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This Blog Has Moved

Published April 13, 2014 by myliteraryleanings

Attention followers:

This blog has moved to http://myliteraryleanings.blogspot.com    For more book reviews that let you decide please update your bookmarks. Thank you.


A Folk Tale Is Released

Published April 10, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

This is a special announcement for those who might be curious. For months now, I have been shopping around my short story “The Man from Kerala,” collecting a few rejections along the way. However, I am now pleased to announce that it has been published in the online publication “Roar and Thunder.” If you would like to read it you can go to their website at http://roarandthunder.com.au/

For those of you who write, I hope to encourage you to keep trying. Rejections may come but the more you try, the better chance you will have at success.

For the rest of you, I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Also, you might be interested in knowing that this story was in part an attempt to duplicate the types of folktales written in Italo Calvino’s compilation, Italian Folktales, though with an Indian setting.

Thank you for your support.

My Top Ten for 2012

Published January 1, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

My Top Ten of Books Reviewed in 2012

The fact that these books are all different made my choice difficult but this is the best I can do. This does not mean that I didn’t like many of the other books that I reviewed. They just didn’t make the cut.

10. Eragon by Christopher Paolini

9. The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan

8. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith

7. Anne’s House of Dreams (I had originally written Anne of Windy Poplars by mistake. Sorry) by Lucy Maud Montgomery

6. Mozart’s Sister by Nancy Moser

5. Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

4. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

3. The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham

2. Spartan by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

and finally, drum roll please……

1. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Happy New Year!


Published December 23, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

This post is not actual book review but an update on this blog. I am strongly considering moving this blog to another site, preferably one that does not have a limit on how many photos you can store. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you.

Italian Folktales

Published January 7, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino:

Overview (written by yours truly this time): This is a wonderful book full of folktales from Italy of course, though many were found in other parts of the world as well, as Mr. Calvino reported. All the stories differ and have their own “plots” so there was not one plot that I could report here in this section. Therefore, I decided to skip the usual Barnes and Noble summary as I didn’t think it would add anything to the reader’s understanding of what the book is about.

My Review:

I don’t recall having ever read this type of book before. I think I did skim through a copy of this at the library once (where I also got this copy that I finished reading last week) and decided that it was too long for me to tackle. Then as I read further into it, I remembered something else about it- something that I didn’t like. As far as I can tell, it has no folktales from the region of Umbria. This surprised me since the back cover clearly states that Mr. Calvino compiled these stories from every region in Italy. Yet based on his notes in the back of the book, I can find no evidence that he took any from Umbria. Indeed there is only one mention of Umbria in the book. It merely states that whatever story he had printed here, (I don’t remember which story he was referring to exactly) it was similar to a story that they have in Umbria. This was a major disappointment for me since my ancestors immigrated to this country from that very region and I had hoped to find one of the stories that they might have heard growing up there.

I did still love the book. Why? Because the stories in it were so rich and much more interesting than I had imagined. I remember on my first trip to Italy being amazed at how many of the stories that I recognized growing up here in the USA were available as children’s’ books in Italy as well. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t “Biancaneve,” or Snow White, but there she was. I bought a copy of it and a few other children’s stories while I was there.

The folktales in here are not exactly the same as the brothers Grimm variety of tales that we have here, however. Here we find versions of Jack and the Bean Stalk and Little Red Riding Hood that have their own character and, I think, are more interesting than the traditional versions that we know.

Also, there are stories that I have never heard before. The fairy tale world is a place where giants, talking animals, faeries, and magic spells are routine. Many of them espouse the theme of not judging things by their appearances, which I love. I think it is sad that we have lost the magic of these stories to some extent, for when we lost them, we also lost many of the morals they taught us.

It was hard to think about which of these stories were my favorites but I forced myself to do so, though it almost feels like treason against my heritage (even if none of the stories were Umbrian). I liked the first one, “Dauntless Little John,” a lot. It was short and to the point but still I found myself invested in the main character. Other favorites include: “The Magic Ring,” “The Devil’s Breeches,” “Fanta-Ghiro’ the Beautiful,” “The Mouse with the Long Tail,” as well as the various versions of Jesus and Saint Peter travelling around the various parts of Italy (even though some of them weren’t Biblical accurate in my opinion- I still appreciated the lessons that they taught).

If a person could stand to read even a few of these folktales and suspend their disbelief, he or she could learn something valuable and maybe even feel like a kid again. I highly recommend them, though, I don’t know how many people could actually read the book in its entirety since even I found it trying, though I am glad I did. I hope you will be too.

Also, as a side note, I would like to hear what some of your favorite folktales are as well. And if anyone knows more about this book, an Italian perhaps, and why it doesn’t seem to have any tales from Umbria, I’d be glad to hear from that person as well.

Contains: surprisingly, some violence and even a hint of sexuality in one tale, though for me the violence was a little more disturbing and surprising. Maybe not all folktales are for children.

2011 Year End Best

Published January 1, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

2011 Year End Best Books

To celebrate the new year and remember the old, I thought I would take this opportunity to make a list of what I think are the ten best books of those I reviewed since I started this blog six or seven months ago. As you will see they covered different genres and time periods. They also included both e-books and printed books. Next week I will be back with another book review. In fact the book I am reading right now is so long that I have not yet been able to finish it but I should be done by next week and will then publish my review. Until then, happy new year everyone.

The List:

1. Anne Of Green Gables: This was a charming tale of an orphan girl who is taken in by a brother and sister who think all they need is extra help on the farm. What they get is so much more.

2. A Christmas Carol: I think most of you know this one but just in case, this is the tale of the miserly Scrooge who learns to believe in Christmas with the help of three spirits.

3. Viola In Reel Life: The story of a young girl from New York who is sent off to boarding school in the Midwest. A great and unique coming-of-age story of a girl who knows what she wants but needs to figure out how to get there.

4. Francesca’s Kitchen: At the other end of the spectrum age-wise, Francesca is a bright but lonely older woman who feels abandoned by her children, two of whom have moved to other states. She learns to feel needed again when she takes on a baby-sitting job for two children of a single mother.

5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes: The story of a teenage girl who goes on a trek across Europe to fulfill the last wishes of her aunt. Along the way she learns to love and follow her dead aunt’s instructions via the envelopes that she must carry with her on her voyage.

6. Bright Young Things: The story of two young girls, one who has just gotten married, who decide that life in small-town Ohio isn’t big enough for them. They travel to New York City where they plan to make their fortunes and track down long-lost loved ones.

7. The Call Of The Wild: The story of a domesticated dog that ends up far from home. He later becomes leader of his pack, learning to put his domesticity aside to heed “the call of the wild.”

8. War Brides: This one surprised me. I found it as a low-priced e-book on www.bn.com. It is the story of a group of women that are brought together by the horrors of World War II and live together in the same English town. Together they are changed by the war while they grow as individuals.

9. Listen: The story of a small town torn apart by a new website that pops up detailing the conversations of its residents, both good and bad. A modern-day parable of the power of words.

10. Untouchable: The story of a family of two, torn apart by the death of the wife and mother. When Lucy Darby dies/disappears, her son stops speaking and her husband stops feeling. Together they try to overcome the hole that she has left in their lives and learn to cope with reality.

New Rating System

Published November 13, 2011 by myliteraryleanings

In line with my goal of writing book reviews that not only evaluate that quality of the story that is contained in a given novel, but also help persons of conservative sensibilities evaluate how a book may or may not potentially offend them, I will now add a new section to all my future reviews.  From this moment on, at the bottom of every future review, I will feature a section that will simply be headed with the word Contains, followed by anything I might have noticed in the book that might be offensive to morally sensitive or old-fashioned readers like myself.

I realize that while something might offend me, it may not offend someone else and vise-versa.  Therefore, I will simply list the potentially offensive aspects of the book that I might have noticed while reading it, and let the reader be his or her own judge.  This is not an exhaustive list and is not intended to be viewed that way.  It is, however, a tool for the reader to use to decided when trying to decide if he or she feels comfortable investing their time and/or money into a particular book.  I will do my best, but I give no guarantee that I may have missed something that might have offended someone else, nor that I might offend someone else by listing something that another reader loves about the book.  Use your own judgement.  Happy reading and as always, feel free to leave a comment about anything in any of my reviews.  As long as it is clean and relevant to the review, I will publish it.