With a title that sounds strangely more like a cookbook, Alina Bronsky’s second book is full of surprises, (and not recipes.)
I loved Alina’s first novel, Broken Glass Park, and her second book was not disappointing in the least. Ms. Bronsky stayed true to her unique voice and detailed observations by creating yet another world full of believable characters. The undependable narrator of Tartar Cuisine is especially fun as you are forced to go back and forth between loving and hating her. The story contains a lot of subtle humor and remains interesting page after page.
Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble) :
Rosa Achmetowna is the outrageously nasty and wily narrator of this rollicking family saga from the author of Broken Glass Park. When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, “stupid Sulfia,” is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa’s surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother’s eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.
Told with sly humor and an anthropologist’s eye for detail, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine is the story of three unforgettable women whose destinies are tangled up in a family dynamic that is at turns hilarious and tragic. In her new novel, Russian-born Alina Bronsky gives readers a moving portrait of the devious limits of the will to survive.
Linda Byler writes with authenticity about the Amish in “Running Around (and such)”, because she herself is Amish! This coming of age story takes place in Pennsylvania and is the first in a series. If Amish culture interests you, this is one to pick up! (Bonus authentic recipes and glossary at the back!)
“It isn’t that Lizzie doesn’t want to stay Amish. It’s just that there is so much to figure out.
Like why can’t she let her hair a little looser on top?
And why can’t she wear shoes with a little bit more of a heel?
And will she ever really just know for a fact who she is going to marry like her next-older sister, Emma, does?
And how does it happen that her just-younger sister, Mandy, is going on a date before Lizzie ever has a real one?
So does it matter at all if she eats one more whoopie pie? Amos seems to like her a lot when she pounds out the ping-pong games. He even asks her to be his partner in doubles. But then he asks Ruthie if he can take her home!
It has been this way Lizzie’s whole life.
She has too hot a temper. She hates housework and dislikes babies. She loves driving fast horses but is petrified of going away from home for a week to work as a maud (maid).
Now that Lizzie is running around, will she scare off the Amish boys with her hi-jinks manners?
She has certainly attracted the attention of the egg-truck driver. A scary thrill runs through her every time the worldly man comes to pick up an order, each time extending his stay a little longer. How long will she keep this a secret from Emma-and from Mamm and Datt?
What will become of Lizzie? Is she too spirited, too innocent, and almost too uninhibited for a young Amish woman?”
Alina Bronsky, like her character 17 year old Sascha Naimann, is a Russian immigrant who moved to Germany. Broken Glass Park is Bronsky’s first novel, (English version translated by Tim Mohr), and was nominated for one of Europe’s most prestigious literary awards, the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize.
The main character, Sascha, starts out by telling us she has two goals in life. The first is to write a book about her mother, and the second is to kill Vadim, her incarcerated step-father who brutally murdered her mother in front of her and her younger siblings. Despite this intriguing piece of information, the book started off slow for me but really picked up the pace as the story unraveled. Even when the plot wasn’t moving as fast as I’d have liked, the writing was strong throughout with many unique metaphors and well developed characters. Sascha in particular is an especially memorable character; intelligent, witty, deep thinking, rebellious and angry as teenage years demand, yet responsible as a result of her circumstances. Broken Glass Park is a unique coming-of-age story which touches on the immigrant experience, domestic violence, poverty, and how the choices we make in life determine our destiny.
CONTEST CLOSED! WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT!
Using Random.org, a winner has been selected!
Congratulations to … KAREN!
Thanks to all who participated and to stay up to say in-the-know on future giveaways, feel free to follow me on Twitter. (Link in the sidebar to the right.) … That is the first place I announce newly posted giveaways!
Happy Mother’s Day!
I’m pleased to be able to host another wonderful giveaway from Hachette Book Group. One lucky winner will receive a copy of each book below:
Just Let Me Lie Down By Kristin van Ogtrop
God Never Blinks By Regina Brett
The Cradle By Patrick Somerville
Heart of My Heart By Kristin Armstrong
Roses By Leila Meacham
1. Leave a comment telling me about a favorite memory you have of your mother, (or your favorite memory being a mother yourself!)
2. Make sure that you leave a valid E-mail address in the E-mail address field. Comments are moderated. Please be patient. Your comment will appear when I approve it!
3. One comment/entry per person. One winner will be chosen at random. Contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on May 8th, 2010. Winner will be announced here and contacted via E-mail on Mother’s Day, May 9th, 2010.
4. If you are the winner you must be able to respond with your address for the prize to be shipped. No PO Boxes will be accepted. Address must be in the US or Canada.
Good luck and Happy Mother’s Day!
I’ve been reading The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir by Katrina Kenison. This book is far and away the best book on motherhood I can remember reading. Many passages left me breathless, as if Kenison had somehow reached into the depths of my heart and pulled out the most private fears and thoughts I’ve had about life as I watch my children grow old too quickly.
I soon picked up a highlighter and began marking the sentences that spoke to me, but soon sentences became paragraphs and paragraphs became pages. I had to abandon the highlighter and admit that this book, in its entirety, was something special.
This would make an amazing Mother’s Day gift. I’m planning on giving it to my mother.
Below I encourage you to watch the video of the author, Katrina Kenison, reading an excerpt. (And I’m warning you – grab a tissue!)
From the book jacket of Lone Star Legend by Gwendolyn Zepeda:
If she can find the time, Sandy Saavedra will stop to breathe. New management has turned work upside down and her father’s upcoming marriage-something he forgot to mention to Sandy-means there’s no peace at home, either. But it’s okay. No matter what’s thrown her way, Sandy can deal. Because Sandy has a secret, and his name is Tío Jaime.
A short drive out of Austin delivers Sandy into the wide-open spaces of the Hill Country, to the front porch of grandfatherly hermit Tío Jaime. There, in the company of pepper plants, a shaggy dog, and fresh squeezed lemonade, the old man imparts down-to-earth advice. Overbearing boss? Work smarter; she’ll leave you alone. Disrespectful boyfriend? Pack your bags; a real woman tolerates only a real man. His simple perspective reminds Sandy she can make her own choices-something she’s been forgetting lately.
Feeling inspired, Sandy posts their chats online. But as she introduces the world to her personal Eden, her own life heads straight to hell …
Opinion: I liked the premise of this book but the plot was kind of slow to get going and so I had trouble getting into it. The main character, Sandy, is relatable and the dialogue is realistic. The writing itself is good as well and there is quite a bit of humor, but if you want to read Gwendolyn Zepeda at her best, I’d recommend her other book, “Houston, We Have a Problema” over “Lone Star Legend”.
The Groom to Have Been by Saher Alam
Back of the book:
Just as Nasr, a young man with a vibrant professional and social life in New York, begins to prepare for the arranged marriage he hopes will appease his Indian Muslim family and assure him a union as happy as his parents’, he starts to suspect that his true love has been within his reach his entire life. Nasr has known Jameela since they were children, and for nearly that long she has flouted the traditions her community holds dear. But now the rebellion that always made her seem dangerous suddenly makes him wonder if she might be his perfect match. Feeling increasingly trapped as his wedding date approaches, Nasr contemplates a drastic escape, but in the wake of 9/11, new fears and old prejudices threaten to stand between him and the promise of happiness. Current in its political themes and classic in its treatment of doomed love, The Groom to Have Been is a graceful and emotionally charged debut.
I loved this book. It was hard to put down and unpredictable to the last page. The characters were incredibly well-rounded, the imagery fantastic, and important observations on race, religion and tradition were woven into the fabric of the plot seamlessly. This would make an excellent book club selection for the discussion it would surely encourage.