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.

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.

Review of Congress Has A Library by Mary Therese Grabowski – A book to spark imaginations and a love of the adventure of libraries @1marytherese #SpiritofAmerica #CongressHasALibrary #Librarytales #USA #BookTasters #Kidslit

Congress Has a Library
by Mary Therese Grabowski
Rated: 4 Stars ****

 

About the Author

MaryTherese(MT) Grabowskidoesn’t just bleed red. Red, white and blue to be more precise! This only daughter of six childrenborn into an Air Force family has a patrioticgene that has only strengthened with life experiences.Grabowski’s imagination gave her apassion for writing and storytelling.After graduation from Wesleyan Collegewith a degree in Communications,Grabowski spent the next twenty yearsin broadcasting. First on the air in radioand then as a reporter and television newsanchor. The military and government weretwo of this award winning journalistsbeats, so telling those stories not onlyhoned her skills it made her passion forpatriotism and writing to help keep peopleinformed grow. She was lured from the broadcast newsbusiness into the military advocacy worldwhere she spent six years defending Robins AFB Georgia and our United States AirForce at the local, state and national levelsas the Executive Director of a non-profit organization. It was during this time that something life changing happened. Herthen 12 year old niece wanted to go to Washington DC on a trip. Grabowski told her niece that they would vacation to D.C. later in the year for a fun, but it would bean educational trip! One day during the Presidential Campaignin 2008 Grabowski and Sam were listening to the radio in the car when a storycame on about Barack Obama winning the Democratic Nomination. The news story was discussing who his potentialcabinet members might be. Grabowskiasked Sam, “Can you tell me who makesup The President’s Cabinet?” Samantha without hesitation responded, “Why do I care who makes his furniture?” Needlessto say Grabowski almost wrecked the car. This bright, well-educated niece wasserious. Grabowski quickly learned thatmost students do not seriously learn about government until they are a sophomorein high school. To the author, that was alarming as in two years, students will be eligible to vote.After a restless night of sleep, thecharacter America Johnson and The Spiritof America Series was born.

AJBM_SHH

Review

The book begins with a short but pointed dedication to librarians (or in other words library staff.

This book will delight fans of this series as it continues onwards into Spirit of America, book 5. The book also appears to be a good stand-alone story too.

The main characters – Benny and America have a school assignment to do and are supposed to investigate books in the library and think libraries are dull, which is typical of people’s thinking in so many places. This book may be based in America and written by an American author, but the thinking is the same as in the UK and other countries in the world. This children’s book sets out to challenge this. It says to children how cool libraries are because there’s more than meets the eye to them and even the most important people in the world, in this case, the President of the USA has a library. The library sparks amazing imagination as readers enter the character America’s dreams and the wonderful world of libraries that she had not expected. This is a great part of the book to acquaint children (and adults reading it to their child) with libraries and their importance and demonstrates why in the age of technology, libraries are still relevant today, but all in story form.

The book comes together quite well as a way to explain what a library really is and why they should be used. There was a little excitement about there being more to a library than what is seen at first. I felt there could be a little bit more drive and excitement there. The library coming into jeopardy was a good decision.  It became more immediate and adds to the pace.

I think the book will serve a valuable purpose. Having worked in libraries I know how challenging it is to keep libraries relevant and to show how important they are, so it is good that authors are getting behind them.

Readers should read on to find out what the Benny and America think of books. Do they still think libraries and books are boring? Read the book to find out.

There are good illustrations throughout the book to assist in telling the story, it isn’t a picture book though. There’s plenty of reading to be done, but not too much for children.

There is a fun quiz at the end of the story, which is worth a look to see how many answers you can get right.

With thanks to Mary Therese Grabowski for allowing me to review her book and for BookTasters for giving me the opportunity to choose from a range of books to review.

Don’t Let Me Die in Disneyland By J.A. Marzan – Not all is What it Seems in This Gritty U.S. Book – Review @julio_marzan @book_glow #USA #Review #NewBooks #USPolitics

Don’t Let Me Die in Disneyland
By J.A. Marzan
Rating 3 stars
 ***


Review is written by Louise at Bookmarks and Stages.
https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog

About the Author

J.A. Marzán, a graduate of Fordham U., (B.A.), Columbia U. (M.F.A), and New York U. (Ph.D.), was Poet Laureate of Queens, N.Y. from 2004-2007. His novel, The Bonjour Gene, was a University of Wisconsin Press submission to the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. 
 
“Marzán displays the wit and intellectual verve rarely seen in contemporary literature.”—Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos. 
 
Nonfiction credits include: The Spanish American Roots of William Carlos Williams, (U. Texas Press). Poetry credits include: Translations without Originals (English) and Puerta de Tierra (Spanish). Poems in English appear in several editions of various college texts, among them The Bedford Introduction to LiteratureLatino Boom, and Literature: Reading to Write and in distinguished journals, among them PloughsharesTin House, and Harper’s Magazine. A profile of him was published in the fall 2009 issue of Columbia Magazine.​
 

J.A. Marzán makes his home in Queens, New York.

Dont let me die in disneyland

Blurb

A picaresque, smart, and smartass memoir of Harvard lawyer Eddie Loperena’s Newyorican life in “the country I was offered.”

Brought to New York from Puerto Rico when he was seven, Eddie Loperena grew up dreaming of returning to his island paradise.

As he approaches forty, the loss of his wife and his business partner have landed Eddie at a crossroads, so he closes his legal practice when he gets a call from his estranged boyhood friend Carlos, now a well-known drug dealer. Carlos extracts a favour from Eddie to hold two suitcases full of “valuable papers.”

Surviving a vindictive D.A.’s threat to prosecute, citywide rumors that he has disappeared with his friend’s illicit money, and a media circus intent to cast the complex situation into a two-dimensional context, Eddie decides to write the third dimension of a tragicomic satire of the seventies, of the island of his birth that cast him adrift, and of his minority membership in “the country I was offered.”

Review

Don’t Let me Die in Disneyland begins with a well written poem of the same title, setting the scene of the story to come in some ways, but not in others. This book is in-fact not Disneyland as we know it, full of all the well-known princesses, prince’s, Mickey Mouse etc. It is however split into 5 sections by the names of Disney areas: Main Street, USA 1987, Adventureland, Fronteerland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

Our main character – Eddie Loperena worked within a legal practice and is seeking change in many ways. This is far from the lightness and fun of Disneyland. The setting is the Bronx  where there is a lot of knife and gun crime. Readers will get a real sense of unlawlessness, with cop killers included.

The book has many political ideals within it, which are still around today, such as equality for all. So, this book is actually relevant today.

The book is very dark and twists and turns, showing much of human life and events, such as the character Soc wanting to leave a will. Not far in and I realise it is a tale of woe, hardship, ill health, political leanings, with an elements of feeling like a social vicitim. There are also elements of other life events too such as school, university, romance.

Readers are taken within The Bronx, with its hard times and also its political leanings and a want for equality within the Hispanic community. It doesn’t all make for comfortable reading either, with a character believing they have to see themselves as a Latin intrusion to feel truly American. This however in someways has to be put into context of the times of when this book is set, in otherways, it is perhaps showing that America still finds it hard to accept people with other ethnicities. There does appear to be a bit of a social commentary running through it. Readers shouldn’t get offended however and would be advised to put it all into context, but also perhaps the story can be used within conversations in what is happening within today’s America as well as learning of something of the not so distant past.

Esteban seems an odd, but intriguing character and one who clearly doesn’t like undercover cops and carries a weapon which he isn’t afraid to show. Did Esteban commit a crime or not?

There’s a political group called The Front with their bombs to plant in key, strategic places, which just adds to the atmosphere of what was going on.

The book itself is well written and works well in its construction. Reading it, you get the sense of a dark, gritty atmosphere as well as setting. 

Readers will also get to know a bit about congress and the governor. Theres’ a sense of a desire to improve the Bronx. The writing during these parts of the book, is perhaps at its sharpest.

Find out whether the quest for perfect equality and a perfected democracy comes into being or not and if it was worth all the strife.

It certainly made for very different reading for me. Was it entirely a book for me? Well, not completely, but it is never a bad thing to try something different to see where it leads. I did however appreciate the writing and the points it was making and issues it was highlighting. People who enjoy reading about the US and its politics and all its issues with an air of grittiness will get much enjoyment out of this book.

This review will also feature in online magazine – Book Glow when published there. It is with pleasure that I was asked to write reviews for them. Thanks to Kelly Huddleston from the magazine for writing to me and offering me that opportunity. Thanks to them for sending me an e-copy of this book.

My review is impartial.