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Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Compodoglio garden terrace

You may be wondering why in the world I’d be posting photos of my day in Rome on a project dedicated to Orvieto? Well, it’s to illustrate one of the great things about our town: It’s smack-dab in the middle of Italy, on a main rail line and right off the autostrada. Just a quick 1-hour train ride to Rome’s historical center, Orvieto can be the perfect day trip from Rome or… MAYBE.. Rome is the perfect day trip from Orvieto? Think about it! Like! Share! Visit! 

Getto fountainLeonardo-da-vinciRome campodoglio

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Death Logs In is the second book in E. J. Simon’s techno-thriller crime series. The first, Death Never Sleeps was published in 2013 and rose to #2 on Amazon Kindle, as well as appeared on numerous bestseller lists in the U.S. and abroad. Initially self-published, Simon/Zef began publishing Death Never Sleeps after it moved over 80,000 copies in its first year.

Unfortunately, I was unable to read the first book in the series because both copies mailed to me never reached my home in Orvieto. Ahhh, the Italian postal service…talk about a shady organized crime syndicate!

Death Logs In book cover

“Some of the most powerful people in the world want to kill Michael Nicholas. Only his brother, Alex can save him – the problem is that Alex is dead. It’s been almost a year since Alex Nicholas, a Queens based underworld Boss, was gunned down. After Alex’s brutal murder, Michael inherited not only his brother’s business – but his enemies. Michael is now a key player in a world he once feared. By day, he is the head of a Fortune 500 company by night, the CEO of Tartarus, one of the worlds largest illegal gambling operations.” 

Review of Death Logs In….

Thrillers and crime novels aren’t really my thing, but I wanted to keep an open mind as I began reading E. J. Simon’s newest novel, Death Logs In

Death Logs In has all the makings of a great crime/mob thriller. There’s protagonist, Michael “just when I though I was out, they pulled me back in” Nicholas – a reluctant gangster who was left to run his brother’s gambling empire after his death. Sindy Steele is a femme fatale bodyguard with more secrets than the Vatican has gold leaf, and Michael’s wife Samantha, who likes to shop but doesn’t much care for Michael and Sindy’s business association. The cast of characters are rounded-out by two meathead bookies from Queens, a whiney but deadly assassin stuck in exile at one of Rome’s finest hotels, and a gaggle of high-powered Catholic priests whose dealings have nothing to do with “God’s work”. It’s The Godfather-meets-Goodfellas-meets-The DaVinci Code

I had some trouble, initially, getting past the artificial intelligence premise on which the story is based. To be fair to the author, I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic – especially when it comes to future shock/conspiracy theories. If a Stephen Hawking had come to me personally to explain “AI” principle, I might be more receptive to the idea…but then again, maybe not.

The improbable plot aside, I also struggled with the schizophrenic quality of the storyline. Locations changed and jumped around a lot and some chapters were way too short, making the plot extremely difficult to follow. The sanitized dialog stuck out like a sore thumb – not one single F-bomb in a book full of mobsters? A novel about a criminal underworld should have a little edge.

Finally, the world-class destinations such as New York, London, Rome and Paris were underused. Scenes were invariably set inside restaurants, bars or hotel rooms instead of taking the reader on a clandestine gondola ride on the Grand Canal, a car chase through the streets of Rome, or a cliff-hanging murder scene atop the Eiffel Tower. It might have been contrived and cliché, but at least it would have been fun.

Regrettably, Death Logs In is a book I’m less than enthusiastic about. In my opinion, the author didn’t take the story of racketeering and church corruption quite far enough. But as I said earlier, crime thrillers aren’t really my thing…they could however, really be yours.

Meet the Author: 

E.J. Simon photo

E.J. Simon was the CEO of GMAC Global Relocation Services (a division of GM) and the Managing Director of Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate company in NY.

He is a consultant to many leading private equity firms and has held senior level positions at prominent financial services companies.

He is a world traveler, food enthusiast and lives in Connecticut.Death Never Sleeps is his first novel. His second novel, Death Logs In, will be available in October 2014.

Connect with him:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

 

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER:

Where to buy the book:

 Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

Chapters Indigo

Death Never Sleeps – Amazon.it / Amazon.fr

Death Logs In – Amazon.it / Amazon.fr

TO READ OTHER REVIEWS OF Death Logs In click on the links below.

Tour Schedule:

Dec 12 – Monica Cesarato – review Death Logs In

Dec 17 – The Good Life France – review of Death Logs In / author interview

Dec 17 – Curiosity and a Carry On – review of Death Logs In

Dec 22 – Why Roam? – Book Spotlight / guest post

Dec 29 – The Good Life France – giveaway

Jan 5 – Young in Rome – review Death Never Sleeps

Jan 7 – Orvieto or Bust – review Death Logs In

Jan – Young in Rome – review Death Logs In

Jan – The Venice Experience – review Death Never Sleeps

Jan – The Venice Experience – review Death Logs In

Jan – Erica Firpo – review Death Never Sleeps

Jan – Erica Firpo – review Death Logs In

 

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Italy Book Tours gets books in the hands of readers who love everything Italian. They offer professional virtual book tours to authors and publishers whose books are set in Italy, have an Italian theme, are written by an Italian author or translated from Italian. For more information you can contact Laura Fabiani at http://www.italybooktours.com.

 by Toni DeBella

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Last week Steve Brenner and I premiered our video “The Food Police: The Rick Steves Episode”.  We had such a blast shooting it in Rome and we are so grateful to Rick and his staff for generously promoting it on Facebook and Rick Steves Europe.  

Rick Steves shoot

On the first day 128,000 people viewed our film and 350 posted comments. I tweeted Anthony Bourdain and began stalking George Clooney’s publicist.  It was sort of surreal.

By the second day the views had fallen-off a bit. They dropped even more by day three. I guess people moved on to watch a YouTube video of Korean pop star PSY.

I think that may have been our fifteen minutes of fame.

Me and Andrea

See Episodes I, II & III here:

Go to www.foodpolice.it to find out more about us and sign up to see what we’re up to next! 

by Toni Debra

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Every single path we take in life has its price to pay. Fulfilling my dream comes at the expense of living far away from my son.

IMG_2181Today I especially felt the sting of that choice as I accompanied Andrew to the train station. I decided not to see him off at the airport because he absolutely hates it when I make public displays of emotion.

Honestly, I should have earned an Academy Award for this morning’s subtle and realistic performance as the upbeat and nonchalant Mom…smiling as I gave him a big hug, two kisses on the cheek (Italian style) and waved goodbye through the train window. I waited until I was on the Metro back home to burst into tears.

Andrew arrived in Rome in January to do a semester of university study.  This once shy, introverted child had become a confident, independent and adventurous man.  It’s astonishing how quickly he immersed himself into the experience: A year ago he was asking me, “How do you say “fork” in Italian?” and now I’m asking him, “Should I use the imperfect or simple past in this situation?”  I admit it does bug me a little when he orders the dinner in a restaurant to avoid the embarrassment of his mother (who’s been studying the language for six-something years) mispronouncing menu items.  I suppose I should be used to it by now – he’s been smarter than me since the third grade. 

We spent his last day in Italy quietly walking around Rome. I could tell he was sad too, but he claimed he was just tired. I know he’s ready to return to his life in San Francisco and resume his studies, earn his degree, begin a career and get on with building the life he wants for himself. I want that for him too, but I will miss my Amore di Mamma more than I can say.

by Toni DeBella

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Finding Rome on the Map of LoveShortly after arriving in Italy, I accepted an invitation to a book signing and reading event in Rome.  When I learned of the book’s subject matter (a thirty-something woman who finds love with an Italian and moves to Rome) I thought, Oh no, not another fairy tale about coming to Italy, having an affair with Marcello Mastroianni and living happily ever after!  Needless to say I was skeptical.  Seriously, is there anyone out there who could bring freshness to this tired and overly saturated genre of storybook fantasies alla Three Coins in a Fountain, Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love?  I know I sound jaded, but my expectations are low.

IMG_1262After a brief introduction author Estelle Jobson sat down on a cushion in the courtyard of The Beehive Hotel, opened her book, Finding Rome on the Map of Love, and began to read.  As I listened to her recount the stories, I noticed the corners of my mouth began to spontaneously turn upward.  Her elegant and proper South African accent was in sharp contrast to the wry, sardonic and sassy repartee.  Hey, this girl gets it!  When she finished I was a bit sad, but fortunately I’d purchased my very own autographed copy of the book and immediately cracked it open on the train back to Orvieto.

During the first couple of chapters, I was gulping down Estelle’s pages the way a typical American might eat their dinner: swallowing without taking time to taste.  Perhaps I’ve been in Italy long enough that a voice inside my head warned, “Don’t be in a hurry. Savor each flavor and texture.”  This book was just like a good Italian meal; I never wanted the literary feast to end. And when it did end, I felt warm and utterly satisfied.

IMG_1263Estelle Jobson is a talented writer who has a true gift for observation. She describes things that, as an expatriate, I’d experienced but was never able to fully articulate.  What appreciate most about Estelle’s storytelling is the way she doesn’t laugh at Italians, she laughs with them. Her book is filled with intelligent humor, compassion, and edgy insight. She’s sarcastic without being mean; clever without being pretentious; and emotional without being overly sentimental.  Estelle sees Italians the way they really are and reconfirms, at least for me, why I love living among them.

I’ll stay with the food analogy just a little bit longer. I really enjoyed chewing slowly on every single delicious “bite” of Finding Rome on the Map of Love. Her words were proprio buonissime! 

Enjoying my copy...

Enjoying my copy…

...in front of the...

…in front of the…

...Duomo di Orvieto.

…Duomo di Orvieto.

by Toni DeBella

You can contact the author at findingrome@gmail.com

Find her and her book on Facebook

ebook on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Rome-Map-Love-ebook/dp/B009HBLYYO/ 

Online extract here: http://italianintrigues.blogspot.ch/2012/10/the-socialization-of-italian-man.html

 

 

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I’m happy to report that because the end of the world didn’t come this week, my tour of the Christmas lights in Rome was able to go forward as planned.  In fact, my personal “guide” for the evening had a new prophecy for me:

“I predict you are going to come to Rome very, very soon…and be astonished from the lights all over, thinking it was the effect of that good wine you just had.” 

IMG_1503Maybe it was the wine, or it might have been those sparkling blue and white jellyfish that floated above my head, or the draping of light bulbs that covered an entire boulevard from end-to-end, or the gigantic trees in every piazza…

Whatever the reason, I was totally astonished and also extremely grateful to be here in Italy for this glittery Roman holiday tradition.

Last night Rome was so bright, I should have worn shades.

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by Toni DeBella

 

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All packed and nowhere to go.

Hurricane Sandy, like the Icelandic Volcano several years before it, had rearranged my date of departure leaving me cooling my jets in California for another week.  You know how it is when you’re ready to go somewhere – a delay can be a huge letdown.  My friend calls it “premature elation”.  On the bright side, it was great to hang out with my Mom and Andrew a little bit longer, but after seven days on hold I decided to reroute my trip and fly to Frankfurt instead.

Am I becoming one of those people who always has a story?

On Tuesday I arrived in Frankfurt without incident, carrying everything I own crammed into two seventy-pound suitcases. I literally lumbered over to the DB Bahn desk for a train ticket to Italy. I explained to the young reservationist that I must be on the next train to Orvieto, Italy.  She said the train to Munich was leaving in exactly twelve minutes, so I slapped down my credit card and took off like a bat out of hell – I hopped onto the train with just minutes to spare!  I enjoyed the German countryside, but my train arrived in Munich late, so I had to make a run for it (with two heavy bags, “run” would be an overstatement).  The conductor announced they would be pulling away from the station in 30 seconds so I flung my bags onto the last carriage – I think I have a hernia now.  But really, the important thing is I was on my way to Orvieto at last!

I took a seat by the window and looked out at the passing cities of Nuremberg, Innsbruck, Trento…oh sh*t! I took the wrong train!  Apparently Rovereto is not the German word for “Orvieto”, but actually a town near Verona. Oh well, at least I was traveling in the right direction.

In Verona, my friendly Austrian conductor, Arnold, offered to let me tag along with the train employees to their hotel and even convinced the front desk to give me a good rate.  A pizza, a shower and a good night’s sleep was just what the doctor ordered.

In the morning I was on the train to Orvieto via Bologna.  I met a lovely veterinarian from Rome, Marco, who helped me get my bags (or as he referred to them, my armadi (wardrobes)) off of the train at Bologna Centrale and three hours later I arrived at my new home.  My friend heard my bags rolling down the marble stairs all the way from the station lobby.  She remarked how lucky I was to have avoided the excess baggage charges by the airline.  Yeah, I am lucky.

by Toni DeBella

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