It is impossible not to think of war these days. Press and TV news keep our minds and hearts in constant worry. Though I usually avoid writing or discussing breaking news or politics here on my blog , today I’m going to tell you about  this beautiful movie I have just seen, with all my heart to the news coming from the several open fighting fronts.

War is no game. War leaves a mark. Eric Lomax , like many other surviving soldiers,  lived haunted by his war memories all his life through, as if war never actually ended in his mind and his heart. The Railway Man, based on Lomax’s autobiography,  will come out in September 2014  here in Italy as “Le due vie del destino”, but it opened theatrically on New Year’s Day in the UK and , in the US,   in April 2014.  It is already available on DVD at amazon.co.uk and,  from August 12,   it will be at amazon.com too.



I've been reading quite a lot  in these lazy summer days. That's what summer is for,  in my case. I didn't manage to read much in the past year, so it is the perfect time to catch up, to read as much as I can, both in English and in Italian. I'm sure I won't manage to be completely satisfied in the end,  since to hope to go through all my ambitiously endless TBR list is utopian, but, at least,  I'll try to  make my read-in-2014 list a bit longer.

The latest two books I added to the latter are both romance fiction novels in the star-crossed-lovers/ don't-forget-your-tissues section.
Jokes apart, they are both novels I won't easily forget. I  love them.  Both, as different as they are.

The Fault in Our Stars

"The fault, dear Brutus,  is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings". Probably John Green had this line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in his mind while trying to give his beatiful love story a proper title. But more probably, more than Julius Caesar, he had Romeo and Juliet in mind (... A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life/ Whose misadventured piteous overthrows / Doth with their death... ) , while writing the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. Shakespearean influences apart, the author was really inspired while depicting his two young protagonists with black letters on white pages: they are two of the loveliest,  liveliest teenage characters I've ever encountered.



Shane West and Janet Montgomery


Phew! Lots of blood.  I've just finished watching this series. "Why did I ever start?", I wonder. And why did I watch all the 13 episodes in the series? I can't actually say why. Never been interested in horror movies or series. Bewitched? I don't think so. There was nothing magic in this TV series, nothing bewitching to me. 

I started watching it out of curiosity while reading The Crucible before leaving for London to see Arthur Miller's play on stage (read my review + personal report of the experience). I don't know what I expected to find, but nothing of what I did. It is obvious, but I'll make itclearer:  I didn't like it much. Witches and witch hunting, black magic and supernatural, superstition and Puritans' fear-ridden rule in 17th century Massacchussetts are the main features in this story, with a bit of romance added. There are no complex characters, no great writing. It lacks substance.  



Hello and welcome on FLY HIGH!,  Jennifer. It’s a great pleasure to have the chance to present you and your new spellbinding novel,   Becoming Lady Lockwood to my readers, since they are always so interested in historical fiction!  Could you tell us something about your heroine,  Amelia?

Amelia is independent and resourceful. She has no problem digging in when there’s something to be done. She’s not squeamish or spoiled. She thinks she has a plan for her life, but her tyrant father has other things in mind.
She is a colonist who grew up on a sugar plantation, so she doesn’t quite fit in with the ton of London. Her clothes aren’t the right style, her manners aren’t refined. But frankly she doesn’t care about that sort of thing.
She has a good heart and while she’s wary and proud in the beginning, she learns to trust the captain and officers and even the seamen aboard the ship.

Is she inspired by any other literary heroine you admire?

Lizzie Bennett, of course, but also I like Sheridan from ‘Until You’ by Judith McNaught. For some reason I picture Amelia looking like the actress the who plays Snow White on Ever After. Sort of plucky and happy. Bright blue eyes.



I know,  I've been often very critical to my students here at FLY HIGH! Who can forget my disappointment while in Dublin or Malta on school trips! There are posts here and there about school and about my constant sense of frustration or disillusionment, if you click on the tag school. To be honest, there are also rare ones in which I write about successful moments, lessons or activities, but as I just said, they are pretty rare. 

What I want to discuss today is a part of my job I still feel quite uncomfortable with. To be a teacher includes a very stressful task,  which is to  assess  and evaluate, and that is what makes everything so complicated in terms of relationship. If only I could give my lessons and avoid tests, marks, reports and final decisions that would make my job perfect. Education without evaluation. This must sound irrational or utopian to many of you,  but that would make everything much, much easier, you know. Will the students learn, anyway? I'm sure they will,  somehow.


The Husband Maker by Karey WhiteThe Husband Maker by Karey White

 Charlotte’s a girl with nicknames. She may not love being called Charles or Chuck, but the hardest nickname to take is the one she was given in college, the one that’s followed her now for too many years. They call her “the husband maker” and sadly, it fits. Every guy she’s dated since high school has become his next girlfriend’s husband. Not hers. Not three girlfriends down the road. The next. Is she doing something wrong or is she just cursed? When Kyle Aldsworth enters the picture and sweeps her off her feet, Charlotte begins to hope that maybe she's not destined to be single forever. A senator’s son with political aspirations of his own, Kyle's wealthy, handsome, and in need of a wife. Will Charlotte be disappointed yet again, or will she finally be able to make a husband for herself?

Get your copy of The Husband Maker for just $3.99!


I’d always heard the view from Top of the Mark was exceptional. When San Francisco Life listed the top ten places to view the skyline at night, Top of the Mark was ranked number three, so when the invitation to Harrison’s wedding arrived, I finally had an excuse to take in the view for myself.



Today is my son's birthday. 23, a young man.  Don't worry, I'm not going to bother you with my memories of when he was just a baby in my arms, how fast time has passed, how kind a boy he is and neither I'll post a picture of him blowing at candles. Even less I wish to start crying on how old that makes me feel. Not. at. all.

It is just a special day which brought some special thoughts to me.
I have been thinking about what to be a mother to sons means. And my idea is that it is quite different from having daughters, at least, with my indirect experience,  it seems different. With my two sons, I sometimes lack the understanding I've got with my nieces, for instance, or the different relationship they have with their mother, my sister.



Richard Armitage as John Proctor in The Crucible
There are two kinds of people I am particularly fascinated by, writers and actors. Not for the glamour surrounding them. In fact, I'm not interested in the extremely popular ones, the very famous. Honestly, I'm more attracted to their jobs, than to their popularity or personal life. I consider good acting and good writing the result of meticulous craftsmanship, artistry and, only rarely, art. I'm particularly drawn to these two categories of people, widely known or not,  since their professions are somewhat magical to me. 
They've got the power to create life, to give life through words.

I know actors use their whole bodies, so , let's say, mostly through words. Most of an actor's job is based on words, and they are very often essential to the achievement of the main goal: a successful performance. 

Meeting author Fabio Stassi 
Writers and actors create life through words, they give life to characters, and characters do not only represent people, they are people once the actors lend them their bodies and voices.

I love to think  that , more than stories, actors and writers create personae (persons in Latin, characters in English)  and they,  the characters, interacting, contribute their story. They are not mere fiction, they are not unreal. They live,  and they live on long in certain cases,  in our minds and hearts. Longer than the human being who created them. 

As for actors, once they are in a movie, for instance,  they never actually die. The go on living in their characters, in those frames. They go on giving them life and voice. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see ... in Shakespeare's words.



Matt Archer RedemptionMatt Archer: Redemption

“There’s more to me than you know…” 

 When Matt Archer’s sister, Mamie, said those words to him three years ago, he had no idea how prophetic they were, or what this would mean for his family. Now, he knows. And it changes everything, bringing the war right to Matt’s doorstep. In the epic conclusion to the Matt Archer series, the endgame is near. Betrayed by an enemy, the wielders have been called off the hunt by their own government, despite increasing reports of paranormal activity—and deaths—worldwide. Matt is forced to sit on the sidelines, knowing that proving monsters exist means revealing who—and what—he is. Soon the world will know his name…which will only make his job harder. Matt’s only hope resides with a man he barely knows—his father. If Erik Archer can put together the final puzzle before the monsters do, maybe they’ll have a chance. Maybe. Mystery, tragedy and the power of family combine as Matt races to win the war and save the people he loves. There’s just one thing he’s afraid of… It might already be too late.  



July Kindle

Enter to win 1 of 2 great prizes both values at $229. Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HDX or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 Paypal Cash! The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to bloggers who post about this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter.

Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)



After all these years, at last 

I know you've been reading  all those excellent reviews the show has been getting after press night and I don't dare compete with them. This is just my totally biased account of an incredible adventure, the one my friends and I shared going to London to see The Crucible and, of course, Richard Armitage. Can you imagine how thrilling it might have been meeting him and, above all, seeing him in action on stage? I bet you can, if you know me at least a little. And can a dream come true meet expectations? Yes, unbelievably so, in my case. Even surpass them. Before you go on reading, here are a couple of due warnings: 1. you'll find some spoilers here and there 2. you may suffer from sudden fits of envy or jealousy. Sorry. 



Spell Check FREE

Spell Check Cover A skeleton is rattling its way out of the closet marked “FAMILY SECRET! KEEP OUT!” Allyson Peterson believes that being hanged by the Salem High Witches is the absolute worst thing that can happen. But when her powers, wrested from the trolls of ancient Sweden, manifest themselves, she realizes that a prank hanging by vindictive cheerleaders is the least of her worries. Ally accidentally sends her parents to the jungle to fight anacondas, turns her brother into a mute, and curses the entire cheerleading team with an illness that has no cure, proving that her spells need a little checking. Her Swedish grandmother shows up to help her through the worst part of all—surviving the Troll Trials and saving the guy of her dreams from a vengeance that has festered through-out generations. The power is in her, if she can just get the magic right.  

Grab your copy on Amazon

Author Julie Wright

Julie Wright Julie Wright (1972-still breathing) was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She's lived in LA, Boston, and the literal middle of nowhere (don't ask). She wrote her first book when she was fifteen. She's written sixteen novels--nine of which are traditionally published. Julie won the Whitney award for best romance in 2010 with her novel Cross My Heart. She is agented by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger Inc. She has one husband, three kids, two salamanders, one dog, and a varying amount of fish (depending on attrition). She loves writing, reading, traveling, hiking, playing with her kids, and watching her husband make dinner. She used to speak fluent Swedish, but now speaks only well enough to cuss out her children in public. She hates mayonnaise.


Uncover CobbogothUncovering Cobbogoth by Hannah L. Clark

 Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister. When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own.

  Praise for Uncovering Cobbogoth

"With a fascinating protagonist in Norah Lukens, a fully realized, never before seen fantasy world, and a fast paced, compelling story, Uncovering Cobbogoth establishes Hannah L. Clark as a major new voice in American fiction. The richness of the story and the scope of the world she's created screams for a film adaptation. This is a fantasy novel for everyone, even readers not usually drawn to the genre. Highly, highly recommended!" -Bryce Clark, author of Red Shirt Kids