Posted in Literary Escapes Reviews 2012 Wisconsin Author

One Hundred And One Nights by Benjamin Buchholz

One Hundred and One Nights: A Novel
Back Bay Books/Little Brown & Company
Hachette Book Group
Available Now

After 13 years in America, Abu Saheeh has returned to his native Iraq, a nation transformed by the American military presence. Alone in a new city, he has exactly what he wants: freedom from his past. Then he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl who enchants him with her love of American pop culture. Enchanted by Layla’s stories and her company, Abu Saheeh settles into the city’s rhythm and begins rebuilding his life. But two sudden developments–his alliance with a powerful merchant and his employment of a hot-headed young assistant–reawaken painful memories, and not even Layla may be able to save Abu Saheeh from careening out of control and endangering all around them.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
I originally found out about this author and this book from an article in a local newspaper. The author is from a town about 25 miles from me and when I read the synopsis above of the story I knew I just had to get a copy.

Abu Saheeh has a routine to each day and Layla interrupts that routine. As the story continues we get a better understanding of the routine and the pressures he is facing. Trying to rebuild his life and forgetting about his past is no easy task.

The story starts out slowly and builds and builds with several unexpected twists. Through the use of flashbacks we learn not only about Abu Saheeh but about the people of Iraq and the way the country has changed. How the past effects the present and the future. The metamorphosis that has taken place due to the ravages of war. Things you can never understand without being there physically, but Buchholz does his best to take us there with his talent of brilliant storytelling. The blowing sand fills every crack and crevice, the convoys of Humvees and transport trucks is unending, the devastation is right before your eyes as you walk through the marketplace. You will be deeply affected by this story. It is heart wrenching and is truly unforgettable.

Benjamin Buchholz is an amazing writer to bring this story to fruition just from his experience during his one-year deployment in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard and his continuing studies. His insights into these situations are astounding. He brings Abu Saheeh and Layla to life in an remarkable way. His words share with us the story that goes untold. Life in a place most of will only see on television and then highly edited.  I can’t believe this is his first novel.

I understand he is at work on his next novel and I am anxiously awaiting it. This is definitely an author to watch!


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Finish The Series Challenge Literary Escapes Reviews 2012

The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Union Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel
Plume
Published by The Penguin Group

An Elm Creek Quilts Novel
17th in the series
Paperback Edition Available February 7, 2012

In 1862 Water’s Ford, Pennsylvania is a busy place. Most of the men are off to war to fight for the Union. The woman are rallying to support the cause. They are holding fundraisers, sending bandages, food and supplies. They are using their needles to make quilts to send to hospitals. The also create a very special quilt that will reach out well beyond Water’s Ford.

Gerda Bergstrom takes on Southern sympathizers in the pages of the local newspaper. Anneke Bergstrom deals with her husband pacifist beliefs and does her best to hide her shame. Constance Wright supports her husband as he tries to enter the war effort despite the color of his skin.

The quilters anxiously await letters from their husbands, sons, and brothers which they share with each other at their circle meetings. The community is drawn together as they hope and pray the war will end soon and their men will return home soon. The woman are gaining a new independence that will “alter the patchwork of life in the Elm Creek Valley”.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
An incredible personal look at the Civil War through the eyes of the soldiers and women who wait at home. These gripping individual stories brought together through this powerful piece of fiction give us a very relate-able picture about how the war effected those in a fight to save the Union.

I truly enjoy when the author steps back into the past to give us the history of the Elm Creek Valley. The battle scenes were captivating to show the real rugged truth of battle. The men took on more of a roll in this story while the women also really emerged even stronger than in previous stories. I especially liked the part of the story about the quilt that went to the battlefield.

Chiaverini is a strong storyteller whether writing historical or contemporary fiction. If her name in on the cover you know you are assured to read a treasure.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”