Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beyond The Pasta by Mark Leslie

Italy in Books - Reading Challenge 2011

The July post with a list of books that the other people taking part are reading this month has already been posted. July Reviews
Beyond The Pasta is so much more than just another Italian cookery book as besides providing great recipes Mark writes a diary about his trip to Italy to learn authentic Italian cooking. The added wow factor for me was not just that it is set in Italy but in our region of Viterbo. I loved all the local recipes, some of which I had heard of but others were new ones. I shall definitely be getting my husband to try these out for us, as he is the chef in our household. Mark’s diary of his time here in Viterbo was absolutely fascinating, particularly as we know and love the places he visited. It was  interesting to read his take on places that we are very familiar with. As for instance his impression of Marta, as a place with a long line of hotels lining the lakefront. Sorry Mark, but first impressions were deceptive, there is only one hotel along the stretch he wrote about. In fact at the time of writing there was only one hotel in the whole of  Marta and that was ‘Otello’s’, attached to the restaurant he visited, one of our favourites. He was right about the restaurants though as there are three in a row just in that stretch of lake frontage. I guess it must have just looked impressive.

Besides being an account of the everyday experiences of his month in Viterbo immersed in Italian culture,both language and cuisine, it is also as I already mentioned a cookery book, a record of Nonna’s amazing sounding recipes. I have no intention of sharing any of them here with you as I have yet to discover my favourites. You can discover some of them by visiting the links below.
It is with thanks to Michelle at Bleeding Espresso and her review that I learnt of the existence of this book.  It was her review that convinced me I had to have a copy of my own.  Maybe my review will tempt some of you to also buy a copy! Having said that it will be no surprise that I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves Italy and all things Italian.
I hope one day that Mark will be back in Marta so that he can autograph his book for me!
Mark Leslie
Do spare a few minutes to watch this video.
Uploaded by 334mdl on Jul 23, 2010
Here is Nonna~ the grandmother of the family Mark Leslie lived with in Viterbo, Italy. She is the central character in his book "Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family" which was released on September 1, 2010, by Gemelli Press. Please visit for more details. In this clip, Nonna is telling a story about her mother--you can truly see her sense of humour as she tells the story. She made him laugh every day while he was there...and she will make you laugh in the book, too!
Information for this post is with thanks to the following websites.
YouTube - Mark LeslieWhere you will find a selection of great videos from Mark publicising his book.
Beyond The Pasta - Mark Leslie's Official Website
Beyond The Pasta - Facebook Page

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

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Goes Around Comes Around by Naveen BC


                        What Goes Around Comes Around


  • Paperback: 237 pages
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Publisher: Frogbooks an imprint of Leadstart Publishing , India 2010
  • Source: Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • Review Quote: ‘The humour is very pleasant, emotions are well scripted & the language is simple.’ A reader on
  • My Opinion:  I doubt I would have chosen to read this if left to my own devices and I am sorry to say it was a disappointment.


I just do not think this is going to appeal to the European reader. It is true that it is not a story that is linked to any particular country but a novel about family, friendship and faith, but I found the style of writing awkward. I suspect this will be a disappointment to the author who kindly sent me ta copy for review. For me it was far removed from what it claims to be on the cover. The language is far from crisp as it feels stilted, maybe this is caused by translation or the fact that the author is writing in a foreign language. There were many times I felt uncomfortable with both the choice of words and the grammar. The simple language used for me was not soft and subtle but hard and grating.  Yes it is a saga of love family friendship and faith but I did not find it at all captivating and for the reasons given already I struggled to get through this novel  Apparently it is interspersed with gems of wisdom  that I am apparently sure to treasure for life and a story I will remember for a long time to come.  Well I am sorry but I have forgotten it already and can therefore hardly recommend it to others.

I do not like having to write such a disappointing review as I know how hard it is for an author to write a novel and I would never put down or criticise their abilities. I think Naveen has the skills but needs to hone them considerably if he wants to break into the world market place.

I have taken the liberty of copying the blurb from the back of the book into this post as it is the best way to show you what we are led to expect from this novel!

Back cover blurb:

A captivating saga about love, family, friendship, and faith - a tender love story of lifelong love between husband and wife, eternal family ties between father and son and inseparable true friendship between young friends that continues through the twilight years. Naveen BC's debut novel is a gospel of faith in true human values. The moving story that spans generations will make you cry and laugh and rebuild your faith and trust in the human species that ancient and modern prophets of doom have often times condemned to damnation.
The crisp and simple language in the novel helps in keeping the tone of the narrative soft and subtle. Naveen steers clear of the pitfall of melodrama, even while describing tragedy like death, which he handles with tenderness and gentleness. Interspersed in the novel are some gems of wisdom - that you are sure to treasure for life. This is one story that you will remember for a long, long time to come.

The story of Peter Wilkins spans generations of the same family, starting with his death as his wealth is left to his  his son, daughter-in-law and grandson. The grandson inherits something special - a book written by Peter Wilkins, "One Star 2 Many" which is presented to us the reader as a book within a book. In fact an autobiography of his grandfather’s life as an athlete, nothing outstanding in this to remember I am afraid to say, apart of course from his gold medal.

I think a lot more could have been made of this novel within it’s basic framework. I have no idea if the author wrote this in English or if it is a translation, but if he wants to appeal to the reader outside India I think it needs improving on. Too late this time Naveen but keep writing.


Naveen B.C.Naveen BC, Photo sent to me by the author.

Naveen is a  graduate in Commerce from Bangalore University he has taken a sabbatical from business as he wanted to complete this book when he was 29 so that he could be called " an author in his 20s", but that wasn't to be. At 30 he feels wise enough to realise that you are known by your work and not by your age.  He chose to write this book to express his creativity and hopes that that this indeed becomes his full- time profession.

Facebook Author Profile

Goodreads Author Profile

I have registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing and am now hopeful it will travel the world, let me know if you are interested.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rough Music by Patrick Gale




  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Genre : Fiction
  • Publisher: This edition Fourth Estate an impression of Harper Collins 2009. Originally published 2000 by Flamingo.
  • Source: Another Bookcrosser
  • First Sentence : ‘She walked across the sand carrying a shoe in either hand, drawn forward as much by the great blue moon up ahead as by the sound of the breaking waves.’
  • Review Quote :’A painfully acute but never reproachful examination of a past that will not vanish’ Daily Telegraph.
  • My Opinion: An author I enjoy and will try to read all his books if I can obtain copies.


Patrick Gale is a prolific author but I was only introduced to his writing two years ago by my sister when she recommended Notes from An Exhibition(2007) and lent me a copy of The Whole Day Through(2009), the latter which I never reviewed for some reason, although I do remember liking it. Instantly hooked his entire back catalogue has now been added to my Wishlist. The only other title I have read so far is Friendly Fire (2005). 

I find that Patrick Gale is a particularly sensitive writer for a man but I think this may stem from the fact that he is gay. I hope this is the politically correct term to use, but I am not sure. However he is quite open about the fact and in the question and answer section at the end of this novel talks about his husband who is a farmer. The fact he obviously draws on personal experiences in life and location, they live on a farm in Cornwall are I am sure part of his success as a novelist. I am really looking forward to locating more of his books to read.

Straight away I was drawn into this thought provoking and touching novel, set in alternate chapters of past and present. Patrick Gale has a love of the west of England and the sea and his evocative writing is very absorbing bringing the setting and the characters to life for me whilst I am reading.

Julian, who changes his name to Will as an adult because of a nickname he was given at school is the main character and most of the story is built around a family holiday that did not go quite as planned when he was a small boy. As a man Will seems at ease with his sexuality but it is on another holiday that the traumatic effects of that long ago summer come back to question his happiness. Were his parents quite as happy and as normal as he always thought they were?  The  relationship between them in the present part of the novel where the mother is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's is very moving.

I do not want to reveal the plot so cannot say too much here but it will keep you guessing with plenty of hints but exactly what happened is not revealed until the final chapters.


Patrick Gale Copyright © 2009 , Phillipe Matsas / Opale

Patrick was born on 31 January 1962 on the Isle of Wight, where his father was prison governor at Camp Hill, as his grandfather had been at nearby Parkhurst. He was the youngest of four – one sister, two brothers, spread over ten years. The family moved to London, where his father ran Wandsworth Prison, then to Winchester. At eight Patrick began boarding as a Winchester College Quirister at the cathedral choir school, Pilgrim’s. At thirteen he went on to Winchester College. He finished his formal education with an English degree from New College, Oxford in 1983.
He has never had a grown-up job. For three years he lived at a succession of addresses, from a Notting Hill bedsit to a crumbling French chateau. While working on his first novels he eked out his slender income with odd jobs; as a typist, a singing waiter, a designer’s secretary, a ghost-writer for an encyclopaedia of the musical and, increasingly, as a book reviewer.
His first two novels, The Aerodynamics of Pork and Ease were published by Abacus on the same day in June 1986. The following year he moved to Camelford near the north coast of Cornwall and began a love affair with the county that has fed his work ever since.
He now lives in the far west, on a farm near Land’s End with his lover, Aidan Hicks. There they raise beef cattle and grow barley. Patrick's current ambition is to perfect the art of reversing a tractor and trailer around a corner.

Biographical info is taken from Patrick Gale - Official Website

Learn more about the man and his writing on his Official Website

Introduction to Rough Music on Patrick Gale’s Official Website


What We're ReadingWhat We're Reading

Do pay a visit to this linky to find out what others around the world are reading.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen by Paul Torday




  • Paperback: 329 pages – Unabridged
  • Genre : Fiction
  • Publisher: Phoenix an imprint of Orion 2007
  • Source: My bookshelves.
  • First Sentence :  Book is written mainly as a series of letters emails and other documents, starting with one entitled ‘The Origins of the Yemen Salmon Project’.
  • Review Quote: ‘An entertaining and successful debut…warmly recommended to anyone searching for feelgood comedy with surprising bite’  Sunday Telegraph.
  • My Opinion: A satirical novel weaved around bureaucracy that will make you laugh.


This title has been languishing on our TBR bookshelves for far too long as despite the fact my husband and others via reviews have been encouraging me to read this debut novel, I somehow never did. I think maybe I was unsure it was going to be to my taste.  Well I was pleasantly surprised with this diverting and original satirical novel weaved around bureaucracy that picks fun at every facet of the British lifestyle.

The protagonist is Dr Alfred Jones, known as Fred a boring lower ranking civil servant, a fisheries specialist in fact for the National Centre For Fisheries Excellence. He reluctantly thanks to higher officialdom forcing him to do so becomes part of a project to introduce the sport of salmon fishing to the Yemen. The course of  British Politics and his own life are changed forever as gradually Fred becomes fascinated with the project. As he studies the feasibilities for the Sheikh whose idea this all is, he also grows emotionally and is no longer the underdog husband or lowly civil servant whose high points in life include publishing an article in a fishing magazine on fly larvae or acquiring a new electric toothbrush!

Overall I recommend this as it is a refreshingly different book that is an easy read. A warning though if you do not enjoy satire, give it a miss.


Paul Torday

Paul Torday was born in 1946 and read English Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is married with two sons by a previous marriage and has two stepsons. He has spent most of his life in industry, specifically engineering, which took him all over the world including the Middle East. He has travelled extensively in Oman exploring the desert and back country with his wife.  For the last fifteen years he has also been a keen salmon fisherman, and as he lives close to the River North Tyne, he has been able to indulge in this enthusiasm.

I am certainly now looking forward to reading the rest of Paul Torday’s novels as listed in this short video.

Uploaded by Waterstonescom on Apr 19, 2011

A film has  also been made of ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ starring Emily Blunt  as  Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, Ewan McGregor as Fred Jones and  Kristin Scott Thomas  as Bridget Maxwell and is now in post production to be released in 2012.

Information for this post is with thanks to the following websites.

Official Website - Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Internet Movie Database


Friday, July 8, 2011

House of Silence by Linda Gillard




  • EBook: 227 pages
  • Genre : Mystery/Fiction
  • Publisher: Kindle 2011
  • Source: eBook provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
  • First Sentence : ‘I used to wonder if Alfie chose me because I was an orphan and an only child.’
  • My Opinion: Cannot understand why this author had to publish her own fourth novel as an ebook! What is the matter with publishers?


Linda Gillard is one of my favourite writers of recent years and I thoroughly enjoyed her first three books. For this her fourth novel you are at present only able to read it if you have access to an eReader, or have downloaded an application enabling you to read books on your computer. Despite publishers liking her writing, for some ridiculous reason they still reject her work. What makes this even more strange is that her last novel Stargazing' won the Romantic Novelists Association Award for being the Best Love Story Of The Last 50 Years 1960 – 2010

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed all three of her previous novels, reading them in the order of publication and for me her writing has just kept getting better. Unlike many authors she still seems able to produce something different with each new novel, no standard structure to her novels as there seems to be with many writers these days. They find a successful pattern and churn out every book following that framework. It is not so with this author’s writing as she surprises me every time I read her work. There is one subject that has appeared in her earlier work and is a strong and interesting presence again this time and that is the author’s obvious love of Quilting. She certainly writes stories that appeal to many tastes and this latest offering is no exception.

In ‘House of Silence’ the house ‘Creak Hall’ itself is a major presence as mysterious tragedies are discovered as the family history reveals itself slowly with plenty of intrigue. The characters are all memorable and strong, especially the protagonists Alfie the prodigal son, a struggling actor and his wardrobe mistress girlfriend Gwen who visit the family for the Christmas festivities. The supporting characters are also well portrayed and my particular favourites were Marek the mysterious gardener and Hattie the disturbed younger daughter.

The early chapters introduce us to Gwen and Alfie and set the scene for the main part of the action which all takes place over the course of just a few days at the Tudor Manor House in Norfolk, Creake Hall which is Alfie’s family home. Gwen was alone  in life with no family so was excited at the prospect of a proper family Christmas, where apart from the gardener she was the only non family member present. Gwen soon discovers that she is staying in a houseful of strange and flawed characters, who all seem to be hiding secrets from her, especially her own boyfriend. His mother is a famous author of children’s books although no longer able to distinguish between reality and fiction and it is around her that the secrets of the past appear to hinge.

There are certainly plenty of family secrets to be revealed that will keep you turning the pages of this superbly plotted novel.  I really do recommend you sample Linda Gillard’s writing if you have not already done so.

Linda Gillard

If you are interested in finding out more about This author and her writing please visit some of the links I have listed below.

I read Linda Gillard’s previous novels before I started writing LindyLouMac’s Book Reviews but you may be interested in reading my Journal entries at Bookcrossing- LindyLouMac- Home Page

Emotional Geology – Journal Entries (read in 2007)

A Lifetime Burning – Journal Entries (I read this one in 2007 as well)

Stargazing Links to my review reproduced on this blog for the RNA Award post. (I read this in 2008)

Official Website for Linda Gillard  Please visit her website as lots of interesting information, also if you are a Facebook Fan she has a page there.

Facebook Fan Page

I am now hoping that one day Linda Gillard will get the recognition she deserves and hopefully we will soon see her novels being published in hard copy again.  Until then you need to find yourself an eReader if you are not familiar with her writing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


                       Treasure Island-Scribner's-1911.jpg

                              Cover illustration from 1911

  • Paperback: 151 pages – Unabridged
  • Genre : Victorian Classic Fiction
  • Publisher: Original Edition 1883– My edition published  by Dover 1993, cover not as illustrated above.
  • Source: My bookshelves.
  • First Sentence : Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-, and go back to the time when my father kept the "Admiral Benbow" inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof. 
  • My Opinion: Still has something to offer the 21C reader.

The Victorian Literature Challenge

I have read this novel before but as I found this copy sitting on our bookshelves decided that it would make a suitable read for The Victorian Literature Challenge

Treasure Island is an adventure story of pirates and buried gold and has tremendous  action told with plenty of atmosphere. When I read it as a child it left a great impression on me as I went on to use the idea of a Treasure Island in a school essay writing competition calling mine simply ‘The Island’.  I won a prize!

Pirates still hold a fascination with children and adults today, just look at the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean series of films.

Set in the 18C Treasure Island is a potent tale of piracy, an incomprehensible treasure map and a cast of villainous characters with the most appalling intentions. The story of the expedition and mutiny led by long John Silver is told through the eyes of Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy on the ‘Hispania’ as it sails to exotic waters to hunt for buried treasure.

The underlying theme of the novel is that it deals with the moral growth of our protagonist Jim Hawkins from adolescent to adult. Truth versus lies, drunkards versus abstainers, frugalness versus extravagance and religion versus agnostics all subjects of which Jim has to deal with in the course of his adventures.

Treasure Island will continue to captivate readers of all ages for many more generations, even if it is on their E–Readers.

Robert Louis Stevenson was born on the 13th of  November 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland and died just 44 years later in Samoa on the
3rd of  December 1894. For the last twenty years of his life he suffered from a severe respiratory illness which after much travelling led him to settle in
Samoa.  He began his writing career as an essayist and travel writer, but the success of Treasure Island (1883) and Kidnapped (1886) established his reputation for tales of adventure and action.

There have been over 50 movie and TV versions made of Treasure island and numerous radio adaptations.and now the latest version is in video book format. Here is the first chapter for you if you are still undecided about reading or wish to renew your acquaintance with this novel.

Uploaded by CCProse on Jun 9, 2011

Chapter 01: The Old Sea-Dog At The Admiral Benbow. Classic Literature Video Book with synchronized text, interactive transcript, and closed captions in multiple languages. Audio courtesy of Librivox. Read by Adrian Praetzellis

Biographical and other background information is with thanks to the following  websites.

Wikipedia    You Tube

A full plot summary and background information can be found on Wikipedia - Treasure Island if you are interested in learning more about the novel.