on the run not long after he, his father Keith and I caught up with each other.

I was a target because my cousin considered me to be a person who he could trust but fortunately he did not head in my direction as I had Police protection, and it is he may have listened to the news that the Police were out looking for him. Here is an early report you can listen to about it here. https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/if-youre-listening-make-contact-police-warning-ross-bremner-man-wanted-over-waikato-murder

After Ross killed my Auntie Clare and injured my Uncle Keith (my father Jim’s elder brother).

Ross was a wanted man.

I could not believe my family was splashed all over the news and I was being swamped with phone calls from all around the country and was receiving emails and phone calls from the media wanting me to share my story. I was well and truly exhausted as you can appreciate.

Because my parents were overseas and I share the same last name as my cousin and my father was the brother of the man who was injured, I was put on the spot. I was a spokesperson of sorts.

The media had found me via Facebook as they had found Ross’ s photographs and ones of Keith and Clare. A famous one was with my cousin Loren, Ross’s sister at her graduation. There were photos of Ross being shown of him in more happier times and one of him that I had never seen before, that looked like it had been taken by the Police. All of which was so devastating that I hardly ate. I would try to eat something but the phone would ring so there would be half eaten toast on the bench. I drank though and felt numb trying to digest what was happening, all the while trying to keep it together.

My aunt, Dad’s elder sister had notified me about the horrific details around ten or eleven in the morning and as I was running my parents business for them in their absence, I took the many calls that flooded my parents phone. Because of the closeness I had with my cousin, someone suggested that the Police guard my home in case he came over wanting to talk to me  but unfortunately not everyone knew I was at my parents place so I had two lots of protection and didn’t realise this until afterwards.

Believe me folks the NZ Police are truly wonderful people!

The whole ordeal was horrific and by the end of the week I was shattered so my sister came to my aid and took any calls for me and left messages if needed.

By that stage our cousin was dead and had gone on the run earlier on that week and throughout that time left an elderly couple dead before killing himself.

And now this has come into it… https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2019/08/31/winz-threatened-beneficiary-with-cutting-off-his-benefit-beneficiary-then-kills-3-good-old-winz/

I could say alot about this article, I know what the coroners report said and I know that its something that the press can work out for themselves what the contents contained but one thing’s for sure it has certainly changed the way New Zealand views Mental Health.

I was asked by my family to speak at Ross’s funeral and I didn’t want to really go on too much about my cousin but what I did do was speak about Mental Health here in New Zealand and afterwards I was congratulated by my father Jim and several others for a stellar speech. In all seriousness, I spoke from my heart. Mental illness is not something we catch I said, it was all basic common sense stuff. Stuff that really needed to be heard.

We had no media present except for a quiet cameraman who was recording the funeral for my uncle when he was discharged from hospital and was able to come to grips with finding out he not only lost his wife, but his son who also killed an elderly couple.

So my dear fellow readers I know that my life takes many twists and turns just like yours does. Mine took another dose of death when my little brother and favourite comedian lost his life suddenly on Boxing Day 2017. Again as a family we were not prepared for this.

Rob had an accident at work breaking yet another leg that required surgery and a weeks stay in hospital. He was then discharged and went to stay with my parents for several weeks before I came over to his house from my own home three quarter of an hours away from his and spent two weeks with him helping him become more confident and learning to walk again, rehabilitation basically! That time was precious as we had a wonderful time together laughing and singing, watching favourite programmes and movies together and of course Netflix where Rob got me into Stranger Things and Narcos.

I have yet to be able to sit down and watch Narcos again since but gradually will again one day. It is the same with The Simpsons television show. Rob was gone after he had complained to me earlier that he was suffering from headaches and dizziness. On Christmas Day he was his effervescent self and even showed me off in front of my mother and sister when he would play the first five or so seconds of an introduction of a song and I would have to guess it. I got one wrong and Rob was dumbstruck with it all and wanted to play that game again with my me in front of some of my family.  I smile now thinking about it knowing that he and I shared a lot of great music while I was with him.

Rob was a bit ADHD in many respects, he would recite Simpsons episodes and put on accents to go with them and then repeat them back when we watched a repeat. My sister asked me when she went to stay with him on the last few weeks he was alive, if she would be able to read while she stayed with him. I replied “No, only at night when he is asleep and its midnight or thereabouts”. “Oh…” my sister replied sounding rather perplexed. I explained that Rob had lots to share while we were his guests and while we were making his dinner, helping him with the housework, feeding his pets and so on. “No, I replied, you will have a wonderful time though”.

A heart attack took my little brother on Boxing Day. He was 35.

I miss him like hell.

So after all that I packed up and I moved from the little home I called home for the last nine years and moved my stuff to my brothers. I was dealing with a deceased estate now and was having to go through things. Some of which my sister and my mother helped. I also had his house to sell as I knew that I could not afford the mortgage that even my poor brother was struggling to pay. I then put it on the market with the same real estate agent that my brother had used to purchase his home and it sold successfully within a week to ten days. I had been living in it for four months over that time. If I had bought my sister out (we were my brothers beneficiaries) I would have had to get a boarder (roommate) in and seriously at my age I really did not want one. I had been past all that many years ago.

After selling up I found a home to buy that was much cheaper and more affordable for me. It meant being away from my family and my friends but being four hours away meant that I could start anew somewhere else.

I have been here in my new home since I purchased it last May a few days before my birthday. It has its pluses being here and its negatives but I have found joy in moving to a new place and not knowing people. I have gone out to find people who won’t always drive me around the twist and I look for people who have something positive to contribute to my life. Back home I was a person who people relied on, could lean on, and at times I felt very much like a doormat.Something had to change.

It has been interesting to stand back and observe people again and just see what happens. I have even caught a couple of them out with little white lies and they realise afterwards that I have been on to them. I’m a bit more wiser in choosing my new friends now.

Life is a gift and right now I am getting back into my blogging. I am also hoping to work with the local city council as I have developed a programme to help the disadvantage citizens of my new surroundings and the new refugees that are supposed to be coming here next year. Several years ago I was invited to contribute to a series of books for people in Papua New Guinea, this programme I am developing is continuing on a similar strand.

So I was talking to one of the librarians in my local library the other day about a Book Club I belong to and my blog about Book reviewing and Hannah if you are reading this. Thank you for lighting up this page again. I better get back into it!

 

Photo credit:  Lenny from The Simpson’s tv show (unknown source, taken from my brother’s own photo selection).

 

 

 

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Italia la bella

The Book

Italian Joy

Author(s)

Carla Coulson

What it says on the back cover

Carla Coulson had it all, or so everyone told her- a glamorous inner-city apartment, a successful business and a designer wardrobe. One lonely Christmas Eve, however, she realised what was missing: excitement, work she was passionate about, and most of all, love.

So, Carla packed up her life and boarded a plane. Italy was her first port of call and became her true destination. With a camera and nothing to lose, she found herself immersed in Florence, tasting the food, learning the language, meeting the people. discovering a new career and country – and photographing her new life.

Carla’s evocative text and rich photographs bring alive the laughter, warmth and passion of Italy. We meet the people who have embraced her: we see the streets, bars, churches, and markets that have enchanted her; and we feel her gioia (joy).

Italian Joy  will make you yearn to follow in Carla’s footsteps and discover the true beauty of life in a magical place.

What made me pick up this book

With an inscription like that on the back cover what else? I mean seriously who has not had a dream of heading off to some wonderful place in which they yearn to go to and touch, experience and fall in love with? I am sure that plenty of you have somewhere that has captured your heart? For me Italy is one of those places because it is rich in history, it has a culture that loves food as much as I do, and a place which has long summers that yearn me to jump on a Vespa and head for the hills waiting for me to discover them. Italy became famous for a number of reasons and more recently when we start to see books such as Italian Joy come off the shelves or ones such as Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful memoir Eat Pray Love or even Marlena De Blasi’s (see previous review) A Thousand Days in Venice. Italy captures something within many of us and almost lead my own grandfather to wanting to marry a pretty signora back in World War Two!! Carla’s book teaches that we can often have everything we ever wanted but it does not always brings us pleasure to our lives and sometimes taking stock of our lives and taking ownership of what we truly want really helps us to realise what life is all about. It may not necessarily mean taking a trip to Italy but it certainly helps.

Travel without a doubt has educated my mind. It brings on so many things for me. My senses are highlighted and I know that I can see, smell, taste and hear wonderful things when I go travelling.  By reading this book, one can appreciate how you can also enjoy the more simple things in life and how to appreciate things for their natural beauty as well. By mixing in with the locals and by living side by side with them, Carla was able to experience a culture that was a far cry from her busy lifestyle back home in Australia.

Is this book worth buying?

A book like this is worth reading if you are looking towards Italy as your next big adventure. Although she is a photographer, do not expect that the photographs in this book are going to be glossy, they are not. This book is a collection of black and white and colour photographs against a matt finish. Some photographs are highlighted with Carla’s writing across them giving them a modern twist and a postcard like feel for the readers as if they are sharing her journey and picking up one of her letters from her wonderful travels. I like how this book captures the people, the real people of Italy and the photographs that Carla took that demonstrate this. There is one photograph where a pair of slippers are sprawled across two pages and are hung by simple wooden clothes pegs flapping against the Italian sun. In another three men are gathered around where one is selling cigarettes and lighters in a street. It is scenes like this that make you are in Italy and that you are not back home. Of course my beloved Vespa scooter and scooters were not missed in this book. Read it with a glass of vino and some crusty bread with olives.. I dare you!

ooo
Photo credit: castorofotonico via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Italy has always had a place in my heart – Carla Coulson

Mille modi per trovare l’amore e l’avventura a Venezia (A thousand ways to find love and adventure in Venice)

The Book

Venecia

Photo credit: CM Ortega via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

A Thousand Days in Venice

Author(s)

Marlena de Blasi

What it says on the back cover

What a delight – de Blasi portrays her adventure with a velvet touch, and instils the reader with a desire to jump on the next vaporetto!!

Susan Herrmmann Loomis, author ON RUE TATIN

De Blasi relates it all in a voice at once wordly and sensuous, unsentimental and aware of what it means to have such good fortune… She binds her love of Fernando to her love of food, like a bouquet garni , in one long delicious engagement running throughout this ode, from cappuccino and apricot pastry to pumpkin gnocchi in cream and sage.

Kirkus Reviews

What made me pick up this book

For those who are new at reading my blog I am a self confessed foodie. I have a bookcase and beyond home filled with books that relate to food whether it be in a form of a recipe book, a book on culture, a memoir such as this or some other thing that brings me to one of my favourite subjects.  For seasoned readers I fell in love with the reviews, they sounded like they were literally eating and devouring something deliciously romantic whilst reading the book and I also wanted to be transported away with it.

When we flick open the inside sleeve (my own copy is a hardback edition)  we are taken to the scene when Marlena meets her future husband Fernando for the first time which is in a cafe in the heart of Venice. Immediately he is struck by Marlena and he feels that she is most certainly “The One” for him and poor Marlena is caught off guard by this Venetian knowing full well that she is quite content with her life as it is as a mother and a divorced American chef. But then all of a sudden she is drawn to him and in time things develop between the couple. Marlena sells up, quits her job in the United States, says goodbye to her children and finds herself marrying the man she refers to her new husband as “The Stranger”. It reads like it is fiction yet it is not. Marlena’s story is how a woman can fall in love in Europe and still be happily married today.

Is this book worth buying?

It all depends. For those of you who love romance and are big on romantic adventures this could be a treat for you and for those of you who are foodies, the same principal applies. But if you neither a foodie nor a romantic you may find that this book drags a bit and although  you may enjoy reading about the travel side of this book (another interest of mine) you may get stuck somewhere in this book and wonder when it may actually finish.

This book is without a doubt a book for those who love to learn about other cultures. It is seeped in romantic meals that Marlena cooks for her stranger both in America and in Venice. A book which has beautiful little quotes that Marlena uses to describe her life which are richly weaved into the story. “In those solitary evenings by my fire I found finely spun threads, a pattern, my own story. I opened up the kind of memory that feels like a wistful hankering for something lost or something that never was, I think most of us have it, this potentially destructive habit of mental record-keeping  that builds, distorts, then breaks up and spreads into even the farthest flung territories of reason and consciousness. What we do is accumulate the pain, collect it like cranberry glass. We display it, stack it up on a pile. Then we stack it up into a mountain so we can climb onto it, waiting for, demanding sympathy, salvation. Hey don’t you see this? Do you see how big my pain is? We look across at other people’s piles and measure them, shouting My pain’s bigger than your pain. It’s all somehow like the medieval penchant for tower building. Each family demonstrated its power with the height of its own personal tower. One more layer of stone, one more layer of pain, each one a measure of power”.(De Blasi, p.56 A Thousand Days in Venice).

And that dear readers is what makes this book special. It is a rich dark memoir that leaves me seduced in the way that Marlena’s story is told. Maybe because it is Venice, maybe its because it is Northern Italy, it is romantic yes, tasteful yes, and one good read that will beg you for more of her recipes. The ones in the back of the book are a bit indulgent for some but it obviously made Fernando realise how much this woman stole his heart.

Take it in both your hands and hold tight to this love. If it comes, it comes only once
(De Blasi, p.57 A Thousand Days in Venice)

Scootin along

The Book

Everything you need to know  SCOOTERS

Author(s)

Eric Dregni with photography by Pixel Pete

What it says on the back cover

The Scooter world is fast becoming one of the most popular modes of transportation on the road. With gas prices soaring, technology improving, and style trends favoring the attractive lines of both classic and modern scooters, it’s more and more common to see scooters sharing the road with their four-wheeled counterparts.

If you are considering a scooter for commuting to work or putt-putting around the city on a Sunday afternoon, Eric Dregni’s Scooter’s Everything You Need to Know has all the information you’ll need to enter the two-wheeled world of scooters.

Whether you are drawn to the classic Vespas, Stellas, and Lambrettas, small modern Zumas and Metros, or highway-ready maxi-scooters like the Silver Wing and Burgman, this book will help you choose a ride and learn how to maximise your enjoyment. From tips on buying, riding, and maintaining your scooter, to participating in clubs and events, is the perfect start to a lifetime of scootering. A life-long scooter rider, collector and writer, Eric Dregni answers  all the questions a beginning scooterist could have, with humor and years of travel and experience.

What made me pick up this book

I used to be a road cyclist back in the day, a fast road cyclist who used to literally chase cars.. well OK not chase them but certainly keep up with them. I knew that I loved the fresh air as I cycled and I had fun at the same time until one day I had a nasty fall off my bike and landed on my back. I was hurt and although I should have got back into cycling, it hurt too much on my lower back and in time I gave it up and sold my racing bike. I then started to think about a scooter after I was recommended one. Oddly enough I never did and I kind of regret it now as I know that right now this is exactly what I am interested in purchasing.  I know that with a scooter I would not be so fast… or maybe 🙂 No even though I was a fast cyclist, I was still quite careful despite my accident.

This book really grabbed me, it is written in a clear language that most of us novice scooterists can understand. It gives practical and down to earth advice and makes references to another b0ok How to Ride a Motorcycle written by Pat Hahn (Motorbooks,2005). I have not read that yet but I think together with this book, both would compliment each other well as Dregni has made several references to it in here in terms of how to ride although he gives a great explanation in this book.

Chapter one is a nice introduction to the scooter world by giving the reader a history of scooters whereas chapter two focuses on buying the right scooter which is important for me as I do not have a lot of funds to splash about and I realise after reading this book that the Vespa that I really would love may be a bit of a heavy bike for me to start off on.. (maybe as I become more confident I can look into it and when the funds are higher). Next Dregni focuses on scooter safety which has prompted me to do a safety course once I get my scooter and then how to maintain the scooter to its peak standard such as checking the plugs are OK, oil, etc…I love the little section throughout the book called Words to the Wise which offer practical little tidbits throughout the book such as Before Buying: Introspective Consumerism. This little section gives the newbie and even more experienced scootertist tips on buying a scooter and questions that one needs to consider to avoid any heartaches and ended up with a real dud of a scooter that won’t start when you need it and may let you down… read these first.

The book is also gender friendly too which is great for me being a girl. It was nice to see a few retro advertisements with girls on scoots and a couple of modern photographs too scattered throughout the book. What is nice is to see the scooter culture that arises from the book in Tours and Rallies which gives the reader a look into how the scooter culture can become a something kind of fun for everyone who likes to ride. I am not so sure whether there is a club in my town but it is something worth investigating when I get mine. Finally the last chapter looks at how scooters are played out in the media, think Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in that infamous film Roman Holiday and the Vespa or Cliff Richard and It’s A Wonderful Life and the Lambretta. Better still think of you the scooter rider and how you can enjoy the thrill of two wheels..

I can hardly wait!

Is this book worth buying?

Although in time this book will age and scooters will change, the overall information will stay the same.  Dregni’s book has alot of useful information that I have wanted to read before contemplating on getting two wheels. It is something that I have pondered over for quite some time and with this book that I am reading, it gives me informative advice which I need in order for me to understand the mechanics of these little machines, how to ride, how to choose, what to look for, whether to buy brand new or second hand, safety and much much more. This book packs a lot of punch. Enjoy the ride, err read!

“How beautiful it is to go around with wings under your feet…it takes away your problems” (Translation of smash hit “Vespa 50 Special” from 2000 Italian rock band Lunapop.

vespa-19

 Photo credit: Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas) via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

 

Seuss

 

Theodor Seuss Geisel affectionately known to the world as Dr Seuss was a children’s book author who was born in the United States of America on March 2 1904. To those who knew him he was simply Ted. Seuss credits his mother Henrietta for his wonderful stories as she would chant rhymes to her children before they went to sleep and it was what drove him to write and illustrate stories of his own as he grew older.

Public appearances scared Seuss as a boy after a wee run in with the then President of the United States President Roosevelt and as a result he suffered stage fright. The New England Historical Society explains.

Young Ted Geisel belonged to Boy Scout Troop 13, which undertook a war bond drive. He walked from house to house selling war bonds. His grandfather, a well-to-do brewer, bought $1,000 worth of bonds from his grandson. That made Ted one of the top-selling Scouts in Springfield.

Ted and nine other Scouts were to receive an award from former President Theodore Roosevelt in May 1918. They lined up on the state of Springfield’s Municipal Auditorium awaiting their award. Ted was last.

Roosevelt handed each boy an award – and then he got to Ted. Someone had made a mistake and given the former president only nine awards. It was an embarrassing situation, and Roosevelt made it worse. “What’s this boy doing here?” he said loudly. Ted, mortified, was hustled off the stage” (Teddy Roosevelt Humiliates Dr. Seuss, http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/teddy-roosevelt-humiliates-dr-seuss/, 2014).

Seuss’s catchphrases and success as an author often saw the public refer to him as ‘mad’ or a ‘mad man’ due to his antics that he would illustrate or write about. Seuss however went through 27 publishers before his manuscript for And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street was published. During WW2 he served as a captain in the U.S. Army. He then went on to write over 60 books and four were made into movies.

Although Seuss had no children of his own, he married twice and was a step father to two. His first wife committed suicide after a battle with Guilian Barre syndrome that became worse over a decade and he married his wife’s close friend till his death.

Robert Chase Jnr. the publisher of the book The Art of Dr. Seuss quoted

“Indeed, what Walt Disney was to entertainment, Theodor Seuss Geisel was to art and literature”.

Seuss died aged 87 on 24 September 1991.


Seuss books in my home

 And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street

The Cat and the Hat

Green Eggs and Ham

Oh, the Places you will Go


The Bookaholic Bookworm’s Biographies

In this blog I have given reviews on various books that I have read for study or general interest. I have enjoyed writing this because it gives me the opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and it also allows me to express what is going through my mind on any occasion. But as I have written several reviews, listed some of my favourite things such as music I thought I would take this blog to another level and for this reason I thought I would create The Bookaholic Bookworm’s Biographies for those who may be unfamiliar on some of the authors that I have written about in here. As I gave a rather interesting list of people and books to my other post I thought I would go through that list one by one and introduce each author to you all and if you find a tidbit of something interesting about that author, feel free to comment about it and we can discuss it on here. I will not write a lot about each person but I will certainly look out for information and do a bit of homework on them. I hope you will enjoy reading each biography as I will have writing it.

The first person I thought I would write about for my blog will be Dr Seuss.

Watch this space!

Books and Music go hand and hand

Sometimes while I am reading I like to have music playing in the background and other times I prefer the peacefulness that surrounds me and just have the birds to listen to. I must confess that when I came up with my Desert Island Discs selection of music awhile back it was a tough call choosing which pieces I would take to a deserted island and only in this last few weeks I have come across the most beautiful music I have heard in a long time. It turns out that my piece that I found is one that is actually on the list of many and I can see why. It is a soft sound of a beautiful violin which has been etched in my mind for a short time. Why I had not come across it until now is anyone’s guess but it left me itching for more and I hope to look out for a copy of this wonderful artist’s work. Surprisingly enough today marks the composer’s birthday so I thought I would write about it and the beautiful piece that seems to have transfixed itself into my head. I have also decided to add a list of my favourite books (in no particular order) and this beautiful piece written by Ralph Vaughan Williams. I have noticed one or two of his pieces on some of my classical CD’s but up until recently I had never heard The Lark Ascending. I hope that you appreciate it as much as I have.

Here is my list by the way (in no particular order)

  1. Oh the Places you will Go – Dr Seuss
  2. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
  4. Anything written by Deborah Challinor  (I particularly like the Tamar trilogy)
  5. Time Life Books – Foods of the World
  6. Anything written by Anthony Bourdain /Rick Stein / Gary Rhodes (Chefs)
  7. Things I overheard while talking to myself – Alan Alda
  8. Anything written by Lena Kennedy
  9. London: The Biography – Peter Akcroyd
  10. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  11. The World of Suzie Wong – Richard Mason
  12. First Catch your Weka – David Veart
  13. The New Zealand Woman – Bee Dawson
  14. Inside Stories – Frances Walsh
  15. Anything written by Michael King
  16. To the Is Land, An Angel at my Table, The Envoy at Mirror City – Janet Frame

and much much more!!!!!

So dear friends, what are yours and why? I will review some of these favourites soon.

Writing a book

So we have learnt what constitutes a good book. And it was an interesting question to ask because many of us who like to read, want to be able to read a book and enjoy it. I find that once I get into a book, I find it hard to put down. I want to read it all the time I am awake and I think about it when I work or while I am doing my everyday activities. I want to know what happens next say  in a fictional novel. I want to read why so and so has appeal in say perhaps a non fictional book.

Which has me thinking… again 🙂

How many of you have thought about writing a book?  I think the majority of us who write blogs right? It’s another curious question that often comes to mind. I know for me that over the last couple of years I have been writing a story, which has at the moment several chapters that I have written in a first person narrative and then switched it back to the story itself. It is fun. But who will read the book? Who are my audience that I want to read my book? Is it funny or is it serious? Do I want to capture my love of history into it, or perhaps my love of gastronomy? Who is my main character?  What do they do? How old are they? What do they look like? Are they married, single, divorced? Gay? Straight? Then my other characters in the story, who are they? what is their relationship to the main character? How do they fit into my story?

Writing a book has so many dimensions to it. It sounds easy to do but when you sit at your computer/laptop or even tablet or the good old fashioned pen and paper to write what it is you want to write, sometimes you may find yourself sitting staring at a blank screen for a bit and then you start to type or write just as you have on here. The words start to pour from you and you find yourself immersed into a world of the unknown because you do not know what will happen… well not just yet. You may have an outline of what you want to say and then you will draft, write a book more and finally when you are satisfied with it, you will revise it, edit it  have someone else go through it and edit it again as sad it is may seem. All that good writing that you have done eek its being edited, but you know that its got to be done choose your editor wisely.. So once you have narrowed the editing bit down you may consider sending in your manuscript to a publishing firm with the hope that your book may get published. And then let the publishers decide… is this a good book?

Writing a book is a real skill, an art. A book on our shelves that tells a story, that may teach us something, helps us when we need encouragement, something that interests us, or whatever it is that makes us put it on our shelves or allows us to pick it up and start reading it. These are just some of the ways we can start…

Any other thoughts?

What constitutes a good book?

A wee while ago I asked you as my followers what is your favourite book? I was a little sad to find out that only one of you replied which made me think about how many people come in here each day, week or month and who really is reading this blog. Anyway one nice follower who does follow my blog answered my question and said that she enjoys reading romance books. OK I am a woman, I guess that I am a bit of a romantic girl at heart but have I had the desire to read a romance book? Probably not? But then again I ask what type of romance books does she enjoy? I mean they could historical romance- think modern day writers such as Diana Gabaldon, Philippa Gregory or perhaps she likes the classic romantic writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austin. So this got me thinking.

What constitutes a good book?

A good book should be in my view, a book that can entertain, a book that may be able to teach me something new, a book that can enthuse me and a book that I can remember in years to come. I find that many books out there have a wonderful looking cover on them only to find that they lack substance or the blurb at the back does not match up to what I thought was going to be in the book so it gets read but it just sits there looking idle on my shelves until I decide to do a rare thing and cull it with some of the other books that have sat around for too long in my home.

Recently I took a book out of the library. I find many a great book there that I can read, take out and enjoy for a period of time. This particular book is more of a reference book than anything but it helped me to answer my question that I had looming in my head “What constitutes a good book?”. And in this book, 501 Must-Read Books helped me to appreciate why some books have become best sellers and what makes them popular with us all. Some are actually on my shelves and not because they are best sellers either. Often a book has come into my possession because I have read about it or that I have read the back of it to find out if it is something that I would enjoy and that is the thing if I enjoy the book then most other people will feel the same, which in return is then reviewed by the real reviewers of the world and then it becomes a best seller. But then there are some books out there that have never had the chance to shine and if by some miracle someone picks it up one day and thinks to themselves.. Hey this is great reading, news may spread and before you can blink, the book becomes famous maybe even after the author has died in some cases but the book becomes a sought after item, everyone is now wanting to get their hands on it just as they do when a best seller is made public and that dear folks is what I think may constitute a good book.

Thoughts?

How does she do it?

The Book

A Taste of India

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Author(s)

Madhur Jaffrey

Year

1985

What it says on the back cover

A photo of two women sitting side by side sorting through a handful of chillis on the grass in front of a big wicker basket that is filled with the chillis that they are handling.

Is this book worth buying?

This book is an excellent way to appreciate the diverse food that is found in each region scattered around India. Written with care and love, Jaffrey takes on a journey of her homeland starting with an Introduction that tells us stories of her childhood, food memories and how the food she ate, was made. It then goes on to discuss Indian cuisine, the flavourings and seasonings that it uses and how the variety of food in India varies from one region to the next. It also shares with us some of the spices that may be found in an Indian cupboard, growing up in India and India as a nation, its history and restaurant food. The introduction also introduces us to other country’s food nearby, beverages and what each region of India has in common with each other. the breads, meats and so on. It looks at how Indian’s eat, the Indian medicine, history, before returning back to Jaffrey’s childhood and her memories, discussions on religion, vegetarianism, traditions in India, and regional cooking.

Regional Cuisine is a 9 chapter section of the book that starts in Dehli and covers the Punjab and Haryana regions and it ends in Kerala. Each recipe is given an English name and then a Hindu name underneath. The back of the book covers Basic recipes and General notes. Basic recipes contain recipes to make the side dishes that make up Indian cuisine. These include the breads such as pappadums, naan, roti, to name a few, the rice and Lassi, the yoghurt drink often found in our Indian restaurant menus but is popular with Indians as a snack or taken as part of their breakfast or lunch. The basic recipe page also contains two recipes for the dessert Halwa, a dish that is usually made with semolina.

The General notes page is more like a guide or a dictionary of the ingredients used in this book which are listed from A to Z and several photographs of some of the ingredients.

Finally the book concludes with a Recipe index broken into subheadings of meals that start with Soups and Possible Starters and finishing with Chutneys, Relishes, Salads and Sweets. The end of the book is rounded off wuth an index of the foods, recipes and illustrations highlighted in italics.

The reason for the title of this book is because Jaffrey is not only a cookery book author but she is also a well known actress. My book says that it was published in 1985, although when I checked online there are references to the same book saying it was published in 1988 but either way this book is one of several that Jaffrey has written over the years and I salute her for taking the time to write and act which must be a juggling act in itself or that she is excellent with her time management skills. I think its wonderful. But this book is an excellent way to introduce yourself to what makes up Indian cuisine and then once you have cooked your way through it, you can then decide which regions food is for you. Naturally you do not need to pick a region but they are all diverse, some are more hotter than others and some use different spices or do not use a particular ingredient. Once you have learnt which recipe comes from where, you can seek out other books that have other recipes that match that cuisine. This is the first of Jaffrey’s books that I have purchased. Not that I have had any problems with her books in the past but because it was affordable for me to purchase. One of my favourite cooks of all time will be revealed at some point but this book does a fine job of being a book that I enjoy. One that discusses some of my favourite topics food, culture, and travel. What more could I ask for?

No wonder the British felt at home here. They could hunt- there are plenty of wild ducks and migrating Siberian geese- and they could fish for the sweet-fleshed mahaseer or for trout which a nineteenth-century Scotsman had introduced to the streams- Madhur Jaffrey (1985).