Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Outside Child, by Alice-Wilson-Fried

Highly recommended [5 stars]...When I picked this book up, I stopped reading every other book I was in the middle of reading. I rarely do that. This is a MUST READ.

Outside Child, by Alice Wilson-Fried is a marvelous masterpiece of murder and mayhem on the Mississippi. Ladonis Washington wants nothing more than to make it to the top of her career. She will do just about anything to get there. She is tough, hardworking and dedicated. She works for the Floating Palace Steamboat Company in public relations. One day her friend and mentor Tim is reported missing, presumed dead. She is put in charge of keeping a lid on publicity. Her assignment quickly places her in the midst of the mysterious investigation into his death. When his body is found it is determined he was murdered. Ladonis spends her time searching for answers to Tim’s death, although through it all has an epiphany of her own that impacts her own outlook on life.

This is a debut novel by a storyteller with a natural gift for capturing the southern dialect and conversational speech from both ends of New Orleans’ society. At times her characters' conversations touch your emotions like a symphony that plays to the depth of your soul. It can be sharp, quick, witty, laughable, attacking and often deadly. The characters are memorable, so much so that it could easily be adapted to a screenplay or live theater. Each character is shaped by their speech and the role they play or the nickname they're called by. How can you forget Laundry Man, Preacher Man, HeartTrouble, L’il Boy, JockStrap and Big Blake?

My favorite scene from the book is when Ladonis visits her mother. Her mom is complaining because Ladonis doesn’t visit often and says to her, “You don’t miss the water till the well is dry.” Now who can’t relate to this remorse ridden remark? I immediately felt guilty for women all over the world. The words are priceless. Ladonis on the other hand has nicknames for her mother’s three personalities and decides that this day she is Martyr Theresa. On other days she may call her Sick Puppy or Pissed Off.

This situation is so real, images of a time ticking by come to mind. Ladonis is too young to get that yet. It's a mother daughter thing. You love your mom, yet she drives you crazy. This conversation touches my heart and I felt the writer is very honest in her portrayal of their relationship. She makes you think about how precious the time you spend with your mom is and she captures the moment here beautifully.

Wilson-Fried, who grew up in the Magnolia Housing Projects, tackles the racism and social aspects of New Orleans. She shows how the marginal members of society, blacks, women and gays are still the city’s outside children. To break into the New Orleans’ white male dominated business and political arena there are challenges and tough choices needed to succeed with the endurance of a marathon runner. This is a theme that does not overpower the story but is the story. The mystery is a bonus, a wonderful who-done-it.

Anxiety ridden moments of anticipation will make you read on. You will hang on a limb at the end of each chapter. Don’t miss reading this pre-Katrina New Orleans thriller.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunday Salon, July 27th...Tracking Daddy Down

Happy Sunday to all my friends!!! Some of you may have missed the review of Woman of a Thousand Secrets by Barbara Wood on an earlier post this week. It is due out in September and fans of historical fiction will enjoy this one. Check out the review for details.

I read a couple of new children's books this week. One is reviewed below which I have to tell you is hysterical. If you have kids, this will be released on September 16th. I believe this is her first book and I know judging from this book, we should be seeing more from her. This writer defines each character with perfection by giving them a natural voice that is believable. I love her writing style and wit. I hope this becomes a character series because the main character is too good to say goodbye to.

Tracking Daddy Down,
by Marybeth Kelsey is too outrageously entertaining.

I couldn’t get to
the end fast enough. I fell in love with all the characters, but most especially Billie Wisher. Billie is the daughter of a bank robber and she desperately wants to find him so that she can persuade him to give himself up. Her tenacity and loyalty are commendable, but not without serious consequences. Beneath the humor is a serious lesson that Billie learns when she finds her daddy, and discovers more than she was looking for. You can’t help but chuckle when this mighty master of the mouth speaks. She is the future captain of the debate team without a doubt. Billie made me think of Galadriel(Gilly), from The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson. Both have the same, comical, quick witted, sassy backtalk that you must love because it is so genuinely real. I know we will want to see more of Billie Wisher in future books.

This book would be suitable for a class read aloud in grades 3-6 and for independent readers ages 8-12. Teachers will find this ideally suited for literature circles or readers’ workshop.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Woman of a Thousand Secrets by Barbara Wood

Woman of a Thousand Secrets is a well researched historical epic revolved around Tonina, who is found floating down a river in a basket as an infant. She is raised by a childless couple until she comes of age and the couple knows they must send her off the island to find her real people. On a ruse that her grandfather is gravely ill, Tonina is sent away to find a red flower that will cure him. She always assume she will return to the island. Little does she know that in her search for the red flower she will discover her past and the beginning of an exciting future. There will be an island in her future, but where will it be?
Tonina’s journey will teach her many things but learning about the many ways to love will emerge. She learns about the love of friendship from Brave Eagle who will be there when she most needs him. She learns about passion and deep sexual desirous love from her husband Kaan. Lastly, she learns the special bond of a sons' love from Tenoch.

I felt there are two key themes in the story. One is the connectivity of the universe, and the cause and effect of what we do. Tonina and Kaan are always seeking to balance the world to appease the gods. The Aztec people was also a story of many cultures living together as one. This is also true in the story as Kaan succeeds in securing peace among the various fighting people and their chiefs. The second theme is the classic good versus evil throughout the story evident in the characters of Balam and Kaan, our modern day super heroes.

The success of this book will be partly in the obvious research the author needed to do. She has taken this background material and has created vivid images and lush scenery of the ancient Aztec culture interwoven throughout. As you read you envision every building, symbol, geographic location, and other cultural representations because of the author’s careful attention to detail. Each scene is a 3D visual treat in color and texture.

Woman of a Thousand Secrets is a wondrously entertaining story with global depth. I can’t wait to read another book by Barbara Wood, I thoroughly devoured this one!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I have been nominated...

I have just been nominated by J. Kaye at J Kaye's Book Blog. Here are the guidelines given to me:

Once an award is received, the rules are as follows:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you. (She is also on my blogroll...She's that good!)
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

My nominees (In NO particular order):

J. Kaye,J. Kaye's Book Blog-
Met J. Kaye when I first started Sunday Salon and she keeps winning all my giveaways. Ha ha!!
Seriously, she has become a great blogger buddy with an awesome blog. See her amazing reviews!

Naida, The Bookworm
Naida has been a faithful follower of my blog from my earliest post. I have enjoyed her blog and positive outlook on life. Check her special site out! It pops with just the right color and text.

Ann Darnton, Table Talk
Ann is the quiet sole of my group who I can always count on to respond to my controversial rants and vice versa. She is also a Brit and I like her logo, since it reminds me of my heritage.
One day I'll visit the country instead of the blog. I have gained many recommendations from her fabulous in depth reviews.

Marie, Boston Bibliophile
I just started visiting Marie's blog, but have found it clean, clear and concise. She is a fellow librarian and the site is adorable and easy to navigate. Her reviews are short and sweet. Take a look if you don't know Marie.

Kim Hakkenberg, My Literary Travels
It amazes me how much traveling Kim does and still manages to do all she does. Just imagine flying all over Europe and then maintaining a blog ...goodness the reviews. Then she spends time reading and commenting on all of our blogs, going to work ( a small intrusion ). Is there even time to read and or sleep. I don't think Kim sleeps. Please check out her blog..she's a hoot.

Stephanie, Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
This is a winner because it caught my eye. I liked the design and color of the sight, and I normally hate white on black. The reviews and short articles are interesting. There is alot going on over on the sidebars. Take a look, as I will this Sunday Salon. Congratulations.

Erin, Journey Through Reading
Another winner because it caught my eye. I have been reading this blog, but really don't know Erin. There is just something about it that I like....could it be the template? No, just kidding Ering...your blogs are interesting and fun to read. The layout looks great!!! This will be a surprise nomination.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Salon, July 20th Busy Week

I had company until Thursday and naturally routines were upended. I did manage to read a bit, and have a few new books to share.
I was late posting last weeks Salon, due to my company so maybe people didn't get to read about The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti. (see last week). I received the book via airmail(expensive) this week and so far I like it. I plan to read it this week, so tune in next week.

I am reading Woman of a Thousand Secrets, by Barbara Wood, an Early Reviewer ARC for Library Thing. The story is about a girl named Tonina who was found by a couple unable to have children. She was floating in a basket on the sea. One day they decide it is time for her to leave their island, and this is when Tonina's adventures begin.

This week I also finished My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar. This was an Early Reviewer ARC for Library Thing. The review is on a previous post.

I also finished Far Above Rubies by Cynthia Polansky, who I met on Jacket Flap. What an amazing story she has written. Please read this book. You can read my review on a separate post her historical fiction narrative is based on the true story of an Auschwitz survivor. Far Above Rubies is a jewel of a book based on a exceptional gem of a women.

That's all for this week.
Namaste, Wisteria

PS----After reading my blog, take a click over to "Bookworm", where Naida is raffling off an awesome book called

"The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work"

I for one know we can all use this in all parts of our lives. Right? Happy Week!!!

Sunday Salon Far Above Rubies, July 20th

Far Above Rubies by Cynthia Polansky is a brilliantly written historical fiction memoir. Polansky's book is a triumphant tribute to Sofie Mecklenberg Rijnfeld Davidson, a selfless woman with extraordinary energy and will. The novel is based on the woman known to her niece as Tante Soof. She was a born a Polish Jew and married a man with six wonderful girls. Although not Sofie's biological children, she became their mother and loved the girls as if she had given birth to them. She loved them so much, that when only the girls were summoned to report for resettlement, Sofie decided she could not let them face their fate alone. She willingly accepted deportation. When the SS saw that Sophie had not been called, she had to plead with him to let her stay. Little did she know that the prescient SS guard couldn’t care less. The horrors of the concentration camp told through the eyes of Sophie are real. She was a person with uncommon bravery who could face up to the SS and with faith survived the despicable crimes and atrocities acted out at Auschwitz. At times she jeopardized her own life, giving up meager portions of rations to help her daughters and other prisoners. Tante Soof lived life with dignity. She complained less and saw the silver lining more. She had an unmatched ability to inspire hope in hundreds who would not live another day. Few people can say they have given more to help other people at the risk of loosing their life than Sofie.

“A woman of valor who can find? For her price is far above rubies.” Polansky quotes this verse from Proverbs and she has written a sincere story from her heart of honor to a very precious person. I couldn’t put this book down as I read in amazement and wonder at what this exceptional woman’s life was like. Plan on a late night reading, I highly recommend it.

Sunday Salon, My Father's Paradise, by Ariel Sabar

My Father's Paradise, by Ariel Sabar

My Father’s Paradise is a moving masterpiece!! Yona Sabar lives in the past although he is a successful professor at UCLA, speaker and writer in the United States. He was born a Jew in Kurdish Iraq, in a town called Zakho. The book is written by Ariel Sabar, his son. The author is faced with a difficult task of presenting an unbiased look at his father’s life without interjecting the inherent jealousy of a son who has had to share his life with his father’s monomaniacal obsession with the study and preservation of the Aramaic language. Ariel Sabar should be commended for his literary success as he has achieved this colossal challenge.

His book is a chronological timeline of his father’s life. It starts before he was born with several generations before, as Ariel provides some critical history and background. A slow start reading at the beginning, will pick up. Don’t give up it is worth it. Ariel offers a necessary piece of Middle Eastern history that provides information important to current global awareness.

The story follows Yona’s youth growing up as a Kurdish Jew in Zakho, his immigration to Israel at the age of twelve, moving to America to study at Yale, and his success as a professor, father and grandfather. Ariel grows up in the shadow of a father who is venerated by his colleagues, peers and students as the master of the Aramaic language. He is the typical teenager. He is embarrassed by his father’s frumpiness, frugality, out-dated thinking and other oddities. Neither understands each other and Ariel often treats his father with disrespect. Ironically, Yona appreciates his son more than Ariel understands his father. Yona truly believes that humanity over time and throughout the world is very similar; unchanging and common. Rebellion of teenagers in America will occur as it did when Yona was a child in Zakho.

Yona looks at his town of Zakho as a child fantasizes in grandiose illusions. It is his paradise. It isn’t until Ariel has graduated from a New England college, is working as a journalist, and has a family of his own, that he shows an interest in his father’s past. It is at this time of his life that Ariel begins a journey of self-discovery. On a visit that Ariel and Yona make to Zakho, Ariel sees his father come alive and sees why his father sees Zakho as paradise. Traveling to Zakho is both physical and emotional as Ariel and Yona begin another journey of father and son understanding.

My Father’s Paradise is essential reading to gain an understanding of the Kurdish Jews, Israel, Iraq and Middle East in history. A superb read that is multigenerational and full of wisdom especially current today. A memoir that will make you respect the world and its people. I loved this book!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Salon- Gift Certificate Winner!!!! & The Winds of Tara

Congratulations to Table Talk who has won the $15.00 Gift Certificate to either Amazon or Borders. TT please send me your address at tekeygirl{at}gmail{dot}com, so that I can mail it to you ASAP.

This has been a quiet week for me as I have company from the Midwest. However, I did read an article that I wanted to share with my friends on Sunday Salon.

The first is about the unauthorized sequel to Gone With the Wind called: The Winds of Tara, by Kate Pinotti. This book is unavailable in the US, and when I contacted the publisher and I received a very nice letter back from Jason. The reviews have been excellent on this book, yet you can only buy it in Australia and New Zealand. Here is his response to me:

Dear Donna,

At this point in time, we are restricting sales to Australian and New Zealand residents. We will let you know if this situation changes. There may be other means to source a copy, but we have no direct knowledge or experience of these.

The more U.S citizens who demand The Winds of Tara- there are many - and that stamp their feet (blogs, forums, fantastic reviews from those who have read it, demands from the fans who haven't, etc) and insist this book be available in your country, the more chance the Stephens Mitchell Trust will sit up and take notice, possibly rethinking their stance on authorising this book.

I will place you on our mailing list Donna for any updates that may come up.

You can order this book through abbeys.com.au, however the cost for shipping is high. Being a complete nut about Gone With the Wind, I did order The Winds of Tara. However, I feel this is so unfair. Why should the Stephens Mitchell Trust ban the sale of this book? What are they afraid of? In my humble opinion, they will only gain by creating renewed interest in Gone With the Wind again, as The Winds of Tara is sold in bookstores. Isn't there some agreement that can be worked out?

This incenses me and brings out the librarian passion in me to step up and speak out against book banning and infringing on our rights as Americans.
What are your thoughts guys? Should we bombard our bookstores with requests? Any ideas?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Salon, BAFAB Week Give-A-Way

Happy 4th of July to all and Happy BAFAB week. In honor of our two exciting celebrations, I have decided to giveaway a $15.00 gift certificate to Amazon or Borders. The winner may choose.
All you have to do is leave a post on my blog today through July 8th midnight to be entered into the drawing. Good luck to all.

I had to say good-bye to my teeny little foster girl Contessa Clara Bella yesterday who went to the best forever home she could possibly get. Yeah she is the 818th greyhound saved by our group.
I just love that. Here is a pic.

This week was ARC week for me. I received an ARC everyday in the mail. Wow!! How exciting. It was my birthday everyday.

I finished Two Men, by Elizabeth Stoddard, originally written in 1865. This book was released in June of this year, under the University of Nebraska imprint. Jennifer Putzi, wrote the book's Introduction and in it claims people of her time considered Stoddard an "enigma". Writer after writer lay claim that she wrote like no one else and influenced no one. Putzi writes that Stoddard was overlooked by her contemporaries because her writing did not fit the mold.

According to Putzi's intro, she took it as a compliment when it was said about her, " she accepts no authority, treads in the footsteps of no other, follows only her own nature, and is always herself." (pg.xxi) She considered herself a romantic, but her writing captured a realistic portrayal of women in the late 20th and 21st century. I would have loved to meet this author at a book signing. Clearly, her thoughts and work were ahead of her time and vastly under-appreciated. She wrote two other novels, The Morgensons and Temple House, numerous short stories, poetry and newspaper articles. A full review will be coming out in Historical Novels Review in the August issue under the name Donna Bassett.

I read a YA book...I know J. Kaye..I told you I wouldn't, but it was an ARC )
If anyone has a 3-6 grader at home who is looking for a funny, sci-fi, fantasy story, Nightmare Academy Monster Madness is hilarious. It would make an awesome read-aloud. The author Dean Lorey has a quick wit and sarcasm that comes out in the character's dialog. What makes this book special is that you believe the kids wrote the book. Lorey's characters sound like kids. It is tooooo funny. Kids will love the monsters, the Bermuda Triangle, the hydras, and so much more. This book will be released August 26th.
I did forget to mention that Monster Madness, was the 2nd book in a series. Nightmare Academy #1 Enter the Portal to Monsters and Mayhem is in stores now. Notice also the fabulous cover illustration by Brandon Dorman. Don't pass this series up, and take a minute to read it yourself, you won't be disappointed. Don't tell your kids, but you may even laugh.

Have a great week. Who will win the Gift Certificate?