29 July 2014

Room Nineteen

Some days ago, I was at a gathering when a woman approached me and told me that she had recently purchased Room Nineteen. She told me that the book had arrived in the morning and that, on opening the parcel, she had immediately begun to read the first chapter. She had only intended to get a 'feel' for the book before doing all the other things she had intended to do, but, as it turned out, she did not do anything else that day; instead, she read the book from cover to cover. She told me that she loved the book, and had since handed it on to her sister. Not quite a review, but a really lovely response that I thought I would share.

26 July 2014

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Published in 2008, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, written as a series of letters between the main character, Juliet Ashton, and other characters in the book, gives a picture of Guernsey during, and immediately after, the German Occupation of World War II. It is a delightful book which, like an open window on a spring day, manages to fill the reader with new, fresh perspectives on ordinary everyday things. The characters are all unique individuals, and it is easy to fall in love with most of them. However, in spite of all the light-heartedness, there is also a more sombre thread running through the story. This thread - the actual occupation of the islands - is, in many ways, the backbone of the story inasmuch as it is always there, even if the optimism and the courage of the islanders do much to hide it. Although the idea was conceived by Mary Ann Shaffer, she became very ill before she could finish the book, and she asked her niece Annie Barrows to help her. Unfortunately, Mary Ann died a few months before the book was actually published. This is definitely a book worth reading.

  Photo of Mary Ann and Annie from

22 July 2014

Where to purchase Room Nineteen

Here are some of the places where Room Nineteen may be purchased. Most online retailers carry it, so it is just a matter of checking. For those living on the Central Coast of NSW Australia, you can purchase the book, in person, from Book Bazaar, Umina, Gosford Regional Art Gallery, East Gosford, or, if you may contact me by email.,eklund-abolins-diane-9780987347336

19 July 2014

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson

I read Touching the Void some years back and really enjoyed it. At its centre is the fact that the will to live is stronger than everything else, and even when a situation seems completely hopeless - like breaking one's leg and then falling from the top of 7,000 metre mountain peak in the Andes - there is always a thin string of hope that can expand into a lifeline if there is a willingness to hold on tightly and not let go. It is this string of hope that keeps the author, Joe Simpson, alive as he focuses on getting back to base camp. He knows that everyone probably thinks that he is dead, and he knows that people will not remain at base camp longer than necessary. But it is also a book about relationships, both those between people and those between people and the natural world. In this spider web of interdependency, there exists another kind of strength that both parallels and supports the basic will to survive.

Photo of Joe Simpson from

15 July 2014

Book Draw Winner

The winner of the Book Draw is Gabriella Liisberg from Copenhagen in Denmark.

Congratulations Gabriella. Your copy of Room Nineteen is already on its way to you, and you should receive it within the next few days.

Many thanks to all of you - and there were a great many of you - who took part in the Book Draw. There will be another giveaway later in the year when, hopefully, it might be just your turn to win.

13 July 2014

A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile by Agate Nesaule

Only a couple of days left for the Book Draw.

In A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile, Agate Nesaule brings together truths from a place in history that many probably did not know existed, and her descriptions of the horrors and the deprivations inflicted on innocent people remain with the reader long after the book is finished and returned to its shelf. A Woman in Amber is a fitting tribute not only to those who suffered death or exile during the Soviet invasion of Latvia in the 1940s but also to those who remained behind. The book is split into two sections: the first dealing with the author's experiences in Latvia and her forced exile to Germany, the second describing her life in America as a refugee.

I found the book interesting more especially given the fact that, in parts, it parallels my own book The Space in Between - a book in which the effect of WWII on Latvia in particular and the Baltic countries in general, as well as exile and the plight of the refugee, play a central part. 


10 July 2014

La Bible de Gustave Doré by Torgny Lindgren

It is probably time to move on with some more book reviews; however, if you have not yet registered for the Book Draw (Room Nineteen), you still have a few days left. Also, if you are wanting to purchase a copy, you have plenty of options. (Click here for options).

I read La Bible de Gustave Doré some years ago (it was published in 2005). A Swedish book, now translated into many languages, it is breathtaking. It is actually the third book in a trilogy where "Sweetness" and "Hash" are the first two, and, although several of the characters are common to all three books, the books can be read and enjoyed separately. Themes such as the limitations of written language and the importance of art are woven into this particular story where the main character can neither read nor write but has a very good memory; he is also a competent story-teller. Years after the bible was lost in tragic circumstances, he records the stories from the bible, using a SONY MZN 710, inspired only by his memory of Gustave Dorés beautiful illustrations. At its centre, the book is about the human situation as illustrated by these amazing drawings - the point where the written and the visual merge into one.

07 July 2014

Book Release Date

Today, 7th July, is the official release date for Room Nineteen even though it has been selling online for the past few days. Don't forget to register for the draw (one free copy) - only a week left. Information about the draw can be found in the post below.

Room Nineteen is now available at a number of online retailers, but, if you are living on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia, you can purchase it at Book Bazaar in Umina or even at the Gosford Regional Art Gallery.