Book Review ~ The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

by Alice Hoffman

My Rating / 3.5 Stars

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This was my first Alice Hoffman read – I know, hard to believe! While I didn’t think this book was “Extraordinary” it certainly hasn’t turned me off picking up another Hoffman book to read.

The story, “Museum of Extraordinary Things” is connected by two great fires, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Dreamland Fire in Coney Island, and the two young lovers from different backgrounds cultures finding each other in the melting pot of New York City.

Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister entrepreneur behind “The Museum of Extraordinary Things”, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show. Born with a “deformity” herself, webbed fingers, Coralie’s father conditions his daughter to become an exceptional swimmer and ultimately a mermaid in his side show. Coralie’s father shelters her from the real world however he exposes her to some harsh reality. One night Coralie stumbles upon a young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River and from there their lives intertwine. Ezekiel Cohen (Eddie), a Russian immigrant, came to America with his father and they find themselves at odds with each other and Eddie runs away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and becomes a photographer. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.

I liked the way the author tied the characters together through the two separate story lines of the two fires. However I felt at times there was too many characters that may have not been necessary, the hermit and Juliet Block are a few. I would have like to see more depth to the main characters such as Maureen and Sardie himself. (I must admit was confused about the trout I the bucket! LOL)

I didn’t the “love at first sight” between Eddie and Coralie – it was too easy. I never truly felt connected with the characters. While I found myself routing for Coralie and Eddie and some of the other minor characters, I never really felt that I knew them as well as I should have. I thought some of the antagonists, Sardie and the factory owners – came across as too one dimensional. If the characters had drawn me in more I probably would have rated the book higher!

I loved all the history in this novel, the descriptions of the sights of the boardwalk, Coney Island, the freak shows. Not being American, I had little knowledge of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Dreamland Fire in Coney Island, however this book has made me want to learn and read more about those events (that is was best thing about this book.)

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Book Review / The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Jamie Ford)

WHotelhile I found the book to be a slow read at first, it did finally win me over. It wasn’t the “Romeo / Juliet” storyline of Henry (Chinese) and Keiko (Japanese) during the high of the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II (although I found myself routing for them). It was the story of the three different cultures, the fears and friendships that I found myself drawn into and the reason I kept reading. The story as told through the eyes of Henry, a young Chinese American boy, and through his eyes we see the disparaging effects of prejudice and bigotry. It gave a good perspective into the difference beliefs and traditions and how they grow and evolve from parents to children.

Jamie Ford’s secondary characters were just as strong as the prominent ones and added so much to this book. I would have loved to have read more about the characters of Sheldon and Mrs. Beatty the “lunch lady”– but I was glad to hear that Ford had developed short stories from each of those characters. I shall seek them out!

The authors note at the end of the book actually made me appreciate the book even more! Knowing that the “I Am Chinese” pin was worn by the authors father as a child, that Panama Hotel is real and still exists today holding many artifacts from Japanese American families, that Oscar Holden was truly a forefather of Northwest jazz and that Bud Jazz Records still sits in the Seattle’s Pioneer Square – brought me closer to the characters and pulled me further into the story even thought I had already completed reading it. It makes me want to walk those streets and enjoy tea at the Panama Hotel one day!

Overall I found this to be an engaging and interesting read! 4 Stars!

The Christmas ASS ~ Dec 26, 2014 ~ Goodbye

It’s December 26 and ASS’ job has ended,
Time to leave those that he has befriended!
Santa has called him back to the pole,
Twenty five days of spying has taken its toll!

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The Christmas ASS needs a little R & R,
But don’t worry too much – he will never be far!
You’ll never know when he may pop in for a spell,
To check in and make sure you are all doing well!

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Christmas ASS wishes you peace, love and much more,
Laughter and happiness and smiles galore!
May your days be cheerful and future so bright,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!

The Christmas ASS ~ Dec 25, 2014 ~ Christmas Ball

Christmas Ball (Sung to the tune of Miley Cyrus Wreaking Ball)
Watch THe Christmas ASS’ Music Video at http://youtu.be/cUuLhnHRXxU

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Oh silent night, the stars so bright
Sugar plums dancing in my head,
The carolers sing, the bells will ring
The kids are tucked up in their beds!

Don’t you ever pout, don’t you even shout
Cuz ASS is watching you,
You can’t even cry, and I’ll tell you why
He sees everything all that you do!

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He came in like a Christmas ball
He dressed up like a Santa Claus,
All he wanted was to deck the halls
All he wanted was to he-e-e-lp you!
Yeah he-e-e-lp you!

The tree is bright, I’ve strung the lights
Pour a cup, full of good cheer,
The stockings are hung, the bells have rung,
Don’t forget to leave Santa a beer!

Don’t you ever say he was naughty,
ASS was always good
He is watching you, everything you do
So you should be too,

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He came in like a Christmas ball
He dressed up like a Santa Claus,
All he wanted was to deck the halls
All he wanted was to he-e-e-lp you!

He came in like a Christmas ball
He dressed up like a Santa Claus,
All he wanted was to deck the halls
All he wanted was to he-e-e-lp you!
Yeah – he-e-e-lp you!

I was my job to spy on you
I just wanted you to be your best,
To let Santa know that you’ve good
I didn’t mean to be so obsessed
I was my job to spy on you
I just wanted you to be your best,
To let Santa know that you’ve good

Don’t you ever say he was naughty,
ASS was always good

He came in like a Christmas ball
He dressed up like a Santa Claus,
All he wanted was to deck the halls
All he wanted was to he-e-e-lp you!

He came in like a Christmas ball
He dressed up like a Santa Claus,
All he wanted was to deck the halls
All he wanted was to he-e-e-lp you!
Yeah – he-e-e-lp you!

The Christmas ASS ~ Dec 23, 2014 ~ A Bell Rings

Christmas ASS continued his job, he was on mission,
Watching over the family had become quite the tradition!
SANTA was proud and of the hard work ASS had done,
And came up with a plan for our special little one!

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If you are an ASS, you have only one true desire,
To be all that you can be, until you can’t get any higher!
To show Santa that you’re worthy of respect and praise,
And if you’re very lucky, your ASS will get a raise!

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Santa called his friend Clarence and asked for a favor,
Clarence said it was possible, but would require a waiver!
So they both went up higher, to see the King of Kings
And now every time you hear a bell, an ASS gets his wings!

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The Christmas ASS ~ Dec 22, 2014 ~ Making Amends

ASS had been bad, at least that’s what Santa said,
ASS was sent without dinner, straight to his bed!
“You’d better think hard, about what’s taken place”
Said Santa Claus with a stern look on his face!

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So ASS sat in the corner, and thought really long,
About all that he did and all that went wrong!
He would be extra good to redeem his good name,
Damn all those girls, it was them who’s to blame!

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With nary a word, he did all his chores,
Washed all the dishes and swept up the floors!
With a pen in his hand and regret in his heart,
He wrote Santa a letter, promising a fresh start!

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The Christmas Ass ~ Dec 21, 2014 ~ Mr. Gray

The morning after can be such a pain
ASS had to do the walk of shame!
What had he done, who did he kiss,
Would it get him on the naughty list?

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Saturday night the ASS let his hair down,
What he had done would make Santa frown!
ASS thought to himself and then he smiled,
It was those girls that had gone wild!

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So he stepped over the line, he’d made a mess,
But even the ASS had to let go of stress!
ASS needs a good spanking, but he liked it that way,
If you look very closely, ASS is Fifty Shades of Gray!

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