Tag Archive: inspirational



If All the Seas Were Ink: A MemoirIf All the Seas Were Ink: A Memoir by Ilana Kurshan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was young, and even to this day, I loved to spend time, overnight to weeks, if I could, in other people’s homes. It was interesting to see how other people lived. I learned how different and yet the same my life was to my friends. What rules applied? What was okay? How huggy or talky were the people?

As an adult that is less likely to happen. Slumber parties seem to stay in the child’s world. Really close friends can share their lives. But it isn’t the same as personal observation.

Autobiographies give that kind of insight. You live inside the person’s world, hear their thoughts, see how they try to live up to their own standards. See how they feel when they don’t.

Ilana Kurshan provides that kind of insight. I admire her determination and curiosity. She decided to study the Talmud in a seven-year quest to understand it and her relationship to it better. She lived it as best she could, all the easier for living in Jerusalem, all the harder as a single person, then newlywed, then young mother. But she did her best to apply what she learned along the way.

I was raised protestant. I have many friends of various religious leanings and love to learn their belief systems and how they work in real life. I have a friend who has moved to Israel and thought of her as I read. I don’t know if she read this yet, but I bet she will glean from this person’s challenge.

Rating autobiographies is harder than a piece of fiction. It is personal. I can’t judge another person’s life or their own memories. It was where they are/were and how they choose to live it. Ms. Kurshan’s writing was compelling. I couldn’t stop reading. Since this was an ARC or Uncorrected Copy, there were formatting issues that made my text-to-speech the best way to read it all. But I’m sure those issues were corrected in the retail versions. Other than that it was a delightful read and I highly recommend it to others. I doubt I will ever try the seven-year Talmud, though who knows? I’ve taken on lessor challenges. I was glad that Ilana included scripture so I could feel a part of the quest. And I’m proud of her for taking a feminist view on her religion. It makes it all more real and possible.

I can’t wait to read other reviews about this book.

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Changing Your Pain Pathways: Ways to cope with pain in daily lifeChanging Your Pain Pathways: Ways to cope with pain in daily life by Bronwen Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been doing chair-yoga for a while. It is one of the things I do to help become healthier in spite of the pain. One of the YouTube tutorials I follow features the authors of this book. Cara, Sarah, and Bronwen. As they are introduced I tried to decide who was who. Here is the link to the lesson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMps5…

Now what I had thought was the one in the middle and the one on the right of the screen looked like sisters. Then I thought they might be twins. Thereby I named them Cara and Sarah. The one on the left didn’t look related so I figured she was Bronwen. I went online to see if I could find these teachers’ pictures. Nothing that helped my curiosity. But then I discovered their book. With fibromyalgia and arthritis competing for my full attention, I thought maybe I could find something that would help me become healthier and have less pain. I found the Kindle version was cheaper so bought it. I would suggest if you have the money get the paper book as it is a workbook with pages to fill out as you move along.

The workbook idea is a good one to help you realize your points of pain increases and decreases. It helps you see how your mind can steer you to better health. And even more important how you can help others to see what you are going through and how they can help you. People caught in chronic pain cycles find themselves bullied in every direction.

As it happened I was in the middle of a flare and reading this by text-to-speech helped me reflect on my pain and my methods of relief. I don’t take many drugs for it as I found they made me sicker. The occasional Advil and CBD for sleep. The rest of the time I use distraction therapy. Keep my mind working on interesting projects.

I will be picking up this book again in the near future to do the exercises and journal what I learn as I go. Thank you for the tutorials and this book to all of you involved in it.

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The Boy Who Flew With EaglesThe Boy Who Flew With Eagles by Ben Woodard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall, I loved this story. Having been on a female author/leading female character entertainment diet, I saw how female empty this book was. (My youth was spent on a diet fed to females by males).

Yes, the book spoke to sharing and caring for others on the planet, but it is entirely lacking female, except for the mother eagle. Even the boy had no mother or sisters. No human fem anywhere.

If, in fact, this kind of book was to help reluctant males to read, why do they go on and get better jobs and never get judged by what they wear or their size? If the males that read this kind of book were actually addressed, why is ecology poohed upon by the heavily male corporate and politicized world?

The overall lesson I learned from this book is that we have gentled males of their own responsibility for themselves and others to the point that if this book were about the female equivalent the boys wouldn’t have read it? How sad! Not only didn’t this story get the point across, but it also didn’t even embrace it, itself! Sharing and caring.

The minor truth was that father eagle flew away and gave the job to the mother eagle cause he couldn’t handle it!

No, I didn’t lose sight of the main objective of the book. It is marvelous that the boy got to learn how to fly and help the eagle family and eventually his own tribe. That is why the story got four stars. But the rest is lost for society.

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Children's book: Laughing eyes: Fun rhyming poems for parents and children about everyday life with beautiful illustrationsChildren’s book: Laughing eyes: Fun rhyming poems for parents and children about everyday life with beautiful illustrations by Haya Magner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love being asked to read and review books that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. After all, my little ones are all grown up. In fact, today is my youngest one’s birthday. Hard to believe it was 36 years ago that miracle came to be! She would have loved this book back in the day.

This was going to be a four-star rating. I’m not crazy about poetry. And there wasn’t text-to-speech or a way to make the text part larger. But I managed. I turned the Kindle sideways just to make it bigger for my eyes.

The illustrations were amazing. That alone should have rated the five stars. It made me want to get out my crayons or pencils and start drawing. I think it would affect a child like that, too.

Let’s not forget the lessons taught in the poems. I love parenting styles that allow a child to learn through their own experiences rather than being forced by the parent to do what they say. The parent lets the child go out in socks rather than wear shoes in the rain. And the rhyming story tells how the child feels about cold, soggy feet.

What put me over to the five stars is that this ought to be several books. I’d love to see some of the stories get their own books. So not only would it take several nights to get through the book but the child could go on and read each one of the over and over.

And what I always love in books is the conversational starters. There are so many in this book. What lessons did we learn? What should the child do? What can his parents do? Why do you suppose the child felt like that? This book brought to mind many talks my kids and I had. And I always made sure they heard the illustrator’s names and the author’s names so they would see what imagination and creativity could bring to a world.

Thank you, Haya Magner, for letting me read your charmer!

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Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One day, in the last couple of months, my daughter kidnapped me so I could spend a week back in Reno. It was one of those serendipitous things that made me very happy. I got to spend time with her and with other family and friends.

My daughter loves to listen to podcasts on long trips. When she learned that I had read and watched Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, she pulled up the Dear Sugar podcasts and we enjoyed a long listen.

Once back at home I found the Dear Sugar websites and other books by Cheryl Strayed. I looked at the eBook/Overdrive local library copies. I found this copy but it was just an eBook with no text-to-speech and no audio version. I tried very hard to enjoy the book. There was wonderful advice given here.

I wanted to keep reading past the mid-point that I thought I got to, but with no way to listen it was hard to read. I will try to keep an eye out for the Audible or Kindle with TTS to read later. Besides, most of it was written for younger people. I played the kind of game I used to play with the Dear Abby advice column, see if I can give the same advice the writer does. I was pleasantly surprised that Ms. Strayed gave more personal answers and helped in deeper ways than Abby or her sister Ann Landers ever did.

I think this is a wonderful book for young people to have. I think Dear Sugar is a good podcast for those under forty. I hope to find this book again in an easier form for me to read.

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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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My Melancholic DiaryMy Melancholic Diary by Iva Kenaz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to thank my GoodReads friend, A.S. Johnson for recommending this treasure to me. She was right, I did love it!

Once I got the recommendation I found that I could get it through Kindle Unlimited so I set about getting it right away. I already had tons of books ahead of it on my ‘currently reading shelf’, but I got around to it finally. So glad I did!

Where was this book when I was growing up? Oh, yeah, the author probably wasn’t born yet. What a great way to learn how fanciful a diary could be! When I was a young teen I had one of those diaries that had a little lock on it. Why I needed a lock always made me laugh. I rarely wrote anything in it beyond “I breathed in and out today.”

That a person in grade school chose to stay the last year of grade school with her eccentric father in the countryside near Prague in the Czech Republic so that she and he could iron out their differences, shows the maturity of the main character, Lisa, who is 14 nearly 15. But the book is full of mature themes but not in a preachy way. I think there is so much depth in this book that anyone of any age would find something to glean from it.

Lisa, the diary writer, the main character, of course, has a romantic heart and the adolescent inadequate self-esteem. Not too different from most people her age, but when you are that age, you don’t realize that. In fact, I wonder how many people outgrow that?

So seeing Lisa’s musings of her life and loves didn’t feel far from most people I know. Except for the fictional character that becomes alive for her. At first, that is shocking in such a mature girl, but as you watch the rest of her life you see that this ghost from another book guides her as much as she guides him. It is the one relationship that is working for her. What a grand idea! We should all have our own fictional hero/heroine who can speak to us while we write out the character’s destiny. Oh, yeah, we who write do just that! That is if we are writing daily. Gulp. We should be writing daily. Note to self…

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think even males will like it.

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Tell Me WhyTell Me Why by Trista Hendren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another amazing gem! This one was dedicated to the author’s son and the male community at large. Still there was a lot of wisdom to be inhaled by all.

Once again, this was one I couldn’t afford right now but when I saw I could get it through Kindle Unlimited, I just grabbed it up and gobbled it down. The illustrations by Elisabeth Slettnes were breathtaking. The quotes by wise ones worth rereading over and over. That’s why I must buy this one once I get paid. Not only do I want the whole series on my Kindle, I want the tree copies to highlight and meditate over.

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The Girl GodThe Girl God by Trista Hendren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, wow. I picked this small but mighty book up for free today from Amazon. I was intrigued by the picture on the front cover and the title. I thought I was getting a children’s book. I believe this is an ‘everybody’ book.

The story was from a mother to her daughter. A sweet simple story. But the wisdom of the story runs deeply. Then there are the quotations throughout; each capturing a piece of my soul. All the illustrations were engaging. I wish I bought this in tree form as I would like to spend more time with the book and with the pictures. At least I can go back to this one in my ‘cloud’.

Because this was so wonderful I went to find other books by Trista Hendren. Yay! The were free with Kindle Unlimited!

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Miss Kat's School of Genteel WitchcraftMiss Kat’s School of Genteel Witchcraft by Mary Beth Robb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so excited to see Mary Beth Robb’s books on Kindle Unlimited. My finances were very tight. I hope the author still makes money from those of us who use this system.

The last two books I read by Ms. Robb were more fables for children or campfires. This book was more instructional. It taught on ways to behave as a newbie at attending or holding gatherings. Most of that part was common sense for anyone holding any kind of meeting of any flavor. Ms. Robb’s wit is visible all the way through. She uses her own experiences, good and bad to point to ways to avoid embarrassing or fatal mistakes. She never makes the reader feel silly or stupid, just aware.

Next the book covers altars and rituals. This is an area that I still need to work on. Having been in church almost every day of my life as a kid and then as a teen, I find myself standing apart. I guess I have to wait for this penny to drop so I might get the bubble gum.

Gifts, talents, abilities is what the next part of the book talked about. Once, again, I felt right at home. In my metaphysical studies, I have already worked on my own with meditation and practice. I still feel there is so much more for me to learn and absorb.

The end of the book has a long list of books for those of us who chose to grow, to read. It is for that part that I wish I had this book in tree form. But then again, My hands are capable, when I buy the Kindle version of the book I will write the list down and continue my education.

Thank you, Mary Beth Robb, fo these very insightful books. I feel at peace when I read your works.

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