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December 5th, 2016

A nearly perfect read, which came into my awareness with nearly perfect timing, and gave me a nearly perfect excuse to do nothing else except read; Exquisite.

The story begins with a 16-year-old girls voice saying:  “Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is?  Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.” This child’s story is compelling and sometimes funny and sometimes very difficult.  Nao is trying to figure out life and how to live it after having been living the “good” life in California and now whisked back to Japan in the dot com bust.   Her father is extremely depressed and it is affecting the whole family.  The guilt, the anger, the shame is difficult to understand and yet it draws one into the story.  The bullying and shaming that Nao must endure is horrific.

There is a second story that takes place on an island on the British Columbia Coastline.   Ruth, a writer, is wandering the beach and finds a “Hello Kitty” lunch pail in a heavy plastic shipping bag.  When opened the lunch pail contains a journal and a Kamikaze pilot’s letters and watch, it appears to be debris from the Japanese tsunami of 2011.  It is Nao’s journal and her story and history.

The story is also about the Zen experience of life as shared by Nao’s lessons from her 104 year old great grandmother, who is the mother of the Kamikaze pilot.  How can there be humor in such a story?  There is a great deal of humor in the story.  The characters on the island truly come alive and participate in the story.  Ruth and her partner Oliver are strong characters in their own right.  Fact and fiction twirl about as compliments to understanding the deeper issues facing each person-culture.  Is Nao still alive and well?  How could this person be tracked down and could they all be on the Internet?

My book group chose this book and so it is apart of my own library.  The other members of the group discovered that there was a reader’s play of this story being performed in the city and they bought tickets and went to the performance.  We cannot stop talking about this book and we all agree that there is perfection in the writing of this story, which makes it a huge recommendation and a must read for so many people I know.    I just had to share it with you

Bursting with symbolism, a story for our time – full of topics to discuss; breaks the barriers and expectations of traditional thinking.

Ruth Ozeki Webpage
Ruth Ozeki Twitter

From the website:

“Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.Her first two novels, My Year of Meats(1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. Her most recent work, A Tale for the Time-Being (2013), won the LA Times Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries. Ruth’s documentary and dramatic independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City, and is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College.”

“Tantalizing”– The Washington Post
“A spellbinding tale.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
“Fractures Clichés” – ELLE
“Delightful.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Terrific”– The Seattle Times

Breakfast with Buddha
Lunch with Buddha
A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Sand


November 28th, 2016

Gotta! love whimsy when it is well-played and just delights at every page turn. LOVE LITERARY STYLE is a romantic – comedy with some excellent tongue and cheek for the world of publishing and hope for the Great American Novel.

Aaron Mite is the serious author in the story-very serious.  He only writes literary novels and only wants to be publishing at one publishing house.  His father is a professor emeritus at a university and also a literary critic, and has been so negative about Aaron’s writing that Aaron discarded his first novel all together.  Although they live in the same town, father and son rarely connect and when then do it is a sullen, dark experience.  “Get your Ph.D. son and teach.”

Aaron takes his desire to write and heads to a Writing Colony in Georgia for a retreat and hopefully for success with novel number two.

Laurie Lee is a recent widow from a very small town in Georgia and is working as a librarian assistant near Atlanta.  She loves romantic – comedy or Rom-Com as she calls it and studies all the ways that books are published and how to make it big time.  She has a web page and self publishes all her stories there and offers words of wisdom hoping someone will write on her blog or read her books.  She enters contests and figures out ideas that might just go far, except her writing style is weak and she does not have the depth of knowledge or literature to build her ideas upon.  She has some wonderful ideas, and the stories have twists and turns, but the writing is lacking and weak.

One of those contests Laurie Lee wins and she goes tuition free to a Writing Colony in Georgia to write her great novel.  Her best friend thinks her writing would be better if she was actually involved in a romantic fling.

The writing colony thinks the scholarship has gone to a top of the line writer because of a typo in their application process.

Aaron Mite and Laurie Lee’s cabins are right next to each other at the retreat center. Here is where the story comes alive with lots and lots of possibilities.  We also have the deceased husband and the grumpy, sullen former girl friend to apply to the story line.

Next we are swept into a movie deal and a publisher picking up the novel and getting them to press.  For Aaron the door opening is demanding too much of what he does not want to be doing – he wants to write his next novel not sell and promote book number 2 – that is his agents job.  Laurie Lee does not want a ghostwriter to correct her writing because then the book will not be hers and the movie business is tedious and not fun.  The story at this point just kept me chuckling for the rest of the way through with the clever little ins and outs of the way life often goes and how the formulas for writing rom-com are played out.

This was a TLC Book Tour read and it was just delightful and very entertaining and worthy of good words in the review.  Thank you TLC for sending this along to me.

Yes, I do think that folks now days not only need to write the book, but they also have to market and sell it with style and panache.

About Karin Gillespie

Karin Gillespie is the author of the national bestselling Bottom Dollar Girls series, 2016 Georgia Author of the Year, Co-author for Jill Connor Browne’s novel Sweet Potato Queen’s First Big Ass Novel. Her latest novel Love Literary Style was inspired by a New York Times article called “Masters in Chick Lit” that went viral and was shared by literary luminaries like Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Rice. She’s written for the Washington Post and Writer Magazine and is book columnist and humor columnist for the Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Magazine respectively. She received a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2016.

Karin Gillespie Facebook
Karin Gillespie Twitter
Karin Gillespie Website

Two From Isaac’s House
The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty

ADOLFO KAMINSKY A FORGER’S LIFE: A Memoir ~Sarah Kaminsky (Translated by Mike Mitchell)

November 21st, 2016

“Already published in six languages to a global audience, ADOLFO KAMINSKY A FORGER’S LIFE, critics have called it riveting, thrilling, precise and touching, written like one of the best spy novels, and one of the most captivating books of the year.”(From publicity sheet – Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.  www.mzpr.com )

Imagine a young boy, a Russian Jew exiled to Argentina and now immigrating to France with his family as the Nazi regime is taking over the countryside.  The boy is allowed some time to attend school and he becomes fascinated with chemistry – helped by a Pharmacist he is able to study and learn.  Then his mother dies, and he must go to work as a dyer (coloring fabric) and here he learns even more chemistry.  The family is rounded up and confined but their Argentinian paperwork keeps them from being shipped to the death camps.  Adolfo Kaminsky is now sixteen and alone and as he finds his way he is brought into the resistance movement and learns how to forge papers and passports.  He learns how to create the machines they need to print the documents and how to age and distress the paper and the forms.

He is also learning photography and development of film.  He worked underground with a team and is meticulous about not being followed and remained invisible.  He was never arrested over his career though he did have to dash away a number of times and move his point of operations many times.  He would not take any money for his efforts and work – never paid.  He was always inventing and selling his photographs as a front to keep going.   He created paperwork for the homeless concentration camps survivors to enter Palestine and create settlements.  When WWII was over his efforts continued for the next thirty years to help all oppressed people, including the Algerian Freedom Fighters even Pacifists in the United States during the Viet Nam War.

Sarah Kaminsky, the youngest daughter, listened to her father dictate this story when he was nearly 80 years old.  They as a team were able to meet and interview many of the people who were part of the story.  When the book was published, the team of father and daughter began to speak at schools and tell the story to young people who were the same age as the young boy who taught himself chemistry and learned how to forge all the paperwork.  This is a riveting story of a non-violent hero of a huge war and a self-effacing, creative voice for the oppressed.  It is a best seller in eleven countries and is now translated into English.

“Sarah Kaminsky (b.1979 in Sidi M’hamed, Algeria) is a French actor, screenwriter and author.  She was three years old when she immigrated to France with her father Adolfo, who is of Russian Jewish origins, carrying an Argentinean passport, and with her mother Lei..la, a Tuareg Algerian.  Sarah Kaminsky is currently employed as a screenwriter at several production companies in France.  She lives in Paris.”

“Mike Mitchell (b. Rochdale, England) has been active as a translator from German-English and French-English for over thirty years.  He is the recipient of the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translations of German works published in Britain, has won the British Comparative Literature Association translation competition three times, and has been shortlisted for numerous other awards.  In 2012 the Austrian Ministry of Education, Art and Culture awarded him a lifetime achievement award as a translator of literary works.  He lives in Scotland.”

This book was a remarkable read and on the top of my list to share with others.

Gone to Soldiers
Autumn in Oxford
The Boys in the Boat
Sarah Kaminsky TED Talk
Sarah Kaminsky Wikipedia

THE INTERSECT: A Novel ~Brad Graber

November 14th, 2016

“When life veers off course, strangers find comfort and lasting connection”

There are so many issues discussed in this fine story it is hard to find a place to start. A couple decides to move out of the heavy, duty, frenetic life of San Francisco and relocate to Phoenix, Arizona.  Dave and Charlie form the foundational couple for the story, well! until they begin to have some troubles of their own.  One new job is crazy making stressful and the other new job is rolling along just fine.  Oh! But they found the perfect house and have remodeled it to their liking.

Daisy an older woman, vibrant and on her own, is in a car accident and has to have a hip replacement.  Her nephew Jack and his wife Enid have moved from Michigan to Arizona and Enid decides Daisy is dying and she starts  “handling her affairs”, which is a disaster.  Bonnie a physical therapist, gets Daisy back on her feet as they discover that Daisy has no place to go as she leaves the rehabilitation center.  The two have become fast friends.

“Anna, a gifted psychic who channels the dead, is concerned about her neighborhood.  She hires a handyman to install motion-detectors, unaware that Ernie has entered the United States illegally from Mexico as a child.  When Henry, a homeless gay teen, attempts to rob Anna, Ernie intervenes and melee ensues.  The police mistakenly arrest Ernie, leading to his deportation.” (cover)

We are just about right at the story line where the character’s lives are beginning to weave together and they are all making connections, which hold them fast into a new family framework.  It is not easy going and there are lots of turns and twists to this wonderful story.  Lots of restaurants are mentioned in the Phoenix area and these characters all eat lots of fine and tasty foods.  I got a bit of a hankering for popcorn during the read.

Larissa at Claire McKinney PR sent me a copy of this book for review – what a treat.

The story has quite an exciting ending and the author invites one to discover an extra chapter on his website

Brad Graber Website
Brad Graber Twitter: @jefbral
Brad Graber Facebook

About Brad Graber:

“Brad Graber was born and raised in New York City. He obtained a B.A. in Biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an M.H.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. As a healthcare administrator, Brad has held a number of positions living in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago; West Bloomfield, a suburb of Detroit; and Mill Valley, a suburb of San Francisco. Brad currently resides in Phoenix with Jeffrey, his spouse of 26 years, and their dog Charlie. Brad volunteers with non-profit organizations, most recently with Duet, which provides support for seniors. He has in the past volunteered with OnenTen.org, which supports GLBTQ youth. THE INTERSECT is Brad’s first novel.” (From Claire McKinney PR)

“Exploring today’s hot-button issues of immigration, elder abuse, and teen homelessness, THE INTERSECT shows readers that strangers can make unexpected and lasting connections—even as they reveal the most vulnerable part of themselves.”

A most enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it as a great story, well written.

My favorite quote:  Page 251

“It’s what’s in your heart.  You’ll know by your reaction to others.  How you behave speaks volumes about who you are.  Determine if that’s the person you want to be, and then, if you don’t like what you’re feeling, make a change.  Every day we get to choose who we want to be.  When you find the response that feels best, you’ve found your true self.”

My Thinning Years
The Isolation Door
We’re All Damaged