Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons- May's Book Club

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
By Lorna Landvik
Library copy

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons has been sitting on my book shelf for quite awhile. Not sure why I did not pick this up sooner.  I am glad, Donna from our book club picked this novel to read for May.  This is a perfect summer read for this time of year.

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons,take place in Minnesota, it is the story of a group of ladies. They became friends because the book club, they formed in their community of Freesia Court. It is the common bond of books that solidify their friendship.

Faith is the one that has something to hide in her past life, she has given birth to twins Beau, and Bonnie.  Audrey, is the sex queen, good clothes and Jewels is the best thing. Merit is the shy one, and is being abused by her husband the doctor. Kari, is the one the thoughtful friend that thinks of everyone first, before herself.  Then the activist, Slip, is the social justice person, always standing on her soap box, to defend the wrongs of the world.

These five ladies, lives intersect with each other from the 1960's till 1989. These five ladies, live through, domestic abuse, drugs, smoking cigarettes, Cancer, Feminist movement, Racial problems,  Vietnam, college riots, homosexuality, AIDS, adoption, abortion, divorce, widowhood, single parenting. Through 30 years of friendship they still stayed together, and stayed strong for each other.

I enjoyed reading the trials, and tribulations and love they had  for each other. Some  things were  so funny. The things that came out of their mouths were  memorable, bittersweet. Learning how to accept each other with a good laugh.

My Review: I bought this novel  almost 10 years ago. I don't remember what drew me to the book. Because the title doesn't sound like anything, but fluff.
Totally wrong about the title.

Each chapter had the title of the book they were discussing for that chapter, and who was leading.  The chapters went back and forth with each character, and what was going on in their lives.  I had a hard time, each time who were they speaking about. Because it was jumping around so much. But, because each chapter seemed to have a conclusion you could figure out what was going on, without getting confused. 

The book for me was like re-living my past from the 1960-1990's. Even though I was a child, I could still remember the feminist movement, Vietnam etc.  All the history back then was all over the news, and newspapers, in the classrooms. I may have been too young to participate, but I remember the events.  I enjoyed reading because of living through the times. Not sure of young women can appreciate this, because most of the social injustices that we thought were unfair, have been resolved thanks to our governments, and people that fought for change. That part was funny, because I could check each subject matter off one, by one and say it was resolved.

Our book club, Beach Babes Book Brigade discussed all the things mentioned in my review.  We didn't discuss long, which was unfortunate. Because there was many things to discuss.
We discussed books we would be reading till next April. But, if something happens I hope we are not held to it. Just in case.

Next month, our book club will be hosting a special book club event. Our book club are so honored to be able to invite Rabbi Debbie Slavitt to discuss, and have a historical presentation with the novel, Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.

 I have been wanting to get the Jewish ladies of our community together to read one book and then we discuss it. 

 In our community we are very lucky to have our rabbi's for our congregation. But, we are even luckier to have Rabbi Debbie Slavitt. Since she moved here with her husband she doesn't have a congregation. Instead she teaches, at the local university. Most of the ladies, in town love her, and love to hear her discuss things. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Night Circus by Erin Morganstern: Book Review

Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern
My own copy

The Night Circus is a " Once upon story". If you are captivated by fairy tales, and fantasy, with visual, and symbolism than this book is right up your alley.

With that said, I will tell you I have never read a novel like this before as a adult. When my son was reading, Harry Potter I never read them. Perhaps I will give it a try now, after reading Night Circus.  I think you can gather that I enjoyed reading Night Circus.  After reading a very depressing book, I wanted to read something to escape.

The Night Circus, was featured all over the internet last year when it was about to be published.  It was one of the novels to be the in-crowd at BEA. Everyone was picking it up. Even though I was not there. I read many a book blogger, that was at BEA, talking about this book. 

If you have not read this book, now would be the time before it becomes a movie.  The book is very visual, with lots of color, with symbolism. This book is a fairy tale, with a bit of fantasy, and enchantment, and star crossed eyed lovers.  There is a connection of time, and age in the book. I loved the way the author connected both time, and age into the book.

 The only thing, back in forth in time, and place became a bit confusing. The time is between 1873 to 1903. The story is magical and I can't say enough about this wonderfully written novel.

Night Circus, is the story of two people, Celia  a young girl is trained by her father to be a illusionist, the famous Prospero the Enchanter. The orphan child, Marco is, the apprentice to the man in the gray suit. He is mysterious, and we don't learn he's name.

When they reach adulthood they both learn the reason why they were trained to become illusionists. There is a contest of wills to the death. The focal point is the circus, Le Circus Des Reves. The circus is only open at night. The characters in the story are intriguing. I loved the twins and Bailey as much as the romance of Marco and Celia.

I loved the opening paragraphs:
The Circus arrives without warning. No announcement precedes it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local papers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

The towering tents are striped in white and black, no golds and crimsons to be be seen.  No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black and white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with a elaborate wrought iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick.
But it is not open for business. Not just yet.
Within hours everyone in town has heard about it. By afternoon the news has spread several towns over. Word of mouth is a more effective method of advertisement than typeset words and exclamation points on paper pamphlets or posters. It is impressive and unusual news, the sudden appearance of a mysterious circus. People marvel at the staggering height of the tallest tents. They stare at the clock that sits just inside the gates that no one can properly describe. The black sign painted in white letters that hang upon the gates, the one that reads:

                        Opens at night and Closes at dawn.

If this doesn't draw you in from the start, and captivate you like it did me. Than this book is not for you.

I am so intrigued by the cover of the book. I am sorry to say that is what drew me in, at first. Have you read a book, because of the cover? Was it what you expected? Or was it a dud?
Did you see this book at BEA? Did you pick it up because of the cover?  I understand the paperback is coming out soon. I am interested to see what they do with it. The new cover for the paperback doesn't draw me in as much as the hard cover.  That happens all the time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Room- Book Review

By Emma Donaghue

Room is the story of Jack, a 5 year old boy, and he's mother. They have been locked in Room since he's birth. He doesn't know anything but Room.  They are held captive by Old Nick.

This story is set up wondering how Jack and he's mother are in Room to begin with. The story reveals itself after awhile.  The narrative is told through Jack at the age of 5.  There are things he doesn't understand since he is isolated with he's mother in Room. Half way through the book, Jack and he's mother devise a plan to find a way for Jack to escape without Old Jack realizing what is going on.

My Review:  I did not enjoy reading Room. There many bloggers and reviewers that loved this book. But, I must have missed the mark. I just don't get how readers can enjoy, such a depressing novel.

I admit I like her writing style, and how she was able to get into Jack's head and tell us what he was thinking, especially after they were living outside Room. What it felt like to him.  I liked how she built the story before they were able to escape Room, then the escape itself, which built up the tension in the book, and after, living in the outside world. 

 The part that I thought was unique, was leaving the part of the story wondering how she and her son were in this position in the first place. I liked how little bits of the history came in to the story in small nuggets, rather than the entire chunk, it made the story intriguing.

But, still I did not enjoy reading Room. It was perhaps so close to the real life story of a young girl kidnapped, and later on discovered by police as a adult with two little girls living in the backyard.  It was too depressing, and heartbreaking to read Room. Can't imagine a life where you are locked up in a room.  The only happiness, if you can call it happiness was having her son, Jack.

The story was too hard to read for me, too terrible to relate. What a terrible life she had to live for years at 19 being kidnapped and held captive by Old Nick, and of course the abuse that kept going on while she was held. 

 The conditions she and Jack lived in were despicable. There were parts that were so hard to read. Especially Old Nick coming into Room, and Jack in the wardrobe while Old Nick, and Mother having sex. Through the entire book, there are subtle hints of what was going on, not openly said. But, anyone can figure out the suggestions. 
There was odd behavior between Jack and he's mother. This would be expected since both of them being isolated in Room.  Since Jack not knowing any better, only knowing Room, and what he learns from he's mother he feels acceptable, but we know would not, in our society. 

The only thing I could relate to was the mother-son relationship. The love of he's mother, and care and concern they had for each other. This would be a Mother's Day book if it was not for the subject matter.

I bought this book over two years ago. I only read it because our book club was discussing it.  I would not recommend it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vaclav and Lena: Book Review

Vaclav & Lena
By Haley Tanner
Netgalley copy

Vaclav and Lena are two immigrant Russian children living in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn.  Vaclav is very verbal and bright in school. Where Lena is quiet, and struggling learning in school. 

Vaclav loves magic, he is protected and loved by his parents. But, Lena is taken care of by her aunt.  Her home life is terrible. She is left by herself, most times when her aunt works at the club.  It is thought, and hinted that she lives in a abusive home, and her aunt is a drug addict.

Vaclav wants Lena to be in he's magic act and be he's assistant.  He agrees that he will do her homework if she will be he's assistant in he's magic act.  Vaclav brings Lena home, and he's mother observes Vaclav's doing her homework, she is eating from their refrigerator. She doesn't like this, but she is aware of her home life, and feels for her, and says and does nothing.

Instead Vaclav's  mother takes Lena under her wing, tries to be a substitute mother to her. She adores Lena and tries to help her in different ways.

They continue to practice the magic act.  The day before the magic act, Lena doesn't show up for class.  Vaclav comes home, and worries something is the matter. He tells his mother, she goes to Lena's house to find out what is the matter.  Vaclav's mother doesn't come back till the next day.

  We find out that his mother, tells him half truths, not the entire truth of the story of what happens.
Lena, like the magic trick, she vanishes. For seven years Vaclav doesn't know where Lena is. He feels something will happen to her if he doesn't say goodnight. They meet each other on Lena's birthday, when she turns 17. He finds out all along she was still in Brighton Beach.

He's life is interrupted by Lena coming back in he's life.  They learn, and we the readers learn the history of what happens to Lena's parents. How she came to the United States from Russia.

My Review: I have been wanting to read Vaclav and Lena since it came out. I did not know what the story was about.  It looked different than most other books I have read. At times I like to read magically, and quirky books.  This novel did fit the bill.  I am so happy, I read the novel.

I don't read books in one day usually three or four days. This one I read in one day.  I loved the writing style of the author. It actually felt like I was reading short stories.  The book takes place first when they are 7 years old.  Then when they are absent from each other. The last part when they find each other.  Then when we fast forward seven years.

It is a bittersweet  magical story of Vaclav and Lena. It is also the love of a mother and son. The love and magic of the two friends helped Lena survive.  It is possible that things can change for the better. It was a story about two friends trusting each other.  The story did not focus on the tragic life of Lena, but her moving on past her childhood.

  It was a sad story, but the end made it a satisfying read. I am glad I read Vaclav and Lena. 
Not everyone will enjoy reading, but if you like to read stories that are magical,  like I do, you will appreciate it. 

Lilac Girls: Book Review

Lilac Girls By Martha Hall Kelly Review copy from Ballantine Books You may not want to read my review. I am very critical of ...