Sunday, March 27, 2011

Immigration Challenge - "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin Review Amazon Best of the Month, May 2009: Committed to a quiet life in little Enniscorthy, Ireland, the industrious young Eilis Lacey reluctantly finds herself swept up in an unplanned adventure to America, engineered by the family priest and her glamorous, "ready for life" sister, Rose. Eilis's determination to embrace the spirit of the journey despite her trepidation--especially on behalf of Rose, who has sacrificed her own chance of leaving--makes a bittersweet center for Brooklyn. Colm Tóibín's spare portrayal of this contemplative girl is achingly lovely, and every sentence rings with truth. Readers will find themselves swept across the Atlantic with Eilis to a boarding house in Brooklyn where she painstakingly adapts to a new life, reinventing herself and her surroundings in the letters she writes home. Just as she begins to settle in with the help of a new love, tragedy calls her home to Enniscorthy, and her separate lives suddenly and painfully merge into one. Tóibín's haunted heroine glows on the page, unforgettably and lovingly rendered, and her story reflects the lives of so many others exiled from home. --Daphne Durham

My Thoughts
"Brooklyn" is set in the early 1950's in Ennescorthy, Ireland. Eilis Lacey is planning to immigrate to America orchestrated by her older sister Rose and Father Flood, a friend of the Lacey family. We watch (or read) as Eilis struggles with sea-sickness as she travels across the Atlantic, how she overcomes homesickness. Eilis struggles to adapt to living in an all Irish-girl's room & board, her job at Bartocci & Company (a department store), while making friends in Brooklyn. Eilis is starting to fall in love with a young Italian boy, Tony, when she is called back to Ireland due to a death in the family. Up to this point in the story, I could not get attached to the story line or the characters. With that said, I could not put my kindle down. I was hoping the story would pick up, and was determined to finish. While she is back in Ireland, Eilis is faced with the choice of her homeland or the new life she had built in America. I can't say that I was disappointed with the ending. I really felt the anquish that Eilis must have felt. I think it is always interesting reading a novel written by a male and narrated in the third-person of a female. Colm Toibin did a great job with this.

I am giving this story a C+ because of the ending and I will probably read another Troibin novel.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Eilis Lacey sitting at the window of the upstairs living room in the house on Friary Street, noticed her sister walking briskly from work

This is the introduction to "Brooklyn" Unfortunately it is taking some time for me to get into this book. I am past the 25%, so I will continue to the end.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Words We All Should Live By

Treat others the way you would like to be treated. It really doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.

I just saw this on another blog and I could not resist posting on mine. I remember my mom telling me this often when I was a little girl.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

2011 Amish Reading Challenge - Secrets of Harmony Grove

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736926259
ISBN-13: 978-0736926256Editorial Reviews

Product Description
From the bestselling author of Shadows of Lancaster County comes an exciting new romantic mystery set in Amish country. Sienna Collins, owner of the Harmony Grove Bed & Breakfast in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, learns that she is under investigation by the federal government for crimes she knows nothing about. A few hours later she finds her ex-boyfriend, Troy, dead, and her life and livelihood begin to spin wildly out of control. She begins to doubt everyone around her, even the handsome detective assigned to the case. As Sienna tries to clear her name, she is forced to depend on her faith, the wisdom of the Amish, and the insight of the man she has recently begun dating. She’ll need all the help she can get, because the secrets she uncovers in Harmony Grove end up threatening not just her bed-and-breakfast, but also her credibility, her believes, and ultimately her life.

My thoughts on Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark

1st Sentence: A large yellow Post-It-Note clung to my office door, its message scrawled out in letters big enough to read from several feet away Sienna, Ric and Jon need to see you in Ric’s office the minute you get in.

This was just the beginning of trouble for Sienna, a successful marketing executive, who thought she was on top of the world until she finds out that she is being investigated by the Attorney General. Her life is totaling spinning out of control at this point.

I have always had a fascination with the Amish and their culture. I have read other Amish novels such as Plain Truth by Jody Picoult and Amish Grace by Donald B Kraybill and Steven M Nolt. I have never been interested in Nancy Drew mysteries, which Secrets of Harmony Grove is everything but. When prompted to read Secrets of Harmony Grove for an on-line reading group, my interest was piqued again. This is the 1st novel by Mindy Starns Clark that I have read, and will definitely read more.

I really enjoy a novel where the characters come to life for me. I felt that the author did a good job of developing Sienna throughout the book. First when Sienna was sitting in a prestigious office in Philly being told she was under investigation by the Attorney General, her recount of the violent attack put upon her 10 years prior, to her better understanding of what was important to her at the end of the novel. The other characters such as Floyd (whom I did not like very much at all, Liesal, Jonah, Mike Weissbaum (town detective)Emory(Abe's 1st born, and mentally challenged son)Burl Newton (whom I disliked more than Floyd, and Heath were all believable characters to me.

In my opinion, the title of the book was very fitting to the plot of the story. There are many secrets that Sienna discovers. Mindy Starns Clark gave us a murder, money laundering, cock-fighting, and gambling, and the search for diamonds hidden in this Bed and Breakfast in Lancaster County. Sienna is faced with not only discovering the illegal activities going on behind her back at the B & B, but secrets surrounding her grandfather Amos (an Amish man turned soldier and the original owner of the B & B), his 1st wife’s (German Jewish women) telling of what happened during the Holocaust, through her journals left behind. This passage in the book was a somber remembrance of our family visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, which left an indelible insight as what Daphne must have endured.

There was only one part in the book that was a little far fetched and unbelievable for me and that was the "Cassowary". If you get the chance to read this book, you can decide.

Because of the action packed plot to this novel and the life lessons from the Amish we all need to consider at times, I am giving this novel an A-. I would recommend this book to anyone who really enjoys a GREAT mystery.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Beginnings

I will be participating in Book Beginning thanks to Becky at Page Turners. I think this could be alot of fun. I am just finishing up Secrets at Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark. I haven't decided what I will be reading yet. There are so many books on my TBR list

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scaargrave Manor

Original Language: English
Publisher: Bantam Books
Country: USA
Publication Date: 1996
ISBN: 055310196X
Page Count: 289 For everyone who loves Jane Austen...a marvelously entertaining new series that turns the incomparable author into an extraordinary sleuth!

From the Inside Cover: On a visit to the estate of her friend, the young and beautiful Isobel Payne, Countess of Scargrave, Jane bears witness to a tragedy. Isobel's husband--a gentleman of mature years--is felled by a mysterious and agonizing ailment. The Earl's death seems a cruel blow of fate for the newly married Isobel. Yet the bereaved widow soon finds that it's only the beginning of her she receives a sinister missive accusing her and the Earl's nephew of adultery--and murder. Desperately afraid that the letter will expose her to the worst sort of scandal, Isobel begs Jane for help. And Jane finds herself embroiled in a perilous investigation that will soon have her following a trail of clues that leads all the way to Newgate Prison and the House of Lords--a trail that may well place Jane's own person in the gravest jeopardy.

Quote: "There is something so INEVITABLE about seven-and-twenty; it is decidedly on the wrong side of the decade for a lady, particularly an unmarried one."
— Stephanie Barron (Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave ManorT

My Review: This is the first in the series of Jane Austen Mysteries, and done with Jane as the narrator. Jane visits her friend Isobel Payne in Hertfordshire after Jane's broken engagement to Mr Bigg-Wither. Jane is unaware that a murder will take place and she will be asked to help Isobel clear her name.

Unfortunately this was not one of my favorite books. I love a good mystery and historical fiction, but this story did not flow smoothly for me. I found myself going back and forth trying to keep the characters straight in my mind, and bogged down with some of the verbiage in this novel. The one thing I liked were the footnotes. They really helped with the clarity.

Because I love the Jane Austen era I think I may change this challenge and read more of the modern day Jane Austen such as Austerland, Mr Darcy Takes A Wife and Mr. & Mrs. Darcy. I am giving this book a C-

Wednesday, March 2, 2011