Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Today's Armchair BEA Discussion: Best of 2012

Today’s suggested posting topic is “Best of 2012”

Share some of your favorite books so far this year, and/or the the books being promoted at BEA that you hope will end up among your favorites for the year!
This is a hard question, because there are so many good books I read this year. How do I narrow it down to five.  Well, let me think and ponder this before I post.

Only to be fair, I consolidated my books from two of my blogs, Susan's Literary Cafe, and Bagels, Books, and Schmooze. So, I think I am allowed to pick a couple more than 5. Drum roll please! Here are my pix:

I know the first novel, I read before looking on my cheat sheet is going to be drum roll please.  Is Sarah McCoy's novel Baker's Daughter. Is was the first book I read for the year. I found it through a recommendation of Chris Bohjalian, one of my oldest, and favorite authors.
First, let me tell you what a sweet person she is beside being one of my new discovered author's I am sure to read again..
Baker's Daughter takes place in Texas. It is a  contemporary story of  intertwined with history.  You can read further about the novel on my blog post here.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan is so full of suspense. I am recommending it for one of my book clubs when it comes out in paperback. It is full of suspense. Asks you the question, who should live and who should die? How do you pick? You can read my review here.

Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison, is another book that would be good for a discussion.  It is a spring board for a discussion about the slave trade in India. It is about two young girls in a Tsunami, their parents are killed. No where else to turn. … You will just have to read the novel to find out.   This book opens your eyes to what the slave trade, and prostitution is. 

I had Jamie Ford's novel sitting on my desk for a couple of years. I was given his galley, but never had a chance to read it until now. I am sorry it took me that long. Sorry it is over because I loved the characters.  I loved the book cover too. Don't you agree?

I Am Forbidden, actually was reviewed on my other blog, Bagels, Books and Schmooze.  It is a Jewish novel, about one community that usually is not understood and talked about, The Satmar community.  The novel is historical fiction that takes place in Hungary, where the Satmar community originally started during the holocaust.

It is the story about two sisters, both brought up observant Jewish girls. One of the girls is radical, and leaves the observant community. Where the other sister is very judgemental of the other sister.  Something happens to change the family structure forever after living a lie.

I had to sneak in, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  This book was out of my comfort zone. I usually don't read books that are magically. But, because it was a hot buzz book at BEA last year, I had to buy it.  Night Circus is being considered for production for a movie.  I hope it does.

The Circus comes to town only at night, and then something magically happens....

I just finished Joshua Henkin's new novel. It is about to be release in a couple of weeks. I recommend this highly, even if you don't like family and character study novels.  The author also is a big book club lover, he will visit your book club if you live in the metro New York City area.

This is my list of my favorites so far. What are yours? Any novels that you would never read and loved? Let me know.

The Story of Beautiful Girl

The Story of Beautiful Girl
By Rachel Simon

The adventure, spans from 1968 to 2011.  It  is about two runaway children., Homan, and Lynnie.

 Lynnie is intellectually challenged, and Homan is Afro-American, that happens to be deaf.  The book opens up with both of them on the run with a baby in her arms. When they come upon the home of Martha, a widowed, retired school teacher.

The authorities are looking for both of them, they have escaped from the School of the Incurable and Feeble Minded. When Martha invites them into her home before the authorities find them. Unfortunately the authorites do find them. But before they are taken away, Lynnie whispers to Martha's ear, HIDE HER.  Homan runs away and on on the run for a span of forty years.

I posted my review last year about this novel. But, I decided to post again, this time mainly, the discussion our book club had. To read my entire review without spoiler, please go to my post here.

I enjoyed going on the adventure again with Lynnie and Homan. What a ride it was. There is adventure, suspense, romance, family relationships, history, and social commentary.

There is so much to talk about and discuss if you are in a book club. This is one novel I wonder why Oprah overlooked for her book club, or perhaps since it is resurrected she will discuss it.

The book takes place during the 1960's, there was so much upheaval happening in the medical field, especially with mental illness, and intellectually challenged. The doors to institutions was beginning to close realizing that the conditions were terrible, and most of them could live independently thanks to President JFK.

 During the book club these things were brought up:
 The father was ashamed of his daughter, Lynnie. He pushed his wife to place her in the school.. In those days, that is what most families did.

The conditions of the institutions were terrible. Most of the staff were uneducated, and treated the residents inhumanly. There was a institution in New York City, called Willowbrook.  a news broadcast opened up to controversy and eventually closure thanks to Geraldo Rivera reporting this. When a child was placed in the school they all eventually contracted Hepatitis, and was experimented on. This is a unfortunate part of medical history.

In the novel, there was one person that cared about Lynnie, that was Kate she pushed her emotionally and physically.  Kate saw Lynnie's talent was art. If  Kate never did this for Lynnie, she would never have become independent, and live on her own after the institution was closed.

During the entire book, we read  after the authorities take Lynnie back, and Homan is on the run. Martha sells her house and makes a new beginning for her and the baby, Julia.   We realize things are not necessarily what they seem.

We think we know what happened, how Lynnie got pregnant. But, there is a confession that is told years later, and Kate realizes the terrible thing that happened.

In the novel, Homan is not intellectual challenged, he is just deaf.  What is terrible there were many children that were put in these schools because they were different. They were not intellectually challenged, but may have had cerebral palsy, or some other disease.  But not to warrant them to be put in these schools. Many years later, it was found out that Homan did not need to be in this school.

In reality, there are children just like, this and they did not get the help they needed.  They are grown and over the age of childhood.  The education system said it is too late for them.

In Homan's case, his files were coincidentally lost.  If the authorities found out he was missing there would be repercussions for the superintendent If they could not account for one of their own.

The book club agreed we loved the different adventures of Homan, because what he encountered was the hippie movement,  revivals, those are the things that were happening during the late 60's and 70's.

The one thing we all had a problem with the ending. But, because the story was  sad, we decided it had to have a happy ending the way it did.  The way the author connected everything was well done.

Everyone in our book club enjoyed the ride with Lynnie and Homan. I recommend for you to join them in their adventure and read the novel.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

Introductions to Armchair BEA

I am excited about Armchair BEA. Last year, I had a good time on the sidelines of BEA. I did feel like I was there. Learning about the other book bloggers, and the authors, and publishers.

Thanks to some of the great bloggers, that posted their experiences I learned so much about the publishing business.

With no further adieu, I would like to say, Hi Y'all and welcome to my book blog, Seaside Book Blog. My original name was Susan's Literary Cafe, but I had to change the name because the graphic's don't fit.  But, I am hoping to find someone to help me with the re-design of my blog some time soon, when I am not so busy with work, and school.

I started blogging, because when I moved to SC, and couldn't find any connection with others to talk about books. The book clubs they had were terrible. Then after a few years I finally was able to form a book club, 38th Ave. Diva Readers.

 Then I found Book Club Girl on the web, and found some other bloggers.  Then thought to my self,  I can do that too.

 To promote business Barnes and Noble was trying to start some different clubs. One of them was a web design club.  I did not know anything about computers, other then surfing the web, and emails.  One of my friend and I decided to give this a try and see what happens.

The club did not get much attention, that was great news for me but not for him. Because I was able to get one on one attention to develop my blog, and thanks to him susansliterarycafe.blogspot was born. That was approximately seven years ago.   I then decided to develop a Jewish literary blog as well.

My blog has went through a few changes and ups and downs. In the beginning I surf, and did more surfing of other book bloggers. One of the first book blogging friends was Marie, at Bostonbibliophile. She helped me learn the best way to proceed. But, since then then my blog has suffered. I am not a stay at home mom, and working, and school has put the book blog on the back burner.

I have only had time recently, to post my review on books, occasionally a guest post.  My blog has never picked up which, is mainly my fault because I don't have time to connect with other book bloggers. But, I am not in any competition like other bloggers. My blog is, what it is.  It is for my pleasure, and if I get readers to comment occasionally I am happy.

One of my favorite authors, for years has been Chris Bohjalian.  I found him, at a small book store in Martha's Vineyard, called Bunches of Grapes.  I would love to have dinner with, Chris since I have read his novels for years. The other thing is he admires, and loves book clubs. He spoke to ours a few years ago. 

I read literary fiction, but I am trying to get out of my comfort zone, and read things books that I usually don't read.  I have read authors. and some debut authors,  I would not have read since becoming a blogger. This year, I read Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was awesome. You may read my thought here, on my blog.

I do like to read historical fiction, but not books in the normal romance, kings and queens. Historical fiction has changed. I like to read novels with some historical reference but not straight historical narrative.

The books that stand out of my mind, is Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy, A Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Just finished Joshua Henkin's novel, World Without You.
That was wonderful.  I just started, Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand, that will be coming out soon.

I have a couple secrets,  I have another book blog, called Bagels, Books and Schmooze. Only Jewish literary fiction, and I moderate two book clubs, the original 38th Ave. Diva Readers, and now I just formed Beach Babes Book Brigade.

 We are so excited, of forming because we just organized a special guest to come to our book club, to discuss Dovekeeper by Alice Hoffman. I like to organize special guests from the local university,  to discuss books.
Thanks Armchair BEA for hosting, stop by and say hi and leave your comments.