Sunday, January 6, 2019

"The Burgas Affair" is absolutely gripping


"The Burgas Affair is absolutely gripping. There is tension from the very first page and it sucked me right in. However, there are many other elements beyond the terrorist attack story that I enjoyed. One was the parallel story of a crime boss’s vendetta against Boyko. I liked how one story affected the other, however, sometimes the stories were mixed up a bit too much. Nevertheless, it is through the vendetta story that the reader learns more about Boyko. At first, he comes across as the typical cop we often see in these types of books. He is also pretty pig-headed and sex driven. As the pages turn he softens and his hidden personality comes to light and he becomes much more likable."

Read the rest of the review on Joyful Antidotes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Traveling in Southern Bulgaria: Devil's Throat Cave

I first learned about Devil's Throat Cave from the novels of Bulgarian bestselling author Ludmila Filipova. This is the cave through which Orpheus reportedly made his way to rescue Euridice from Hades, the ancient Greek god of the underworld. Far underground, the Trigrad River disappears in the deep caverns of the cave, never to emerge again into daylight. The cave gets its name from a profile of the devil, which is hard to notice even when pointed out.


The cave is open every day from 10am to 4pm and entrance is only with a guide, and most of the guides speak English. The entranceway is well lit, cool and dry, but then one reaches the main hall, a cavern so huge that Sofia's Alexander Nevsky Cathedral could easily fit inside with room to spare. With the thunder of the underground river pounding in one's ears, you reach a steep set of wet, concrete stairs leading to daylight high above. This is the halfway point – the weak at heart can go back to the cave's main entrance. I venture upwards, holding onto the handrail for dear life, as the steps are very slippery.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Review of The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

In the opening pages of The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Zaffre, January 2018), Lale Sokolov is standing in a crowded cattle train on his way to an unknown destination. While his fellow travelers are traumatized by the journey, Lale has adopted a “wait and see” attitude, which doesn’t change even when he marches under a gate with the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ wrought from the metal.

“Just do as you’re told, you’ll be fine,” Lale says to a newfound friend. As fate would have it, Lale’s experiences at the camp are not as horrendous as those of his fellow Jews.

In April 1942, the rate of transports arriving in Auschwitz is accelerating. At the gates of the camp, Jews and gypsies from all over Europe are listed in the Nazi records and their arms are tattooed in green ink. Lale has been appointed to be one of the camp’s tattooists. Even as he defiles the arms of terrified men and women, Lale shows compassion for his fellow prisoners. Perhaps the relative freedom he enjoys as a tattooist will allow him to use his position to help them.

This widely acclaimed novel is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov, how he not only survived his years at Auschwitz-Birkenau, but also found love in the camp. When he inks the serial number into the arm of a young woman, she steals his heart at first glance. This is Gita, his future wife, and their hidden romance in the most difficult of conditions proves that love conquers all. Not for the vast majority of prisoners, of course, but in this specific case.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Review of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Right from the start I will tell you that I don’t usually read this genre—the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl caught up in her parents’ stormy relationship—but there is one reason that I couldn’t put down The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, February 2018). To say it in a word – Alaska.

Hannah’s vivid descriptions make America’s last frontier come alive. “It was otherworldly somehow, magical in its vast expanse, an incomparable landscape of soaring glacier-filled white mountains that ran the length of the horizon, knife-tip points pressed high into a cloudless cornflower-blue sky.”

In Hannah’s writing, all your senses are drawn into Alaska’s allure. “The air smelled briny, deeply of the sea. Shorebirds floated on the wind, dipped and rose effortlessly.”

This is Alaska, in all of its beauty and all the perils of living there. The extreme cold, the snowstorms, the brown bears and the packs of wolves, the king salmon and the bald eagles, and more than anything else, the isolation.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Traveling in Southern Bulgaria: Rhodope Cuisine and Culture


An exploration of the Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria would not be complete without taking advantage of the opportunity of tasting the region’s unique, and tasty cuisine.

During our stay at Villa Gela we are spoiled with the food. The owners’ family owns the Terra Tangra Winery located on Sakar Mountain, 200 kilometers to the east. We are served Yatrus Syrah and the white Tamyanka. We start our meal with homemade rakia – the national, very strong fruit brandy of Bulgaria. In the mornings we drink a mixture of vinegar and honey that cleans one’s digestive system.


Friday, November 9, 2018

November Sale: The Burgas Affair on Sale at $0.99

For a limited time, The Burgas Affair is on sale at $0.99!


What readers are saying about The Burgas Affair:

"Each scene is packed with suspense"

"A real page turner from start to finish"

"Fast paced, action packed"

"The action is relentless, spilling across Bulgaria and Israel 
to great effect"


Get your copy of The Burgas Affair today!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Review of The Astronaut’s Son by Tom Seigel

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, a historic event that I remember watching on television as a boy. Eleven other astronauts would follow in Armstrong’s footsteps until the Apollo program was abandoned at the end of 1972. We have not returned to the moon since.

In the novel The Astronaut's Son by Tom Seigel (Woodhall Press LLP, September 2018), Israeli astronaut Avi Stein was scheduled to fly on a later Apollo mission but died of a heart attack shortly before liftoff. “His dream of going to the moon lives on in all of us,” his son, Jonathan, says in tribute.

Speaking to an audience of his employees and members of the media, Jonathan—a multi-millionaire engineering and computer genius—announces his company’s private lunar venture. “We have been away far too many years,” he says. “From the surface of the Moon, we will take a giant leap forward into outer space for the benefit of ourselves and our posterity.” Jonathan is to be the mission’s commander.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Traveling in Southern Bulgaria: Rhodope Mountains


The Rhodopes are known for their unique geological formations. The mountains are set apart by river gorges; there are many deep caves cut into the karst landscape. In the winter months, the snow-covered peaks are perfect for skiing – Pamporovo is one of Bulgaria's most popular ski resorts. In the summer, the hillsides are painted bright green and covered with wild flowers. With snow seen on the surrounding mountain tops, one has a feeling of visiting a "Sound of Music" movie set.

There are many small, picturesque villages perched on the hillsides and in the valleys below. It is said that the region has the highest number of centenarians in the country. This is because the villagers lead simple, stress-free lives; eat homemade yogurt; enjoy healthy vegetables grown in the small plot outside their homes; and, of course, breathe the crisp mountain air.

Bulgarians as a whole are very hospitable, but residents of the Rhodopes are particularly friendly to visitors, especially to travelers from overseas. It’s a bit difficult to communicate with the older generation, but young Bulgarians are fluent in English as well as many other European languages.