Friday, February 24, 2012

Empire State: Book Review



Empire State
By Jason Shiga


Empire State is the story about a young man, that lives in California.
He's friend is moving to NYC, to pursue a job in publishing. He realizing she is more than a friend. It is the story of both friends realizing that there is more to their relationship then he thought.  When they are long distance, he realizes how much she meant to him. So, what do you think he does......

This is a cute story, this is the first time I am reading a graphic novel.  Most graphic novels that I know of, are from the old cartoons of Spiderman, and Superman.  This is a different kind of novel for me. Most people think the same thing of the comic strips, not realizing some of the graphic books are different than they used to be.

I did have fun reading this story, I am a much older person. It was fun reading, out of my comfort zone. It is different reading a book in one sitting.  Fun to wiz right through in one evening.  If you never attempted to read one, I encourage you to try it out.  It will give you a connection to something to talk about to your children, and your grandchildren. But, also to be a little different, and try something different.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Midwife of Vienna: Book Review



Midwife of Venice
By Roberta Rich
A review copy was sent to me.


The Midwife of Venice, is not my typically read. But, because it is the story of a midwife, and was Jewish themed, I thought I would give it a try. In advance I will tell you the author is not Jewish. She wrote the novel because of her trip to the Jewish ghetto in Venice.

Hanna Levi, is a reputable midwife held in high regard in the Jewish ghetto, in Venice. She is asked, by the Count to come immediately to assist his wife in the birth. The Contess has been in such pain, and misery since she has gone into labor. He is desperate to ask Hannah for her help.

She is advised by the Rabbi, it is very dangerous. If you do this you put yourself as well as the ghetto in danger. It is against the law for a Jew to practice medicine to a Christian. But the count offers her a sum of money that will help her free her husband, in Malta. Her husband was captured in Malta, and held there. Hannah can't resist the money to quicken the release of her husband.

The child birth is hard, but Hannah is able to guide the baby into the world with the "birthing spoons", she has invented. The child is born healthy, as well as the mother. They are grateful for Hannah saving the child and the Countess.

After the child birth and everything is well the Count, and Contess leave for a few days and leave the child with the wet nurse. But, Hannah sees something sinister between the count's brothers. The child will inherit everything if the child lives.

One of the count's brother's kidnap the child, and take him to the Jewish ghetto where Hannah is following him. The brother has a plan to murder the child, and accuse the Jews of the Jewish ghetto of killing the child, for the blood of their passover.

The story is fast paced, and suspenseful and every page you turn something happens worse, and worse for Hannah. But truthfully, I did not like it. I do love a fast paced novel, but the book did not do anything for me. For me, I don't see how this is a international book sensation.

I liked the history of Venice, and the conditions the author paints of Venice.   As a nurse, I liked the scene of the birth of Matteo, a bit graphic and may be too much for some squismish people. A link to the brief history of the invention of forceps for a delivery here.
What made the story suspenseful was the back and forth of the characters with alternating chapter of the narrative between Hannah in Venice and Issac in Malta. But that is where I draw the line.

SPOILER>>>>>>>SPOILER>>>>>>>SPOILER

I did not care for any of the character. Especially Hannah. Please give me a break, the story was so contrived, and fake I could not take it. From the child, Matteo being kidnapped, and her sister, that converted to Christianity, killed.

Hannah didn't even seem to blink when her sister was killed. She was set back 5 minutes then ran. C'mon, I know she was in danger, but it did not seem real. Then she tries to give her baby back, but finds out luckily the Count and Countess died, and the house doesn't want Matteo because she thinks he has contracted the plague. So conviently Matteo become's Hannah's child.

  I felt like the author was trying too hard to capture her audience.  At every turn it reminded me of one of the Indiana Jones movies where one thing led to another. The entire book felt contrived down to the Jewish traditions and rituals.

I will say if you are looking for a light read, beach read this I think fits the bill.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Walk Across The Sun







A Walk Across The Sun
By Corban Addison
Published by Sterling Publishing

A Walk Across The Sun takes place in the back drop of India.
The Ghai family are a happy Indian family. They live in a comfortable home, by the beach in a rural area.

One morning, they feel the earthquake, and discount it.  The sisters, Ahalya 17, and Sita 15 were excited about the days events, going to the beach, and later getting VIP tickets for the evening.     Ahalya, noticed something strange in the water, but it was too late to leave the beach. The only thing they could do is run, but where to run to? There wasn't any place to protect them from a Tsunami.

It was too late, they survived, but their parents drowned.  Ahalya, and Sita try to find somewhere to go, but unfortunately they trust a man that worked with their father.  It was a wrong decision. He connected them with another man, not knowing they were about to be kidnapped and sold for money for a brothel, in Bombay.

SPOILER ALERT.............................SPOILER ALERT.................SPOILER ALERT........................
In The mean time, across the globe, in Washington, D. C.  Attorney, Thomas Clarke has he's own troubles. He's wife just left him, after the death of their infant daughter. She leaves the U. S. to go back to her country, India. In the meantime, he is asked to take a break, from the law practice.
He decides to work with a organization in India, to prosecute the people involved with kidnapping and selling of young children, and forcing them into prostitution, which is human traffiking.

During one of the raids, which Tom is allowed to witness, but not be involved. The lives of Sita and Ahalya intersect, and forever a bond is made.  Fortunately, Ahalya was found in the brothel. But, it was too late for Sita she was never discovered. She was sold, and traded to another broker and taken to France.

Ahalya, was rescued and taken to a convent.  Tom, during his investigative work create a bond between Ahalya and himself.  A promise is made, a bond is formed with a bracelet, to find Sita.

Review:  I discovered this novel right after the holidays, beside another book in BN.  Both books setting was India.  I don't usually read novels, that take place there, it doesn't interest me.  I usually read novels, that are literary, not thrillers, mysteries or suspense, unless they are literary mysteries.  But, the story caught my attention. 

The book, did not sound like the usually court room thriller, or suspense novel I used to read.
I like to read books, that take place in different locations, to call it a character.  To read books, that I learn something about. 

 Both things fit the bill.  I know the sadness and deprivation, starvation in India.  You read that in books, and National Geographic, and saw the movie, Slumdog Billionaire.  But, I did not know about the human trade, and how wide spread it is. How difficult it is to prosecute somebody for human traffiking.

 What a young child, that is held without her consent goes through.  She is naive, and still sees the world as a beautiful place.  Not realizing that you should be cautious of certain people.  She has not lived long enough to realize the horrors, and horrible things that could happen if you are not cautious. Then to be forced into slave labor, and the worst, sex trade.

These so much more, than what I can blog about, that intrigues, and questions us as humans, but you will just have to buy a copy to see what I mean, about how the author paints the life what it is like to live like this without your consent.

What I wonder about? Why does this happen? Is there human trafficking in the United States as well? Yes, we hear about kidnapping, but I have not heard for money.

 Look at the case of Elizabeth Smart. Yes, she was kidnapped but I don't think there was a exchange of money.  When you think of prostitution, you think of the woman asking for it. She may not want prostitute herself. But, the difference is she is doing it out of her free will, and getting paid. No matter if it is little money or not. It is her free will. 

Human traffiking, and the sex trade on the other hand is a entirely different animal.  it is not your free will, and you are kidnapped, and treated subhuman.  This is where I think there is confusion between the two.  This is the reason, I think it is not taken seriously.

One thing, I did not realize that it is a large business, it is a global problem.  In the novel, Sita is brokered and exchanged so many times. They had a hard time tracking her. From India, to France, to the United States.  I am sure this happens all the time. When the broker fears they will get caught they broker her to someone else continously, to get the authorities off the trail.

There is a little bit, in the book  that explains one country that delves in the human trafffiking, but I would like to know more. Which, I will do my own research and I will post about it later. Because unfortunately, prostitution, and human traffiking is thought of as the same monster. 

What most I thought about, when they are young, they are needed, they are bought and brokered. But, once they are used up and older and not needed, what happens to them? My imagination took over and I imagine the horrible life after.

I was engrossed with A Walk Across the Sun.  The novel captures you right from the beginning to end, and even in between. That usually doesn't happen to me. Somewhere in a novel, I can loose a part and drift off and get bored. But, not with this one.  I loved all the characters, cared about Sita, and Ayala, and  Tom, and his wife, Priya.  I want to know what happens to them all. But, like every novel, or movie it has to end sometime.

This is the author's first novel, it was written because of a trip he made with his wife to India, There he learned about the human sex trade, and wanted to do something about it. 

There is a resource and websites that he refers to. to learn more about the sex trade, and human trafficking. On Corban Addison's website, there are articles, and videos there.  Mr. Addison did he's homework and you can tell, the book was well researched.  I do recommend it highly.  You can read it in one or two sittings. The novel is endorsed by the king of court room drama, John Grisham.  I would think, Mr. Addison would recieve awards for this novel for the story, but also for bringing the subject of human traffiking to the forefront for discussion and debate from several organizations.



Monday, February 13, 2012

Forming New Book Club

After great thought,  I decided to start another book club. Are, you crazy you asked?

I am not happy with the other book club I am active in. I was busy one year, I almost never did attend the book club meetings.  One person made the rules.

The club decided we don't need a leader to decide the administrative decisions. Each person is suppose to take a turn to pick a book, and lead it for the month. But, lately, it seems like it is the same people, including myself that decides all the time. I am thinking they don't want to read the book twice.

  The other problem, people who are the host don't know how to lead and take an authoritative role, such as you are straying off topic.

Then we have one person that used to be active. She no long comes regularly. Which is a good thing.
 But, when she comes she takes over the entire group, talking about her issues.   No one says anything, I am not sure why? She is very rude, abrasive, and head strong. But, she does do many things that help all of us, in the Jewish community. So, no one says anything to offend her.  But, many of us, are disgruntled, and upset after.

The other, is there is a group of ladies that live in a certain area, you would think this would have ended in high school. But, these ladies, hang out together, socialize with their husbands, and agree with one another. A Clique, they discuss this around all of us, during a book club.. Some of us are not involved and we feel isolated. If the shoe was on the other foot, I wonder how they would feel.

The other thing, the book club picks, lately tend to read books that are mysteries. You can only talk 5 minutes about a book, and then it becomes social hour.  I don't want to waste my time, and gas to go to a book club where we discuss the book 5 minutes.  Rather, literary books, are literary mysteries would work. But, not mysteries.

I finally came up with a idea, I asked some of my friends, acquaintances if they would be interested in a book club, not Jewish themed. All the people I asked are interested. Yahoo!, can't believe this one. Because when I tried to form our last book club, I was like pulling teeth. I got 4 people. We thought after awhile it will fold. It was difficult keeping together, with only 4.

I have recieved 8 responses and everyone I contacted was interested, a blessing. We decided on our first meeting on March 26th at 1PM. Now the hard part was the book. Yes, we are not reading Jewish books, but occassionally we will. I was hoping for Alice Hoffman;s Dovekeeper's but decided for the first meeting we want it light, and not too long.

Drum roll please....... we decided on Postmistress by Sara Blakely, by one of the other prospective members.

The only, thing, I was planning to drop the other book club. But, because the book club was a success in Febuary, I don't want to leave. It was such a lively discussion, I decided to see what happens and see. Now, believe it or not. I am in 3 book clubs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Febuary Book Discussion: Killing Lincoln


As promised, here is my post about 38th Ave. Diva Readers book meeting this past Monday.
We discussed, Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly. My post about the book is a few posts down.  We had Ellie, to host our book club. She was a history teacher, and has a hobby collecting dolls.
For the occassion of Lincoln's b-day, and reading Killing Lincoln, she displayed patriotic dolls.

I learned some new things while we discussed the book. For example, where the Mason-Dixon line was. I did not realize one street mixed the north and the south together. I always thought it divided the states not dividing the same area. Now, the saying brother against brother does make sense.

Can you imagine, a person down the street that you were friends with, now is your enemy, or even a spy. We discussed the kidnapping vs. the assassination. Why Booth went South instead of Canada after he shot Pres. Lincoln.  Booth's surprise of the south's response. Did he do it for fame? or was he a true south sympathizer? Lincoln's body guards, why did he not have any? If he knew there were attempts on his life? Why did he's wife not force the issue? She was mentally unstable. Those and more questions came out of the discussion.

We went on talking about the ages of the conspirators, most of them young in their 20's. Of course, we as women, had to comment on the pictures of them, who was homely, and who was cute, would you go out with him? What a dog!!

For the first time, in awhile, I felt the book club stayed on track and we did discuss the book. I have not been very happy lately with the book club.  So, to my surprise it was a good one. It stayed on track.

Our book club has set up books to discuss for the next three months. Our book club tried to set up for a year. It just doesn't work well.   This is our book list for the next few months up till May.
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout, Faith by Jennifer Haigh( I suggested this one), and Death Comes To Pemberely by PD James.

Israela: Book Review



Israela
By Batya Casper
Tate Publishing


I  just finished reading Israela, I wrote a blog post on my Jewish book blog.
If you would like to read, you may visit  http://bagelsbooksandschmooze.blogspot.com. If you are interested in reading the daily lives of Jews and Palestianians living side by side. The politics, and history and the culture in the middle east, you may enjoy reading this novel.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Best B-day present to a Book Blogger

I just recieved the best gift a book blogger, and book lover, and a bibliophile can ever wish for. Today, Febuary 2nd on my birthday. A email was sent to me, I am going to be one of the many book givers on April 23rd.

You still have a chance to become a book giver, it has been extended to Febuary 6th. If you would like to be a giver go to the website.

I am so excited!!! I can't believe it. Little ole me. When thousands of people put in their applications.  You may be wondering, what is a book giver? How are they picked? What is it?

 I would love to give, and share my love of books to the less priviledged children, and adults. I work in Walgreen's and see many under priveledged children and adults. I would love to pass on my love of books to them. It is not easy being poor, lots of money issues, stress, violence, they can't think of buying a book, or going to a library.

  A book is a great way to escape the sadness, depression, and stress of being poor.  Who knows maybe a book in the hand may change that young person's life.

Charles Dickens B-day.

Tuesday, February 7th is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth, below is the trailer of Charles Dickens's Great Expectation. It will be shown on April 1st, and 8th on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.

Watch Great Expectations Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Check out my Review of Small Great Things

Check out my review of Jodi Picoult's novel, Small Great Things https://bagelsbooksandschmooze.blogspot.com/2017/08/small-great-things...