Friday, September 19, 2014

Henna House by Nomi Eve

Title: Henna House
Author: Nomi Eve
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
ISBN: 9781476740270
Number of Pages: 320
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle

NetGalley Description:
An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth century, from the acclaimed author of The Family Orchard.

In the tradition of Anita Diamant's The Red TentHenna House is the enthralling story of a woman, her family, their community, and the rituals that bind them.
Nomi Eve’s vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920, when Adela Damari’s parents desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter. After passage of the Orphan’s Decree, any unbetrothed Jewish child left orphaned will be instantly adopted by the local Muslim community. With her parents’ health failing, and no spousal prospects in sight, Adela’s situation looks dire until her uncle arrives from a faraway city, bringing with him a cousin and aunt who introduce Adela to the powerful rituals of henna tattooing. Suddenly, Adela’s eyes are opened to the world, and she begins to understand what it means to love another and one’s heritage. She is imperiled, however, when her parents die and a prolonged drought threatens their long-established way of life. She and her extended family flee to the city of Aden where Adela encounters old loves, discovers her true calling, and is ultimately betrayed by the people and customs she once held dear.
Henna House is an intimate family portrait and a panorama of history. From the traditions of the Yemenite Jews, to the far-ranging devastation of the Holocaust, to the birth of the State of Israel, Eve offers an unforgettable coming-of-age story and a textured chronicle of a fascinating period in the twentieth century.
Henna House is a rich, spirited, and sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart.

My Review:
This is in the running to be my favorite historical fiction read of 2014 and will definitely be on my favorite historical fiction reads of all time list. Described as similar to Diamante's The Red Tent, I found it to remind me much more of Hoffman's The Dovekeepers. Desert villages, a little girl who wants to read and not be married off to an old man, the microcosm of families, and Adela's knowledge of her expanding world were all a rich story unto themselves, but the final third of the book is an even larger story. Readers will follow Adela from a young girl hopeful to not be rounded up as an orphan to a woman far from her birthplace and loved ones. The henna artwork pulls so many of the individual stories together. I learned so much about a time and culture that I knew nothing about before reading this book. 
I definitely recommend this book to any readers interested in expanding their knowledge of Yemenite Jews from a female perspective. 

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod

Title: Paris Letters
Author: Janice MacLeod
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
ISBN: 9781402288791
Number of Pages: 272
How I Got It: NetGalley
Format: Kindle

NetGalley Description: 

A love story in the vein of Almost French and Lunch in ParisParis Letters is a joyful romp through the City of Light, and an inspiring look at what can happen when we dare to create the life we want. 

“How much money does it take to change your life?” 

Unfulfilled at her job and unsuccessful in the dating department, Janice MacLeod doodled this question at her desk. Then she decided to make it a challenge. Over the next few months, with a little math and a lot of determination, she saved up enough to buy two years of freedom in Europe. 

But she had only been in Paris for a few days when she met a handsome butcher (with a striking resemblance to Daniel Craig)—and never went home again. 

A Valentine to love, art and new beginnings, Paris Letters is for anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving it all behind (or finding a Daniel Craig look-alike of her own).

My Review: 

What a dreamy story. Who wouldn't love to take a two year sabbatical to Paris? *sigh* The love story is sweetly awkward and there is just enough divulged to be funny and romantic but not over-the-top fiascos like Bridget Jones. The most swoon-worthy parts were the descriptions of the parks, people, and the pastries. The title Paris Letters had me thinking that there would be a long distance love story of some kind at the beginning, but the author actually started a small business. Her artistic abilities allow her to make an income sending hand-drawn or hand-painted letters telling subscribers about Parisian life. 
I loved this story. It is hard to believe it is non-fiction because it was so transportive. It was really like a mini vacation! 

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Blog Birthday and Liebster Award

Ivory Owl Reviews is 2 years old today!! 
And I have been nominated for a Liebster Award!

Fellow SheReads member, Monica at The Readathon nominated me for a Liebster Award! Thank you Monica!!! 

The Rules 
  • Link and thank the person who nominated your blog
  • Answer the eleven questions they asked you
  • Pick eleven bloggers with less than two hundred followers to nominate
  • Ask them eleven questions
  • Let them know that you’ve nominated them by commenting on one of their posts

My questions: 

1. What was your favorite childhood book?
Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kasher
2.  Have you read a book that has changed your attitude towards something?
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Forer
3.  Why did you start blogging about books?
I was lucky enough to interview Kimberly Brock two years ago and she asked if I had a book blog. It was like a light bulb went off. I thought "I should definitely do that!"
4.  How many books have you read so far this year?
I have read 89 books so far in 2014
5.  Who is your favorite character (out of all the books you've read)?
How is it possible to choose? Usually my favorite is whichever one I just read.
6.  Why do you like or relate to that character? What is it about them that you like?
I know what books I'm going to like most of the time before I even start reading it so I usually already know whether I will like the main character. I like a strong, sassy, female lead character. 
7.  If you don't like a book do you finish it or stop reading?
I try to finish most so that I can give a thorough review but I'm not afraid to stop reading because life is too short and my TBR list is too long to spend time reading a book I don't enjoy. 
8.  Do you like to watch movies made from books? Why or why not?
No. They are never as good. That being said, I do want to see Gone Girl
9.  Where is your favorite place to read?
In the bathtub! Only with paperbacks though. Otherwise I have a comfy bed in our office. 
10. If you could meet any character from any book, who would it be and why?
Bonaventure Arrow
11. If you could jump into any story and live it, what story would you choose and why?
The Perfume Collector. The travels in the story are decadent. Monte Carlo, Paris...*sigh*

I nominate:

  1. What is your favorite book of 2014 so far?
  2. Do you re-read any books on a regular basis?
  3. How long have you been book blogging?
  4. What is your favorite book blogging link-up?
  5. How many books do you usually read each year?
  6. Do you save all your books or do you do regular purges?
  7. What book really sparked your love of reading?
  8. Do you have any authors that you have read everything they have written?
  9. What is your favorite reading snack?
  10. What is your least favorite book?
  11. What time of day is your usual reading time?
What a great award! I can't wait to share it with some of my fellow book bloggers!