Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure by Andrew Cotto

 

The sights and culture of Italy form the backdrop for this incredible Italian adventure.

I just loved this book! In it I was transported from the first page, with American Jacoby Pines and his fiancée Claire, from my adoptive country of France into beautiful Italy. The author, Andrew Cotto, who lives in Brooklyn, is a writer whose articles have appeared in many national journals. He is also a teacher and has taught composition courses and creative writing workshops in New York City.  This Italian adventure is his third novel and in it his wonderful storytelling abilities shine through.

When the story begins the disheartened Jacoby is unemployed following an unfortunate incident at work, and he finds himself soaking up the food, culture and customs of Italy with his accomplished travel writer fiancée Claire.

Arriving in France, together they travel along the French Riviera, then onto the eye-opening Italian Autostrada, enjoying the marvellous coastal views, and staying at a beautiful coastal hotel. Then the next day they head inland to the villa they have rented, in the hills above Florence, for the coming year.

However, although they are primarily in the region for Claire’s assignment for the prestigious Haxby’s Travel Guide, Jacoby has his own agenda. Having never known his mother, he discovered upon the death of his father a box containing a photograph of a woman standing on a great lawn, and written on the back is ‘Villa Floria-Zanobini 1939.’ Thoroughly intrigued, the newly orphaned Jacoby looks upon this opportunity to join Claire at this disastrous stage in his career as the hand of fate at work.

With him, we join Claire on her research trips, as she travels the countryside meeting people from all walks of life. These experiences give the reader a wonderful introduction into the food and culture of this part of Italy, and a very entertaining look into the mentality of the Italian males’ mind, regarding women.

However, this story is primarily Jacoby’s adventure, and left to his own devices, he finally tracks down a Hotel Floria-Zanobini, which he discovers is run by another expat American, the eccentric Bill.

When he shows Bill his picture, its story begins to unfold, and an excited Jacoby finds himself beginning an incredible adventure, with Bill showing him the Italy he has become part of in the previous 35 years. Together the friends set out on a mission to track down the mysterious lady in the photograph and discover the link she has with Jacoby.

Encounters with wild boar, incredible museums and artwork, wonderful buildings, and the marvellous traditional recipes, wines, and experiences, this story has it all. The author brings Florence and the countryside surrounding it to life, as with Jacoby his readers embark on a fantastic voyage of discovery of the beautiful experiences this country has to offer. Whilst throughout the story the tumultuous love story between Jacoby and Claire rides a roller coaster, helped in no mean way by Claire’s outrageous cousin Dolores.

Whether you love Italy, dream of visiting it one day (like myself) or just want to enjoy an incredibly enjoyable book set in a beautiful part of the world, I thoroughly recommend this story as the best I have ever read!

About the Author:

Andrew Cotto is the award-winning author of three novels. He has written for The New York Times, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Parade, Maxim, The Huffington Post, Salon, Conde Nast Traveler, Italy magazine and more. Andrew has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Wasp’s Nest Roma Series Book Two by Gabriel Valjan

Action packed thriller.

Wasp's Nest: Roma Series, Book Two

Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing

ISBN 13: 978-0988184534

Language: English – 294 pages.

About Wasp’s Nest: In the highly anticipated sequel to Roma, Underground, Bianca returns to the U.S. for her former employer, the covert organization Rendition, to investigate Cyril Sargent and Nasonia Pharmaceutical. Although ambivalent about the assignment and uneasy about her online “friend,” Loki, she is enticed into researching what Sargent is doing with insect genetics that might upset the world of cancer research and treatment. Old friends Farrugia and Gennaro uncover a twisted conspiracy from their past and join Bianca in Boston where they will experience conflicted loyalties, question allies, and confront uncertain enemies, as they’re drawn into the wasp’s nest.

 

About Gabriel Valjan: Ronan Bennett short-listed Gabriel Valjan for the 2010 Fish Short Story Prize for his Boston noir, ‘Back in the Day.’ Gabriel’s short stories and some of his poetry continue to appear in literary journals and online magazines. He recently won first prize in ZOUCH Magazine’s inaugural Lit Bits Contest. He lives in New England. He is the author of the Roma Series, Book 1: Roma, Underground, Book 2: Wasp’s Nest, and Book 3: Threading the Needle, available from his publisher, Winter Goose Publishing, and in paperback or digital format from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Gabriel can be contacted through his publicist, Rachel Anderson at rachel@rmapublicity.com

 

Review by Susan Keefe

In this, the second book in the Roma Series, the story opens with Alabaster Black (alias Bianca Nerini) returning from Rome to Boston, Massachusetts, leaving behind her lover, Dante, and friends in Rome, Italy.

Rendition, her employer, a covert U.S. agency, has persuaded her to infiltrate Nasonia Pharmaceuticals, a drug manufacturing company owned by Cyril Sargent. Nasonia, is working on a revolutionary new drug using insect-based genetics to develop a new cancer-cure and Rendition want to know more.

Then, when Farrugia and Gennaro, her friends from the Rome, arrive in Boston for another reason, she discovers that leaving the past behind is not as simple as just getting on a plane; they bring some disturbing news for her, ghosts from the past have resurfaced…

I found Wasp’s Nest a compelling reading, action-packed and with intriguing characters. The plot had plenty of twists and turns, some surprising secrets, and it kept me on the edge of my seat, guessing until the very end.

Gabriel Valjan includes a tantalising glimpse into Book 3 of the Roma Series, Threading the Needle which I had read first, but I realized that the author created each volume independent of each other.

Available from:

Amazon in Paperback http://www.amazon.com/Wasps-Nest-Gabriel-Valjan/dp/0988184532/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1382357183&sr=8-1&keywords=wasps+nest+by+gabriel+valjan

Kindle here http://www.amazon.com/Wasps-Nest-Series-Gabriel-Valjan-ebook/dp/B00AG30TUM/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1382357273&sr=1-2&keywords=wasps+nest

Barnes & Noble in Paperback http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wasps-nest-gabriel-valjan/1117057227?ean=9780988184534

Nook Book http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wasps-nest-gabriel-valjan/1113729884?ean=2940015822762

The diary of a single parent abroad by Jill Pennington

 

 

The diary of a single parent abroad

 

 

About Jill Pennington: My name is Jill Pennington, I am a ‘Britalian’ originally from Yorkshire (England) and now living in Italy. I have three teenage children and a small farm in Emilia Romagna. I have written about life in the Italian mountains and have a follow up blog on facebook.

Facebook blog – http://www.facebook.com/TheDiaryOfASingleParentAbroad

About the Book: When Jill and her family moved to Italy she expected life to change but she had no idea how massive that change would be. Shortly after the move, she discovered her husband had been having an affair and had no intentions of staying in Italy.

Despite being in a foreign country with no income, limited language skills, a house that needed rebuilding and three young children to care for, she never once considered returning to the UK. With strength and determination she accepted any challenge, dismantling a derelict house to ground level, digging out a three metre deep well with her hands to get free water and overcoming her fear of the chainsaw to cut the winter wood. When there was very little money for food she made risotto with nettles collected from the roadside. She overcame many problems, learned new skills and discovered that money is not important, the only things in life that matter are health, happiness and her children.

Jill’s story is delivered with an ever present hint of humour because, as she says, ‘Without laughter life wouldn’t be funny’.

 

Review by Susan Keefe

 

I have to say first off that I loved this book.

I don’t honestly know whether it’s because I am English living in France or because I can relate to some of the situations Jill has had to deal with, or just because it is a really good story brilliantly told.

From a mother who enjoys renovating in the UK, to a single parent managing to settle her children and herself in a foreign land whilst coping with a tricky marriage split between two countries, I found her adventures entertaining and her portrayal of them no holds barred.

As the book progresses she gives a realistic glimpse of what it is really like to live in a different country than your homeland, especially when they speak a different language and really cannot understand you. Many books on renovating abroad are written as if money is no object and it is refreshing to read an account of what it is really like when you don’t have a lot of money yet still love where you have made your home. I also loved the way she so honestly describes how friendly the local neighbours can be in small communities, willing to offer help and support after they get to know you.

A really good story and I hope we get to hear more of Jill’s adventures.

 

Available at Amazon in Paperback here http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Single-Parent-Abroad/dp/1782996419/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378305322&sr=1-1&keywords=the+diary+of+a+single+parent+abroad+by+jill+pennington

 

and on Kindle here http://www.amazon.com/diary-single-parent-abroad-ebook/dp/B00871I0XS/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1378305322