Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Tour: Beautiful Lies

Beautiful Lies
By Clare Clark

I am thrilled and honored to participate in TLC Book Tours for Beautiful Lies. Especially since I loved the novel.  What originally drew me was the mysterious cover, very victorian. Does a book cover ever talk to you?

 This is a different kind of historical fiction. It is  fast pace, and some twists through out.  Beautiful Lies, should have taken me longer to finish because of the length of the book. But, it was such a page turner, and kept me up all hours of the wee night.   It is based on historical figures.

I don't know what to say about Beautiful Lies. It is so vivid, with lots of lies and deceit in Victorian England.  Victorian images in the late 19th century, London playing in my head.    I loved the author's style of writing. Her writing is so poetic. It played like a movie in my head. 
 I could picture Trafalgar Square in London.

There is so much packed in this novel, it goes everywhere. At times I think it just is too much, what was the author thinking. But, it does work with Beautiful Lies.

There is lots of underlying mystery of smoking Maribel in 1880's London. Maribel, is supposedly, a Chilean Parisian woman. There is a lot of lies, and treachery that is unearthed as we read the novel.  Is she or isn't she, that is the question. 

What a scandal, a high society woman working, as a photographer, and a chain smoker. Her husband, Edward, charming, sophisticated member of Parliament. Always thinking of trying to make the rights of the hard working man in the industrialist England.

There is a political mess, that has been caused by Webster, a newspaper man. The best part of the book was the end when the roles were reversed. Webster, had the rug swept under him from Maribel. Now, he is begging her to have sympathy for him. I loved it. Because he was ruining her husband, Edward's political career, and reputation. Once he did that is very hard for people to forget. But, now the joke was on him. Sound familiar with the politics of today. Using the newspaper for his own benefit, of the poor, or any politics. Isn't that what all newspapers, and politicians do

The book as I was reading made me dizzy, too many things happening. There is suspense, mystery, scandal ~lots of them. There is even a wild west show, with Cody, and Indians, and the golden Jubilee celebration of the queen.

A family scandal that Maribel's family and herself would rather forget and not see each other. But, something happens that both sides have no choice but ask a favor. This opens up Maribel's memories to try to reconcile with her favorite sister, Ida.

Ida was always the understanding sister, and her other sisters were not so understanding when they were young. It is ironic later, on that Ida is stubborn and won't forgive Maribel.

I will say, originally there was just too much going on in the story. It was a bit over the top. I was wondering what was the author thinking? But, for some reason it still worked in the story. I was thinking this was too ridiculous. I still enjoyed the ride very much.
If you love historical fiction,  based on historical characters, and lots of action going on you will enjoy reading Beautiful Lies.

I can see this as a book club pick. There is a lot to talk about in the politics of yesterday and today.
 I love the time period.

 I was given this novel to review by TLC Book Tours and I would like to thank them for allowing me to review.  Here are the other stops, come read what the others have to say.
Thursday, September 20th: Unabridged Chick
Friday, September 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit
Monday, September 24th: Twisting the Lens
Tuesday, September 25th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, September 27th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Saturday, September 29th: Doing Dewey
Monday, October 1st: The Written World
Tuesday, October 2nd: Oh! Paper Pages
Wednesday, October 3rd: nomadreader
Thursday, October 4th: Broken Teepee
Sunday, October 7th: What She Read …
Monday, October 8th: Gone Bookserk
Tuesday, October 9th: A Dream Within a Dream
Wednesday, October 10th: missris
Wednesday, October 10th: Luxury Reading
Thursday, October 11th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, September 20, 2012

After All These Years: Oldie But Goodie

After All These Years
By Susan Issacs

I read After All These Years for my book club. We wanted to read something not so serious, we have been reading too much literary fiction and wanted to read something fun. This was a fun, quick read. 

Susan Issac's has been writing these kind of novels for years. There is usually a mystery, a murder involved.  There are a few movies that have been adapted from her book. Do you remember Compromising Postions, with Meredith Griffith, and Sigourney Weaver, to name  one. 

After All These Years,  was written back in the early 1990's, which did not matter, the book I found was timeless.

The story was a about Richie, and Rosy. They are both middle aged in a comfortable life. When suddenly, Richie announces to Rosy, he wants a divorce. Richie, leaves her. One night Rosy in the middle of the night goes for a snack in the kitchen. Who does she find on the kitchen floor? Her husband's body, with a knife in his chest. Rosy runs for the hills to find out who may have killed her soon to be ex. She learns a lot about herself, and things she wishes she did not know about her husband.

I did like reading, and it was fun, but I am not head over heels.  There were some funny parts, and some so funny I found myself cracking up. Rosy was a tough cookie, and I don't think I want to mess with her in a bad mood. 

 This is my first novel written by Ms. Isaac's and I want to read another one by her.  I do think I was not in the greatest frame of mind, while reading. Too many things going on. I want to read her last one, As Husbands Go. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September's Book Discussion: Little Bee

Our book club, 38th Ave. Diva Readers discussed, Little Bee. I wrote a post on my previous post about my thoughts of Little Bee. I will just say, I loved it.

We again, met at Rita's Art and Soul.  Unfortunately, we will not be meeting there again. We will just try again finding a new home.  For now, we are trying restaurants, not sure if that work, when discussing a book, while eating you tend to stir off the subject a bit. Will just have to see what happens.

It seems like I was the only person that loved Little Bee. This book had everything I like to read. Something I don't know anything about, wanting to know about the African culture.

For the first time, we actually had a heated discussion. Someone said who cares about Africa. We should care about us, as Jews in England. First off, we are American. Yes, I do care about what happened. But, I don't live in England. I am not sure why we even had that conversation. Unless, she was comparing Jews in England to illegals in England, and how both were treated. I was furious, and had to hold my tongue. "It is the holocaust all over again, just a different name, " Genocide".

She told us, she hated Little Bee. Each person has a right to their opinion. That is what makes a good discussion away. There are going to be people that like the book and people that don't like a book.

We talked about the story was so unbelievable, which is true. But, once you get past that and take the story for what it is. Then you fall in love with it.

The sacrifices you make, would you? or wouldn't you? Can you live with yourself once you make that fateful mistake of making or not making sacrifices? Unfortunately, Andrew, Sarah's husband could not live with himself. What Little Bee, did by watching instead of doing something. She could not sacrifice herself without being caught by the authorities.  He could not live with himself. So, he did the deed. Lawrence, Sarah's lover could not sacrifice himself.  But, at the end Little Bee and Sarah both sacrificed themselves. But, would you do it for strangers? Sarah did, and Little Bee.
That is why Andrew could not live with himself. He saw himself as a coward. His wife could do it, but not him. He felt his wife saw him as a failure and a coward.

We also discussed Sarah's son, Charlie. Why the superhero. Children have imaginary friends all the time. This was a way to protect himself. Children need protectors all the time especially when they are young.

Reading the novel, helped bring out things that are not normally discussed. It is usually swept under the rug. This is what I brought up to our book club.  Certain novels bring up uncomfortable subjects, and bring it to the forefront. I am glad Little Bee did that for Nigeria, the oil companies, the Nigerian government, and genocide should be talked about. This is the same thing that happened during the holocaust, everyone wanted to look the other way, and ignore it.

What I wished we discussed about, DARN, I forgot,  was after I went home. Looking at the book cover. Sometimes you don't see the book cover the way you should, you glance at it.  It is a African woman, and then where the eye is suppose to be, is figure, I am assuming Sarah.  Contrasting points of view of the story.

WOW!!! Little Bee: Loved it

Little Bee
By Chris Cleave

Little Bee, I can't divulge the story, as the publishers don't want you to divulge too much. This book is a gem. But, I will eventually tell you.....

It is the story of two women, who meet one fateful day in Nigeria on the beach. One is a white successful woman on vacation with her husband. Other young woman, is  Little Bee, and her sister are escaping the militants from her village, they saw them massacred their entire village.  These two women's lives collide and will never be the same.  Two years later, Little Bee has journeyed from Africa and is put in a detention center, in England.  She is allowed one phone call, and she knows no one except for Sarah. Two years ago, she found Sarah's husband's driver's license on the beach and kept it.

I received Little Bee, a couple of years ago. I finally had a good excuse to read the novel, our book club was discussing it for this month. I have been wanted to read this for awhile, but I could not get myself to get to it. But, finally moved up in my pile, thanks Benay so much for recommending it for our September book discussion.

Little Bee, received so many mixed reviews. I was that surprised. I absolutely was drawn to it from the first sentence.  " Most Days I Wish I was a British pound instead of an African girl. That sets up the entire book.  I loved Mr. Cleave's writing style. He uses alternate chapters for each main character.  I like the technique of his writing. He quotes" when you meet a new person, they are a mystery until you slowly learn about them". That is a good way of describing writers, that write in this direction. You don't give everything away at once, why would you do that. Like a onion, layer by layer.

The narrative is set up with two women voices in alternate chapters.  One woman is a African black  young woman she doesn't have anything but the clothes on her back. she doesn't have a identity, or a place to call home any longer. The other Sarah, a white woman, well established with a successful job, a family, in a nice home in the suburbs of England.  Mr. Cleave used opposites to tell his story.

The novel, is contrived but once you get past the impossibilities of  a few things and just read the book for what it is meant to be. Would you sacrifice yourself for someone else even if they were a stranger? I don't know if I would? What about family? Would you, or wouldn't you? good question. These are some of the questions asked in the novel.

 I loved the social issues, of the detention centers in England, and the genocide in Africa. This made me do my own research mainly about what was going on in Africa. The oil companies involvement of destroying the eco-system and the politics that I was unaware of. Also, researching about the detention centers in the United States.  Which there was not much on in cyberspace.

I liked how Mr. Cleave wrote the novel from Little Bee's perspective. The story had some humor in it. Why Mr. Cleave wrote with humor, he explains is when he was interviewing detainee's the stories were horrific. But, to get beyond that most of them used humor. He did the same thing to write the book.

I loved this, Little Bee's father had a car, until it could not run no more. He left it in the center of the village.  Except the boys took the tires off of the car to make a swing. Another car driver was drunk, and crashed into my father's Peugeot, which was still standing exactly how my father left it. The man, and my father got out of the car.  The man apologized profusely. My father, " We should be thanking you, sir, you had really put our village on the map, this is our very first road traffic accident".

One other part, of the novel Little Bee for the first time went with Sarah, Lawrence and Charlie into London. She has never been in the city. She had always been so fearful, that she would be caught by the authorities, because she was an illegal alien. She realized, and was astounded that there were people all around with mixed colors, and she could blend in without being recognized. Like they say, in the United States, a "melting pot".

My final thoughts of Little Bee, I absolutely loved, loved it.  It was a satisfying read. It is like I had a rush, and don't want to come down after I read such a great story. If you can relate what I am talking about.  Thank you Mr. Cleave.

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 ...