Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope this year will be a great year. Hope there will be good books to read, and blog about this year. I would like to thank all my followers that keep visiting. All my book blogging friends for your comments and support for this year. 

I have been having a rough time this year with my blog. I lost many of my readers because of my new name and blogging address.  Also, school takes precidence over my blog, but I hope to start getting a better readership again.

                  HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2011!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Ribalow Book Award Winner

  I am happy to announce, Sara Hougteling, author of Pictures at an Exhibit has been awarded the 2010 Harold U. Ribalow Prize for fiction.

The award is sponsored by Hadassah, a Jewish women's organization.
To be considered the book has to be fiction, a novel or short story and written in the english language.

You can visit Sara's website to read about her wonderful novel, Pictures at an Exhibit.  Anyone interested in art may want to pick up this book. You can read a review at The New York Times website here.

Darkened by World War II, Sara Houghteling s sweeping and sensuous debut novel tells the story of a son s quest to recover his family s lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation.

Born to an art dealer and his pianist wife, Max Berenzon is forbidden from entering the family business for reasons he cannot understand. He reluctantly attends medical school, reserving his true passion for his father s beautiful and brilliant gallery assistant, Rose Clément. When Paris falls to the Nazis, the Berenzons survive in hiding. They return in 1944 to find that their priceless collection has vanished. Madly driven to recover his father s paintings, Max navigates a torn city of corrupt art dealers, black marketers, Résistants, and collaborators. His quest will reveal the tragic disappearance of his closest friend, the heroism of his lost love, and the truth behind a devastating family secret.

You can read more at my Jewish book website at Bagels, Books and Schmooze for more of the in depth discription of her work here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Boo: Book Review

By Pat Conroy
E-edition by Open Road Media

 You were forewarned in the very beginning. This is Pat Conroy's first book.
If you have any connection with a Citadel, in SC. You may feel a connection to the book. The only connection I have is, I live in SC, and my son did go into the military, specifically the navy for a short time till he was medically discharged.

This is my first book that I read by Pat Conroy. I wanted to like this book especially since living in SC. What native from SC doesn't like Pat Conroy.

 I  liked the snippets of the "Boo"( stories). At other times I did not enjoy it.  Pat Conroy warns us this is his first attempt. It is self published. It was written because of his friendship of the Boo. He wanted to tell the story of the Boo's, care of his cadets, looking out for them.

  Mr. Conroy tells the story of Boo from 1961-1969.  Pat Conroy wanted to tell the story of this gruff man with a golden heart( he always had a cigar in his mouth). He gave demerits to his cadets, but gave them with love and concern for each of them. He pushed them to the limit to graduate and become successful men.

 Most of the cadets came from broken and abusive homes.  There was one father he told him to be a father, and love your son.

Mr. Conroy wrote this to stop Boo from being demoted from a higher ranking officer to a menial job.  He did get demoted but he took it with grace,because he loved the Citadel and the young men. During the controversy, The book, The Boo was banned at the Citadel.

My Review:  I wish I had read other books by Pat Conroy before reading The Boo. To compare his other work.  I heard he has written some good novels. The story, and characters I did not care for. But, I did like he's writing style, and the rhythm of the book flowed. 

 Pat Conroy wrote "Boo", after he graduated from the Citadel. The Citadel is a christian military college.  The Citadel is close to Charleston, SC. It is written from the early to late 60's.   Each chapter is one of the cadet's experiences with Boo.

Each cadet tells us about the lectures,discipline(hard displinarian) and the demerits the cadets received and overcame.   Colonel Courvoisie, known as The Boo, was  a gruff man, with a cigar always in his mouth. His n But a heart of gold helping each cadet get through school.  Some do and some don't.

  I can picture, those old army movies.  The commander telling you off, and all you could say is, yes sir, and no sir.  

Most of the e-books I receive from Barnes and Noble for my NOOK. This is the first time I am reading a e-book from a publicist. My criticism of the book stucture itself are a few.

1) Many of the pages had a few words, and a few sentences and then the rest of the page was blank.  It was not the end of the chapter.  Why not format the book so it is a continuation rather than breaks in parts of the chapter. I was trying to figure their reasoning.
2) Did not know there was a glossary in the back of the book.  Even so, as a e-book I would not like going back and forth. I perfer a regular book, not a ebook    It is quicker to visualize things in this format.  It just doesn't work for me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guest Post and Book Giveaway Table of Contents

In honor of their just published cook book, Table of Contents. I am having a book giveaway. The rules are to leave a comment on my blog, about your experience with food and books and book clubs.  Then write a post on your blog about the contest, and link up to my blog. The contest starts today 12/19- 1/1. There are two books to be given away.

I am honored today, with a guest post by co-authors, Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. They have written a marvelous book called Table Of Contents Cook Book, From Breakfast with Anita Diamant to Dessert with James Patterson.

Judy and Vicki met over stacks of books, and endless cups of jo at a local sandwich shop. They decided to try their hand  atThe Book Club Cookbook, followed by Kids Book Club Book and Table of Contents.  They also have a marvelous website, Book Club Cook Book, with enormous resources for book clubs.  You would find food pairing with a favorite book. Information about the author. Loads of resource information for your book club.

Welcome Judy and Vicki,

Hi everybody,

We envisioned our new book, Table of Contents
as a compilation of intriguing recipes drawn from the works of 50 bestselling authors.  When we began our research, we were unsure what the combination of authors would be.  After all, there are hundreds of authors popular with book clubs.  And, some of their books lend themselves better to recipes than others.  How would we choose?
As it turns out, the process unfolded naturally.  We quickly identified our “wish list” of participating authors, based on ongoing correspondence with book clubs, thorough searches of bestseller lists, and daily monitoring of book club and reading websites.   Many invited authors signed on immediately, while some declined because other projects took precedence, or even because they lacked interest in the topic:  food and literature.  The self-selection process meant we were left with authors as fascinated by the topic of food and books as we ourselves were, and 50 wonderful partnerships were born.
We felt fortunate to work with this eclectic, intriguing, ethnically diverse selection of authors.  Book club members have been telling us for years that they love being transported to exotic locales and distant times through their reading.  It was no surprise to find Abraham Verghese, Frances Mayes, and Esmeralda Santiago on our list, with books set in Ethiopia, Italy, and Puerto Rico.  Readers also seem to love stories set in the South, so Amy Greene, Joshilyn Jackson, and Hillary Jordan were natural choices.  Writers of historical fiction who transport readers to times gone by -- Tudor England (Phillipa Gregory) and wartime Hong Kong (Janice Y.K. Lee), for example -- also made the grade.
Of course, this selection of authors and titles translated into tantalizing, exotic recipes!  We love Lisa See’s Won Tons, that she makes with her family every year at Thanksgiving.  And Stephanie Saldana, who spent several years traveling and living in the Middle East, sent us a recipe for Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Walnuts and Pomegranate Syrup), the smell and taste of which carries the cook to the winding streets of Damascus, Syria.  And there are so many more examples!  Readers tell us they enjoy experiencing some of these ethnic foods for the first time, and preparing and eating these dishes helps them connect with the setting and time period of the book.  
As we embark on our new project, a revision of our first book, The Book Club Cookbook, we look forward to sharing more recipes and insights from bestselling authors.  We hope this will continue to enhance readers' understanding of these books, and of course to add another important element to book club meetings - fun!  

Bon Appetit!  
Judy Gelman and Vick i Levy Krupp 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Girl She Used To Be: Book Review

The Girl She Used To Be
By David Cristofano

The novel is about Melody, and her family.  She and her family witnessed a brutal act of violence. They were then put into the Witness Protection Program.  She, and her family lost their home, their identity. Melody eventually looses her family as well.
She has had several times had to change her identity.

As the book opens, 20 years later. She is now a grown woman. She is teaching to high school students. Melody is restless and bored and wants to change her life. Melody contacts Sean, from the Witness Program.   While this is happening the son, Jonathan of the murderer, (family is mafioso). Jonathan follows her and they converse with each other. She loves the attention, the thrill, the freedom. She goes with him willingly defying the witness program.  For a few days the Feds don't know where she went.

They both fall head over heals with each other. Jonathan has a plan. He wants her to meet his family. He has a idealistic idea. He thinks once everyone meets her they will fall in love with her the way he has. They travel to his home.  Jonathan brings her into the house to meet everyone. At first, the family think Jonathan is joking. He introduces her as Melody. The family think he is joking they realize he is not joking. 

The Bravaro family don't want any part of her. She begs and pleads with them to accept her.

I am not going to spoil the rest. But this is my take of the book.

My Thoughts: I had a hard time accepting her motivation. I could not relate to Melody in the beginning. But because she didn't have a life or a identity, this was her coping mechanism. Why would she want to change her life again.?Why would she want to be with a mafioso that killed her family? and changed her life forever?

Melody was starving for affection.  She showed her desperation by being compulsive, and reckless with her life, and not any regard for others.

I felt like slapping Melody a few times.  Are you crazy begging them to accept you. They should be begging Melody for forgiveness. 

I had a hard time with the book in the beginning, I felt like I would never let myself be in this situation. She was very gullible, and pathetic. 

I have a hard time with books when female characters are victimized and let themselves get in this situation. Especially when they don't do anything to help themselves. Melody did not feel like she was real to me.  I felt like is, the author kidding.

It must be very hard to go place to place without roots to lay down. Within a few months you move again. I would imagine you have a hard time connecting with people. Because as a young child you keep moving. You can't get close to anyone in case someone realizes who you are. One part of the story,

 But the end of the book I did feel satisfied, it felt more realistic than the beginning of the book.  

"She is very grateful to Jonathan for her freedom. She mistook love for her grateful of her freedom.

I read this for our book club. Most of the book club said" The family did not trust her". I am asking trust her are you kidding, it should be the other way around, role reversal.  They are the ones that are dangerous and should ask her, for forgiveness.  Most of us felt like shaking her and we could not relate. But we were not in her shoes either. We all felt this was a different kind of book. There are not many books based on the Witness Protection Program. That was interesting background. The book was a fast read. Most of us read in one or two days.

Maise Dobb Read-A-Long

Book Club Girl is hosting a Maisie Dobbs read along starting in January. I am excited to join. I always wanted to read the books but never got the chance. The read a long happens with the timely paperback release, Mapping of Love and Death, and the new published novel in March,of Lesson in Secrets.

Book Club Girl will be posting book discussion questions on a schedule. It is listed on Book Club Girl's website. The first one starts with reading the first Maisie Dobbs questions will be posted on January 14th. 

I am looking forward to reading.  Just because of the timely setting in Europe in 20's and 30's.  I am very excited. I am going to get the digital version for my nook.  Come join us, and read the mavelous article on book club girl.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Table Of Contents: Book Review

What a good pairing, authors, and their recipes.

I received a  copy of Table of Contents by Judy Gelman and Vicky Levy Krupp, from the authors of Book Club Cookbook.

Every book club should have a copy. But, even if you are not in a book club it is a nice book to read about your favorite authors. I had fun reading all about them. There are 50 authors and their recipes that they have put in the book. The authors give your recipes to go with their books. The recipes are from meat loaf, to beverages.

I like the way the book was written, with the author's picture and the books they have published and about to be published. There are a few questions asked and the recipes. What inspired you to choose the title of the book, Who was the writer that influenced you the most. What would you like your readers to know about you.

What is your writing process.  I did think that Julia Glass had a very interesting perspective. Her answer is, day dreaming. I love her words" Marinating in your own thoughts". I just love the way she put that. Every author had a different answer for their writing process.

  I want to try Elinor Lippman's, recipe for the Kugel.  I have had Kugels before, this I never heard of with the casserole and then a topping.  My Kugel, is all mixed together.  It does sound very good.

  Anita Diamant, her writing process is dance and movement.
She mentions,American diets would never think about having a Israeli Salad for breakfast.  In Israel, the Americans eat it while visiting. But when they come back to the states they go back to their old routine.  As I was reading it I was visualizing the colorful breakfast plate, with the sun shining in
.All those pretty colors in the morning on your breakfast plate with scrambled eggs. I think she may have started something. I am willing to try that with my family and friends and see what they say. Who says you can't. It should be healthy.  It is just what we are used to.

The only thing, I wish there were pictures of the recipes in the book.  I don't think it would stop me from buying the book. But it would have been a added bonus.  In the back of the book is book pairing with the recipes.

Thank you Judy and Vicki for allowing me to review. I am planning on making a book basket with Table of Contents, and also adding Anita Diamant's latest novel that she sent me for the auction as well. I can't wait to see the finished product.  See who wins this.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

South Carolina is Cold!!!

This is the second year that we are actually cold, I  mean C-O-L-D!!  The last few years I did not mind the cold. But this year, maybe because I am getting older. I am feeling like the retirees that live here.  I used to not mind the cold.  But, I do now.  It is suppose to be cold till Friday and then warm up!!! Haleluah!!!

Last year I moved to a new apartment that has a fireplace. Since it has gotten cold( I am talking about the teens) we started using the fireplace.  It was so nice and warm and toasty.  Our cat, is just sitting in front of the fireplace contented.  What a warm and cozy feeling.

Yesterday I felt a sore throat, coming on.    So today was a good  cooking day for my cold. The good aromas of Chicken Soup, for me  and beef stew for David.

 Then after all the cooking I did I sat down to a old fashioned movie. Then after I will hit the books for a few hours. I am wrapping myself in my PJ's and a blanket.

 In my reading life, I am reading a good" grab me book" for our book club. The book is The Girl She Used to Be. I am enjoying reading it.

Keep Warm everybody

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Love and Other Drugs

Love &Other Drugs, I did not expect it to be very good. But because Jake Gyllenhall and Anne Hathaway were both starring in this film I wanted to see it. I expected it to be another chick-flick. Not so, this was not a chick flick.  I was not sure, but I thought this was based on a true story.
I  related to the movie because I am in the medical profession. The movie is about a pharmaceutical rep. Right up my alley.

I remember when I worked in a doctor's office all the pharmaceutical reps visiting the doctors. The way to get their foot past the receptionist and through the doctor's office, butter up the medical secretaries. Give them the perks.

In some ways, this movie brings up the discussion of pharmaceutical companies. Is it right for the doctors to be given perks.  I am talking about the expensive lunches, and broadway shows, and all the perks that go with it. 

I don't want to get on my soap box.  Because this movie was not focused on the pharmaceutical companies. Rather on the relationship of the two people. I just loved this movie. It was serious at times, and comical. It made me cry at the end.

The story was about a pharmaceutical rep, Jamie Randall.  At the point of the movie, Jamie wants the doctor to allow him to pose as a intern.  To help him further his career. During this time he interns, he meets the girl of his dreams, Maggie.  Maggie is in the examing room, her doctor and Jamie come into the examing room. She is not aware he is not a intern. Her doctor examines her.  Maggie tells her doctor she has a problem with her breast.  She exposes her breasts.  She is in the examing room waiting for her doctor. She finds out when she goes to his car that he was not who she thought he was, she felt duped... She sees his car trunk full of pharmaceuticals, and the pharmaceutical merchandise with labels of Pfizer. She puts two and two together. There is a confrontation, but they still end up together.

The only thing is if you are a prude, there are lots of sex scenes. Jake and Anne Hathaway were good together in this movie.  He was so funny!! I have seen him in other movies mostly drama.  I did not realize he was so funny.  He was great as a smooth talker.   I  highly recommend it. 

I am not going to spoil the rest of the movie. If you are in the medical field you would enjoy it. Don't take my word for it, go to see it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bringing Home the Birkin: Book Review


Bringing Home the Birkin
 By  Michael Tonello

The memoir, is about Michael, a makeup artist. The book is about Michael's escapades in Europe.  He is living in Ptown, and goes on a trip to Barcellona. He decides that he has been working in the US too long.  He doesn't know what he wants to do. But he wants to live in Barcellona. He tells his room mate that he is going to move. He packs up his things and puts them in storage.  He travels to Europe with literally, not much of anything. He doesn't know what kind of work he is going to do.  On a fluke, he goes on ebay, and puts some of his hermes scarves up for auction.  He doesn't think anything will happen. He finds out he is totally wrong. He can't believe that they want it.   He does this for awhile. He becomes friendly with some of his buyers. One of his buyer's Grace gives him a idea.

On a fluke he buys some more scarves and then he gets a hold of one birkin bag. He buys the birkin bag and then resells them on ebay. Because the Birkin is on a two year waiting list.   One bag becomes another and another.  Most people are told that there are a limited number of these bags per year. He learns it is supply and demand and the hot pursuit.

Once he goes into the stores and makes a purchase of more than $1000 he will get his foot in the door.  He will be able to purchase the bags.  The book is a fun romp about how he gets around Europe to buy these bags. What kind of person to look out for. What person he can get his foot in the door. What person would not.   The fun part is the traveling, buying, the stores, and the people he sells to on ebay. He then gets a friend of a friend to go in business with him. What to do, How to do it? etc, etc?

What kind of person would buy this bag? The bag is considered, the bag for the Rich and Famous. All these famous celebrities have one.

Do they buy the bag for the thrill? Do they really need or want the bag? The bag is a status symbol.   Some of these women have 100 of these bags, it is just crazy.  A bag can go for 8,000 for a standard one, to 30,000 for a croc, as much as $200,0000 for the diamonds on the label and lock. Come on that is just crazy.... People don't know what to do with their money.

The spoiler: I kid you not, Michael had his bag held hostage for awhile.  Then one of his customers told him about buying one. It turns out, it is the same bag that was being held up hostage. YIKES

At the end Michael discovers he does not want to have this kind of luxury life. There is lots of stress and not any fun. Carrying all those bags from a business trip, is a lot to carry. He discovers the money is great but he is not having fun with his boyfriend, Juan. Life should not be so serious.    After his mother dies from Cancer. He realizes he doesn't want to do this anymore.  He doesn't have the passion that he once had.

I had fun reading this book.  This would have been a great summer read.  It is exactly the kind of book I was looking for since starting school.  I can't imagine anyone buying a purse for that kind of money. But people don't know what to do with their millions. I had fun with reading the fashion, about the rich and famous spend their millions.  I can fantasize can't I.

Here is the link about the Birkin Bag, a video on CBS news.  The link at wikpedia gives you information about the Birkin bag here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Author Fan Club

I wanted to post about these wonderful authors.  I contacted these authors about  participating in this year's silent auction. I was not expecting anyone to contact me.  What a pleasant surprise, what I found in my inbox.  I would like to thank Dara Horn Anita Diamant, Chris Bojhalian, and Adriana Trigiani. They all agreed to donate their autograph books for our silent auction in January.

Our book club, which most of are members of Temple Emanu-El will be partaking in making a bookish basket for our event. Can't wait to see the finished product. I would like to see the person who wins this.

If any of you will be in the Myrtle Beach area in the third week in January 2011. Come on down, to ol'e South Carolina.

I was a great fan before, but now I am a even great fan after they agreed. I will be recommending to our book club that we should support these authors. Either by reading and discussing their books and having them on a conference call soon.

You may also go to my other blog to read the indepth post on my other blog.

Addendum: I happy and excited to add Joan Nathan to our list. Joan has written several Jewish cookbooks.  She is best known for her cookbook, Jewish Cooking in America.  She will be sending Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France.  I would like to thank the publisher of Random House, Sara Eagle for donating a copy.

 Unbreakable, by Linda Hillenbrand the author of Seabiscuit. Has sent  a copy of her new book. It the story of a athlete and what happens when he is sent to Japan during WW11. I would like to thank, Sally Marvin the publisher of Random House for a copy. 
I would like to thank both of them to allow me to review these two books for my blog as well.
Thank you so much to all the authors that have donated books and the publishers and the author's representative. You don't know what a thrill it has been to me to recieve emails from everyone.  To me authors are the celebrities not musicians and actors. Sounds strange.  But like someone told me yesterday. I am a book nerd!!! What a great compliment.  Thank you all.

Susan at Carolina Book Stacks formerly Susan's Literary Cafe

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Good Daughters: Book Review

The Good Daughters
 By Joyce Maynard

The Good Daughters, is a novel about two families.  Both of them had given birth to daughters.  Each daughter grows up differently from their families.  One family grows up in the city on the northeast with one brother. The other grows up with lots of sisters and brothers. 

I have not had much time with school to write this review. So, I am giving a short and sweet version. I am so sorry, because this book deserves alot more attention that it is getting. I have been raving about this since I read it to all my bookish friends. I was so amazed that I have not noticed her work before this time.

 I love the story, it is very different than anything I have ever read. I don't want to tell you too much or it would be spoil the book. I will just say I loved it.   If you like contemporary stories with familial situation than this book is for you. 

I just finished Labor Day, penned by the same author.  I was hoping Good Daughters would  be as good as Labor Day. I did not expect it to be as good. It was and even surpassed Labor Day. I would recommend reading both of them.  Both books are stand alone.  I would though read Labor Day to get a taste of the author's writing.  What a good author she is.  I did not get this novel from the publisher. I bought this, and it was worth every penny I paid for it.

Thank you Joyce.  This novel is even better than Labor Day, which I loved too.
I did not expect the book to turn out the way it did.  It has a twist that makes sense why the two families are interconnected.

I did read a few reviews that did not like Good Daughters.  I don't care to me I loved this book.   I am a bit cloudy about the actually events of the novel. So I am not going to tell you in detail.  

Synopsis from the flap:
They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.
Ruth Plank is an artist and a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life. The last of five girls born to a gentle, caring farmer and his stolid wife, she yearns to soar beyond the confines of the land that has been her family's birthright for generations.
Dana Dickerson is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in the natural world. Raised by a pair of capricious drifters who waste their lives on failed dreams, she longs for stability and rootedness.

Different in nearly every way, Ruth and Dana share a need to make sense of who they are and to find their places in a world in which neither has ever truly felt she belonged. They also share a love for Dana's wild and beautiful older brother, Ray, who will leave an indelible mark on both their hearts.

Told in the alternating voices of Ruth and Dana, The Good Daughters follows these "birthday sisters" as they make their way from the 1950s to the present. Master storyteller Joyce Maynard chronicles the unlikely ways the two women's lives parallel and intersect—from childhood and adolescence to first loves, first sex, marriage, and parenthood; from the deaths of parents to divorce, the loss of home, and the loss of a beloved partner—until past secrets and forgotten memories unexpectedly come to light, forcing them to reevaluate themselves and each other.

Moving from rural New Hampshire to a remote island in British Columbia to the '70s Boston art-school scene, The Good Daughters is an unforgettable story about the ties of home and family, the devastating force of love, the healing power of forgiveness, and the desire to know who we are.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Promise Me by Nancy Brinker: Book Review

Promise Me
By Nancy Brinker

Promise Me: How a sister's love launched
the global movement to end Breast Cancer
By Nancy Brinker

Nancy Brinker is the late sister of Susan G. Koman.
Susan, known as Suzy. She was born in Peoria, Ill  1943 after came Nancy three years later.

They were raised by Jewish parents. Their parents,  taught them the importance of Tzedakah",  acts of kindness.

Suzy and Nancy's mother was a founding member of  the Red Cross. She also was helping people in need.
She would make a meatloaf for their ill neighbor. She would bring a gift basket of diapers of a single woman without family. She would weed someone's garden if they were not able to.  She had a strong sense of community.  This led the way for the girls sense of community and what was yet to come for Nancy.

Nancy was the  tomboy,trailblazer, outspoken and book smart. Nancy was like their mother.  Where Susy was homecoming queen and  interested in becoming a wife and mother. Suzy was like their father.    They were as close as sisters could be. They shared everything together. They were a very close family.  With good solid family values.

Once they both came into their 20's. Suzy became a wife and mother of two.  Nancy moved on.
She moved to Texas to work for Neiman and Marcus.  She moved up in the ranks to counter girl to marketing.   She eventually met  and married Norman Brinker, president of one of the bigger restaurant chains.

Suzy, at the age of 33 was diagnosed with Breast cancer. She shares with us the diagnosis and evasive treatments that she had to watch while her sister was dying.  In the last days of her life Suzy asked Nancy to make a promise that would affect her life. Suzy asked Nancy to make a promise that she would never let a woman die without dignity and help find the cure.

From that time on Nancy had not stopped. Nancy started with $200 in a shoebox and invited 20 ladies to a tea. From that time on it blossomed. But there has been lots of bumps and bangs along the way.

Unfortunately back in Suzy and Nancy's early years society did not talk about breasts. It was a hush-hush under the table. Sex, was not a word you talked about.  Cancer was thought of as a contagious disease. If you saw someone walking on the street with cancer, you avoided them and crossed the street to avoid that person.

Norman Brinker her husband gave her lots of support and encouragement. He helped her understand how to make a non-profit organization.  How to get solicitatotors and start the funding for the research. Nancy did a enourmous research before she jumped right in.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® mission was to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

In researching the need she found a statistics.   During the Viet Nam War over 58,000 service men lost their lives .During that same 10 year period of time 339,000 women in the U.S. died from breast cancer. Yet no one was talking about this silent killer.
During the 80's came a change in politics and talking about breast cancer. The first lady,  Nancy Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was a spit fire and was very open about Breast Cancer. She became a advocate for breast cancer. This opened up the way for funding and grants.  This changed society's view on breast cancer. Society became more opening talking about the disease.

Nancy discusses her marriage, her family and children and her divorce.  After three years after her sister, Suzy died. She was given the dreaded news that she had the same tumor. But, this time Nancy beat it because of the knowledge she had about the disease. Networking with doctors and the people she already knew working with them.

While working in Texas, she became aquainted with Pres. Bush's, and the sons. She worked with Laura.  Laura was the first lady as governer in Texas.   She was later asked to become ambassador to Hungary. To become protocol in the White House. She has been awarded many honors in the last few years including by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Honor of Freedom. She is responsible for countries around the world becoming aware of breast cancer, and women's health. She is spreading her wings to help spread the word about breast cancer and world health.

Through out the book you will read about brave remarkable women that survived breast cancer. Or some that did not make it. The families braveries that make them continue to tell their stories.
 After SGK was founded after a few years affiliates started popping up in different towns across the nation raising millions of dollars a year.

My Review:  I became educated while reading this book. Nancy believed in advocacy for breast cancer. Especially for the lay person. I think she has done that. This book is awe inspiring as well.

 The book taught me alot about the history and helped me reflect how science and medicine has changed. I remember how bad the treatments were. 

talking about health issues.  I also believe that because of SGK there are more things that being talked about now a days. Less things are pushed under the rug.   There is much more advocacy for women's health than before.

  There is funding for research for breast cancer by the United States. But SKG is also responsible for the funding and grants for breast cancer.  There use to only be  75% cure rate after 5 years. Now, it is 95%. That is totally amazing.  Cure does not mean it is gone, just means there is a remission.

  I do believe SGK has opened up doors to allow for women's health issues to be heard.   To allow for allowing other issues to be heard by women.

One thing that does amaze me. I just can't believe it was denied.  Nancy went to the lingerie manufacturers to ask them to put on their bras tags to show women how to do a monthly breast exam. They were denied.  Because, Nancy was told women come into the shop to be giddy, not unhappy thoughts.   I am not sure, to this day I have not seen any tags on lingerie and bras to instruct women to do a monthly breast exam.  Tsk!! Tsk!!.

I was not very interested in the business end of SGK. But I found myself drawn to it.  Nancy Brinker deserves our praises all across this nation, and across the world division. She writes that she believes, that g-d put her in this mission in life. There is always a reason for things to happen.  I believe that too.

SGK, is in Israel this year.  Hadassah, a women's Jewish organization is helping to support and host this event. Hadassah has been a women's organization that has advocacy for women's health for years.  In Israel, Hadassah Hospital is the leading hospital for research in breast cancer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Booker Prize Awarded

 The Booker Prize is awarded to a author from England or the Commonwealth of the British Isles. You can read about the Booker Prize here.  You can also read about the short and long list. This is a nice website about the authors and their books.  A Jewish author, Howard Jacobson  won the prize for his novel the Finkel Question.  You can read my thoughts on Bagels, Books and Schmooze.

Here is a article by WSJ, and another article by the Associate Press.

On another note, The National Book Award short list was announced.  Another, Jewish author was recognized for her work.  The Great House by Nicole Krauss.

Congratulations to both of these authors!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Broke Down and Bought The Nook!!

I finally did it after much himming and hawing I broke down and bought the Nook.  It took me over two years to finally make a decision. I always said I would not buy one. I like the physical beauty of a book. I like the touch, smell and roughness and actual turning of the pages. 

I did see the Kindle on Amazon. But I did not like the idea that you could not see it until it was sent to you. Or you could set up a meeting to meet someone that had one. I talked to a few people that owned electric readers. They all told me that the Kindle was great. But, I also heard that your files were easily lost. You could not share download for each of your electronics( phone, e reader, computer etc.)  between your computer and the Kindle.  That what turned me off.

I did see, up front and personally the Kindle in Best Buy but it did thrill me.  For the past year I have been bugging the employees to show me the demonstration of the Nook.  But I just did not want to pay the price of $358.  But when all the devices went down in price when the ipad came out to $199 for the WiFi and $149  without WiFi. I knew eventually I was going to get it. The only thing I thought would I keep using it? Or would it end up being a novelty? I will find out in a couple months and I will let you know.
So far, I like the Nook.  I like the idea of bringing a slender device to read at a doctor's office.  Like the idea you get get free reads, you can listen to music while you are reading too. But I have not tried that out yet. 

The best thing I think is the best employees at the Barnes and Noble in Myrtle Beach. They have great support staff, and they have trained everyone if anyone has a question. Even the employees that work in the cafe. If you don't understand something you can bring it in.  They will give you individual attention and they have patience. Where the Kindle you can either talk to someone over the phone or email. 

The only thing I wonder is what will happen to my reading habits. I still have a reason to go to Barnes and Noble. I study and sit in the cafe. I like the idea that you can sit in the cafe and read a book for free. I do have to verify that I understand though you can only read for a hour. But I need to make sure. You also get free perks when you bring in your Nook while you are in the store.

My Nook is not a virgin any longer. My first down load was by Joyce Maynard, The Good Daughters.  It was pretty easy to down load.  Just love the idea it looks like a book. Not like when I am doing research for school and it just looks like reams and reams of paper never ending.

What I am wondering is what will happen to the book stores with all the technology. I am in the older 50 crowd. I don't know if my age bracket will go that way.  What will happen? Will it be like Blockbuster, that the written word will be phased out? In some ways I like this because of ecology and going green.

I still like the written word. What are your thoughts? What do you have a Kindle or a Nook? What are your feelings about the Kindle Or Nook?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Improper Life of Bezilla Grove: Book Review

                                                             The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove
                                                              By Susan Gregg Gilmore

The story takes place in the south, Nashville Tenn during the 1960's. The story is about a little girl named Bezilla. This is a name handed down from generation to generation in the family. Bezilla has alot to grow in with the important name Bezilla Grove. She wants to use her proper name and doesn't want a nick name. Grove, is one of the most prominent families in Nashville.

She is expected to act like a Grove.  She is expected to learn to have the best etiquette. Attend the best schools, learn to dance with the prominent son's at the contillions, learn French, etc.

Her sister is a bit different and because of this Bezilla is always trying to protect her sister. Her mother is from a low class family. She escaped that life and marries a doctor. Something happened to her mother when she was a teens that has brought her mother to drink and become emotional disturbed.

Her mother was putting together with Mrs. Hunt, the most important social event of the season.. After it was over she was thanked.  Just as fast as the event was planned and finished was forgotten about.  Her mother became depressed and a alcoholic because she was not remembered for all the hard work to put it together. She was not asked to help in the next social event of the year

Her father, a pediatrician decides to send Bezilla's mother to a asylum because of her drinking and emotional instability. Her father is having a affair with one of the most prominent women in town, Mrs. Hunt. . Everyone seemed to know he is carrying on and having a affair. One day Bezilla's father comes home late at night. No one knows exactly what happens but Bezilla's father had a accident and he dies.

The story takes place during the 1960's. During the civil rights movement. Where there was a " negro bathroom and a white bathroom. Whites sat with whites. Blacks gave up sits to a white person. You called Afro Americans negroes during that time. Servants were treated poorly. Nathaniel and Mezilla eat in the kitchen.

 Nathaniel and Maizelle treated the children as their own children. Many a time both of them wanted to say something to Bezilla's parent's, but knew their place. This was at the time that " negroes still knew to keep their mouth quiet, there were lynchings of negroes. This was a dangerous time in the south.

Bezilla falls in love with Nathaniel's son, Samuel. Which is a no-no in the 1960's. still.   Class, color and status is very important in the south.

 I expected the story to have more story line during the era of the civil rights. What was going on during this time. Instead it was a little taste about the terrible times in the south. Perhaps because it was a little girls perspective. Bezilla did not comprehend the entire picture of the south, since she was still growing up.

Bezilla ready for college learned about feminism and women's rights. Bezilla's mother falls ill again and Bedzilla returns home. I am not going to tell you any further because of spoiler's.

My Thoughts: not enough was talked about the events of the 1960's growing up in the prospective of a teenager, Civil Rights Movement and Women's Movement. If she was going to college during that time there was alot of anti-establishment, anti conventional ideas, anti-government, anti war, draft dodgers, rallies, protests, hippies etc. ideas at the colleges and universities, and high school. 

This story was a twist of Gone With The Wind meets To Kill A Mockingbird that meets a beach read. The story was very light reading. It had some serious undertones but just a touch. The end of the story, which I am not going to tell you did not fit right to the story. I felt it should have been in a different place in the book not the end.

The story was the coming of age of a young girls prospective growing up in a very destructive family. This is not anything to laugh at, and make light of. That is most likely why I had such a problem with this book. I was growing up in the 60's and I may have a different prospective of the book that other bloggers that may be younger, and did not grow up during that time.

I will give it three stars. I have not read any novels from the south that was light reading before.  I think there was serious events that should have been address more seriously. Have a bit more depth to what was going on in the south.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Girl Friends Book Swap Party

I just had to share this post that came from Girl Friend Celebration's website. It is full of party fun and money making ideas for fundraising too. I found this site looking for book swapping website and fell on to this. I am happy I did. It is a great idea too bad this came a bit late. School already started and I most likely will not have time to do this now. I would love to plan something like this next summer. We will just have to see. 

Here’s a hot summer party idea that’s guaranteed to generate good times, great reads and girlfriend conversation all summer long. Our Girlfriend Book Swap party is designed to help you learn more about your friends, meet some new ones, and gain some super summer reads for free! Give it a try on a starry night, and you’ll probably want to make it a tradition like we did

You may want to limit invitations to local girlfriends (reasonable driving distance); this makes it more convenient to pass the books on to the next borrower. Make your own invitations on the computer, or order custom ones from one of the many great online sources. We ordered ours from Impressive Inscriptions. The invitation text (minus the date and time details) went like this:
“Sip sangria under the stars

Swap some summer reads

Share sparkling conversation!

Girlfriends’ Summer Book Swap

It’s the season for summer reading! Please bring a book or two that you think a girlfriend would enjoy (fiction, nonfiction, self-help, beauty, humor—anything you have appreciated as a woman). Everyone will leave with a “new” book to read and return. Bring a friend if you like!”

Setting and setup

This party could work at any time of year, of course, but to us it simply screams summer–that time of year when we actually seem to have more time for reading. Holding the party outdoors, under the stars, makes for one enchanting evening. We like to hold ours on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year; this year it’s June 22). We used plenty of candlelight and blue-and-gold starry decorations to play up the “summer night” theme. Here are some setup tips:

» Arrange your backyard furniture into “conversation areas.”

» Provide a table to display the books.

» Download and print our simple form for guests to fill out and insert in each book. (Click HERE.) If you would rather make your own form, include space for the book owner’s name, address, phone number and/or email. Then, include spaces for your girlfriends to sign up as borrowers of the book. Leave space for up to three borrowers’ names and phone numbers, as well as a space for comments when they’ve finished the book.

Food and drink

A summery and super-simple menu includes Fruity Sangria Blanca (recipe here) and appetizers. Be sure to make enough of this delicious sangria; it disappears quickly! Your girlfriends could bring the appetizers, simplifying things even further. Otherwise, here are some simple ones that go nicely with the sangria. Trader Joe’s is a great source for almost all these items:

» Chips and salsa

» Guacamole and various veggie dipppers

» Spicy nuts

» Chicken Chipotle Quesadilla Rolls from Market Day

» Celery and blue cheese dip

» Cream cheese with mango salsa poured over it, served with flatbread

» Key lime cheesecake

Show, tell and swap

Have guests fill out their swap form and insert in their book(s) when they arrive. Then leave all the books on the central table for browsing. After everyone has arrived, chatted and had a cocktail, ask your friends to say a few words about the book they brought. This is not a book report; just say why they liked the book and/or why they think a girlfriend might enjoy it. (We know, we know, some of you are cringing at the thought of this little public-speaking exercise. Don’t chicken out. The effort really does pay off by adding some substance to your gathering. You’re among friends, and besides, your first glass of sangria should have kicked in by now.) If there are too many books/people to make this feasible, you can split into small groups.

Now it’s time to swap! We suggest asking everyone to sign up as the first borrower in one book only, then sign up in other books as available. Everyone leaves with their first book, to read, comment and pass on to the next borrower. The comment forms are a way of continuing the dialogue all summer. Try to read your book and pass it on promptly, especially if other borrowers are waiting.

If a girlfriend doesn’t want her book back at the end of the summer, she can simply write “please pass it on” in the “owner” space on the swap form. Or you may to keep the fun going by registering it at and leaving it in a public place for a lucky finder.

Party favors

You’ll want to give bookmarks, of course! Find some pretty ones at the dollar store, make them yourself from cardstock and rubber stamps, or do like we did and order custom ones from Impressive Inscriptions. They have great service and the beautiful laminated bookmarks made our guests feel special. You can even get them personalized if you know all your guests’ names in advance.

This party created quite a buzz among our local girlfriends and we are all looking forward to a bigger and better book swap this summer. Please be sure to let us know if you try this Girlfriend Celebration by commenting below!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Labor Day By Joyce Maynard

Labor Day
By Joyce Maynard

Labor Day is The story takes place in Holton Mills, New Hampshire, in the summer of 1987.   The novel is about 13 year old adolescent boy, named Henry.  He watches TV, reads comic books, and plays with his pet gerbil.   He thinks about girls constantly   He occasionally goes out with his father and their family to Friendly's. Which he fights with himself and forces him self to go. His mother stays to herself. She goes out only about every six weeks for groceries.  Most meals consist of Campbell's soup and TV dinners.

Henry convinces her that he needs new clothes for the start of the school year.  At the PriceMart he is at the magazine rack. A stranger is bleeding and has blood on his jeans. He starts talking to Henry.  For some reason Henry convinces his mother to take, the stranger Frank home.   They find out that he is a escaped convict.  He was in the prison hospital recovering from surgery. He jumps out of a window and here he is.

The man, Frank  is he a friend, a foe, does he keep them as hostage? We find that out later in the book.  We find out the fate of each one's decision. Frank did have another life. Adele, was a dancer and she was very good at it.  Until something in each of their lives changed them and could not turn back the clock.

The main focus is about the little boy and growing up as adolescent. What the effect the man had on his life that labor day weekend.

My Thoughts: At first I did not like the book. But as I the momentum and story kept being layered I started to care about all the characters, and I was hooked.    At first I thought it was ridiculous for Adele to bring home this stranger. What mother would do such a thing. She must be crazy.    I then thought ok there must be two reasons. Either she has such a lonely existance.  Why not? Then the other is she feels so sorry for this man she wants to help someone, I will take a chance.

 In parts of the novel I thought I was reading " A Flash From the Past", a Patty Hearst scenerio. Because if you remember Patty Hearst she originally was taken hostage, or was she? Or she was just swept in? That is what I felt from this book.  There were parts in the novel, I wanted to shake her, and say are you crazy. You have a son to think of..
 She is naive, compulsive, a risk taker without thinking of the consequences of her actions.  She talks to her son inappropriately, she has poor judgement. She is asking her son what he thinks.

  Later on in the novel as we read futher, what happened that Frank's life came to this. Why Adele has a reclusive exixtance.    I don't want to tell you any more spoilers.

 Through out the book, the boy is telling about his  thoughts and feeling of his mother, her relationship of Frank,  and what he feels about his father(divorced, and remarried with children). His growing from adulthood and his sexuality. At times he loves Frank at other times he is jealous of his relationship with his mother.   He feels alot of times he's mother talks to him about very mature subjects  that should not be discussed with him. But because she doesn't have any friends he confides in him. Then the mother and the stranger make a dreadful decision that affects all of them for the rest of their lives that fateful weekend.

The stranger becomes his mentor this labor day weekend.  The story takes place over a labor day weekend.  He teaches him how to play catch, how to make a pie crust, etc.

 I felt that the author did a good job going into a  teenagers head, especially a single child.   I am a single mom and some of the things he said is exactly what my son felt at times. He sometimes felt that he was responsible for my happiness.  I think that is typical for a only child being raised by a single parent.  It was just kind of interesting that see it on paper.  I was like, wow this author must know my son. 

I recieved Labor Day from Book Club Girl for her blog talk radio program. If it was not for that I most likely would not have read it.    I think this book will stay on my book shelf.  This is a keeper and I will remember this one for a while.  I can't rave enough about this short, lovely book.  You must read it.   I had read a novel, called Golden Grove about adolescent. That one I did not enjoy as much.   I would recommend this novel to all my friends and book club members. 
Here is a review by The Washington post.
 I would like to ask Joyce why she called the novel Labor Day? Is there some kind of significance?

On another note, I happy to report, I  read on Joyce's website that Labor Day is going into production for a movie. The entire time I was reading it, I was watching it as a movie. Isn't that interesting.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review: 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The 19th Wife 
By David Ebershoff
505 pages

The 19th Wife, from the flap:
Spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with spellbinding modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense.

It is 1875, Anna Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband., Brigham Young, prophet, leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled  and a outcast. Anna Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States.  A rich account of the family's polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman becomes a plural wife.

soon after Anna Eliza's story begins a second exquisite narrative unfolds a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present day Utah.  Jordon Scott a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father's death.  And as Anna Eliza;s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan's search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.

My thoughts of 19th Wife:  

With modern times Jordan's mother is in a polygamous marriage.  She is the 19th wife. She is accused of murdering her husband.  Her son, Jordan who is a young adult. Was exiled out of the compound because he was seen holding a girls hand when he was 15.   Through the entire book he is trying to help find out who the killer was.  He never believes it is his mother.

Then it flips to the historical Mormon Church's beginnings. Since I did not know anything about the religion and the church I found it very interesting.  There was a woman named Anna Eliza Young, she was married to the famous Brigham Young.  Brigham Young was a famous Mormon leader.  The Mormon Church believed in polygamy.  She was a advocate to stomp out polygamy. There was a real person named Anna Eliza Young.

The novel is great for discussion. How do you keep up with all your wife's. ?What about the children? How would you feel if you lived in this kind of marriage? What happens to the boys when they become adolescence? The women actually had to wait in line to talk to their husband.
The husband had a time table for each of them. #1 wife had Monday night, #2 wife had Monday afternoon etc., etc.. Can you imagine the complication this was.  Brigham Young and his followers used polygamy for their advantage. It was a form of abuse to the wives. But it was child abuse to the young girls that were forced into marriage

There was competition of the wives. The favourites  received a beautiful home,  jewelry, and clothes etc..  The men would have several homes for each of their wives. The wives were jealous of each others time with the husband. Or the affection they gave to each of them.    Some of the families enjoyed the commune life. Some of the families had over 100 children. The wives shared in the responsibilities of the household.   How would the other wives feel if another wife came into the family? How would they treat the children when they were born? Would they love them or reject them?

Anna Eliza after she married Brigham Young was given a new home. But there was a price to pay. She had to farm for the entire family.  But then after she was not needed there. She was given a dilapidated home. This is when she realized that this kind of marriage was a form of abuse and she was not going to tolerate this any longer.  She decided she was going to go on the lecture circuit to let society become aware. Since Brigham Young and the Mormon Church denied they were polygamists.  With the help of Anna Eliza and several others a law was passed called The Poland Law that stamped out polygamy.

While reading the novel, I dug and did my own research on Brigham Young and Anna Eliza Young and the Mormon Church.    The characters were rich in detail and multi dimensional.  Most historical novels are one dimensional characters.  The story was multi layered as well.  The only thing I did not like, and irritated me while reading.  Was the flipping back in forth of the two stories. But I think this gave the book depth and dimension. I don't think the book would have been as good as a read if it did not.    The novel gave you  a idea of the life of a polygamous marriage. Believe me I would not want to live that lifestyle.  One of the reasons polygamy ended was because it would have been the end of the church.  

The novel uses the book, The 19th Wife( that Anna Eliza Young did write many years ago). The history of the church, and Eliza Young, and the story of Jordan and his mother made the novel confusing at first till I got into the book. 

I am not going to give you the spoilers of course. But I will tell you the ending justified the entire book, the murder and polygamy.   Which at first I did not like. But after digesting it for a few days.  It made a lot of sense.   

I enjoyed reading this book. I had this book on my shelf for two years. But I am assuming the 500 page book may have been a bit daunting.  Luckily my book club talked me into it.  Thank you 38th Ave. Diva Readers for picking this one.  I recommend this highly.

  I already started talking about this novel to other book club members.  I can see this will be a good book club discussion and also a good  spring board for discussion of polygamy and what life was like for the wives.  

Look out for my post of our book club meeting this month.    We will be meeting in October for, Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom.

The Author of Stiltsville Susanna Daniel

Susana Daniels has just released her debut novel this month called Stiltsville.
I have the pleasure of introducing her on Carolina Book Stacks.  You can read the synopsis of her novel and my review here.

This is one of the best books I have read this summer. I could not wait to read it.  I connected with this book so much because of my connection with Miami. The description of Miami and it's exotic nature was beautiful. Her writing style was awesome.   It is a quiet novel about growing and maturing in marriage.  From the early marriage to the twilight years.

One of the questions on my mind was what was it like to live in the community of Stiltsville? Did anyone live there full time? Did you have good memories living there?

This kept going through my mind. Because I kept putting myself in one of the homes when I was reading.
I kept thinking as a child there is not a playground or a backyard to play ball, only blue ocean everywhere.  The house would be so cramped because I would think it would be a bit smaller than a house.
You couldn't just go to the corner store for a gallon of milk. I am sure it was a distance going by boat. I am sure there must have been so kind of mail service.  But, I was wondering if there were telephones. What happens if there was a emergency or you needed some help.
It seems like you would be isolated from everything. You couldn't go shopping, the movies, to the restauraunt. It would be a distance.   It was a different kind of lifestyle.  It would be somewhat of a inconvience. But, It sure sounds like a interesting get away for a summer weekend.

I just wondering what children or adults did for entertainment and for fun? I would assume they would sun on their boats, go deep water fishing, water skiing etc. But what about the evening?

I assume you would go to the main land( Miami).  Just not a local spot you would have to travel.

This must have been a  great experience and good memories.

Susanna wrote her experiences and this is what she said:
My family lived full-time in Coral Gables, a few miles from where my father was born and raised, but we spent about one weekend a month at Stiltsville, in a house there that was built by my grandfather. In the summer, we usually spent longer, and went out more often, when my father could get off work. During the week, much of Stiltsville was empty, though the teenagers whose parents owned the houses went there when they skipped school. The majority of Stiltsville residents were like my family -- they had homes in Miami and spent weekends at their stilt houses -- and, also like us, the majority shared use of the houses with other families. However, there was one person during my time there who lived at Stiltsville full-time: a hermit, whose house was next to ours. Everything I know about him is in the novel. People came out to visit him but to my knowledge he didn't go to shore often, if at all. I don't know what happened to him after Hurricane Andrew. I've always wondered.

The last time I was in Miami, Florida -- where I was born and raised, and where my novel STILTSVILLE takes place -- I sat outside at a coffee shop on Miracle Mile, peering through sunglasses at a laptop computer as the traffic rushed by.

There were the usual noises: ladies in high heels passing on the sidewalk, drivers honking their horns. And then there was a burst of angry shouting, coming from the intersection right in front of me. I looked up. A driver had his head out his car window, and he was shouting -- in a ranting, maniacal voice -- at the driver of the car in front of him, which was stopped at the light. The light was red, but the woman in the front car, for some reason, had her car in reverse.

 The woman was old and small, with white hair and narrow shoulders and thick eyeglasses, and as the man screamed at her she looked in her side view mirror at him, visibly confused.

He continued to holler. "Lady," he screamed at one point, "if you hit my car, I'm going to come up there and beat you."

The woman, after several seconds, put her car into drive and the light turned green and the man ducked back into his car, his knuckles white against his steering wheel, and traffic moved on.

Miami, at times, can be an ugly, ugly place. Who would want to write about such a place?

As a child, I lived in a modest ranch home in a pretty section of Coral Gables, near South Miami. I rode my bike to school every day, starting when I was ten years old. The closest I came, at a young age, to knowing seediness or cruelty was when I found a page torn from a pornographic magazine on the sidewalk around the corner from my house. I was nominally acquainted with accidents and challenges -- my sister had died in a car accident when I was a baby -- but not with the uglier bits of life, the unseemliest bits.

When I was about twelve, in a house surrounded by elaborate gardens just a few blocks south of us, a man blew his wife's brains out, then turned the gun on himself. This was news, and of course I heard about it -- but still, crimes of passion, bloody as they can be, are not ugly in the particular way of the man screaming at the old lady at the intersection.

When the man threatened to beat the old woman, the whole scene -- which, thankfully, did not come to pass -- played out in my mind. This man was young -- maybe mid-thirties -- and seemed fit and rugged, and had very large hands. In my mind, I saw him using those hands to hurt this fragile woman. It was so unsettling that my own hands shook as I closed my laptop and walked to my car. I have never repeated that story to anyone, until now. It's not a story I choose to keep with me. It stays all on its own.

There are writers who are fascinated with ugliness, and there are writers who avoid it completely. My preference is somewhere in the middle, as a reader as well as a writer. I prefer to highlight the beauty in the face of the ugliness, when possible. To look away, as I do in real life, from the ugliness, toward something better. Sometimes it's impossible to do this except at a remove. To write about Miami, I had to leave it.

Though I no longer live there, I know many, many people who still do, including many people who have lived there all their lives. My father is one such native -- and I have never heard him complain about the traffic or recount a story from his hairy commute that reflected anything like the ugliness I witnessed at that Miracle Mile intersection. Though in recent afternoon driving through Miami I encountered five car accidents and was nearly involved in two, my father hasn't had so much as a fender bender in twenty years.

I now live in the Midwest, which is a place as foreign to Miamians as Miami is to everyone else. One might assume I moved here in reaction to growing up in Miami, but that's not the case. I didn't move here because of notions -- which are mostly exaggerated -- about the Midwest being simple and friendly and easily navigated. I moved here on a lark, almost by accident. And I stayed because I met my husband and our family is here, and family has a way of tethering a person to a place the way nothing else can.

Sometimes I think I'd like to write about the Midwest, about the beauty and peace of it. And maybe one day if something intercedes in my life to take me away from the Midwest, I'll be able to.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Today is Mailbox Monday. It seems to go so fast now that summer is ready for a close. It seems to wiz right by. Before you know it Labor Day will be here.

In South Carolina school starts before Labor Day. In Myrtle Beach Public school starts up again on 8/23.

 I went on campus to pick up my text books.  I am only taking two classes this semester. I am looking forward to start in some ways.  But in other ways I don't want to start stressing out.

 I just recieved a letter that I should have gotten in July. I have been accepted in the nursing program.  That is great, but I have to wait till 2012!! Hopefully it will go quickly.

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Chickloveslit
These are the books I recieved in my mailbox this past week:

Lucy by Laurence Gonzalez
The novel, is about a primatologist that travels to the Congo in Africa. A civil war breaks out and Jenny is trapped in the crossfire.  Everyone is dead but a young girl.  The daughter of Jenny's brutally murdered fellow scientist.
Jenny and the child flee.  Then when she reaches  Chicago. She reads into the notebook. That the girl is a hybrid. Half human, half ape.
This should be interesting reading. I love to read books with a ethical slant.

The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove was sent to me by the author. She was looking for Southern book Bloggers. I am looking forward to reading this one.

Father of the Rain was sent to me by the author, Lily King.
The story is set in the 1960's.  Ever since Mad Men has come out. It seems that there are many books that are being set in the 60's. Either because of Mad Men or because author's think this is a good setting. I grew up in the 1960's, I did not think it was a interesting time. Perhaps because I lived it. It was actually a scary time. Between Kennedy being shot, Detroit Riots, College Riots, Jail Riot, Attica(jail riot). There was just alot of anti-establishment going on.

But after doing a project on the 60's I realize now that it was a interesting time growing up. I was not exactly a flower child as I was too young remembering some of the 60's as my teen years were in the 70's. But, I do remember some of it.

Have a great week everyone. Happy Reading, Keep those pages flipping. 

What books did you get in the mail this week??

Addendum: I can't believe I forgot to mention this book.

The novel is Stashed by David Klein.  The novel deals with a wife that does a favor for her husband. She does a errand and is carring marijuna.  She gets in a car accident and then all hell breaks loose. Please excuse the foul language.  But, anyway I can't wait to read this. I love a book that is a jumping board to ethical issues to be discussed.  Looking forward to reading this one. Thank you to the author David Klein.

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