Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Help Wanted: Books from the Past

 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

Head Master's Wager: TLC Book Tour

Headmaster's Wager
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
                                                    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: Book Tour Host

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

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

Middlesteins: Packs a Whallop

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.

Book Review:

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

October Book Club Event: Paris Wife

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

Paris Wife: Loved It

Paris Wife
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 do find it interesting many books and movies lately are coming out in the time period of 1920's. I have my take, why do you think?

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.

Moveable Feast
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.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tiny Book with Powerful Message

The Secret Sense of Wildflower
by Susan Gabriel

First off, I love to read books  that take place in 1940's Appalachian Mountains. When the author asked if I would like to review, I jumped at the chance.

Wildflower is the nick name given to her by her father. He recently passed away, from a sawmill accident and she, and her family are still mourning his death. Wildflower is the youngest, at 13.

 Wildflower's originally named, Louisa for the characters in Little Women. Her sister's are named from the March girls, Jo, and Meg, etc.

Wildflower, and her family have lived up in the mountains for many generations, and passed down.
They are dirt poor, without inside plumbing, with a out house included. Wildflower, has a secret sense when something is wrong.

On the anniversary of her father's death she visits her father's grave. She encounters trouble, and she senses something. Her intuition is usually right. There, at the grave she encounters Johnny Monroe.
He comes from a uncaring father. He recently lost his sister, Ruby from suicide. His mother died years ago.

 I am not going give out any more, for fear of ruining the story.
The story, is about healing, faith, g-d, the secrets you keep, and eventually tell, and  the love of family.

The only criticism I have. The author was telling the story about Johnny, and Wildflower.
She Jumped from the attack of Wildflower, and Johnny and jumped to the death of her father that happened a year ago. It interrupted the flow, I am wondering why?

I think a straight narrative instead of going back to her father's death. The author could have set up the father's death when she is setting up the story.

Reading a story from a young adolescents voice was a change. Reminded me  of reading, another book,  Searching for Cee-Cee Honeycutt, which I enjoyed.

While reading, I did my own research on the Appalachian culture.

I  enjoyed reading  It is not a happy tale, it is not light reading. but it does have a powerful message.
I would not recommend if you are going through hard times.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hemingway's Girl: Book Review

Hemingway's Girl
By Erika Robuck

I am writing this review about two weeks after I finished reading. My memory is a bit fuzzy.

This is a story about a young girl, mixed blood. Her mother is Cuban, and her father American. Ambriella, has to support her mother financially, and emotionally, as well as her sisters.  They don't have much money, and her father died tragically.

She meets a war veteran, she is attracted and infatuated with, and Hemingway at a bar, called Sloppy Joe's. There is a bet, and a boxing match.  This is how she connects with both men. 

Hemingway, is attracted to her. Gives the excuse would you like to work for me and my wife, Pauline.  Pauline is Hemingway's second wife.  Pauline offers her a position.

  Luckily, Ambiella holds her ground and doesn't allow it to get to far. She is wise, and sensible to realize that he is much older than her, and the relationship will not lead to anything. But, still there is a conflict between the two men for her affection.

The description of Sloppy Joe's I could visualize it like, Harrison Ford's Raider of the Lost Ark. There is a scene of a bar.  This is how I visualized Sloppy Joe's.

I have not read many novels, that take place in the Key's so this was a treat to get away.

Reading about the Key's and The war vets was the most interesting. There is a part of history that is not known to many people. The bridge that connects to Miami and to the Keys back in the 30's was in the process of being built.  They hired many vets from the war to build the bridge.  They took advantage of these poor souls.

During the time when the bridge was being built, a hurricane was developing in the Keys.  At that time there wasn't any technology to warn them of a real threat of a hurricane, like there is now.
Back in the 30's they did not warn people to evacuate.  

There was a bridge being built and many vets were killed. Because the management of the bridge did not take the danger seriously and tell them to evacuate. They were more interested in building the bridge than these vets lives.

The description of the Keys was wonderful, and the part of history I did not know about. But, unfortunately, it did not hold my attention.

If you are looking for a fictional story about Hemingway, read Paul McLain's novel, Paris Wife, it is wonderful. I will be doing a review in the next few days.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Time Keeper: Book Review

Time Keeper
By Mitch Albom

To see my review check out my other blog, Bagels, Books and Schmooze. Another one to enjoy. Check out my review there.

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 ...