Saturday, December 27, 2008
This book is the first one to be completed for the 9 for '09 Reading Challenge
There are 9 categories in my challenge, and this book falls under the FREE one, because
I won this book from Reading Matters. Not only did I receive a book but a very nice postcard, that I use as a bookmark.
This novel takes place in Israel. A talented Palestinan surgeon, Dr. Amin Jaafie, works in a hospital. He still struggles with being accepted. Despite having a high hospital administrator (who is Jewish) as his mentor and friend, some of his colleagues still have reservations about him and his loyalites to Israel.
Dr. Jaafie has achieved a lot in a few years. His grandfather was a Bedouin. His father rebeled by being an artist. And Dr. Jaafie studied hard and now lives in a nice home with his wife, Silhem. The couple is not religious and have many Jewish friends. She sometimes goes to visit their Arab relatives.
One day, there is a suicide bombing at a cafe, and Silhem is found among the dead. Dr. Jaafie's life changes. He cannot understand why anyone wants to do this.
His work is affected, and he goes off to try to find some information. He visits relatives that he hasn't seen since childhood and is amazed at how some of the buildings are no longer standing and how many relatives see nothing wrong in suicide bombings.
During one of his breaks in the search for information, he meet with Navid, an Israeli police investigator, who is also a friend. Navid's theory on why terrorists do what they do is this: "Something clicks somewhere in their subconcious, and they're off. Their motives aren't all equally solid, but generally, whatever it is, it comes over them like that," he says, snapping his fingers. "Either it falls on your head like a roof tile or it attaches itself like a tapeworm. Afterward, you no longer see the world in the same way...You're nothing but the instrument of your own frustrations. For you, death and life come some to the same thing...As for this world, you don't even want to hear about it anymore...They way you see it, the day of your funeral procession will be the day when you're exalted in other people's eyes. The rest - the day before, the day after- that's not your problem; as far as you're concerned, it doesn't exist."
Yasmina Khadra guides us expertly through Dr. Jaafie's journey. I read the book quickly so I could find out what happened that day that affected so many people.
Khadra is the nom de plume for a former MALE Algerian military officer, Mohammed Moulessehoul. He is able to presents both sides of the Arab/Israeli issues and show the Muslim mindset to people who are not familiar with it.
Click here to find out how Yasmina Khadra came into existence.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
May you enjoy the company of your family and your friends (who are your second family) and all the characters that you meet in your books and through the blogs.
May your 2009 wishes come true.
And, if you need to something to do, when you can read a book, consider entering the Design Within Reach Champagne Chair Contest. Rules here.
My book reviews will start up again soon. I am in the midst of a long book and don't feel like stopping to write other reviews.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
She has an amazing voice and writes great songs. She writes about her friends, having fun, and romance. But, she also writes about other topics that I don't expect from someone her age:
Check out her biography here.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Now, the artist and Direction of IFC, Jennifer Marsh, needs your help for the latest project, The Tree Project.
If you are going to spend time with children for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwansaa, all of you can participate.
Marsh needs about 30,000 leaves by March 15, 2009!
Here's what you need to do:
- Leaves should be created using fiber or fiber techniques.
- Entrants are encouraged to be creative in deciding on materials and techniques, and may paint, stitch, crochet, patch, quilt, knit, or glue (water resistant glue).
- Each leaf should measure roughly 5 in. wide (at its thickest) x 7 in. long.
- Leaves may also have shape and dimension.
- Submissions may relate to interdependence in a social, economical, political, ecological, or geographical way.
I've started on a few and will do some more this month.
Please spread the word about this fun project
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I signed up for the Book Bloggers Christmas Swap, and I was given Bellezza. I was hoping that she was the same person who did the Japanese Book Challenge, because I gave her some Japanese-related items. And she is Christian, so I made some religious items also.
She made a comment on receiving the presents, so my hunch was right!
I do a type of needlework called tatting, but I have been so caught up in knitting, that I haven't tatted in more than a year. I started with a simple red flower and went on to make a more complicated Cross.
For the Japanese items, I gave her a copy of John McDonald's Scottish haiku, The Throu-Gaun Chiel (He sent me 3 copies and the autographed one is on my bookcase!) I also sent her a Japanese inspired postcard and a bookmark from a local bookstore.
I haven't received my present yet, but I am looking forward to it.
I learned that one doesn't have to be in a third world country to do ethnographic work; these books are an example of that.
Please encourage your local library to buy some of the books.
Dr. Edward's ancestor took some of the photos seen in the catalog. Some of the buildings are still standing. It's great to see the Mississippi River before all the modern wharves and floodwalls were built.
I was surprised to learn the Jay D. Edwards moved around so much in the 1800s. He would have been at home in this century, meeting transplants in other places. His wife and mother also crossed from the SOUTH to the NORTH on a train during the CIVIL WAR and weren't stopped or bothered. Amazing - to be able to cross enemy lines.
I am going to join one more reading challenge. I am determined to really whittle down the stacks.
Check out the 2009 TBR Challenge Lite - Option C; it's the most flexible!
Saturday, December 06, 2008
I heard of this novel from Book Girl. When I saw that my library had a copy, I reserved it.
In the near future, in the fictional town of Union Grove, New York (north of Albany, along the Hudson River), there is no electricity and no gasoline for cars! Candles provide illumination, it’s 90F for many months, and people grow their own food.
What happened? In this modern dystopia novel, only two cities were bombed, Washington, DC and Los Angeles. Other countries stopped importing the oil to the United States, and the federal government somewhere else. There were some epidemics and flus that killed more people. Communications stopped, and people started to live locally.
The novel follows Robert as he interacts with the different groups around Union Grove. One group is what is left of the original town inhabitants. Another is the former motorcycle gangs, who now live in the old dump and look for items that can be reused. The third group is the owner of a large farm who still has electricity and many workers. The last group are the newcomers, very religious young people who came up from Virginia, escaping the race riots and other warring factions. Many of the men were soldiers when there was electricity.
Robert comments on how life has changed since the town’s founding. In Shawn and Britney’s home “what had originally been the keeping room when the house was a tavern after the Revolutionary War – and then first a law office, then a nursery, then a parlor, then Shawn’s grandfather’s optometry shop in the 1950s, and finally a television room in the late twentieth century – had been converted into a broom-making shop by Britney.”
Some of the people were depressed about the loss of 21st century life. Others, like Robert, enjoyed the slower pace and mused that the world was not lost, “only the part that machines lived in.”
As can be expected, in a world that resources are scarce, there can be fighting for whatever is left, or there can be cooperation to try to make life easier for everyone. The novel explores both options and makes it sound real.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
I received a free copy of this book from Random House. I took it with me for my Hurricane Gustav evacuation read, started it, but left it at my host’s home. My host brought it back during Thanksgiving, and I finished it in a few hours.
Krasikov has written 8 powerful stories about mostly recent female immigrants from Tbilsi, Georgia, who live in New York city or the suburbs. Only two stories deal with protagonists going back home or to Russia.
All the women are educated, but some need to take a step down in the career ladder to pay their bills in the US. Their impressions of this country are different from other immigrant stories that I’ve read that take place in the 1900s. For one thing, with the advances in telecommunications, they can stay in contact with loved one left behind in Georgia and still know what’s going on over there. Many of them don’t tell relatives in the Old Country how difficult it is to live in the New World.
In Companion, Tania spends the night with Thomaz. “She felt as if her body had taken a long, full breath. She’d forgotten the way sex could sweep the clutter of the mind, and now she wanted to sit and inhabit this emptiness a while longer.”
In There Will Be No Fourth Rome, Regina, a young woman who moved from Georgia to the US in her youth, is in Moscow meeting up with friends. Her time in the US has changed her views, and she forgets the hardship of daily life by her comments: “In the metro I was met by the usual ocean of dour faces. My God, I thought, these people have chandeliers in their subway. They have sculpted arches and mosaics. Their stations look better than the halls of some universities! Couldn’t they at least be delighted about that? It was as if everyone in Moscow was suffering from exactly the same toothache.”
Keep an eye out for Krasikov’s next work, a novel. She’s an author whose works I plan to follow.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
This novel has autobiographical shades. Set in 1960 and 1961, in a New England boarding school for boys, the cover photo is from the author’s personal collection. So, I wonder, how much is fiction and how much happened to him?
The protagonist is a scholarship student from Seattle who usually spends his winter break at his mother’s father’s (and the wife who is not his grandmother) home in Baltimore. Woolf does a great job in telling the story in the voice of a 17 to 18 year old student, including all unpleasant moments.
Besides, having the usual scholars and jocks, many of the students aspired to be writers. A contest is held for the specific genre, the best ones are forwarded to the author, the author selects his/her favorite, one of the English teachers interviews the writer, and the article is published in the school paper on the same day that the winner is announced.
The protagonist writes, “It tells you something about our school that the prospect of his arrival (the poet, Robert Frost) cooked up more interest than the contest between Nixon and Kennedy…If he’d (Richard Nixon) been one of us, we would have glued his shoes to the floor. Kennedy, though – here was a warrior…His wife was a fox…We recognized Kennedy; we could still see in him the boy who would have been a favorite here…”
Later in the year, Ayn Rand visits the campus. I have never read her works, so I don’t know whether it’s pompous or not, but the telling of her visit was hilarious. And, the student who won wrote a story she interpreted differently from what the student wanted it to mean.
The protagonist gets in trouble a few weeks before graduation. The novel continues with his life later on and how he finally gets over his writer’s block and his fear of the meeting old classmates.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the story was the last chapter, relating to what happened to the Dean when the protagonist got in trouble. It did tie up loose ends, but since it was about someone else, it was a bit jarring.
However, on the whole, I enjoyed reading this novel about a quiet time in America, before the social revolutions. There is also a lot of advice on writing, in case you want to become an author yourself.