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.

Friday, June 1, 2012

She's Back- Oprah's Book Club 2.0

Oprah just announced online her decision to resurrect her book club. But, this time she want's to make it interactive through social media, re-naming it Oprah Book Club 2.0.

Her first pick is the memoir, Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Oprah's brand will be on the digital version. It will be interactive on the e-reader. Meaning, she will have discussions, and notes in the digital version of the book. That sounds very interesting. On the sidelines I am assuming her thoughts of different passages. Digitals books, will have Kindle, Nook, and Google, etc.

 The memoir sounds a bit like, Eat, Pray Love.   A woman on a journey, to find answers and find herself.  I don't like to compare books, and judge a book. Since I have not read it.  I did read the excerpts of Wild in a magazine, More.  What I was reading grabbed me.  I will tell you, I did not like Eat, Pray Love. 

At first I was very excited that Oprah was resurrected her book club.  But, then I savored it, and marinated a bit in my head. Unless, I misunderstood this means it will not be televised.  Her book club will be through social network only. I am hoping I am wrong, but when I saw the video of her explaining what she plans to do. She never talked about it on OWN.

I am hoping she will do both, televised and social media. Perhaps I am reading into it. We will have to just see on Monday, when it is launched.

If any of you can let me know if I misunderstood. I would appreciate it, Thank You. Just leave your comments.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons- May's Book Club

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
By Lorna Landvik
Library copy

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons has been sitting on my book shelf for quite awhile. Not sure why I did not pick this up sooner.  I am glad, Donna from our book club picked this novel to read for May.  This is a perfect summer read for this time of year.

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons,take place in Minnesota, it is the story of a group of ladies. They became friends because the book club, they formed in their community of Freesia Court. It is the common bond of books that solidify their friendship.

Faith is the one that has something to hide in her past life, she has given birth to twins Beau, and Bonnie.  Audrey, is the sex queen, good clothes and Jewels is the best thing. Merit is the shy one, and is being abused by her husband the doctor. Kari, is the one the thoughtful friend that thinks of everyone first, before herself.  Then the activist, Slip, is the social justice person, always standing on her soap box, to defend the wrongs of the world.

These five ladies, lives intersect with each other from the 1960's till 1989. These five ladies, live through, domestic abuse, drugs, smoking cigarettes, Cancer, Feminist movement, Racial problems,  Vietnam, college riots, homosexuality, AIDS, adoption, abortion, divorce, widowhood, single parenting. Through 30 years of friendship they still stayed together, and stayed strong for each other.

I enjoyed reading the trials, and tribulations and love they had  for each other. Some  things were  so funny. The things that came out of their mouths were  memorable, bittersweet. Learning how to accept each other with a good laugh.

My Review: I bought this novel  almost 10 years ago. I don't remember what drew me to the book. Because the title doesn't sound like anything, but fluff.
Totally wrong about the title.

Each chapter had the title of the book they were discussing for that chapter, and who was leading.  The chapters went back and forth with each character, and what was going on in their lives.  I had a hard time, each time who were they speaking about. Because it was jumping around so much. But, because each chapter seemed to have a conclusion you could figure out what was going on, without getting confused. 

The book for me was like re-living my past from the 1960-1990's. Even though I was a child, I could still remember the feminist movement, Vietnam etc.  All the history back then was all over the news, and newspapers, in the classrooms. I may have been too young to participate, but I remember the events.  I enjoyed reading because of living through the times. Not sure of young women can appreciate this, because most of the social injustices that we thought were unfair, have been resolved thanks to our governments, and people that fought for change. That part was funny, because I could check each subject matter off one, by one and say it was resolved.

Our book club, Beach Babes Book Brigade discussed all the things mentioned in my review.  We didn't discuss long, which was unfortunate. Because there was many things to discuss.
We discussed books we would be reading till next April. But, if something happens I hope we are not held to it. Just in case.

Next month, our book club will be hosting a special book club event. Our book club are so honored to be able to invite Rabbi Debbie Slavitt to discuss, and have a historical presentation with the novel, Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.

 I have been wanting to get the Jewish ladies of our community together to read one book and then we discuss it. 

 In our community we are very lucky to have our rabbi's for our congregation. But, we are even luckier to have Rabbi Debbie Slavitt. Since she moved here with her husband she doesn't have a congregation. Instead she teaches, at the local university. Most of the ladies, in town love her, and love to hear her discuss things. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Night Circus by Erin Morganstern: Book Review

Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern
My own copy

The Night Circus is a " Once upon story". If you are captivated by fairy tales, and fantasy, with visual, and symbolism than this book is right up your alley.

With that said, I will tell you I have never read a novel like this before as a adult. When my son was reading, Harry Potter I never read them. Perhaps I will give it a try now, after reading Night Circus.  I think you can gather that I enjoyed reading Night Circus.  After reading a very depressing book, I wanted to read something to escape.

The Night Circus, was featured all over the internet last year when it was about to be published.  It was one of the novels to be the in-crowd at BEA. Everyone was picking it up. Even though I was not there. I read many a book blogger, that was at BEA, talking about this book. 

If you have not read this book, now would be the time before it becomes a movie.  The book is very visual, with lots of color, with symbolism. This book is a fairy tale, with a bit of fantasy, and enchantment, and star crossed eyed lovers.  There is a connection of time, and age in the book. I loved the way the author connected both time, and age into the book.

 The only thing, back in forth in time, and place became a bit confusing. The time is between 1873 to 1903. The story is magical and I can't say enough about this wonderfully written novel.

Night Circus, is the story of two people, Celia  a young girl is trained by her father to be a illusionist, the famous Prospero the Enchanter. The orphan child, Marco is, the apprentice to the man in the gray suit. He is mysterious, and we don't learn he's name.

When they reach adulthood they both learn the reason why they were trained to become illusionists. There is a contest of wills to the death. The focal point is the circus, Le Circus Des Reves. The circus is only open at night. The characters in the story are intriguing. I loved the twins and Bailey as much as the romance of Marco and Celia.

I loved the opening paragraphs:
The Circus arrives without warning. No announcement precedes it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local papers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

The towering tents are striped in white and black, no golds and crimsons to be be seen.  No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black and white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with a elaborate wrought iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick.
But it is not open for business. Not just yet.
Within hours everyone in town has heard about it. By afternoon the news has spread several towns over. Word of mouth is a more effective method of advertisement than typeset words and exclamation points on paper pamphlets or posters. It is impressive and unusual news, the sudden appearance of a mysterious circus. People marvel at the staggering height of the tallest tents. They stare at the clock that sits just inside the gates that no one can properly describe. The black sign painted in white letters that hang upon the gates, the one that reads:

                        Opens at night and Closes at dawn.

If this doesn't draw you in from the start, and captivate you like it did me. Than this book is not for you.

I am so intrigued by the cover of the book. I am sorry to say that is what drew me in, at first. Have you read a book, because of the cover? Was it what you expected? Or was it a dud?
Did you see this book at BEA? Did you pick it up because of the cover?  I understand the paperback is coming out soon. I am interested to see what they do with it. The new cover for the paperback doesn't draw me in as much as the hard cover.  That happens all the time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Room- Book Review

By Emma Donaghue

Room is the story of Jack, a 5 year old boy, and he's mother. They have been locked in Room since he's birth. He doesn't know anything but Room.  They are held captive by Old Nick.

This story is set up wondering how Jack and he's mother are in Room to begin with. The story reveals itself after awhile.  The narrative is told through Jack at the age of 5.  There are things he doesn't understand since he is isolated with he's mother in Room. Half way through the book, Jack and he's mother devise a plan to find a way for Jack to escape without Old Jack realizing what is going on.

My Review:  I did not enjoy reading Room. There many bloggers and reviewers that loved this book. But, I must have missed the mark. I just don't get how readers can enjoy, such a depressing novel.

I admit I like her writing style, and how she was able to get into Jack's head and tell us what he was thinking, especially after they were living outside Room. What it felt like to him.  I liked how she built the story before they were able to escape Room, then the escape itself, which built up the tension in the book, and after, living in the outside world. 

 The part that I thought was unique, was leaving the part of the story wondering how she and her son were in this position in the first place. I liked how little bits of the history came in to the story in small nuggets, rather than the entire chunk, it made the story intriguing.

But, still I did not enjoy reading Room. It was perhaps so close to the real life story of a young girl kidnapped, and later on discovered by police as a adult with two little girls living in the backyard.  It was too depressing, and heartbreaking to read Room. Can't imagine a life where you are locked up in a room.  The only happiness, if you can call it happiness was having her son, Jack.

The story was too hard to read for me, too terrible to relate. What a terrible life she had to live for years at 19 being kidnapped and held captive by Old Nick, and of course the abuse that kept going on while she was held. 

 The conditions she and Jack lived in were despicable. There were parts that were so hard to read. Especially Old Nick coming into Room, and Jack in the wardrobe while Old Nick, and Mother having sex. Through the entire book, there are subtle hints of what was going on, not openly said. But, anyone can figure out the suggestions. 
There was odd behavior between Jack and he's mother. This would be expected since both of them being isolated in Room.  Since Jack not knowing any better, only knowing Room, and what he learns from he's mother he feels acceptable, but we know would not, in our society. 

The only thing I could relate to was the mother-son relationship. The love of he's mother, and care and concern they had for each other. This would be a Mother's Day book if it was not for the subject matter.

I bought this book over two years ago. I only read it because our book club was discussing it.  I would not recommend it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vaclav and Lena: Book Review

Vaclav & Lena
By Haley Tanner
Netgalley copy

Vaclav and Lena are two immigrant Russian children living in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn.  Vaclav is very verbal and bright in school. Where Lena is quiet, and struggling learning in school. 

Vaclav loves magic, he is protected and loved by his parents. But, Lena is taken care of by her aunt.  Her home life is terrible. She is left by herself, most times when her aunt works at the club.  It is thought, and hinted that she lives in a abusive home, and her aunt is a drug addict.

Vaclav wants Lena to be in he's magic act and be he's assistant.  He agrees that he will do her homework if she will be he's assistant in he's magic act.  Vaclav brings Lena home, and he's mother observes Vaclav's doing her homework, she is eating from their refrigerator. She doesn't like this, but she is aware of her home life, and feels for her, and says and does nothing.

Instead Vaclav's  mother takes Lena under her wing, tries to be a substitute mother to her. She adores Lena and tries to help her in different ways.

They continue to practice the magic act.  The day before the magic act, Lena doesn't show up for class.  Vaclav comes home, and worries something is the matter. He tells his mother, she goes to Lena's house to find out what is the matter.  Vaclav's mother doesn't come back till the next day.

  We find out that his mother, tells him half truths, not the entire truth of the story of what happens.
Lena, like the magic trick, she vanishes. For seven years Vaclav doesn't know where Lena is. He feels something will happen to her if he doesn't say goodnight. They meet each other on Lena's birthday, when she turns 17. He finds out all along she was still in Brighton Beach.

He's life is interrupted by Lena coming back in he's life.  They learn, and we the readers learn the history of what happens to Lena's parents. How she came to the United States from Russia.

My Review: I have been wanting to read Vaclav and Lena since it came out. I did not know what the story was about.  It looked different than most other books I have read. At times I like to read magically, and quirky books.  This novel did fit the bill.  I am so happy, I read the novel.

I don't read books in one day usually three or four days. This one I read in one day.  I loved the writing style of the author. It actually felt like I was reading short stories.  The book takes place first when they are 7 years old.  Then when they are absent from each other. The last part when they find each other.  Then when we fast forward seven years.

It is a bittersweet  magical story of Vaclav and Lena. It is also the love of a mother and son. The love and magic of the two friends helped Lena survive.  It is possible that things can change for the better. It was a story about two friends trusting each other.  The story did not focus on the tragic life of Lena, but her moving on past her childhood.

  It was a sad story, but the end made it a satisfying read. I am glad I read Vaclav and Lena. 
Not everyone will enjoy reading, but if you like to read stories that are magical,  like I do, you will appreciate it. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dressmaker by Kate Alcott: Book Review

The Dressmaker
By Kate Alcott
I bought this copy

The Dressmaker was light reading, and I would consider a beach read. It took me a while to connect with the characters and the story.

I bought this novel, because this novel's backdrop takes place in the early 20th century, and the story after the sinking of the Titanic. You may want to google and do your own research on the sinking of the Titanic.  If you never did see the movie, Titanic with Leonardo DiCapio, I recommend it.

I wanted to read, and review one novel that show cased the Titanic on my blog. There are not many novels that I have read that takes place on the Titanic. There are a few novels out there, probably because of the anniversary of the Titanic( centennial).

The story takes place in France, in the year 1912. We meet Tess, she is working as a maid, and her mistress, she is well to do. She has a mischievous son, always causing trouble, and uncontrollable, by the help

Tess can't stand it anymore, she sneaks out when her mistress is not looking and takes her pay without her boss's consent, and leaves for England to find employment on the Titanic.

Everyone is excited about the virgin voyage of the Titanic. Everyone in England, and the United States knows about the Titanic. There is excitement in the air with the first virgin voyage.

Tess continually tries to find someone on the Titanic that needs her service for employment. Tess actually is a terrible maid, her talent as a seamstress, is impeccable. She will do anything to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
 She recognizes a famous designer Lady Lucille Duff Gordon( actual person on the Titanic). She is departing on the Titanic. She tries to coax Lady McDuff to hire her as her maid. With a lot of help from her sister, Elinor she decides to hire her as a maid. 

When she comes on board, Lady McDuff realizes she is a terrible maid. She is not very good with etiquette, and manners as a maid that is employed. On the ship, Tess meets two men very opposite of each other, a sailor, Jim and a Chicago businessman.

You see on the voyage the difference of the rich society, and the steerage. The rich with the beautiful taffeta gowns, and crystal, with plenty of diamonds, around the rich ladies necks. There is a difference of classes on the ship, between the high society, and the poor in steerage. They cannot mingle together.

 April 12, 1912. On the fourth day of the voyage, there is trouble on the Titanic. It hits a iceberg, and the ship begins to sink. There are not enough lifeboats for everyone. The steerage is not allowed to up on the upper decks even with the ship sinking. There is mayhem, and desperate people do desperate things during a disaster.

You see, back at the turn of the century, men and women were not treated as equal. Instead woman were respected and men treated women in high regard, and had manners like opening a door for a woman. The ones that were suppose to go on the lifeboats were women and children first. After then the men could get on the lifeboats if there was room.

One man, pretended to be a woman to get on one of the lifeboat. Lady McDuff's husband bought a place so they could be the only ones on the lifeboat.  Lady Lucille McDuff. Their lifeboat only had 12 people on the lifeboat. It was not filled to capacity.

 With them on the boat, a few of the sailors helped row the boat. As they were rowing the ship was sinking. Bodies were strewn everywhere frozen. They did not want to help anyone else because of fear of capsizing the lifeboat.

When they were rescued on another ship, there was talk about some of the wealthy that were on the ship. Why did they not go back to help the others? They heard the screams for help but just ignored them.

When they got to America, Tess and Lady McDuff found each other. She hired her as her seamstress. A reporter named Pinkie dug further and further in the dirt of the Titanic. She felt the McDuff's bought their way on the lifeboat. 

A U.S. Inquiry, was led by a senator and other government official to get to the bottom of what happened during the sinking of the Titanic.

There is a romantic interest between the sailor, Jim and the Chicago businessman. But, that did not do anything for the story for me. I always like the history, and the characters that lead into the story. I don't read romance, and I have not for a very long time. The novel did not pick up till the last 100 pages, that is when I was flipping the pages quickly.

I liked learning about the clothing they wore, the designing of the clothing, the materials used to make those beautiful dresses, and what goes in to making designer dresses. Learning about the other famous designers like Chanel.

Lady McDuff was the person to come up with the idea of a live manikin. Before that, I assume to make clothing they used clay manakins. Not a great way to make clothes to see how it will look on a real person.

What I did find interesting. I always knew the story about the Titanic. But, what happened afterwards. That is what grabbed me. We all know what happened during the sinking.
But, what about how it affected these people after. Did they feel sorrow? Did they think about the victims? What about the survivors? Did they have guilt?

If you are looking for a good meat and potato novel about the sinking of a cruise ship, this is a fictional account. The story is not about the Titanic, but a fictional cruise ship and the date is fictional as well.  read Lifeboat, by Charlotte Krogen. You can find my review here.
I enjoyed it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The House of Tyneford: Book Review

I enjoyed reading The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons. It was Dowton Abbey meets Upstairs Downstairs.

It took me 100 pages to get into the characters. I still enjoyed reading The House of Tyneford. I loved the characters, and the landscapes, and the description of the setting.  The novel was beautifully written. I usually don't read novel that are romantic genre, and historical taken place in Europe. This is totally out of my comfort zone.  But, I enjoyed it.

Elise Landau and her family are Jewish, and living in Vienna. The parents, Julian and Anna raise the children in a bohemian lifestyle. Julian is a writer, and is very well known for the novels he writes in Vienna. They are wealthy and are very well known in the cultural world in Vienna. They mingle with the rich and famous in Vienna.

Their youngest daughter Elise, is sent to Tyneford to be a maid in England. The rest of the family will leave for the United States.  Elise did not get her visa in time, with the rest of the family.
Instead they find a sponsor to employ her as a servant in Tyneford.

Tyneford is a manor surrounded by the ocean, isolated by everything. The lord of the house Mr. Rivers has many employed by him. He's son Kit is very mischievous. He causes many problems for Elise. But eventually they fall in love, and are engaged.

I enjoyed reading the novel. The House of Tyneford was descriptive, but not overly that it became dull. I enjoyed the characters especially reading about Kit. He was a trip.

  Elise referred  to her parents by their first name. I had a problem with this at first until I realized who was Julian and Anna. 

Poor Elise had no one at first to connect to. She was used to the high life of society. When she arrived she was expected to clean the chamber pots and all the things a maid is expected to do. She was so lonely, and could only connect with the rich family. Since she came from that kind of lifestyle.

Interesting though when she becomes engaged to Kit. Mr. Rivers wants her to be separate from everyone else. She is now engaged, she needs to behave like a high society woman.  She doesn't like this, because everyone treats her different, again in isolation from the others.  I thought that was a interesting take. This was the same thing when Lady Diana, had to stop her job as school Marm,  before she became princess. It was not proper to associate herself with the common folk.
There is a part of history at the end of the novel that is true. During the war if you were asked to give up your home for the war effort. You expected to get it back after the war. Unfortunately, in this story it did not happen. They, and the village is still desolate. Their property they never did get it back in the novel. In the back of the book Natasha Solomon writes about what happened to some villages that this happened true. The novel is based on her Great Aunt this happened to. But, unfortunately, her daughter never knew about it.

 I enjoyed reading about the house, the house to me was character. I could see the house, and the beautiful landscapes. I could visualize the ocean spray hitting the rocks below. I could smell the ocean breezes.

If you like, Dowton Abbey, and English high society, and the manors you will enjoy reading The House of Tyneford

WBN 2012

WBN is this week. I am looking forward to this. It will be like me, being Santa, only it will be in  April. Funny though, I don't celebrate Christmas.

Anyway, it is finally here.  I went to the book store that is hosting at the destination close to my house. Book Stacks, in Myrtle Beach.

 There is one other person, that is a giver. She is not a book blogger. This is disappointing. I thought it would be another book blogger. I was hoping that we could get in touch with each other, and give each other ideas, and support, and fun way to connect.  At the book destination, the book store seller, asked me how am I going to know who to give it to, or not.  That is a good question. I will just wing it. 

I was hoping that the book store would do a Meet N Greet, or something to celebrate this occasion, too bad. I thought it would be nice to meet the others, and the book store employees.

I wanted to do this, because where I work, there are many people that live behind our store. They come to buy groceries, cigarettes, etc.  It is their only store, in walking distance. Many of them are on EBT, and housing assistance, and financial help from the government.

  Children, and adults alike don't have access to a car, or any transportation. The library is not close by.   I would be able to give books to them, people that normally can't get their hands on books because the library is not close by.  How awesome is that to give books to the children and their parents alike.

I received my box of books. She asked me if I was interested in switching books,  Now, I have more of a variety of books, for men, women, and children that normally don't read.  Namesake and a few others.

I am planning on discussing this with my boss first, of course. Because I am giving this on his time while checking them out. I am sure, because this is spreading the word of literacy, it would be fine. I wish I had discussed with him a few weeks ago, and broaden my idea, with some fun activities.

If you are participating let me know what you plan to do. Are you planning on giving something with the book to celebrate with the book receiver? If you hear of something with the book drop that is awesome I would like to hear about it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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