Welcome to Love von Beauty von Love!

Standard

In the beginning there was … Love & Beauty & Life & Light & Spark  & Prosperity & Style & Soul & Bliss & Happiness & Wonder & Joy & Courage & Vision & Solidarity & Childhood & Freedom & Dream & Faith.

And at some point hatred, lust, death, darkness, poverty, plague, immorality, scandal, despair, expectation, sorrow, envy, blindness, ego, greed,  cynicism, grievance, hunger, terror, fear, bullies –  made room and started messing things up …

I started this blog from a purely egocentric need: a need to remind myself of beauty and love, which makes life worth treasuring, every single day, every single moment.

In the beginning there was … Love & Beauty & …whatever we wish for!

“The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs” by Carmine Gallo

Standard

I like books which make me think, books that help me move on the path I choose. Books that bring out the best of my inquisitive instincts. “The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs” is such a book. It is loaded with unpacked and ready to use techniques of the best CEO of the times we are living in.

Gallo takes the reader through 18 scenes divided between 3 acts on Create the story, Deliver the experience, Refine and rehearse. In each act, there are doors and passages to simple, yet amazing techniques to apply in presenting to any audience. He highlights the basics of preparations and unveils what I see as the essence of it all: talk about things you are passionate about; rehearse, rehearse, rehearse; and be authentic.

Cafe Littera by Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze

Standard

Café Littera introduces itself as “Exquisite European cuisine with a touch of Modern Georgian dishes.” Nested in the idyllic inner court of the Writers House in Sololaki district of Tbilisi, it welcomes guests for lunch and dinner. Reservations are highly recommended, as the dozen or so of tables are in high demand.

The Chef Tekuna Gacheladze is known in Georgia and beyond. I felt that her travels abroad inspired her to bring a lightness to the Georgian cuisine otherwise widely known for its generosity in taste and quantities.

We were warmly greeted and seated at our table in a matter of minutes. The tables are reasonably far from each other, current rules obliging. This gave us a sense of an almost private dinner.

The English menu is sufficiently clear, though if this is your first experience with this cuisine, the waiter will kindly explain what is a dolma or Pkhali. For entrée, the menu is generous with 6-7 dishes of dips, appetizers and salads. We went for a smoked eggplant Pkhali with pomegranate and Lavash, spinach dip, dolma with wild greens and yogurt foam and a strawberry and guda cheese salad. The portions are of reasonable size to our taste. I enjoyed the way flavours surprised me in the strawberry and guda salad with a splash of a lightly acid dressing on the roquettes it comes with.

From the main dishes, we tried the mixed mushrooms with artichokes and baked Seabass with lemon Safran sauce on wild greens. The mushrooms gave us a sense of travelling back to our grandmother’s kitchen and filled us with the warmth of a dish made with love. The seabass was good, though less exciting to our taste, perhaps because of the slight bitterness of the wild greens it comes with. We paired the food with a bottle of Tvishi Marani, upon the waiter’s recommendation, which proved a great choice for our mood that evening. We left the otherwise very appealing desserts for next time.

I warmly recommend the place for a moment of indulgence with your loved ones.

This is my first restaurant review based exclusively on our experience and perceptions.

You can see more pictures on Cafe Littera instagram account – these two will give you a flavour of the atmosphere:

“The great circle” by Maggie Shipstead

Standard

I anticipated a one-of-a-kind journey. It was. In a sense… putting aside the many short cuts I took (alias chapters skimping in the 600 page book).

The lives of three central female characters with different backgrounds and from different eras sounded appealing. Yet their stories do little to support each other in one novel. I wonder if the author considered a trilogy at some point and then decided to go for one novel… Nevertheless, one can still feel the dominance of one character – Marian Graves, the fictional pilot, who took it to the sky regardless of social norms of her times (30s-40s of last century). We get to know her a bit through the experience of her mother, a troubled woman who took her own life, along with dozens others, by presumably blasting a boat, whose captain was her unaware husband. I wish there were less pages on Marian’ sex experiences, as it does little to unveil her character. She likes sex, with both men and women, we get that. There is no apparent need to delve on it. I skipped almost entirely the chapters about the third female character – a fictional Hollywood starlet of our times. Her inner struggles and confusions do little justice to Marian, whose character she is supposed to play in a movie about the legendary flight around the two poles.

The book is said to be well researched for historical events and surroundings spanning over 100 years on different continents. A truly commendable effort. At times it felt as if the author actually lived there and then, at other times, it felt a bit too documentary to me.

This book had many DNF reviews. I also almost dropped it, yet if you are patient or selectively skipping parts of it, you might be rewarded when you get to “The Flight” chapter on the actual culmination of the life of Marian.

I always read the “Acknowledgement” section. There are always little treasures there if you look. This time it was a writing app – Scrivener.

I always give 5 stars to books, and my review is very personal, which has little to do with the author’s labour, which I cannot judge.

“A traveller at the Gates of Wisdom” by John Boyne

Standard

Some human stories on this planet are universal. Father – son relationships, revenge, unfulfilled potential, unhappy marriages, rich and poor. Same goes for human emotions of fear, faith, greed, contentment, courage, love and hate. What is curious is how Boyne constructed the plot or rather the succession of plots to tell us this universal story. He takes the reader on a journey in time and a globetrotting of some sorts spread over a thousand years of struggle to reach peace.

The main character (Boyne himself, I think) meets known and unknown characters and lives through historic events as he attempts to give sense to his own life. A rather futuristic last chapter of life on an orbit was rather unexpected to me, yet, I gather, it is meant to give the reader an optimistic and hopeful ribbon to hold on to perhaps.

“Redhead by the side of the road” by Anne Tyler

Standard

“Redhead by the side of the road” is almost a day in a life of Micah – a man encapsulated in his own world where he puts the order of small things about the joy and mess of human interactions: “He lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.” When a 17 year old knocks on his door, distressed and in need of a roof, Micah’s life is shaken. His realisation of past relationships failures push him to rekindle his last one in an attempt to embrace the joy and messiness of a life shared with a loved one.

I read it in almost one go, so if you a looking to read something unsoliciting and light, this can work.

“The Beekeeper of Aleppo” by Christy Lefteri

Standard

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is about profound loss, but it is also about love and finding light”, Lefteri tells us. This is what she witnessed on the camps in Athens during her time as a volunteer. This is a work of fiction, yet its story line is as real as the lives of millions of refugees of war and famine.

Lefteri’s writing is marvelous, marked by poignant honesty and the lightness of early mornings. I held my breath, I shed tears and I smiled as Lefteri took me on Nuri and Afra’s journey from war-torn Aleppo to England, from the loss of their only son to a reconnection, from murder to overcoming an animal desire to kill, from the loss of a business to a newly found passion for training others to succeed, from blindness to vision, from bottomless sadness to relived giggles of companionship. Books like this are a great reminder not to judge anyone – you never know what the person has been through. We are all migrants on Earth, in a sense or another.

“Ten Things About Writing” by Joanne Harris

Standard

Joanne Harris knows a thing or two about writing, as a world renown author and the Chair of the Society of Authors. I was delighted to discover her book about writing. I love it when people are generous in sharing their knowledge.

The book will take you into the insights of the writing process from start to the publication and beyond. It will unveil the secrets of what makes a story, characterisation and detailing. And it is all written with honesty and no-non-sense. Joanne is incredibly encouraging towards aspiring writers: “Remember, … , that just writing is an act of bravery. You have the courage to do what it takes to give your voice the chance to be heard. Don’t do it because you want to be the next J.K. Rowling, or Maya Angelou, or Margaret Atwood. Those are already taken. Do it because your voice is unique. Only you can take this chance. No one else will ever be you, or tell your story the way you can”.

After this book, I also realized that I am more demanding as a reader. Joanne is right. If after 10 pages I am not fully absorbed by the story or if the author states the obvious (“the rain is wet” ), I will close the book and look for something else to read.

“Battle mind. How to navigate in Chaos and perform under Pressure” by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg

Standard

If you are looking for inspiration in times of adversity, you’ll find it in this book: “My basic reason for writing this book is that I believe that people can become better at dealing with adversity, if they know the concept Battle Mind, and master the underlying techniques.” the author tells us.

The concept of Battle Mind came from military psychology. Accordingly, the Battle Mind is “a state of mind that helps soldiers survive, focus, and take action in military operations, where there is no room for hesitation.” Merete takes forward the question why do some people perform better under pressure, while others lose control and offers practical guidance and techniques to master the art of dealing with crisis and emergencies. 

In addition to the practical advice and actionable tips it offers, I appreciated the book for a number of other reasons. It is rich in real life stories from battle fields to corporate floors to learn from. It contains numerous references to other great books and research papers to get further in-depth inspiration for a “yes, we can” mood any project manager needs to exhibit for the team to follow suit.