Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I Don't Read Romance: Review Alert

Sweet Salt Air
By Barbara Delinsky

My own copy ebook.

I love the title Sweet Salt Air. When I was younger and I visited my grandparents summer home, in Nantasket Beach, in Mass, I remember the smell of the salt air.  It had a distinct smell, and taste that would get under your tongue.

 The novel brings back memories of the beach. What wonderful memories.  The sight, sound and smells of the ocean. The culture of the area, the foods, the people that lived there.

 My grandparents bought their summer home with my uncle. They bought a parcel of land, and built two homes one was my uncle, and the other was my grandparents.  They built their property back in the 1930's.  The homes were built was wrap a wrap around porch, and shutters, and the squeaky screen doors, and the green rocking chair.  There was a daven my grandfather used to take a nap and read each day in the afternoon.

The home had no basement, their wasn't any heat or air conditioning. There was a toilet, and a claw tub on the 2nd floor. The locks were skeleton keys.  There was a attic, and you found so many odds and ends there.  The kitchen had the old kitchen stove, and refrigerator that you had to defrost.  I still remember when my grandfather would go fishing with his friends.  The smell was horrible with the fresh fish.  But, the fish was so good. This gives you a feel of the summer home.

This was the time when people had summer home, and a winter home, and a fall home.  When I was little and I stayed for the summers, there were some families that lived here all year round. There was a candy store that children came to visit, there was the amusement park, Paragon Park. Unfortunately, it is no longer there.  Such memories.

Let me get on with my review instead of reminiscing.

Sweet Salt Air, is Barbara Delinksky latest novel. One of our members wanted us to read Sweet Salt Air. She won copies for her other book club. This is not my normal genre that I read.  But, if someone wants to suggest something, I say why not.  But, I will only do so many books that are not geared to the book club.

I have never read her novels before. I occasionally read fluff books, like Erin Hilderbrand, and Mary Kay Andrews, and Dorthea Benton Frank. I enjoy reading those books. They are alot of fun. But, I never read Barbara Delinsky.

I am going to try to be fair, but this is not my usually genre. I read literary fiction. I DON'T READ ROMANCE!!! I don't like steamy sex scenes. If you are a lover of romance novels, and love Delinksky's novels, don't go any further.
There is a time and a place for these kind of books. But, not my cup of tea.  I only read it because of our book club. I am sorry but I am a literary snob.   We have never read these kind of books in our club. You can't have a discussion in romance.  But, this novel there is certain things that can be discussed as a jumping off point.

I am going to be objective the best I can. I think if you like romance she is a good writer. Her writing flowed with the story. I liked the premise of the book.  It did have some meat, it was the topic of MS, and stem cells.  So that did interest me.  BUT, I DON'T LIKE ROMANCE.

This is the story of Charlotte,and Nicole they have been friends since high school.  Nicole is engaged and one night Charlotte and Julian have a one night stand.  Charlotte gets pregnant, has a baby.  Charlotte is a independent single woman. She is a travel writer.Charlotte keeps her distance for over ten years from them.

 Nicole is  a food blogger, and the blog is so successful she decides why not write a cook book from the favorite recipes of Quinnipeague, Maine. She asks Charlotte to help her.  In the meantime her husband and her have been keeping a secret from everyone.   Julian, is a doctor and doesn't want anyone to find out.
But, when Charlotte finds out that Julian is ill.  She lets the cat out of the bag.  When she had the baby she kept the cord blood for in case.  Charlotte realizes she has to tell.  This stop the progression of the disease.

There is alot to discuss when it comes to MS, and Stem Cells, and the research.  But, not my cup of tea. I wish there were recipe in the book.

 I could vision myself at a restaurant on the ocean eating Clam Chowder with our book club. I live close to the beach.   Too bad our book club did not think about going out to lunch at one of our local fish restaurants.  on the beach. But, because it is tourist season it may not have worked out too well.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sandcastle Girls: Book Review

Chris Bohjalian
The Sandcastle Girls

Complimentary copy from publicist.

Chris Bohjalian seems to be spreading his wings in other genres lately.
From ghost stories, to historical fiction.  The Sandcastle Girls, is his novel that is very personal, and close to his heart, his Armenian heritage.  Since Mr. Bohjalian has written The Sandcastle Girls, he has become the spokesperson for Armenian Genocide at conferences, in Washington D.C., etc.

I did enjoy his earlier novels, the first comes to mind is Midwives. I loved his novels that had to do with social discussion. Those novels were jumping off points for discussion.

Unfortunately, Sandcastle Girls I did not connect to the character.  The story was interesting at certain points, and drew me in. But, then I would disconnect. I did not like the third person narrative, or the romance it was too predictable.

 But, the historical background I did enjoy reading.We were getting a history lesson through fiction. That is my favorite part. The Turkish Government wanted to wipe out of existence the Christian Armenians

. I wanted to love Sandcastle Girls but unfortunately that did not happen for me.
I liked the premise of the story, does are ancestral past help our lives of today to connect with our history?

As I was reading Sandcastle Girls, I was thinking about my own heritage, The Holocaust.  The atrocities are similar, and hard to swallow and take, and absorb at the same time.  The only difference, was there was not a Hitler, instead a Turkish dictator trying to wipe out the Christian Armenians.  I did not realize the Armenian Genocide was just as bad, or close to. As I was reading even though I knew the history, I did my own research like I always do.

 I don't want to compare because the holocaust killed more people. But both governments at the time was able to get away with it?  Was there any justice for the Armenian people? Did Hitler copy the Turkish government? I never thought about it.  Because this happened 20 years before. I was just wondering if Hitler was aware of this? Is this where he got his fanatical ideas? What I do understand the Turkish government still denies this.

I may not be fair at this time reviewing this novel. I came off a gorgeous literary ride, with The Golem and the Jenni.  Nothing can compare to that novel. I possibly having a hard time reading anything after reading that.

It is ironic that I did pick reading this right after, The Golem and the Jenni. Where that story takes place with Jewish immigrants, and Syrian descendents.  Which The Sandcastle Girls takes place in Syria. I did not realize this at the time.  I had decided to pick any Chris Bohjalian novel that was handy to review.  Because I had a conversation with Chris, and he asked me if I started The Light of the Ruins. I couldn't find the galley, but found his other, Sandcastle Girls.

The Sandcastle Girls, takes place during WW1. It is the story of Elizabeth Endicott, a missionary from Boston.  She graduated from Holyoke College. She has some formal training as a nurse. She decides to travel to Syria in 1915. To help in the cause delivering medical supplies, and giving medical care to the sick to the Armenian Genocide.. She meets Armen, a engineer, that has lost his family.  He then travels to Egypt during the correspondence with letters they fall in love.  Then fast forward to present day, we meet Laura. The grand daughter of Elizabeth. She doesn't care about her Armenian past until one day a friend tells her she has seen a picture of her grandmother.

I would love to hear your comments. Let me know if you loved it, hated it? What did you think of the book. If you are Armenian did you know about this part of history.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wow!!! Golem and the Jenni

The Golem and the Jinni
By Helene Wecker
Complimentary copy by Harper Collins

Wow!!! I am blown away by this amazing novel. I can't believe this her debut!!!!

I can't stop RAVING about this after reading.  I know I will not be able to read anything for weeks after this. Nothing will compare.....

The Golem and the Jinni, is one post I want to do justice.  This is the best book I have read in years.  I said that last year about Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  Truly after you read the post I hope you run out and buy it.   Any book that is unique and different in its storytelling, has won me over from the start.

This unique story is so hard to put in word. I had to think in days how to put my thoughts together.  Ms. Wecker has such a imagination. I wondered how come we have not heard from her before. Surely, this book is not a debut.  It turns out it is.

I am still thinking about this amazing book. How to post, and write about it after a week. I am still contemplating. I have been afraid to post on my book blogs. That is how good it is. I even posted on Amazon, which I don't usually do. But, I want the world to know about this book.

The Golem and the Jenni is wonderful,  unique, magical, enchanting, and Jewish story telling at it's best.  There are books that give you character study, and books that transport you.  But, The Golem and the Jenni gives you a wonderful ride, and spell bounding at every turn. You wanted to know what happens next. You can't keep turning the pages fast enough.  It keeps you up all hours of the night, and keeps the night oil burning.

I am Jewish, but never read the stories of the old country, Yiddishkeit.  This is what it reminded me of, the old story telling. Like the stories we used to be read, and hear as as story book bed time stories.  Storytelling not narrative written down, but oral story telling at a campfire.

  The book is part Jewish folklore,  Romance, Part historical fiction, magical realism, mysticm- Jewish, and Arab, and of course fantasy.  The author takes us  on a tour of turn of the century New York City, of the Jewish, Lower East Side, and Old Syria.  Almost like a carpet ride. Because the Jinni is able to fly so he takes us above the tenement homes, but on the roof to see below. Which  a unique experience.

This is the kind of book, that is so lush in description, and multi layered characters. This is the kind of book that I think would be hard to pull apart and critique because the storytelling is so awesome.  The author sometimes gets carried away with description that makes the story drag a bit.  But, you doesn't distract from the story because of the rich, and lush story telling.

There is so much to talk about in this novel, to name a few Jewish, and Syrian immigration, Tenement housing, living conditions, immigration policies, Lower East Side living, family, storytelling, and free will.

My recommendation before you read the book, is to do research and find out what a golem is. Then do research on the Genie.

The story takes place in Danzig, Poland.  Otto Rotfeld is not a handsome man, and he is a outsider and doesn't trust others. He decides he wants a wife, but not a ordinary wife. He wants a wife of his own making, and then he seeks out the Kabbalist, Schaalman. He asks him to make of wife of his own desires.    While on the way to America on the ship Mr. Rotfeld brings her to life. But, he ultimately dies with a burst appendix.  What is she to do without a master. She doesn't have free will, she is born to follow orders of her master.  She is like a new born child with new experiences. She doesn't know what to do or act. When she gets off the ship she starts wandering.  She encounters a Rabbi that takes her in.  He realizes she is not a ordinary woman, but a Golem, her name we find out is Chava, which means life.

Then not faraway in Little Syria, a Arab immigrant community called Little Syria lives a tinsmith named Abeely. He is brought a copper flask needing repair.  While attempting to fix it, something happens, a Genie pops out.  He is naked, he is trapped as a shape of a human being.  He is bound by irons on his wrists.

In the mist of this is Schaalman, he tries to find his creation. Has he come to destroy her? Or to make him his master?  You will just have to read the book to find out. I am telling you it is worth the read.

Here is a few quotes I loved that gives the uniqueness of the book. "Schaalman could control the Jenni how ever he wished, and the golem was his own creature to destroy. He held their lives in his hands. He might use them  each against the other, or seal the Jenni in the flask and turn the Golem into dust, servitude, and else death.".  If you would like more reviews of what other people think, I am sure if you do a google search you will find positive reviews as well.

Our Jewish community in Myrtle Beach is selecting our first community read book. The Golem and the Jenni happens to be one of them.  I don't think anything else will compare. With the others on the nominating committee, I have heard everyone's take. Everyone agrees, The Golem and the Jenni.

I would like to thank Heather for the complimentary copy.