Monday, August 2, 2010

Aventura Book Club in the Miami Herald!

Hello everyone!
The Miami Herald posted an article about Aventura Book Club yesterday which I am very excited to share with all of you!
And thank you Kimberly Kanoff, Marissa Clarke, and Joshua Franta for your incredible comments!

Aventura Book Club

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kosher Sex

So last week I went to the Hadassa convention in Hollywood to see Rabbi Shmuley Boteach speak about one of his books called “Kosher Sex”. (Btw, for those of you who don’t know what Hadassah is, it is a women's Zionist Organization, a volunteer women's organization, whose members are inspired to strengthen their partnership with Israel, ensure Jewish continuity, and realize their potential as a dynamic force in the US).

Wow, he is such a funny man and so extremely inspirational and wise.

In “Kosher Sex”, Rabbi Boteach discusses various approaches to sex, marriage, and personal relationships, drawing on traditional Jewish wisdom. He uses his experiences when counseling individuals and couples and in this book, he breaks down sexual taboos and openly, yet respectfully, discusses the meanings, emotions, and the hidden powers of sex.

Rabbi Boteach has a very unique anecdotal style. He really is such a funny man and it is such a pleasure listening to him. He illustrates each and every point, using real couples who have discovered the joys of "kosher sex"…sex based on love, trust, and real intimacy. He profiles the two most common types of couples, best friends and passionate lovers, and suggests ways of synthesizing the best that each type has to offer.

Everything is was talking about made so much sense and really helped me out in various aspects of my own personal relationship.

If you have not read any of his books yet, and he has many, I would recommend you pick up a copy of “Kosher Sex”. It truly is such a great book… not just for adults but for teens as well!


Aventura Book Worm

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I just didn't like it... at all...

So last night was ABC’s July meet-up where we discussed “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak.

I’m sure most of you have heard about this book as it was plastered everywhere when it came out in 2005. The story is set in Nazi Germany, just before WW II and describes a young girl's life and relationship with her foster parents, friends, neighbors, and a Jewish man who ends up hiding in her home as the War begins.

The reason why I chose this book for ABC was simply because of the great reviews about it. Everyone I had asked about this novel told me it’s amazing and such an incredible book. Everywhere I read about it, only had positive things to say about the story line as well as the author’s writing style. That’s probably why it has won so many awards and was also listed on the New York Times Children's Bestseller List for over 100 weeks!

And yes, you have read it correct… CHILDREN’S BESTSELLER.

You see, this book was originally meant for children and teens which is very hard for me to understand because it is a very dark and tough book. It is about death (after all, DEATH is the narrator), it is about the holocaust and people dying, it is about suffering and starving… and after our meet-up last night, I also found out that I wasn’t the only one who had trouble understanding and following the book.

I must say that the very first paragraph and chapter of this book does grab your attention… It starts by saying: “HERE IS A SMALL FACT … YOU ARE GOING TO DIE”.
Not sure if that is the greatest way to start off a children’s book … but it grabbed my attention... For maybe 1 more page.

In any event, I happen to believe that in order to really understand this book and every single story that is described in it, you must read it at least twice! Only then will you really and truly understand it.

In my opinion there were A LOT of stories and chapters that could have been omitted. They were useless and a waste of time to me. I liked the idea of the story line and having death narrate it made it kind of interesting… but overall, I did not like the book. It was hard to follow, it was too drawn out, I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters, the writing confused me many times, and I can go on and on. And on top of that, I don’t think this should be a children’s book at all. There are many other better books for children that explain death and sorrow and how to deal with it.

What about you guys?

Has anyone read this book? Did you like it?

Please share your thoughts and comments… would love to hear them!


Aventura Book Worm

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June Book Club discussion

Good Morning fellow book lovers!

I know it’s been a little while since my last post, so I hope you can forgive me :-)

Last night ABC had its June meet-up and we discussed a pretty interesting book which provoked a lot of different opinions, views, and outlooks on life and human behavior.

The book we discussed was “The Irresistible Henry House” by Lisa Grunwald. It’s a pretty new book… just came out in March of this Year and is already a hit.

Here is a little summary of the book:

“It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.

From his earliest days as a “practice baby” through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney’s Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles’ London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored—and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust.

Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-twentieth century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.”

Now, if the synopsis doesn’t grab your attention, then the very first sentence of the book sure will:

“By the time Henry House was four months old, a copy of his picture was being carried in the pocketbooks of seven different women, each of whom called him her son.”

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s going to such a practice school was the norm. Women would attend these home programs and literally take care of and raise infant babies. Once the baby reaches a certain age, he or she would then get sent to an orphanage or get adopted by someone. But it’s until that time, that these babies would develop their personality and characteristics, and so we had a very thought provoking discussion about these types of people who were raised in such circumstances and how it affected their behavior throughout their life.

If you think about it, you are who you are at the age of 4 – 5 years old. Your character or personality won’t just change one lovely morning when you’re 35 and you won’t just become a different person.

Yes, throughout your life you will have different thoughts and opinions… you might become an alcoholic and then decide not to kill yourself anymore and stop drinking, you will hate the color pink but then later in life decide you do like pink, you might first be a diehard republican and then switch to becoming more of a democrat, you might hate classical music and later in life develop a certain love for it, and I can go on and on. But your core personality, your character, will never change. And that is why I am saying that you are who you are at a very young age; as young as 4 or 5 years old. Even earlier!

So that being said, I’m sure you can only imagine what growing up in such a home economics program, with 7 different mothers, can do to a child.

Well, for one, Henry, the main character in this book and one of these home program babies, grew up not being able to trust anyone, and he resented, lied to, and betrayed almost everyone he met. He is a very hypocritical character and wasn’t very likeable.

Sure, he went through a lot. He never felt like he belonged anywhere, all he had was his love for painting, he was raised by a woman whom he despised, his real mother came back to reclaim him and then changed her mind, and I can go on and on. So it’s no wonder that he had a few issues. But I think that no matter what negative or sad incidents you go through in your life, whether it’s seeing your parents separate, or experiencing death, or being adopted and never knowing it until later in your life, or going through a divorce, and I can go on and on…but no matter what you went through in your life (and they might be horrible which made you resent a lot of things) there comes a point where you need to just grow up and take blame for your own bad actions.

I’m not saying this to sound heartless or anything like that, I myself have gone through some very tough times, but I just happen to think that instead of sulking and behaving horribly due to certain bad memories or instances in your life, you need to pick yourself up and turn some things around. You can’t change the past and so the best thing to do, is to make sure that your future will not experience such painful times as your past.

It just seems (and that’s my personal opinion), that Henry is constantly using his pain and his life experience to his advantage and in return is not only horrible to the woman who gave him life and raised him, but is also treating every other person that comes into his life with disrespect, and that just made me like him even less.

One of my book club members said something very interesting though, and that was that “Sometimes, the Protagonist is also the Antagonist” and she also believes that Henry was made to not be liked in this book, and I happen to think the same thing.

Overall, this book has many topics to be discussed about and even though I was not a huge fan of this book, I would still recommend it, just simply because of the issues and instances it raises and is talking about. Instances that in today’s society would be considered ‘not normal’ (such as attending a home economics program to learn how to raise babies, with REAL babies).

So that being said, even though I don't necessarily think of Henry as irresistible, I do hope you read this book and let me know what you think about it!


Aventura Book Worm

P.S. please take a look at this interview with the author:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Books vs. Movies

I have always heard that books are better than the movie but could never really vouch for that because up until just recently, I never saw a movie that was based on a book and read that book...
When I started to read (just a couple of years ago - remember, I used to hate reading, and never understood how people could sit for hours and hours and read a book!), so when I started to read a couple of years ago, one of the books I first started reading (after DS of course), was "Dear John" by Nicholas Sparks.

I finished the book in just a few hours.
It was (still is) such an incredible story and I just couldn't put it down!
Of course, it is a love story.
It's about an angry rebel who dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army.
John had nothing else going on in his life, his mother passed away and his relationship with his father was not very good. He didn't really know what to do, until of course he meets Savannah. They are immediately attracted to each other and fall in love, but John has to go away to the Army and so Savannah patiently waits for him to finish his tour of duty so they can start a life together.
Well, 9/11 happened, and changed everything!
John feels it is his duty to re-enlist and so the wait for him becomes longer and longer.

Well, what can I say guys...Savannah ends up falling in love with someone else, and their dreams instantly fall apart. 
Through the whole book though, while John is in the Army, him and Savannah write letters to each other, even up until the point when she gets married and he finds out through a LETTER!

If any one of you has read any Nicholas Sparks' novels, you are already aware that his endings are always sad. Well, "Dear John" is one of those novels and the ending was not the happiest of endings.

In any event, back to my point... after I finished the book, my first thought was "wow, they HAVE to make a movie out of it".
Well, ok, I'm lying, my first thought was "WHY??" ... followed by a couple of tears flowing out of my eyes... but my second thought was definitely the movie one!

Well, I was SO excited when, not too long ago, I heard that "Dear John" would be made into a movie!

I made my boyfriend stand in line with me AN HOUR AND A HALF before the movie started on opening night because I wanted to get the best seat!
Wow, I was so excited!
FINALLY, my wish came true!

Well guys, what can I say... I WANTED TO WALK OUT OF THE MOVIE MID-WAY!
It was horrible!

It was NOT like the book at all!! They even changed the ending!
Sure, the plot was similar and blah blah blah, but the movie lacked so much depth and so much emotion! It was just simply a horrible movie. I was extremely disappointed.
So in this case, I can honestly say, that the book was a hundred times better than the movie.

But that makes me think though... I never read "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks, and the movie was SO incredibly good!! I have seen it maybe 10 times times and still cry every single time! And I don't even have the desire to read the book because I saw the movie... now it makes me wonder though... is the book EVEN BETTER??

I also heard that "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger was an amazing book and that the movie didn't even come close to how good the book was... in this case, I didn't necessarily like the movie, so I WILL read the book (have it on my bookshelf).
Same goes with "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. Heard that the movie was not that good but that the book was great!
"The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink was an AMAZING movie and the book was so so...

I guess it just really depends and it's all very individual.
It also has a lot to do with who the actors are, because sometimes the actors don't really fit the character of a book and that can ruin it as well...

What are your thoughts??
Has anyone seen the movie and read the book "Dear John"?
What about "The Notebook", The Time Traveler's Wife", or "My Sister's Keeper"?

Aventura Book Worm

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Last night's book discussion

Good Morning my fellow book lovers!

So last night was my book club's (Aventura Book Club - a.k.a ABC) May meet-up where we discussed "Look Again" by Lisa Scottoline.
Has anyone of you read a book by her?
Well, this was my very first one by Scottoline, and when I started reading it, I didn't know what to expect. The main character of this book is a journalist, so I thought it might get boring and loose my interest but then at the same time the story involves a little boy whom she adopted and yet who might actually be someone else's KIDNAPPED child ... so I gave it a chance. 

I finished the book in 2 days! Wow, loved it. Really enjoyed it a lot and my book club members liked it as well.

Scottoline jumped right in to the story and kept things moving page after page. She grabs your attention right from the beginning! Chapter 1 starts like this: "Ellen Gleeson was unlocking her front door when something in the mail caught her attention. It was a white card with photos of missing children, and one of the little boys looked oddly like her son. She eyed the photo as she twisted her key in the lock, but the mechanism was jammed, probably because of the cold...Ellen couldn’t stop looking at the white card, which read HAVE YOU SEEN THIS CHILD? The resemblance between the boy in the photo and her son was uncanny. They had the same wide set eyes, smallish nose, and lopsided grin. Maybe it was the lighting on the porch... She held the photo closer ... The boys could have been twins.Weird, Ellen thought. Her son didn’t have a twin. She had ad­opted him as an only child."

Tell me that doesn't grab your attention?
Well it grabbed mine... and yes, most people, as discussed with my ABC members don't even look at these missing child photos anymore. I'm not saying that this is a good thing, but you don't really even see them anywhere. They used to be printed on milk cartons, but now, I don't think I have seen one in years!
Anyway, as I was saying, most people would dismiss such as thing and go on with their life, not thinking about it. But that's not what the book is about... the book is about a woman who does NOT dismiss that little white card. A woman who goes through great extent to find out the truth about her adopted child and her suspicions.
After all, she is a journalist, so it's in her nature to want to research this and get to the bottom of it.

So as I was reading the book, one exciting thing after another kept on happening and because her chapters are so short it made reading the book super easy. Of course, right after I finished it, well no, not true, a couple of chapters before I finished it, I went online to research her other books and already bought one!

And then there is also the love interest which always appeals to me of course! I love, love, love anything that has to do with romance, so the extra added hunk and sexy boss kept my interest as well :-)

Though some of my ABC members (pictured below) predicted the ending of the book, I did not think it was very predictable. I would give you examples, but I don't want to ruin the story for you, it's best you go and pick up a copy yourself and let me know if you predicted some of the happenings. And there is always something new happening!

I must mention one negative thing though about this book and that is about the characters. They were interesting and each one had a different personality, but I felt like I wanted to know more about them. So in that regard it was lacking depth, but other than that, I will give this book an A for the story line and the way it was written.

Here are some questions we discussed last night (please feel free to answer them if you have read the book!):
1. As a journalist, Ellen has a heightened need to find the truth. In this circumstance, was this a good thing, or a bad thing?
2. What would you have done in Ellen’s place?
3. Would you have looked for the truth, even if it meant losing your son?
4.What do you think were Ellen’s motivations?

Aventura Book Worm

P.S. The other Scottoline book I purchased and intend to read very soon, is "Think Twice"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I prefer the old fashioned way...

I'm sure you guys have heard of the Kindle, and I am wondering what your thoughts are about it?
I see people reading on it everywhere now! At Starbucks with their coffee, at the airport waiting for their flight, on the plane, on lunch breaks, and believe it or not, IN THEIR CARS while driving! Yes, I actually saw a woman in the car next to me, pulling it out of her purse and reading, up until the light turned green ... I hope she put it back in her purse after that. But really, I see people reading on it EVERYWHERE!
If you are sensing a little negativity in my tone, then it's probably because, well, I am not the biggest fan of it. I'm sorry, but I see and hear that "it's the future" everywhere and quite frankly it saddens me because there is just something so special and so original of being able to hold a book and turn the pages and having your fingerprints all over it, and, oh gosh... I can go on and on. And with how this society is growing, I just hope that books one day won't also go extinct just like so many other things have.

Yes, I agree, this little machine has a couple of very nice features on it and it's a great gadget to own for people who read a lot and don't have space to keep all of their books, and it's convenient for people who travel a lot. It uploads books in just about 60 seconds and can store hundreds of them in your library, it is super thin and very lightweight (even lighter than the average soft cover book), is has a built in PDF reader, a "read to me" application (like an audio book), it's wireless, you can look up words you don't know and it gives you the description right away, it lights up in the dark, there are no extra fees or anything like that, and oh so many more things. But I don't know... I prefer the old fashioned, holding a book, smelling the printed paper way.

Anyway... I want to hear your thoughts about it... do you own one? How do you like it?

Aventura Book Worm

Friday, April 23, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

Good Morning fellow Book Worms!

As I have mentioned before, I created a Book Club a couple of years ago and today I want to share with you some of my thoughts about the very first book my book club (Aventura Book Club - “ABC”) read.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you guys have seen this book everywhere because when it came out in 2006, for three years it remained a # 1 New York Times bestseller. And how ironic! For 3 years it was a bestseller and the title of the book is “Three cups of tea” :-) …just thought I would share that with you.

Anyway, “Three Cups of Tea” was written from David Oliver Relin’s perspective as an admiring journalist interviewing and observing Greg Mortenson. Relin did a good job compiling the book and mentioning a lot of specific details of Mortenson’s journeys, but it did tend to get a little boring. Some of the stories kind of steered away from the main plot and a few chapters were a little too long, so it lost my attention at times.
The book got a lot of praise, but one specific review is exactly how I would put it, and that was by Bookmarks magazine, and they wrote that, "Despite the important message, critics quibbled over the awkward prose and some melodrama. After all, a story as dramatic and satisfying as this should tell itself.”
But I must say that the overall story which describes Mortenson's transition from being a mountain-climber to a humanitarian, committed to reducing poverty and raising education to girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan was extremely inspiring!

You know, Mortenson was a very courageous man. He faced many daunting challenges in his quest and it takes a very dedicated and certain type of person to be able to do the things he has done. And still continues to do. He sacrificed almost everything in his life in order to fulfill his dream, but in the end it all paid off.

Over 131 schools in the most remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan were built, and over 58,000 women and children are now being educated. And you have to remember, that in these countries, the roles of men and women are very different from the way we American’s, in this society see it! The men are the “smarter” ones and “stronger” ones and “better” ones, whereas the women do the cleaning, take care of the kids and their husbands… less important so to speak (even though without the women, the men would be nothing). So imagine how these men of these small villages must have felt when they saw this big American guy coming in with his entourage, wanting to build bridges and schools, etc…

“Three Cups of Tea” is a pretty heavy book, but I would recommend you read it, simply because some of the issues such as educating children and women and the importance of building schools, are topics we normally are not aware of, or think about.

Are you wondering about the title of the book? You know, the title of a book can tell you a lot about the center point of any story. Well in this particular one, the book's title comes from a Balti proverb:
"The FIRST time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger.
The SECOND time you take tea, you are an honored guest.
The THIRD time you share a cup of tea, you become family…”
Pretty neat, no?

Anyway, the really cool thing about reading “Three Cups of Tea” with ABC, was that the very next week, Greg Mortenson came to Miami to speak about it. So we all went to his book signing and we had a great time! Here are some pictures:

I hope you enjoyed my review about this book and I would love to hear your thoughts about it.
Have you read “Three Cups of Tea”?
Did you like it?
Did it challenge you to make more of a positive difference in the world?

Aventura Book Worm

P.S. If you liked this book and want to read more about Mortenson and his journey, pick up the sequel titled “Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My first time...

Hello everyone!
Well this is my very first blog and I am very excited to write and share all of my feelings and thoughts about books, books, and more books!

Before I go into my official book blog though, I want to share a little "secret" with you guys which most people don't know about me, and that is, that just a little over 3 years ago I HATED to read. In fact, I couldn't understand people who would sit for hours and hours, and read books. I found it to be the biggest waste of time and extremely boring! Does that make sense??

Well, anyway, one day, I went to lunch with my good friends Danielle and Linsdey and all of a sudden they started talking about this book they both read and how great it was and how so very mysterious it is and blah, blah, blah. And I'm sitting there, thinking to myself "Just shoot me. Really?? You're talking about a book? Why can't you just watch the movie where you can actually see the people and their emotions, and best of all, it only takes you about 2 HOURS as opposed to days!" Well after sitting through a few more of these boring book discussion sessions with them, I decided to just go try it out and see what all of this greatness is all about. I wasn't very otimistic though, so I challenged myself to at least try and get past the first page without dying of boredom.
Danielle suggested I start with a romance novel since I am the biggest sap in the world.
Ok, good idea.
I go with one of the biggest romance authors in the world, Danielle Steel.

Well people, after that, history was made! My whole view on books and reading changed.
Not only did I finish that Danielle Steel novel, which, by the way, was "A Perfect Stranger" in just about 3 hours but I think my whole year's salary went into Barnes and Noble.

Since that day, I can not stop reading. Of course Romance novels are always going to be my favorites (Danielle Steel is amazing - and no DS haters please!) ;-), but I also love to read medical thrillers, Mysteries, Crimes, Biographies, and on and on.

One day I decided that I wanted to share my love for reading with other people.
I would read books and have questions about them but no one really to ask or discuss it with.
So a little over 2 years ago I created a Book Club in my area and have accumulated over 100 book worms. It is a group for anyone who loves to read and of course loves to socialize! We meet at various local coffee shops and discuss a variety of books. Whether it's fiction, non-fiction, paperback or hardcover, we always read and experience a new story every month.
I really love my book club and all of my books worms. Our discussions tend to get heated at times and some opinions are more agressive than others, but this is what a good book club is all about! We laugh, share stories, and make new friends and in the end, that is all that counts.

So to conclude my very first, or shall I say, introductory book blog, I am very excited to share my thoughts about the variety of books I read, and I am looking forward to all of your comments!

Aventura Book Worm