Thursday, August 15, 2019

Review of "The Burgas Affair" on Turning Another Page

Shuman brings two characters with differing backgrounds into a crime investigation for a common goal, to solve the case and keep the civility among their people. His characters are exceptional, with many faults and likable qualities as well.

The pace is steady and the story is action-packed, making it easy to get wrapped up in. While there are a few grammatical errors here and there, this should not hinder enjoyment of the novel at all. The author does inform the reader that the characters are purely fiction; however, the story is based on a true event.

Terrorism is an ever evolving threat to many countries and the information conveyed in this story is quite credible. Readers will achieve a clear understanding of the strength that many have in the face of fear and we will say that it is a story worth reading. For any who tend to lean toward thrillers and crime, this one may be of interest to you.

Read the full review on Turning Another Page.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hiking in Bulgaria - Trek of a Lifetime

I first visited the Seven Rila Lakes in June 2010. To my amazement, I found myself walking in a few inches of snow alongside mountain meadows full of brilliant purple crocuses. At times I wore a T-shirt and at times I put on a long-sleeved shirt as I hiked through terrain that appeared to be lifted straight out of Antarctica. The views were stunning, the air was fresh, and despite some of the steep uphill slopes, I enjoyed every moment of it.

My friends and I only made it to the fourth of the seven lakes; it was frozen solid, even in the middle of June! The rest of the way was impassable because of the snow. I promised myself I would come back one day. I dreamed of taking another incredible Bulgarian hiking trek. And then, nine years later, my dream came true.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Going Back to Sofia

I make my way through Passport Control, fetch my suitcase, and catch a taxi. Minutes later I am speeding down the traffic-filled streets, behind the trams and the trolleybuses. The taxi crosses Eagles’ Bridge and we are on the cobblestoned streets of the center of the city. Moments later I am dropped off at my hotel.

I am back in Sofia and in many ways, I have come back home. I lived in this city for two years. I walked its streets, ate in its restaurants, admired its older buildings, and worked in its high-tech offices. I strolled through the city’s parks and visited its museums. This is a city I know well and I don’t need to consult a map to make my way around.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review of “Is There Anybody to Love You” by Kalin Terziyski

There’s nothing beautiful about the city of Sofia in Is There Anybody to Love You? by Kalin Terziyski (Dalkey Archive Press, December 2018; translated by David Mossop), a collection of short stories set in the Bulgarian capital. “The houses in Sofia are ugly because they’re old,” thinks the protagonist of the story ‘The Beggar’. “Their age doesn’t do anything to enhance their beauty, just destroys their rendering.”

In the title story it is constantly raining, while in ‘Problems with the Cleaner’, “the stifling heat of August lies as heavy as an old carpet.” The rain is so strong in the story ‘A Stroll through Space with Slight Deviations in Time’ that it seems “as if a cursed and evil decision had been made to engulf us in water.” Still, the heavy rainfall can also serve to refresh the air. After a downpour nearly inundates the city, “the sun even comes out—a strange, droll sort of evening sun—just before it hides behind the mountain peak of Vitosha to go on to someplace else.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

10 Reasons to Visit Bulgaria This Year

Bulgaria is not on the bucket list of most travelers and many would find it difficult to place the country on a map. This is a shame because Bulgaria is an amazing, underrated travel destination, one that is blessed with stunning natural beauty and an abundance of fascinating places to visit. Listed below are ten of the most compelling reasons to travel to Bulgaria this year.

Sofia. Many visitors start their exploration of Bulgaria in the country’s capital. Sofia has a very Eastern European ambience but everywhere there are signs of that it is quickly adapting to the modern era. Most of the main attractions are in the center, where the Roman ruins of Serdika can be seen in the metro stations. It is hard to miss the gold-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built to honor Russia’s assistance to Bulgaria in its war of independence from the Ottomans in the 1870s. The stunning Jewish synagogue, the Banya Bashi mosque and the stunning Central Mineral Baths building are all within walking distance of each other.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Review of ‘The Book of Jeremiah’ by Julie Zuckerman

When we first meet Jeremiah Gerstler, he is a mischievous eleven-year-old who sees no harm in releasing spotted frogs on his family’s seder table during the recitation of the Ten Plagues. But Jeremiah is certainly not the delinquent his school’s headmaster claims he is. He’s a boy after all. Although his parents would love to make him a mensch, Jeremiah will find his own way in life.

When we next meet Jeremiah, nearly seventy years have passed. An essay collection on the subject of the international political economy is being published in honor of his 80th birthday. The dedications in the book praise him, not for the academic achievements of his long career, but for the fact that he “does not tolerate academic laziness.”

“‘These you call dedications?’” Jeremiah fumes. The underlying message, he realizes, is that he is being called out for his “mercurial, volatile, and impulsive” nature. When we hear Jeremiah’s remarks at a celebratory gathering, we tend to believe that this description may be totally on the mark.

Monday, May 20, 2019

"The novel moves at a rollicking pace"

Based on the aftermath of the 2012 coach bombing at Burgas in Bulgaria, Ellis Shuman’s fictional thriller, The Burgas Affair (Createspace, 2018), takes us on a roller coaster ride through Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast, following the exploits of a joint Bulgarian/Israeli detective team in tracking down the perpetrators. As such, this is perfect beach reading if you are staying on the Black Sea coast this summer.

Read the full review on

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

It’s Not Easy Writing a Bad Review of a Good Book

I was already reading The Overstory by Richard Powers (W. W. Norton & Company, April 2018) when it was announced that the novel had won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I was reading the book but I wasn’t enjoying it. But, seeing that it had just won a literary award, I was determined to read until the end and see if I could understand why it had won the prize.

After finishing the book, I wasn’t sure whether I would write a review of The Overstory. I hesitated, not wanting to write a bad review because as an author, I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of criticism, if it’s not constructive. But the whole point of book reviews is to help a reader decide whether to read a book or not. To let a reader know what they are getting into. So as a service to readers, I will list a few of my impressions of this Pulitzer-winning novel.