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A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING: A Novel ~ Ruth Ozeki

Monday, 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

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

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: A Potting Shed Mystery ~Marty Wingate

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Here we go again with a delightful story in Edinburgh, Scotland full of flowers and gardens, interesting characters and strange activities, and of course a great mystery surrounded by Pru and Christopher’s love story.  What could be better to pull you into a great read.   This is Marty Wingate’s third book in her English Garden series moving Pru, our Dallas, Texas Master Gardener, back to England to connect with her roots and explore the gardens of the UK.

I have reviewed the other two books in the potting shed mysteries and found them delightful and fun.   Also this spring, I reviewed a first book in a new series called THE RHYME OF THE MAGPIE a fun read with a good mystery; more of the UK revealed.

Pru has taken a research position in Edinburgh to authenticate a journal written by a famous botanist, explorer, and physician who travelled with Captain Vancouver on the Discovery.  There are several mysteries about plants and seeds that were collected.   Her position is stepping on the toes of the plant historian at the gardens, and this sets up a rather tense relationship.  When the historian is killed, Pru once again becomes a suspect.

Christopher is back in London as an Inspector for the Police and working in homicides.   Because the couple is planning to marry at the end of Pru’s posting they are connecting over the death of her co-worker and making wedding plans.

The wedding dress experience becomes quite funny and I could just see these creations by Fiona in my mind’s eye and they provided quite a chuckle.  Also walking through the town brought me back to my one-day experience of Edinburgh and seeing all the sights and the castle during the festival period.  This made the read even a better experience.

Wingate’s books are scenic and informative and have a lovely flow to the words.  They have an interesting story line and they follow through without leaving out the little details and the garden descriptions almost allowing the reader to breathe in the fragrance of the soil and the blooms.  I put her books on the delightful list and try to tell all my gardening friends to keep them reading during the indoor seasons.  I think many, many readers will enjoy these tales and I am very happy that Netgalley sent me an uncorrected proof to review.  BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE.

From the book:

“In addition to the Potting shed Mysteries, Marty Wingate is also the author of The Rhyme of the Magpie, A Birds of a Feather Mystery.  A well-known speaker on gardens and travel, she has written numerous non-fiction books on gardening, including Landscaping for Privacy.  Marty’s garden articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The American Gardener, and Country Gardens.  She is hard at work on her next novel.”

www.martywingate.com

Related:
Potting Shed Mysteries:
The Garden Plot 
The Red Book of Primrose House
The Birds of a Feather Mysteries:
The Rhyme of the Magpie

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: A True Story ~Daniel James Brown (Narrated by Edward Herrman)

Monday, January 26th, 2015

“Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics”

I highly recommend THE BOYS IN THE BOAT as a book the whole family – everyone you know will enjoy.  This interesting piece of history was recommended to me by a number of people and when I suggested it to my husband he stated that several folks had recommended it to him also.

We were set for a 14 hour 2 day car trip and decided to purchase THE BOYS IN THE BOAT from Audible.com so I could play it from my cellphone app. And we could turn it on and off quickly as needed.   As it turned out the reader was one of my favorite actors and he did a marvelous job and made us laugh several times as he created new sounds for the Native American names of several places and rivers!

This is the story of the Crew team from the University of Washington in Seattle, which won the Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  It is the story of a specific oarsman, Joe, who was still alive and was living in Sequim, Washington on his family farm.  Being on the crew team was the only way this young man could afford to study and become an engineer at University.  Some of the boys were from wealthier families, but several were extremely poor and counted on being fed by the crew team privileges also.  We know a great deal about each individual on the team, as the Coach insisted all keep journals.

The Coach just knew he had a team, which would create a world-class group of competitors and truly put the spotlight on the UW team for years to come.  And the team met that expectation and went on beyond their dreams and imaginations.  The Coach had some amazing rules about practice sessions, and his demanding discipline about grades and studies, and for correct behaviors.  He also had the most important shell (boat) builder working for his team and this fellow had won a great deal of respect in the Rowing community for his crewing experience and his exquisite craftsmanship.  He studied the team when they practiced, no matter the weather or the freezing, rough seas.

The individual stories of the team and coaches were very interesting and held one’s attention and Joe certainly had a tough story to follow as his mother died and his stepmother abandoned him along the way.  After her death, Joe ended up raising her children and caring for them.  All of Seattle rallied behind their amazing crew team, raised the funds for the US competitions back on the east coast and then for the Olympic expedition.  Listening to the story about the races, had us on the edge of our seats with anticipation and several times we just sat in the car to hear the conclusion of a chapter or a race.

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is a story about integrity and honest pursuit with big outcomes and finally a huge reward.   The training was rigorous and the coaching tough and productive.  The beautiful excerpts about building the boats graciously told.  Joe’s and the team member’s stories were tributes to teamwork and perseverance.   It was wonderful to figure out where each of the 9 spent their lives after the big race.  Brown is quite the storyteller and you will feel like you have been there rooting for the team in the crowd.

Official Website  (there is some official movie footage of the race)

About the Author:

“I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Diablo Valley College, the University of California at Berkeley, and UCLA. I taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before becoming a technical writer and editor. I now write narrative nonfiction books full time. My primary interest as a writer is in bringing compelling historical events to life as vividly and accurately as I can.
I live in the country outside of Seattle, Washington with my wife, two daughters, and an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, and honeybees. When I am not writing, I am likely to be birding, gardening, fly fishing, reading American history, or chasing bears away from the bee hives.” (from website)

Edward Herrman recently passed away from cancer.  He played the Grandfather on “Gilmore Girls” and many exceptional roles in his career.

This is a book you would want to recommend to your best friend.

Related:
A Snug Life Somewhere
Playing St. Barbara 
The Signature of All Things
Margaret Fuller 
Muckers