Sep 29, 2014


Last month I accidentally came across a website called 

Its database contains more than 30.000 Audiobooks and eBooks available to download and read on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. 

The registration process is simple and fast, just type in your email address, choose a password and confirm your identity by clicking on the link they send to your email address.

The virtual library is vaste, divided in subcategories such as 
Top 100

and so on. There is also a search button if you have a book in mind, the results will include similar choices as well as what you are looking for.

The service is free for 30 days, then it costs around 20 CAD a month and it allows you to download as many books as you want. If you decide to cancel the subscription, you get to keep the books you downloaded during the free trial period.

I am always weary of free subscription but I had a good experience with ALL YOU CAN BOOKS.
For a couple of weeks I tried to find books I was interested in and downloaded audiobooks and e-books from the recommended section. I finally decided that I wasn't interested in keeping the service active, as the books provided are not the kind I'm looking for (recently published chick-lit and biographies).

With a short and simple phone call to the Customer Service (no questions asked) I was able to cancel the subscription and keep the books I downloaded during the free trial period.

It's definitely worth a try.

Have a good novel!

Sep 23, 2014


The Universe Versus Alex Woods

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this novel from a newsagent at the airport, I saw the cover, read the title, paid for it. I didn't know what the plot was, I had never heard of the author, I just had a gut feeling I would have loved it. And I sure did.
Chapeau to the publishing house for the presentation, and to Gavin Extence for a first novel that leaves you with the feeling of wanting more of the same.

The plot

A meteorite struck a ten year old boy changing the course of his future. His puberty is punctuated with books, science, an unusual mother, and an elder grumpy neighbor who will soon become his best friend. In the face of life events, the boy and the war veteran will read Kurt Vonnegut, grow indoor marijuana plants, support each other and face one terminal trip to Switzerland, where they will say goodbye without tears, but knowing they will never forget each other.

the universe versus alex woodsThe author

Gavin Extence is a British writer, husband, father and chess player. He has a PHD in Film Studies and he's hopefully already working on his next novel.

Your comments are always appreciated.

Have a good novel!

Sep 16, 2014

New Voices at the Festival of the Written Arts

festival of the written arts

 Kathryn Para is the author of the novel Lucky, a story about a journalist in the Middle East.
festival of the written arts

Andrea Routley is the author of Jane and the Whales, a collection of dark short stories.

The Festival of the Written Arts

Today is the last appointment with the authors who participated to the Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt, BC, on 14-17th August 2014. First I posted about the reading by Aislinn Hunter, Bill Gaston and Audrey Thomas. Last week we met the charismatic and enchanting Dianne Whelan. Finally, today I would like to introduce you two new voices of the Canadian writing scene, two different styles for two different personalities, interviewed by CBC radio host Sheryl MacKay.

Kathryn Para

She speaks in a silky, fluent voice, her hands move  in slow and precise gestures. It seems she is been doing this all her life, instead she is introducing her first novel, "Lucky", winner of the second Search for the Great BC Novel. The story is about a female journalist from Vancouver who comes back after a reportage in the Middle East and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What really caught my attention about this author is that reviews of her book glorify her ability to put into words war scenes and crude realities but during the Q&A session Para candidly admits she's never even visited the Middle East. Her research was done sitting comfortably at home, watching movies and reading online. 

I was left wondering if I would ever write a novel about a country I've never been to. Traveling is my biggest passion and I am lucky enough to have seen 32 countries up to now. I hope I will see many more before I die, it's kind of my goal for the future. This explains my interest in the matter.

"Can you write a proper description of a country you have never been to?"

Before moving to Canada I had very little information about the geography and the history of the Country. I found all the information I needed online. 

I also knew a few Canadians and I had the sense that people were kind and considerate, open to other cultures, lovers of sport and party. After two years living in BC I can say these stereotypes turned out to be true for the most part.

There are also hundreds of habits and beliefs I wouldn't have never grasped if I hadn't come to see for myself. Just for fun, I will list some examples:

- Canadians drive slowly and respect the safety distance from the car in front of them (that does NOT happen in Italy!)

- Canadians have a great knowledge of nutrition, health foods and diets (that is NOT what appears in the American movies)

- Canadians live in harmony with nature and know how to respect the environment (I could have found this information online, but it's not the same as meeting a bear face to face).

In my opinion, it is advisable to write about what you know about, therefore write about a country you have been to, or use your novel as an excuse to pack and go traveling.

Andrea Routley

Young and energetic, constantly looking for an active interaction with her audience, Andrea Routley appears different from the dark description of her collection of short stories, "Jane and the Whales". She reads two extracts from two different stories, the first sounds like a provocative, sexual, disturbing encounter, the second is more sad, dark, the smell of death is all around it. Sheryl MacKay asks about her passion for writing and Andrea explains how she has always been filling journals with ideas, songs, poems. Now she is trying to turn her passion into a career. 

Many of you reading this page share Andrea's dream... I sure do! Congratulations to Andrea for being published, and good luck to all of us who still haven't!

Have a good novel!

Sep 9, 2014

Dianne Whelan speaks at the Festival of the Written Arts

festival of the written arts

Dianne Whelan is the author of 40 days at Base Camp

The festival of the Written Arts

For the past three weeks I've been telling you about the Festival of the Written Arts that took place in Sechelt, BC, on 14-17 August 2014. I have been participating to five of the twenty-one events of the weekend, it has been such a rewarding and inspiring experience that I decided I would like to share it with you. First I posted about the reading by Aislinn Hunter and Bill Gaston. Last week I introduced you to Audrey Thomas. Today we will meet an incredible artist and fantastic woman. Fasten your seat belts, and get ready for fireworks: say hi to Dianne Whelan.

Happy, energetic, inspiring, charming. These are only few of the Dianne's virtues, Her voice is strong, her posture is determined, new ideas are concocting in her brain faster than she can tell them. I had the fortune of meeting Dianne in person, and when I told her I wanted to be a writer she just looked at me and said: "Do it! Do it now! Go do it!"
Her presentation of a difficult and dangerous journey was charming, honest, proactive, the best event of the Festival. While she was explaining about her trip she also talked us through a slide show of pictures she took during her experience in Nepal and also the trailer of the movie that was made about it. Dianne Whelan is a 360 degrees artist, she is a talented photographer, director, writer and dreamer. 

dianne whelan

40 days at Base Camp - the book

Each spring, over eight hundred climbers attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. The conditions are challenging, and without warning can become life-threatening. Some make it to the top of what is considered the world's most majestic mountain, but others are not so lucky, and in the attempt to reach the elusive summit, many more have tragically lost their lives. Not all are recovered, their bodies left to the mountain.

In the spring of 2010, 18,000 feet above sea level, documentary filmmaker Dianne Whelan immersed herself in the challenging and captivating world of base camp on Mt. Everest.

In this personal and eye-opening exposé, BASE CAMP: 40 DAYS ON EVEREST, Whelan shares gripping stories of Maoist rebels, avalanches and dead bodies surfacing out of a dying glacier. From her perspective at base camp Whelan interviews climbers, doctors and Sherpas all living for months on end in the belly of the mountain as they wait for a weather window to summit the top of the world. Woven into the personal stories of these climbers is the devastating truth of the human impact on the mountain and the eerie and unforeseen effects of climate change. Experts believe there are over 250 bodies buried on the path from base camp to the peak of Mt. Everest. With the glacier melting and moving at over four inches a day, the toll of the human desire to conquer the mountain is slowly and irreversibly surfacing at base camp. (source: Goodreads)

Dianne Whelan's dreams

During the Q&A session, when asked what she plans to do next, Dianne left the audience speechless by saying she intends to face a two year trip across the North of Canada, known as the Great Northern Trail, through inhospitable and wild land. Well, good luck Dianne, we look forward to hear of  your new adventures!

What do you think of this author? Would you face danger and harsh living conditions for such a long period of time? Are you aware of the devastating human impact on the Everest Mountain? Your comments are always welcome.

Have a good novel!

Sep 3, 2014

Audrey Thomas speaks at the Festival of the Written Arts

festival of the written arts

The festival of the Written Arts

In the '60s, Audrey Thomas has lived in Ghana on the Gold Coast of Africa, and that's where her new novel is based: Local Customs.

For the past two weeks we spoke about the Festival of the Written Arts that took place in Sechelt, BC, on 14-17 August 2014. I have been participating to five of the twenty-one events of the weekend, it has been such a rewarding and inspiring experience that I decided I would like to share it with you. First I posted about the reading by Aislinn Hunter. Last week I introduced to you the second guest: Bill Gaston. Today we are speaking of a peculiar and extremely interesting woman: Audrey Thomas.

A peculiar encounter

Audrey Thomas is not your classic author reading extracts from her book behind a black polished podium. She is sitting at a coffee table, introducing her story in a slow and silky voice, as if she had just come over for tea at an old friend's house. The first half of her allotted hour is dedicated to random stories about her private life and some newspaper cutting containing unusual advertisements, that she reads out loud all excited. She tells the captivated audience how she got run over by a trolley last week and her left foot toes looked like eggplants. She shares the memory of a Labrador puppy she trained for a while years ago and how she felt the need to do some volunteering back then. In passing, we come to know she has lived in Ghana for a short period in the sixties and that she has the habit of marking the new pens with a tip of nail polish.
My natural reaction is to look around at the audience, every one is listening silently and nodding politely to this unexpected book presentation. I wonder how Audrey would react in front of an Italian audience, usually loud and full of sarcasm if the speaker doesn't keep up with the expectations.

18 books since 1965

Audrey Thomas has started publishing in 1965 and since then she has written 18 books. This information is hardly believable if you consider the woman has spent half an hour to get started on what we have gathered here today for (I drove 40 minutes just for this one hour event, and up to this moment I only heard of pens and puppies). Her 18th book, Local Customs, is set in Ghana, it's about a woman who dies for unknown reasons, and it's been written by hand, just like every other book or poem Audrey Thomas has published in the last 50 years. The audience gasps. When asked why, Audrey explains that she has sheets of paper lying everywhere in her house and she enjoys browsing them at random, finding old poems and groceries list among her novels. She also likes to write in bed when she wakes up, and writing by hand allows some peace before her kids figure out she's awake. 

audrey thomas

Local Customs

In this historical novel based on real events, Letitia Landon and George Maclean marry in June 1838 and sail off to West Africa. Eight weeks later she is dead from what appears to be an overdose of prussic acid. Her doctor and a chemist swear they never prescribed or made up such a solution.

The mystery is never resolved. The ship that brought Letitia's cheerful letters to London was the same one that announced her death. All sorts of rumours fly around. Complicating matters is the presence of Thomas Birch Freeman, a Wesleyan missionary. A letter he writes after Letitia's demise causes trouble for George Maclean. Brodie Cruickshank, in charge of the fort at Anamaboe, a few miles away, also seems to have fallen in love with Letitia.

But what really happened to Letitia in this exotic and dangerous place so far away from her home? (source: Goodreads)

The author

Audrey Thomas was born in America and came to Canada in 1959, she lives on Galiano Island, BC. Her work draws extensively on her experience and observations of the places she has lived. themes include loss of children, loss of love, art and the artist, reality and illusion and the minutiae of women's lives. 

I didn't feel the need to know more about this author, or to get an autographed copy of her book, and meeting her has not sparked my enthusiasm. Luckily, the next week event will be... fireworks!

Have a good novel!