October Book Recommendations
Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a book addict! I can’t get enough of books! Right now, I’m staring at a stack of 20 books waiting for me. I can’t wait to read them!
Somewhere along the way I garnered a reputation as a book reviewer. Since my days at The Greek Star newspaper and then with WindyCity Greek magazine, many publishers and authors send me books for review. What better task for a booklover?
I almost exclusively read books written by Greek authors or with a Greek theme/setting. I love to see Greece through the eyes of others – and I’m intrigued by the love that non-Greek authors have for this storied land.
Many people ask me for book recommendations, so I thought I’d begin sharing them here, just in time for National Book Month! These are books I’ve recently read.
Tasso’s Journey by Paula Renee Burzawa
Award-winning Greek-American Author Paula Renee Burzawa’s historical novel is based on the life of her grandfather, Anastasios “Tasso” Stamatopoulos. Set in Magoula and Vassara (near Sparta) at the outset of WWII and the Nazi invasion, the book tells the story of Tasso’s patriotism and desire to fight for his country and his family’s future. It’s a story of fierce loyalty, love, loss, faith, and the will to survive. Paula skillfully unveils the story through her characters that come to life. They’re our yiayia, papou, mother, father. We cry their tears; we feel their fear and their strength. You won’t be able to put it down.
Paula has published two other books, Seasons of Sun and Eternal Stones and Other Memories of Greece. Read these, too.
Beyond the Third Door by Maria Heckinger
Just out this fall, Maria Heckinger’s debut work is based on her own true story of finding her Greek roots. Maria knew she was adopted, and when the time was right, fate led her to her biological family. The story shifts from three different points of view – Maria’s, her adoptive mother Ellen’s, and her biological mother Hariklea’s.
Don’t miss this fascinating story about how 15 year-old Hariklea found herself on the streets of Patra, alone and pregnant. Unable to care for her daughter, she placed her in an orphanage, with the pledge to take her back as soon as she was able. Like many other children from these orphanages, they were adopted by Americans without their biological parents’ knowledge.
Maria is a retired educator.
Cave of Silence by Kostas Krommydas
(Independently published, 2017)
You’ve likely seen this Greek author and actor as the superintendent on Masterpiece Theatre’s ‘The Durrells’. He’s also an exceptional author. This is the third of his books that I’ve read, and I’ve enjoyed them all.
While filming a movie set on a Greek island, Dimitri falls for his famous German-Greek co-star, Anita. They part briefly so Dimitri may fulfill the last wish of his beloved uncle: to sprinkle his ashes on the family’s native island. Dimitri’s mother is against it but won’t reveal her reasons. His family never spoke of the island and Dimitri has never visited. Wishing to keep his word to his uncle, he heads to the island, with a promise to his mother that he won’t reveal his identity.
Anita surprises Dimitri on the island, which has enchanted them both. A series of events lead to revelations about the past – long-held secrets that threaten to destroy their future. Can they overcome the wounds of the past? You’ll have to read it to find out. Based on a true story, in Kostas’ skillful hands, we’re on the roller coaster along with the characters and living every moment as if it’s happening to us. This fast-paced, gripping tale is one you won’t soon forget.
Kostas has written several other novels, in Greek. Athora, Dominion of the Moon, and Lake of Memories have been translated to English. You’ll love these other books as well.
Something Beautiful Happened: A Story of Survival and Courage in the Face of Evil by Yvette Manessis Corporon
(Howard Books, 2017)
Since she was a young girl, Yvette was regaled by stories of how her grandmother helped to hide a Jewish family during WWII on the tiny Greek island of Erikousa. As she grew up and forged a career in the TV industry, she couldn’t get the story out of her head. She was determined to find out the identity of this family and what happened.
Amid fascinating starts, stops, twists, and turns, she manages to track down the descendants of the family, who survived the horrific events of the time. Just as the pieces come together and they prepare to meet, her family is faced with a horrific tragedy – her nephew is gunned down by a Neo-Nazi in a Kansas parking lot. The lessons she learns from the past help her to confront this brutal incident in the present – and to try to come to terms with the fact that 70 years later, we, collectively, haven’t learned from the past.
Yvette is a three-time Emmy Award-winning writer, author, and producer. Her debut, When The Cypress Whispers, (Harper) was published in 2014.