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

Your reading for October from Susan Keefe

La Petite Josette en Provence

by Ashley Davidson-Fisher

France captured the hearts of southern California born and raised author Ashley and her husband Michael in 2003, when they arrived in Provence with their four young children. Ashley was studying abroad for degrees in French Culture Studies and Business, and whilst Ashley participated in her university work, Michael and the children became immersed in the French culture and language.

Trips out exploring their adopted country led to a love of the region, and after returning to the USA to complete her degrees, Ashley and her husband returned with their youngest child to Provence in 2010.

It is perhaps these experiences into the French way of life as an expat which inspired Ashley to create this clever little story. It is written primarily in English, but also has many phrases written, and explained in French also. I think this enriches the story and enables the reader to enjoy a truly bilingual experience.

The setting is the beautiful village of Les Baux-de-Provence. It is a listed heritage site, is noted as “one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France” (“Station classée”). Its ruined castle, and history make it the ideal foil for the wonderful journey of discovery, which La Petite Josette and her big sister Anne-Laure embark upon in this story.

There is great excitement in the household, the family are going for a day out! The girls can’t wait for mum to pack the picnic, and dad to get the car ready. Eagerly they watch the beautiful countryside, the vast vineyards, and olive groves go by on their way to their hilltop destination, Les Baux-de-Provence. However it is the village’s hilltop ruined castle which captivates the girls’ imagination.

As they look around it, papa explains its history, and the girls are caught up in the atmosphere, looking over the ramparts, seeing the village below, and even some troglodyte caves!

What an exciting day, they have, there is so much to see and do! But all good things must come to an end, and it is two tired girls who return home at the end of a wonderful day, and clutched in her hand La Petite Josette holds a very special souvenir.

A lovely story, one to be treasured forever, beautifully illustrated by the author and her husband’s talented daughter Martinique Louise Fisher. – Highly Recommended!

Available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/Petite-Josette-en-Provence/dp/0464923077/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537888454&sr=8-1&keywords=la+petite+josette+en+provence

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One Pilgrim’s Tips, Tricks, Advice, Stories and Insights for the Next Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago


by Scott E. Bell


Confession time, I brought this book because I am longing to hike the Camino de Santiago and I wanted a honest to goodness, personal opinion of what it is really like to do this amazing walk.

I couldn’t have chosen a better book. The author Scott Bell somehow manages to encourage his readers to participate in the Camino whilst giving a warts ‘n all, no holds barred account of his own journey.

Scott starting his adventure at Saint Pied du Port in southern France, although there are various starting points. As we walk this beautiful, historical, journey with him he not only honestly gives his opinions on the sheer physical and mental strain which is put on the body, but he then offers advice on how to overcome them.

Of course on such a long route, accommodation is also very important, and the author discusses the various types of accommodation available, and the pros and cons of each, including some nasty little critters.

For some people the Camino is a spiritual journey, for others it gives them the time to find themselves, some are youth groups, friends, and others are families. During his travels he met and befriended many people from across the world, each with their own story, and reason for doing the Camino, and so human interest stories abound throughout the book.

The one overwhelming thing about this book is that it is truly one man’s journey, recounted with the purpose of helping others discover not only what they will need to undertake it, but also what they don’t need. The size of your backpack and weightiness of unnecessary gear is discussed and recommendations given by the self-named ‘snail’ of the route.

As the author says, the Camino de Santiago is different for each person, and during their journey that person will discover things about themselves they never knew before.

I found this book totally enthralling, and reading it, the author has inspired me to walk my own Camino when I can. I have to say though that even if you have no intention of doing the Camino, this book is jam packed with wonderful information about the villages and landscapes which the walk goes through and it is littered with historically interesting facts. – Highly Recommended!

Available from Amazon in Kindle format https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pilgrims-Stories-Insights-Pilgrim-Santiago-ebook/dp/B07CXKNNS9/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537888631&sr=1-1&keywords=pilgrim…+scott+e+bell

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Swerve: The Little bastards 2

by Jim Lindsay

In SWERVE, we return with Jim Lindsay to America in the 1950’s, the era of rock n’ roll, fast cars seemingly eternal youth. Discover what it was like to live that life, with the thrills and consequences captured in this exciting sequel to his unforgettable The Little Bastards.

The story opens with the main character Sonny Mitchell’s parents reading in the news of the antics, (which happened at the end of the last book) their son had been up to and their outcome. At this point I would like to say that although this is a sequel, this book happily stands alone.

Sonny soon discovers that once his notoriety settles down he still has a lot about life to learn. The Little bastards are growing up, yet being typical boys, they cling onto their youth, and through the authors vividly descriptive writing, the reader tumbles through Sonny and his friend’s lives experiencing through them the fun, freedom, and innocence, which young people enjoyed at this time. Their antics are wide and varied, from tracking down the local legend Lucifer, discover girls, larking around, getting into scrapes, and finding out ways of making money so they could do up their precious cars, you name it they are up to it.

However, despite their fun ways and the thrills and spills of the drag racing scene, the boys are growing up. With his friends beginning to get serious and his own hormones rising, Sonny knows there is only one girl for him, but can he overcome her father’s prejudices and prove himself a worthy suitor?

Refreshingly open and entertaining, Swerve really does allow the reader to time travel back to an era which had so much to offer which was new and full of potential. And yet, through Sonny we glimpse underneath the ‘brave new world’ façade and discover the traditional outlook of the older generation at this time, and how totally revolutionary this era really was to them.

A wonderful story, not a biography, yet it could be as the author has put so much of his memories of his childhood into it. Highly recommended.

 Available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/Swerve-Little-Bastards-Jim-Lindsay/dp/1732637903/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537888703&sr=1-1&keywords=swerve%3A+the+little+bastards+2


Under the Escalator

by George M. C. Held

Language: English
Publisher: Filsinger & Co. Ltd.
ISBN-13:  978-0916754235
Price: $12.00 – 16 Pages
Genre: Children’s Book

George Held is the author of 20 poetry books, including the wonderful ‘NEIGHBORS’ series of children’s books which were loved by my nature loving little granddaughter. He is a former English professor, who holds degrees from Brown, the University of Hawaii, and Rutgers, and he also taught on a Fulbright in Czechoslovakia.

In this new release children’s book, written in rhyme, he explores the world of fantasy, and this story is an excellent introduction to this genre for children.

The story centres around an escalator, a common mode of transport for many years enabling people to reach to different levels in buildings. However, even some adults are unsure of them, the way the steps appear in front of you, then suddenly they slip away flat at the end…

What would happen if you didn’t get off?

Well, in this mysterious yet exciting story, a boy decides to ride the escalator all the way around, just to see what is under it. This captivated the imagination of my granddaughter, and she was fascinated to discover who, or what was under it, and what happened to him on his little adventure.

This is a very clever story is very engaging, and a great way to open conversations with young children. It has been wonderfully and vividly illustrated by the talented Bryan Canniff.

Available from Amazon in Paperback  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Under-Escalator-George-M-Held/dp/0916754235/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537888814&sr=1-1&keywords=under+the+escalator
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