Saturday, April 12, 2014

Organizing Next Literary Event

We are now moving on to the next literary event, which happens to be in June. I have been contacting  publicists for possible donations for our literary event in June. The publicists have been receptive.  I can't wait to see the faces when they see the books I have received. I can't believe it myself.

Our literary event has been so successful in the Jewish community this year. I am amazed how it started. When I started this, it was only a idea. I did not think it would grow as it has.  We started with 15 people that included some of us from the book club.  Then this year we had almost 50 people. We had to turn people away. For our June event, it was going to be low keyed, a women's event. Since the book, we picked was women's fiction. I got a message from one of our attendees that he was upset because he could no longer come.  I did not think any men would want to come. I had to change it from Literary Ladies Night Out, to Night Out with Rabbi Debbie.

We will be discussing the novel, Sinners and the Sea by Rebecca Kanner.  Rabbi Debbie will be talking about the mysteries of Noah's Wife. I originally did these literary events for my book club. Then I decided to open it up to others if they were interested. After I started that I then begain the Jewish Grand Strand Reads.

I think many people did not know what to expect from the literary events. So, now spreading the word through friends has helped us grow as well.  The reason I started the group because we don't have access to authors down south without a high price tag. I thought of the closest best thing,  gathering of readers.  We eventually want to have a author come here, we first have to raise funds, or have someone who has backing to support us. Who knows, maybe in a few years when we can build up a large following.

During this time, with work and school, I have been lucky to be able to organize, and prepare for our event. The most time consuming was the emails to the publicists. I thought would take a few minutes ended up taking the entire day.  At the same time I am deciding on a selection of books for our next community read in March.

Our community is very different from up north. They like to read books that are entertaining. If you learn something from reading that is great, if not that is great too. That is the reason for fiction, rather than non-fiction. We think after a couple more years than we can try the non-fiction. After building our selves up we don't want to loose people.  Especially after the wonderful book, The Golem and the Jinni. It seems that people like to read great story telling, with multi-layered characters, Here are the books we have come up with so far, if new ones come out before June we may add it.
So far:

The Guide for the Perplexed
 by Dara Horn


The Lion Seeker
 by Kenneth Bonert

Love & Treasure
By Ayelet Waldman

It's just too bad that I love doing this so much that I don't get paid. I realize this would be the best job. Since I love doing it so much. People want events like this up north, but not down in Myrtle Beach, S. C. I realize I got my calling late. I would have loved to work in the publishing industry. I love promoting books, and the authors. It is a bit late now, " midlife crisis". So I continue to do what I love to do, this way.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Visible City: Book Review

Visible City
By Tov Mirvis
Very different kind of novel.  I have read other books by Tova Mirvis before.  I read Auxillary Wife which takes place in the Nashville Jewish Orthodox community.  This one is not anything like it. I recommend it to anyone that has lived in or has been in NYC.I could feel the pulse of the city in those pages.  I can relate. Anyone that has lived in the city, or visited would love reading this short book. Even though the book is short, is has a lot to say. 

The novel felt like you  are sneaking behind closed doors and peep holes into the character's daily lives. This is usually not my kind of book. But, it was wonderful.

 I felt like I was a sneaking into people's apartments without a key. This story takes place in Manhattan.  Nina is watching people through her son's binoculars. We go into people's lives of Leon, and Claudia and Emma their adult daughter. She is engaged and left school for now. Trying to decide what to do.

Nina's  husband Jeremy is a corporate lawyer. He is representing  a client that wants to tear down the apartment complex next door where he lives. There are so many different people that she spies I don't want to spoil anymore. Feels like the movie, Rear Window.  Enjoyed reading, even though I don't usually read character study. I am usually plot driven. Thanks for allowing me to review Tova. I was sent a copy by the author.

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Invisible Wall: Book Review

Invisible Wall
By Harry Bernstein

Invisible Wall was a fast read for me. We read it for our book club. One of our member's husband was born, and raised outside London. He had visited  our book club to discuss his own experience. 

This truly was a wonderful book. It reminded me of Angela's Ashes, Jewish Style. He mom was the caregiver while the father was a tailor. He left the house every night and got drunk. He did not seem to care about his family. His parent's married him off and runaway to America after he was married. In Manchester where he was raised. There was a Invisible Wall between the Christian, and Jew. 

When he got older his sister married a non-Jew. His mom disowned her for quite some time, but eventually they came around after the baby was born. The two sides the Christian and Jew celebrated the birth. Had a large celebration and forgot about the resentment of Jew against Christian, the wall started to fall down. 

After a few years Harry moved with his family to America. The wrote the book after the death of his wife. It is a interesting story of being Jewish in England.   He wrote two other books before his death about his experiences, this is his memoir and his legacy he left behind. 

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Jewish Grand Strand Reads 2014

It has taken me a while to post about our Jewish community Read. I knew it would be a while, but I did not think this long to digest, and evaluate our wonderful event.  One reason I did not post yet was because I was not well leading up to the event, and after. Doesn't it figure, it catches up to you eventually between, school, work, and the event.

Anyway, this is what I have to tell you it was wonderful, and it was a great success! When do you call a event a success or a failure?? I call it a success when last year, we had 28 in attendance. Now, we had 47. We had to turn people away.  Wow! we have to pat ourselves on the back!! Thanks to my other co-conspirators, Marian Cohen, Kat Kahn, and Donna Llewylln.  Thanks to them while I was in school, they were helping out on the sidelines.  We were even able to get on a community TV station, thanks to Donna.

Beside our wonderful event on March 2nd. We had a lovely time talking to Helene Wecker on SKYPE. The author of, The Golem and the Jinni.

WHAT A WONDERFUL READ! She was so, down to earth and very easy to talk to. We were able to chat with her for over an hour.  She is wonderful.  We also saw the original Golem movie( silent film), and some other events. I am not going to talk about the book again, since I have done that several posts. But, if you have never read the book, I suggest that you read it.

I was unable to appreciate the event in March because I was sick. Oh well, hopefully next year. We had a wonderful cake made just for the book celebration, The Golem and the Jinni.  Thank you Kat for getting the cake, it was wonderful.

Rabbi Debbie was a wonderful guest speaker I was told. I don't know what she talked about. I am sure the Golem of course.  The staff of the restaurant was wonderful.

A new thing I added this year was books were donated by publishers and were showcased to the audience. Then they were given away as prizes. Some of the authors were well known, where others were debut authors.  My greatest gift was Sue Monk Kidd's novel, Invention of Wings, it was autographed.  One of my favorite people won the book. I was thrilled.

As I close this post I have  to thank one person that went over and beyond what she is expected to do. Is our Rabbi's secretary, Jesse. She is wonderful, helping me with the flyer. We had a couple glitches, but it was fixed and not noticeable.  Also Kat, is the best she made a spread sheet and could calculate in advance.

This was the first time the Jewish Grand Strand Reads was supported by the Jewish community. I am very pleased with the turn out.  As closing this post I will add pictures at the bottom.

Now on to bigger, and better things. I have already started thinking about next year's book. We will be meeting this coming Monday to talk about what we plan to do next year. I have another event planned for June. It is called, Literary Girl's Night Out. We again invited, Rabbi Debbie to discuss the novel, Sinners and the Sea by Rebecca Kanner. What great timing, with the movie, Noah coming out.

Until March, any book recommendations. Let us know. If you would like to organize your own community read you can contact me.  If you think it can't be done, you are wrong.  Just start small for the first time, and they will come.

Rabbi Debbie, Susan Curtis, Carrol Sallas, Kat Kahn, Marian Cohen, and Donna Llewllyn

The organizers

The Jewish Grand Strand Read would not have been possible without Heather Drucker from Harper Collins. I would like to personally thank her, for her help and arranging the SKYPE conversation with Helene.  If you ever want help arranging a community read she is the best. Helene, and Heather know how special this project was for me. What made it very special was the book itself. It made it even sweeter. The Golem and the Jinni is a very special book. A book I don't think will top anything in my lifetime.   It is going to be difficult to find a book for next year. But, we will try. I already have books lined up to judge for the summer for our selection committee.

When you have the passion and drive it of course will be a success.  I want to thank everyone this year for the support you gave for the Jewish Grand Strand Reads.   See you next year.
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Book Review: My Sister's Weiss

The Sister's Weiss
By Naomi Ragen
My own copy

I have read several books by Naomi Ragan. I was expecting her newest novel to be the same subject that many Jewish author's tackle.  A rebellious daughter leaving the Ultra Orthodox enclave.

It is a bit, more. The Sister's Weiss takes place in Brooklyn, New York in the l950's. The two daughters, Pearl and Rose are very close. Their parents live in the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Williamsburg.  Rose is the eldest daughter.  She is a very obedient daughter compared to her other youngest sister, Pearl.

All children in the ultra orthodox community are expected to be obedient to g-d, and obey his commandants. One of the commandments is to obey your mother and father.  Rose tries very hard to obey. But as Rose gets older, she realizes she wants something more.

Years ago, she was given a camera. She is curious about photography and she curious about photography and wants to learn about it.   She is asked to do a mitzvah, to tutor a french girl in her class.  Rose goes home with her, and learns about how the other half lives.  The girl's father gives Rose a photography book.

When her parents learn that Rose has a "filthy book", they send her away to her grandmother. While there, they are unaware that Rose has secretly enrolled in photography classes.  When they find out what she has been doing they have her come home.  Once she comes home, she is of the age to find a match-arranged marriage.  She has no say, who she will marry. Her marriage is limited because of the rumors of her disobedience.  Once the match happen's Rose feels trapped, and runs away.

We fast forward now forty years later. Rose is a mature older, successful photographer, with a daughter, Hannah.  Rose has become a secular Jew.  Rose is not wanted in her family since she ran away. Pearl's daughter now grown up. Asks her Aunt for help( she has never seen her aunt.)  and cousin for help.  She wants more out of getting married and having children. She wants the freedom to choose her own destiny.

It is during the second part of the book, we learn about how Rose survived, after she runaway from her parents. Rose's niece is very naive, she wants to have the chose of where her life will lead.  She has made some terrible choses, but she doesn't take responsibility for her actions.  Rose, intervenes at every turn for her niece. But finally, she can't take that her niece doesn't realize there are responsibilities with having freedom.

Sister's Weiss is a fast moving novel. I enjoyed reading very much. At first, I thought to myself another novel about the rebellious daughter goes bad in a observant Jewish family. But, it is a bit more than that.  There is not a happy ending, but there isn't a happy ending when your family has pretty much thrown you out.

I am not a observant Jew, I was raised conservative.  But this is my take what I got out of the novel. If there are children that don't want the ultra orthodox lifestyle, what are the girls options? Is there a place for help for them? It is terrible that their parent's throw their children out. They are worried about their reputation, and their other marriageable children.

They don't care about their child, and what happens to them.  Some of the children are resilient and are able to get their life together others, are not as successful.  I was researching to find out if there were resources for children of ultra orthodox families. I could not find anything. If anyone knows if there are, I would like to hear about it.

Here is a update while researching. I did find a resource for young orthodox adults. Either they were thrown out of their home, or they are trying to find where they fit religion in their life.  The program is called Footsteps. It is the only one in the country, which is a shame.  What about other town's and cities where they live. Or the other thought do these children know where to get help? probably not.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Movie Review: Labor Day

I just saw the movie, Labor Day. What a wonderful movie.  The movie is a adaption of Joyce Maynard's, with the same name.  I read the book when the it came out a few years ago.

Joyce Maynard was JD Salinger, (the author of Catcher in the Rye) college muse. You can go to her website to read more about her. Also you can find a archived Facebook chat with author, Joyce Maynard on Book Club Girl.

The movie is very different than the book. I usually don't like movies that were made from books.  This time I was surprised. I recommend the movie highly, and bring plenty of tissues.

I had a problem with the book from the beginning. If you can let it pass and overcome it,  than you will enjoy the book.  To this day I still have a problem with the book, and remember that small piece. I usually will read a book and not remember much after a few weeks.
                                                          SPOILER ALERT

This is the story of Adele, and her teenage son, Henry.  Adele is a single mom after her divorce with her husband.  There have some things that were so hard for Adele to bear. From the tragedies, she has never been the same. She doesn't even go out of the house. She leaves Henry to take up the slack of the care of the house.   The tragedies are played out in flashbacks in the movie.  Not just Adele's tradgedies, but Frank, the runaway convict. The story takes place over one Labor Day weekend in 1988 in N.H.

 Adele, and Henry go to town shopping. While Adele is browsing. Her son wants to browse on his own. This is where the story gets interesting.  Her son encounters a stranger, Frank( Josh Brolin).  He asks Henry, if he thinks he's mom will give him a ride.  With his head cut, and his white t-shirt with a spot of blood. He finds he's mom and asks her if they will give him a ride.

 In the book, Adele without hesitation agrees.  This is where I had the problem with the book. What mother, in her right mind would say, yes? No matter how lonely she is, and state of mind. You want to protect your child.  The movie was better played out.  He hinted about threatening her son. If anyone threatened me with my child's safety. Of course, I would do what ever it took for the safety of my son.

I connected with Adele being a single mom with a pre-adolescent son.  Because there wasn't any emotional attachment to his real father down the street. As a single mom you become very close with your child.  Anyone who has a only child knows that you have a special bond with your child.

The best part of the movie was when he was making peach pie. There was such a connection of both actor-actress.  You could feel the happiness, the pain, and sorrow of both of them over a long hot labor day weekend. Then something happens that breaks them apart.

 After that we fast forward to Henry at age thirty, as the narrator.

 Henry connected with Frank that one Labor Day weekend.  Something came out of that holiday weekend that may or may not have changed Henry's perspective, you think, maybe?   Henry is now grown up and owns his own bakery.  How touching is that??? Bring plenty of tissues.

I can tell this is one movie that is going to be with me for weeks. I recommend it highly. I personally would rather see the movie than the book.

My rating is:

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

To the entire Jewish Grand Strand Community: If you live in the Grand Strand area, or a Snowbird, or visiting, and are in a book club, are a book lover, and love literary culture you may be interested in our Jewish Grand Strand Reads event on March 2nd.

Jewish Grand Strand Reads is being sponsored by Temple Beth Elohim, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom and Hadassah

 We are reading the novel, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker-A great read. Everyone is welcome, and you don't have to be affiliated with any religion. The event is at Sea Captain's House on March 2nd at 1 PM.
                                                                  Our guest speaker is:
 Rabbi Debbie Slavitt, Professor from Coastal Carolina University. We will also have literary giveaways!!!
 The cost is $20 inclusive. We are organizing the event to share the love of reading with other readers. We are non-profit, and not affiliated with anyone. 

There are other events leading up to March.  For further information you may contact Susan at or to make a reservation you may contact Kat Kahn at Contact Kat for a menu selection. The cost is $20 inclusive.

Please, Please, Please! Spread the word to any of your friends. Again, everyone is welcome, invite your husbands, wives, friends and acquaintances.


To the entire Jewish Grand Strand Community: If you live in the Grand Strand area, or a Snowbird, or    visiting, and are in a book club, are a book lover, and love culture you may be interested in our Jewish Grand Strand Reads event on March 2nd.
Jewish Grand Strand Reads is being sponsored by Temple Beth Elohim, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom and Hadassah

 We are reading the novel, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker-A great read. Everyone is welcome, and you don't have to be affiliated with any religion. The event is at Sea Captain's House on March 2nd at 1 PM.
                                                                  Our guest speaker is:
 Rabbi Debbie Slavitt, Professor from Coastal Carolina University. We will also have literary giveaways!!!
 The cost is $20 inclusive. We are organizing the event to share the love of reading with other readers. We are non-profit, and not affiliated with anyone. 

There are other events leading up to March.  For further information you may contact Susan at or to make a reservation you may contact Kat Kahn at Contact Kat for a menu selection. The cost is $20 inclusive.

Please, Please, Please! Spread the word to any of your friends. Again, everyone is welcome, invite your husbands, wives, friends and acquaintances.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SPOILERS: Don't Read Unless Read Gone Girl

Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn

This is probably one of the hardest novels I've reviewed..  But This is one book that is very controversial like Fifty Shades of Gray.  Gone Girl,  you want to discuss with everyone that has read it.  This is the reason I joined a book club and started a book blog to discuss books that make you think, and talk about books.

Nick and Amy are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. Amazing Amy disappears and who is to blame for her disappearance? Isn't always the husband?   It seems like the story was ripped from the front page of any newspaper in America. When the wife goes missing.  Where did she go? Is she alive or dead?

I am not going to fill you in the rest because I don't want to spoil anything. I did not know what this book was about from the start. I only knew of the hype, and a movie being made. Just recently I learned that the author is re-writing the ending.

From reading the first paragraph I should have known it was a book that was going to play head games.

When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.
I don't know what made me have a love-hate relationship with this book.  Was it the characters of Nick and Amy? Was it that the author pulled you in. Made me think they were a loving, happy couple then in the middle everything is not what it seems.

 I felt like the author was playing head games, was deceitful, manipulative, and lied to us. Made us, the readers feel like idiots.  But, then I loved how she was able to get me all emotional, and angry.  This is one book that had my emotions all stirred up.

I thought it was interesting that the author used alternating chapters of Nick and Amy's perspective. Amy's was a diary, was she who she claimed to be? She was a poor little rich girl. But, then wasn't. Her parents were much to be desired. Only cared about themselves.

 Everything seemed to fall apart when both of them lost their jobs.  I think all the stressors caused their marriage to fall apart. Their marriage became toxic and deteriorated. Why she had to stage her disappearance, and instead talk to her husband.

I did not like any of the characters. I did not empathize with any of them.  Nick was just dumb and stupid.  Amy was manipulative and playing games, and wanted attention.  Not caring how she got it.  Half way through the book I kind of lost interest, and said to myself, " Enough already". After that I wanted to throw the book across the room.  I think I hated the book because of the characters.  I have hated books before, but not a love-hate relationship. books before,

 I think I just did not like the book because of how the book played head games with us. Really, do you think people are capable of doing this to their husband or wife, or someone they love? Do we really know someone we live with? Some couples when they first go out on dates with each other. They do pretend to be someone else.

Then at the end Nick seemed to be "wishy- washy", and then come on, he decided he wanted her back. The end was just ridiculous. I just thought to myself, both of them deserved each other. What was the purpose? What kind of ending would I have felt satisfied? I don't know but, not that ending.   Or do you think he may get  his just desserts?

 Any way that is my take, and now I can now move on to reading a normal book again. Any body read it? What was your feeling about, Gone Girl?  Tell me what you think?  You can see a literary event here it is almost two hours long.

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All The Organizing is over, Now The Fun Begins.

I am happy to say everything is finally in place for our first  " Jewish Grand Strand Reads". It has been a very long process. I did it last year, but it was word of mouth without any of the temples being involved.  This year all the Jewish organizations are supporting it.

I was worried about this year with all the organizations involved. I thought I would loose control of my "baby". Luckily, this did not happen.  The different organizations let us run with it. Do the planning how we wanted.  Jesse, our temple's secretary at Temple Emanu-El has been great. She helped us with flyers and sending out emails.  Check out the invitation and flyer.

The only thing left is publicity. I am still hoping that our local paper would jump on board and talk to us about our event.  As of yet, nothing has happened. I really thought they would be interested because they don't have anything like this in town.  The Myrtle Beach community doesn't have a community read.  I was hoping that this may interest the community. But, I have to remember this is different than up north.

Anyway I am happy that the organizational part is done. We now have to wait for the end of the month RSVP's will start coming in.  We picked a nice restaurant in town called, Sea Captain's House. It is beautiful right on the water. The restaurant is encased in glass.   The menu is preset with everything inclusive with our guest speaker. I think it is a terrific deal, and a nice afternoon.

Are you wondering what book we picked? If you follow my blog than you may already know.  It is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.   I have been promoting The Golem And The Jinni to the hilt. Helene must be sick of me now. She must think I am a stalker. LOL!!


I have been wanting her to come down to South Carolina. But, unfortunately I am not sure why. No one has asked her to tour down south. I don't know why the Jewish community down here has not asked her to any Jewish speaking engagements. But, for that matter I don't think anyone has asked her up north either.  I am wonder why her novel has not caught on...

 A wonderful read. If you have not heard of it, you must have your head in the sand.  Everyone in our Jewish Community that has read it, LOVED IT! That must mean something.  I did not think I was a fan of magical realism.  But all that has changed recently.  Hoping some producer buys the rights to make this into a movie.

The book has romance, historical fiction, Jewish themes, magical creatures, Middle East and Jewish cultural themes. You can read my review here and also her guest post you can scroll below and find her there.

 You can check out the novel on Helene Wecker's website, also the author just had a wonderful discussion and Q/A on goodreads. One other event our book club is having, Helene Wecker will be joining us on SKYPE next month. We are all excited to meet her.

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