Sunday, February 17, 2013

7th B-day Book Club Celebration

Our book club has been around for seven years. We have changed with different people coming and going. We started with four people and then have blossomed to thirteen people.

Usually most people have a party after five or ten years. Well, one of the book club sites I am happy to say. I never win anything. Our book club won a gift certificate for personalized book marks. Then, because I receive many books from authors and publicists this would make a nice favor for the book club.

Here was the plan to discuss the book, The Healing by Jonathan O'Dell.  By the way what a great choice. The book is terrific to discuss.  This made it even better for this month's book club. Only thing, do you think we discussed the book?? not really. We were gabbing more, and catching up than anything else.

We did discuss the book, but not in great length. It was a discussion on how blacks are treated and  the book club members take on their experiences during the civil rights movement.  But, that was ok, we had fun. This time, our book club had more of a party, and celebration than a book club.  I am not upset about it, because that is what I called it. That is one of the reasons I did not re-focus the group.

For the first time, we had everyone there except for two members. Sorry you missed, Benay and Shelly. I could not believe it 13 members. The last time that happened when we had a cluster of new members come to our meeting to discuss Memory Keepers Daughter.

We had such a good time, and I am so happy that Carrol had agreed to host. Her house is large enough to accommodate everyone.  Thank You, Carrol. There was so much to eat. I think everyone was stuffed. My best friend was sweet, she bought a anniversary cake.  It was a carrot cake, boy, that was delicious!!!

Happy Anniversary, 38th Ave. Diva Readers!!!
We also have to say, goodbye to our loyal snowbird, Elaine. We will miss you, and g-d willing hope to see you next year. 

Now for next month, we are reading Porch Light by Dorthea Benton Frank.

The Healing: Book Review

The Healing
By Jonathan O'Dell

It is Mississippi, 1847 before the Civil War on the Satterfield plantation.   Amanda Satterfield is taken by grief. Her daughter, Becky dies of cholera.   Mrs. Satterfield wants one of the slave children, Granada to replace her own daughter.  Granada is taken away from her mother.  Her parents are taken from the big house and made to work in the fields of the plantation.

Amanda  has her stay at the main house, and dresses her like a play thing to show her off.  She dresses her with the clothes of her dead daughter.  She changes her name to Granada, and changes her ways, and culture of a white person.

After the death of her daughter, Amanda doesn't seem right in the head. Something seems to be off. a bit.
She still has her young son, and she has taken a pet  monkey into her care.

 Then out of the blue, the master brings home Polly.  Polly arrives with feathers in her hair, and strange necklaces around her neck.  Polly is very independent, and head strong and demanding.  She was bought by the master for $5,000. She is a "healer", she was sought after by the master to care for the slaves, to cure the slaves from black tongue.

All the slaves are speculating why Polly was bought. Was she bought to bed the master? No, she is too old and not his type. Was she bought to be  a slave? No, she is too old, and is older than spit to be a slave hand.    She is too frail to lift even a pot. Polly is the first slave that is bought. The slaves on the plantation have been born into slavery.

Polly makes many demands of Mr. Satterfield. One of the demand she wants Granada to become her apprentice. There is something the she sees in Granada. Granada is not happy with this arrangement. She wants to stay in the big house, and continue to be noticed as a white person. There is battle of wills but eventually Polly wins this battle, and Granada is forced to give in.

Polly doesn't know her place on the plantation. She thinks, and act like the the equal of the white person. She is feisty, and independent, and has confidence, and doesn't care how people will react toward her.This causes the slaves to become all riled up and take a stand.

She takes Granada under her wing. She is a wise women. She gives Granada life lessons over, and over again about freedom. Freedom is doing what you want, no matter if it is being on the plantation or going off somewhere. It is your freedom of choice. I love the practices of Polly, it was full of life lessons, and mysticm, and full of spirit.

Granada wants to go and help Polly with the birthing, and delivery of the babies.   Polly thinks she is still immature, and until she has her first menstruation.  Instead Granada, waits, and waits until her first menstruation.  Finally the time comes.

Finally the plot thickens when Rubina, one of the slaves is about to give birth.  Rubina knows what will happen to her child, as well as Polly.  The baby dies,by Polly's hand.  Granada tells the mistress of the house what she knows. That Polly killed the baby, but why? Is it she knows what the baby will have to deal with being a slave? she will be the master's whore? She will be sold off?

My Book Review: I loved the writing style of the author. His writing style is wonderful. He was able to get in the heads of the slaves. I am a white person, but I thought he did a good job on the way he got into the character's heads. 

I loved Polly, she stood up to the white man, no matter what cost.  Most books I have read is when the slave says, yes sir, and no sir. The author, in the back of the book wrote a nice addendum about the reason he wrote the story.  One thing he did say, is that he did not want to write another, To Kill A Mockingbird. Where a white man saves the black man. He wanted to write a story about the black man able to save himself. Without the help of a white person. 

I loved the way Polly, used her life lessons to get a message across to Granada. Granada thought like a white person. She had trouble since she grew up in the big house. What it meant. Does she belong in the big house, or the swamps. What it means to be black? or is she white? Where does she truly belong? 

I did not realize there is a cultural divide in the difference of hue color. Meaning if you are blackest black, or cinnamon color. How Afro Americans treat each other with, disgust or disdain. 

When the black person was given freedom, some of them still wanted to stay on the plantation as a free person. They could not in their hearts, just leave.  I imagine that it must be like jail, when it is someone always telling you what to do.  How do you live without it.

 I liked the folklore of the Afro-American how it was weaved into the story. The life lessons, mixed in with spiritualism.  The Healing process of giving birth to babies.  Polly was a smart woman, and knew what she wanted out of life. She did not care what others thought of her. Sometimes her actions got her into trouble she could have been killed.  She knew it, but stood up for her convictions. 

The last part of the book was interesting. What happened to Polly, and Granada later on.  How we pass on our stories to the next generation. I enjoyed reading the part of Gran-Gran, and the little girl, and what the connection was.  The entire book, was basically the importance of storytelling, and passing it on to the next generation to get over the pain.  Is that healing?  

I would recommend this to anyone in the medical field. Because this is a good book to discuss about what is healing? To understand healing, and know about the practice of the black midwife in the south.  It is unfortunate that they were sought after for years. But, then the doctors felt threatened and the medical board took their privileges away after the 1940's.

This is a good book to discuss with your book club. But, also the historical details gives you things to ponder and talk about. You won't be sorry picking up this book if you are a spiritual person, love historical fiction, and are in the medical field.  The book tells the importance of healing one's self, the importance of storytelling, and passing it on to the next generations. 

One thing, I have read that others are comparing it to the Help. Why? I don't think it compares. The Healing is so much better, and a wiser story. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Publicist and Authors are Wonderful

I started this blog about, I gosh I don't know, maybe about 5 years ago. I started this book blog to let my book club know what is going on. But, what transpired is a wonderful experience with authors, and publicists that I am in touch with.

I don't blog like others, reaching out to the community of book bloggers. I wish I could but, I don't have the time.  But, I do have a small following of book lovers in the community. I don't get alot of comments, but there is still a following.
I blog for my enjoyment. If I get a comment or two every so often I am happy. What does get me excited more than anything, when authors visit my blog and left comments. That is excited to me. Instead of big hollywood names, I am more excited about authors. They are my movie stars!!!

 I have met some wonderful authors, and publicists a long the way.  Every year I contact authors and publicists to ask them if they would like to donate books for our temple's dinner/dance silent auction. Each year I am amazed by how thoughtful, and kind these people are.

Most of the time I do get a response, of course when do you need them. This year it was personal, because I used my contacts for book reviews and asked if they would be interested in donating. It is a win-win situation. I get the books donated for my temple, and they get publicity.

It doesn't hurt to ask, when I first thought of this. I remembered many years ago, when my dad was a USY leader( teen age Jewish youth group). He went to all the clients he worked with to ask if they would donate.
So, that is where I got it in my head.

So here are the authors, and the publicists that donated to our Temple Emanu-El dinner dance/silent auction. Oh, and if you are interested, and live in the area of Myrtle Beach, SC give Jessica a call to attend. Here is our temple website.

Here on the red carpet are the books that were donated:
I am picturing the book with the author below.  First is Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner. You can read my review here from when it first was published.

Next is Joshua Henkin, A World Without You.  Without hurting anyone's feelings. I admire this author because of what he does. Besides being a awesome author.  He reaches out to book clubs, and will even come to your book club if you live in the area.  Unfortunately, I don't live in the Metro New York area any longer.  I will tell you this is probably he's better books that I have read.  You can read my review here.

Next, is the one I am really excited about. I contacted Jodi Picoult's publicist. She signed a autograph copy of her newest yet to be released novel, Story Teller.  Yes, people in my hot little hand is newest, not even released yet. Jodi, is basically a household name. Book clubs love her books and eat them up.  This is going to be great, I would love to see the reaction of people's faces when they hear I was able to pull this off.   I wonder how much they will auction this off for, and who will get it.

Unfortunately, I have not reviewed Story Teller to let you know what I think. Jodi Picoult's publicist only sent it to me yesterday. But, I plan to review. Like her other books, I am hoping it will be great for discussion. Easy to read, and discuss and a hot topic on social issues.

Last but not least. Imposter Bride by Nancy Richer.   Again, I did not review yet, because I just recently received the galley. Imposter Bride will be published soon.

 This list is not comprised as starting with the best to worst.  It is in random order.
All these books are writen by Jewish authors.

I bet you did not know that Jodi Picoult was raised Jewish as a child. I don't know if she is a practicing Jew now.  How, I know this I wrote her a few years ago, and asked her directly. It was in reference to a book she wrote, Change of Heart. There was references that coincided with the practice of Judaism.

I would like to personally thank all the authors, and publicists that helped support my temple.

Jane Eyre: Book Club Meeting

We had our book club meeting a couple of weeks ago. I did not have time to post till now. 
I had invited my friend, Dan Ennis from Coastal Carolina University to our book club. We decided to make it a pot luck lunch with a tea. 

How did it turn out you ask? I have received so many compliments after the book club.  I was pleased everyone enjoyed themselves.  Where do you hear that people enjoy themselves at a book club??? LOL!!!

Did I feel good after!

It was a wonderful, the discussion was lively with lots to talk about. We learned so much about Charlotte Bronte and her family. Can you imagine living with a entire family of literate's. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall.  Everyone critiquing each others work. 

The other things we discussed, is that Jane Eyre was written as a autobiography. There is so much in Jane Eyre that was connected with Charlotte, and her family. 

In the time when Jane Eyre was written writer's were just starting to write novels as we know it. Most authors were experimenting with writing style.  Most writers were still writing letters to make stories. 

There are lots of references of books, and the reading community in Jane Eyre. FYI. I never knew that.  In the movie, Jane Eyre, I don't remember Jane picking up a book. But, when Professor Ennis was presenting, we learned some interesting things about reading and Jane Eyre. 

It was mentioned on another blog don't recommend reading a classic for a book club it doesn't work. I don't agree.  Jane Eyre works because there are many things to discuss. But, one reason, was said the books tend to be dry. Which is true, we don't have to be literary genius's though, to discuss the book. 

Maybe some people don't realize this. I have a couple of my friend that belong to this book club. I am going to share a idea with you. Because one of my friend is not a literary person, she reads books for social, not the intellectual conversations. 

What she did she recommended buying a modern version of the book, Jane Eyre. I did not realize there was such a thing.  For some of you, that are not in to the classics. This is something that you may want to consider if you do pick classics. I find this is a good idea. It gets people to read, no matter if it is the original or not. 

The other thing I want to say about books and movie adaptions.  Books are so much better than the movies. I get so tired of people saying they don't want to read it, because they have seen the movie.  Like Jane Eyre, there was never mention of books, but in the book there was. I find people have this preconception and bias because of a movie.  People are so set in their ways, and their comfort zone.  They will never have a chance to experience good books that way.  This year, coming up, we are going to possibly read, Frankenstein. Already, preconceptions. There is literary merit to Frankenstein. This exactly what I am talking about. 

I am sorry, I went off topic, but I wanted to get this off my chest. This is my book blog and I have free reign. I would love to hear what you also have to say about my two rants.

Jane Eyre: Book Review

Jane Eyre
By Charlotte Bronte

I recommended Jane Eyre for our book club last month. I am posting a bit late.  There is going to be two posts. One is the review of my thoughts on Jane Eyre, the other is our book club meeting.

Jane Eyre, is a small child, her parents died and she is cared for her aunt and her uncle. Unfortunately for Jane, her uncle has passed, and her aunt takes charge of her.  Her aunt treats her terribly, and well as her three cousins.

There is one event that she and her cousin had a argument. The argument was about books. She was told she is not allowed to touch them.  The fight turns into a battle of wits. In the end her cousin wins and her aunt punishes her by putting her in the Red Room. This is one room Jane is frightened of.  While in the room, she feels the presence of her uncle. She is so frightened and starts screaming but no one lets her out.

After this happens her mother has a conversation with the apothecary. She advises her aunt to send Jane away to a school.  There Jane realizes the school is for poor children.  Again, she is treated terribly by the school master. But, eventually things turn around for her. While she is attending the school, there is a breakout of illnesses where some of the students die, including one of her friends.

Eventually she applies for a  job as governess at Thornfield House.

 While Mr. Rochester is at  Thornfield house there are nightly dinner parties, full of guests. At the same time as the nightly parties there are some strange things happening.  They go bump in the night. But, no one can figure out what these strange sounds, or voices are.

 At the dinner parties, Mr. Rochester wants Jane to join in. But, Jane doesn't feel comfortable around them. She doesn't care for these guests they are more concerned with their wealth than by intellectual knowledge.

Rochester enjoys being with Jane for their stimulating conversation. He realizes he doesn't love his fiancee. He would rather be with Jane.  He then asks Jane to marry him. Which she agrees.

I am not going to go any further, as I already told too much already.  I will tell you though if you read my review you will see spoilers.

My Review:  I have never read Jane Eyre, and it always was brewing in back of my head to read. I don't know why it took me so long to get to, and have to use the book club as my excuse to read. 

Jane Eyre has all the elements of a good read. It has good plot development, social satire, romance, and a gothic feel to the novel. It is also a good book if you are a feminist like me. 

The book, is divided in three parts. The first, as a young girl living with her aunt. 
The second part is when she meets Mr. Rochester. The third is after she leaves, Mr. Rochester, inherits money from her uncle. She learns that she has family.

Jane doesn't sit back and take everything. She stands up to everything that is not right with the world. She tells you how it is.  That is why, I feel that Charlotte Bronte, was born in the wrong century.  She would have been well appreciated by modern women of today. 

Jane is not going to sit back, and become a mistress while he is still married to Bertha. Even though he was tricked into marrying her years ago. Then there is another opportunity to marry, the chaplain,  but it is to marry not for love but for job opportunity. She turns him down.

These are the elements to Jane Eyre. It was so important for Jane to have family. She wanted it so bad, it was looking at her in the face and she did not realize it. It was hidden from her by her aunt. 

There are many issues from a feminist view point. She did not want to be a show piece.  She wanted to be Rochester's equal by showing her intellect. She could not stand people talking frivolously about jewels, and gossip. 

 She waited until she inherited money, only then did she come back to Rochester. She considered that made them on equal ground. If she married when she was poor, it would not have worked because she would always feel she was lower than him.  

I did not think I would enjoy reading Jane Eyre as much as I did.  It really is a timeless story, and will always will be the book, to test of time.  The book is so much better than the movie.

One thing, check out back ground information about Charlotte Bronte, and the Bronte Family. It is very interesting insight.  If you read her biography you will find the similarities. 

My next post will be our book club discussion we had.  I had invited a local University professor from Coast Carolina University to visit our book club.

 Mr. Rochester wants Jane to