Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The Round House
By Louise Erdrich
Review copy from TLC Book Tours
The Round House, takes place in 1988 on a Indian reservation in N. Dakota. This is a coming age story of Antone Bazil Coutts, known as Joe, a pre-teen.
He is forced to grow up fast, one fateful day things will not be the same for Joe, and his mother and father.
He's mother, Geraldine leaves to go to her office to pick up a file. She doesn't return for several hours. Joe, and his father, a lawyer for the reservation, starts searching for her. Hours later, she is at their home in their driveway, just staring. She immobile, with scratches, and bruises all over her body. She is unable to discuss it. Geraldine isolates her self from everyone, including her family. But, as we turn the pages we find out what happened to Geraldine.
It takes alot of research, and detective work of father and son to discover what happened to Geraldine. Joe involves his best friend, Cappy and his other two friends in the detective work.
It takes a lot of digging since he's mother wouldn't speak about it at first. They eventually discover what happened, why? at Round House. The book unravels like a detective story, but it is much more than that.
Finally, Joe does the unthinkable, and time can not be reversed.
We, the readers that have not been exposed to the native Indian culture we learn about the culture, Indian mysticsm, community, the conflict of white man vs. tribal laws, learns more about his family, and the social problems of alcohol, drugs, assault, etc in 1988.
We learn about the importance of Star Trek to Joe and his friends. Remember what is was like growing up as a pre-teen, with sexual awakening, looking at girl's body's etc. The importance of his friendships of his four buddies. They help Joe, discover by accident what happened to his isolated mother.
The friendship helps him deal with the frustration of not being able to help his mother, and reach her. With the problems at home escalating, and the silence of his mother, and not dealing with daily life is frustrating to Joe, he reaches out to his friends, and his large extended family to learn to deal with family and learning to grow up fast.
The mysticsm of the land, the relationship to the people to the land, and why it is important. For instance if you don't have any knowledge about the formation of the United States. Not knowing how the land was taken from them by the United States. I suggest you do some research. This is a shameful part of history.
I like how the story is narrated. Because as we learn about Joe, it is told by the adult Joe, through his eyes, and voice. Through the narration we learn that Joe, went into his father's foot steps, and became a lawyer. We learn a great deal about what happens to his life later, what is said and unsaid, but we presume because of the adult narration.
Thank You TLC Book Tours for my chance to review. I want to apologize to TLC Book Tours. This is the first time I had to ask to postpone my post for the book tour. With the holidays approaching, and getting ready for school, I had so much on my plate.
Happy Holidays everyone.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
This month, our book club Beach Babes Book Brigade did something different. Instead of discussing the book, we decided to do a book review on the book that you would like to swap.
My team of book club members went into action. They cooked up scrumptious latkes of different kinds, salad, and different desserts. After that I am stuffed. I did not want to review anything I was stuffed.
We went around to each member to discuss our best, and worst book club book of 2012. I have been in a existing book club for about 7 years. But, they don't usually like to do anything different. Just discuss the book. The book club, Beach Babes Book Brigade has been in existence since March.
From the books we read, this is all the members take on books we chose. Everyone loved Forgotten Garden, a few picked Dove Keepers. The worst, was G-ds From Alabama. My personal favorites, was Paris Wife by Paula McLain and Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.
The books that members chose to review and swap was:
I reviewed Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingslover. You can read my review below this post. Also, Little Bee by Cleeve, Another by Kristen Hannah which will be discussing in the summer. Rachel Simon's true account of her disabled sister on the bus. Another was Private, by James Patterson.
The book club member that reviewed did not think it was his best.
The books we will be reading in the following months with some with special speakers:
Jane Eyre will have a guest speaker from CCU on Jan. 28th at California Dreaming.
February-In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.
March- Raquella by Ruth Gruber in honor of Hadassah's 100th B-day.
April-Story of Beautiful Girl by Ruth Simon
May- Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
June-Rav Hisda's Daughter- This will be a Jewish Community Read. Guest Speaker Rabbi Debbi Slavitt will be speaking.
July-Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah
August- Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern( Magically Novel).
To recap to do different next year. We will wrap the book, and do it as a white elephant.
I hope to next year do something crafty. I have seen some book clubs make book marks with the year of books that chose. I would like to learn how to do that.
Monday, December 17, 2012
I would like to invite you to our book event. It is hosted by The Beach Babes Book Brigade.
We have invited a guest speaker, Dan Ennis, from CCU to talk about Jane Eyre.
If you live in the Myrtle Beach area please RSVP.
The event will be held on January 28th at 1PM at California Dreaming.
email me at email@example.com
Friday, December 14, 2012
By Barbara Kingslover
Copy given to me by TLC Book Tours
On the Appalachian mountain lives Dellarobia Turnbow, and her husband Cub, and two small children. Down the dirt road lives her husband's family. They are sheep Herders. He's mother is domineering, and there isn't anything to please her.
Dellarobia, found her self pregnant in high school. Pretty much left barefoot and pregnant. Living dirt poor, poor, in a shack. She is stuck, in the marriage. She still loves Cub, but she has wandering eyes for the electrician.
One finally moment she is to meet him at a certain spot. Instead she spots she thinks"fire", Moses burning bush. Thinking it is a sign from g-d not to meet him. Instead, she goes back down the mountain. Later realizing it is a cluster of Monarch butterflies.
Later on she remarks to her husband, Cub that they should not sell the land for timber. There is something up there that Cub, and he's family should witness. Originally the family wants to sell off the land. But, after witnessing the miracle of the butterflies, the family and the community believe it is a sign from g-d. It is a deliverance
The community, outside visitors of the community find out about the miracle from the newspapers. People come from all over to witness the miracle, including a Mexican family that was uprooted because of a natural disaster. Dellarosia's mother in law solicit tours for monetary gain to see the miracle of the butterflies.
Scientists from other parts of the country are interested in why the butterflies started migrating in the winter to Tennessee rather than Mexico. She becomes involved in learning about the migration of the butterflies. She wants to learn more than what is going on, on her mountain top. She starts to learn about other things outside her town. This changes and challenges her mind for the better.
What transpires is changes of Dellarosia. She never was interested in learning. With the scientists coming to investigate the butterfly phenomenon. There comes good changes for her. She knows now, there is more for her to learn about, and explore in her life than the limited Appalachian mountains.
Flight Behavior is not just about the change in the butterfly's flight pattern but parallel's to Delarobia's life changes. Instead of sitting back and letting life take over. She eventually at the end became a take charge person. She is doing something for the better to change her and her children.
Flight Behavior, underlying theme is global warming, and can we change things once we destroy them. Can we prevent further destruction. If you are a science buff, and interested in the phenomenon of the migration of butterflies this may interest you. This may interest you enough to do your own research as well about the monarch butteflies. This will make a good book discussion.
There is much more discussed in the book about envoirmental changes with the butterflies. What caused them to change to a different migration route? Is this the beginning of the end? Etc, etc.
The writing of Ms. Kingslover was beautifully written prose. I personally at times felt she was getting preachy and long winded. But, I still liked reading Flight Behaviors. I like to read books that are science based, historical, and learn something with some meat. Some people will not enjoy reading this. But, I still felt like it had something to say.
I read a book called Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe. She talked about the butterflies also. But, was worried about the end of the Monarch Butterflies. Where Ms. Kingslover was writing about the ecology, and globing warming. Two different things.
I wanted to read this because I have not read many books that take place on the Appalachian Mountains. I felt the book gave the person that does not go on the back roads of the poor dirt on the mountain a taste, feel, and culture of the life of people that live in Tennessee in Appalachia.
I read this novel about two weeks ago, so my memory is a bit fuzzy.
I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for allowing me to receive a copy and review my thoughts.
Here are the other stops for the book tour:
Tuesday, November 6th: A Reader of Fictions
Wednesday, November 7th: Dolce Bellezza
Thursday, November 8th: The Blog of Lit Wits
Monday, November 12th: Caribousmom
Tuesday, November 13th: Bookish Habits
Wednesday, November 14th: 50 Books Project
Thursday, November 15th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, November 26th: Book Snob
Tuesday, November 27th: What She Read … – joint review
Wednesday, November 28th: Becca’s Byline
Thursday, November 29th: A Patchwork of Books
Wednesday, December 5th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, December 6th: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness
Tuesday, December 11th: Man of La Book
Wednesday, December 12th: Tina’s Books Reviews
Thursday, December 13th: Seaside Book Corner
Monday, December 17th: 50 Books Project
TBD: Much Madness is Divinest Sense
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Rules of Civility
Rules of Civility, takes place in 1966, at a art gallery with Kate, and her husband.
Kate recognizes Tinker in a picture. A old friend that she, and her girlfriend Eve met at a speakeasy in 1939. Eve is a reckless girl, and falls for Tinker. She doesn't want to be under her father's thumb.
She is in a accident, Tinker and Eve go to Europe. While, Kate stays behind and works as a secretary in a law firm.
I don't want to say anything else because I will be afraid to give it away.
My Review: I enjoyed reading the novel for the setting of New York City, specifically Manhattan in the late 1930's.
This is another novel, I did not connect with. I am batting a thousand lately, not my favorite book this year. Everyone is praising Rules of Civility. It was ok, but not my favorite. It is heavy in prose. I did not see what the hoopla is for Mr. Towles style of writing. I can think of other writers that I enjoy reading better.
This has not been my favorite reading month. Perhaps with what is going on in my life recently. I have been distracted. Hope to get my teeth into a good book soon.
I was the one to pick this novel for our book club. I don't like to pick books that I read before. But, I am starting to realize that it might be a good idea.
This is the second book that I chose for the book club that I particularly did not like. But, who knows it may be a good discussion. Especially when it deals with class. We are meeting tomorrow at Olive Garden, I will let be writing a post about our meeting in the next day or two.
State Of Wonder
By Ann Patchett
State of Wonder, is based on scientific facts that take place in the Amazon Jungle. I remember as a child in school, the teacher being the devil's advocate. About science, and researchers going to the Amazon to locate wonder drugs. But, the unfortunate thing was the companies were taking, but not giving back to the community in the Amazon Jungle. But, things are changing for the better in the Amazon.
The story takes place in the Amazon Jungle in South America and the Midwest in Missouri. This is the story of two researchers Dr. Singh, and Eckman. They work for a pharmaceutical company, looking for the wonder drugs in the Amazon. The pharmaceutical company has Dr. Swenson in the Amazon already in the looking for bark, the wonder drug or ingredient for fertility. Dr. Swenson. But, no one has heard hide nor hair from her for two years. She has not updated the pharmaceutical company of what has been going on in two years. This has the pharmaceutical company worried.
The book gives you the feel of the lost civilization of the Amazon. With insects, bugs, snakes, tribal societies.
The drug is suppose to help fertility in woman. Why women in the Amazon at age 70 can produce children? At the same time this drug can help with Malaria. It turns out Dr. Swenson is pregnant at age 70 too.
Mr. Fox, has asked Anders, Marina's collegue to locate Dr. Swenson in the Amazon. Ander's has family back home. Marina wonders why she was not asked. Since Anders has family that are alive and well. Marina is not married with children. Why was she not asked by Mr. Fox? When Anders goes down to the Amazon. Mr. Fox is notified that Anders is killed, but there is not a body to identify. Anders wife believes he is not dead.
Mr. Fox then asks Marina to go down to the Amazon and locate Dr. Swenson. She happens to be Marina's mentor in medical school. Marina does trek down to the Amazon. But, she is a secret hidden away from a couple. I did enjoy reading about the envoirment of the Amazon.
My Review: My forte is historical fiction, but also novels that deal with science fascinate me. But, for some reason I could not connect with the characters.
But, I enjoyed reading about the Amazon, and the culture. But, for some reason I could not connect with the characters. Our book club discussed the book, and most of us felt the same way. I read this book, about a month ago, so my feelings about the book are a bit fuzzy.
The novel does bring up some discussion about the rain forest, and the companies that take from the environment But, what I understand now, it is a lot different than what it was like years ago. Used to be, companies were take, take, take rubber, cocoa with out giving back to the Amazon. But, I hear things are different now.
The other thing, you can't fool with mother nature. Are bodies are meant to carry babies at a certain time. As we get older, our bodies are not as strong as they used to be. Having children after menopausal age, is not a natural thing.
Friday, November 23, 2012
Where'd You go, Bernadette
By Maria Semple
Bernadette and Elgie, have a daughter Bee. They live in Seattle. He works for Microsoft. Something happened to Bernadette's spirit after she won a prize for the best architecture of a home. But, tragedy, as a joke a rival tore the house down. Bernadette was devastated. From there, Bernadette has never been the same. They moved from California to Seattle.
Bernadette is a stay at home mom. She hires a man on line to help her with her errands. Because she doesn't like to go out of the house. Bernadette is angry, and wants revenge, and takes everything to the extreme wearing disguises of large sunglasses and scarves.
Bernadette enters her daughter in a competitive school. But again, things get complicated. Her neighbor, Audrey Griffith has a problem, blackberries are overgrowing into their yard. Her neighbor tries to remedy the problem by talking to her at school. But, instead while waiting for her daughter to get in the car. She runs over her foot. Then again, Bernadette gets in trouble, a contractor is hired to remedy the blackberries. But, once the bushes are taken out. This loosens the dirt, and a landslide occurs to the neighbors home while she is hosting a brunch for a fundraiser for the school.
If matters were not bad enough, her neighbor's kid, Audrey Griffith is thought to being dealing drugs, Oxycotin from her mother's medicine cabinet. The same medicine she was prescribed for her foot when it was run over. Audrey gives the excuse she forgot to take it out of her son's back pack.
There is more antics of Bernadette and her neighbor, credit card fraud, traumatizing the children in school, traveling, disappearances of parents, teeth removed, a few sexual escapades, commitment of parent in a insane asylum, accusations of parent of child traumatize the school children.
I will tell you this was a fun and quirky read. I had so much fun reading about Bernadette and her travels and disappearance in Anartica. I will tell you it was way over the top. But, that is what made the story so fun and I wanted more. Believe me there is more.
I recommend this one highly.
State of Wonder
By Ann Patchett
I read State of Wonder because it was up my alley. A story based on scientific facts. I thought reading about the Amazon, would take me away to a exotic place.
When I was a teenager, I remember our high school teachers discussing the pharmaceutical companies and the Amazon rain forest. The barks of trees had medicinal value. The companies, not just pharmaceutical companies, were taking, and destroying the rain forest and not giving back to the Amazon.
Here is my take on the story of, State of Wonder.
The story takes place in Minnesota, and eventually takes us to the Amazon Rainforest. The book opens up with Marina Singh's pharmaceutical scientist collegue, Anders Eckmann. He is asked to travel to the Amazon to find Dr. Swenson. Dr. Swenson's has found woman, from a certain tribe, Lakashi tribe are able to conceive and give birth after the age of 70. She is there to locate " miracle herbs" But, no one has seen hide, nor hair of her in two years.
The company has asked Ander's to go down to the Amazon, and locate her and find out where she is on the project. He travels to the Amazon. He is there for quite awhile, and he never does locate Dr. Swenson. He is presumed dead. But, he's wife never accepts he's death.
Marina Sigh, then assigned by her boss, and lover of Vox Pharmaceuticals to go down to the Amazon to locate he's body, and find Dr. Swenson. Dr. Swenson was Marina's professor, and mentor in medical school. There is a secret of the fertility experiments are also doing research of the malaria drug, and there is a connection of both, the malaria experiments would not benefit Vox Pharmaceuticals.
The complication that adds to the story is the couple, is interfering with Dr. Singh job locating Dr. Swenson. They are blocking Dr. Singh's assignment to find Dr. Swenson. Then there is a little boy Easter, a blind boy, Acker's took under his wing. Dr. Singh, also took a shining to Easter. She cares about him very much, and grows to love him as her own.
The book takes you away to the rainforest. You could feel the natural habitat of the rainforest with snakes, insects, disease, etc. It made me feel like I was really there in the rainforest. It reminded me as a little kid, a ride we would take in the amusement park, full of head hunters, and forest, and waterfalls, etc.
One part that I thought was interesting, was the author combined music of opera, and science together in her writing. Reminded me of her novel, Bel Canto.
What I did not understand was how would there be a opera house in the middle of the Amazon. Then out of no where Dr. Singh finds Dr. Swenson at the opera, sitting behind her. A chance meeting, or what? It did not make sense to me. Maybe that is where it fell apart for me.
I could not connect with the characters, and understanding their motivation. I am not sure, why I did not care, or connect with the story. I really wanted to like the story especially when the place was character. It reminded of Indiana Jones movies.
I read many people liked State of Wonder. I was just not one of them.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Midnight in Peking
By Paul French
Review copy from Penguin Publishing
I am posting a bit differently this time. I did not have access to a computer for six days. I am afraid I will not give the important details to Midnight in Peking.
Instead, I found a nice review from the Britain newspaper, the Daily Mail.
There you will find the synopsis of the book, the details and video from the author describing the murder surrounding Pamela Werner. I will still give my review. You will find it below.
Midnight in Peking, is a true account of the murder of young British Woman. She was found mutilated in Peking China. What makes this book fascinating, is the background history of China. What the conditions of Peking was, the seedy part of town. The cover up of the Chinese government, and the British government. The men that were involved. Why was a body mutilated? who did it?
What was a young woman doing in the Fox Tower? Where was the blood, etc?
My Review: I liked reading about the culture of China, and the history that was taking place in 1937 surrounding the murder of Pamela Werner. The book is still swirling in my head after a week. The writing is with a journalistic eye, and the writing grabs you from the first page. But after 3/4 of reading the book, it was getting tedious with the father's investigation, and not the detectives.
The investigation became closed after Japanese invaded China. The father decided to do his own investigation. What the father comes up with is horrifying.
The rest of the book was based on theories, not scientific fact. It was not a open and shut case, just the prostitutes word. How do we know they were telling the truth. The suspects were never brought in and questioned. The witnesses did not actually see the murder. They only heard screaming in the next room.
If you read this leave your comments below, what you thought.
I am so excited, it only took two years for me get Microsoft Publisher working again. I missed using it so much. I started my first flyer again. It looks great, so excited. I loved it, missed my hobby.
What do you think? Nice, isn't it!!
My son, finally took a look at it. Beside Publisher working again my Adobe reader is working for my nook.
A few months ago, I could not access my Edelweiss account for the books I was granted access to. I then had to contact the authors, and publishers to ask if they would want to send me hard copies. The books were overflowing again in my house. Now, I am back in business. I am hoping that what ever the problem with my computer, will also fix my problems with my blog, too.
I AM DOING THE HAPPY DANCE
Sunday, November 11, 2012
The Lola Quartet
By Emily St. John Mandel
Review copy from Caitlin of Unbridled Books
The Lola Quartet, is the story of four friends in high school.
Gavin, Daniel, Jack, and one other friend's name, I can't recall.
Gavin, and he's high school friends live in Sebastian, Florida. They are about to graduate high school. Gavin is about to leave home, and go away to college.
Right before he is about to leave, his girl friend, Anna gets pregnant with Gavin's child. But instead of telling Gavin, he tells Daniel that he is the father. Anna, comes from a troubled family, she is constantly coming to school with bruises and cuts.
In the meantime, Gavin has graduated college and worked as a journalist in a top NYC newspaper. But, he is getting lazy at investigating his stories. The last few stories, he did not do his research, and made up names, was found out, and fired. In the meantime his live in girlfriend leaves him.
He can't pay his rent, food, and his utilities. He's bills are piling up, and finally he takes his belongings, and leaves his apartment for good. He's sister finds out he's predicament. She offers him a job back in Sebastian, Florida.
He moves back to Florida. He is shown a picture a little girl. She looks so much like Anna. He wants to track her down.
I have not read books by this author before, but heard so much about her. The first part of the book grabbed me, but then it lost steam. I loved the suspense, it reminded me of old detective stories, Spencer Tracy, kind of movie. I really wanted to enjoy reading.
But the second part, when we learned about the characters and what their motivation was I did not care. I am not into the excitement of the drug scene, and gambling, stealing drug money, and the risk taking. Anna, getting herself into trouble, and the mystery of how she got into this mess, and how she and everyone else came back a decade later, just did not do anything for me.
When I realized this was a story was about teenagers getting themselves into trouble further, and further, and, digging deeper and deeper into trouble. I realized this was not for me.
Anna, did not try to fix her problems or own up to them, and either did her friends. Where they were, before and after ten years and how to fix themselves. I did not care for the characters. It just was not my cup of tea. I don't know why I continued the story. I should have stopped at part 2.
Maybe a younger person would have connected with this story.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
The Cutting Season
Review copy from Dennis Lehane Imprint
In between Baton Rouge, and New Orleans in present day, Louisiana lies a part of American history in the south, Belle Vie, a slave plantation.
Outside the gate of Belle Vie, are the migrant workers. They are hired for cutting the sugar cane outside the gate by Groveland Industry. The Clancy family have inherited Belle Vie from one generation to the next.
A body of a female migrant worker is found outside the gates of Belle Vie plantation. The plantation, at present day intersects with historical reconstruction south. There are guided tours, re-enactments, and weddings, slave quarters, and a gift shop.
Caren, and her daughter, Morgan have recently returned to Belle Vie, from New Orleans. There is a long history on Belle Vie plantation for Caren.
Caren's mother worked as a cook, she raised her on Belle Vie. Caren heard stories about the old plantation, about her great, great, grandfather. Growing up along the side of the landowners sons. Her mother, told her stories about her kin, and old stories in the civil war, and about her great, great, grandfather, Jason who lived on the plantation, and disappeared one day in 1871, and never found again.
What happened to her great, great, great, grandfather, a former slave. Could it be, he walked off with a lover, and left his married wife and children? Did the plantation owner, who are related to the present owner's have something to do with his death? There are lots of questions past and present that Caren, wants to find out. The two murders are related, but how?
Then, at the same time there is a large sugar cane corporation, called Groveland buying up land left and right from poor land owners. They are hiring people and replacing the local employees with migrant workers. Now instead of slaves, hired migrant working for penance.
The land owner's of Belle Vie, one of the brother's is looking for political gain for finally giving the land to the large corporation. The other brother, is the black sheep of the family, and looking out for the best interests of the family.
Caren is hired by the present owners of Belle Vie to run the plantation. This is very awkward for Caren, Caren's family, were known as hired hands, and as slaves during the civil war. Caren grew up on Belle Vie plantation. Caren felt shame about her history, and she feels ambivalent about herself living on Belle Vie, and being a Afro-American.
Living on the plantation with slave quarters, and the re-inactments, and seeing their quarters each day of a reminder of what happened during the civil war.
During the investigation, a young man going to the local community college is filming a movie.
He wants to make a re-inactment of what happened to the former slave. But, something goes amiss.
He is framed for the murder. Caren's boyfriend, Eric becomes involved a lawyer from D.C.
My Review: I read mostly literary fiction, not mysteries. But, I heard so much about this author and her book, Cutting Season. I needed a break from all the books, I have been reading lately, with deadlines. I decided to give it a try. I am so happy, I read Cutting Season.
The books I like to read are story telling, not so much character driven. I love a plain good story. I love lately, I discovered I love fiction that is caught up in a time period, and place with good story telling. I am not talking about kings and queens, they seem to be locked into history. But, a story with fictional characters, at certain time periods, and place for me to visit.
It did take me awhile to become attached to the characters. But, once I became invested with them, I could not let go. I am still thinking about Cutting Season. I hope there are more books by the author that delves into historical fiction with a mystery.
One part of the story with Eric, Caren's boyfriend was going into the slave quarters. Most people that are white don't think about this. How would you feel going into a part of history that caused you pain? I never understood that concept. But, also most authors, are white don't show that part of the story. It must have felt like a painful part of history thrown in your face.
This part of history hit home for me to understand what Afro Americans feel living in, and being surrounded by painful reminders.
I wonder how Afro Americans feel living and seeing their past every day over and over again. I live in South Carolina, and never thought how it hard it must be at times living in the south. Possibly the reason migration of Afro Americans leaving the south and moving up north.
Me, as a Jew, I understand how I would feel going to Poland, or Germany to the camps. That is why I have, never gone to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, because it is a painful reminder. I was not living during the holocaust, but it is still hard, if I had to visit Germany, Poland, Russia, etc. I am sure the same goes for Eric, Caren's boyfriend. He must have had the same feelings.
If you are looking for a good mystery, suspense, and historical fiction all wrapped up into one. Then this book is for you, I recommend it highly.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
HELP WANTED, Looking For List of Contemporary Classic Authors from the Past( 1980's) for book clubs.
I have been looking high and low for book lists from the past. Contemporary Literary Classics.
I have done several google searches, under decades of best books, popular books from the 80's, best book club discussable books from the 80's without any luck.
This is the few books, and authors that I can think of, but I am looking for a list. Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingslover, Anne Tyler, John Irving, Jane Smiley, Ann Patchett. Can anyone help me with others. I would greatly appreciate it. You will be helping a fellow book club moderator, and book blogger in the book community.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
By Vincent Lam
Review copy given from TLC Book Tours
Author, Dr. Vincent Lam's novel, takes place in Vietnam. He's heritage is from Vietnam, he's occupation when not writing is a ER physician in Canada. He is well known in Canada in literary circles. He has won literary prizes for his short stories, and other novel, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures. There is a interesting scoop of gossip about him, and Margaret Atwood, one of my favorite authors.
I don't recall how I found out about this novel, it could have been through BEA. When I found out that TLC Book Tour was looking for hosts for Headmaster's Wager, I jumped and eagerly wanted to read, and review. I don't know what I was expecting, but I wanted to jump at the chance.
It seems that this is the right time for novels about Vietnam to be published now. With the wounds of Vietnam has healed, and less painful it is the right time to start writing about it. There has been recently many novels with the historical back drop of the Vietnam War( I know politically, it is not a war, but a conflict~ but that is another time to write about my views on that). Vietnam War was from 1962, to the fall of Saigon-1975.
What sticks out in memory all of us wearing the silver bracelets, with the name of American soldiers. They were either MIA, or killed in action. We were proud wearing and finding out about these fine soldiers. Remember we were maybe 10 years old, and only interested in what everyone else was doing- the in crowd, not exactly in the war on another continent, and another ocean.
When I was growing up, I was not aware of the happenings of the 60's, I was a young child, and not interested. I was a teen when the Vietnam War ended, and the fall of Saigon. I remember, on the TV screens discussions of the involuntary draft, boys at 18 avoiding the draft and going to Canada, college campus demonstrations to show their view of Vietnam atrocities, the treatment of Cambodian citizens by American Soldiers, the same goes for the Viet Cong's treatment of American soldiers. What still I remember is the MIA's still in Vietnam, and never returned.
I still remember stories of American soldiers fathering children and leaving them behind. Promising to get them out and into America. But most father's only made empty promises. Some did try to get them out, but there always seemed to be a snag in the system. Most of these children were killed because they were mixed blood. It was dangerous to be a child of a American soldier. Awful killing of Vietnam Citizen by American soldiers, American soldiers dying for the name of communism, and the eventual fall of Saigon in 1975.
The war in Vietnam was not the same as WW2 with a warm welcome when we won the war. The Vietnam War, was actually brought to the general public by way of TV. Many people were angry we were in Vietnam. We did not win the war, so the "boys" were tossed aside, and not a warm welcome. I worked as a psychiatric nurse in the VA Hospital, in the early 90's. So, I hope you understand I want to protect my boys, and their memory.
Sorry to get on my soap box, but the story brings and hashes events from that time into my memory bank. It is important to remember American home front history, comparing events that were to the main character's experiences during the 1960's.
The Head Master's Wager takes place in China and Vietnam. The story is about a young boy, Percival original named, Chen Pie Sou. He's father, Chen Kai leaves China to go to Vietnam where prospects financially are better than China. He leaves he's son and mother and hopes to call for them when he finds the "golden mountain".
He never calls for them and stays in Vietnam, and becomes a successful businessman in the rice trade business. Chen Kai, finds a second wife. The wife uses him only for her gain. She constantly gets him addicted to Opium where he can't see straight.
Eventually Chen Pie Sou, becomes known as Percival. He marries, Celia and they travel to Vietnam and live with his father in the same house outside of Saigon. The suburb they live is segregated with only Chinese.
The Chinese think they are better than Vietnamese. Percival thinks he is above everyone, and the law. After his father's death he converts the business of the rice trade to a respected American school. Celia divorces, and leaves behind he's son, Dai-Jai.
While Percival is the headmaster to the school. He thinks he is above the law, he is very proud to be Chinese. He is bribing everyone to protect himself and the American school. Percival is a drinker, gambler, thrill seeker, sleeps around with prostitutes, and not a likeable person, but I could understand his motivation.
The Vietnamese authorities set a edict that he's American school must teach Vietnamese. Percival's son protest this edict openly, and is arrested by the authorities. Percival find a way to get him out of jail and to get him passage to China.
He is lonely for his son, and to combat he's loneliness he does something to combat his loneliness.
He goes gambling, drinking, and bribing his friends. He meets Jacqueline, a prostitute. He falls in love with her, he has a son. But, there is more to Jacqueline then meets the eyes.
My Review: The author, Mr. Lam is Canadian, and his family is from Vietnam. The inspiration from the novel, came from his grandfather.
The history of Vietnam was originally occupied from the French during colonization. I did my own research while reading Headmaster's Wager. I did a google search of Vietnam War, Vietnam, and China during the 1940's to 1970's.
The novel, has many themes, China, Vietnam, children from American soldiers, friendship, intermarriage, Chinese, the game of Maj-Hong, heritage, segregation, children, and family, communism, character development, expatriate, and so much more to discuss at a book club.
The author's writing style, is rich in description of character, and not flat. The author keeps building, and building, upon, to make it rich in the history, and character. The story is sad, and well conceived, which makes the story unique.
Percival, is the headmaster of the Academy. He is not someone I would hang out with. There are so many flaws, I don't want to count. But, that is what makes the story interesting. He is a gambler, drinker, dealing with bribes, etc.
The character I liked was Teacher, Mak. He was a interesting fellow. Percival thought he knew him. But, toward the middle of the novel, he realized he did not know his trusted friend as well as he thought. He trusted him to do his business dealings. Then found out something that would change the history of Vietnam, his country, and help him survive.
But through it all, he loves he son. He would do anything to save, and help him. You will see what he does to save him if you read this novel. There is many twists and turns, and surprised me. I loved the story. I recommend reading it, if you are interested in Asia, and interested in Vietnam, lived during the 60's, and want to learn more about contemporary American history.
I am so happy to have read Headmaster's Wager. I am so tired all the time of reading books on women's themes. What a nice change to read something totally different, and the story so unique. Thank you, Dr. Lam and TLC Book Tours for the review copy.
Thank you for visiting, you can read the other reviews at the other book stops below.
Monday, September 10th: The Bowed Bookshelf
Monday, September 17th: Book Chase
Wednesday, September 19th: Bibliophiliac
Monday, September 24th: My Bookshelf
Wednesday, September 26th: Lit and Life
Monday, October 1st: BookNAround
Wednesday, October 3rd: Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass,
Books, and Brainstorms
Books, and Brainstorms
Thursday, October 4th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, October 8th: Paperback Princess
Wednesday, October 10th: Unabridged Chick
Monday, October 15th: A Book Geek
Thursday, October 18th: Bookish Habits
Monday, October 22nd: Girls Just Reading
Thursday, November 1st: A Novel Review
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
A Train In Winter
By Caroline Moorehead
Complimentary copy given by TLC Book Tour.
A Train in Winter is a hard to read because of the content. But, it is a important part of history that should not be forgotten. The books that are written usually has the Jewish perspective. This time it from a objective point, from a non- Jewish journalist. It is a important part of history, about the French Resistance that no one knows much about. It takes place during after the war. Most of the Resistant fighters, were women. Yes, yes!, you heard right women.
I was happy to read this. Because as a Jew, I thought no one was helping us. But, in reality there were people that were helping to end the war and the atrocities of Hitler. We just did not know many of them. I am not talking about a few, but thousands all over Europe in particular France.
These people were ordinary people, doctors, writers, singers, dental surgeon, teachers, students, mothers, grandmothers, parents, ordinary people with ordinary lives. The French did not like what was happening in Spain, or Italy.
The Gestopo, was watching one man, head of the French Resistance, he was a teacher. By the name of Andre' Pican. He was the head of the Front National of the Resistance in the Seine-Inf'erieure. He was thought to lead them to other Resistance Fighter.
March 1941, there was a round up, by the French Police. 113 people, were detained, 35 of them women, the youngest a 16 year old, and the oldest a 44 year old farmer's wife. The French police confiscated notebooks, flyers, addresses, false ID's, explosives, revolvers, tracts expertly forged ration books, and birth certificates, typewriters, and much, much more.
By 1943, they were taken with the rest of the French Resistance of a total of 230. as political prisoners to Aushwitz, and some of them sent to Birkenau~ the death camps. There were only 49 left of the French Resistance after the war and able to return to France.
The story was about the resilience of these women, their friendship, looking after each other, and share the mutual danger they were able to fight to stay alive. Some of them claim it was just luck that saved them.
Because of the spread of communism in Europe, this spread the resistance fighters all over Europe, and in France in particular. French citizens wanted to see communism in France because of the politics, and civil war in Spain.
In Vichy, and Paris, and all over France communism was spreading all over Europe, this helped spread the French Resistance It also was happening all over Europe(in Italy, and Poland, etc). The women were more involved then the men. The men were off in the war, and the women left to their own devises at the home front.
Women had safe houses to protect Jews, grenades for blowing up trains,they spread flyers all over France, wrote propaganda to spread the cause, let other countries know what was happening.
The women, were lonely, and had to hide from their families, to protect them. Do you think you would have done this? I don't know what I would have done. They believed in the cause. To save their country. But, what about your children? They felt they were saving their children. But, they sacrificed themselves for the cause.
Why, how, and where and what happened to them, is the first part. This part of the book is about how each of them got into the resistance. Who they were. How the French were treated after the German's invaded France. How these normal people got involved, and why. What happened to them, while they were in the underground, how it affected them, and their families, and children, and loved ones, and the eventual round up.
Part 2, of A Train in Winter takes place on, January 24, 1943. They rounded up the rest of the French Resistance and sent them to Aushwitz. The decision to work, Aushwitz, or death~ Birkenau. 230 Women were taken to the station.
The second part of the book was very tough to read. The conditions of how they found themselves. They had no idea where they were going. They, as you know were treated horribly. What made this book more awful, than others. This is a journalistic record, not one or a few persons experiences, but that of the whole. Which made this more heart wrenching, and horrible.
The clothes, the food, and staying with thousands of concentration camp prisoners were held out side for roll call in the dark of night, how many do you think were out there in the death of winter? 4,000 possibly in roll call. How long do you think it took to call everyone? a hour, try the next morning. Then the medical experiments, that were done to women. What they did to babies, and children, the survival, and not survival of the women, and prisoners of the concentration camps. I am not going to go into the conditions because like myself, I thought I heard it all. But, I hadn't, but I don't want to keep writing about it to sound redundant, and too awful to repeat.
But one thing that kept a few of these women alive was the comradery, friendship, the shared fear, love of their families, France. " Despite their differences of age, background, education, and wealth, were friends. They spent months together in Romainville very close together and it was a train full of friends, who knew each other's strengths and frailties', who had kept each other company at moments of terrible anguish, and who had fallen into a pattern of looking after each other, that they set out for the unknown".
My critique of the book, this for sure did not read like a grip me read. There is intrigue, and conspiracy, it does remind me of spy novels, from WW2.
My biggest gripe was trying to keep the names and places straight. I did have a notebook by my side. But after a while it was too difficult and I gave up. The book is such a broad topic, and not just a few experiences, that is why so many people, places.
I found it interesting for the first time, that a non-Jew wrote this book. Most Jewish historians think they own this time period. I am happy to read from a non-Jews perspective. I did not realize the French Resistance, or the Resistance in general was so vast.
If you are looking to read this in a day or two, I would not pick this up. This is a tough book to read, but important. I usually don't read books about the holocaust anymore, since I read many of them when I was younger. I thought I knew everything. I found part two of Train In Winter, much more engrossing, and engaging then part 1. Not sure why.
This is different, it gives you a wider, and broader topic. I recommend it to anyone that wants to know about the history of WW2, and the time period. To understand what happened in the home front to ordinary citizens, especially women helping the war effort. There were women that wanted, and tried to make a difference, unfortunately most of them did not survive, and they sacrificed their lives.
Here are the other stops that are participating in TLC's Book Tour for Train in Winter.
Tuesday, October 23rd: An Unconventional Librarian
Wednesday, October 24th: Book Him Danno!
Thursday, October 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, October 29th: The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, October 30th: A Reader of Fictions
Wednesday, October 31st: Maple & a Quill
Friday, November 2nd: What She Read … - joint review
Monday, November 5th: Dwell in Possibility
Tuesday, November 6th: Between the Covers
Wednesday, November 7th: The Written World
Thursday, November 8th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Friday, November 9th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
TBD: In the Next Room
I was given a copy by TLC Book Tour, and I would like to thank you. I have been wanting to read this since it was first published.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
By Jami Attenberg
What is the Jewish obsession with food? Ever since I can remember when I was growing up, we Jews use any excuse to eat. We associate celebration with food. We Jews always eating at every life cycle event, birth, Bar, or Bats Mitzvah, Wedding, finding any excuse to eat.
Here is article that Jami Attenberg wrote in the Forward it ties into her novel, the Middlesteins. It is a conversation with her, and her father, enjoy!!! Here is a awesome review by Christian Monitor.
Middlestein's, Richard and Edie, and their grown children, Robin, and Benny, and their twin grandchildren.
Robin is single, and a teacher with a boyfriend. She is angry about her mother's situation. Benny, is the pot smoker. He is married to Rachelle. Rachelle is the daughter in law, that tries to fix her mother in law.
Edie is a well educated woman, she graduated law school. At one time she worked as a partner in a large law firm. She stopped working as her weight increased so much. She was afraid to go out of the house, why you ask? What is her flaw, you ask? Her weight, and her uncontrollable eating habits, not just a little, but over and beyond, As she grows older into middle age, her weight has risen to 350 lbs.
With obesity and other health issues, on the eve of her surgery, her husband of over thirty years abandons her. Her daughter, Robin is very angry at her father. Rachelle, tries to help her mother in law. She gives her advice that her mother in law doesn't want to follow, she follows her mother in law, and practically stalks her. Watching her every time she goes in her car, following her, watching what she eats, Chinese restaurants, McD's, and Burger King. Through it all, Poor Benny, is loosing his hair.
To add to the stress, Rachelle, and Benny are planning their twin children's over the top bar-mitzvah.
I enjoyed reading, Middlestein's. It is a small book, with lots of punch and emotion. There are parts that are comical, and quirky, and serious at the same time. Each chapter, Edie adds the pounds. each chapter shows her weight increasing as the years go by, and into her marriage, and her later years.
Is the family responsible for you, if you can't help yourself? Or are you ultimately the one who is responsible for yourself? Yes, it eats you up seeing someone so compulsive. They can't help themselves. You see the person hurting them self and you can't do anything but stand at the side lines. You are the only one that can help yourself. No matter how much you intervene, it the person, not you, the enabler. In so many situations, domestic violence, smoking, gambling, drugs, alcohol.
At times it was a fun read, but other hard to take, to watch. I can understand Richard's situation. He couldn't stand to see his wife do this to herself. Enough is enough.
As a person having knowledge of what obesity can do to you, it is heartbreaking. Some people just can't control themselves. I think most American's can't identify to this as a illness. But, it is. Just like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and gambling is a disease, so is obesity. Most people substitute eating for love when they are overweight.
It is even harder when you are watching a family member get heavier, and heavier. Harder still when it is a person middle age, and they have health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease.
While reading there is a scene, she is about to have surgery the next day. She is contemplating eating, even though she realizes she is told nothing by mouth after 12 am. She thinks to herself what harm can that do? That is so sad, that someone can contemplate eating, even when she will have surgery the next day. This part was so heart wrenching and sad to me. I am not going to tell you the rest, there is more to come to this story.
The point of the book, who is responsible for you? yourself? or your family?
The argument that I have. You are the only one that can help yourself. No matter how much your family loves you. It is your responsibility. You can ask for help, and there is a point that the family can help, the rest is up to you.
I don't mean to get on my soap box, I am sure Jami Attenberg didn't mean for this book to be a discussion about enabling, and eating disorders. If you are in the health field, or psychology field, like my niece( works with eating disorders), I would suggest this book, for you, and your clients.
There is so much to talk about in book clubs. Health issue, obesity, compulsions, enablers, etc. This would be a good book for book clubs, There is lots of emotion, in such a small book.
Thank you Evan from Grand Central Publishing for allowing me to review, and post my thoughts. I enjoyed reading.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
This month I combined both book clubs and organized a book event, at Waterscapes in the Marina Inn.
With 15 members and non-members in attendance. Local university professor, Michael Campbell from Coastal Carolina University, was our guest speaker.
Professor Campbell when I first got in touch with him. I could tell he would connect with our book group. He seemed very down to earth. He even told me, he would like to conduct the book club as well as speak to our group. He spoke to us, not at us. Not on a intellectual level, but on a friendly level. He was very open, and I don't think anyone fell intimidated by his status, as a professor.
I had prepared for the book club, and did all the work. I made up my own questions. I then realized I did not have to prepare. Oh well, better to be prepared then not. I was hoping that we would get to some of the book club questions, but it would have been too long.
We had a couple of people that were school teachers, and academics. There was a time they were debating about Hemingway's writing style. Is he a man's writer?
Then the question, which is why suddenly is there a interest in the era of the Jazz Age? Many books and movies are coming out for that time period.
Of course we spoke about Hadley loosing Hemingway's work. The end of his marriage, would you have put up with what he did? Having his mistress live in the same house? Strange, and they thing 2012 is racy. The same things come back over and over again, just a different time period.
Hadley, and Ernest's came from totally two different back grounds. Hadley's family was suffocating, and sheltered. She was shy, her nose in a book.
Ernest's mother dressed him like a girl. This makes you wonder about his larger than life stereotype. Do you think that is why he lived life so manly, and dangerously. When you think of Hemingway you think of Africa, and he's safari's, and fishing on his boats. He was larger than life.
I was so antsy, I wanted to bring up, and finally got my two cents in. I am a feminist, and what Hadley had to put up with. I would not be able to take it. Sit back and Hemingway take all the credit. She supported her husband, emotionally. When they went out, Hemingway, and his associates would talk in their group. Hadley was left in a circle with the wives in the corner talking about nonsense. She was a intellectual and was looking for stimulating conversation.
One thing, I don't understand. Paula McLain, the author told a audience that she loved and admired young Ernest. I don't get it, there isn't anything I admire. She said, he was sentimental, and would often get he's feelings hurt. So, but that doesn't mean I would fall in love with young Ernest. He was self centered, selfish, a alcoholic, etc.....
I would like to thank Professor Ennis for connecting me with Professor Campbell. I would love for him to come back again, and so would the rest of the group. Everyone had such a great experience.
I wish I would be able to post pictures, but my friend Carrol, the photo guru was sick, and unable to make it. Luckily she is better now, and she will be able to take pictures the next time. The only picture I could find was from the University website.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
By Paula McLain
Growing up what did I know about Ernest Hemingway? Not much, believe it or not, it was not mandatory to read the contemporary greats, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and Hemingway. Instead I read Catcher in the Rye.
The only facts and rumors I knew was, that he lived in Key West with his many cats. He committed suicide. He has a grand daughter, Muriel a actress. I was never interested in Hemingway, pretty bad.
The worst, I was a reader, and lover of books, but not as much as now. I lived in Miami, a short distance from the Keys. I visited the Keys. I did not realize that Hemingway was a big deal. I did not visit his home while I was there.
Even making matters even worse, I had a short Persian white cat, I named Hemingway. Why, I don't know. I was not fascinated with him.
Years later, I was taking a American history class. I had a project that I decided to do it on F. Scott Fitzgerald, and fit it with the Prohibition. That is when I became fascinated with the time period of the Jazz Age, the Speakeasies, and the "lost generation", the group that were in Paris. That is what brought me to read Paris Wife.
I loved it, it has romance, historical fiction, dysfunctional family, infidelity what else could you ask for? This is the story of young, Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. They go abroad, and meet the other expatriates, the lost generation( F Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Picasso, and others). So dubbed by Gertrude Stein.
What was so fascinating was a novel based on my favorite, writing and his books, and Hemingway's process of writing. The novel follows historical facts, and what makes this fiction, the author took liberties and filled in the blanks of the human side of Hadley, and Hemingway.
Both of them had strange families. Hemingway's mother liked to dress him up like a girl( you can read it to that can't you- his "macho image"). Hadley was too overly protected, shy and sheltered. Always had her nose in a book. She was so happy to finally escape her mother's clutches. He was larger than life, charismatic, had lots of energy So to meet Hemingway was perfect timing.
Hadley was 29 years old when she meets Ernest, 21 years old. I am not going to write a synopsis, since the book pretty much follows his biographical history.
The few points that I found was to discuss: Hadley loosing the suitcase. Hemingway's reaction did not seem to fit. He did not go ballistic. That was he's sweat and tears, of long hours of work. Do you think you would have just shrugged it off?
The author has said on a video that she fell in love with Hemingway. What is there to fall in love with? He is anti-feminist, self centered, alcoholic, forced to have children in his eyes.
I know that was Hadley's choice to support her husband. She stood back and allowed him to create. She wanted to be around other intellectuals rather than be in the corner of the wives talking frivolously. She literally supported her husband in every sense. She sacrificed herself and her career.
He wanted both worlds, Hadley old fashioned with stuffy clothes, and Pauline was high society with lots of extravagance and frivolousness.
Hadley agrees to let Pauline stay in their own home. I think she only did this for Hemingway to prove that she was modern, rather than Victorian. What women would let her husband bring the girlfriend home?? Reminded me of 19th Wife. This the author fell in love with? Is she nuts? Or the larger than life myth of the man?
At the end I think his fame cost him his many friendships and his marriage to Hadley.
Still all in all, I still enjoyed reading about the literary world of the 1920's and Paris. I enjoyed the writing style of the author. The beauty of her words, and the description of Paris was wonderful.
Paris Wife has many points to discuss at a book club, actually to many at one sitting. Our book club read Paris Wife, and had a book event with a local university professor. That will be posted on another post soon.
By Ernest Hemingway
This is the first book I read by Ernest Hemingway. His sentences are short and to the point, and very dry. There is no emotion. I did read that Hemingway was the first person that had a journalistic way of writing. This changed the way writers wrote.
Hemingway's Moveable Feast was a book full of regrets of his early years with his wife, Hadley, and some of his friends like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein.
It seems while reading, that he was very jealous of Fitzgerald's gift of writing. He hated Zelda, his wife. He felt she was getting in the way of his writing.
I am going to try reading, Farewell to Arms. A friend of mine told me to start there.
I will be posting soon about our book event discussing Paris Wife.
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