BOOK REVIEW: Memoirs of a Geisha

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden

Don’t be confused by the title. The main character Chiyo (also known as Sayuri) is not a real geisha, not a real person even. This is historical fiction, not a real memoir. Nevertheless, the history is here, exquisitely told.

At age 9, Chiyo was sold by her father and plucked from a remote fishing village to a geisha house (okiya) in western Japan. There she is subjected to intense and often brutal training to become a Japanese geisha. Her housing and training as well as the initial costs of her being purchased are expenses that she will someday have to repay – expenses that continue to accrue – thus enslaving her. She must prove herself worthy of that repayment and only her work as a successful geisha would suffice. If she fails, she will be a maid forevermore – and then only if she is not first turned out on the streets.

Image result for memoirs of a geisha book

Pictured:  Book cover

Success means an exhausting life as an entertainer in tea houses, at corporate functions, and such – in short, as playthings of the rich. Chiyo does well, under the tutelage of Mameha, one of the most successful geisha in Kyoto. Chiyo becomes Mameha’s “younger sister” and when she transitions from apprentice to geisha she is given the name of Sayuri.

Sayuri continues her geisha duties while remaining in the okiya and the okiya does well financially by receiving a hefty percentage of Sayuri’s income.

However, Sayuri’s story is one of unrequited love. Her heart belongs to the Chairman (a wealthy businessman), a relationship that is complicated by other relationships and entanglements. (Miss Shapin would love this story!)

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Pictured: The 18th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, chai – symbol of life.Enter a caption

After 18 years, things change. Eighteen? This book is written by a student of Japanese history and culture, not a descendant. He writes about the dependence of  geisha upon an almanac, (a calendar of auspicious days) which geisha consult for their daily activities. Perhaps Chai is also present.

This has been a journey to another time and place, a culture so different from what I know. Slavery in a land of enchantment, and I was mesmerized.

Winter Warming

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.

 

There is nothing like color to warm up a cold winter day.  This crocheted hat  provides warmth  and color and fun.   It is my newest creation.  It is sure to warm my body and my spirit.  I look forward to wearing it.

  

Pictured: Two views of my newly crocheted hat – profile and back. Hat is vertically striped in bright colors of green, yellow, orange, red, purple, and black. A large matching pompom is at the crown.

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Life of Bees

 

Wabbitat ICON 2016The Secret Life of Bees

By Sue Monk Kidd

This book was recommended to me. At that time, I thought bees? Really?  A whole book about bees? Bees are interesting, I give you that. Pretty, too, as long as they keep their stingers to themselves. They are productive, organized, and contribute to the world.  See?  I know a little about bees already.  But a whole book about them?  A paragraph, maybe two, would be okay, not a whole book.  So I passed this one by.

EnPictured:  Book cover

Well, it came up again from a second source at a time I was desperate for a book to settle in with, so I tried it. Surprise, surprise!  I got sucked in immediately.  Yes, I learned a lot about bees.  Yes, I even learned from the bees.  But the bees did not keep me hooked on this book.  Rather it was the characters that kept my attention.  It was Lily what’s-her-name, and the calendar sisters, and Rosaleen,  and Zach, and the Daughters of Mary.

And I don’t like books about religion.  I am not looking for inspiration or devotion, not from a novel anyway.  But there was lots of religion, religion that miraculously (if I may use that term) didn’t turn me off but kept me going.  It was a different kind of religion, a kind they adopted and adapted and made strictly their own.  And it was beautiful.

In brief:  A young white girl in a small southern town in 1964 runs away from an abusive home and is taken in by colored folks.

Great characters, great storyline, great adventure.

Keep the faith!

BOOK REVIEW: The Institute

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.The Institute

By Stephen King

Tucked away in the woods of rural Maine there is The Institute. The facility has been there for about 75 years, its secrets known only to a select few. Those involved are paid handsomely for their dedication, their loyalty, and their secret-keeping.

Children are brought to the Institute after years of clandestine investigation. When ripe for the project, they are abducted and meticulously groomed for the tasks at hand, their childhood and humanity discarded,. Children are selected to perform a vital service not just for family or community, not just for their country, but for the world. Without them and their unique skills, the world would end. It is their psychic abilities and potential that qualifies them – psychopathic and psychokinetic qualities that will be augmented and exploited until those powers, like the minds and bodies that house them, are used up.

Image result for the institute

Pictured: Book cover

This is the work of Stephen King. Therefore, what happens within the Institute will be horrific and will culminate in an uprising of unimaginable proportions. Walls will creak, electrical wires will crackle, sparks will fly, buildings will rise from their foundations and fracture in a cloud of smoke and debris and terrifying screams. People will die. Children will die. And I, for one, would have preferred the omission of this incredulous cataclysm.

There is a lot of politics woven throughout the story, some of it obvious, much of it subliminal. Hillary Clinton’s “stronger together” is a central theme. Yeah, I could do without the politics, too.

Stephen King writes horror stories around psychic phenomena. Much of what is in this book we have read before from him. But the storyline is unique and captivating. And I loved Orphan Annie. What a colorful character! Give me more of her!

The Experience Card

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.

Last week, I purchased a charging station from amazon. It is a little gizmo that plugs into a wall outlet and then my devices with USB connections plug into it for recharging. I have owned a charging station for several years and use it daily, but the old charging station did not have the new USB-C port. I wanted that.

Anker Charger

Pictured: Anker charging station in wall outlet.

 

The charger arrived within a few days. With it came a little business card with an interesting message. It says “Free Experience Card” on the front. On the back are details, vague as they are.

 

Card front

Pictured:  Business-sized card, front.  Black background with white lettering that says “Free experience card.”

Card back

Pictured: Back of free experience card, also black with white and gold lettering that says “Congratulations on getting a Free experience card. You can get the same product as you buy as long as you give me 5 star Review and send me  the comments.  Opportunity knocks but once.  Time is limited.  Thank you.”

So I sent Anker a copy of my amazon review and everything else I could think of to confirm compliance with their offer. Now I wait.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Other Woman

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.The Other Woman

by Sandie Jones

The other woman is not the best friend who slept with her fiancé.  Sure, there is one of those, but she is not the other woman. The other woman is not the mistress, the temptress nor the stalker. The other woman is actually none other than Emily Havistock’s future mother-in-law.

Pictured:  Book cover

Emily is head-over-heels in love with the perfect guy, Adam Banks. (And the sex is great. Lots of it, too. Well, mostly.) And nothing will shake her commitment to him, not even his evil, manipulative, maniacal mother, Pammie.

I say Get Out Now! Run!

Mothers-in-law get a bad rap. It is hard to adjust to new family with different ways of seeing things and doing things. There is that awkwardness that seems always to be there, even as it fades. So how far does it go?

Yet I do not hate Pammie. Unlike Emily, I do not like Adam. I want to shake some sense into Emily. What doesn’t she get?

Well written, suspenseful, with plot twists that work. In the end, I do hate Pammie, and Adam,  and Emily. And I hate James, too! I have been through a lot!

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

 

Pictured: The author is smiling and looking through binoculars.The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

by Christopher Scotton

It had been a horrific few months for Kevin and his family, and the tragedy lives on and roots itself in new agonies. Kevin and his Mom return to Mom’s roots in rural Kentucky in hopes of each finding a way to deal with their grief and guilt.

Then Paul Pierce is brutally murdered. Who would do such a heinous thing, and why? Paul was a gentle man who showed strength and caring and concern for his friends and neighbors,  always readily supportive for anyone in need. After 18 years as a vital part of the community, Paul had made one fatal error – he had come out. His homosexuality was always known and accepted by all, but never acknowledged. Now it hung like a banner across the town, across the surrounding hollers and villages.

Pictured:  Book cover.

What greater retreat than tramping, time alone with nature. Pops (Doc Peebles, veterinarian), Kevin Gilooly (his grandson), and Buzzy Fink (Kevin’s new and only friend)  set off on a 20-mile trek through woods, across mountains, and past man-made coal-mining devastation. Instead of the quietude and escape from daily life, they must deal with the unthinkable.

A well told, gripping tale. I was only disappointed in the ending, which revealed the story to be a flashback. I thought the ending was a little slow and unimpressive following all that came before.

This book is beautifully written with clarity of imagery. I loved the writing style and the stories – my favorite scenes in the Tellin Cave.

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Available through BARD and bookshare.