Tag Archive: generational



Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Just Wow! An author friend recommended this book stating that it was the best book she’d read in a long time. She was right. It was the best read for me in a long, long time.

There was a drowning. The family responds. That’s the extent of it. BUT we are allowed in all the characters’ heads. What led to the present moment? Who can take the fault? Who might be innocent?

This bit of mystery only leads to the inside of your own head, your own family history. It is amazing how the author does that. How she keeps the story so interesting that I had a hard time putting it down, even when it was 4 AM I couldn’t let it go until the next day.

The most interesting questions the story brought to mind is how many of our goals and passions are leftovers from the previous generation? I made me look at my grandmother and my mother and my own daughter. And even now, I wonder how much of my mother’s pushing of piano practice, for instance, brought about my son’s participation in a band? How do our personal goals affect others around us, from family outward to the occasional associates. This book brought about a strong link between us all that I think we often overlook.

And then let’s add to the story the things that make us unique, our nationality, ethics, religion or politics and we see how we think the other person is wrong. How the tearing down of others is tearing us all down. In this case, the family is half Chinese, half American. They live in a place where they are the only ones of color. Racist slurs are slung at them. When that happens, when we are bullies in any fashion, one has a hard time separating true hate from imagined hate.

As usual, the fictional family reach their own conclusions and don’t communicate with each other. That speaks to me. We often forget to say what we should. We think the other person already knows, or doesn’t need to hear it again, or doesn’t feel taken seriously. Relationships are hard, even the best of them. That’s how our fears and hurts hit as bullets on those we should give our best to.

All of these ideas came to me as I read this book. I bought the Audible version (I had a credit lying around). I know now that I want to read this again. I will have to buy the Kindle version when I get the chance. Oh, and a word about Cassandra Campbell (Narrator). She did a great job acting out the different characters. It was due to her skills that this book came to life for me.

Thank you, Patty B. for the recommendation. I loved it!

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A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over a decade ago, I met an online friend that would change or at least, modify my life. I met Judith on LiveJournal, you remember that old site, better than MySpace but not quite as social as FaceBook. Judith was chatting in her journal about Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo scene (Which resulted in my first novel being written between the Ides of March and the Ides of April. I didn’t finish the novel then as we had to move to a new city and I just couldn’t stay with it. But I added more than enough wordage to that novel in November 2002 to “win”. (First of 10 or 11 novels since.)

The other thing Judith introduced me to was BookCrossing.com. The concept that grabbed me with BC was how my read book could be recycled to others and then the new reader and the old could discuss this story. The book could travel even when I couldn’t, so it felt like a message in a bottle thrown out to sea. It is fun to see where your book could end up and the friendships that develop over said book. I still belong but since my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I am happy for the invention of Kindle and other e-readers. So I release far fewer books nowadays.

Besides Judith, what do the above paragraphs have in common, and what do they have to do with ‘A Tale for the Time Being’? The art of writing and the art of reading. Both concepts play strong in this story. Rather than a message in a bottle, this message floats ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox in layers of freezer bags. The writer was in Tokyo, the reader/finder in Canada. Years separate the two. Yet a bond is formed. Oh, yeah, Judith read and reviewed this and hooked me in. I think she didn’t like the Zen parts of the book. I found that part delightful. I have to admit that most of the book is believable whereas the Zen bits are a little more ‘magical’. But the title twinkles with that magic. If you read it right.

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I actually read it one and a third times. I borrowed the Kindle version from the library. Between reading it on my Kindle app on my Tablet and listening on my old Kindle text-to-speech, I managed to get to about 36% in. Then I found that my library also had the OverDrive version. So I restarted reading the book with the author’s voice. That pumped up my ratings for this wonderful tale. Each layer of depth into the story has its own built-in amazements. Level one, tree book, and the Kindle version, there are many footnotes and definitions to help with a deeper understanding of that time in history or that country, language. But the narration includes minor helps. Hearing a voice say the Japanese names or words adds to the believability of the whole story. Ms. Ruth Ozeki has an impeccable voice and narration, her variations of voices for each character supreme! I enjoyed rereading the first third with her help. I felt I gained deeper understanding just by hearing her. Please, if you get the chance to pair both versions, go for it!

By the way, I want to thank Jonelle Patrick and her Mysteries and website: http://jonellepatrick.me/ for introducing me to many contemporary Japanese subjects presented in A Tale for the Time Being. At least I was forewarned.

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The Ugly DaughterThe Ugly Daughter by Julia Legian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why do I read? I read to travel to other places. I read to get inside other people’s lives and or minds. This book certainly satisfied all of that.

Reading about Julia Legian’s life made me grateful I didn’t have to live her life. Reading about her part of Vietnam made me grateful to be raised in Southern California and in the USA. Yet, I did feel enriched by reading about her young life.

Though it was a quick read, after all the author is still alive, the writing was done well. I was sorry to see the book end, but I think there may be more to come. No cliffhanger. Just as the family seems to be in a safe place, the book ended. I do look forward to reading more about the rest of Julia’s life.

Oh, I guess I should tell you that Ms. Julia wrote to me to inform me that she was giving a Christmas gift of the book. Thank you. By presenting it as such, I felt no pressure to read it right away. Nor did I feel there was an expectation of a great review. I try to be honest even when that happens. By the way, it is only $2.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited.

Oh, maybe I should warn you of the abuse that could have triggers for those who have been through similar things. And this is post-war Vietnam so life is far from safe even in the best of circumstances. Still, it was nice to get to know her through her story.

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Senior Snoops
Senior Snoops by Madison Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This third in the series was better than the other two combined. The Senior Snoops are getting to winter in Florida. Nice! If they thought it would all be beaches and tans, though, they got a rude awakening long before they got to their destination. So murder and mysteries abound.

After the two previous books I feel I know Agnes and Eleanor as good friends. They have spunk and are active seniors. They are sexually active and enjoy the men in their lives with enthusiasm. And they are snoopy! They can get in more trouble than any twelve teens.

I did enjoy this book. There are a few editing issues, but they don’t get in the way of the story. I think my biggest gripe was the making Agnes become a sudden prude on nude beaches or in the strip club. I didn’t see her that way before this book so the few remarks that made her that way stopped the story short for me. Still, I have the next set of books set up. I have a few other books I am supposed to be reading first, but I’ll be happy to see what Madison Johns has these snoops up to next.

These are great light reading for when you need a break from heavier literary pursuits.

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