Book Review: Big Miracles by Joanna Garzilli… jewelry in Florence, Italy

78369de7-95b5-49a6-b8e6-ddbc79271ef3A few days ago I was at the bookstore. It’s my favorite place to be besides browsing jewelry shop windows in Italy. When my children were young, if we were in Florence, of course, I would have to look at the jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio. My younger daughter would tell me, “Mama, promise, no looking in the windows, we are going for gelato.”

This is funny, because if any of you have been to Florence and have walked across the Ponte Vecchio, you KNOW it is IMPOSSIBLE to walk across the bridge and not look at jewelry. All the shops sell jewelry. The bridge is glittering in white, yellow and rose gold!

I would kid her that she was half Italian, jewelry was in her DNA. One day, I might be telling her not to look in the windows. As she gave me a scowl, I would give a grin and say, “I promise, I will do my BEST to walk in the middle of the road.” See photo, I did a zig zagging walk across the bridge. Can you picture it?  Look in one window to the right, have her pull me to the center, then go to the left, look in one window, have her pull me to the center! It was most amusing.

43a807e3-0894-4785-9fce-bc9248d95e75Guess what – NOW, she is at the age where she sends me photos of jewelry she likes. I KNEW this would happen!

Back to the bookstore. As it is a new year, there was a table full of motivational / spiritual types of books. Browsing through them, I found this book about “Big Miracles,” by Joanna Garzilli.

It’s a book about connecting with your Spirit. One thing she brought up, which I had never heard of, was experiencing the “dark night of the soul.” She talks about when she experienced this period and soon after met her husband. She explains that “the dark night of the soul,” is when we are going through a period of hopelessness/despair, it’s not depression, we are low, but somehow we know we must rid ourselves of negativity, so we can move toward happiness. She spoke about uncontrollable crying and illness that wouldn’t go away. She realized later that her soul was releasing the part of her that felt unlovable, because shortly after this she met her future husband.

She has some interesting insights. I think with each book we read, we gain a little more knowledge that helps us in self discovery, focusing on our vision and destiny in life. Some years we are right on target, other years it is slow moving and then suddenly it seems our hard work pays off and we are catapulted into the happiness and success we have been focusing on.

Life, it’s not easy, but if we focus on the goal — WE GET THERE!

Books: Do you have one that really made you “think?”

9F251DD9-289A-465B-912A-71DCC1758A83Someone asked me if I read a book that really made me “think” about life and moved me. I said, “YES,” immediately, because I came across Anita Moorjani’s book, “Dying to Be Me,” a few years ago and I still think about different parts of her book.

One day, I was watching Dr. Wayne W. Dyer on television, he was giving one of his inspirational talks. In the middle of the show, he said he wanted to introduce us to a woman he had met who had an interesting story. In walked, Anita Moorjani.

Moorjani began to share her story of having cancer and how she was in the hospital, went out of her body, was able to see her very sick self and reflect on “how” she could have ended up that way. As she says on the cover of the book, she decided that she wanted to live and once she re-entered her body in the hospital, she knew she was going to be CANCER FREE.

After watching Dyer’s show, I was curious to read Moorjani’s book. What I liked about her book is that she starts from her childhood to tell the story of her life and how she feels she got cancer. It’s a very interesting book.

If you are pressed for reading time, you can view her TEDx Bay Area.

Sometimes a book like this crosses our path, which makes us “think” about life.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

20F7A794-B126-42B9-8F49-3A441FBF6155Today was the first day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I got there by fast train from Florence. Then it was an easy 10 minute bus ride from train station to the conference center.

Upon entering the hall, it was exciting to see all the books as you can imagine. I was amazed at how International this Fair was. Countries from all over the world had booths. Some booths were big, some small, it didn’t matter, they were ALL showing off their best selling books.

This fair is mainly used for the buying and selling of rights to books. So, in ALL the booths you could see “major” meetings going on and orders being taken.

China was the Guest of Honor. They gave different speeches with the Mayor of Bologna. Their booth showcased their Chinese authors and illustrators. They also had a specific booth displaying the work of their BEST illustrators.

I went to check out the Literary Agents Center. There was a strong buzz in the air. This is where authors and illustrators, who have set up appointments, meet with agents to pitch their books!

8A26E60E-A794-41C9-8FDB-2F554A80CB9AThis is what the board looked like, I don’t know what those numbers next to their names were. It was too busy for me to ask someone, people didn’t want to miss their appointments by answering my questions.

I finally made it to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair! So glad I went.

Oh, I could tell I was a book fair beginner, because I forgot to bring a BIG bag to put all the pamphlets that I would gather in. The book show veterans had roller bags!

Free Library is back! Expats in Hong Kong, finding prayer…

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You never know what you are going to find on a walk. A friend of mine sent me a picture of this Little FREE Library she found. I continue to be amazed at how creative these neighborhood libraries can be. Normally, I see them as big bird houses, but this was indeed different. I asked her to see what books they had inside.

Take a look, one book called, “The Expatriates” by Janice Y.K. Lee about three female expats in Hong Kong. Then a second book called, “The Water Will Hold You / A Skeptic Learns to Pray,” by Lindsey Crittenden.

Two books, so different. I looked them up online, click on the links. I downloaded and started reading the second book by Crittenden. It’s a bit sad, it deals with family issues. At the same time, the author learns to find prayer and how she does that is interesting.

So, if you walk by a library, stop and take a peek, who knows what you’ll find!

Mongolia: Delivering books by Camel — Jambyn Dashdondog author

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What happens when you take a camel and add some books to it?  You got it, you have a Camel Bookmobile! As I love books, I was thrilled to read a story about books being delivered by camel.

Let’s travel to Mongolia. Jambyn Dashdondog was a Mongolian children’s books author. He wrote children’s books, poetry, music and more. He published about 108 books and won many awards for them too. Dashdondog’s books were about Mongolian tradition and habitat. He started delivering books by camel, so that children in the most remote areas of the Gobi desert could have an opportunity to read.

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Jambyn Dashdondog carries books to nomadic communities in remote areas of the Gobi desert. The project teaches parents how to encourage a love of reading in children. Photograph: Jambyn Dashdondog/Mongolian Children’s Culture Foundation/Go Help

Sadly, Jambyn Dashdondog passed away June 2017. His joy and love of writing and sharing books with children will be missed. Visit Project MUSE to read about Dashdondog’s life story. He was a special author.

It’s the holidays, in memory of Dashdondog I will donate a book to the library. Like Dashdondog, I do feel that books can change a child’s life.

Merry Christmas!     Happy Holidays!

Walk 5 miles… listen to NPR’s TED Radio Hour: The Hero’s Journey

Man on mountainThis weekend I wanted to get back into my weekly walking routine. I realized I hadn’t done much exercise in September. So, I dusted off my gym shoes and headed out.

My goal was a 5 mile walk. I scanned my NPR TED Radio Hour podcasts and found one called, “A Hero’s Journey.” This was an outstanding podcast, where I forgot I was exercising. The show started out talking about “Star Wars.” They were discussing how “a hero’s journey” is written. They said there was a 3 ACT formula for writing hero books. First, the hero has a departure (leaves home), then there is an initiation (hero goes on a quest), and then the hero returns (comes back home). Sounds like my life! (grin)

After “Star Wars,” the podcast continued with other stories focused on “a hero’s journey” theme. A woman who wanted to sail around the world and how she did it, a man who became an author/illustrator (his mother was a drug addict, he talks about this), and George Takia from “Star Trek,” talks about his childhood imprisonment in an internment camp during WWII, because he was Japanese.

This leads me to “How To Addict,” a fellow Blogger who writes motivational posts. This week his post, “Shift your focus – fulfillment through work,” was a good one. Like my “hero’s journey” podcast, Doc was sending the message that we should challenge ourselves, not be lazy, instead persevere and feel fulfilled in our work – have a goal.

So, this week is about being on “a hero’s journey!”

Remember: a hero departs, initiates (starts and fulfills his quest) and then returns home.

What QUEST are you on this week?

60 Minutes – Excellent interview with British writer, David Cornwell (aka John le Carré)

IMG_2592Calling all spy/espionage fans! Have you read any “John le  Carré” books? Did you know that the John le Carré books are really written by a British author named, “David John Moore Cornwell?” That was news to me.

60 Minutes had an interview with David Cornwell. Writers are always told, “write what you know.” That is exactly what Cornwell did. First, some background on his father. His childhood had a rocky start. His mother abandoned him at five years old, so he was raised by his father. Cornwell’s father was a charming conman and it appears lived life in the fast line. One day they were well off, the next they were bankrupt and poor, with his father even landing in jail. Cornwell said this taught him a lot about people, life and keeping secrets.

Next, his spy/espionage background came in the 1950s and 1960s when he found a job with the British Secret Service. He was fluent in German and worked for MI5 and MI6 (foreign intelligence service) where he ran agents, was responsible for interrogations, the normal telephone tapping and more. This, you can imagine, gave him some great background material for writing spy novels.

He needed a pen name for his books. Working for the Secret Service meant his books needed to be approved before being published. Once approved, the condition was to acquire a pen name — John le Carré was born!

In the interview he showed his office and discussed how he does research for his books. He handwrites his books and his wife, editor, transcribes them for him. She runs the business side, which allows him to focus on writing. When he travels he has a journal and writes what comes to his mind.

At 85, he has quite a personal story to tell. A few of his books have been turned into films/BBC TV shows, maybe you know, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” and/or “A Perfect Spy.”

Cornwell is promoting his latest book, “A Legacy of Spies.” I have some catching up to do reading-wise, so that I know the background on his character, “George Smiley!”

I bet these books are great in audio! If you are already a fan, which book was your favorite?