Monday, December 26, 2011

End of Year Book Survey

This Year I am doing something different, for the fist time on my blog I am evaluating my reading habits, and books I have read for the year, on Seaside Book Corner. I would like to thank Perpetual Page Turner for hosting, 2011 End of Year Book Survey.
1. Best Book You Read In 2011?

Unfortunately, there are too many books that I have read this year, too really pick one. So, I am going to give you a few reads, that I think meant something, or inspired me, and was a book to shout about.

This is not in any order:
Saving Cee Cee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman
Butterfly's Daughter by Alice Monroe
The Kitchen's Daughter by Jael McHenry

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb was not totally out of my comfort zone. Because I love history, and new cultures. But, because of the setting, I never cared about the culture there. Most likely, because of the stereotyping from this area. It totally surprised me. It is rich in history, and culture. I am spreading my wings in new tastes of books. I will most likely read more of this author.

HOW do you pick a favorite!? 
I picked these top one's because they either inspired me, and did something to open my spirit. These books,  helped me explore my inner soul.

Also, these books were out of my comfort zone, and made me think another way of picking my books.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

Has to be Lipstick in Afghanistan. It was about a nurse that decides she wants to work as a nurse in the military. It was more of a romance novel, than anything else. Very dissappointed. I thought because the author was a nurse in Afghanistan that it would be more realistic.  Very dissappointing.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry, I did not expect it be so well written. I just loved it.
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Butterfly's Daughter again.  I recommended it on Facebook,  and passed it on by word of mouth,and wanted to read it for our book club discussion, which we did.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Jael McHenry, Kitchen Daughter, I loved her writing style, and the story with truism mixed with mysticm. I only recently started reading books like this. I actually enjoy reading them.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

 Too my exicitement, lightbulbs, and fireworks ending for 2011,with the book by Sharyn McCrumb, The Ballad of Tom Dooley. I don't usually go out of my comfort zone. For some reason, I felt like I needed too. I am glad I did. I have never read her novels, and did not expect the book I did . I was expecting a mystery. 

Also, Kitchens Daughter by Jael McHenry was out of my comfort zone.
9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

I would have to say, Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian. I have read most of his novels, even before Oprah. I discovered his first book, Midwives while on vacation to Martha's Vineyard in a small book store, called Bunches of Grapes.

The book, was not what I expected. You can go to my blog and read my review. All I will say, it was very different from Chris's other books, it was out of his comfort zone, and I still liked it.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

11. Most memorable character in 2011? 
Cee Cee Honeycutt has to be my favorite character. A young girl, living with her schizophrenic mother. Has a hard time dealing with her mother's death. Then lives with her aunt in Georgia. She has the courage to move on.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

The most beautifully written has to be Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe. How she described the butterfly's migration from the United States to the mountains in Mexico, was so beautiful, and poetic.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 
I have to say again Butterfly's Daughter really moved me, and loved the spiritualism and mysticm of the story of the migration that paralleled with the story of Abuel's grand daughter from Millaukee to Mexico.

14. Book you can't believe you waited to 2011
That is one, thing I want to do different. I want to start reading books that have been in back of my mind to read. That has been published in the last 10 years.  For example, Jane Smiley, 1000 Acres,  John Irving, Margaret Atwood-, and Bean Tree by Barbara Kingslover I am finally reading, now for my book club.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody about?
Has to be the Ballad of Tom Dooley, to another person that loves the history and culture of the land of the United States.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

My best event that I had participated in, was when I went to see Mary Alice Monroe. She has to be the most generous person. I had sent a email to her asking her if she would like to donate to our temple auction. She sent me a couple books.  That had to be the most memorable thing. The other was, when I went to the Moveable Feast, She actually took the time, to shake everyone's hand and get to know them on a personal level. I have been to book signing, in NJ. I have never seen a author do that. I think that will stick out in my mind forever.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?

 I have always, wanted to go to BEA, but unfortunately, this year and since I have been blogging I most likely won't for quite a while. But, I did enjoy the virtual BEA from Armchair BEA. I enjoyed reading everyone's posts, and what was going on, and the authors, and books, and the publishers that I have met online through my email. Thanks to Armchair, I would not have gotten so close. I love reading and sometimes participating from the sidelines.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
I think I was so excited when Beth Hoffman commented on my blog. It was on my review about Saving Cee Cee, and had more reviews than I had in a long time.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.
I found several, but a few stick out in my mind, is Bookmovement,  and Edelweiss. Found out what books are coming out soon.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I set my goal at 20 books, on Goodreads. I did not want to set my goals too high. I finished the Southern Reading Challenge, and I did not realize I have read alot of southern fiction.  

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012

                                        I want to read Gone With The Wind, in 2012. There is a readalong as well, in January. I hope I will be able to follow through.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?

  Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, it is takes place in Alaska. One place I have not read.  I have been reading novels that have realism mixed with magic. Like Kitchen's Daughter. Which I loved.

 A couple creates a child out of snow. When she appears on their doorstep as a little girl, wild and secretive, their lives are changed forever.
Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for a couple who have never been able to conceive. Jack and Mabel are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone, but they catch sight of an elusive, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and leaves blizzards in her wake. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who seems to have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in the Alaska wilderness, life and death are inextricable, and what they eventually learn about Faina changes their lives forever.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?
I would like to read novels, that take place all over the country of the United States. I read mainly the east coast, New England, and the South. I would like to read books that take place in different places in the country, such as the middle west, and West coast. More books that are Jewish themed.  I also would like to attempt the Where are you reading challenge hosted by Reading Journey.

The other thing, I want to be more active in the book blogging community, with challenges, and memes. I will have to see.

I still want to thank one of my faithful readers, that always comments on my of my posts. Bermuda Onion. Even though I don't have a large following, I feel alone out there. I have thought about quitting my book blog. Then Bermuda comes along to write a comment.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Review: Ballad of Tom Dooley

The Ballad of Tom Dooley
By Sharyn McCrumb

Library copy

This is the story of a murder, that takes place in Wilkes County, N.C. in 1866. The murder of Laura Foster was made into a ballad by the Kingston Trio. This is what intrigued me at first to read this.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley was recommended by a event that I went to in November, hosted by Litchfield Books, in Litchfield SC, The Moveable Feast.

The other reason, I chose to read this book, was I was getting bored, reading the same thing. I wanted a change. The Ballad of Tom Dooley, was totally out of my comfort zone. At my age, you are set in your tastes of reading.  Quess What, folks!! I was wrong.  I enjoyed reading The Ballad of Tom Dooley.

Y'all think you know the story of Tom Dooley, I thought I did. But, after reading Sharyn McCrumb's version, the Kingston Trio's version falls apart at the seams.  Sharyn McCrumb did her own research, with the help of many people, including college professors, map experts, war veterans, etc.  The only reason this is not non-fiction and is considered fiction because, there was not any documentation of facts and dialog written anywhere.

Tom Dooley, know actually as Tom Dula, and his lover Anna were accused of the murder of Laura Foster.

He was a Confederate soldier, returning from the Civil war.

 Laura, and Tom were childhood sweethearts, she was a raving beauty, but she was very self centered.  Anna married James, after Tom went off to fight in the Civil War, she knew he was not a good provider.

 James Melton, was too busy working as a homesteader, he did not notice his wife fooling around with Tom, or he just turned a blinds eye, but the Appalachian Community noticed that she was fooling around.

 To add to the story, you had the narrative of two voices, Pauline was the cousin of Anna and Laua, she was a conniving, tongue wagging trouble maker, that instigated the trouble between Laura and Anna.  She moved in with Anna, while she was getting treatment for Syphillis,  and stayed for exchange for her house work.

The other narrator was the lawyer defending Tom Dula, he eventually after the trial became the NC governor.

  Both of the young ladies, if you want to call them ladies, did not have any dignity, or ethics of what was right or wrong. I think that was the way they were brought up. As well, as Tom he was a good for nothing, he did not work, and was extremely lazy, and laid on the fat of the land, and slept around.  Everyone seemed to know what was going on, but it was accepted.

 It seemed, that both parents knew that their adult 22 year old children were sleeping around, but they did not care.  But, when the horse was stolen that is when Laura's father was upset, and wanted her to be found.

 Pauline knew that Laura and Tom were not eloping, instead she knew that Laura had a beau, and she was planning on eloping the next day. Pauline asked Laura how was she going to elope. . Pauline suggested steal her father's horse. That actually was death, if you stole a horse at that time, and in that community. Her Beau was a black man by the name of Jackson, but for some reason, Pauline kept quiet.

This ultimately was the demise of Tom. Tom ultimately told his attorney that he was the only one that stabbed Laura, that Anna had nothing to do with the killing and the murder.

I am excited, as a book lover, and a book blogger that I discovered a new author. It does not  happen often. Finding someone that you would like to read again. Too bad, I discovered her too early, this year to put in my challenge.because I wanted to use this author on my challenge that I entered, Where Are You Challenge. Oh, well.

 Her writing, I did not expect to appreciate as much as I did. I had heard that she writes mysteries.  But, I found that the stories she writes are adapted from a true crime event.

From a Yankee's perspective, I did not appreciate the Appalachian mountain culture, history, and the care these people had of their land.. After I read this novel, it changed my view point of the community of that area. The only thing I knew of the Applaccian mountains, was when I was a young girl, going to Florida, we passed the mountain side of Ky, and Tn. and saw the houses on the side of the mountains. Also watching the show, The Waltons. I never had any other exposure to their culture, and have never been there.

Most of the character's I did not care for.  Because all of the characters, did not have any morals, or ethics and were not educated, knowing the difference of right or wrong.

What I liked, at the end of the book is the author's note. She told all the different perspectives and scenerios that were possible and not possible and why. The people that helped her with the research. The author's note explained the holes I did not understand.

It seems, that I am reading alot of Southern fiction lately, and I hope to find other books that capture me. I am so happy that I read this. Happy to discover a new author at the end of 2011. I am happy to say this is probably one of my favorite books of the year. I plan on posting in a few day a recap of my reading experience of 2011, with my favorite books. This is probably the fist time, that I can say, I discovered some author's that I loved, some I hated. Which I never explored before.
Happy Holidays To All My Readers, hope your reading experience this year was as good as mine. Thank you for following, and reading my blog this year. I hope you continue reading, as I do...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Very Valentine, Book Club Read

Very Valentine
By Adrianna Trigianni

Very Valentine opens with Valentine Roncalli, a 33 year old living in New York City. is a member of a large Italian- American family.
Valentine, is a shoe apprentice, she lives and works with her grandmother,Teodora, a master shoe maker in Greenwich Village in New York City, called Angelina Shoes, founded in 1903.

Valentine is spyed on by a neighbor, on the roof of ther tenement, Roman.  Valentine and Roman meet each other by her grandmother.  They eventually become romantically involved with each other. Roman owned a busy restaurant, in town. Between her romance of Roman, and her shoe business she tries to juggle both.

During their courtship, Valentine learns that their family owned business, Angelina Shoes, is about to go into financial collapse. Angelina Shoes, are custom made bridal shoes that was started by her grandmother, and her grandfather since 1903.

 But, of course Valentine wants no part of this. She is going to fight tooth and nail to save the business from ruin. Her brother, Albert wants their 80 year old grandmother to retire.

Valentine is invited to participate in a shoe contest. This is not just, any contest. Many of the major custom shoe factories are participating, but Valentine is not aware of the competition.

In the meantime, Valentine and her grandmother go on a business trip to Italy. During the trip Roman is unable to go to Italy immediately. Instead he will meet her in Capri for her birthday.

Her grandmother, while in Italy meets a old flame, and his son. She learns about her grandmother's love interest, and why it was hidden from her family. The father, and Valentine's grandmother become romantically involved again, after so many year.

 While this is happening, the son takes Valentine under his wing and teaches her the art of shoe making.  He teaches Valentine all that he knows about shoe making. She learns, to look at shoe making in a new way. As a art, and an expression of her love of shoes.  She takes her shoe design at a new level.

I am not going to tell you any more of the story, you will just have to read it for yourself.

My Review: We read this book for our book club. I don't think I would have picked it up, for any other reason.   I have read the Stone Gap books, the first one and I was not impressed. I could not connect to the characters. But, what a 360 turn around, I loved this book. I connected with the characters immediately.  The story, just flowed for me. 

Valentine's family was a bit quirky, but you fell in love with them. Her mother was something else, and Valentine's grandmother was a gutsy lady.  You felt like you were one of them.
The story was full of warmth, and you could feel the love that was pouring out by the author.

The book, reminded me of Greek Fat Wedding, with the entire family getting in everybody's business. Everyone meddling, which was none of their adult daughter's affair.

I was given a copy of Brava Valentine, before reading Very Valentine. I was not thinking about reading it. Well, now that I have read, Very Valentine I am enchanted by the author's work. Maybe, not so much by Stone Gap, but her other works. I am going to pick up Brava Valentine, which is the next one in the series. 

I recommend it highly, and give it 5 thumbs up!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jewish Southern Experience: Home in the Morning

Home in the Morning
By Mary Glickman
Courtesy of Open Road Media

Home in the Morning takes place in the turbulant years of the 1950's and 60's, in Guilford, Mississippi.  The Sassaport's, are a well to do Jewish southern family living in Mississippi.
Jackson, is the eldest son, and is overly protected by his mother, a genteel southern lady.

Living in the south during the 1960's was horrible enough, but in this story the divide of White, Black, Christian or Jewish was worse. There were hazing, beatings, civil rights movement, and anything to cause the divide of White and Black.  He becomes friends with a Afro-American boy, named Lil Bo'key.

In the house is Katherine Marie, a Afro American housekeeper. They become close friends. He's friend Lil Bo'key and Katherine Marie become boyfriend and girlfriend.

Jackson, a reform Jew eventually does leave Mississippi, to go to college at Yale University. He meets Stella Godwin a Orthodox Jew. They eventual marry and move back to the south. Where he rebuilds his friendships with Katherine Marie.

Jackson, has a younger brother that is coddled by his mother. He is troubled, lazy, and is often in trouble for one thing or another. But, he's mother always seems to help him out of the trouble he gets out of by paying someone off.

My Review: I read this novel, because the author is from Charleston, SC. Not too far from my house.

I picked up the novel, Home in the Morning because I liked the synopsis of the Jewish Southern experience during the 1960's. Has to be a great read, right. Sorry to say it was a let down.

Anyway, it took me about 100 pages in to finally connect with the characters, and finally understand what was going on.

Finally after the 100 pages, I was captivated by the story. I kept wanting to flip the pages, it was getting intense. But, by the end of the book, what a let down. I am not going to tell you, just in case you may want to give it a try. I did not like the ending it ended abruptly.

I think the author had a good story, but it just did not go anywhere. I really enjoyed one part of the story when the cousin, Lil Mo and Jackson ganged up and threatened his brother. I wish the author had done more about this part of the book.  Also if she wrote about the Jewish Southern experience during the 60's, and  Jewish-black divide. This would have enriched the novel, she did snipets but nothing more.

I really wanted to like this book, because of the reasons stated above.  I really cared though for the characters except for Jackson's brother. There are many other readers that did enjoy reading this.  I would still give it three stars.