Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Blog Tour + Review: How to be Brave by Louise Beech

Today is my stop on the „How to be Braveblog tour and I’d like to thank Karen from OrendaBooks for the opportunity to take part. Read on for my review and hope you check this book out, because I totally recommend.

All the stories died that morning … until we found the one we’d always known. When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.

When I started reading this book, I never ever thought that a story can touch my heart so deep and bring back so many memories from the past. It literally brought me to tears many times and reminded me what was it like to be brave, not so long time ago.

This is a story for a mother, a daughter, a great grandfather, a horrible disease and an old diary that keeps the memories of a journey of a lifetime. Natalie is a great mother , she does her best to raise her daughter Rose while her husband Jake is serving in Army abroad. Everything seems pretty normal for the nine-years-old Rose, until one day she suddenly collapses and ends up in hospital. The diagnose is diabetes type 1, a disease with no cure, a disease that she has to cope with to the rest of her life. And she is only nine! So, the fight with the diabetes begins! Blood sugar testings, insulin shots, special diet, small meals every three hours.... It isn't easy at all! Rose's father is on the other side of the globe and feels helpless not being able to be with his family. But when one door is closed, another one is opened. While waiting in the hospital, Natalie is visited by a man, a man that looks familiar, a man that only she and her daughter can see. A man that takes them to a diary of a sailor who survives an epic journey on the open sea. The diary keeps the memories of Natalie's grandfather, a sailor who survives so many days on open sea after his ship was destroyed by the enemy during WWII. Every single page of the diary helps Rose coping with blood testing and insulin shots. Every new adventure on open sea helps her coping with ups and downs of her blood sugar.

Why this story touched my heart? My mother had diabetes, for more forty years, since her early twenties. I've seen her coping with insulin shots, blood testings, measuring her meals. Hypos were rare, but very scary when they occasionally happened. She cooked for all of us and never let anyone to suffer because of her condition. But after many years having it, the diabetes affected her legs, her eyes and her heart. She died of a heart attack in 2011, at the age of 67.

This story brought out on surface many memories of mine, and I cried many times while reading it. The author writes in a beautiful and warm style, with many emotions and very vividly describing the scenes. The two stories, one in the past and one in the present, are so well connected. Colin's journey is a lesson to both Natalie and Rose to cope with the disease, like he coped with the sea. It helps them to survive the hardest moments. Colin is true guardian angel. Real or not, they need him to tell them that everything is going to be okay. And he needs them, to tell him that everything is going to be fine. We all need a guardian angel sometimes, just to be there and hold our hand, nothing more.

Ms. Beech has written an amazing story. A story of survival, of struggle, of bravery and hope. But mostly, it is a story of unconditional love, the best cure for every pain and disease. ' Cause sometimes the only help you can give is love, and love is the only thing you need when in pain. Love says that you are not alone, and I hope that this book won't stand alone on Ms. Beech's bookshelf, there will be many more from her writing pen in future.

My opinion: 5 / 5.

Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea, and regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show. This is her first book, based on her experience with her own daughter’s diagnosis and the true story of her grandfather, Colin. She has beautiful photos to support!

Buy "How to be Brave" on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Review: The Potter's Field by Andrea Camilleri

A New York Times bestseller, Winner of the Crime Writers' Association's International Dagger and longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Witty and entertaining, the Montalbano novels by Andrea Camilleri-a master of the Italian detective story-have become favorites of mystery fans everywhere. In this latest installment, an unidentified corpse is found near Vigàta, a town known for its soil rich with potter's clay. Meanwhile, a woman reports the disappearance of her husband, a Colombian man with Sicilian origins who turns out to be related to a local mobster. Then Inspector Montalbano remembers the story from the Bible-Judas's betrayal, the act of remorse, and the money for the potter's field, where those of unknown or foreign origin are to be buried-and slowly, through myriad betrayals, finds his way to the solution to the crime.

Andrea Camilleri is one of my favorite mystery writers. His Montalbano series are one of the best in the genre. I have watched every episode of the TV series made according to his novels. Inspector Montalbano is just one of a kind, and one of my favorite detectives. The Potter's Field is the thirteenth in the row.

The police gets a call about a dead body on a private property, a place called the potter's field. It is raining heavily and when the police arrives, the body is gone. But soon after the search begins, it is obvious that the body has been washed away downhill, because of the rain. The police finds no body, but body parts, thirteen precisely.

In the very same time, a woman reports her husband missing. A man who works on a ship and travels a lot. A man connected to Colombia and related with Sicilian mafia. A man madly in love with his wife, a devoted husband who always calls her, no matter where he is. Except the last time.

While working on the case, Montalbano has problems with sleeping and nightmares. He is wandering if all those dreams mean something. His friend and colleague Mimi acts very strange. Is his behavior connected with the case?

As I said previously, Montalbano is one of my favorite detectives and I have seen all the episodes of the TV series. In 2012, Young Montalbano TV series showed up, as a pre-sequel. I watched almost all of them. Good to see the great inspector as a rookie. Andrea Camilleri created a great character with a hell of an attitude. Despite the mystery and twists, he also includes the quotations from the bible and many other classic books. The moment when Montalbano reads Andrea Camilleri's book is just one of a kind.

My opinion: 5 / 5.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book Review: The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giovanni

This is Naples as you’ve never seen it before. A chaotic, shadowy city full of ominous echoes and dark alleyways where each inhabitant seems too absorbed by his or her own problems to give a damn about anybody else. And that is exactly what makes it possible for a cold, methodical killer to commit his atrocious crimes largely undisturbed, to merge with the crowd as if he were invisible. The newspapers call him “The Crocodile” because, like a crocodile, when he devours his own children, he cries. And like a crocodile he is a perfect killing machine: he waits and watches until his prey is within range, and then he strikes. 

I wasn't familiar with Mauricio de Giovanni before, but after reading this book, I am definitely putting this author's books on my shelves. Not because of the one of a kind main character, but because of the stories he tells and the twists to the very end. So, let me tell you something about this book.

When you think of Italy and Sicilia, you think of mafia. Unfortunately, mafia is the first association with every crime and every police act in Italy. Inspector Lojacono is an excellent police detective, until rumor says that he is mafia guy. And his entire world changes. To make the damage as small as possible, the police department moves Lojacono in Napoli, and his wife and daughter in another city. They both don't want to talk to him, they blame him for ruining their lives also.

But in Napoli, it is not safe and sound. A young teenager is shot just in front of his home. A boy who delivers things (read drugs) to students. Soon after his death, a teenager girl is shot, walking home from her music classes. No one sees the connection, except Lojacono, who is clearly ordered to stay away from the case. But when the third teenager's body appears, the authorities in the police station have no choice except to let Lojacono lead the case. Because he sees things that others don't, he notices things that others can't. The lead takes him far away from the three teenagers, long time before they were born. When it all began.

The Crocodile is one great detective story, with lots of police procedurals and many turn-overs.
You can also feel the rhythm of the city, with all of its trattorie (small restaurants) and good Italian food. But you can also feel the fear of the mafia and crime ratio among the ordinary people. And you can not go wrong with a main character that many people mistake for a Chinese. He is one of kind.

My opinion: 4 / 5.