Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: The Boston Girl

The Boston Girl
by Anita Diamant

Why did you choose this book? the immigrant experient aspect
When did you read this book? April 2015
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction
Source: library ebook
Here is a synopsis of The Boston Girl from Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable coming-of-age novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie's intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can't imagine - a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her "How did you get to be the woman you are today." She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant's previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

My Review

I loved this one! The story is basically a monologue, with 85-year-old Addie telling the story of her life to her granddaughter. I loved Addie’s sense of humor and her perspective on the events of her life! I could hear her speaking in mind, and she sounded EXACTLY like my grandmother! My grandmother was born one year before Addie and was a child of immigrant parents, as was Addie. Unlike Addie, my grandmother was actually born ‘across the pond’ and ‘came over on the boat’ when she was about ten. But Addie’s voice was her voice!

I loved the entire story and found it hard to put down. But one thing I particularly liked was Addie’s ‘matter-of-fact’ telling of her story, without a lot of drama. This was not a romance. While Addie had obviously married, as she was telling this story to her granddaughter, her  story was not a romance. Addie just kind of slipped in there that she met and married her husband; just another fact of her life.

I also enjoyed the perspective of life in this earlier time that I was given. Though there were historical events interspersed throughout Addie’s tale, they were not dealt with in depth, but just mentioned in passed as a way to give context to the events in Addie’s story. If you are looking for a history lesson, you won’t get it here, but you will get a feel for what life was for young woman in America in the early twentieth century. Enjoy!

You can find a reading group guide on the publisher’s website here. You can also view a video of the author introducing her book on the publisher’s site here.


My Rating:  ★★★★1/2    4-1/2 Stars
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: The Precious One

The Precious One
by Marisa de los Santos

Why did you choose this book? the story sounded like a good one
When did you read this book? April 2015
Who should read this book? readers who like family drama
Source: TLC Book Tours
Here is a synopsis of The Precious One from TLC Book Tours

From the New York Times bestselling author of Belong to Me, Love Walked In, and Falling Together comes a captivating novel about friendship, family, second chances, and the redemptive power of love.

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary—professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter, Willow, only once.
Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister—a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Told in alternating voices—Taisy’s strong, unsparing observations and Willow’s naive, heartbreakingly earnest yearnings—The Precious One is an unforgettable novel of family secrets, lost love, and dangerous obsession, a captivating tale with the deep characterization, piercing emotional resonance, and heartfelt insight that are the hallmarks of Marisa de los Santos’s beloved works.


My Review

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to pick this one up. I’d only read one book by the author before, Falling Together, and it was a little bit of a disappointment. But I was attracted to the pretty cover of this one and the storyline sounded pretty good, so I decided to take a chance on it. I’m so glad I did! The characters were really interesting. The story is told from alternating points of view by the two main characters, sisters Taisy and Willow Cleary. I liked them both very much. I also liked Ben, Taisy’s first love, and Caro, Willow’s mother. And on the other end of the spectrum, it is hard to imagine a more despicable character than Wilson Cleary, the father of both sisters! He is pompous, arrogant, and heartless. But just when you think there couldn’t be a worse character... along comes Willow’s English teacher, Mr. Insley! He managed to make pompous, arrogant Wilson look like a compassionate, caring man!

I really enjoyed the character development as the story progressed. I also liked the way the back story was revealed a bit at a time, telling us about Taisy’s past relationship with Ben, and letting us see how she tried so hard to gain Wilson’s love! We also saw very clearly the contrast in the parenting she received from Wilson, and the parenting he gave to Willow, his ‘precious one’. There were some twists to the story that I didn’t expect, but very much enjoyed. On the other hand, I did feel like everything was wrapped up just a little too neatly and a little too quickly. The story ended happily, though not ‘fairy-tale happy’, and I found that satisfying, but I felt like Wilson’s story was revealed a little too quickly when it was finally revealed. I also felt like the Mr. Insley story line wasn’t really resolved. While there is some hint of what MIGHT come next, we really don’t know.

This book will lead to some great discussions by book clubs, with possible discussion topics of forgiveness and how resentment harms the person who can’t let it go, helicopter parenting, and many others. You can find discussion questions at Reading Group Guides. Pick this one up. You won’t be sorry!


About Marisa de los Santos


Marisa de los Santos has published three New York Times bestselling novels for adults, including Love Walked In and Belong to Me, while David Teague is the author of the picture books Franklin’s Big Dreams and Billy Hightower. Saving Lucas Biggs is their first joint venture. Married for over twenty years, Marisa and David live with their two children, Charles and Annabel, and their Yorkies, Finn and Huxley, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Connect with Marisa on Facebook and Twitter.


My Rating:  ★★★★    4 Stars


This book review is included in a tour by TLC Book Tours. I was provided a copy for review purposes and have written an honest review which appears above..

Marisa’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, March 24th: The Discerning Reader
Wednesday, March 25th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, March 26th: The Book Bag
Friday, March 27th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, March 31st: My Book Retreat
Wednesday, April 1st: BookNAround
Thursday, April 2nd: A Novel Review
Monday, April 6th: Write Meg
Tuesday, April 7th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, April 8th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, April 9th: Vox Libris
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tuesday Memes: The Boston Girls

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Today I am spotlighting The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable coming-of-age novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie's intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can't imagine - a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her "How did you get to be the woman you are today." She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant's previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

Opening

1985
Nobody told you?

    Ava, sweetheart, if you ask me to talk about how I got to be the woman I am today, what do you think I’m going to say? I’m flattered you want to interview me. And when Did I ever say no to my favorite grandchild?
    I know I say that to all of my grandchildren and I mean it every single time. That sounds ridiculous or like I’m losing my marbles, but it’s true. When you’re a grandmother you’ll understand.
    And why not? Look at the five of you: a doctor, a social worker, two teachers, and now you.
    Of course they’re going to accept you into that program. Don’t be silly. My father is probably rolling over in his grave, but I think it’s wonderful.
    Don’t tell the rest of them, but you really are my favorite and not only because you’re the youngest. Did you know you are named after me?
    It’s a good story.

My Teaser

    Ha! Those old ladies were probably in their fifties. Being eighty-five gives you perspective. It also gives you arthritis. Maybe you should stitch those pearls of wisdom on a sampler. Do you even know what a sampler is?
page 185

So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Review: The Last Song

The Last Song
by Eva Wiseman

Why did you choose this book? I was attracted to the cover and it is historical ficiton
When did you read this book? March 2015
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction
Source: Library Thing Early Reviewers
Here is a synopsis of The Last Song from Goodreads

Spain had been one of the world’s most tolerant societies for eight hundred years, but that way of life was wiped out by the Inquisition. Isabel’s family feels safe from the terrors, torture, and burnings. After all, her father is a respected physician in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Isabel was raised as a Catholic and doesn’t know that her family’s Jewish roots may be a death sentence. When her father is arrested by Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, she makes a desperate plan to save his life – and her own.
Once again, master storyteller Eva Wiseman brings history to life in this riveting and tragic novel.

My Review

I picked up this book because of the interesting cover. The synopsis also sounded interesting, and I decided I wanted to read the book. I had heard of the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ but I really didn’t know much about it, and I thought this would be a good way to learn. When I picked the book up, I did not realize it is written for young adults, though I probably should have guessed this based on the thickness of the book! The good —  the book is a quick, easy read and I learned something new. The not so good — the story is a bit simplistic.

My only knowledge of the Inquisition prior to reading this book was that people were tortured. I didn’t realize that the goal was to weed out ‘pseudo-Christians’. I also did not realize that Jews were expelled from Spain at the time. Another thing I didn’t realize is that this all went on during the time of Christopher Columbus and his voyage on behalf of Spain!

While I enjoyed the book, some of the events were a bit of a stretch. Isabel, the main character, is a fourteen year old girl from a wealthy family who has been raised in the Catholic church. She has been taught that Jews are beneath her; “evil, vile creatures”. She has been promised by her family that she would be allowed her to choose her own husband and not be forced into an arranged marriage. So imagine her shock when her father returns from a business trip with the boy he has chosen to be her husband; a boy to whom she takes an instant dislike! Her father explains it is all for her own good, of course. At her engagement party, one of the ‘evil Jews’, son of a silversmith,  delivers a beautiful bowl for her center piece. Overnight, not only does Isabel decide that Jews are not, after all, evil creatures, but in fact, she goes from being a devout Catholic girl to experiencing a religious conversion and secretly studying the Torah.  I would have preferred a little more character development for Isabel, but of course, this is a young adult book and moves too quickly to allow much character development. I did enjoy this book and found the story  interesting, but it left me wanting to know more. If you also are left wanting to know more, you may be interested in a podcast from Stuff You Missed In History Class; The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain.

My Rating:  ★★1/2    2-1/2 Stars

I received a review copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and have written an honest review which appears above.

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