Monday, August 29, 2016


Each time I begin a new writing project, I remind myself of a writing policy I have: every story is a gift, no matter if it blooms, wilts, or towers over all others like a giant redwood. 

Grant Faulkner

Today, I selected three short and sweet book reviews I created for Springtime in Magnolia over the past year. There's no writing without great reading...

“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”
Ruth Ozeki

I know I'll never forget this book. It inspired and enchanted with equal measure. I kept using its more humorous quotes, over and over on my creative writing blog. It spurred so much creativity. It just kept giving. 

There's something in it for everyone. Your time will be well spent.  First we meet the distinctive voice of Nao, a Tokyo teen struggling with serious issues. She was forced to leave her life in America behind and return home. But, it's not really home anymore. Her peers tell her she stinks of hamburgers and bully her relentlessly. At her ramshackle new apartment, her world is crumbling like a sandcastle at high tide. Her dad has lost his way. And so has Nao. Until a summer with her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun, makes her time on earth a little more beautiful. This was my favorite part of the book.

We also meet Ruth. A writer struggling with life on an isolated island.  Ruth finds a Hello Kitty lunch box washed ashore after a storm. The plastic wrapped contents become the central mystery of the story. 

It's an inventive read.

I picked up this book at one of our cute little neighborhood lending libraries this Fall. It spoke to me. "You know you like the cover. Take it. Just take it!" yelled the book. So I did.

 Where'd You Go, Bernadette turned out to be an unusual and charming read. The story is told through the unique voice of emails, messages and letters. The central character Bernadette is a fiercely intelligent and reluctant Seattle Mother. She goes missing. And her super smart daughter Bee back tracks through all the above mentioned correspondence to locate her beloved and wayward Mother. Then there's the husband. Another techie smartie pants. Everybody is as smart as a whip! You'll like these characters.

 I get the feeling that the author, Maria Semple, is a real life Mensa wannabe herself. Because she weaved together such a complex and intriguing tale. It was a great book for an aspiring writer (like me) to read. Ultimately, the characters end up in Antarctica. She sounded like an expert.  Now that's research. 

It was such a joy to read Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. I was too young to appreciate the period details and historical significance of the Little House series when I was a kid. I just loved the books for what they were. Entertaining! Now, editor Pamela Smith Hill includes Wilder's original, unpublished manuscript for the Little House series, along with an overwhelming amount of insider information, census data, annotations, diaries, manuscripts, letters, and photographs. 

The beginning of the book follows Wilder's journey to publication. It is always a shock to discover that a series of books that is so beloved by millions, could have had a difficult time getting published. But it did! Wilder and her daughter Rose worked for years to bring the novels to fruition. But, as we all know, they were used to hard work. 

Then, when you start reading the original manuscript, you'll be charmed and educated all over again. I loved reading Wilder's personal notes to her daughter and editor Rose Wilder Lane. They're written here and there through out the original manuscript. I'll let you discover those hidden gems on your own. And the conflicts of frontier life will shock and amaze all over again. Note to settlers of the past...if you find a mummified baby hanging in a tree... leave it there! You'll have to read the book to find out the rest of that haunting story.

Happy Reading!


Latane Barton said...

great reviews, Sharon. You read some doggone interesting books!!

DJan said...

I absolutely loved Tale for the Time Being, too. I am not sure about the second book, it's only available as an audiobook at my library, but she's written two others I might check out later. But I've put a hold on the third book and look forward to reading the annotated autobiography! Thank you, Sharon. :-)