Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Diverse Reads On My Blog #2

I did mean to publish this on 27th of January to signify being another week under the new president, but then I didn't have time to do so, I'm afraid. (PS I finally got Human Acts by Han Kang!) Today, more than ever, we need compassion and understanding to those who are different than we are: why? In honor of the missed Friday, which was a Holocaust Memorial Day (In honor of the countless millions of Jews, Gypsies, gays, homosexuals and those who were different and got killed for being different), here is a poem that should remind people of the humanity we share, and how death and murder know no boundaries or immunity.

They Came For Me Poem by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Blast From the Past

Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas

Twenty Years After (1845) resumes the adventures of Alexandre Dumas’ fabulous four begun in The Three Musketeers. “The Inseparables”-Athos, Porthos, Aramis and the irrepressible Gascon d’Artagnan-are once again called upon to save France from itself. This time, the paragons of honor, chivalry, and justice find themselves embroiled not only in court intrigue and royal affairs (including the Queen’s illicit liaison with her first minister, Cardinal Mazarin) but also popular revolution. The novel is set during the minority of King Louis XIV; the English Revolution is about to reach its climax in the execution of Charles I-and the revolt against the French crown known as the first Fronde is coming to a head. If the politics are more complex, the personalities are as well. Twenty years have wrought their changes on the impetuous young musketeers. They are older, grayer, and wiser, and each has more to lose.

Why Its Diverse: The author himself is of French and Haitian ancenstry and from the paintings he appeared to be more Haitian than French. Unfortunately race and/or diversity tends to be substituted for 'white' when it comes to people who made it, thus its important to highlight that a writer of color made it big.

The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas

It is May 1660 and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Valliere. D’Artagnan, meanwhile is perplexed by a mysterious stranger, and soon he learns that his old comrades already have great projects in hand. Athos seeks the restoration of Charles II, while Aramis, with Porthos in tow, has a secret plan involving a masked stranger and the fortification of the island of Belle-Ile. D’Artagnan finds a thread leading him to the French court, the banks of the Tyne, the beaches of Holland, and the dunes of Brittany.

The Vicomte de Bragelonne opens an epic adventure which continues with Louise de la Valliere and reaches its climax in the man in the iron mask.

Why Its Diverse: I realize that I will appear to be redundant, but because this is the book right after the previous book and since I'm going from oldest diverse review to newest diverse review, this is the book that came after Twenty Years After. The author himself is of French and Haitian ancenstry and from the paintings he appeared to be more Haitian than French. Unfortunately race and/or diversity tends to be substituted for 'white' when it comes to people who made it, thus its important to highlight that a writer of color made it big.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.


Why Its Diverse: This book was written by a Chinese-American woman. I have seen both the movie and read the book quite a few times. As a teenager I admit that this is something I liked, but when I learned and realized that Chinese men have extremely negative portrayal in the book, my liking for the book considerably went down. Some may find it unimportant or, "what is the big deal?" negative portrayals affect how women perceive men, and in this case, I am sad that my son will be perceived like one of the "evil" characters in the book.

What I Am Reading Now:

Human Acts by Han Kang

From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian, a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.

In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho's best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho's own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.

Pages: 141 out of 218

Future Reviews:

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (The story features Bee who has heart issues, and her mother who can be seen either as extremely quirky or someone grappling with mental illnesses)

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

~penguinrandomhouse.com

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio 

Derek Palacio’s stunning, mythic novel marks the arrival of a fresh voice and a new chapter in the history of 21st century Cuban-American literature.

In 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.

Each struggles and flourishes in their own way: Isabel, spiritually hungry and desperate for higher purpose, finds herself tethered to death and the dying in uncanny ways. Ulises is bookish and awkwardly tall, like his father, whose memory haunts and shapes the boy's thoughts and desires. Presiding over them both is Soledad. Once consumed by her love for her husband, she begins a tempestuous new relationship with a Dutch tobacco farmer. But just as the Encarnacións begin to cultivate their strange new way of life, Cuba calls them back. Uxbal is alive, and waiting.

Breathtaking, soulful, and profound, The Mortifications is an intoxicating family saga and a timely, urgent expression of longing for one's true homeland.

Future Reads:

One Half From the East-Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

G804 Book Review of Unliving the Dream by Sandra Vischer

Name of Book: Un-living the Dream

Author: Sandra Vischer

ISBN: 798-0-9969310-0-7

Publisher: Trill reads

Type of book: Travel, British Virgin isles, Lima Peru, mother/daughter relationship, abortion, America, business, work, lack of privacy, divorce, reinventing self, self-help, volunteering, passion, raising, single parenting

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

Things are darn near perfect for Alex Fisher: she runs a successful business with the love of her life, her husband and the father of her two great kids. She's managed to sail through nearly forty years without so much as a hiccup. That is, until the night her husband announces he would like to make a change-a change that has apparently been going on for months without Alex's knowledge. Yes, he has been having an affair with Alex's assistant. Suddenly Alex is bouncing through divorce, through her daughter's subsequent rebellion, and through the big questions of who she really is and what she wants in life. No longer living the dream, Alex uses her calm logic, internal dialogue, and sizzling wit-not to mention her friends-to turn the shock of a lifetime into an adventure of self-discovery that takes her from the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea to the Utah wilderness and along the impoverished streets of Peru. In this universal tale, told through Vischer's unique voice, Alex finds that no one escapes unscathed-but we can all have a good laugh and some major personal growth along the way. A humorous, compassionate, and honest look at how the worst time in one's life ultimately leads to unexpected fulfillment and authenticity.

Characters:

Main characters include Alex Fisher who is supposed to "have it all" from perfect marriage to perfect job, family and so forth. I think because of the ball on the cover or some other reason, Alex struck me as a bit awkward and someone that can't help but stand out. She seems too good to be true. Her husband James is two-faced; showing good face to his family and bad face to his co-workers. Her daughter Lily, at first, is a troublemaker until a lot of drastic steps are taken to help her walk in a different path and her son is simply there.

Theme:

Its possible to reinvent self

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative from Alex's point of view. Although the reader spends all this time with Alex on her transformation to become a stronger woman after her dreams fell apart, I honestly feel as I don't know anything about her as a person. For me there is a disconnect between the main character and the reader. I also am curious as to the point why the point of view switched to Alex's daughter because its the first and last time in the book that the story went this way. If throughout the book the point of view switched between the two of them, I would understand, but its the only time point of view happened. Also as well the secondary characters didn't seem to be fully fleshed out in the story and when there are many, its a bit difficult in recalling who's who. I also have to be honest in saying that some parts of the daughter tend to ring false to my ears and a bit unbelievable. One part is the language that is used in a letter that's from Lily (daughter) which almost seems like an adult wrote it rather than a teenager, and the complete turn around.

Author Information:
(From back of the book)

When she's not writing from her suburban home in Portland Oregon, Sandy can be found hanging out with her close circle of girlfriends, taking a freighter to Croatia, jet skiing on the Mediterranean, but more probably, binge watching reality TV! A warm and witty woman, Sandra Vischer writes fiction that is funny and heartrending-just like real life

Opinion:

Just because the book doesn't click with me it doesn't mean that someone else might not enjoy it. On paper this sounded like a good story that I would enjoy about reinventing the self and growing through troublesome times. I also really liked the cover which has a ball slipping on a banana peel along with the focus on relationship between mother and daughter. Upon reading the book, I'm sorry to say that I didn't enjoy as much as I hoped. First of all I wasn't certain how much time has passed because the chapters don't have passage of years. I also felt as if I barely knew or understood Alex, which is odd because the whole book is from her point of view and it's about her growth and rejuvenation, yet if one is to ask me, I would know little about her. I would guess that more incidents about Alex with other people need to be included in order for me to understand her personality. There are also some incidences where I felt uncomfortable with the story: one instance is that the story has abortion, and another is I didn't feel comfortable with the way Alex tended to break rules in Peru when it came to students.

This was given to me by an agent

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.)

G812 Book Review of My Toddler Life by Corine Deghanpisheh

Title of the book: My Toddler Life

Author: Corine Dehghanpisheh

Publisher: My art to inspire

Publishing Date: 2016

ISBN: 9780997898507

Summary:

In #BabyLove: My Toddler Life, a new children’s picture book by Corine Dehghanpisheh, a curious toddler loves to play… especially with his mommy’s smartphone!

When Mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it’s the perfect teaching moment.  Mommy reminds her little one that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention.

Her simple reminder:  Put down our phones.

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life is the second book in Corine’s #BabyLove Book Series.  The first book in the series, #BabyLove: My Social Life, won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Picture Books 0-5

Author Info:
(From the back of the book)

Corine Dehghanpisheh is an award wining children's book author and illustrator. When she is nto being creative, Corine's most likely having fun taking pictures of her family. To connect visit: booksbycorined.com

Personal Opinion:

I only regret that the pages are not made from cardboard so I could show it to my son and see his reaction. The story is short and sweet and the author/illustrator uses bold colors to illustrate her book which should appeal to babies and toddlers. Also, something else I am excited about the book is that the little boy and his mother are not Caucasian. (My little boy is a Hapa mix,) The lesson is a pretty important one for parents of today and I hope to have a chance to read and review the first book in the series.

This was given to me by the agent

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.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Diverse Reads on my Blog #1

I've been blogging and reviewing books since 2010, which is almost 7 years (7 years in May of this year) and even prior to this I've been reading and giving attention to books that are not seen as mainstream. Since the next 416 weeks (possibly 8 years) will be bumpy for many people, I will highlight and post some of my reviews from the past starting in 2010 as well as a book I'm reading currently and possibly some books I will review in the future.

Blast from the Past:


The Plot Against the Pom-Pom Queen, written by Ellen Leroe, is a tale about a sixteen year old girl named Kelsey who is being bullied by a popular girl named Taffy Foster. Kelsey decides to concoct revenge against her. When that fails, however, she is introduced to the world of MMG-Magic Male Grabbers, which give her arsenal to become as popular as Taffy.

Why its diverse: If I remember right, Kelsey is dealing with a lot of body insecurity and she doesn't describe herself as a thin woman. The book does use movie stars and whatnot from '80s, but its a minor complaint when thinking of the lessons I learned from reading the story. 




Debut novelist Takashi Matsuoka burst onto the secen with CLOUD OF SPARROWS, a magnificent historical novel that takes us beyond the epic tradition of James Clavell’s Shogun. Set in 1861 Japan, CLOUD OF SPARROWS weaves a tale of passion and adventure, as a small group of American missionaries arrives on the shores of Edo Bay-and enters the strange, exotic world of Genji, Lord of Akaoka. What happens next, between the handsome young nobleman and the two Americans, sets the stage for a remarkable adventure. For as this unlikely band embarks on a journey through a landscape bristling with danger, East and West, flesh and spirit, past and future, collide in an ovel of astounding power and grace…

Why its diverse: It is written by a Japanese-American male and although it takes place around the same time as James Clavell novels, I loved this one because the characters are depicted as human beings, and also there are elements of some fantasy mixed in which the author doesn't go into until the second book. (Unfortunately no third book...)


The Three Musketeers is one of the most celebrated historical romances ever written. It tells of the adventures of the hot-headed young Gascon, d’Artagnan, and his three companions Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

In their gallant defence of the Queen of France, Anne of Austria, they pit their wits and their swords against the machinations and men of that archetypal eminence grise, Cardinal Richlieu, as he schemes to hold on to his political influence over King Louis XIII.

Their swashbuckling adventures take them from the high fashion of the French Court to the murkier aspects of espionage on either side of the Channel in a thrilling story of seventeenth century international intrigue.

Why It's Diverse: The author has Haitian and French ancestry through his father, and if the paintings are to be believed, he appears to have more Haitian ancestry than French. 

What I am Reading Now:

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio 

Derek Palacio’s stunning, mythic novel marks the arrival of a fresh voice and a new chapter in the history of 21st century Cuban-American literature.

In 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.

Each struggles and flourishes in their own way: Isabel, spiritually hungry and desperate for higher purpose, finds herself tethered to death and the dying in uncanny ways. Ulises is bookish and awkwardly tall, like his father, whose memory haunts and shapes the boy's thoughts and desires. Presiding over them both is Soledad. Once consumed by her love for her husband, she begins a tempestuous new relationship with a Dutch tobacco farmer. But just as the Encarnacións begin to cultivate their strange new way of life, Cuba calls them back. Uxbal is alive, and waiting.

Breathtaking, soulful, and profound, The Mortifications is an intoxicating family saga and a timely, urgent expression of longing for one's true homeland.

Progress: 85 out of 308

Future Reviews:

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (The story features Bee who has heart issues, and her mother who can be seen either as extremely quirky or someone grappling with mental illnesses) 

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

~penguinrandomhouse.com

#BabyLove My Toddler Life-Corine Dehghanpisheh (This book for children features a mom and a son that appear to be Hispanic and is a cute story :) ) 

In #BabyLove: My Toddler Life, a new children’s picture book by Corine Dehghanpisheh, a curious toddler loves to play… especially with his mommy’s smartphone!

When Mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it’s the perfect teaching moment.  Mommy reminds her little one that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention.

Her simple reminder:  Put down our phones.

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life is the second book in Corine’s #BabyLove Book Series.  The first book in the series, #BabyLove: My Social Life, won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Picture Books 0-5.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why Diversity Matters

Diversity is a word fraught with frustration. Why? Because to me it seems to be more of a power struggle between the "loser" of the history versus the "winner" of the history. On one hand the "winners" have to give up their power and admit that perhaps those "golden years" that's filled with so much nostalgia were not so golden after all, especially for the "losers" that struggled during those years. On the other hand, the "losers" are tired of feeling exotic and otherworldly and they are tired of feeling less than the winners, and they simply want for people outside their groups to understand their reality and what they have been feeling and experiencing. 

In 1994, I arrived to America from an Eastern European nation and had my own unique struggles in at first trying to fit in with the majority because that is what was expected; but later I discovered that I couldn't fit in with the American majority because of my name, my background, my emotions towards my own circumstances. During those years I felt alone and less than because I did not meet an American ideal of being thin, born here, blonde haired and blue eyed. Tired of feeling horrible, I stopped watching TV completely and threw myself even more into reading. 

While my struggles do not include being of a colored race or of being LGBTQIA? they do include struggle with myself, my background and how in the larger world, it's impossible to change identity and become someone else because what you were will continue to haunt you until death. My struggles included of only being known for one specific event during the five thousand year history of my background; they also included only knowing of the Cold War and of being perceived as an enemy because of the country I came from, and of having to explain to multitude of people about the place where I was raised.

It also included lack of understanding from some of my ex-friends who couldn't reconcile the idea that in Europe religion is not just beliefs but its a whole other culture and that people will never let go of your past. 

The shame, embarrassment as well as loneliness I experienced living here is not something I would wish anyone, and many times I wished that I could've met characters in books that I could relate to and understand while I was growing up. How nice it would be to meet a young girl in a book who had very similar background to mine and who helped me deal with learning English as well as feeling valued. How great it would have been if in my classes we could have gone deeper into the world history and focused on a lot more than just Eurocentric version that was constantly fed to us. 

It wasn't until college that my desires for knowing more about my background came true, but alas it is too late because by then my feelings of not being part of larger community and not being valued for self have deeply embedded in my psyche and are here to stay. 

I have a son of Asian and ethnic minority mixed in, and recalling those memories I experienced growing up here, I am scared that he will grow up with an eroded self-esteem just as I did and will also feel less than simply because his background will only be acknowledged either through one specific event or through the "exotic" culture his father came from. I am sad that he might be dealing with Asian men prejudices and that he will not be a confident young man as he is now as a baby. 

I am sure that everyone wants the best for the children, for them to feel proud of their background, traditions, culture and etc. but that pride should not come at the cost of being thought as greater than those who are different which is why diversity is important. 

In order to make people feel valued and heard, it is important to acknowledge differences and to push books that are far more than just reinforcing stereotypes, which means its important to read and talk about #ownvoices books. 

G801 the skeleton code a satirical guide to secret keeping

Title of the book: the skeleton code a satirical guide to secret keeping

Author: Ken Massey and alla Campanella

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Publishing Date: 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63047-953-4

Summary:

Early in life, we learn to exaggerate our positive personal qualities and hide or deny our failures and weaknesses. The Skeleton Code is a satirical and humorous look at the many ways we protect our public personas by closeting our personal secrets, an ultimately self-deluding way of life. As a parody of the self-help success genre, the book presents facetious strategies about how to cover up our silly and scandalous secrets before turning to The Skeleton Cure."

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Meet the authors:

Ken Massey is a public speaker, author, humorist and minister enjoying the second and truer half of life. He holds two graduate theological degrees and is trained as a life coach, conflict manager and transition specialist. He enjoys golf, and traveling, but finds his greatest fulfillment helping other people discover their true worth as human beings. Ken, a native Texan, loves the beauty and the people of North Carolina, where he and Alla reside.








Alla Campanella, after traveling throughout the world, has lived in the US since 1992. A longtime student of the arts and humanities, she enjoys her work as an artist and photographer. Alla was inspired to write this book because she heard so many personal and painful secrets from her clients about their failures and foibles and wanted them to face these realities rather than hide from them. 

Connect with them: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook








Personal Opinion:

According to this book, keeping secrets is akin to tying up one's body in knots while juggling on a ball bounced on top of an elephant's trunk. At least that's the way it felt to me. Some of the advice that was given seemed counter-intuitive, but at the same time its designed to make the reader feel exhausted financially, mentally, emotionally and so forth. If that is what it's like to keep various secrets, I don't think I want to experience those emotions outside the book. There is advice on keeping secrets in the skeleton closet to which the reader should immediately prepare themselves to battle the endless zombies, but there is also advice on how to shut down that skeleton closet permanently without jumping hoops and tying selves up in pretzel knots.

This is for iRead Book Tours

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Jan 9   - Library of Clean Reads - review
Jan 10 - Bound 4 Escape - review
Jan 11 - Reviews by Martha'a Bookshelf - review
Jan 12 - Books for Books - review
Jan 12 - Books, Dreams, Life - review 
Jan 16 - The All Night Library - review
Jan 17 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review
Jan 18 - Laura's Interests - spotlight
Jan 19 - The Autistic Gamer - review
Jan 20 - Svetlana's reads and views - review
Jan 23 - Rainy Day Reviews - review
Jan 24 - JBronder Book Reviews - review
Jan 25 - Heidi's Wanderings - review
Jan 26 - I Am Believing God - review
Jan 27 - Gabriel's Wharf - review
TBD      - Laura's Interests - review

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.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

G799 Book Review of The Semper sonnet by Seth Margolis

Name of Book: The Semper Sonnet

Author:Seth Margolis

ISBN: 978-1-68230-056-5

Publisher: Diversion Books

Type of book: Mystery, thriller, killer disease, secrets, family line, Queen Elizabeth I, the New World, living off grid, secret societies, William Shakespeare, power, desires, goals, strong heroine, word play, games, extinct tribe, pirating

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

In this stunning thrill ride, perfect for fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry, a long-lost manuscript, written for Elizabeth I, holds the key to unlocking the past—and to eliminating the future.

Lee Nicholson is ready to take the academic world by storm, having discovered a sonnet she believes was written by William Shakespeare. When she reads the poem on the air, the words put her life in peril and trigger a violent chase, with stakes that reach far beyond the cloistered walls of academia.

Buried in the language of the sonnet, in its allusions and wordplay, are secrets that have been hidden since Elizabethan times, secrets known only to the queen and her trusted doctor, but guessed at by men who seek the crown and others who seek the world. If the riddles are solved, it could explode what the world knows of the great Elizabeth I. And it could release a pandemic more deadly than the world has ever imagined.

Lee’s quest for the answers buried in the sonnet keeps her one step ahead of an international hunt—from the police who want her for murder, to a group of men who will stop at nothing to end her quest, to a madman who pursues the answers for destructive reasons of his own.

As this intelligent thriller moves back and forth between Tudor England and the present day, Lee begins to piece together the meaning behind Shakespeare’s words, carrying the story to its gasp-out-loud conclusion.

Characters:

Main characters include Leslie "Lee" Nicholson, a literature major who has discovered a mysterious sonnet written by William Shakespeare. Lee is very knowledgeable when it comes to Elizabethan times and is also very resourceful and fearless. Although she later on partners up with Mark who has his own secrets, Lee does the rescuing and doesn't let others save her. Mark is Lee's love interest and is a very talented chef who also has his own dark secrets that greatly relate to Lee's quest for innocence. I wish I could say that the villain was complex but he wasn't, and his reasons for doing what he did don't really hold water in my view.

Theme:

One never knows where clues can lead to

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Lee Nicholson's point of view and quickly moved from one point of action to another, helping the reader discover the messages within the mysterious sonnet that was possibly written by William Shakespeare. Just as quickly as that is established, the author moves on to a mysterious murder followed by a 'what-if' scenario of Queen Elizabeth I. Lee Nicholson is a strong heroine who doesn't rely on others but only on herself, which is what I liked when it came to the story. I also loved the clues and the wordplay that the author used, although I'll be honest in saying that the disease thing is a bit beyond me, and I am wondering how much is true and how much is fiction. (Is the disease and the extinct tribe fiction or fact?)

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)


AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | INDIEBOUND

About the Author

Seth Margolis is a writer whose most recent novel, THE SEMPER SONNET, was published on April 19. He is the author of six earlier novels, including LOSING ISAIAH, which was made into a film starring Halle Berry and Jessica Lange.
Seth lives with his wife, Carole, in New York City. They have two grown children, Maggie and Jack. Seth received a BA in English from the University of Rochester and an MBA in marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business Administration. When not writing fiction, he is a branding consultant for a wide range of companies, primarily in the financial services, technology and pharmaceutical industries. He has written articles for the New York Times and other publications on travel and entertainment.
For more information, please visit Seth Margolis’ website. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.
Opinion:

I never knew how much fun a mystery can be until I read The Semper Sonnet. As a teenager still grasping English language, I recall trying out Nancy Drew, but I do remember that I quickly figured out they were not my thing because at the time I feel that I needed books that have settings I am familiar with. Some years pass, and although I moved on from my original view of mysteries thanks to Susan Spann's Shinobi mysteries as well as the last Sano Ichiro book by Laura Joh Rowland, I also have discovered that mysteries can be fun. For me, The Semper Sonnet was a whole lot of fun and a great 'what-if' mystery. While reading it, I recall going back at some points and attempting to understand and solve the clues with Lee Nicholson. I also loved learning and imagining the possible scenarios of Queen Elizabeth I. (I was a bit disappointed that the secret wasn't what I thought it would, that Elizabeth I would be a male...) I also loved the action and protagonists in the book. I do feel that the villain could have used more work because the reader learns very little of him and why the villain behaves that way. I also was a bit surprised that a theory I had when it came to some of the characters turned out to be right, but despite that, the journey is a roller coaster ride that dares to combine history, word play, science and diseases into an electrifying read.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, December 1
Blog Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Friday, December 2
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Saturday, December 3
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, December 5
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Tuesday, December 6
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, December 7
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Thursday, December 8
Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Friday, December 9
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads
Monday, December 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Wednesday, December 14
Review at JulzReads
Thursday, December 15
Guest Post at JulzReads
Friday, December 16
Spotlight at Books, Dreams, Life
Monday, December 19
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Wednesday, December 21
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, December 27
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Wednesday, December 28
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, December 29
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, December 30
Review at Broken Teepee

5 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.)

Book Spotlight and Gargoyle Pictures of The Elusive Elixir by Gigi Pandian


Gigi Pandian

on Tour

January 9-20

with

the-elusive-elixir-cover

The Elusive Elixir

(mystery / paranormal mystery)

Release date: January 8, 2017
at Midnight Ink


ISBN: 978-0738742366
336 pages

SYNOPSIS


Dorian Robert-Houdin, the three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle chef who fancies himself a modern-day Poirot, is slowly turning into stone, and it’s up to Zoe Faust to unravel the alchemical secrets that can save him. When they discover that a long-lost stone gargoyle with a connection to Dorian has reappeared in Europe, the stakes are even higher.

From Portland to Paris, Zoe searches for the hidden knowledge she needs, but a cold case that harkens back to 1942 throws her off course. With an ailing friend desperately trying to discover his own elixir of life and a new romantic interest offering the first chance at love she’s had in nearly a century, Zoe is torn between a dangerous form of alchemy and her desire for a safer life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gigi Pandian

USA Today bestselling author
Gigi Pandian
spent her childhood
being dragged around the world
by her cultural anthropologist parents,
and now lives outside San Francisco
with her husband
and a gargoyle who watches over the garden.
Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries,
Accidental Alchemist mysteries,
and locked-room mystery short stories.
Gigi’s fiction has been awarded the Malice Domestic Grant
and Lefty Awards,
and been nominated for Macavity and Agatha Awards.

Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to her newsletter

Visit her Gargoyle photography blog: http://www.gargoylegirl.com

Pre-order the book: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Midnight Ink

***


You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below
.

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to all:
1 winner of a Grand prize:
the first two books in the series
(The Accidental Alchemist and The Masquerading Magician)
plus a set of gorgeous 7 book-themed recipe cards

***

CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

G502 Book Review of The Little Restaurant by Wang Anyi

General Information:

Name of Book: The Little Restaurant

ISBN: 978-1-60220-225-2

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing

Year it was published: 2010

Summary:

Wang Anyi's short stories in The Little Restaurant illuminat the emotional and intellectual complexity of the lives of the multiple generations caught up in China. Some of her short stories describe the lives of young students caught in the Cultural Revolution who were sent away to rural communities across China to be educated and tempered in a hardscrabble existence; other stories revolve around the seemingly quiet lives of ordinary citizens in the city of Shanghai. In simple language and with an eye for detail, she describes their simple physical existence and their complex nterior lives. Her descriptions are often realistic, affectionate and vivid yet somehow they remain evocative and haunting. Creating poetry out of the ordinary and the mundane, her stories are at once both stark and deeply poetic.

Author: Wang Anyi

About the Author:
(From back of the book)

Wang Anyi, born in 1954, is currently vice-president of the Writers' Associaton of China, president of the Shanghai Writers' Association and professor at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature of Fudan University. In 1955 she moved with her mother to Shanghai. In 1970 under a government policy of the Cultural Revoltuion she was settled in rural Wuhe in Anhi Province. In 1972, recruited through a competitive examination, she joined the Xuzhou Regional Cultural Troupe of Jiangsu Province as a member of its musical band. In 1978 she was transferred to the China Welfare Institute Publishing House in Shanghai to be fiction editor for Children's Epoch magazine. In 1980 she attended the literature workshop of the Writers' Association of China. In 1983 she attended the international Writing Program of hte University of Iowa. In 1987 she was invited to be a professional writer of the Shanghai Writers' Association.

Her works, which began appearing in 1977, include more than 100 short stories, 40 novelettes, 10 novels and various prose pieces and essays. She has won numerous awards, her Who's the Future Squad Leader? won a National Children's Literature prize, The Last Stop of This Train won a National Short Story prize, Gone with the Tide and Xiaobao Village won the National Novella prize, Uncle's Story won a Shanghai Novel and Novella second prize, a A story from the Cultural Revolution and I Love Bill won a Shanghai Novel and Novella third prize, The Song of Eternal Regret won a Shanghai Literature and Art prize and a prize at the Fifth Mao Dun Literature Award. Her novel An Age of Enlightenment won her an Outstanding Writer award at the 2008 Chinese Language Literary Media Awards ceremony. Some ofher works have been translated into English, German, Dutch, French, Czech, Japanese, Korean and Hebrew.

1. The Little Restaurant

One Sentence Summary:

An unknown omniscient narrator describes a small corner of the location of the restaurant as well as people who inhabit that corner and their inner lives and turmoils.

2.The Story of Ah Qiao

One Sentence Summary:

In third person narrative the life of a young man by name of Ah Qiao is described. Ah Qiao is a man who suffered from polio which changed his life for the worse. The short story describes him from the time he is a baby to the time he is an adult and is tasked with giving a speech to his co-workers.

3. The Nest Fight

One Sentence Summary:

Auntie Xiaomei is an old woman who got turned out into the streets as soon as her mistress has died. Not having any family, she becomes desperate to procure a house in her old age and tries to use people to reach her goals.

4. Ah Fang's Light

One Sentence Summary:

In first person narrative, the narrator begins to recount how he always runs into a family and as time passes he describes their circumstances more and more.

5. The Grand Student

One Sentence Summary:

Daxiasheng  travels from Xibei with some migrants looking for a cousin of his, Li Wen'ge. Unable to discover his cousin, he decides to stay with the migrants but does little to help them out with their jobs. When he does think he can help the villagers by trying to talk some sense into them, he discovers that it's better if he kept his mouth shut.

6. Inhabitants of a Vintage Era

One Sentence Summary:

The story begins with a description of the passage of time, how things exist but then disappear. An unknown narrator, possibly a young child with an older sister visits the mother at a local movie theater but then they have to leave to get ice scream. After getting ice scream, they spot a couple-a man and a woman dressed in old fashioned clothes and they decide to follow them.

7. A Nuptial Banquet

One Sentence Summary:

In the village of Xiaogangshang during a rainy day a wedding is to take place, and a teacher invites some youths to the wedding. Description of some of the traditions of the wedding follow.

8. The Meeting

One Sentence Summary:

Sun Xiazi agrees to prepare food for a meeting of "three echelons" Descriptiion of Sun Xiazi's family follows, along with what she will wear to prepare food for the meeting and what happens during the day is also described.

9. Xiao Hong of the Village of Huayuan

One Sentence Summary:

In first person voice, the narrator describes the place where they live with others along how its laid out and the people surrounding the village. Description of Xiao Hong, who happened to be the granddaughter of an actor begins as well some incidents that Xiao Hong goes through.

Personal Opinion:

My favorite stories, I'll admit are the first four because they're unlike anything I've read before. There seems to a strange and beautiful luminescence about the stories and descriptions are very unique to other books I've read. I am confused as to the significance of the last five stories and didn't really like them all that much, unfortunately, but they're still a good read if one is seeking some fascinating cultural tidbits of China

This was given to me by Tuttle Publishing House for an honest review

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.)
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