Friday, October 31, 2014

G452 The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan

Title of the book:The Gossamer Years; The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan

Author: Michitsuna no haha

Publisher: Tuttle

Publishing Date: 1964/ written from around 954 up to 975

ISBN: 978-0-8048-1123-1


Kagero Nikki, translated here as The Gossamer Years, belongs to the same period as the celebrated Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikuibu.

This remarkably frank autobiographical diary and personal confession attempts to describe a difficult relationship as it reveals two tempestuous decades of the author's unhappy marriage and her growing indignation at rival wives and mistresses. Too impetuous to be satisfied as a subsidiary wife, this beautiful (and unnamed) noblewoman of the Heian dynasty protests the marriage system of her time in one of Japanese literature's earliest attempts to portray difficult elements of the predominant social hierarchy. A classic work of early Japanese prose, The Gossamer Years is an important example of the development of Heian literature, which, at its best, represents an extraordinary flowering of realistic expression, an attempt, unique for its age, to treat the human condition with frankness and honesty. A timeless and intimate glimpse into the culture of ancient Japan, this translation by Edward Seidensticker paints a revealing picture of married life in the Heian period.

What is it?

Just like The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, this is a diary from Heian Era of Japan, although unlike Sei Shonagon and Murasaki, this diary takes place prior to when they got to shine, and I can't help but get the feeling that it influenced Murasaki Shikibu a lot.

Who wrote or made it?

A noblewoman by the name of Michitsuna no haha (Mother of Michitsuna) has written this diary of her marriage to the Prince by name of Kaneie.

When was it written or made?

The diary was written from 954 and stops at 975. The diary does provide small education to the Heian Era culture, but I think a lot of it still needs to be learned.

Where was it written or made?

It was written in Japan during the Heian Era, prior to Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu.

How was it written or made?

The diary is divided into three "books," the first one taking place from 954 up until 968, the second from 969 up until 971 and the last 972 up until 974. The first book is the shortest, while the last two are longer.

Personal Opinion:

There are parts of the diary that I enjoyed such as poetry and nature descriptions, but I have to admit that her writing pales when comparing her to Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu. I do think that she did influence Tale of Genji, in particular the locust episode, or when the Prince wrote a long response to the author along with her adopting a girl. What I found a bit annoying is the endnotes. I am sorry, but I'm not a fan of endnotes and often prefer footnotes to endnotes. I also got an impression that I would learn a lot about Heian Era marriage from her diary, but unfortunately I barely learned anything about the era straight from the diary, although the supplemental information added by the translator is very helpful. PS, love the cover.

I would like to thank Tuttle Publishing for providing me the copy of The Gossamer Years; The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan of Michitsuna no haha translated by Edward Seidensticker 

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

G446 Book Review of Bad Taste in Men by Lana Cooper

Name of Book: Bad Taste in Men

Author: Lana Cooper

ISBN: 9780615899602

Publisher: self published

Type of book: 1980s-1990s, teenage crushes, relationships, close siblings, failures, desires, middle school to college, humor, small town

Year it was published: 2013


Have you ever felt like even Mother Theresa has got more game than you?
If you have, you'd be in the same boat as geeky, awkward metalhead Nova Porter.

Bad Taste In Men follows Nova from her prepubescent years through young adulthood and her attempts at getting dudes to dig her.

Juggling self-esteem issues, small town outsider status, and questionable taste in guys, Nova is looking for love in all the wrong places - like the food court at the mall. Nova's circle of friends and her strange(ly) endearing family more than make up for what her love life lacks.

Along the way, Nova alternately plays the roles of hero and villain, mastermind and stooge; picking up far more valuable life lessons than numbers for her little black book.

One part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-'90s, Bad Taste In Men is loaded (like a freight train) with pop cultural references and crude humor.

From getting laughed at by your crush to being stood up (twice!) by a guy with one eye, Bad Taste In Men showcases the humor and humiliation that accompanies the search for love (or at least "like") as a small-town teenage outcast, managing to wring heart-warming sweetness from angsty adolescent memories - and jokes about barf and poop.


The main character includes Nova who begins to crush on guys but the catch is that the guys she seems to like only want the dreaded "friends zone," and nothing beyond that. She is into heavy metal music, has a close relationship with her brother and wants nothing more than to experience a first kiss and a crush, only to be devastated. There are other characters presented such as Nova's young brother Orion, numerous crushes as well as Nova's girlfriends. Most of the guy crushes that Nova likes have similar hobbies and music tastes to her, but I often felt that I wasn't very privy to their inner workings, which is what I would have wanted. I did like Orion's character and liked that they were close to one another.


Basically, you have to go through way too many frogs before finding a happily ever after


The story is in first person narrative from Nova's point of view and its seen as chronological from the time she is eight up until she is nineteen, although there are two extra chapters which serve as an epilogue of sorts. The last few pages should be tinted with gold because I agree with a lot what Nova has learned, but its not focused on Nova growing as a woman or a character though. It read very similarly to Lisa Loomis's Boy in a Band for me because I don't know much of the workings beyond the exterior that Nova chooses to present to others.

Author Information:
(From the kit)

About the Author
Lana Cooper was born and raised in Scranton, PA and currently resides in Philadelphia. A graduate of Temple University, she doesn't usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio. Cooper has written extensively on a variety of pop culture topics and has been a critic for such sites as PopMatters and Ghouls On Film. She's also written news stories for EDGE Media, a leading nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. Cooper enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, books with lots of words and no pictures, and avoiding eye-contact with strangers on public transportation. "Bad Taste In Men" is her first full-length novel.
Her latest book is the humorous nonfiction, Bad Taste in Men.
For More Information


Aside from being a lone wolf and being lied to almost the time back in school, believe it or not I could relate to the story that Nova was telling. I have to wonder if the story is more autobiographical than fictional? Like Nova, I suffered far more heartbreak than I care to admit, and in some cases I was pretty nuts about guys. As a teenager as well, I never thought that I'd be kissed or that I'd be with someone who's going to like the old fashioned me. At one point, just like Nova asked one of her crushes to help her lose the virginity, I desperately asked a guy to be my first kiss, which he refused. (I was seventeen and a half when I made that desperate plea, month later I got my first kiss from a guy I crushed on for a very long time.) I'm not sure if anyone even likes reading these embarrassing moments about me, but yeah, why not a five star rating? As mentioned, I very strongly related to Nova's lack of love life, but I did feel that the story was a tad too long and I also think that fiction or not, there should have been some successes and failures so to speak, instead of only failures. The whole story is similar to banging your head against the wall and not making a dent in it. Also one small thing, I didn't find the foreign Asian references funny, although I think that's what the author was going for. I applaud that the main character actually thinks of expanding her horizons to Asian persuasion, but why does she mix Chinese references and then mentions he spoke Japanese? (Sorry, unable to resist, here's a skit Mad TV's Bobby Lee being "adopted", and no representation of anything Korean by the way.)

This is for Pump Up Your Book

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

G416 Book Review of Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin

Name of Book: Palmetto Moon

Author: Kim Boykin

ISBN: 978-0-425-27210-7

Publisher: Berkley

Type of book: Lowcountry, 1947, clean romance, South Carolina, Charleston, courtship, friendship, happy endings

Year it was published: 2014


June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.


The characters of Frank Darling and Vada Hadley feel more modern than 1940s; for someone that comes from a wealthy family that's constantly judged by appearances, Vada doesn't really care for her reputation, oddly enough. I'm not saying the character has to be completely neurotic, but more discretion and fear would be nice. Also as well, I wanted to see more of her struggle with living in a small town far from what she knew instead of seeming to fit in the way she did. I also would have wished to get to know more about Reggie and Claire because the relationship is a little too sudden for me.


Life is a journey


The story is written in both first and third person narrative: first person from Vada and third person from other characters including Frank, Claire and towards the end, Reggie. The story itself is definitely quirky and Southern, somewhat similar to Joshilyn Jackson's book, but far more well done and written. Also as well, although the author did attempt to build up conflict, I didn't really sense it which made it a bit difficult to relate to the characters, and I personally would have wanted more character exploration with Reggie and Frank in particular,  I also would have wanted a bit more struggle that Vada experiences when she moves to a small town away from her privileged life. But still, if you're looking for a light hearted and clean romantic read that takes place in 1947, then this is a book not to missed.

Author Information:
(From author kit)

About the Author

Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
For More Information


There are elements of the book that I liked such as the rich southern historical details, the memorable and quirky secondary characters and how the story itself feels very 1940s. I also liked the wealthy girl poor male dynamic as well and found the romance between Vada and Frank to be sweet. What I didn't like, however, is that the characters feel more modern than 1940s, the handling of Claire's subplot, although I do understand why and so forth, but still, there was something about the conclusion that didn't make me feel comfortable with the pairing. Also, I think I would have wanted more clear incidents where Vada and Frank really fell for one another because I feel I didn't get that in the story.

This is for Pump Up Your Book

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin to come later

The book tour for Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin will be posted later on today. Thanks for your understanding!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cover Reveal for Book 3 of Publicist

It's finally here, the long-awaited sequel to The Publicist! CLIMAX by Christina George is the final installment in the series. It comes in two parts:

The Covers

Here is the Bundled set version:

About the Book

Release date: December 15, 2014. You can pre-order now!

Kate Mitchell has never forgiven herself for breaking Nick Lavigne’s heart. Now he’s back and he’s moved on, and it’s affecting Kate’s life more than she’s willing to admit.

Kate Mitchell has everything. She's the head of a crazy successful publishing house, engaged to the traffic-stopping sexy Mac Ellis and she's about to sign one of the biggest authors of her career.

And that's when everything falls apart.

Everything is perfect…until it’s not.

In a city of 8 million people Kate manages to run into someone she never expected to see again.

Nick is handsome, impossibly kind, every girl’s dream, and Kate’s former fiancé. He’s also the brother of the rising star author she’s trying to sign. Now that Nick’s back in town and has moved on he insists he’s over Kate, but part of him still can’t get past how amazing they were, and his sister won’t let anyone forget how brutally it ended.

When Mac is dealt a life-changing blow, it forces Kate to question every single choice she’s made.

Follow Kate as she embarks on a journey of life and love, navigating through the decisions that will change it all forever.

About the Author

Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook  ~  Goodreads

Christina George has worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn't. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, cause it’s more fun to guess, right? George continues to work in publicity and helps authors because at the end of the day she does love books, she loves publishing, and she loves authors. She hopes you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as she enjoyed creating it.

Let's Revisit the Characters...

Some Fun Stuff!

Head on over to Kate's site and listen to a sample of the audio book version of The Publicist and enter her Amazon gift card giveaway. She also has a playlist of songs for the book!

So which team are you on? Want to know who Kate ends up with?

Want to win a signed copy of all three books? How about a $20 Amazon Gift Card?

And now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

G429 Book Review of Rav Hisda's Daughter Enchantress by Maggie Anton

Name of Book: Rav Hisda's Daughter Enchantress

Author: Maggie Anton

ISBN: 978-0-452-29822-4

Publisher: Plume

Part of a Series: Rav Hisda's Daughter Apprentice is the prequel

Type of book: Babylonia, Judaism, 299-359, magic, building of laws, communities, demons, spells, enchanting, family life, secrets, marriage, Jewish holidays, slave owners, Jewish life, Arabian life, christians gaining power, Rome

Year it was published: 2014


Fantastic tales of demons and the Evil Eye, magical incantations, and powerful attractions abound in Enchantress, a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.  

One of the most powerful practitioners of these mysterious arts is Rav Hisda’s daughter, whose innate awareness allows her to possess the skills men lack. With her husband, Rava--whose arcane knowledge of the secret Torah enables him to create a "man” out of earth and to resurrect another rabbi from death--the two brave an evil sorceress, Ashmedai the Demon King, and even the Angel of Death in their quest to safeguard their people, even while putting their romance at risk.

The author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series and the award-winning Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice has conjured literary magic in the land where "abracadabra” originated.  Based on five years of research and populated with characters from the Talmud, Enchantress brings a pivotal era of Jewish and Christian history to life from the perspective of a courageous and passionate woman.


There are a lot of characters, but they are very memorable and individual: Hisdadukh is the main character, a sorceress in training with a lot of power and willingness to learn whatever she can to help her husband succeed: Rava used to be Hisdadukh's husband's rival for many things, and is best described as arrogant in the first book, although he did change in the book and is very encouraging towards Hisdadukh and helping her keep independence. He also has his own studies and secrets throughout the book. He also enjoys debating with Hisdadukh on different laws. Other characters include Abaye, Rava's friend and study partner who suffers from a curse as well as Em the woman who teaches Hisdadukh healing herbs, then her mother who has her own secrets and so forth.


Greatness can be achieved late in life


The story is in first person narrative from Hisdadukh's point of view and picks up immediately from the ending of the first book. In the previous book, I have to admit that I detested Abba because of his arrogance and the fact he is not able to let Hisdadukh live in peace with her first husband, Rami. But as I spent more time with Abba/Rava in this story, I began to actually root for him and Hisdadukh to be together. I also enjoyed learning about Judaism and the issues that were important during the time, whether or not Rabbis were qualified to be experts on Jewish lives. I do wish that the romance angle for Hisdadukh and Rava could be worked on a little more, as well as the family relationships between Rava and his sons, but besides that, really loved the story.

Author Information:
in Los Angeles, CA, The United States



Historical Fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Women & Gender Studies

Talmud study

member since
June 2008

About this author:

Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual observance. In 2006, Anton retired from being a clinical chemist in Kaiser Permanente's Biochemical Genetics Laboratory to become a fulltime writer.

In the early 1990's, Anton learned about a women's Talmud class taught by Rachel Adler, now a professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Nearly every Wednesday for five years, she and about six other women met around Rachel's dining room table to study Tractate Berachot.

In 1997, as her children Emily and Ari left the house and her mother was declining with Alzheimer's Disease, Anton sought new interests. She became intrigued with the idea that Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars ever, had no sons, only three daughters. Slowly but surely, she began to research the family and the time in which they lived. Much was written about Rashi, but almost nothing of the daughters, except their names and the names of their husbands. Legend has it that Rashi's daughters were learned in a time when women were traditionally forbidden to study the sacred texts. These forgotten women seemed ripe for rediscovery, and the idea of a book about them was born.


Personally for me, finishing this book is a very bittersweet moment: I didn't want to say goodbye, didn't want for the world where Jews could be where they can be without persecution to disappear into the shadows of history, yet upon finishing the last page, that is what happened. The story was finished in 4th century, shortly before christians gained power and took full advantage of it, and after the story has ended, the Jewish world was broken and crumbled, forced persecutions and proselytism began occurring, moving up to today. In the book itself, I had trouble understanding the Talmudic arguments and ideas, but other than that, the story is very engaging and addictive. And yes, it is necessary to read the previous book before this one. I don't think the book can be considered as a stand-alone.  Also, just like the prequel, the story does come with a glossary, a map and character list of various characters.

I would like to thank the publisher for the chance to read and review this book

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G443 Book Review of Certainty by Victor Bevine

Name of Book: Certainty

Author: Victor Bevine

ISBN: 9781477825457

Publisher: Lake Union

Type of book: 1918-1919, sailors, sailing life, sodomy, fairies, homosexuality, charges, priest, Newport Rhode Island, religion and reality, friendships, questionable motives, tricks

Year it was published: 2014


As the First World War draws to a close, the population of Newport, Rhode Island, seems to double overnight when twenty-five thousand rowdy seamen descend on the Naval Training Station. Drinking, prostitution, and other depravities follow the sailors, transforming the upscale town into what many residents ---including young lawyer William Bartlett, whose genteel family has lived in Newport for generations --- consider to be a moral cesspool.

When sailors accuse a beloved local clergyman of sexual impropriety, William feels compelled to fight back. He agrees to defend the minister against the shocking allegations, despite facing dire personal and professional consequences. But when the trial grows increasingly sensational, and when outrageous revelations echo all the way from Newport to the federal government, William must confront more than just the truth: he must confront the very nature of good and evil.

Based on real-life events, Certainty recalls a war-torn era when the line between right and wrong became dangerously blurred.


I've had some difficulty in recalling who's who with the characters, or at least their roles in the story. William is a lawyer who's willing to risk whatever he can for truth and justice and also has a young family. Kent is a beloved priest as well as pillar of the community, some of the sailors I recall are Charley McKinney who is together with Dottie and he wants to protect her, if I'm not mistaken, as well as Barker, Charley's friend, and a naive farm boy who learns a fascinating truth about himself.


Truth comes out eventually


The story is written in third person narrative from a lot of characters' points of view, that of William the attorney, then Charles one of the sailors and so forth. The story does tend to be linear, but I think I would have liked a little more back and forth movement through time. From what I know of 1900s, the research is spot on and well done. I'm also a bit uncertain how the story eventually ties up to the beginning?

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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Victor Bevine _(c) Amy Thompson Avishai_300dpiAbout Victor Bevine

For over thirty years, Victor Bevine has worked as an actor, screenwriter, audio book narrator, director, and more. A graduate of Yale University, his acting credits include many prestigious roles onstage as well as roles in the film version of A Separate Peace and countless television shows. He has read over one hundred and eighty titles as an audiobook narrator; in 2010, he received an Audiophone Award for his narration of the Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Beak of the Finch. He has written several screenplays, including Certainty, which was chosen for two prestigious writers’ conferences and which served as the basis for his first novel. His thirty-minute short film Desert Cross, which he wrote and directed, won accolades at the Athens International Film Festival. Currently, he serves as CEO of the World Freerunning Parkour Federation (WFPF), of which he is co-founder. He resides in New York City.

Connect with Victor


Its kind of hard for me to pinpoint why I felt neutral about this story. It has the markings of a good novel such as dialogue, an interesting historical event, fleshed out characters, and what might be important in this day and age is homosexuality and how far humanity is trying to move away from the views it has towards it. I liked the second half of the story, but not the first half, and its still a bit difficult in recalling on why the sailors did what they did. Despite the fact its written very well, I would guess that a few things did bother me throughout the story: I liked the background stories but my personal preference would have been sort of a scavenger hunt for them instead of completely devoting entire chapters to them. Also, I don't think I sensed much tension throughout the story. What else I liked is the setting and learning more of history after the Great War.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Victor Bevine’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 20th: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, October 21st: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, October 22nd:  Booksie’s Blog
Thursday, October 23rd: Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, October 24th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, October 27th: Sarah’s Book Shelves
Tuesday, October 28th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, October 28th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, October 29th: Bell, Book & Candle
Thursday, October 30th:  Joyfully Retired
Monday, November 3rd: Books a la Mode - guest post
Tuesday, November 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Wednesday, November 5th: Readers’ Oasis
Thursday, November 6th: Back Porchervations
Monday, November 10th: ebookclassics
Tuesday, November 11th: Nightly Reading
Wednesday, November 12th: BookNAround
Thursday, November 13th: Books on the Table
Monday, November 17th: Life is Story
Friday, November 21st:: FictionZeal
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)