Tag Archives: The Sandcastle Girls

WWW Wednesday, 9-July-2014

9 Jul

Progress, progress, progress! At least, it feels like it. Consider joining in MizB’s WWW meme if you haven’t before!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’m about halfway through The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. This is the last ARC off my shelf and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s strange to be reading this at the same time as The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I’ve got to keep World War II and Vietnam separate in my mind! On audio, I just started is reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, my next book club selection. It’s too early to tell how I’ll feel about this one.

Recently finished: I finally finished The Maze Runner by James Dashner Monday night. I wanted to throw the book at the wall. I get frustrated when a series doesn’t have good stopping points between books and this one sure didn’t! I can’t decide if I want to read the sequels or not. I also finished Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on Monday (a big day for me). It was informative, well written, but not as captivating as I’d hoped for.

A big week for reviews as well! I covered O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn as well as The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

Reading Next:  Still a good number. Looking for Alaska by John Green has yet to come in at the library so I hope to get that soon. And I want to start The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen soon. This will fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. We’ll see after that.

The hubby and I are doing a massive bike tour this weekend so I hope to get something read before then! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (4/5). A harrowing tale of right and wrong.

4 Jul

This was on the tail end of my reading list so I didn’t think I’d get to it so soon, but it being the first available non-CD audiobook (yes, that is very specific), it made its way up quickly. I wanted to read another Bohjalian book after meeting him and as my cousin-in-law once removed (again, specific) is Armenian, I wanted to read this. So yeah, I read it. Well, listened to it; same thing.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

In 1915, the Ottoman Empire began systematically killing Armenians by first executing the men and then leading the women and children on a death march across the desert. Elizabeth Endicott and her father have traveled from Boston to Aleppo, Syria to help the woman arriving daily from across the desert. She meets Armenian engineer Armen and refugees Nevart and Hatoun who introduce her to life in Syria and Armenian culture she’s previously been oblivious to. She’s swept up by the sad stories of Armen and his past-wife and how Hatoun lost her mother and sisters crossing the desert and how Nevart’s husband will never come back to her.

The story is interspersed with narration from Laura Petrosian, Elizabeth and Armen’s granddaughter and the author of the story (It’s a ‘story within a story’ feel). She is retracing her family history during the genocide and learning things about her grandparents that they never told her in their lifetimes.

I really really REALLY enjoyed this book. Bohjalian combined drama, action, and history in a wonderful whirlwind of story. I liked how Elizabeth and Laura mirrored each other in their time almost 100 years apart. I felt that Laura’s portions of the book were not too overwhelming and fit the book well. The only part I didn’t like (and this isn’t much of a complaint) is that it ended too quickly. It was appropriate, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted a bit more. (FYI, the ending is about to be spoiled. Skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want it to be ruined.) After Karine died, I wanted to see how Elizabeth came to deal with the guilt (because I’m assuming she felt something) and secret that she had to keep from the man who would be her husband. I guess this is another case of me not wanting the story to end.

I loved the characters and I thought Bohjalian did a wonderful job of developing voices for each. Ryan Miller had a strong backbone and motivation completely different from Armen or Alicia Wells. The German soldiers had a sense of humor and secretiveness to them that other characters didn’t have. I think Hatoun’s character was my favorite. She was such a sad and quiet little girl that getting inside her head the way Bohjalian did was really enlightening. She showed the reader what it was like to be a refugee and even though it was softened slightly through the eyes of a child, it was still chilling.

Laura was my favorite character, if that’s fair. I feel like I should choose one of the characters from the Aleppo setting, but I keep coming back to how much I loved Laura. She was so brutally honest even though she knew people wouldn’t like what she had to say. She was revealing a huge family secret (Annie’s Ghosts?) and didn’t seem too worried about what her family would think.

Due to a very vague connection, I related to Elizabeth. Her relationship with Armen reminded me of myself and my husband. Now don’t rush into things, let me explain. I had a crush on my husband for a very long time while he was dating another girl. I waited and waited for him to be available, but they stuck it out for longer than I thought they would. I was reminded of this as Elizabeth waited to see if Karine would show up in Aleppo from across the desert. She could look at Armen- touch him, laugh with him, and love him- but until he gave up on Karine, she couldn’t be with him. I sympathized for her while she waited for him. In the end, I could understand, though not fully agree with, her actions but they still made me sad.

Me and Chris Bohjalian

Me and Chris Bohjalian

I enjoyed when Laura talked about growing up Armenian (yes, I’m reverting back to my favorite character again). She talked about her first real boyfriend, Berk, and how it was an issue for her parents because he was Turkish. Her father, only one generation removed from the atrocity, couldn’t understand it and thought it was a violation of her Armenian heritage. But for Laura, it was no big deal. I think this speaks volumes to the differences of prejudices and opinions between generations. A more lighthearted example but the first time my grandmother met my husband, she said to him, (her first words) “You look Italian.” When he confirmed that he is, in fact, Italian, she said, “That’s okay. They were on our (the German) side during the war.” Yes, that would be World War II. Thank you, Grandma.

I’m still wishing the book was longer. Just a little more of Elizabeth’s turmoil about telling her husband the truth about his late wife would have helped, I think. I won’t say the end was my least favorite part, but it let me down. Why do books have to end?

I liked how Bohjalian decided to talk about himself in this book while still writing historical fiction. There was an interview with him at the end of the audio I had where he said Laura was a lot like him and his discovery of what it means to be Armenian. I also liked what he was able to say about family. Navart and Hatoun were able to become family by a shared experience. They were more or less adopted by Elizabeth due to necessity but one can’t say they’re not family. A family is what you make of it, even though it starts with blood.

Writer’s Takeaway: The Sandcastle Girls is a great example of point of view. Laura gives a first person narration that’s very conversational in tone. We move to those in Aleppo and we get a series of third person limited points of view that work together to tell the whole story Laura is trying to write. I think is a really great example of how to combine first and third person point of view, which one doesn’t see done very often.

Again, I loved this but was disappointed there wasn’t more to it. Four out of five stars.

This book meets two challenge goals! The first is the 1910-1929 time period for my When Are You Reading? Challenge. The second is ‘Syria’ for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge. Yay for double dipping!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian | BrodartVibe
Book Review: “The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian | LibrarianSpivey
The Sandcastle Girls – Chris Bohjalian | Stewarty
‘The Sandcastle Girls’ – Chris Bohjalian | The Things I Read

WWW Wednesday, 18-June-2014

18 Jun

Thanks to MizB’s WWW, I’ve been motivated to power through some books!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m slowly continuing The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Still not sure if I’ll finish it before it’s due, but I’m at 70% now and making decent progress forward. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner so no new progress there. On audiobook I started Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve been told it will make me never eat fast food again. Yay? My carpool buddy is back so we’re still working on  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I started a new book last night; A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I enjoyed the other Eggers book I read and this one sounds really interesting. It’s for my book club that doesn’t meet again until August so I’ll have some time to take it leisurely.

Recently finished: Two! I finished two! The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian was an audiobook and I really enjoyed it. I met Bohjalian a few weeks ago and found him inspiring. I’m glad I got to read this gem so soon. I also just finished O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn which was an ARC I won on First Reads. I wasn’t a huge fan, to be honest, but enjoyed the setting. I’ll work on a review in the next week or so. Also, I posted a review for The Language of Flowers which I’m sure will have a Book Club Reflection coming soon!

Reading Next:  I have one more ARC on my shelf to clear off which is The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. Kyle contacted me on my Facebook Fan Page and I’m so honored that he was the first to do so! I’ll be glad to get his book read this summer.

I’m hoping there will be some progress next week, too! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-June-2014

11 Jun

One down! But know I’m working on each of the other books; just not enough to finish any of them. I wish there was more to report for MizB’s WWW .

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson came in and I’ve been able to make more progress on it. I don’t think I’ll finish it again before it’s due, but I’ve made a lot of progress. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’m not sure how I picked such a cliffhanger of a stopping point but DANG. I can’t wait to keep going.  On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. My carpool buddy is on vacation so I’m plowing through this on my commute. I think I’m a little over half way and I’m loving it. Since carpool buddy is on vacation,  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is on hold this week. My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m only reading it at lunch so I’m making slow progress but I’ll take it on vacation this weekend and see what I can do. Yes, that’s right, I’m going on vacation! We’re taking the bus so I’ll have plenty of time to read.

Recently finished: With the push of having to make this update, I stayed up and finished reading my NaNo last night! Woooo. Nothing to add to my Goodreads challenge, but hey! I did review The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker but that’s all.

Reading Next:  As my book club doesn’t meet until August, I might have time for something in between. I want to concentrate on finishing O, Africa! next, but there could be one more ARC in line. On audio, I have Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on reserve at the library. Stay tuned!

Let’s see if I can finish my audiobook by next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-June-2014

4 Jun

SO MUCH PROGRESS!!! It feels good to participate in MizB’s WWW and be able to brag about it.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m making more steady progress on my NaNo. I’m about 3/4 of the way done with it and I’ve realized there’s a lot of filler I need to cut out. It will be an interesting revision process. I’m still on hold for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson but I am next on the list. I’ll start on The Maze Runner by James Dashner again this weekend. I bet I’m done with the next section by the time I report back.. On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. It was the first book on my long list that the library had in non-CD-but-still-audio form. Go figure. My carpool buddy and I are still working on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I’m not sure how I feel about it still and we go long times without listening to it so I’m not sure how long this will take! My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m still trying to figure out the voice of the narrator and it’s making it hard for me to get into, but I’m excited about something rooted in the 1920s!

Recently finished: Two! I finished two books! The first is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is for my informal work book club and I was the first to read it so I could pass it on. We’ll meet to discuss when the third woman has finished it. I also finished  Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan on audio. This was for one of my book clubs as well and I liked it a lot. The writing was a good mix of scientific fact and memoir. Look for reviews soon.

I’ve posted a review for I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak yesterday. Enjoy!

Reading Next:  It’s going to be A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers for my ‘edgy’ book club. This book sounds really cool so I’m excited to get started on it!

My goal is to finish reading my NaNo in the next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!