Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: "Letters From Korea, Legacy of Honor Series, Volume 2," Joan Leotta

Joan Leotta has taken the ordinary act of letter writing and made the action into an extraordinary love story in “Letters From Korea,” the second book in her Legacy of Honor series.

The book opens with Sgt. Sal Leonardi on his way to Korea, regretting that he never told Gina DeBartolo how much he loves her. He is pleased he’ll be serving his country by being a pharmacist in Korea, but his only means of communicating with Gina is via letters. He avoids writing about his feelings toward her because of the uncertainty of war and the miles between them. Instead he writes about mundane things, such as the weather and what his duties are.

Gina, on the other hand, waits for letters from Sal, hoping he reveals he cares for her beyond thinking of her as a little sister. When his letters don’t contain any romantic elements, she doesn’t know what his feelings are toward her. She has moved to Pittsburgh where she has acquired a job at University of Pittsburgh working in the laboratory of Dr. Jonas Salk, the research doctor who discovered the first successful polio vaccine, and plans to earn her degree in chemistry. She tells Sal about these events in her life, but does not include her romantic feelings toward him, thus the two are basically in limbo. However, intrigue develops in Pittsburgh, not only with Sal’s letters, but with Gina’s job.

Jealousy, theft, surveillance, espionage and feigned concern by those Gina meets at Pitt are all part of the plot. The book also expresses a philosophy of life that embraces honesty, integrity and charity and includes close family bonds. The author provides a wide spectrum of ideas that encourages readers to evaluate their own value systems.

Leotta also demonstrates her knowledge of Korean and Italian foods. Readers are sure to glean other benefits of reading the book and will probably want to know more about Gina’s family, especially since Guilia, John, Anna Maria, Carmie, Ernie and others continue their roles in this book, which were started in the first Legacy of Honor book, “Giulia Goes to War.”

The third book, “A Bowl of Rice,” concerns the Vietnam War and is due out in March 2014.

Digital Scrapbooking for the photographer/writer

As a kid, I always liked photography. This interest has never waned. I belong to the Coastal Carolina Camera Club, and three years ago I discovered another way to use my photographs: digital scrapbooking. I have three digital scrapbooks now and will start a fourth by Sept. 1. It is one of the most creative expressions through photography and writing that I’ve ever experienced.
Think about it. If you like photography, you have an outlet for those landscapes, portraits and memorable pictures you’ve taken. If you like to write, you add captions.

My interest in digital scrapbooking started when I covered a story about scrapbooking. The diehard scrapbooker sticks with the traditional method: buy background paper, use scrapbook-developed implements to have unique shapes for pictures, paste pictures on the paper and add embellishments. All of these are preserved in plastic covers. I didn’t want that route. I spend most of my hours at the computer, so digital scrapbooking is an extension of my workday, which I don’t mind at all.

I did research on scrapbooking programs and chose My Memories Suite. It works well for me and what I want to accomplish. My goals are to preserve high points in my life, which include family members, family events and vacations and travel experiences. Nothing from my work life is included in any of my scrapbooks. I have preserved memories of our cruise to the New England states and eastern Canada, our journey through Eastern Europe and most recently our excursions in New Mexico and our nephew’s wedding in Santa Fe. A highlight was my experience in a hot air balloon.

This year——2013——will emphasize our son, Steven, who is in Afghanistan. Trips to Hawaii, San Francisco, Virginia Beach, Chicago, Raleigh and other places will be part of the year I want to remember.

My husband says, “Who cares? Nobody wants to see all that?”
My answer, “I do.”
That’s worth all the work to me.