Another amazing novel by Marisha Pessl ! This book really is a dense mystery that keeps you glued to your seat til the end. It pulls in many different...moreAnother amazing novel by Marisha Pessl ! This book really is a dense mystery that keeps you glued to your seat til the end. It pulls in many different elements that make the story seem very realistic. Using emails, newspaper articles and internet searches..the mystery is dark involving witchcraft and mundane everyday New York City loss and missing persons. The story wrestles with the idea that people are just lost souls looking for companionship. While you are on the surface solving the mystery of the disappearance of a girl...on a deeper level you are reading closely trying to find personal meaning in the messages about human existence and relationships.(less)
This book is a terrific book discussion novel. It brings up the issue of what makes a family. How important are those family relationships and how far...moreThis book is a terrific book discussion novel. It brings up the issue of what makes a family. How important are those family relationships and how far will you go to help a family member, or friend? Keep a box of tissues close by. this book will spark a great conversation and really makes you think.(less)
This was a spine tingling book. Really keeps you on the edge of your seat. (Though you must remember I do not read horror or really scary books) I lov...moreThis was a spine tingling book. Really keeps you on the edge of your seat. (Though you must remember I do not read horror or really scary books) I loved this book. It is so well written you can feel the chills on your arms and feel the heat of a fire, as Sarah Piper the protagonist is experiencing it. You can even feel the intensity of Maddy Clare, the young girl who died and is now haunting the barn. The story centers around Sarah Piper, a young woman who is assigned from her temporary agency, to work with Alistair Gellis, a handsome wealthy young gentleman and his assistant Matthew Ryder who have both recently returned from action in WWI. They are now ghost hunters and interested in researching the paranormal. Sarah is there to talk to Maddy Clare and she becomes quite interested in what happened to Maddy Clare to make her want to haunt and cause such destruction to the living.(less)
When my children were born and as they were growing up I took pictures of every event in their lives and recorded every milest...moreA Guide for the Perplexed
When my children were born and as they were growing up I took pictures of every event in their lives and recorded every milestone in a book so that nothing would be lost to faulty memory. It has become a fascination with people in my baby boom generation to trace our roots. We are looking for the story of our family’s past, our connection to our history.
In Dara Horn’s new book, A Guide for the Perplexed she takes this concept of people recording every aspect of their lives and expands it. Her protagonist Josie Ashkenazi, a software prodigy, has invented an application that records everything everybody does in their day to day life. She calls the computer program, the Genizah. This includes not only the important events that we are afraid we will someday forget, but every mundane activity. In one example in the book, she has recorded every activity she and her daughter do so that in the morning when her young daughter cannot find her shoes, they just need to play the recording and see where she left them the night before.
The book takes on three different journeys based on this obsession with preserving the past. First, we are introduced to her sister Judith, who works for Josie’s company. In a modern version of Jacob and Esau, the jealous sister arranges a trip for Josie to fly to Egypt and sell this computer program to the Alexandria Library. Josie is abducted and presumed dead by the family she left behind in America. Judith then steals her sister’s husband and daughter.
Layered over this story line we learn the story of Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge professor, who goes to Palestine to retrieve medieval archive, the Genizah, hidden in a Cairo synagogue. He brings back bags of papers that have been thrown in an attic in the old synagogue for centuries. The best known genizah, a synagogue store room for documents that for religious reasons cannot be destroyed. He takes on two assistants and they read through the mundane history of congregants from a millennium ago. The marriage certificates, the divorce decrees, the letters of people long gone.
Among the papers Horn imagines the papers of Moses Maimonides, the 12th century Jewish philosopher and physician. His actual book, “the Guide for the Perplexed” explores the relationship between faith and reason. In the room, Horn creates the fiction that Schechter finds the draft copies of this famous book and copies of letters he exchanged with his brother.
The three journeys are connected as Josie reads Maimonides’ “Guide to the Perplexed” in her prison cell and Schecter finds the manuscripts in Cairo. Josie wrestles with the value of memory and the possibility of not really being in control of life. Maimonides says, “We choose what is worthy of our memory. We should probably be grateful that we can’t remember everything as G-d does, because if we did, we would find it impossible to forgive anyone”. Schecter comes to similar conclusions as he realizes sometimes it is not it is not always best to remember every detail of the past. The Rambam struggled with the paradox of destiny versus freewill and in Dara Horn’s A Guide To The Perplexed all the characters are struggling to see if they are in control of their lives or if there is a higher power that has the final say. (less)
One of my favorite styles of writing. Chapter by chapter you follow the lives of two women from different time in history as their lives run parallel...moreOne of my favorite styles of writing. Chapter by chapter you follow the lives of two women from different time in history as their lives run parallel and intersect. There is a love story and historical facts about New York CIty that are quite interesting and you are drawn in all the way to the end(less)
I listened to this book as an audio book. It was a surprise! I really enjoyed the light entertaining style of this mystery. The real treat was that i...more I listened to this book as an audio book. It was a surprise! I really enjoyed the light entertaining style of this mystery. The real treat was that it was about a young Chinese detective solving a Holocaust survivor's lost jewelry case. So the combination of listening to descriptions of Chinatown, NY and the sights, smells and sounds...also the foods combined with the story of how a young girl escaped Germany and her survival in Shanghai during the war was fascinating. This was another new history of life during the 1940' s that I had not learned about before.(less)
One more fun story using Chanukah as its jumping off point is , Chanukah Guilt, by Ilene Schneider. The author is one of the first six women ordained...moreOne more fun story using Chanukah as its jumping off point is , Chanukah Guilt, by Ilene Schneider. The author is one of the first six women ordained as a Rabbi here in America, in 1976 by the Reconstructionist movement. She has started writing mystery books similar to the popular Rabbi Small series of “The Day the Rabbi….” written by Harry Kemelman. They are light entertaining mysteries solved by a local small town Rabbi, while also meeting the members of the Rabbis congregation and learning a little about a Jewish holiday. In this case the story takes place during the week of Chanukah and Rabbi Aviva Cohen, a 50-something, twice-divorced rabbi, has to balance her congregational duties as she investigates the suspicious death of a young college coed. If you enjoy this book Rabbi Schneider also wrote Unleavened Dead, a Passover based mystery.
Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D. is a native of Boston. She is Coordinator of Jewish Hospice for Samaritan Hospice in Marlton, NJ, near Philadelphia.(less)
Then if you are looking for a historical fiction fantasy story that connects to Hanukkah and has some suspense and conflict a fun book to read is, The...more Then if you are looking for a historical fiction fantasy story that connects to Hanukkah and has some suspense and conflict a fun book to read is, The Ninth Day, by Ruth Tenzer Feldman. The Ninth Day pairs the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in 1964 with an attack on the Rhineland Jews during the First Crusade. This is quite a clever way to lay out this story with alternating chapters of the more modern day lives of sixteen year old, Miriam Hope and her family in 1964, or 5725 in Berkeley, California and Paris in the year 4860. It is the week of Hanukkah and as Miriam Hope is recovering from a bad drug trip at a party she attended with her sister, she meets up Serakh, daughter of Asher, who can appear in a burst of blue light and travel through time, from past to present day and back again. Miriam’s grandmother was a helper who traveled with Serakh by wearing a special tallit. Now for Hanukkah her grandfather passes the tallit to Miriam. Serakh appears and has a task for Miriam to help her solve. The chapters are divided into the eight days of Hanukkah and Miriam has only a week to solve the problem at hand.
The story is intriguing and you will want to follow along with Miriam as she grows and matures while trying to help Dolcette, a young mother protect her baby from harm in Paris of 1099, at the time of the first Crusade. Miriam Hope must find her voice, both learning to accept her stutter and learning to speak up for herself, confront her personal mistakes and help Dolcette or face the terrible consequences. Author Ruth Tenzer Feldman says, “Judaism was the garden plot I happened to be born to tend, and so that’s where I reap and sow.”(less)
What a fun book!!! This was a fast fun story that kept you reading til you finish! Coming home for a funeral young man remembers one special time and f...moreWhat a fun book!!! This was a fast fun story that kept you reading til you finish! Coming home for a funeral young man remembers one special time and friend from his childhood. When you look back as an adult, how does an important memory really look? What do you really remember? How has time changed the reality of the situation?