Friday, April 22, 2011

The Oracle Of Stamboul

A first novel by Michael David Lukas.
The novel is set in late 19th century Romania and Turkey. It is about a girl, Eleonora Cohen, who is told she is destined for great things.
Her story unfolds quickly-her mother dies right after giving birth to her. Her father, Yacob , tries to raise her as best he can, with the help of his sister-in-law (He marries her to keep it all respectable). Eleonora's aunt is not a very sympathetic character and I did not miss her when she faded from the story.
When Eleonora is 8 her life changes drastically. She stows away in her father's luggage to go to Stamboul with him. There we meet Moncef Bey, her father's associate. All goes well until her father dies in a boating accident. Moncef takes her in as his own and this is where, after a series of other events, she meets the Sultan and becomes The Oracle of Stamboul.

I've tried to outline the story without giving away any of the plot endings. There's lots more to the story but I guess you'll have to pick it up to find out.

I liked the book. There were parts that were very lyrical. Eleonora was interesting -I really liked how thoughtful she became. A good lesson for all of us. Moncef Bey remained rather elusive. I would have liked some of the characters a little more developed, perhaps.

The ending was great and the final line was the best:
"For stones in the river of history look different depending on where you stand."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Planting Dandelions

No, not me, I live in Michigan where dandelions are illegal in most subdivisions. I'm referring to the book "Planting Dandelions: Field notes from a semi-domesticated life" by Kyran Pittman. This is a hysterical book about life. I was thinking about where but the truth is, it could be about any of us, anywhere. Especially if you're a woman. And/or a woman who has children. Kyran really nails the experiences so many of us share and in such a way that you are laughing along with the stories. She has been writing about her life in Good Housekeeping magazine and has taken the stories and put together a great book. I really identified with so many of the chapters and I'm not even as young or cute as she is. I was sent an Advanced Reading Copy by the publisher, Riverhead books so was not paid to say how much fun this book is and how YOU SHOULD RUN OUT AND BUY YOUR OWN COPY. Kyran will thank you - she has 3 boys to feed. I can't wait until she goes through the teen years with them-the stories will only get better. Check out her website: the book's site