Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review | The Jazz Files

When my wonderful friend Fiona started talking about writing a crime novel set in the 1920s, I really looked forward to reading it. So, when she offered to send a signed copy to read and review on my blog, I was very happy to oblige! And I am so glad that I had a chance to read this amazing book - it really was a page turner, and also filled with wonderful history factoids. I love books that keep me reading, but also inform me about another era or time or place, and this book certainly does that.

The Jazz Files is the first in the series of novels featuring the novice reporter/crime fighter, Poppy Denby. Poppy has an aunt, Dorothy, who was in the suffragette movement, and Fiona skillfully weaves the history of these courageous women into the story. Along with snippets from WWI, and references to the Spanish flu which also played a bit part in the post-war period.

Working as a novice reporter, Poppy is drawn into a fascinating mystery which takes many twists and turns. She is also enamoured with a photographer/love interest, Daniel, and helped by her new friend/actress Delilah.

I am really looking forward to the next one in the series, and as Fiona is promising a decade long series of books about Poppy, I am going to be a happy girl for a long time methinks!

Monday, September 28, 2015


Since earlier this year, one of my new hats is as part of the national team for Samaritan's Purse "Operation Christmas Child". We have a great team and it is great working together on bringing these shoe box packages to the children of Bosnia. Every year the local partners work to hand out between 50-70 000 packages in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the national team works to coordinate all of this - all on a voluntary basis.

This past weekend they held a conference for national and regional teams from 5 countries (Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina) in Serbia. It was a chance to network with teams from other countries, and learn more about Samaritan's Purse's vision and how to put together a good distribution of packages. Each team also had a chance to work out their own strategies, and make plans for the next few months as well.
The weekend was at an Ethnic Village in northeastern Serbia, right on the river Drina. It was a lovely place to spend time, and we even went on a carriage ride the one afternoon... very fun! I love being a part of this project as it brings so much joy to children - and even though we are all working as volunteers, it is great to be treated to these kind of fun weekends where we can exchange experiences and know that we are part of something bigger than just what is going on in our country.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review | Reservations for two

I read Hillary Manton Lodge's "A table by the window" and loved it sooooo much that when I saw that "Reservations for two" which is the sequel was up for review, I had to get my hands on it! The only thing that I didn't like about both books is that I didn't realise either were part of a series until it didn't end at the end. So the first book surprised me with a sequel and so did the second... luckily the 3rd book is supposed to be the end of the Two Blue Door series so am looking forward to reading that and getting the closer I need on these wonderfully developed characters.

Once again the main character is Juliette D'Alisa and starts with her searching out her roots in Provence and Tuscany. The romantic storyline with Neil from Memphis is kept on-again-off-again because of long distance, especially when she is back in Portland and running a new restaurant. The characters are developed further and the intrigue continues as she seeks answers to a family mystery. Interspaced throughout with letters from her grandmother during WWII Paris and wonderful recipes which are mentioned in the story, this strong story kept me reading until the end...

I cannot recommend this series highly enough and can hardly wait until the last in the series comes out! Armchair travellers, foodies, history buffs will all love this book - and if you like romance and intrigue all wrapped up in one, then this is the book for you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Bloggers <http://www.bloggingforbooks.org> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Belinda's visit...

I met Belinda Cullen two and a half years ago when I went to Northern Ireland for the Faith and Conflict. We completely hit it off and it has been great to see each since then at conferences... she also came last year to the Bosnian Faith and Conflict and even came a few days early to hang out...

This time she was going to Croatia, so decided to come hang out again on the way - it was really fun to have her around, and I think I showed her a good time! As someone said "double the trouble, double the fun!"

Here we are at Krupa - the water is really low!
And in Jajce... 
She fell in love with "Chevapi" (Bosnian "meatballs") last year, and so we gave her lots of opportunity to eat it - here are the two kinds: "Banja Luchki" on the left and the more "normal" on the right. The difference is in the shape, and also the type of meat used: the one from Banja Luka is usually beef and pork, whereas the other, served mainly among Muslims, contains beef and lamb. Spices are about the same... and the bread and raw onions as well :)
We also one day for lunch at my favourite place for Bosnian burek (meat pie) and pita (every other kind of pie, including potato, fresh cheese, spinach and my favourite - squash). They cook them under the "sach" the coal heated ovens in the back:
I hope you enjoyed this little look at B's trip and the food that we enjoyed... and that it makes you want to come visit as well :)

Monday, September 07, 2015

Book Review | Center of Gravity

I don't think I would have picked this book up in a library or bookstore as it didn't seem to be the kind of book I usually enjoy. However, I am really glad that it was one of the books up for review on booklook.com as I was completely wrong - I loved it!

A thriller with heart is how I would describe this fast read of a book which gets you from the first page and won't let you go. At first glance it is about a family that is falling apart - the husband wanting to get away from his wife, taking the child from his first marriage with them... but as the story unfolds, the deeper, more ugly truth is revealed.

The story plotline twisted and turned and just when I thought I had it all figured out, another corner was turned revealing yet another mystery to be solved. I really enjoyed this romping ride of a tale, and if you like to be surprised or to keep reading a book until the end to figure everything out, then this is the book for you too! Now I will be looking for more from Laura McNeill!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Better late than never...

Sorry that I haven't posted about these workshops before, but I was waiting for the photos - thanks to Jonas for taking the last three while he and Marie-Laure were here. So, here you go: Besides going in with teams who were here over the summer: in August, we "locals" went twice to the children's home and ran creative workshops... one in the dining room...
And one in the teacher's meeting room... (you never know what you are going to get!)
Both included a lot of cutting and pasting...
I didn't get a picture of the finished project from the first workshop: we made snails and I made a poster with them which said "Even a snail will eventually reach its destination". A good reminder!

 During the second one we made an "aquarium": love it!
During the school holidays the kids really enjoy a little bit of distraction, and as you can see, they love cutting and pasting. We also did other creative work with them, but each of the kids get to keep their own work, so I don't have pics of those... I think the volunteers enjoyed being able to spend some time with the kids in our "off" time, and we are all looking forward to starting up the Book Club at the beginning of October!  
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