10/02/2016

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY - LUSITANIA R.E.X BY GREG TAYLOR

The winner of the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction, announced in June 2015 at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver, and a finalist for the People’s Book Prize to be announced in April 2016, Lusitania R.E.X is an historical account of the sinking of the Lusitania replete with spies and secret societies, super weapons, millionaires and martyrs. After being struck by a single torpedo on May 7th 1915, the Lusitania sank in only eighteen minutes. Passengers such as Alfred Vanderbilt, one of the wealthiest men in the world, ignored warnings from the German embassy, confident the fastest ship in the world could outrun enemy submarines. Since the time of her sinking, the Lusitania has been wrapped in mystery and intrigue. Experts continue to debate the cause of the second explosion that sealed her fate after the torpedo struck. Imperial Germany immediately claimed she was loaded with explosives destined for the front. Lusitania R.E.X weaves a tale around disputed facts to create a plausible explanation of some of the mysteries surrounding her sinking.

Author Greg Taylor discusses the history behind his book on a Goodreads video.

09/02/2016

MY KIDS GROW UP AND ... THEY ARE PRETTY SPECIAL - TOMMASO TROIA: FIND A JOB YOU LIKE AND YOU WILL NEVER WORK A SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE

Here's a new story in the series "My kids grow up" dedicated to my former students. Tommaso has always been very active, lively, smart. He was a hard-working student and a self-disciplined boy, though somewhat stubborn, which is, probably, what made him successful in his chosen career. 
He was one of my students for 5 years and he was certainly good at English. Only, it was not an easy task to persuade him to study English Literature. He had other ... priorities! He is an officer in the Italian Army now. And this is his story

Who I was

Hello everybody, my name is Tommaso Troia and, like many of you reading here, I have been lucky enough to be one of  Mrs Spila’s pupils  in my high school years.
In high school I was quite a good student with a passion for swimming, Maths and Physics, who loved studying the English language but  not English poetry and literature. I particularly enjoyed pushing Mrs Spila’s patience to the limit, which is why our beloved teacher will hardly ever forget about me. J
I also spent my spare time playing Magic The Gathering, and studying some computer science on my own.

My Choice

I have to say, I didn’t think about my future much till the fourth year of high school, since I was pretty sure that whatever was in my future, it would be great.
It was right in the middle of my fourth year of high school that I clearly realized what my dream job was. A tough one, both physically and mentally challenging, but with strong values and sound rules to follow. Thus,  when I asked myself what I was going to do in my life, I clearly saw that my choice could be no other than to join the Army. So I started dreaming of entering the Military Academy of  & HModena.
Of course, as I had made my mind, I visited the Italian Army official website and found all the information I needed to enlist, which is what I did.  So, since first step was to pass a series of tests and exams of different types, I started studying and doing some extra exercise to pass whatever test I was to go through.

06/02/2016

SUFFRAGETTES - A MOVIE, AN ANNIVERSARY & A QUOTE

The Anniversary: 6 February, 1918



Let's start with the anniversary, then. The campaign to gain women the vote in Britain had run for decades by 1918. Thinkers such as J.S. Mill had long advocated the reform.  It was WWI which moved the game on – war has often be the locomotive of history. Women had taken on male roles; the armaments industry had based its production on the work of women. As the war progressed, politicians began to discuss how to bring about the change so that justice should be done.  Thus on March 28 1917 the Commons with a huge majority, and the Lords by a far closer margin of 134 to 71, passed the Representation of the People Act, also known as The Qualification of Women Act; on 6 February, 1918 it received royal assent and passed into law.

03/02/2016

COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY - PAINTING RAIN BY ANNETTE K. LARSEN

Painting Rain
Painting Rain by Annette K. Larsen

How do you heal your heart after tragedy leaves you broken? When the person you loved didn’t deserve it and they can’t earn your forgiveness because they’re already dead? How do you move on, and heal, and love?
If you’re Princess Lorraina, you paint. A year ago Lorraina watched Tobias die, and she still doesn't know how she's supposed to heal—or forgive. How can she when she’s still running away? In an attempt to reinvent herself, she steps outside her comfortable life as princess and seeks the tutelage of a master painter—a man who is not at all impressed by her pedigree, and demands not just talent, but emotional honesty. Struggling to learn what’s being taught, she finds herself drawn to someone who not only knows her secrets, but who she once considered far below her notice. Now she is compelled to seek him out despite knowing their relationship would be forbidden if discovered. Staying away from him doesn’t seem possible when discovering him may be the key to healing her heart and rediscovering herself.

pre order on amazon

02/02/2016

BOOK BLAST & GIVEAWAY - NOT ALWAYS HAPPENSTANCE BY RACHEL ANDERSON

Not Always Happenstance
Not Always Happenstance by Rachael Anderson 


 Lani has lived in Hana, Hawaii for five years. She’s learned to surf, fish, dive, and manage her grandmother’s bed and breakfast. She’s also learned to take one day at a time the way it should be taken—relaxed and unrushed, savoring every moment. But, like a large wave on the brink of breaking, her life is about to crash out of control. A proposal of marriage, a conniving grandmother, a cryptic Asian woman, and a handsome guest, and suddenly everything calm begins to churn, everything clear becomes confused, and all that was normal segues into peculiar. As Lani struggles against the current to hold her ground, she realizes that she can either continue to fight and eventually lose, or take a take a leap of faith, hold her breath, and ride the wave wherever it takes her. ***This book is part of the Power of the Matchmaker series that features one recurring character—the match maker—but it is a STAND-ALONE novel.***

  amazon get it

30/01/2016

AT THE CINEMA - ALL HAIL, MACBETH !

 "... a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  

At the cinema with my students

It came out on the 5th this month and,  at last, I came to see it this morning. It's the latest film version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. I saw it at the cinema with one of my classes. 
It is a great movie: dark, gloomy, violent, impressive. It was not my first Macbeth, of course, but it was certainly an outstanding one. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are giant actors and I expected them to be remarkable  as the two protagonists.  But they were beyond perfection. As Macbeth was doomed to be king and Lady Macbeth his Queen, Fassbender and Cotillard were born to embody these two icon figures.  They were not simply remarkable but incredibly intense, impeccable in their renditions. 


"The film is a grimly visceral version of the classic play and offers a fresh take on the tortured rise and fall of the Bard's darkest anti-hero". (Mail Online)

29/01/2016

THE FALL OF LORD DRAYSON - COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY

Coming soon from USA Today Bestselling Author Rachael Anderson

The Fall of Lord Drayson

The Fall of Lord Drayson

Who is he really? A high and mighty Lord, or a lowly servant? When Colin Cavendish, the new earl of Drayson, informs Lucy Beresford that she and her mother have two months to vacate the house they've called home for the past two years, Lucy is fit to be tied.They have no money, no relations they can turn to for help, and nowhere to go. How dare the earl break the promise his father had made

28/01/2016

PERIOD & MORE PERIOD - THE ULTIMATE MAP OF DOWNTON ABBEY LOCATIONS


It wasn't easy for UK fans to bid farewell to their beloved Edwardian friends from Downton Abbey. US viewers still have a few episodes to go(check PBS Masterpiece website) before the moment to say good-bye comes for them too. As for myself, I hadn't been as emotional  as I was on Christmas day while watching Downton Abbey special - which was also the very last instalment in the series - for quite some time.
After 6 years and plenty of elegance and emotions, Downton Abbey is now destined to become a cult for many, not only in the UK or US.  In honour of this and for the joy of all its loyal fans, Wayfair.co.uk   scoured the country to find the real-life locations that make up the wonderful world of Downton and have created a map with an extensive list of over 70 Downton Abbey filming locations marked on it, with information about what scene the location was used for and how you can check it out for yourself.

27/01/2016

TOBIAS BY PRUE BATTEN - BOOK REVIEW


Book Blurb


Byzantium stretches a weakening grip across Eastern Europe, trying in vain to hold onto all that has made it an empire. Tyrian purple, the unique dye that denotes its power, is held under close guard by the imperial house.
However a Jewish merchant from Venice has sourced an illegal supply and Tobias the dwarf minstrel and his twin brother, Tomas, begin a dangerous journey to retrieve the purple and deliver it into the merchant’s eager hands.
But is this supply as secret as they had hoped?
Trade is cut throat, men are expendable, money is power and Constantinople provides the exotic backdrop during a time of scimitars and shadows.
This is Tobias – the story of a minstrel and a broken life…


 My review

Prue Batten never ceases to amaze me with her embroidered prose, her unique characters and her meticulous research. Her new novel, Tobiasbook 1 in the Triptych Chronicle, offers a gallery of unforgettable characters and so many delicious moments of beauty to her readers. With Prue Batten you can count on high quality prose.

The unusual hero of this  new medieval tale is a dwarf minstrel, Tobias,  with a sharp mind, a sharp wit, a beautiful singing voice, a love for books and a good story,  who can as well handle a dagger,  when the occasion occurs.   The experience of seeing the world from Tobias ‘s singular perspective, the enchantment of his music, the gift of his sensitivity and the uniqueness of his persona make the narration of his adventures peculiar, gripping and also moving..

24/01/2016

PERIOD & MORE PERIOD - WAR, PEACE AND A RESTLESS PRINCE



Are you watching War and Peace? 

I am and I like it so much!  I knew I had to wait on a bit to understand if I could love or hate this adaptation of Tolstoj's masterpiece, because I was not particularly enthusiastic at the end of  its premiere. But episode after episode,  I started appreciating the cast, the location, the performances and the rendition of a story I already knew quite a lot about.  I read the book (war scenes included!) a few years ago, what about you? Have you succeeded in going through the whole thick volume?



The Russian Darcy

Have you got a favourite character? I have and I guess he is a favourite of many. Andrew Davies, who adapted and sexed-up the novel for the small  screen, defined Prince Bolkonsly as the Russian Darcy, and who better than Mr Davies would recognize a Darcy-like hero? Brooding and restless, reckelss and complicated he is perfect new addition to our gallery of romantic, charming heroes, isn't he? 

22/01/2016

JOHN MONTANA, HOPE IN AN ACTOR'S LIFE

The job of acting is one of the most alluring for us ordinary mortals. We imagine that being an actor and living in LA must be so cool and glamorous. We imagine actors ready to walk red carpets or reading exciting scripts for new projects, attending awesome parties and dating wonderful people. However, honestly, we can also guess it must be rather stressful from time to time. Well, are you ready to stop figuring out and to read a first hand story? What about getting to know what life can be like for a real professional living and working in LA? John Montana, actor and director, will be with us for a series of posts about his life and profession. Thanks, John, for sharing with us here at FLY HIGH! Much appreciated! 

*********************************************************

Hope: An optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large.

Hope in an Actor’s Life!



In the entertainment business, uncertainty and hopelessness is the elephant in the room. Hopelessness and despair are a daily battle for everyone of us actors. I include myself, because I am also an actor trying to make it here in L.A.
There are so many opportunities here that your life can change tomorrow. Tomorrow! And I have seen it.
My next-door neighbor who I have known for 15 years, is in his 50’s and he just landed his first regular role on a TV show last month. And his advice is… don’t stop. Don’t give up hope. Keep going and it will work out.

21/01/2016

THEN COMES WINTER BOOK GOES ON TOUR



This past November, Then ComesWinter, a collection of winter themed short stories, embarked on a trip to visit the hometowns of the talented authors who contributed to its making. Along the way through three countries, the travelling copy of Then Comes Winter has been collecting autographs and souvenirs and visiting special places in each region.  It is only appropriate that Then Comes Winter, a collection of holiday themed short stories, is  embarking on a trip to visit each of its hometowns, those of the talented authors who contributed to its making.

20/01/2016

LONDON'S JEWISH BOOK WEEK, FEBRUARY 20-28, 2016: AMAZING AUTHORS & WONDERFUL FICTION EVENTS

Tracy Chevalier, Esther Freud, Anne Sebba
Do you live in London or its surroundings? Do you plan a trip there in February? If you love literary events, you should! Discover fiction to read,  meet best selling authors and take part in interesting discussions: there's a series of wonderful fiction events that have been scheduled for you in this year’s Jewish Book Week (JBW), which takes place in London  from 20 to 28 February. 

A host of critically acclaimed, bestselling novelists including Tracy Chevalier, Esther Freud, Victoria Glendinning, Judith Kerr, Meg Rosoff and Anne Sebba, will be discussing their books, passions, ideas and personal experiences, over the festival’s nine day programme.

18/01/2016

THE LORDS OF THE NORTH BY BERNARD CORNWELL - BOOK REVIEW

The Lords of The North by Bernard Cornwell


The third installment of Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling series chronicling the epic saga of the making of England, “like Game of Thrones, but real” (The Observer, London) 
After achieving victory at King Alfred’s side, Uhtred of Bebbanburg is returning to his home in the North, finally free of his allegiance to the King—or so he believes. An encounter with a vicious slave trader introduces Uhtred to Guthred, the self-proclaimed King of Northumbria. Curious about Guthred’s astounding claim, Uhtred follows him north. But he soon discovers fate has another incredible surprise in store, and begins an unexpected journey that climaxes in the midnight siege of a city thought impregnable—a dangerous seige that results in the forging of England.
Lords of the North is Bernard Cornwell’s finest work yet—a breathtaking adventure, but it also tells the story of the creation of English identity, as the English and Danes begin to become one people, appropriating each other’s languages and, thrillingly, fighting side-by-side. (from Amazon.com)


How did I come to read it?


What drew me to reading “The Lords of the North”  was my surprising reaction to the BBC TV series “The Last Kingdom” based on the first two books in Bernard Cornwell’s  saga. I loved the series, which I honestly didn’t expect when I had a look at it by chance. 
I was actually doing something for my job, looking for interesting exciting video materials to make my lessons about medieval history less plain. How can one make teenagers love that complicated period in British history when Alfred the Great managed to unite all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and defeated the Vikings? Show them a trailer and a few clips from a TV series which turns cold facts into cool stuff. Could Uhtred’s adventures among the Saxons and the Vikings work the magic?

11/01/2016

PERIOD & MORE PERIOD - "MR HOLMES" AND "SUFFRAGETTE"


Are you in for a couple of good recommendations? Movies this time. The latest I've seen and liked, both released in theatres in the last months of 2015: Mr Holmes starring Sir Ian McKellen, directed by Bill Condon and based on 2005 Mitch Cullin's "A Slight Trick of the Mind", and Suffragette with a stellar cast including Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai, Helena Bonham-Carter, Meryl Streep, Ben Whishaw and Samuel West and directed by Sarah Gavron.

Ian McKellen as the retired Sherlock Holmes with little Milo Parker (Photograph: Allstar/BBC Films)

06/01/2016

MY KIDS GROW UP AND THEY'RE PRETTY SPECIAL - KIKA, EDO & THE SINGING OF THE TREES

In November you met Maria Sofia, studying Arabic and giving a helping hand in Palestine. In December, Emanuele, living in Milan and working as a software developer. After them, the first of my former students I want to introduce you in 2016 is Edoardo , Edo,  with his lovely girlfriend, Federica, aka Kika. They live in Salento, Contrada Lusci is their place and a lifestyle, about which they write on their blog. They are a special couple and I'm glad to share their story with you all.  
It is a story of love, peace, beauty, respect for nature and every living being, hope and incredible adventures.

*****************************************************

Edoardo was one of my students, he left school eleven years ago and he is a young man in his thirties now. I met him again a couple of months ago because he and his lovely partner, Federica, presented a very original project, a book + CD,  here in my town and I was invited to the event by friends and colleagues.

Obviously teenagers change once they turn into men and women but what surprised me most meeting Edoardo again was how totally different his posture, attitude, smile, speaking voice and look were. He looked and sounded relaxed, calm, focused and imperturbable. His eyes and his smile were warming, welcoming, peaceful. Well, actually, both Kika and Edo are the embodiment of the word “peaceful” and  both have a special smiling light in their eyes which speaks volumes of their inner world.  

01/01/2016

BOOK BLAST & GIVEAWAY - BROKEN THINGS TO MEND BY KAREY WHITE

broken things to mendBroken Things to Mend by Karey White

***This book is part of a multi-author project that features one recurring character--the match maker--but it is a STAND-ALONE novel.***

 Celia is in desperate need of a change--a change of scenery, a change of pace, and a complete redo of all relationships. Not knowing what else to do, she opens a map, closes her eyes, and lets fate decide her future. Then she packs her meager belongings and buys a one-way ticket to a little town on the fringes of Oregon's Deschutes National Forest called Sisters. She's wanted a family for years. Will she find one in Sisters? What Celia doesn't plan to find is a strange Chinese woman whose meddling ways keep throwing her in the path of a handsome, but reserved, forest ranger. But no matter how kind or dependable Silas seems to be, there are some things in Celia's past that neither of them can escape, and this time, the damage might be too much to mend.

  amazon get it

add to goodreads

31/12/2015

PERIOD & MORE PERIOD - MY BEST FAVOURITE COSTUME DRAMA SERIES OF 2015

2015 has been a blessed year for period drama lovers, hasn't it? What costume series have you watched and loved? Here are mine.

...


Outlander 

The second part of season one was gripping, tough, dark, a rollercoaster of emotions. Never suffered as much as while watching ep.15/16 for any TV series! Unforgettable performances by Mr Heughan and Mr Menzies. Looking forward to Jamie & Claire's  French adventures!

Poldark

The original TV series was pivotal in my life, it started my love for everything British. The new version was mesmerizing, so romantic and beautiful! Aidan Turner? Well, yes, I happened to notice his charming looks from time to time.

20/12/2015

BOOK BLAST & GIVEAWAY - THE SECRET LIFE OF DAYDREAMS BY LUCINDA WHITNEY

 
Secret Life of DaydreamsThe Secret Life of Daydreams by Lucinda Whitney

Six years after a painful divorce, Josh Conrad is happy traveling the world as a photographer. When he arrives in Portugal, he plans to complete the assignment as quickly as possible. What he doesn’t plan for is Sofia, the girl he baptized eleven years earlier on an LDS mission, and soon he’s making excuses to prolong his trip.Sofia Monteiro leads a structured life in Braga, Portugal, teaching high school by day and caring for her mother by night. After she reconnects with Josh through mutual friends, the memory of a failed relationship and her new graduate program are enough reasons to stay away from him. As they collaborate on a project, Josh is wary of repeating his old mistakes and Sofia hesitates to spend time with an American who’s only passing through. Can two people with wounded hearts bring themselves to trust their dreams to each other?

Excerpt

amazonSofia walked back to meet Josh and they strolled together past the deck at the reception center and the start of the trail. She unfolded the map and held it up between them.She pointed at the spots of interest. “This is the suggested route. The main road goes up the hill to the western fortification wall. At the acropolis, there’s another wide road that intersects in the opposite direction.” She circled several areas. “These areas are the residential nucleus and along the way we can see the remains of the round dwellings and the more common rectangular ones.” There was more but she looked up to Josh. “Are you okay with following this route?” “I’m here to follow you.” He swept his right arm in front of her. “Just lead the way.” Sofia straightened and pocketed the map. Josh carried too much and she hesitated. “Wouldn’t it be easier for you to use the equipment if I carry the backpack?” He paused for a moment and surveyed the area then chuckled. “Sneaky, aren’t you? I know what you’re trying to do here.” 

19/12/2015

PERIOD & MORE PERIOD - A VERY PERIOD CHRISTMAS TIME

I'm so happy this holiday season will be pretty special.  It'll be a very period Christmas time, you know? Period as in period drama, great costume series, unforgettable emotions. Here's my holiday period calendar, which I'm glad to share with all of you. Are you ready? Bookmark this post or take notes, if you are a period drama freak like me! (for more info about the shows, click on the links below the pictures)

25th December 2015 - Call the Midwife Christmas Special 7.30 p.m. on BBC1

25th December  2015 - Downton Abbey Christmas Special and final episode ... for good! Tissues ready. ITV 1 9 p.m.

18/12/2015

TO SEND OR NOT TO SEND ... THEM A CHRISTMAS CARD?


In the era of everything digital, do we still choose, buy and send personalized Christmas cards to family and friends living far from us? I definitely love them but, honestly, have been using them - especially printed ones - less and less in the latest years, preferring e-cards, which are entertaining, colourful, interactive, sendable in one click and which can be found at a very cheap price or even for free online.  Anyway, if you still are indecisive about what to do,  Grammarly is here, as usual, with funny, helpful tips to help you face and solve your doubts. To send or not to send? And then, what type of cards and to whom?

16/12/2015

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY - THE TRAITOR'S TRAP

Traitor's Trap


traitors trap
The Traitor's Trap by Brendan Murphy


 It’s tough being a thirteen-year old schoolboy, especially when you’re a coward and the big brother who stuck up for you is dead. Oh, and you’ve been thrust into a magical realm you’re expected to save single-handedly. Sebastian Duffy has to learn an awful lot of skills in a hurry if he is to defeat Phobitor by stealing the Spear of Lugh from the peace-loving Tuath. He’s been given some help of course–a mercurial sorceress, an orphaned druidess, a taciturn warrior, a snuff-sniffing leprechaun and a lovelorn poet– an outfit known as the Hibernauts, but can he really overcome a psychopathic, warmongering god when half the realm is bent on his destruction? If he is to have the remotest chance he will have to do deal with aiia, cluricaun, brigands, woodwose, undead warriors, speckled bats, spies, hunkypunks, traitors, skeletons and battle-swine first. And are those Tuath really so peaceable? If only he could find his courage.


Praise for The Traitor's Trap 

 An imaginative epic…an intricate and fully realised fantasy world with a big cast of likeable characters that are charming, well drawn and endearing, with wonderfully apt names. The depth and breadth of the author’s high-voltage imagination, and the richness of the world created is very impressive. ~Sam Mills, author of Blackout, The Boys Who Saved the World, and The Quiddity of Will Self 

amazon get it

I cannot say just how much I have enjoyed this book ... a very accomplished writer with a wonderfully rich imagination and an incredibly inventive mind. Readers will come to love the many wonderful creations in this novel, it is jam-packed with the most wonderful and inventive characters; new, exciting and beautifully realized. ~Cherry Mosteshar, author of Unveiled: One Woman's Nightmare in Iran.

09/12/2015

SPOTLIGHT ON ... "WHEN THE LOST ACT LOST" BY TERRI BLACKSTOCK

If I Run tells the story of protagonist Casey Cox. When her life becomes complicated, she resorts to lies - even crime - to survive.  
Casey Cox has had her fair share of struggles, but after her best friend is found dead, Casey's life is turned upside down. When her DNA is found all over the crime scene, she knows talking to the police is useless; they have failed her abysmally before. At the age of 12, Casey found her father dead, and while police ruled it a suicide, she knew it wasn't. She's carried that great sense of injustice into adulthood, mistrusting all authority figures. Casey knows she has to flee before she's arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn't matter in her world anymore, and it certainly won't set her free.
 
War-weary veteran Dylan Roberts is hired to find Casey, but as experienced as he is at solving crimes, his personal problems can get in the way. PTSD forced Dylan from the Army, and adjusting to his new normal has not been easy. Dylan knows bringing Casey home could redeem both his life and career. Blackstock did extensive research into PTSD in preparation to write If I Run. "I was shocked to learn how many of our veterans are coming home from war with PTSD," she reveals. "If they don't get the help they need it can impact their relationships for the rest of their lives. There are treatments that are successful in helping them. It's a wound that is as deep as a physical wound, and it should be treated just as aggressively so they can live normal lives."

08/12/2015

MY KIDS GROW UP AND ... THEY' RE PRETTY SPECIAL - EMANUELE GIARLINI, LIVING IN ETERNAL BETA VERSION.

After Maria Sofia and her touching story from Palestine,  full of hope and enthusiasm, here is my second guest in this series dedicated to my former students and their successful careers in the world of work, university or research. 
Emanuele has always been the nerdish type with his love for fantasy books - "prof.,  what about  reading some good Tolkien pages in our classes"? -  rock music and computers. Achievement after achievement, he now lives in Milan, has an important job, works in a field he loves but still dreams to achieve more. He wrote this piece for my present pupils - see it on Learn Online - in order to share his love for Computer Science and pass a few good tips  to them.. 

Hello, I’m Emanuele and Mrs Spila was my English teacher during my high school years,  so I’m really proud to write a post for her blog.
Let’s see what happens when I try to sum up my whole life in a short post... Well, let’s start from the beginning. My high school career wasn’t that brilliant, mostly because I spent those years playing the guitar, listening to music and reading fantasy books. I was quite weir and it was really  hard for me to study something I couldn't  find cool, exciting or useful. So,  I have to admit, high school was really boring for me.

After leaving school  I had no idea of what I was going to do in my life so I enrolled to University, Computer Science Department of  La Sapienza, in Rome.

The first year was a nightmare! I couldn’t pass any Maths exam because they were so hard for me and I had no skills for programming.  Till then I hadn’t written a single line of code in my entire life. I started feeling really frustrated and, at the end of the first year, I started thinking that computer science wasn’t the right choice. However, I decided to resist just another year  before quitting definitely.

Guys, guess what? My second year was amazing!

I started  studying  hard, I totally changed my attitude and, finally, I discovered the creative and fun aspect of this world. I clearly remember those years, they were tough but, at the same time, challenging. I studied a bunch of new things every day and all classes where based on cutting edge technologies: algorithms, artificial intelligence, micro processors, data bases and other nerdy stuff I’d always loved!

30/11/2015

THEN COMES WINTER BLOG TOUR - MEET CHRISTINA BOYD + GIVEAWAY


Here is a new lovely collection to celebrate the festive season with great reads and the right mood. I posted about a writing contest back in June and maybe among the winners there may be one who entered it through FLY HIGH! and is now among the debuting authors published in "Then Comes Winter"! I'm really glad for all of them on their achievement. Congratulations and to greater success! The blog tour to promote this new Meryton Press anthology starts right out from our blog, here and today. To open it, a lovely guest post by the editor of the collection, Christina Boyd. Enjoy and don't miss the chance to win your copy (to enter the giveaway use the rafflecopter form below this post - the contest is open internationally)


********************************************************


Thank you so much for kicking off the Then Comes Winter blog tour at your gorgeous site, FLY HIGH! I have been a facebook fan since the autumn of 2011 so I am especially thrilled to be here.

Christina Boyd
It all started as an idea for one anthology and then someone at Merton Press suggested a summer theme anthology and then someone else suggested maybe a holiday collection. Or vice versa. I do not recall which was first. Eventually, I signed on to edit the summer anthology as 1) the editing would begin late winter and release early summer since 2) editing and promotion for a holiday anthology would be in full-swing during autumn and that is my busiest time of the year with my pottery business for holiday purchase orders, and 3) anyone that knows me, knows that winter is my third, if not fourth favorite season. So, yes the sensible choice for me would be to edit the summer anthology. Long story made short (no pun intended), after months of wrangling an amazing group of authors from many different time zones, June 1, 2015, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer was born. Sometime in those heady, early days of publication, the publisher at Meryton Press announced the editor who had originally been slated to edit the holiday anthology had a conflicting commitment, and asked if any of the Meryton Press’s editors were interested. I was still on a publishing high, much like after child birth when you hold your baby for the first time and you have forgotten all about the agony and are all about the hope. Of course, I raised my hand. After all, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” John Steinbeck

28/11/2015

PERIOD & MORE PERIOD - UHTRED, THE NEW HERO FROM THE KINGDOM OF BBC

Played by Alexander Dreymon, Uhtred is the protagonist of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales book saga, adapted for the screen as The Last Kingdom. As the first season is going to wrap with episode 8 - on BBC America tonight  and  on BBC Two in two weeks -  I'd like to share with you what was that drew me to this historical fiction series so distant from my tastes. 

I started watching it by chance, sure I wouln't like it and wouldn't go past the first episode, as it had previously happened with widely popular series set in  a wild, distant past like Game of Thrones, Vikings or The Bastard Executioner. 

What lit the spark, instead? Well, I think Uhtred is to blame. I felt immediate sympathy for this unconventional, smart, ironic, fearless character. I couldn't stop watching and have been looking forward to any new episode. 

27/11/2015

LIESEL, DEATH AND THE POWER OF WORDS - THE BOOK THIEF BY MARKUS ZUSAK

The Book Thief 

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION - THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH
It's a small story, about:
a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
and quite a lot of thievery.

ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW - DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES

Liesel, Death and The Power of Words

I read this book out of curiosity,  since I heard about it from my students.  After reading it myself, I made up my mind to work on both book and its movie adaptation with one of my classes this year and added both to a section of my syllabus, which consists of a series of readings dedicated to the theme The Power of Words.

20/11/2015

BOOK BLAST & GIVEAWAY - ROMAN'S HOLIDAY BY SUSAN AYLWORTH

Roman's holiday cover

Roman's Holiday by Susan Aylworth




Four years after Roman Kincaid was catapulted into stardom as a country-western singer and A-list movie star, he is burned out: exhausted by a grueling schedule, drained by the ceaseless demands of producers and managers, weary of meeting the needs of others at the expense of his own. Leaving a sold-out show in Phoenix, he rents a car and drives north and east, landing in the Painted Desert town of Rainbow Rock.
Nearly three years after leaving her old life behind, Lottie Beale is feeding people and baking pies, managing the Kachina Café and tending secrets of her own. When circumstances conspire to give two attractive people some time alone together amid the world-class vistas of the Four Corners, they discover more than either had bargained for.

  Read an Excerpt


“Ro-man! Ro-man!” A capacity crowd in the Ak-Chin Pavilion chanted his name under the starry desert sky, but Roman Kincaid barely heard it. He stood in the stage wings, gearing up for an encore and wondering when his dream had become a nightmare. “Okay, guys,” he said to his back-up band via their ear buds. “One encore only. Let’s do ‘Gamble.’ Start with the chorus.” He took two steps toward the stage entrance, swinging his guitar into playing position. Sam, his manager, caught his

17/11/2015

WHEN PC MEANT POLICE CONSTABLE - SPOTLIGHT ON ... JAMES ROBERTS AND HIS PARDON ME: A VICTORIAN FARCE.

Pardon Me: A Victorian Farce

The year is 1896 and following a brief, if lively, spell in the diplomatic corps, Madagan Rùn is being executed for Treason. The prima facie case against him is compelling. Madagan coerced the normally temperate Dr Jameson into raiding the Boer Republic, then tipped off the Boers and pocketed a cheque for 30,000 krugerand.

Now here's the pity of it. All his unfathomable schemes have been driven by a selfless devotion to Queen, Country and Empire. Trouble is, to save himself he must perforce lay bare the grievously stained undercarriage of Victorian high-society: starting with fantastical revelations vis-à-vis the making, lending and subsequent mislaying of the world's first ever celebrity sex celluloid.

No less an august triumvirate than Cecil Rhodes, Joseph Chamberlain and Prince Victor Albert have reason aplenty to pray Madagan takes his secrets with him to the gallows. Sadly for them the florid and faintly familiar Mr Melmoth has just posted a Remington Typewriter® to the Tower and instructed his chum Maddy to tell the old Queen everything. Pardon Me.

15/11/2015

TEN FILMS THAT WILL SPARK YOUR WANDERLUST

, travel

(by guest blogger Jason Biondo)  Have you ever watched an inspiring film that gave you a serious case of wanderlust?  Movies are, in my book, one of the most influential and powerful mediums for inspiring a trip to a far-off place. From awe-inspiring landscapes to blissful and memorable adventures, movies can in many ways give you an irresistible urge to travel and see the world. As a matter of fact, motion pictures have encouraged countless of moviegoers from all corners of the world to duplicate some of the scenes they’ve seen on the big screen with their own escapades.
Looking for an inspiration for your next vacation? Check out this list of movies that have moved thousands of travelers to places all over the world in search of their own heavenly picture-perfect paradise.


Wild
Wild is the inspirational and heartwarming story of Cheryl Strayed – a courageous young woman who went on an eye-opening 1000-mile journey across the US, in the wake of her mother’s passing. Even though Cheryl had no previous experience in backpacking and solo traveling, she still was able to survive, flourish and conquer the famous Pacific Crest Trail on her own with very little help. Filmed in Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park and other picturesque places, this epic travel movie also romanticized the unforgiving and magnificent grandeur of the Pacific Crest Trail.