Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Burgas Affair - Review by E.L. Lindley

"The Burgas Affair is a very readable novel; Shuman is clearly a talented writer and engages the reader early on, conveying the horror and mystery surrounding the bombing. He weaves a complex story all the while exerting complete control over it. Boyko’s past and the investigation dance around each other until they collide in an explosive finale.

There is crime, thrills, a hint of romance and corruption to keep the reader enthralled.

"If you enjoy a story with lots going on then you’ll like this one. The action is relentless, spilling across Bulgaria and Israel to great effect."

Read the full review on lindleyreviews

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Review of The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

When Alexandra Boyd arrives in Sofia to start her position as an English teacher, she doesn’t know what to expect of Bulgaria. The Eastern European country is as far away as she can possibly go from her home in the Appalachian Mountains, and from the tragic loss of her beloved brother.

Upon her arrival in the city, Alexandra is dropped off by mistake at a hotel where she goodheartedly helps an elderly couple into a taxi. When the vehicle drives off, Alexandra realizes that she has accidentally taken one of their bags.

Inside the bag is a small wooden box containing an urn with human ashes. Realizing that this box is undoubtedly sorely missed, Alexandra sets out to return it to the couple to whom it belongs. If only she can find them.

Like Alexandra, most readers of The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova (Ballantine Books, April 2017) will be visiting Bulgaria for the first time. The customs, the villages, the culture, and the history come to life in a country that surprises at every turn.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What Readers Are Saying about “The Burgas Affair”

Readers, book bloggers, and reviewers around the world are thrilled to be reading my crime thriller, The Burgas Affair. Here is what they are saying, in their own words. Have you gotten your copy yet?

“Beginning with an enigmatic prologue featuring an unnamed woman strapped into a ticking bomb-jacket, each scene is packed with suspense. Layers of intrigue build to a fever pitch when Ayala and Boyko meet their nemeses - and confront each other. When he isn't describing terrorism and crime, Shuman fills out the story with lush and complex Bulgarian and Israeli scenery and culture. In real life, the case has never been solved. I'll leave it to you readers to discover how Shuman handles the ending. Given his penchant for dramatic tension, don't expect a predictable conclusion.”
- Midwest Book Review


"A real page turner from start to finish and one I would definitely recommend.  Ideal for readers of crime, thriller with good amount of action, adventure.  "
- Me and My Books

* * *

"I recommend this to anyone looking for a fast paced, action packed, detailed description of a plot based on true events. You will not be disappointed!"
- Brianna Remus Books

* * *

“The Burgas Affair is a very readable novel; Shuman is clearly a talented writer and engages the reader early on, conveying the horror and mystery surrounding the bombing. He weaves a complex story all the while exerting complete control over it. Boyko’s past and the investigation dance around each other until they collide in an explosive finale. There is crime, thrills, a hint of romance and corruption to keep the reader enthralled. If you enjoy a story with lots going on then you’ll like this one. The action is relentless, spilling across Bulgaria and Israel to great effect.”
Lindley Reviews

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Don’t Read It until I Finish Writing It!

I had just finished writing the first section of the first draft of my first novel and I was eager to have my wife read it. Who was better qualified than my wife to serve as my alpha reader?

My previous attempts at writing a novel had been overly autobiographical, my wife had stated in the past. In my new manuscript, I believed, I had created a totally fictional world, in a unique setting, and with three-dimensional characters dealing with unusual circumstances. My wife would be the best judge of this, I thought, as I waited for her reaction.

“I can’t read it on the computer,” she said.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review of Strangers with the Same Dream by Alison Pick

This book begins with a lie. They said she killed herself, that hers was “the first suicide.” She has a story to tell and we, the readers, are “the chosen people” who will hear this story.

This is the enigmatic opening of Strangers with the Same Dream by Alison Pick (Knopf Canada, August 2017), a novel set in Palestine in the 1920s. A group of halutzim—pioneers—have come to claim the land not out of religious destiny, but as fulfillment of the Zionist dream. Haunted by secrets and tragedies, they are challenged with establishing a kibbutz in the barren north of what will become, a generation later, the Jewish state.

First, we meet Ida who wants to build Eretz Yisrael in her beloved father’s memory. She strives “to become a new person” suited to her new life on the kibbutz. But things don’t go as planned. “Was this Eretz Yisrael?” she thinks. “She had been promised—had believed so fervently—that they were making something new, but instead, everything was falling to pieces.”

Monday, November 27, 2017

Review of The Fraud or Miracle Trilogy by Christoph Fischer

I had previously read one novel by Christoph Fischer but there were a number of others on my to-be-read list. When The Fraud or Miracle Trilogy by Christoph Fischer (November 2017) was published, I had a chance to read three at the same time. And this turned out to be a good choice, as the the novels come across best  when read together.

The first book in the trilogy is The Healer, which introduces a mysterious ‘healer’ by the name of Arpan. Is he the real thing, or is he a fraud? That is what advertising executive Erica, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, must determine. Arpan may be her last real hope, if he can truly heal her.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

How I Found My Editor

After I finished writing, revising, and polishing my manuscript—a suspense novel set in Bulgaria—and after receiving very few responses from the literary agents I queried, I decided to take my next step in a completely independent direction.

It would have been incredibly simple to immediately self-publish the novel but before I did that, I needed to be totally convinced that it was free of embarrassing punctuation and grammar mistakes. I needed the assistance of a professional editor.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Review of Underskin by Orit Arfa

How do young Israelis relate to Germany and the Holocaust these days? An unconventional love story explores a very heavy topic in a lighthearted, erotic way.

First, a warning. Due to its generous doses of explicit sex, some of it quite kinky, this novel is intended for mature audiences only.

In Underskin by Orit Arfa (Route 60 Press, August 2017), an Israeli architect by the name of Nilly meets a thirty-something German peace activist by the name of Sebastian on a Tel Aviv beach. Nilly is attracted physically to her new German acquaintance, but baggage from the past threatens to prevent the couple from forming a serious relationship.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Burgas Affair Now On Sale!

The Burgas Affair has been published and can now be purchased at Amazon!

"A masterfully written fictional account that weaves personal tragedy into the intricacies of international police cooperation in a way that will grab and hold the reader’s attention throughout." - review on Goodreads.

"A very engaging and thought-provoking read, a gripping thriller and a multi-layered read" - Writer Christoph Fischer

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Sofia Globe: The Burgas Affair to be released in English

The Bulgarian version, ‘Бургаската афера’ was released last year. Now, author Ellis Shuman is about to publish the original English version of his novel, entitled ‘The Burgas Affair’.

It is a story which contains some reality: the terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in 2012, during which five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian bus driver were murdered. In ‘The Burgas Affair’, the aftermath of the attack is fictional.

An Israeli data analyst and a Bulgarian detective are tracking down those responsible. The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization, in laying the groundwork for the attack.

Read the rest of the story on The Sofia Globe.

The Sofia Globe, published online in English and German, provides news, features, insight and analysis about Bulgaria, Central and Eastern Europe.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How My Job Relocation Led to My Writing a Crime Thriller

My boss called me into his office one day toward the end of 2008 and informed me that my job was being relocated from Tel Aviv to Bulgaria. If I didn’t agree to relocate, someone would be chosen to replace me. I told my wife that we needed to talk.

At the time, I was a division manager in an Israel-based company providing marketing and support services in the online gaming sector. I had been working at the company for four years and I was starting to consider looking for new challenges. I had dreamed of working overseas but I thought that at my age, relocation would never be an option.

Read the rest of this article on LinkedIn.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Oops! I built my sukkah upside-down!

When you purchase a sukkah in Israel it's supposed to be a lifetime investment. The so-called sukkah l'netzach is easily constructed and then stored away after the holiday for future use. How is it, then, that I've gone through four or five of the contraptions over the years?

The first "ever-lasting" sukkah I bought was nothing more than a set of irrigation pipes. The end of each pipe had to be screwed onto the next pipe's connecting threads with the help of a monkey wrench. This sukkah swayed dangerously in the slightest breeze. After one or two holidays, the end of the pipes broke off, effectively shortening its shelf life.

The second sukkah I purchased, also designed for eternal use, was a marketer's mad concept of an Erector Set. It consisted of two golf bags filled with a multitude of bars, angles, connecting joints, and support pieces. There were diagrams included but construction was worse than finishing a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. The sukkah stood in place at last, and then it collapsed.

Read the rest of this article on The Times of Israel.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

5 Tips For Writing A Novel While Working Full-Time

Guest post by Rachael Mollison-Read

Writing a novel requires an enormous amount of time, energy, and emotion. These can all be difficult to muster up when you work full-time at another job. Still, working full-time should not be a deterrent to pursuing the goal of writing a novel! Here are 5 tips for writing a novel while working full-time:

#1. Use Your Best Energy:

Finding the time of day when you have your best energy is an important part of writing while still working full-time. Using your most productive and creative self for the work most important to you means that you can make the most out of what time you do have.

I’m a morning person, so I make sure that the first thing I do when I wake up is get some writing under my belt. Other people work well late at night. Whatever time works best for you, turn that into writing time!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Review of ‘Totaled’ by Brian Blum

Just a few weeks ago, electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors handed over the first of its $35,000, 350-km range vehicles to eager customers. According to media reports, the company has a backlog of half a million orders.

This exciting news is coming out of California. It could have been coming out of Israel if a company called Better Place had fulfilled its dreams of changing the world. In hindsight, every decision Better Place, its management, and its narcissistic founder made was wrong.

In short, Better Place crashed.

Totaled: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World by Brian Blum (Blue Pepper Press, August 2017), details the rollercoaster ride of what was possibly the most innovative concept to ever emerge from the Israeli ‘startup nation’.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review of ‘Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe’ by Kapka Kassabova

The Strandja is a mountainous border zone between Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece. Also spelled Strandzha, the area is a nature reserve blessed with biodiversity, a region rich with history, and a land filled with mystery. The Strandja is also the backdoor of Europe, a centuries-old passageway that today constitutes an escape route for refugees fleeing the Middle East.

It is into this border zone that author Kapka Kassabova sets off on a quest, a quest to “look into the faces of those who are there, hear their stories, eat with them, learn new words.” For Kassabova, who grew up in Bulgaria during the 1970s and 1980s, the Strandja had been off limits; the border running through it was the division between the Communist east and the free world. As such, it was an area filled with gun-happy troops and fugitives. In her new home in Scotland, Kassabova developed a hunger to see the Strandja, and to understand this border that runs between three countries.

“The tug of the border was powerful among the river dragonflies, like a gravitational force. Whichever way you turned, something was behind you and nothing ahead of you. Perhaps that’s what history is.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

Self-Editing: These Words Have Got to Go!

What do you do when you finish writing a book? You edit it! And what do you do when you finish editing? You edit some more.

In my case, I wrote a novel, edited it, signed with a literary agent, got a publishing deal with a large foreign language publisher, saw my book traditionally published, and now I am editing the manuscript once again. (Read this if you don’t understand why).

Self-editing. What is there left to edit?

What could I possibly be editing at this late stage of the process? I am polishing the manuscript, tightening the flow of the narrative, speeding up the pacing, and making other tweaks to the content here and there.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Editing My Novel, a Year after It Was Published

Just over a year ago, my second novel was traditionally published. There was a book signing and official presentations by my editor and publisher. I was interviewed on television, twice, and there were write-ups in online media. My novel was featured prominently in bookshop windows. Readers were anxious to get their hands on a copy.

For someone who has aspired to be an author all his life, this sounds like a dream come true. Yet, something is a bit unusual in my story. A year after my book’s publication, I am now hard at work editing it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Years after Burgas

On July 18, 2012, a terrorist bomb exploded on a bus transporting Israelis from Burgas Airport to their hotels in the seaside Bulgarian town. The bomb killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver; thirty-two Israeli passengers were injured. A seventh person killed in the blast, the suicide bomber, was only identified two years later as a dual Lebanese-French citizen. His accomplices were named as Hezbollah terrorists who had managed to escape to Lebanon.

Interviewed on Bulgarian television, June 2016
This was not the first terrorist attack targeting Israeli citizens overseas, nor was it, unfortunately, the last. I do not know any of the victims, yet this particular attack, the first ever to occur on Bulgarian soil, affected me personally and I think of it to this day.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Scammers Break The Kindle Store

Excerpt from an article by David Gaughran.

If you are an author and have books in Kindle Unlimited, you’ll want to read this.

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

Read the rest of the story on David Gaughran's Let's Get Digital website.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

How Did an American-born Israeli Happen to Write a Novel in Bulgarian?

One year ago, my novel The Burgas Affair was published with all the requisite fanfare of an official book launch. At a gathering in a large book store, I was presented to the public by the publisher. My editor introduced me with a short question and answer session. I met with eager readers and autographed copies of my book. My dream of becoming a published author had come true!

There’s something strange about this picture. Everything I just mentioned took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. My novel was published in the Bulgarian language, presented to the public by Ciela, the leading Bulgarian publishing house. My editor spoke to the public in Bulgarian, but my answers were in English. That is because I wrote the book in English but don’t speak Bulgarian. And the most surprising thing is that my book has yet to be published in English!

How did an American-born Israeli happen to write a novel published in Bulgarian?

First, a few words about the book.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Visit Israel Virtually - Right Now!

Virtual reality. It's coming. It's here.

If you can't visit Israel, visit Israel virtually. Virtually Israel invites you to experience Israel through virtual reality. So what are you waiting for?

Virtually Israel aspires to bring Israel to life to anyone who wants to explore Israel without flying across the globe. They are a one-of-a-kind Virtual Reality experience showcasing Israel’s most prominent cities, including Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Jerusalem. The project is partially sponsored by the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review of ‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami. Need I say more? Okay, I will. It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. I have a bookshelf filled with his novels. I just finished reading his latest short story collection, Men Without Women (Knopf, May 2017), which was published in Japan in 2014 and now has been expertly translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen. I will proudly add it to my shelf.

The book includes seven short stories, all of them centered around the theme of men living without women. That isn’t to say there are no women involved. In fact, the opposite is true. The stories are really about men dealing with loneliness, even when there are women in their lives.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Interviewed by Bulgarians in Detroit

Recently I was contacted by Daniela Natcheva, editor of the electronic newsletter, Bulgarians in Detroit. Daniela interviewed me about my book Valley of Thracians, my connection to Bulgaria, and the similarities (and differences) between Bulgaria and Israel. The interview appeared in the May 2017 edition of the newsletter. Included here is the interview.

Where do you live now? Have you visited Bulgaria again (after 2010)?  

I was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and moved to Israel with my family when I was fifteen years old. I have worked in many different jobs and eventually ended up in online marketing. My position was relocated to Sofia for two years (2009-2010). Upon my return to Israel I found myself thinking constantly about Bulgaria. My experiences in Bulgaria gave me inspiration for my writing, and the novel Valley of Thracians was the result.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The American-Born Israeli Who Writes About Bulgaria

In July 2016, an interview with me appeared on the Foreigners and Friends website. The website was run by my friend Imanuel Marcus and has since merged with The Sofia Globe. The interview appeared shortly after my novel The Burgas Affair was published in Bulgaria (in Bulgarian).

Foreigners and Friends (FF): The fact that "A Burgas Affair" is set in Bulgaria is not a coincidence, right?

It’s not a coincidence at all. The terrorist bombing at Burgas Airport in July 2012 upset me greatly, not just because five Israelis and one Bulgarian were killed in the blast, but also because I never expected that such an attack could occur on Bulgarian soil. Having grown up in Israel I was quite familiar, unfortunately, with suicide bombings, explosions on buses and at marketplaces. In Israel, everyone is very security-conscious, but Bulgaria, I believed, was supposed to be safe territory. I felt this way because I lived in Sofia for two years and never was worried as a foreigner, an Israeli, or as a Jew. And also, I had been to Burgas Airport so I could clearly picture where the bombing took place.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why Israelis Think Gal Gadot Is Wonderful

Diana, princess of the Amazons and trained to be an unconquerable warrior, leaves a sheltered island paradise to fight alongside man in a war to end all wars. Diana then discovers her full powers and her true destiny. She is Wonder Woman.

Released this week by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film "Wonder Woman" is directed by Patty Jenkins and is based on characters from DC Comics. The much-anticipated live action superhero film starring Gal Gadot is here at last!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review of A ‘Horse Walks into a Bar’ by David Grossman

A man walks into a nightclub. The man has been invited to see the stand-up routine of a well-known, slightly past-his-prime comedian. Sitting down for the performance the man expects an evening of comedy, jokes, one-liners, humorous anecdotes about the comedian’s life. That is not what he gets.

In A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Jonathan Cape, November 2016), we meet Dovaleh Greenstein as he stands on stage to entertain a mixed audience typical for an Israeli nightclub – couples, soldiers, people out for an evening’s entertainment. At a table in the back is the story’s narrator, Avishai Lazar, a retired judge who knew Dovaleh as a boy. Avishai has since forgotten their childhood experiences and wonders why Dovaleh has invited him to the club.

Dovaleh’s monologue begins. He tells a few jokes but the audience’s response is mostly forced laughter. The jokes just aren’t funny and they’re mixed with personal stories which are hardly amusing. The comedian is far from being comedic. His tales become painful to hear. The audience gets restless; some people stand up to leave the club.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ionia Martin Reviews 'Valley of Thracians'

This review was posted on the Readful Things Blog in 2013. It was one of the very first reviews of the book!

When I first read the description for this book, I thought “Bulgaria?” That is certainly an unusual setting. It really is, and that, I believe is part of this book’s charm. I get tired of reading stories that are set in the same place over and over. I like it when the author not only uses a different setting than the norm, but also knows something about the setting they choose, and this author clearly does.

The descriptions are beautifully penned. You can see the colours before your eyes and feel the atmosphere as you read. There were actually a couple of passages in this book I went back and read again after finishing, simply because I enjoyed them so much.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Pilgrimage to Bulgaria’s Rila Monastery

Nestled in mountain forests an hour and a half south of Sofia, the Rila Monastery is Bulgaria’s most popular tourist destination. It is the country's largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery, attracting both the faithful and the curious. As a pilgrimage destination, it is known locally as the Jerusalem of Bulgaria.

Jodie and I visited the Rila Monastery on a number of occasions, driving down from Sofia with our visitors from overseas. The monastery made such an impression on me that I staged a pivotal scene from my novel there. Walk through the arched entrance and your eyes will open wide with amazement.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Review of What to Do About the Solomons by Bethany Ball

The first thing you’ll notice when opening the pages of What to Do About the Solomons by Bethany Ball (Atlantic Monthly Press, April 2017) is the Solomon family tree. You may end up referring to this tree frequently as one character after another is introduced. After all, this is a multi-generational family drama starring Yakov Solomon, his children and his grandchildren. It’s a bit confusing at first, until you get to know them all.

Yakov – “a real sabra, born in Israel seventy-five years ago. He’d gone to school with Rabin, supped with Barak, was the guest of the kings of Jordan and Morocco” – is the founding member of a Jordan Valley kibbutz who has built a very successful construction company. Yakov is married to the “beautiful and worldly” Algerian-born Vivienne. Heartbroken when her non-Jewish boyfriend fails to follow her to Palestine, she brazenly states, “I will never love you, Yakov Solomon!”

Yet the couple raise five children and the novel follows this second generation and their offspring. There is Marc, the Israeli naval commando who moved to Los Angeles only to find his asset management firm accused of a vast money laundering scheme. Marc’s sister Shira is a self-absorbed movie actress whose career is more important than caring for Joseph, the 11-year-old son she leaves to fend for himself in Jerusalem while she travels with her actor friend Ayelet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Magnificent Bahá'í Gardens of Akko, Israel

On the slopes of Mt. Carmel, overlooking Haifa Bay, is a small, but very impressive golden dome. This is the Shrine of the Bab, a mausoleum that is the second holiest Bahá'í site. Looking down from the scenic viewpoint on Yafe Nof Street you see the eighteen monumental terraces, the domed shrine, the lower city, the port, and the Mediterranean coast all the way north to Rosh Hanikra.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Recent Reads April 2017 Edition

It’s early morning and the train pulls out of the station. I’m on my way to work, but first I make myself comfortable. I take my tablet out of my backpack and load the latest novel I’ve been reading. Within minutes I am lost in the plot. The train races along, passing through one station after another. And then it’s time for me to get off the train. I put away my tablet, eager to return to my book on the journey home.

I do most of my reading on the train. Here are some of the latest books I’ve been reading. Enjoy!

The Girl from the Sea by Shalini Boland (Adrenalin Books, June 2016) is another psychological thriller with “Girl” as part of its title, but this one stands out from the rest. A woman washes up on the beach and can't remember her name or who she is. Her supposed family and friends come forward to help her reclaim what appears to be a perfect life, but something doesn't seem right. Everyone appears to have ulterior motives; nothing is as it seems. Complete with a plausible, page-turning plot; believable characters; and an unexpected ending, this thriller will stay in your mind for some time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What a Typewriter Bar Mitzvah Gift and Devoted Creative Time Can Do for Your Writing

I had this conversation with author Lia Mack a number of years ago but she has just re-posted it on her new blog. In the interview, Lia stated that my "insight and inspiration for fellow writers is, as always, spot on!" Lia, thank you so much for that, and for re-posting the interview.

One of the questions Lia asks is: "If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself if you could speak to the aspiring writer you once were?"

Find my answer and the rest of the interview on Lia's blog!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Day I Bumped into the Prime Minister of Bulgaria

During the two years we lived in Bulgaria, my wife and I regularly left our home in Sofia to drive into the countryside, exploring picturesque villages and visiting ethnographical museums. We were eager to learn everything we could about Bulgarian history and culture. I was constantly researching new places to visit.

On one extended December weekend, my wife and I traveled to Burgas, on the Black Sea coast. Despite the cold breezes and cloudy skies, we drove all the way south to the Turkish border and then back to Sozopol, an ancient seaside town that serves as a crowded resort in the summer months.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review of Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

They clean. They clear tables. They wash dishes; they wash floors. They walk the streets, ride the buses. They are dark-skinned, indistinguishable, and most of them don’t speak our language. They are all around us, but we don’t acknowledge their existence. We see them in our peripheral vision, yet we never see them at all.

Eritrean refugees in Israel, who hardly ever feature in our concerns, take center stage in the novel Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen (Little, Brown and Company, February 2017). They make a very strong impact, one that starts late at night on a dark desert highway. Dr. Eitan Green, recently relocated to Beer Sheva with his family, slams into an Eritrean man and leaves him for dead.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How Bulgarians Welcome the Month of March

Walking the streets of Sofia during the month of February you come across stands selling an assortment of small items, all of them red and white in color. Looking closely, you see packets containing pieces of string, tassels, intermingled red and white yarn. Small woolen dolls – a male and a female. Souvenirs? Good luck trinkets?

Pedestrians quickly make their purchases and hurry on their way. Everything is in preparation for the month of March, and for the holiday that hopefully heralds the arrival of spring.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Romantic Weekend in Israel’s other Walled Old City

We lift our glasses of champagne to toast the setting sun. The Mediterranean is golden, nearly wave free as evening falls. Framing our view are white roofs topped with solar panels and satellite dishes. We hear vendors’ cries from the alleyway below and the muezzin’s call from a nearby mosque. We drink our champagne as the sun dips into the magnificent sea.

We are in Acre (Akko in Hebrew), a small city located across the bay from Haifa. Our sunset view is from the rooftop of two ancient houses beautifully preserved, restored, and merged into the boutique Efendi Hotel. We are at the start of a romantic weekend, a gift in honor of our special birthdays this year from our family. We are eager to explore the wonders of this colorful old city.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review of The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything

A middle-aged woman has been brutally murdered in her home and Inspector Avraham Avraham is called to the scene. Two clues present themselves to the inspector. The woman was the victim of a rape that he had investigated years before, and a policeman was seen leaving her building on the day of the murder.

We meet Inspector Avraham Avraham for the third time in The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything by D.A. Mishani, translated by Todd Hasak-Lowy (Harper Paperbacks, November 2016). We previously followed his investigations in The Missing File and A Possibility of Violence. Things are a bit different for the Holon Police officer this time around. He now serves as commander of investigations and this is his first murder case.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Valley of Thracians Now on Sale

Valley of Thracians - a suspenseful thriller set in modern day Bulgaria - is now at sale for just $0.99 / £0.99.

"Gripping, mysterious thriller with convincing characters, beautiful descriptions, ancient relics and modern quests"

Purchase your copy of Valley of Thracians at or today!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Gripping, Mysterious Thriller

Reviewed by Alison Jack.

VALLEY OF THRACIANS begins with grandfather Simon Matthews travelling from Chicago to Bulgaria in order to search for his grandson, Scott. Scott had gone missing while working for the Peace Corps three years previously, during which time the Bulgarian police, the American embassy and even Scott’s father Daniel have all given up, presuming Scott to be dead. Despite this, Simon insists on continuing the search, especially when he receives mysterious hints that Scott is actually still alive.

Along the way, Simon encounters the good, the not so good and the truly evil. He is joined in his quest by ‘Sophia from Sofia’, an expert in Thracian (ancient Bulgarian) history, whose help proves invaluable, but whose motives for putting herself out to aid a stranger come increasingly into question. Is Sophia really the loyal friend she seems?

valley of thracians
From the very beginning VALLEY OF THRACIANS held me spellbound. This is a beautifully written thriller; every part of the story is completely absorbing, and it never feels as if the story is being dragged out unnecessarily. Such is Ellis Shuman’s skill with words that the reader feels part of the story. We share Simon’s unease as the mystery surrounding his grandson’s disappearance deepens. We share his fear when confronted by some wholly unsavory characters in an unfamiliar country.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review of The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

Many readers – male readers that is – say that Shantaram is their favorite book ever. Who would not be captivated by the epic adventures of an Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from prison and travels to India and the tumultuous struggles of life in the Bombay slums? Reading the saga of the swashbuckling protagonist - renamed Shantaram in the opening chapters - as he experiences the local culture and customs of India for over 900 pages, is almost a rite of passage. Although the book is a novel, it is somewhat an autobiography of its colorful author, Gregory David Roberts.

Like many, I waited for the book’s sequel with bated breath for twelve years. Once again, a weighty tome nearly 900 pages long. Yet, my waiting was not rewarded. The Mountain Shadow (Little, Brown Book Group, October 2015), fails to rekindle the excitement that gripped me when first meeting Shantaram.

What happens in the sequel? Shantaram gets on his motorcycle, gets into a fight, smokes a joint, pines for his soulmate, gets into another fight, gets on his motorcycle again, smokes another joint, pines some more for his soulmate. The plot meanders, if there is a plot at all. It all gets quite repetitious, and what’s more, none of it is particularly exciting.