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June 2019
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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

Your Reading for March

Hosting Hapless Helpers

by Karen Luff

Karen Luff, the author, left her native UK with her husband and five year old son for a new life in France over 12 years ago. The large house they fell in love with is called Le Chataignier, and it came with a cottage, several barns and land.
Like many expats they dreamt of running a smallholding and renting out holiday cottages. It wasn’t until they had settled in to their new home and took stock of all the things which needed doing that the size of their project, the amount of work, and sheer manpower needed to accomplish it all fully dawn on them.
However, when a relative regaled them with tales of his exploits on a working holiday Karen quickly realised that having helpers living in to assist with the work was the way forward. Nothing could have prepared them for the rollercoaster ride which was to become their lives from then on, and continues still today…
One of the primary reasons for writing this book, Karen says, is that having a complete stranger in your home can be hard work, also there are cultural and language problems, amongst others to overcome. She quickly realised that an ‘open letter’ on their Facebook page was needed for all prospective helpers to read prior to them applying to visit. This letter is in the book, and the reasons for each point, and the results of them not being adhered to make entertaining reading for people who like something different and sneak peaks into other people’s lives, and essential reading for anyone considering having helpers to stay and work on their project.
In Hosting Hapless Helpers Karen offers invaluable advice backed by comprehensive experience. You will find yourself laughing, crying and experiencing every emotion in-between within its pages, just remember that all the events and situations really happened…

Available from Amazon


My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream (Audiobook)

by Janine Marsh

In this totally captivating audiobook we discover that people really do buy a house in another country on impulse. In fact, the author Janine Marsh did just that on a wet and windy February cross channel day out with her husband Mark, and Dad.
Townies Janine and Mark threw caution to the wind, and jumped in with both feet, buying and renovating a run-down French farmhouse. So what made these sensible people with their feet firmly on career paths do such a rash thing? Well, quite simply it was the love of France and everything (well almost) French.
I am an expat but even if you are not, I am sure, you will like me fall in love with the North of France, the Seven Valleys region, its coastline, seaside and country villages, the gastronomy, its people and so much more. This story isn’t just a wonderful way to enjoy experiencing someone else’s life in another country, it is a way to get a real feel for what living in France is really like – warts and all.
It is amazing also to listen about the transformations which can easily happen to someone when they go to live in another country, the new skills we discover, and how anything seems possible.
Throughout this audiobook there is plenty of information about, food, history, renovation, quirky sayings, and not least the enormous differences between our two cultures, even though we are only separated by the English Channel.
The narrator, Ester Wane wonderfully tells this story, so whether you are looking for a highly entertaining story to listen to, considering moving to France and want to know what really motivates anyone to give up a successful career and life in the UK to make the move, or are going on holiday to France and would like a little insider information, this is the audiobook for you!

Available from Amazon


THE STARLIGHT CLUB 9: Una Morte Facile (An Easy Death)

by Joe Corso

What daughter doesn’t love listening to her father’s stories, and this exciting new Starlight Club adventure opens with Lynn, devoted daughter of Bobby, waiting for her father to return from a visit to Queens, where he hopes to see some old friends.

When he arrives safely home they settle down with a coffee and some Sambuca, and Bobby tells Lynn of his day, and how it had bought back memories of a troubling period in 1975 when the Sicilians had arrived in Queens and set up in business selling drugs.

You see, Big Red Fortunato, owner of the Starlight Club, despite having his fingers in many pies did not condone drugs and prostitution on the streets of Queens. So when the word got back to him that the Zips were peddling drugs, he wasted no time in sending out his men to get more information, and after a ‘meeting’ with the Sicilians, he eventually discovered who the leader of the cartel was.

Determined to keep drugs of his streets, and with a fortuitous legitimate excuse for visiting Sicily, Red, Tarzan and Trenchie set off to meet Antonio Andolino, the person responsible for sending the Zips over, and the leader of one of the largest drug cartels in the world.

Used to being feared, Antonio has never met the likes of Red before and as the meeting deteriorates it is clear that the problem is not going to be solved simply.

In this powerful, exciting story we follow Red and his gang as they travel between Queens and Sicily, and very early on find ourselves fascinatingly ensconced in the world of the Sicilian mafia, with their proud honour, sense of family, blood oaths, and revenge killings.

This enthralling story brings together many of the past very memorable characters in the Starlight Club books, and if you are a fan, like me your will quickly remember them like old friends, however if this is the first book in the series you have read, it doesn’t matter, as everything is wonderfully explained and you will find yourself sinking into this excellent plot and its larger than life personalities with ease.

The author has managed through his amazing storytelling to bring the streets of Queens and the atmosphere of Sicily magically to life, in weaving together a clever story which includes drama, murder, mayhem, and kidnapping.

A really gripping thriller, reading The Starlight Club, An Easy Death, with its twist and turns, will keep you riveted to the page, and keen to know what will happen next, I highly recommend it.

Available from Amazon


Lakewood: Reggie and Anita’s Camelot

by Reggie Hill

For Reggie, Lakewood had been his childhood playground a place for him to explore, learn about nature, and make memories with his beloved Granny Good. Reggie’s grandfather had built a lake on his land there between 1942 and 1943. Post war gasoline was not available and ‘so the lake was built with pans pulled by mules and driven by men.’ Isn’t that amazing, a seven acre lake and a dam built solely by man and animal, surrounded by woods and fields, truly heaven!

Back then Daniel and Annabel Hinson, Reggie’s grandparents recognised what a special place Lakewood was and spent many Sunday afternoons in their trusty pickup atop the highest mountain at Lakewood lovingly gazing down the mountain to the lake.

When Reggie inherited Lakewood from them, he and his wife Anita decided to build a house on the land. Over the years they have been fortunate enough to live in this very special place, observing nature and the seasons. Through their busy careers they have always had Lakewood to return to and have enjoyed the peace and solitude there. This beautiful place, their piece of heaven has a bounty of wildlife, fish in the lake, and has furnished them with wondrous memories, and now they are sharing them with us the readers of this lovely book.

Each page is like a slice of paradise, with beautiful poems about the animals and nature which surrounds Lakewood. Interspersed with these are snippets of Reggie’s memories, precious words which transport us from our modern busy lives into a bygone era, a time when people had time to stand and stare, and children were given time to grow without a keyboard, mobile phone or educational stages to accomplish. I found this wonderful as I too was lucky, I had a childhood like this abet on another continent, and this lovely book brought back memories of special times with my grandparents.

This little book gives its reader something very unique, a place to retreat, far from the madding crowd. The memories, old photographs and anecdotes Reggie shares, and the visions of the natural world which share Lakewood with him make it very special, a book not just to sit on the book shelf but to be carried around until its pages curl and it becomes part of your life. I loved it!

Available from Amazon


Forgive Me: Nadia

by Veronika Gasparyan

From then on life has other cruel cards to deal Natalia, and it is incredible that one young woman could suffer so much hardship and sorrow, through no fault of her own. However, Natalia’s strong faith, kind heart and compassion to others is a true inspiration, and it is heart-warming to read how she transforms the lives and futures of those who know her with the beauty of her spirit.

Unfortunately it is a horrific fact that sex-slave trafficking is still going on in Moscow, and throughout the world, and very young children are sold and stolen to provide sexual gratification for cruel and perverted adults.

This story brings the plight of one of these children to the attention of its reader. Natalia’s life and what happens next in Nadia’s makes compelling reading.

The author’s attention to detail about the life of Natalia both as a sex slave and afterwards makes parts of it heart-breaking. However, perhaps the most shocking thing is that it is based on a true story, somewhere out there this woman exists…

Available from Amazon


Sloths: Life in the Slow Lane

by Dr. Rebecca Cliffe

This outstandingly beautiful, and highly informative book is a celebration of the sloth, and a masterpiece. It is the combination of the knowledge of the author, Dr. Rebecca Cliffe, a British zoologist and one of the world’s foremost authorities on sloths, and the incredible photography of renowned award-winning wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas.

Dr. Rebecca Cliffe has been working with these amazing animals since 2010, and she is Founder and Executive Director of The Sloth Conservation Foundation.

The intrepid pair have spent months in mosquito ridden rain forests, and on an isolated uninhabited island, patiently gaining the trust of these remarkable creatures in order gain a better understanding of them. It is this dedication which enabled Suzi Eszterhas to get such beautiful pictures of these shy animals, and their young.

The book is packed with fascinating facts about all six species of sloths, including the reason that they were named sloth, after one of the seven deadly sins. We think of sloths as lazy couch potatoes, however we soon discover that there are very good reasons for their slow speed, including some very unique physical features, and we learn how these have attributed to them surviving for over sixty million years. I knew of Sloths, however it was not until I started reading this book that I realised how very little both I, and I would imagine the majority of people actually know about these astonishing animals. In so many ways they are unique! Their evolution which has gained them the reputation of the slowest form of existence has resulted in a totally different creature to any other species on earth, physically, internally, their metabolism , the incredible variety of wildlife which lives within their fur, and in so many other ways.

Dr. Rebecca Cliffe explains, and shows in the book, how it is now possible to study these fascinating creatures like never before, using tracking backpacks which record a range of data, such as the sloths movements, when it feeds, and much more.

However there is a very serious side to this book. The author wanted to bring to the attention of the public the plight of sloths. We learn that every day hundreds of animals fall victim to the progress of man, with urbanisation and land development, in South, and Central America, their home. The Sloth Conservation Foundation (SloCo) is dedicated to saving sloths in the wild. They tirelessly work on campaigning for underground power lines to preserve the forest and the planting of new forest corridors for the animals. They carry out tree surveys, and are dedicated to the international education programmes which educate the local communities, and reduce the poaching of sloths for the pet and tourist photo industry.

If you would like to help The Sloth Conservation Foundation you can find out the wide varieties of ways you can make a difference at the back of the book.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with a love of nature, not only is it a beautiful book to own, but also there is so much to learn about these wonderful creatures within its pages.

Available from Amazon


Dynomike: Love Bug

by Frankie B. Rabbit

Valentine’s Day is a special day where people express their love, however the power of love, and the feeling of being loved every day is immeasurable. Hugs are something which hopefully all children receive a lot of, and in this very special children’s book the power of a hug to show someone how much they are loved and cared for is explained to children in a very simple way.

Dynomike discovers how the power of love can change your world from sad to happy, and how caring makes the world of difference.

At the beginning we find Dynomike sad and searching for love, then, luckily he runs in to his old friend Barry McDoug.

It may be cold, and the snow may be falling, but with a big bear hug Barry McDoug makes Dynomike very happy and awakens his love bug.

Suddenly Dynomike realises the magical powers of the love bug, and what’s more, that it is contagious!
Armed with the knowledge that a hug will unlock the power of the love bug, together Dynomike and McDoug set off around town. As they spread the love to people and groups, it’s not long before everyone realises how blue days can become sunny with a magical hug.

The message in this wonderful, beautifully illustrated book is clear, it is in everyone’s power to brighten up someone’s day with a hug, and with this simple gesture the recipient feels better and knows they are loved.

This is a book to treasure and one which I think will be loved by all children.

Available from Amazon


Tricycle and Friends: The True Life Adventures of a Three-Legged Golden Retriever and His Rescued Farm Animal Friends

by Lester Aradi

This wonderful children’s books is about a three legged retriever called Tricycle who is adopted by a family, and goes to live at their farm.
Once there, he meets Buckaroo, the miniature donkey. The two quickly become friends, and Buckaroo introduces Tricycle to some of the other animals. Many are adopted too. He soon discovers that there are all sorts, not only other dogs, but horses, llamas, chickens, and honey bees.
Every one has their own story to tell, and no one cares that Tricyce has only three legs, in fact they are interested to know how he lost it, and if it bothers him. He in return discovers that all his new friends have their own stories to tell, and that the farm is a magical place where they can all live together in harmony.
Through the talented storytelling of Lester Aradi, and the wonderful illustrations of Darwin Marfil, children learn in a very gentle way, through the experiences of Tricycle and his friends, how being different is okay, and as the book progresses they learn about bullying, the importance of adopting animals, and many other things.
That this beautiful Golden Retriever and the farm, with its animals actually exist is the icing on the cake – one day perhaps I will be lucky enough to visit!

Available from Amazon pre-order

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