Review of Ka-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home – A beautifully written book about the repatriation of a flag, history, culture and love by B. Jeanne Shibahara #Time to Go Home #B.JeanneShibahara #Review #WW2 #Japan #UK #USA #History #Culture #ModernTimes #fiction #Mystery #Humour

KA-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home
by B. Jeanne Shibahara
Rated 4 stars ****

About the Author and Book

B. Jeanne Shibahara studied fiction writing from Mark Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly) B Jeanne Shibharaand copywriting from Beth Luey (Editorial Consultant, Chicago Manual of Style, 16thEd.) in the MA program for creative writing at Arizona State University.

In Japan, B. Jeanne has taught English at a private university, written articles for research groups, and created jazz lyrics for composer Hajime Kitamura.

Daughter of a US military officer, she married into a family of calligraphy, ikebana, and tea ceremony teachers, shamisen player, kimono fabric artist, business entrepreneur, and architect. Her home is in Nara City, the ancient capital of Japan.

Time-slip to my Osaka life, 1995, fifty years after the end of WWII—bubble economy ready to burst and the seed to KA-E-RO-U falls into my hands. A WWII Japanese flag. A widow of a US veteran in Akron, Ohio sends the flag to a colleague of mine, asks him to find the family of the fallen soldier who had carried it into the battlefields.
Please click on the website link for more information about the author and the very interesting backstory to the book.           Link:    Website

Meryl is a Vietnam War widow who misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure to take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows British and US expats, a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”

Kaerou

Review

The book is well organised and split into 6 sections – Desert Flower M, The Backstreets of Namba, Day 2 in Japan, To Meryl To Atika, Returns and Finale.

The opening sentence is  “Everybody who knew the secretary knew she couldn’t resist any chance at serving up beefy gossip—seasoned, well done, sizzling and sputtering the latest, the most titillating, the just-gotta-tell.” I must say, it is instantly intriguing and I wanted to know a bit more and it is written so excellently.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the book as a whole really, but I was intrigued enough to really want to read it. I started to enjoy it from the outset in the office and getting to know the characters. The letter interested me as do the Shakespearean quotes. I like that there is some humour mingled in with history and people’s lives.

Kaerou takes readers along with Meryl, who is a war widow from the Vietnam war, on a  journey to Japan. She discovered a Japanese flag of a fallen soldier from the second world war and wants to deliver it back to the family. She meets many interesting characters who I enjoyed reading about, including a professor and a writer. The book is very character driven. The premise of the actual plot is fine and interesting enough. Sometimes the grammar isn’t at its best, but somehow that doesn’t detract from the actual story and the richness in culture. It really is fascinating to read about the cultures and how they sit in people’s minds as the book isn’t just about Japan, it covers the UK, Vietnam and the US.

The scenery is beautifully written and picturesque.

The book is nicely written and it is interesting as there are some quick, short chapters, yet the pace is smooth and gentle. The way it goes between past and present is beautifully presented and flows well and in an unconfused way. With all the complexities of the book, everything marries up well on the whole, leaving a pleasant satisfaction.

The book is a love story and one of discovery. It is also one of history and how it can join up with the present as there is a journey to join up the flag of the fallen soldier with his family. It’s about moving on, but not without making peace first with what was lost in the war. It’s also about life ever-moving onwards and it’s there to be really lived and embraced and trying to overcome and bridge that which divides us. So, as much as this is Remembrance Sunday and we think of our war dead and the veterans who are still alive, this book is about love too and there is something to learn here as well, even though Japan wasn’t an ally nation. In this book readers can learn about the past and more present times of Japan through the characters that are written about.

I think B.Jeanne Shibahara has achieved what she set out to achieve. She has a book that has a story, great characters and I get the sense of most importantly, one that tells the world about Japan.

Overall, I recommend this book. Take a leap, take that chance and read about the familiar and the perhaps, lesser well-known and learn something from this story that, although is fictional, is based on fact. So, I recommend to try this book for something new. Sometimes we get into reading very similar books time and time again, this book brings something new, or if you like reading about people’s lives or family sagas even, or learning about different cultures and thoughts and feeling emotions and history in terms of where it also sits with the present,  then I would recommend Ke a rou. Bascially, I say give it a go for a pleasant, satisfying read.

I have to say I enjoyed reading the book. Thanks to B. Jeanne Shibahara for contacting me on my contact page on my blog and for giving me this amazing opportunity to review her book. I thank her also for buying me a copy of her book and sending it to me.

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century #Article #LibraryMatters @CressidaCowell @PhilipArdagh #libraries #education

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century

Why, you should ask, when there are Kindles and other online platforms, do libraries matter now in the 21st Century. I have heard people saying that they may be becoming a thing of the past and don’t really matter. There are also people who don’t realise, even after the existence of libraries for many years, that they are free. That is one of the beauty’s of libraries – they are free. Whatsmore books can be borrowed and new books can be obtained for free. Librarians can also introduce you to a whole new author based on what you like. If you don’t know what you like, they can find out by different means through a nice chat.

Libraries have the latest books and follow the latest trends. Pick up a book and escape into different realms, away from reality for a bit, whatever age you are. Some adults think libraries are only for children, they are for every age. Reading for Pleasure isn’t just a trend however, it is for all ages and all it requires is time to be made to relax and unwind with a book. Books are proven to help de-stress after a hard day at school or further education or work.

Books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction all have something that can expand people’s knowledge, language, imagination, exploration of the world, expand tolerance, understanding and well-being.

Libraries have computers and apps with the latest technologies as well as WI-FI. There are also often great study areas within them for all ages.

Libraries offer more. They offer sanctuary through tough times and a source of joy when times are good. They also offer times to socialise and meet you friends. They offer places to unwind. A library is many things.

Libraries offer more even still:

They offer Bookbug Sessions in Scotland and equvelent of sessions such as Rhyme Times south of the border.

Libraries look at STEM and Lego Clubs and Builders Days are popping up across the country.

Libraries give people exciting opportunities to meet an author, get a book signed, hear a talk. In Scotland it is Bookweek Scotland coming up week beginning Monday 18th November. Check your local library to see how they are celebrating it and keep a look out to see how your child’s school is celebrating. Events happen nationally within schools and public library and some community libraries throughout the year, check with your library to see what is planned and how to attend (usually with consumate ease and most are free).

Think Netflix is the greatest thing? The next greatest thing to follow at libraries is Bookflix, cropping up in libraries and school library/book corners.

Books are lovely to share, whether they are children, young adults or adults and there are many benefits from doing this, including forming new friendships.

Libraries and their books and events really are for the youngest of babies to the oldest of adults.

School libraries have been disappearing, but Cressida Cowell and Phillip Aardagh seem to be on the case to work on getting them re-instated because they matter. School visits to local libraries also matter and count. Experiences matter as does making them as positive as possible.

Libraries in both the public and school domains matter. They need people to support them by using them. There seems to be a swath of people who still think libraries are lifeless and are all about stern librarians telling them what to do or not do etc. Libraries changed quite a number of years ago and are ever evolving. Yes, they suffer from lack of funding too, but passionate librarians work many hours to deliver a great service and are always striving to do their best for the public. Support them and enjoy them! They are not a luxury, but a necessity after all and not something to be taken for granted.
So, instead of walking by a library, whether at school or in an area that has a library open to all, why not pop in and see what is going on and what is on offer, you may be pleasantly surprised.

What I worry about the future of libraries is that one day in some places, people may wake up to their being no library in any form. Once something is lost it can be forever. Let’s try and keep libraries for the present and the future. Enjoy them by using them, having a chat with your librarian and seeing what is on offer.

Your library may have closed down already. My local library has and now sits within the third sector. I used to work for the local authority libraries. Jobs go though don’t they. I ironically only worked a couple of times in the library where I actually live. I now work there a lot, bringing it up to scratch and using every inch of experience to lead it and to bring it as close to the local authority run libraries as possible. I and other in other community libraries that try to compliment a council run library ensure we have a great selection of books, in every genre and that they are new, have school class visits, have (in Scotland) Bookbug sessions (I was trained under the council run libraries when I worked with them and the Bookbug co-ordinator for the area allows me to continue). Authors also kindly visit too.

Am I still passionate about libraries, even though I do not get paid anymore? Yes, although it is rather a worrying trend because always, I, anyway am wanting to deliver the absolute best possible library to people because libraries really do matter and can make a difference to people’s lives in many forms. Community libraries can be less recognised where and when it matters and I hope that changes soon, or people may find community libraries also ever more challenging to run, if they want to do it to compliment a local authority library. I feel that’s a whole other subject for another time.
Enjoy libraries and support them and reap the benefits from them before there is nothing left to pass on to present people and future generations.

Review of Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans by Justin Carroll @CazVinBooks @WriterJustinC #YA #Christmas #Adventure #Mystery #BlogTour #Review #Crossover

Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans
by Justin Carroll
Rated: ****

I was pleased when Caroline Vincent approached me to be part of the blog tour for what turned out to be not only a delightful Christmas read, but also an adventurous detective story all rolled into one that will make a great bookish Christmas present for any 10 and YA reader. Today is my turn to review this book.

Hemlock Jones Blog Tour Poster (1)

About the Author

Hemlock Jones Justin Carroll Author ImageJustin Carroll is an author who balances his love of comic books and games with a passion for martial arts and musicals.

Ever since he stopped wanting to be a dinosaur, Justin wanted to be a writer. He graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language from King’s College, London in 2004 and now, when not writing, he fritters away his time on all manner of geeky things.

Shortlisted for several international short story competitions, Justin was a finalist in the 2010 British Fantasy Awards with “Careful What You Wish For” (Wyvern Publishing) and placed in the top twenty of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge twice.

December 2012 saw the birth of Justin Carroll’s first novel: Everything’s Cool – a dark, psychological thriller.

His second novel, Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death, is a Young Adult novel and the first in a series featuring Hemlock Jones, the fiery 12-year-old demystifier whose brain easily equals and surpasses that of the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. “Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death” won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Wishing Shelf Awards.

Now, Justin has published the second book in the Hemlock Jones Chronicles: Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans, perfect for all fans of 10 years and above of adventurous detective mysteries!

Blurb

When orphans vanish from their beds across Victorian London, twelve-year-old demystifier Hemlock Jones and her companion, Edward, take the case!

This time, the trail will lead them from their Baker Street home, along lost rivers and into the heart of the city, to face exotic enemies and a charming man with dark plans…

 Hemlock Jones & The Underground Orphans is the second of the Hemlock Jones Chronicles, the award-winning series of detective adventures for children and adults.

Hemlock Jones The Underground Orphans book cover

Review

A children/YA story that is perfect for Christmas, It certainly isn’t fluffy. This is a quick paced mystery that will keep readers involved, but it is very much set around and during Christmas.

The cover is eye-catching and immediately spells out trepidation, action and adventure. I already started to have expectations of a good thrilling detective story. It takes place in the north of London, where readers will be transported back in time to workhouses and an orphanage, where readers meet Mr and Mrs Thicke who work there and have reported the disappearance of orphans. It already has a very Victorian air about the story.

Hemlock Jones, has a flat – 211B Baker Street – all very Sherlock Holmes, not a criticism, just got me thinking a lot about Sherlock Holmes, just slightly different number of address.

The story is intriguing and keeps a decent pace and the style of writing is what draws the imagination and desire to read further into the mysterious Victorian London, Justin has created, blending fact and fiction so well.
There’s adventure to be had and a mystery to solve, that takes Hemlock down a sewer. The atmosphere and the descriptions, such as beady eyes looking on are well done and in a way that sets the tone.

There may be pirates afoot and there’s mild trepidation as the orphan’s lives may be in danger. There’s some swashbuckling that bravely goes on. The pace by this time, I decided was terrific. The story just keeps moving on and the time (or pages), between the orphans going missing to readers actually “meeting them” is good, but not too fast that anything is missed. There is the journey above to under London to find them.

There is some welcome humour within the book as Hemlock Jones and her associate try to decide just who the pirates are and if indeed they are and there is quite a mystery surrounding this.

Whether above or below ground within the story, the geography for setting each scene is great and well-written, but still keeping up the pace of the mystery.

The elements of the story that don’t involve the mystery, such as Christmas Day is just as well-written. Christmas Day sounds delightful. The story keeps moving onwards with a mysterious interruption to proceedings and a concern that it could be due to N – their nemeses.

All in all, it is a good story, fairly reminiscent of Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan-Doyle’s stories, which I hope one day the readers will venture into as well, but it sits pretty well in the detective genre and it feels right for the era it is set in. Hemlock Jones sits somewhere nicely in-between those 2 famous authors works and sits well for the aged 10 plus YA age groups and is a good series for readers to get stuck into and explore London and follow the main characters to see if they can solve the mystery and find out who the pirates are and what happens to the orphans.

The conclusion is great and keep reading onto the epilogue because there is more to this mystery than meets the eye as it isn’t just about the missing orphans. There’s more to be solved and to discover that, there is another book too, just waiting to be read.

I recommend this book. It will sit well within the reading for pleasure trend and will make a lovely Christmas present for all genders.

Author website:         www.justin-carroll.com/

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/WriterJustinC

Facebook:                   https://www.facebook.com/JustinCarrollAuthor/

Amazon:                      https://author.to/JustinCarroll

GoodReads:                https://www.goodreads.com/JustinCarroll

Happy Halloween – A message and fun facts #Halloween #UK #USA #Family #Education #Article

Halloween pic

Happy Halloween and Fun Facts

I hope that if you do something for Halloween, that you enjoy it. Stay safe and have fun and enjoy any treats you get for your efforts of dressing up/taking the children round doors, singing songs, telling a story or a joke. Remember to be nice to people and they’ll be nice and more tolerant back.

In Scotland we call it guising, although increasingly, like so many things, it is now being very Americanised and also called sometimes Trick or Treating. In a world that is becoming increasingly challenging to be in, spread some kindness and fun across this Halloween.

Fun Facts about Halloween:

 

  • The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.

 

  • “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.

 

  • Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

 

  • According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

 

  • Jack O’Lanterns were originally made from turnips.

What is Blue, Blue, Blue – What is Blue to You? @crystaljch1547 #education #librares #kidslit #learning #kindergarten #nursery #parents #iamlearning

What is Blue, Blue, Blue – What is Blue to You?
By Crystal Horton
Rated: 5 Stars *****

 

This is a children’s book that has a lot of value to it, more than you would ever think.

This is a charming book. It has lovely illustrations. It is however more than that. It is an educational book. It is a good and fun book for teaching colours for a start. It is however also more than that too. It is visual in the way it has pictures relating to their colours, such as the banana is in the yellow section and is coloured yellow and the same with a blue bird, a black whale and so on. This would really assist children learning colours and encourage them to explore the world around them.

The book would be great for teaching to read colours too as each colour is said in it’s particular colour, for example Blue, Green and so on. So there is colour association with the words.

In each little section of colour it asks the open-ended question – What does (and then the related colour), mean to you ie “What does Pink mean to you? and so on. This will encourage children to think about the various colours and to learn a bit about the world around them, by colour association. Parents, teachers, librarians, story-tellers etc can then take it further to enhance their exploration of the world around them. By having set questions, the book marks some of its purposes very well. It encourages interaction and conversation. The interaction with the book can take many forms, depending on the age of the child.

The book at the very beginning, in a simple form, invites children and their parents/caregivers to share. This is very much a book to bond over together (as all books are really), and to learn in a fun way in a one-to-one situation or in a group situation. It would work well with either.

This is honestly a book that would suit both pre-schoolers up to 5 year olds. It has something in it that would suit each stage of understanding and growth, educationally. This isn’t just a book to idly read, this book is designed for absolute interaction with in such a positive way.

I very much rate this book, because it looks appealing and on first glance, it may come across as any other colour learning book, but with a little bit of thought and realisation of what it is actually doing and encouraging, this little book has a lot more for children to gain from it. It’s a great asset to the book world for both at home and educational establishments.

With thank you to the author – Crystal Horton for sending me the book in e-book form.

Let Them Lead The Way – Morecambe And Vice Panel @Anne_Coates1 @nicki_thornton @sharnajackson #kidslit #crime #mystery #education #libraries

Let Them Lead The Way
Featuring Children’s and YA Books.

Anne Coates was moderating/interviewing Sharna Jackson, Sarah Todd Taylor and Nicki Thornton.

Anne Coates writes for both children and adults. I had heard of her adult books and she certainly gets good reviews, so it was interesting to hear she writes books about children. Anne Coates skillfully opened up conversations to cover many subjects surrounding children’s books, from about the books themselves to age banding to tips.

 

Children's Authors            Anne Coates      Sharna Jackson   Nicki Thornton        Sarah Todd Taylor

About the Books

Sarah’s passion for cats and theatres really came across so well and she has clearly studied cats a lot to come up with ideas for her books, that sounded so intriguing. She’s even come to learn that cats have different purrs for different occasions. The detective in her stories is indeed a cat called Max. Her book – Max the Detective Cat – The Disappearing Diva is set in a theatre. She talked about wanting to reflect the reality of how things and people aren’t always how they seem. I reckon it sounded like it could certainly feed children’s curiosity. Theatres can of course be interesting places with all manner of nooks and crannies and all sorts of people and especially actors taking on the guise of someone different for a couple of hours or so.

Nicki also has a cat as her detective, called Nightshade, who speaks English. The book is based in a hotel and she mixes criminal activity with magic and in her book, but managing not to go too far into fantasy. The mix of crime and fantasy sounds fun. It sounded like there was some humour to be found in it too. 

Sharna is a director at Site Gallery. She has also written her debut novel – The High Rise Mystery, set on an estate in skinny towers, based on brutalist design. It was interesting to hear that she actually talked to an architect about this and how she didn’t want to stereotype her characters.

There was an interesting discussion about the interactivity that can be gained within stories, somewhat a different angle, which really got my attention. I myself like this too. It doesn’t seem to matter what you’re reading to someone, there’s always ways to interact, whether it is through some repetition or discussion or other involvement. It was mentioned how reluctant readers have got into the authors books and how there is something very universal about crime books. It was useful to hear how crime books for children can actually empower them as they try to find the clues to solve the mystery, alongside the protagonist to see how far they can go in being a detective too as they read.

There was much discussion about crime for children’s books and this was really interesting, since any criminal activity is obviously quite dark, but the discussion resulted in that there can be motives and it can be written in a way children can understand.

Age Groups

It was great to hear authors talking about age indicators when it comes to crime, such as books now being Middle Grade, YA etc. The discussion brought many interesting elements such as parents wanting guidance, but authors do reckon that children are well equipped to deal with death. This went further into stating that it’s the way things are written and the fact there are resolutions at the end can bring comfort to children, even when characters have been through a lot. It was mentioned that these stories can bring some elements of learning for children. It was decided that sometimes some subjects are more suitable for YA than for younger children.

There was a nice mention of librarians in that the authors mentioned that librarians can work out which books are the best “fit” for individual children, which I must say is a skill.

The authors talked about what they have heard children say. They talked about how author events help children to discover books. They said children have said how involved they become in stories and want to inhabit the story’s world using their imaginations.

Tips when writing a children’s story

  • Read a lot and learn from other writers.
  • Don’t feel the need to dumb down.
  • Remember there really are hundreds of good story books for children, despite there being a thought by some that there may not be enough good books.
  • Got to make sure children can follow your book, so there are perhaps red herrings, but the plot needs to be clearer for children. There is a fine line between clues and understanding and comfort in resolutions in the end, even though characters can be put through a lot.What the Authors Liked to Read

    The books these authors have enjoyed are – Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s books and Choose Your Own Adventure. I myself have read these books and to choose your own adventure means you can go on many adventures and also have different endings each time.Latest Books and Books Being Discussed

    High Rise Mystery    Max the Detective Cat: The Catnap Caper  The Bad Luck Lighthouse (Seth Seppi Mystery 2)
    Sharna Jackson               Sarah Todd Taylor                      Nicki Thornton

    Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva    The Last Chance Hotel (Seth Seppi Mystery 1)
    Sarah Todd Taylor                 Nicki Thornton

    Anne Coates was holding one of her adult crime books

    Songs of Innocence (Hannah Weybridge series, book 3)Perdition’s Child

     

    With thanks to the authors for allowing me to take their picture. It was nice to meet the authors and I would recommend checking them out.