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
Advertisements

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

 

 

Hello once again

Hello all

It has been so long since I have come in here… not that I did not want to but many things have crossed my path since my last post. I have found since graduating with my Social Science degree frees me up to do other interests like writing offline and another blog. I still love to read and will review a few of the books that I have read lately in the coming months but I just want to say how sorry it is for those that have been regular followers on here as I really appreciate having feedback and I also enjoy sharing with you the books that I have read.

This year I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Joint Hypermobility disorder. It is also called Ehlers Danlos Type 3. Depending on you are talking to, both are the same but its been hard here in New Zealand to discuss with people as many have never heard of it which is why I wrote rare on here but its more widely known overseas. Once I got the diagnosis I then began my research into finding out what I can do about it. The Rheumatologist that I saw up at my hospital referred me pretty much straight away to their Physiotherapy dept and although I have not had many sessions with my therapist I know that what she will do will help me in the long term. I have so many questions to ask and so many things that I want to learn about it because as I get older my body will change and its best that I get as much help as possible.  Unfortunately I also was diagnosed with a Vitamin B12 deficiency which has caused a lot of stress as well on me. My memory has been affected and I now have nerve damage in my feet which flare up from time to time. I eat meat but unfortunately my stores were quite low and was having to have injections for it. My face broke out in major spots and after that I made the decision not to have the injections and just stick with a strong Vitamin B12 tablet which I take every day. It is sad that it is not available on prescription like Vitamin B6 here.

I continue to write and recently edited my friends first cookbook. It was a wonderful opportunity to assist him as he asked me if I wouldn’t mind doing it due to the fact he knew I was clued up with gastronomy. I did so with great gusto and added pieces to it here and there for him but there was one problem. I noticed that when the book was self published they took the second edit that I had done and I have picked up mistakes in it. I often edit something at least four times so I hope that it will still be OK. My friend has asked me if we could do our book next and the could be something to think about. I write mostly about things that matter to me and although I have just started a blog about rambling, I like to write about things that are going on in today’s world. You can come and view it on https://rantandrambling.wordpress.com/

I also had troubles with a neighbour on and off as you will see in my other blog through the year. She is a woman who seems to cause trouble wherever she goes and just this last week is reporting to anyone who will listen that the neighbour beside her has a criminal record. People like her really need to be assessed and it has been difficult for me emotionally and mentally as she would ring me every day and follow my every move whenever I came home from work, town or even outside. It has made my life unbearable at times that its another reason I have not been on here, my health was very much compromised with this woman’s antics. I reported her to the Police again and so far she has not caused a scene again with me. She has made deliberate attempts to try and  get my attention since the Police spoke to her but now she seems to have gone back and targeted the woman next to her.

Well thats all from my corner for now but I hope to be back soon. I love coming in here as I said and yes I have read a good few books since I have been away from here. Mostly fiction as since I have been unwell I have needed a good cheering up.

Till next time.

 

Another blog!!

 

I have just created another blog that you all may enjoy if you enjoy food.  Please come and join me at https://mycuisine.wordpress.com/

I will be deleting some of my older blogs soon due to their inactivity but I think that this one will be great for me to showcase some of my own recipes and share with you all some of the recipes that I have also enjoyed (whether they are my own, someone I know, or are from a book).

I look forward to you joining me there!

Seuss

dr-seuss
Photo credit: http://www.chicagonow.com

 

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?