Summer Reading Challenge – Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn Toibin

Brooklyn  by Colm Toibin

A Book Recommended by a Librarian

Rating:
4 book marks

Eilis Lacey’s older sister Rose understands the small-town limits of Enniscorthy, Ireland.  The years following World War II have been hard for the Lacey children and their widowed mother.  Brothers Jack, Pat and Martin have left for work in England, leaving Rose and Eilis to look after their mother.

At thirty, it may be too late for Rose, but Eilis has a chance for a better life in America.  And the decision is made when Rose arranges for an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor her sister.  A few weeks later, a stunned and wide-eyed Eilis boards a ship for New York to begin her life.

Eilis settles into a Brooklyn walk-up with a group of women boarders, overseen by the opinionated Mrs. Kehoe and begins her job working the floor at Bartocci’s department store.  The strangeness of her new life overwhelms Eilis, but she keeps busy with work and accounting classes at Brooklyn College.  Slowly, her life changes and when she meets a man at an Irish church dance, Eilis begins to believe she can find happiness in New York.

When tragedy at home calls Eilis back to Ireland, she realizes that her ties to home are much stronger than she knew and she is tormented by indecision.  And her life in New York becomes more remote the longer she stays in Ireland.  Love, loyalty and family pull from two directions and it isn’t until the final pages of this lovely story where Eilis chooses.

Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn is a classic tale about post-war immigration to America.  Readers feel the same mix of optimism and fear that runs through Eilis as she makes her way in an entirely new world.  Tóibín includes many details about 1950s New York, adding unique color and depth to an experience many have shared.  And the author’s strong female characters make this a story as much about gaining independence as it is about love and happiness.  What I enjoyed most was the emerging strength in Eilis as she adapts to change and then confronts the most important decision of her life.

At 262 pages, Brooklyn is fairly short and I would have liked to learn more about some of Tóibín’s lesser characters, including the Lacey brothers, Father Flood and Miss Fortini.  The author hints at interesting details about them and I think the story would have been even stronger if they had played greater roles.  Likewise, the author only touches on the conflicts between the different immigrant nationalities and other post-war tension.  Maybe he chose to only refer to these to add context and perhaps we will see these minor characters in another book.

Of course, if it’s a book that’s become a movie, I’m likely to watch the movie and make the comparison.  In this case, I was delighted.  While the movie, like all adaptations to film, omits layers of details too difficult to include, I thought it kept very close to the characters and story line.  You can learn more about the movie starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson here.


Follow along as I work my way through my 16 in 16 Challenge!

Book 1 – A Book You Can Finish in a Day:  The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner
Book 2 – A Book in a Genre You Typically Don’t Read:  The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Book 3 – A Book with a Blue Cover:  The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Book 4 – A Book Translated to English:  I Refuse by Per Petterson
Book 5 – A Second Book in a Series:  Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy
Book 6 – A Book To Learn Something New: The Beginner’s Photography Guide by Chris Gatcum
Book 7 – A Book That Was Banned:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Book 8 – A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit:  Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry
Book 9 – A Book with Non-human Characters:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

From the Archives: Books about Water and the Sea

Ocean

With only a few weeks left on our summer calendars, there’s still time to read a book about water and the sea.  Take a look at this mix of classic tales, popular fiction and nonfiction!


Classic fiction

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
What happens to a group of young British schoolboys when their plane is shot down and they land on deserted island in the Pacific?


The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The classic Hemingway story of Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman who has not caught a fish in eighty-four days


Popular fiction

sea creatures pic

Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
Set in Miami, Florida, a story about love, marriage, family, death, art, weather and the sea


stiltsville book cover

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel
All about marriage, family and relationships in a community of stilt houses in the Miami sand flats


The Dressmaker cover

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Light historical fiction and romance written into the history of the Titanic’s voyage, its passengers and the disaster’s aftermath


the light between oceans pic

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
A story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who live alone on an island off Western Australia


The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Fast-paced, coming-of-age fantasy tale for adults about the mysteries of life, death, nature, the past, and the present


We Are Water

We Are Water by Wally Lamb
A rotating narrative about abuse over time and generations, and its range of effects


Mystery

Death in a Red Canvas Chair cover

Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N. A. Granger
Debut mystery novel, the first in a series about Rhe Brewster and her adventures as an amateur detective.  Set in the fictional coastal town of Pequod, Maine


Death in a Dacron Sail cover

Death in a Dacron Sail by N. A. Granger
The second in the Rhe Brewster mystery series, full of New England color and Maine personality


Romance

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!

Catalina Kiss by Tracy Ewens
Where the Tracy Ewens romance series begins.  Set on the island of Catalina during Prohibition, a light, feel-good romance


Young Adult/Children’s

Casey of Cranberry Cove

Casey of Cranberry Cove by Susan Kotch
Teen love on the Jersey shore, lots of fun shore references for Jersey guys and girls


the cay pic

The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Touching coming-of-age story about an eleven-year-old American boy living on the island of Curaçao during World War II


Tommy's Mommy's Fish

Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish by Nancy Dingman Watson
Tommy wants to give his mother the best birthday present so he heads to the beach to catch the biggest fish he can.


Non-fiction

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie Miklas
Coffee table/photo book featuring the people, streets and culture of a beautiful part of Italy, showcasing magnificent coastlines, ancient architecture and vibrant street life


In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
True survival story of the whaleship Essex, attacked and sunk by an eighty-five foot sperm whale in the Pacific


Read but not reviewed

Billy Budd by Herman Melville
A classic Melville story about the battle between good and evil

Jaws by Peter Benchley
Gripping suspense novel about a killer shark off a Long Island beach

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Ahab takes on a killer whale.  Classic story inspired by the whaleship Essex

Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh
Meditations about love, marriage and family written by Charles Lindbergh’s American wife


Do you have any favorite tales about the sea?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

What’s That Book? Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Whats That Book

battlehymn
Title
:  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Author:  Amy Chua

Genre: Memoir

Rating:  **

What’s it about?  Amy Chua describes the strict disciplined methods she used to shape her two daughters into accomplished Chinese-American musicians and students.  Persistent criticism, narrow-minded outbursts and manipulative tactics were the norm in this toxic family environment.  A rebellious younger daughter pushes back, forcing Chua to double down on her methods. Includes many insulting stereotypes of other parenting styles, declaring her altered version of the Chinese method superior.

How did you hear about it?  A book club selection

Closing comments:  This book received a great deal of attention when it was first published in 2011.  While Chua fully admits to making mistakes along the way, she clearly believes her method is the best and shows little respect for other cultures.

A 2014 article from The Guardian, “The truth about the Tiger Mother’s family” takes a closer look at Chua a few years later.

She and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld are law professors at Yale and have since co-written a new book (2014), The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, a look at why certain groups in America do better than others (check it out here).

Contributor:  Ginette


Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Who’s That Indie Author? Elizabeth A. Havey

Who's That Indie Author pic

Elizabeth Havey

Author name: Elizabeth A. Havey

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Book: A Mother’s Time Capsule, Short Stories about Motherhood

A Mother's Time CapsuleBio: A former teacher of English and a registered nurse, I attended the Iowa Summer Writing Workshops, working with instructors including David Payne and Elizabeth Strout. My work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Better Homes and Gardens and literary magazines. I have also published CEUs for nursing in Nurseweek. In 2015, Foreverland Press published my collection of stories, A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE. I blog at Boomer Highway and I am a member of She Writes and Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). One surprising thing about me, I co-wrote MIAMI INK: Marked for Greatness.  

Favorite thing about being a writer: the ability to create a place, a world filled with characters that speak to me and help me tell stories that I could have lived or stories I will never live. The power of imagination gets me to the keyboard.

Biggest challenge as an Indie author: getting the word out. There are many talented writers offering their work today. Writing and publishing my novels will help me rise above this crowded place. It’s a challenge with great potential.

Favorite book: There are too many to name, but the first that comes to mind is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s THE GREAT GATSBY, a classic that tells the American story, uses beautiful language and was not immediately welcomed by readers. Sometimes the best work lies fallow, but once it’s discovered, watch out.

Website:  elizabethahavey.com
Blog:  boomerhighway.org
Twitter:  @BoomerHighway
Facebook: Boomer Highway


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Summer Reading Challenge Update

Source:  keyword-suggestions.com
Source: keyword-suggestions.com

Well the weeks of summer are winding down and I’m only a little more than halfway through my 16 in 16 Challenge.  I’m not stressing though.  These are the lazy days of summer, right?

I’m reading lots of books I wouldn’t have selected on my own and, although the challenge runs through August, I’m going to keep cracking the books until the official end of summer, September 21.

Where did I get these challenge prompts?  They came from the library where I work.  Since many of you have asked, here’s the list:

A book you can finish in a day

A book recommended by a librarian

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

A book written in the year you were born

A book that was banned at some point

A book being made into a movie this year

A book translated to English

A book with a blue cover

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF

A book in a genre you typically don’t read

A book to help you learn something new

A book “everyone” has read but you

A book with bad reviews

A book written by someone under 30 or over 70

A book with non-human characters

The second book in a series


Here’s what’s been in my beach tote:

The Good Neighbor  Calmer Girls   The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian   I Refuse   The Vacationers

The Ghost Map   The Beginner's Photography Guide   The Ocean at the End of the Lane   Brooklyn on Fire

How’s your summer reading coming along?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Summer Reading Challenge – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A Book with Non-Human Characters

Rating:
5 book marks

When a middle-aged man returns to Sussex, England for a family funeral, a visit to his childhood neighborhood yields no remarkable memories…at first.  But then he thinks of the farm down the lane.

As he drives down the narrowing lane towards the Hempstock farm, he thinks of Lettie Hempstock and the year he was seven.  She was only eleven, but she knew important, mysterious things.  With sudden surprising clarity, he recalls how she claimed the duck pond on their farm was really an ocean that carried her family here from long ago and far away.

Then the man remembers how Lettie had held his hand and protected him from many dangers…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a terrific, fast-paced, coming-of-age fantasy tale for adults about all the mysteries of life, death, nature, the past, and the present.  It begins with a man’s suicide at the pond and leads to a series of frightening, confusing and painful events.

Gaiman includes all the themes I love in a book and tells a scary story in which his characters unknowingly live alongside creatures pretending to be human and fight powerful monsters with supernatural shapes.  An alarming struggle between father and son threatens to tip the balance of the young boy’s world and it’s up to Lettie to reverse the damage.

I think Gaiman has a remarkable insight into children’s minds, how they think, what frightens them and what makes them brave.  He reminds me of all the small things I felt in my ordinary childhood and connects them to a powerful story about good versus evil and our human links to nature, the past, the present and the changing world.

The narrator wonders about these changes, but as old Mrs. Hempstock says, “Nothing’s ever the same.  Be it a second later or a hundred years.  It’s always churning and roiling.  And people change as much as oceans.”

A great read, with lots of scary twists and meaningful themes, suspenseful to the very last page.  More of an adult book, despite the young characters, but okay for high schoolers.


Follow along as I work my way through my 16 in 16 Challenge!

Book 1 – A Book You Can Finish in a Day:  The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner
Book 2 – A Book in a Genre You Typically Don’t Read:  The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Book 3 – A Book with a Blue Cover:  The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Book 4 – A Book Translated to English:  I Refuse by Per Petterson
Book 5 – A Second Book in a Series:  Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy
Book 6 -A Book To Learn Something New: The Beginner’s Photography Guide by Chris Gatcum
Book 7 – A Book That Was Banned:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Book 8 – A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Always Wanted to Visit:  Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

What’s That Book? Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Whats That Book

Brooklyn Toibin
Title
: Brooklyn

Author:  Colm Toibin

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating:  *****

What’s it about?  Set in both Ireland and Brooklyn in the early 1950s, Toibin’s novel tells the endearing and compelling story of Ellis, a young woman who must ultimately choose between her home country and her new life in America.  Smart and capable, Ellis leaves her beloved home to find work in Brooklyn.  After coping with a horrific voyage across the ocean and paralyzing homesickness, Ellis soon begins to excel at her job and in her college classes.  She falls in love and slowly her new country becomes her home.  When family tragedy strikes, Ellis is forced to choose between her old life in Ireland and her new life in Brooklyn.  This is a lovely story with interesting, believable characters and lavish descriptions that contrast Ellis’ small Irish hometown and 1950s New York City.

Brooklyn DVD
After your read the book, be sure to check out the movie adaptation which received many film awards and garnered three Oscar nominations including Best Motion Picture of the Year.  The settings are stunning, the acting is superb (Saoirse Ronan was nominated for Best Actress) and the screenplay is wonderfully true to the book.

How did you hear about it?  A friend over the holidays watched the movie and recommended it to me.  I decided to read the book first, then watch the DVD.

Closing comment:  This is the rare but wonderful instance when a movie is as enjoyable as the book on which it is based.

Contributor:  Susan


Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!