Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year: Looking Forward to Year's Planning

I would like to wish every one Happy New Year. I hope 2014 brings you joy in your life, and happiness.  That is what I am hoping for. This has been a very hard year for me. But, I am optimistic that it will be a better year.  I start a new semester Jan. 13th and looking forward to finally starting the Medical Coding program.

Talking about my book blog I finally made some changes to my book blog. I cleaned up and deleted many book blogs I follow that I don't visit much. Or that have not posted in over one year.  I am proud of myself that I finally cleaned it up. A few years ago, I had a problem with my book blog.  But, I think when blogger updated and made some changes that fixed the problem.

I am happy to say I am working with  a blog/web designer to redesign my book blog. I have wanted to do this for years.  Finally I took the plunge.  But the poor girl, didn't realize what she was getting herself into.  She was most likely thinking she would be done with me two weeks ago. But, unfortunately, it has stretched longer.  I wanted a dreamy whimsical look.  Saw one I liked and the designer that does scrap books is no longer doing this.  I had to find someone else.

Finally found another scrap book design I loved.  My book blog designer came up with a beautiful concept but, I liked everything except one thing. I like things with costume and lots of detail. with bold colors, etc. Everything was wonderful up to a point.  The Vector that she chose was too long legged, and thin. I am looking for something that is more bold and definitive design.

The designer, knew I love the Jazz age. There was just something I just did not like about the vector in the picture. Perhaps because you can't see her face.

I know it is a bit soon. But, I would like to share with you the start of the new look.  It is beautiful.

Now on to 2014. These are the things I am looking forward to:

I am still not going to be reading alot because of school, and work.  But, I am going to try to read more books that I wanted to get to last year.  Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is on the top of my list. 

The Jewish Grand Strand Reads is my baby project that I started a few years ago.  This is the first year that I went to all the temples, and organizations, and they love the concept and idea.  They have the community read all over the country. But, not in the south, and not especially in the small coastal town.  Each year my pet project has gotten bigger and better. But now that it is gotten into the hands of other people, it has runaway from me. I knew this would happen. I accept it. I have wanted this to be a project to build on the Jewish community in Myrtle Beach. Some of the organizations love the project.  But one organization feels threatened, and has decided after almost three months of putting it together to abandon the project.  That is O.K., because it is going to happen with, or without them.
It is too bad that one person can make the decision for one organization.

I am very much excited about this project, the book we chose is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. If you have not read it yet, you should. It just came out in paper back today. There is so much to discuss, and many themes.

Rabbi Debbie is our guest speaker.   She doesn't have a Bimah, instead she is the prestigious Religious Studies Professor at Coastal Carolina University. She and I are both book nerds and love to talk about books and spread the word. I came up with the concept a few years ago, and it has been getting better each year.  She is passionate about books, and novels especially like myself.

My favorite time has been connecting with the publisher of Harper Collins and talking to them and planning events and sharing what I am doing with the book. Because the community read, you can plan other events leading up to the read, with different themes of the book.

I am so looking forward to Skyping with Helene Wecker in February. That is going to be so exciting.

I have had in the past only, me, myself, and I, organizing the project. I did not have to answer to anyone.   Last year, when I had more people attend. It was decided that the other organizations would love to support and make this a reality.

 I have had many helpers to help organize this.  Kat Kahn from Temple Emanu-El,  and Carrol Sallas, and Marian Cohen, from Temple Beth Elohim of Georgetown, and Hadassah Carolina Mizrah,  has helped organize the project with the restuarant and publicity.  There have been mistakes along the way, and changes that will be made along the way.  You learn from your mistakes what works, and what doesn't. My biggest help has been from Jesse, our Rabbi Avi's Secretary, and Richard, from Temple Beth Elohim. They both helped with publicity from the respective temples.. She has helped me make a logo for our event.  She helped me with the flyer, and will be helping send out another flyer for the choices of the menu.  All before she goes away at the end of January, so time is going to make it, or break it.


The biggest hassle has been the restaurant. At first they were willing to give us a fixed price. Now, they don't want to work with us. We may have to change the venue. We still are able to make changes. We are lucky, we have two more weeks to find another place. Or stay where we are.  Hopefully by then. I can report back that it was a success. We have till Jan 30th to make changes.

If you would like to start a project like this, and don't know how. You can contact me and I will lead you in the right direction.

So don't you think I have enough on my plate, but loving this projects since I have the passion for the written word and sharing it.

One other thing that I added to my plate: I have been elected and selected to V.P. for Education in Hadassah.  I need to come up with two education events this coming year. I would say that is enough for now.  I hope I can come back next year with lots of successes.

How about you? What are you looking forward to?

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Favorite Books for 2013: Looking on to 2014

I can't believe it is that time already. The best books of the year is my favorite post.  I reflect on the books I have read, and loved or hated it. This was the year that told me what kind of reader I am.  I now realize I am a serious reader. I love a story with some meat too it. I love stories with magical realism. Not sure, if I would go with fantasy. But, I think that t will be my goal next year to try one novel with fantasy.

I read only 29 books this year. I still have one book to go. I am sure I will make it.  This was a hard year in books. There are not many books I actually loved.  I am in school and just did not have time for my two book blogs, and reading.  That is why I love this time of year when I am done with school. I can actually devote some of my time to my book blogs.
If you are a follower of my two book blogs than you most likely will know my favorite book will be, and no surprise is The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This is a fabulous book. If you would like to learn more check out my post. My favorite Historical fiction novel, was the Chaperone by Laura Moriarty,You can check out my post here.  Unbroken by Laura Hilderbrand, lot's to talk about with this book.  Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey You can check out my post here. For Women's Fiction, Beth Hoffman's Looking For Me
And finally, Second Star from the Right by Mary Alice Monroe. You can check out my post here.

My best book club meeting was our discussion with Professor Ennis. We discussed Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. We had a wonderful discussion talking about women and her time. The best discussion I led was the book discussion of Unbroken by Laura Hilderbrand. The Healing by Jonathan O'Dell, this was a wonderful read, and discussion. Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick.

My goal for 2014 is to be more selective in books I read.  I still have many books that I wanted to get to, but didn't.  I want to start reading books of my own choosing not feeling pressured by the publishers.  

The one book I want to read is:

Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn
 Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.
Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: Snow Child

Snow Child
By Eowyn Ivey

Snow Child is the book debut of Eowny Ivey. She was inspired to write Snow Child because of the Russian Fable, The Snow Maiden.

In 1920 Alaska, a elderly, childless couple, Mabel and Jack are homesteaders. They moved from the United States to escape the reminders of what they left behind.  They were unable to conceive a child.

When we first meet them, they both seem lonely, and isolated, just like the landscape of Alaska. It is beautiful, but then it is desolate and primitive.

One day, Mabel and Jack build a " Snowchild", out of snow. But the next morning Jack finds the"Snowchild" is gone. Where did she go?   Where are the mittens, and the scarf and hat that they left on the Snow Child. The Snow Child eventually appears, and then disappears after Spring comes. Then returns in the winter.  No one can see the child except for Mabel and Jack.

The Snow Child was slow moving.  What made the story was the characters the author created. The characters grow on us. We actually embrace them and care about them.   Her sentence structure, beautiful prose made the story flow.  I appreciated what the author had written after I finished the novel.  There are many themes, and lots to discuss. There were parts of the story that I felt were a bit far fetched, and unrealistic.

 I have not read a novel that takes place in Alaska before. This book describes the landscape of Alaska's beauty. One of our members had been in Alaska. Thinking about it now, it would have been wonderful if she talked about her experiences there. If you love magical realism, than you will love the story.

 Our book club read and discussed Snow Child. I did not expect a discussion, "Was she real or not?
I did not at  all expect this kind of reaction.

At the end of our discussion we discussed and compared Snow Child with The Golem and the Jinni. Another novel we have read for our Jewish Grand Strand Reads.Because Golem and the Jinni has a pair of fantastical figures. Why were we able to accept them but not Snow Child which was similar. We came up with because it was New York and we could relate to the background. With Snow Child we don't know Alaska or the story and couldn't relate to it as well.

I think there was mixed reviews from each of us. Some of us liked the book, some did not.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Tour: Second Star to the Right by Mary Alice Monroe

Second Star to the Right
By Mary Alice Monroe

This is not my typical review, but I am excited about telling you about Mary Alice Monroe's revised, and updated novel. If you love magic, fantasy, mixed in with fairy dust, than you will fall in love with Second Star to the Right. This is not a typical MAM novel. If you go to her website you will find what inspired her to write it.  This is a wonderful book that will make you believe in miracles and magic during hard times, and not so hard times.

I never did read Peter Pan. But, saw the movies, over and over again. I remember as a child two versions, of Peter Pan. The one version was not animated, it was played by Larry Hagman's mother( sorry I can't remember her name). The other was the Disney Version( my favorite).  The Disney version is my favorite.                                                      

The Second Star to the right is part magic, part family relations, romance and sprinkled with fairy dust.

 Faye O'Neil and her children Maddie, and Tom were living in the United States. Until the physical abuse from her husband became unbearable. Faye O'Neil, and her children, Maddie, and Tom left the United States and came to Apartment 14. 

Downstairs lives a physics professor, Jack.  Jack is handsome, and tries to make the moves on Faye.  Both of them are attracted to each other.  Faye fights the urge, but Jack keeps on trying. 

 Upstairs lives Wendy, and elderly lady that thinks anything is possible. She believes that Peter Pan will be coming to her window. The children come to visit Wendy every chance they get.  The children also see flickers of light in their bedroom, could it be?? Tinker??? or something else. 

  Then there is her straight laced daughter that doesn't believe in magic. She fights her mother anyway she can. Her daughter decides she wants to sell the apartment house and put her mother in the nursing home. Wendy tells her daughter if you do that, Peter Pan will not find me.   The children go missing? What happened to them?? Faye goes frantic. Is is possible???? What do you think??? Then something happens to Wendy??? 

 I don't want to tell you the rest because I will ruin it.  Just believe me that this is a wonderful, and a magical story that makes you believe anything is possible.  I just love how Mary Alice Monroe put the story together. 

I did not know how this story was going to link up with magic and reality. MAM does a wonderful story.  When you finish the story you will understand why. It is so touching it makes you believe in anything. If you have had something tragic happen to you, this will uplift your spirits. 

I am so glad Mary Alice Monroe's assistant, Angela asked me to read this.  In fact this is a magical reason. I have been going through a hard time with my Mom and Dad with health issues.  Second Star from the Right is uplifting, and a story of faith. 

Thank you for allowing me to review and participate in Second Star to the Right book blog.

One Thousand White Women: Book Review

One Thousand White Women By Jim Fergus I have been looking forward to reading, One Thousand White Women. S...