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Friday, December 28, 2012

The Kind of Surprise That I Like to Get


        In mid-November I received a request to read a book for review on this blog.  Since I first started reviewing books on Tossing It Out, I have been receiving a number of such requests and have been happy to oblige when I'm able to fit it into my schedule.  Of course, I always accept the mission with the caveat that yours truly, Mr. Super Slow Reader, author of this blog, may take a while to get the job done.   But I try.  I try.

         Now I am spoiled.  Future books will have to meet new expectations set by one Veronika Carnaby.  She has raised the bar by forwarding to me a book that I will call one of the best of 2012--or at least my favorite of the year and one of my favorites of all time.   Veronika's Bohemia is my kind of story written in the kind of style that I enjoy.

          As with any book review, my opinions are totally subjective.   This can be seen in the range of reviews that one can find for Bohemia on Amazon or Goodreads.  Bohemia seems to be one of those love it or hate it novels with a large group in the middle of it all.   Count me as one who loved, loved, loved the book.  As far as I'm concerned those on the lower range of opinion just didn't get it.   I got it as soon as I started into the book and I was getting it and it never let up for me.   I became a part of the story and was thrilled to be there.

         What is the story?   Here's how the author describes it:

       Influenced by the works of Beat Generation authors and great poets, the story takes place during 1960 and chronicles a group of bohemian twenty-somethings who defy the "ideals" of a mid-twentieth century society to seek creative fulfillment. On a deeper level, it portrays the creative path that artists of all mediums tread, all the while depicting the challenges faced by youth and women in the ‘60s.

          This was enough to lure me in--yeah, my kind of tale.  The story of the artist, the creative thinker, my struggle and your struggle.   Bohemia is a literary journey in the tradition of the Great American Novel.  It's a female version of Huckleberry Finn become Holden Caulfield without all his self-absorbed angst following the paths set in Kerouac's On the Road.  

            The style of Bohemia is essentially Beat.  The writing is funny at times, while beautifully insightful at others.  Carnaby does a tremendous job of capturing the spirit of 1960 and creating characters that seem real and likable.  The narrator of the story, Valerie Freed, starts out as a naive college grad with little idea of what she's going to do in life.  During the course of the story, Valerie discovers her calling as a writer and begins to pursue her dreams in the biggest way she can.  The character arc is one of the most natural I've ever experienced from any book.

             Experience is a key word here.  I felt like I didn't so much read this book as much as I lived it, felt it, and became a part of it.  Carnaby did a splendid job of putting me into Valerie's mind.   When the end of the book came, I wasn't ready to leave Valerie.  She was now like a friend, so close that she was a part of me.  Bohemia is one of those books I wanted to keep going.

             Veronika Carnaby--I don't know how you found me and decided to share your book with me, but I'm glad you did.  So often I am less than gratified by books that I read.  Yours has left me satisfied and has lingered in my mind.   Readers, if you like books like what I've described here, I encourage you to support Carnaby and hasten to obtain Bohemia.  Use that Amazon gift certificate you got for Christmas.  Buy a copy for a friend who has an interest in the Beat era or America circa 1960.   Follow the dreams of Valerie Freed and her friends.   Are these dreams similar to your own?

Veronika Carnaby can be found at her blog:

My reviews of Bohemia can be found at:



         Have you read Bohemia by Veronika Carnaby?    If so please share your thoughts about it.    Are you a fan of Beat literature or the era?   Are there any books that have taken you by surprise to become a favorite read?

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  1. Sounds like a good book and author, Will pop over to her blog asap.


  2. Not my type of read, but glad you enjoyed it.

  3. It isn't something I'd pick up but I'll wager I'd enjoy it if I read it :)

  4. Hmmm... Quite a positive review there, MR. ARLEE BOID.

    As you know, I did almost all of my fiction reading in my teens and early twenties and read almost nothing but nonfiction now. HOWEVER... your review of the book intrigues me, primarily because Jazz is my favorite musical genre (as it was for The Beats) and I read several Kerouac books back when I was reading fiction.

    I actually liked 'The Dharma Bums' better, but the review I composed for 'On The Road' was proclaimed by my friend The Flying Aardvark to be one of the best things I ever wrote.

    So this book sounds like it might be something up my alley and I will consider acquiring a copy of it (even though funds are quite tight).

    A question though: Would you say this story relates to "the plight of women" generally and ties in to the ideology of Feminism? In other words, is there a political subtext to the story that relates to Feminist activism?

    Thanks, Boid!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  5. Yvonne -- You might enjoy this. The story starts in England and the main character is British.

    Alex -- The book is definitely a feet on the ground, down to earth kind of story. Not much hint of any sci-fi here.

    Mshatch -- You might enjoy it if you like following characters through what are basically just everyday adventures.

    StMc-- This book is not overtly political or feminist. It mostly about young people just living life during the course of the year 1960. It's kind of a female version of On the Road. I don't know how you'd react to this book, but somehow it just touched my inner youth and made me yearn for days gone by. I personally really related to this book. Check through some of the other reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to put my review in better perspective. I think Amazon also provides a reading sample. If you do read it, let me know what your thoughts are--just don't get upset with me if you don't like it.


  6. That was a great review. That's one I may have to borrow next time. Even though I know nothing about that time.

  7. Great review. Like Alex said,not my style, but it is a nice surprise to find a great book you don't want to leave,isn't it?
    Tina @ Life is Good

  8. it is lovely seeing you excited about anything, Lee, especially about a book :) Judging from the blurb it's not my cup of tea, but it is great when a readers gets your book like you did with BOHEMIA.
    And at first I thought it would be a historical novel about Czech republic because Bohemia was their name in the ancient past :)

  9. I'm intrigued by this book. I like to read stuff like this so I'll probably be checking it out.

  10. This sounds brilliant to me Lee and I'd love to check it out, I'm glad that you enjoyed it so much!

  11. Your review of this novel is thoroughly intriguing. It is not in the genre I lean towards, but it certainly sounds like a literary piece worth checking into.

    Thanks for sharing your review and may you have a Joyful New Year :-)

  12. Emilee -- Maybe I'm more excited about the book because I'm familiar with the era, but you might like this.

    Tina -- I'm always happy to find a book that really resonates with me.

    Dezmond --Not sure how the Bohemian lifestyle and culture relates to the country. Maybe it's something to do with Romany peoples?

    Michael -- I want to hear more opinions about this book.

    Yeamie -- You are of the right age where you might identify with the characters in the book.

    Lisa -- Thank you!


  13. Angela -- I'm surprised that so many have been saying this is not their genre, but then again maybe I shouldn't be all that surprised. I liked it better than Catcher in the Rye but it's a very similar style. Happy New Year to you!


  14. Sounds interesting. I like reading some of the stories based on that time period (the Beats in the fifties). Thanks for letting us know about this book.

    Thanks for visiting my blogplace, too.

  15. LEE ~

    >>... I'm surprised that so many have been saying this is not their genre, but then again maybe I shouldn't be all that surprised.

    No, I don't think you should be surprised. After all, you DID describe the genre of the book and never once mentioned SciFi, Fantasy, SciFi/Fantasy, Vampires, Zombies, Martial Arts, or Super Heroes.

    So, just what makes you think this WOULD BE any reader's genre in 2012?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  16. Hello! I think you did a wonderful job reviewin gthe book! Much better than I did! Great job!

    Author of Live & Dictate

  17. This sounds like a great read! I'll definitely have to add it to my TBR. :) Thanks for a great review!

  18. DG-- Always happy to visit you and happy when you visit me.

    StMc -- Yeah, you're right, but still I thought there might be a little more interest.

    Kira-- Thank you!

    Trisha-- I hope I haven't built it up to much so that anyone would be disappointed. I did like it a lot.


  19. I don't think I have a favorite genre. I like to read (nearly) all types of writing.

    I'll pick up a copy. Your review has convinced me. :)


  20. Sounds like a marvelous story Lee! I'll be certain to check it out.

  21. It sounds like a very intellectual book. I'm reading St Agnes' Stand right now - not intellectual but still a story of growth. Happy 2013

  22. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read lots of articles on your blog. Its amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often...

  23. Teresa -- If you read it, let me know what you think.

    Paula -- You might enjoy this.

    Lizy -- I don't think I would call this book "intellectual" but more of a pop look at the artistic spirit of 1960.

    Estetik --Thanks for visiting.


  24. The blurb seems a little dry. But your description of it definitely makes me want to read it.

    BTW, I did get all your references. And I read literary novels almost exclusively.

  25. Tonja -- The blurb probably seems dry because it seems to be aimed to a more academic level than the book really is. I didn't find the book itself to be dry at all.



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