Maya's Musings


I love books, paper, words, libraries, reading and writing. I read pretty much anything (though shy away from intense sci-fi, history and horror). Here, I share my musings on books and bookish things with fellow book lovers. Choose a book and join the party!


“The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein


So far from the Modern Wife - or is it?

Recipe for a Perfect Wife - Karma Brown

Two timelines for two wives. One is Nellie Murdoch, the "perfect" housewife of the 1950s, and the other is Alice Hale, a "modern" woman.  When Alice and her fiancee buy and move into Nellie's old house, she discovers Nellie's recipe book stuffed with handwritten notes and recipes. As Alice reads the book and learns more about Nellie, she discovers just how different (or similar) their lives are.


I enjoyed this comparison between the lives of the 1950s and modern 'housewife'/stay at home woman. The dual narrative was very effective and the plot unfolded quickly. Perhaps somewhat predictable, but I thought it was an enticing enough story for a quick read.


It is the first book by this author that I have read and I'm enticed to try another.

Meet Me at the Museum - Anne Youngson

Tina Hopgood lives on a farm in England with her family and strikes up an email correspondence with Professor Anders Larsen in Denmark. The two exchange letters, then emails that touch on a plethora of important topics beyond history and societal changes, to include their insights on families, personal growth and dreams.


Similar in style to 84 Charing Cross Road, Meet Me at the Museum's narrative is comprised of letters between the two characters. The conversation springboards from Hopgood's desire to visit the Tollund Man in Denmark, and blossoms into a beautiful conversation about culture, history and family values, while their relationship flowers into a a nurturing friendship that helps one another through difficult times.

A lovely, heartwarming short novel that will delight lovers of books, writing and reading letters.


According to Wikipeia, the Tollund Man is: a naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BCE, during the period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was found in 1950, preserved as a bog body, on the Jutland peninsula, in Denmark.

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism - Fumio Sasaki

Author Fumio Sasaki succinctly explains why he chose a minimalism and how he created the lifestyle for himself. Sasaki outlines how his life changed before and after the changes, and advises on how one might deal with the feelings that arise during the cleansing process. His 55 tips on saying goodbye to your things and 15 steps to beginning the journey are logical, simple to follow and help you understand just how much stuff begets more stuff that demands your energy.


Many might be familiar with Marie Kondo's Spark Joy, which advocates a similar lifestyle. I think Sasaki's book was more pertinent for me. It approached the reasons why we hold onto things in more detail, and also emphasized how this lifestyle will enrich our lives. It felt less 'gimmicky' (although, the media and hoopla about Spark Joy could be why the book feels so 'gimmicky'). I think this is a solid follow up to Kondo's book to bring home (no pun intended) the advantages to decluttering your life so you spend less time maintaining your stuff.

Looking for Mr. Right

The Last Mrs. Parrish - Storm Constantine

Amber is a young woman with a sad and shady past.

She envies the life of the wealthy Mrs. Daphne Parrish and sets her sights on acquiring her life. 


Amber befriends the daft and guileless Daphne by pretending that she, too, had a sister who died of cystic fibrosis and volunteering to assist with Daphne's charity to benefit cystic fibrosis.  Amber learns everything about Daphne's life that will help her move into Daphne's shoes . . . including how to win over Daphne's handsome and powerful husband, Jackson.


Amber deceives and manipulates both Daphne and Jackson in her quest for life that she has always wanted. But, will she be happy when she finally gets the life she deserves?


A fast-moving story that is told from both Amber and Daphne's perspectives.  

A Slice of Japanese Life

Convenience Store Woman - Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori

Self-deprecating thirty-six-year-old Keiko Furukura lives in Tokyo. Her family is not happy with the way she is. She is awkward, never has felt as though she fits in anywhere . . .  until she starts working at the local convenience store. Here, she finds that she can understand and work with the people that come in and out, the rules and codes of her little universe where she is safe and in control. It's only when she leaves the store that she has problems and the rules and expectations of her family weigh on her.


This novella is a touching glimpse into Japanese culture. Keiko is a sweet protagonist, who I think, captures the self-deprecating, honorable, respectful ways of the Japanese people BUT, reveals the true self beneath.


A quick and enjoyable read that has gotten me onto a path of novellas by Japanese authors (although my library doesn't carry that many . . .).

Fate's Game

Pachinko - Min Jin Lee

Sanju, a young Korean woman, is swept into a romance with Hansu, a handsome traveller and becomes pregnant. When she tells him during one of his visits, he confesses that he is married with children, but promises to take care of her. She rejects his offer. 


Meanwhile, she and her mother, who run an inn, have taken in Isak, a pastor ,who falls ill. They get him better To repay their kindness, the pastor offers to marry Sanju, give her baby a name and take care of her child.


Sanju leaves with Isak and the two travel to Japan, where Isak will live with his brother and his wife. TImes are difficult in Japan, where Koreans are mistrusted and mistreated. Sanju falls on hard times, struggling to make a better life for her two children. She is once again rescued by the handsome, and now even more powerful, Hansu. 


Set in 1900s Japan, this multi-generational family saga provided an in-depth look at the Korean and Japanese prejudice, as well as life in Korea and Japan. The cultural aspects were deftly woven into the story, and the writing very succinct.


The title refers to a Japanese game, similar to the slot machines, and is a real draw in Japan -- even today.


I am usually intimidated by hefty books, but this one at 496p was easy to get through - although, I did struggle with all the names at first. Now, that I have tackled this, I am considering reading The Goldfinch. . . 



The Things You Will Do for a Sister

Me & Emma - Elizabeth Flock


Carrie is eight-years-old. She and her sister, Emma live with their mother and stepfather. He drinks too much and is physically abusive to them. Carrie's memories of her father and how he died are interwoven into the story to explain how they got into this predicament and contrasts the prior nurturing with the current abuse. Little by little, Carrie and her sister decide they must put an end to it, and since running away didn't work, it appears they only have one other option. 


This powerful story, narrated by Carrie, deftly reveals the psychological effects of child abuse. The storytelling is controlled and the nuances of how the abuse impacts Carrie and her family is incredibly well done. I thought it was going to be a straight forward story about Carrie's struggles with life at home, but this became a psychological thriller/mystery towards the end. I was so positively surprised that I am now on the sequel - What Happened to My Sister?






A Case of Cabin Fever?

Woman in Cabin 10: Thriller - Ruth Ware, Stefanie Ochel

There is something about this book that reminds me of an Agatha Christie plot.

Days after she is the victim of a home invasion, a reporter's assignment leads her onto a cruise aboard an exclusive, mall luxury cruise ship. She briefly encounters the woman in cabin 10. but later hears a cry and a splash outside her window. There is a bloody handprint on the wall between her verandah and that of Cabin 10. She sounds an alarm, but no one believes her. The cabin next door is empty. Who dunnit? Who was killed? Was anyone killed? Who is missing? Is it all in her head? A side effect of the anti depressant medication?


The story is well told and fast moving, and it's not clear who is coherent and who is corrupt. It's a decent thriller in the style of Gone Girl. Brings a suffocating eeriness to  cruise ships. . . 



Travel Light, Travel Much

Wherever You Go: How Mindful Travel Can Transform Your Life – and the World - Daniel Houghton

A lovely quick read that hails the benefits of travel, and provides travel advice from a variety of travelers - airline professionals, resort owners, adventurers, entrepreneurs, and many more,


The author, Daniel Houghton was the son of Delta employees who took advantage of travel possibilities with the company, but at age 24, Houghton landed a position at Lonely Planet, which sparked a life of international travel. In this book, Houghton brings together numerous perspectives on travel, with information and tips on how to travel efficiently and sustainably. 


An inspiring book that invites travel and a global outlook.


If you like Bill Bryson's books, you might enjoy this.


Happy trails.

I See You're Going to be Dead

The Cypress House - Michael Koryta

A rugged protagonist boards a train and sees death in the eyes of several men. He tells a young man that he needs to get off the train if he wants to live. And the two of them begin another journey -- but one still fraught with danger and death. . .


This was my first book by Koryta, and I was pleasantly surprised. He spun a good tale filled with tension and paranormal aspects that added a creepy element to the story set in a small town run by bad guys.


A good choice for fans of mystery and suspense. 



Agatha Christie by Any Other Name

I just received my copy of The Burden written by Mary Westmacott - - Agatha Christie's nom de plume for her 'meatier mysteries.' The cover of this book reminds me of the Nancy Drew mysteries I read as a child. First published in 1956, this edition was published in 1963. I can't believe books used to cost 45 cents!  How times have changed. I wonder what wages were back then. . . 


I'll definitely have to break out the reading glasses and the reading lamp for the tiny print in this book.


This book was recommended by Broken Tunes, and I'm excited to read it. The other title on my list by Westmacott is Absent in the Spring.








Finding Family and Love in a Quaint Town

The Magnolia Sisters - Michelle Major

Avery Keller is a woman scorned by love and a father she never knew, shows up in the quaint town of Magnolia, N.C. to collect her inheritance and get out of town. But, (surprise, surprise), Avery ends up staying to support her two new half-sisters as they figure out their father's estate. The hunky firefighter neighbor adds to Avery's turmoil about getting embroiled in another relationship. However; news of Avery's past relationship disaster threatens to destroy what sense of belonging she was starting to feel in the close-knit community.


This story, with its quaint little town is reminiscent of titles by Debbie Macomber. The characters are well-developed and their dialogue engaging without being too sappy. An easy read when you are looking for a sweet, feel good romance.

A.I. Reality Check

The Kraken Project (Wyman Ford Series Book 4) - Douglas Preston

What happens when an A.I, programmed to go into space, changes its mind, and decides to live its own life?


Preston tackles the question of Artificial Intelligence and what happens when they are so self-modifying and quick to learn that they can function as a human being who can also control a frightening amount of electronic and internet-based information.


A thought provoking and fast=paced story.



Minding My Mornings

Meditate Your Weight: A 21-Day Retreat to Optimize Your Metabolism and Feel Great - Tiffany Cruikshank LAc  MAOM

Here's a book suggestion if you are looking for a kickstart to the new year.


I chose this book because I was looking for a way to get back to a practice that incorporated mindfulness into my day, while also getting me journaling and physically healthier. These daily exercises over 21 days include a meditation that starts at 3 minutes on the first three days and builds to 12 minutes; journal writing exercise led by questions, and a daily mantra.

I like the slow build up of meditation time that makes it easy to include in my morning ritual and (hopefully) will re-create the meditation and journaling habits that I have let fall to the wayside.

Cruikshank's tone and writing style are gentle and easy which makes the book an easy welcome to the day.

It's only day one, but I'm motivated and optimistic.  That's already a plus in my books!




Suspenseful Sense of Deja Vu

The Girl Before: A Novel - J.P. Delaney

After reading J.P Delaneys "The Perfect Wife,' I gave this audiobook a try and was not disappointed.


Delaney once again does a good job developing plot and characters in this suspenseful story about a woman who moves into a home owned by a man with curious requirements for his renters. The woman discovers that there are quite a few similarities between her and the girl who lived in the house before. 


A well drawn mystery told through the perspectives of several people - in the past and present.  Left me rethinking how quickly I would sign a rental agreement . . . 



A Feast of Celestial Information

Eating the Sun - Ella Frances Sanders

What starts as an examination of the sun and its role, becomes an entertaining contemplation on our cosmic universe, earth, our bodies, science and a plethora of other things.


I listened to the (just under three hours)audio version of this short (under 200 pages) book, narrated by Imogen Church. She did a pretty good job conveying the winsome tone and lyrical style of the descriptions that came across with the illustrations and playful font of the hard copy of the book.


Fun and fascinating, this book might appeal to Bill Bryson fans, or those who enjoyed Lost Feast.