Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Picture Speaks Volumes

“A picture can speak louder than words” or has a greater impact than any spoken or written word. Or “this speaks volumes” which is some hyperbole for the impact of a thing, its ability to express something so completely. I recently finished reading a non-fiction book Picture Bride Stories by Barbara F. Kawakami about Japanese Picture Brides in Hawaii  who came to Hawaii from Japan and Okinawa during the 1885-1924 Immigration of Japanese laborers. The author immigrated to Hawaii with her parents from Japan as a baby and lived near the pineapple plantations. In her book she documents her interviews with sixteen women who were picture brides*. There were more that 20,000 of these women. On the publication of this book in 2016 the author was 94 years old. This book recounts the tremendous struggles and hardships these women faced in a place they thought would be paradise. Sometimes the men used younger photos of themselves or a photo of a more handsome friend to obtain their bride.  On first meeting their husbands some women wanted to return to Japan, others had no choice but to make the best of it. These women labored long hours in the fields of the sugar and pineapple plantations with their husbands along with raising their children, and yet they were able to gaman, (persevere and endure). In this case the photos of the Picture Brides did not speak louder than their own words faithfully recorded by this author. Their poignant stories are an important part of the history of immigrants to our country.

In modern times many couples meet on internet dating sites. Their images are posted and become part of the selection process. The difference in this process to that of the “picture brides” is that the people go on to meet in person before making a permanent commitment.

Would you like to marry someone based on a picture and move to another country often never seeing your friends or families again?

* A practice of arranged marriage where the picture of the woman was exchanged with a picture of the man between the families. The bride and groom usually never met each other in person before agreeing to the marriage. The women who were married in this way were called “picture brides.”

This post is my contribution to Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G Hill. The prompt for today is “vol.” Featured image of Traditional Japanese Woman and Mountain from Public Domain

Reading The Classics

I love reading books. And I spotted this new Reading Challenge on DebraB’s blog, BookingIt. Well I like her name and the challenge. 😀 (We share the same first name but spell it differently.) So this is my official sign up page for the Books and Chocolates Back to the Classics  Challenge 2017. You can click on the link to see the rules if you’re interested. And who doesn’t like the idea of booking it and books and chocolates.

Featured image Reading a Book by Nick Kenrick

Spectacular Settings

This is my contribution to the WEP challenge for August called Spectacular Settings. The first part is to include a paragraph from a favorite setting. I chose the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and here is the setting.

Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper, describes the setting ( Misselthwaite Manor) to the main character Mary: “Not but that it’s a grand big place in a gloomy way, and Mr. Craven’s proud of it in his way—and that’s gloomy enough, too. The house is six hundred years old and it’s on the edge of the moor, and there’s near a hundred rooms in it, though most of them’s shut up and locked. And there’s pictures and fine old furniture and things that’s been there for ages, and there’s a big park round it and gardens and trees with branches trailing to the ground—some of them.” She paused suddenly and took another breath. “But there’s nothing else,” she ended suddenly.

The second part: Why I like this setting.

I love mysteries and this setting is very mysterious. A six hundred year old mansion on the edge of the moor with a hundred rooms, and most of the rooms closed off. A secret garden, a sad reclusive uncle, and a child heard crying at night. I love when Mary starts to explore the gardens and then one day, when it rains and she can’t go outside, she decides to explore the house. What will she find down all those dark corridors and behind those closed doors?

The third part: Part of a story I started to write.

The Journal is discovered

I was exploring an ancient oak grove near my new home. I had been hiking for quite a while and the weather was quite warm. I decided to take a break and sat down under the shade of a gigantic old oak tree. I put my jacket down, as a blanket, and lowered myself to the ground. I leaned back against the large trunk feeling a comfortable protected feeling in its presence. I was settling into a peaceful place when I felt something poking me. Just when I was getting comfortable too, I thought, I would have to sit on a rock. I rose up on my knees and moved my jacket out of the way determined to remove the offending object. I saw what appeared to be a piece of leather. I found a stick nearby and dug around it until I was able to see the whole thing. It was a book of some kind. I carefully lifted it out of its burial place. As I opened it I swear I saw some tiny lights twinkling like stars. I saw there was writing and it was very old. I did not recognize the language but as my eyes traced over the letters I found I was able to read the words.

“My name is Aine. I have set down my story here so that whoever may find this journal will know the story of my time on earth. I am a Druid priestess. I practice the old ways. This is my story.”

I felt very drowsy and decided to put the book in my backpack and save it for later. I sat back down under the old oak tree. I will just close my eyes for a few minutes…. “I am flying high above the oak grove and can see for a great distance. I love to fly and feel so much strength in my wings. It has been five years since I shape-shifted. I am Aine.”


3670739521_471029e1fb_z Peregrine Falcon


Critique/comment preference: MPA

Word count 333; MPA and Comments appreciated 🙂





Everything’s Not Black or White in Go Set A Watchman

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.”

I finished reading Harper Lee’s new book which is actually her first book and was not released until now. This book is about a grown up Scout and a more grown up take on life in Maycomb. When I first saw spoilers about the character Atticus, I worried I would be upset and not like what I was going to read about him. But after reading the book, I like what Lee has done with this character.

In this book, Atticus becomes a human being. He is a human being with faults. This is appropriate for a grown up story. Although I have always loved the story of To Kill A Mockingbird and I still do, I realize it was about an idealized version of a father. Harper Lee shows us this in her new book. Like for any child growing up,  Scout’s father had to be the perfect hero. She did not see that he had any failings. In Go Set A Watchman we see he has failings. It makes his character much more complex. At first this realization about Atticus almost destroys Scout and she wants to run as far as she can away from it. Then, with the help of her uncle, she comes to see that this experience has been necessary for her to see herself as a grown person and separate individual from her father. It is about Scout making this transition to adulthood.

I, like Scout, never thought I would want to know this new Atticus. But now I see he is a more complex character and he is not all bad either. He is a Southern man of that era, when the South was transitioning with the Civil Rights movement and desegregation. I think this is more realistic depiction of what he would be. We like to be able to put people in one category or another. Good or bad. See things as black or white. This book asks us not to do that but asks us to grow up and see people as they are and not  run away, but try to find a meeting place.

|Around the World Reading Challenge, 2015|

The Around the World Reading Challenge 2015-The Rosie Effect

The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Effect

This is my first book review for The Around The World Reading Challenge 2015 on Booking It. I have read both of Simsion’s books but I will review the most recent one, “The Rosie Effect.” This is sequel to “The Rosie Project.” The author is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Both are novels and humorous stories about a man, Don Tillman, who is a bit quirky and is unidentified as having Asperger’s Syndrome. He is a believer in having his whole life scheduled down to the minute and uses spread sheets to make important decisions like how to find a suitable mate through the internet. He designs a 16 page questionnaire to help him determine his ideal partner.

In the second book, he is now married to Rosie and living in New York City. Don has trouble with his social skills and interpreting the nuances of conversation. This often gets him into awkward situations. He has a few close relationships and really cares about them. Don has learned to be more flexible due to his relationship with Rosie. He still has trouble with things that are unplanned, like the news that Rosie is expecting their first baby. He works valiantly to adjust to this major life-changing event. He really wants to be supportive of Rosie and learn about being a father. He enlists the help of his male friends who give him the benefit of their perspectives on marriage and fatherhood. This leads him into some crazy situations. Especially when he follows the advice of his friend Gene which gets him into trouble with the NYPD.

At times, I wasn’t sure if Don and Rosie’s marriage would survive and he would be able to adjust to his new role. I became frustrated with the messes he got himself into at first. But in the end, I can say that I really enjoyed this book. It has a positive hopeful message about human relationships.