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Friday, September 25, 2015

Mama Says - Rob D. Walker

All around the world, every day, mothers teach their sons lessons of how to live life. Be kind, have faith. Have courage, be respectful. Learn, be caring.

With gorgeous, poignant illustrations the wisdom from many cultures comes to life. Alongside the English text is the same message in the culture's language, including Cherokee, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, and many more.

Parents are certain to enjoy imparting life lessons to their sons with this lovely book.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

Chiyo is set to be just another fisherman's daughter in the little town of Yoroido, until her family falls into bad luck. When her mother passes away, her father realizes he can't take care of his two remaining daughters and takes the advice of a man to give them up to better homes.

When she is sent away to an Okiya, geisha house, in Gion located in Kyoto, Chiyo leaves behind her childhood innocence. Forced into a life of servitude as a Geisha, entertainer, her life becomes torment. "Mother" is ruthless in her money dealings, the senior Geisha of the house, Hatsumomo, insists on making her daily life torture.

But her life is set on a course of hope when she runs into a man of kindness, who dries her tears with her handkerchief and offers her money for a little treat. Determined to repay this man's kindness, Chiyo sets about her apprenticeship with a renewed sense of vigor. Under the tutelage of another Geisha, she flourishes and is set to be the most accomplished Geisha in Gion, until the war finally reaches the pleasure district of Kyoto.

Despite her hard life Sayuri, formerly Chiyo, is determined to reach her goal of becoming the Geisha beside the man who gave her new purpose.

While I cannot speak for the authenticity or historical aspect of this novel, I found it to be enjoyable. Chiyo's struggles as a child just trying to survive in the circumstances she has been placed is heartbreaking. Sayuri's determination to eventually capture the heart of her love, despite all of the setbacks, is a journey that many readers will be able to relate to from their own lives.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Spirit Walker - Nancy Wood

Inspired by the Taos Pueblo Indians of North America, Wood writes splendid spiritual poetry. What is love? How can we give our children a future worth living? How are we connect to the earth? And what gifts do the creatures around give us? What binds us to others? What can our emotions teach us?

With his paintings, Frank Howell illustrates how humans are only a part of the environment, a larger circle and cycle of the world.

Those who want to strive for unity with life will find themselves easily swept into the book with the fascinating verse and gorgeous illustrations.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Ropemaker - Peter Dickinson

Tilja grew up in a sheltered valley surrounded by an enchanted forest that keeps them safe. When the power begins to fade, she sets out to find the answers and bring healing back to her home. What awaits her is a whole new world where she will learn of her own power as a normal person among magicians.

Reading this book was frustrating for me because I felt like it had so much potential, but in the end fell flat. The different cultures they encountered on their journey, the different types of magic people used, and the relationships between the members of the party were enjoyable. Everything else about the book was a snooze to me, though. While I realize the story is fractured for a reason, it did not have the same readability as other novels of this nature, like A Wrinkle in Time. The enemies were forgettable as was the hero that ultimately allowed Tilja to fulfill her role in saving the world.

While this coming-of-age story received an award and a multitude of good reviews, I was disappointed.

Recommended Reads
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula LeGuin