Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

I can't believe what I stumbled upon tonight on Amazon! Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 10) by Alexander McCall Smith will be released on April 21, 2009. I didn't know there was another book in the works. This is great news for fans of this series, such as myself. It's time to pour a cup of tea and celebrate!

But there's more terrific news! The two-hour pilot of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, directed by Anthony Minghella, will premier in the United States on HBO on March 29, 2009, and six additional weekly episodes will follow on Sunday nights. This series stars actress and singer Jill Scott as Mma Precious Ramotswe, Anika Noni Rose as Mma Grace Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe’s quirky secretary, and Lucien Msamati as Mr J.L.B. Matikone, Mma Ramotswe's love interest. It's the first movie series filmed in Botswana, and I'm really looking forward to watching it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bookworm or Bibliophile

If you're reading this post, chances are good that you're either a bookworm or a bibliophile. Do you know the difference between these two words? Although sometimes the word bookworm is used in a derogatory sense, to me a bookworm is someone who simply loves to read. A bibliophile, on the other hand, is someone who loves books themselves, admires and often collects them, and usually likes to read. Bookworms go to the library to find books to take home and read, whereas bibliophiles may visit libraries to surround themselves with books.

I consider myself more of a bookworm, but I don't think I'm the stereotypical bookworm, socially awkward and pedantic; I wonder why some associate an interest in reading with negative traits. However, I do at times get books for the purpose of adding to my collection, and very recently found a beautiful copy of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, illustrated by Louis Jambor (even though we already own two versions of this classic), and a copy of The Giver, signed by author Lois Lowry. Are you a bookworm, bibliophile, or both?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Inkheart





















"Every book should begin with attractive endpapers . . . . Preferably in a dark color: dark red or dark blue, depending on the binding. When you open the book it's like going to the theater. First you see the curtain. Then it's pulled aside and the show begins."
~ Inkheart, Cornelia Funke

Eleven years ago, when my daughter was a baby and was first introduced to a family friend, he said that her mouth was like that of the actor Brendan Fraser. I had never noticed his mouth before, but after hearing that remark my eyes were drawn to this actor's mouth forever after, and still are. When I watched the movie Inkheart last night I was once again drawn to this actor's mouth, not just for the shape of his lips, but also because of his ability to read aloud and bring characters from a story to life. Not in the usual sense, but in a magical sense. Fictional characters climb out of the pages of books and into our world. Brendan Fraser plays Mo, a bookbinder who also happens to be a "Silvertongue", which means he has the ability to draw characters out of the books they inhabit and into our world. The problem is that real-world people can get sucked into those same books at the same time, and vanish, which is what happened to Mo's wife, Resa, while he was reading to her--and released into the world of the book's villain, Capricorn. Inkheart the movie is based on the best-selling book for children (and those young at heart) of the same name by Cornelia Funke. Inkheart (2003) is the first book of the Inkworld trilogy, which also includes Inkspell (2005) and Inkdeath (2008). The movie differs from the book, and misses some of the subtlety, grace, and mystery of the book. But I did enjoy seeing the characters who come to life in the book come to life on the silver screen, and appreciated the many messages which are "book-affirming", about the beauty and magical nature of books, stories, and imagination.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Zabelle

Yes hay em.

That means, I am Armenian. My grandparents arrived here from Armenia to escape the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Turkey. I'm also part Italian--but that's not important right now. When I was a child, it felt very peculiar to be Armenian. When kids asked me what nationality I was (and they seemed to do that a lot during my elementary school days), I shrugged or became mute. I dreaded these inquiries, and wouldn't tell them I was Armenian. Even worse, though, was attending Armenian school, which was held on Saturday mornings. The school was within walking distance, and as I trudged back home after class with my sisters, Armenian textbooks in our arms, I was afraid I'd see someone I knew. If friends were outside they'd notice the books, with their strange letters from a different alphabet, and ask questions. I did not want to be seen with these books, this evidence of my otherness. It was sheer torture to me. When we stopped going to Armenian school I was relieved, although I still continued to hide my heritage from others.

As I grew up, I learned to accept my heritage and in fact, became glad that I am part Armenian. Nancy Kricorian is a poet as well as an author of fiction who's also of Armenian descent. A poet first and foremost, her inspiration for her first novel, Zabelle, published in 1998, was to write for a larger audience, and to record some of the many memories and stories she had of her grandmother. Further inspiration came from Sula by Toni Morrison, and My Name is Aram by another Armenian author, William Saroyan.

Nancy Kricorian is a wonderful storyteller, and this book will enchant you from the first page until the very last. Based on the life of her grandmother, Zabelle is the fictional story of Kricorian's grandmother (and many other Armenians) who escaped the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and made a new life in America. In the story, Zabelle Chahasbanian emigrates to America in an arranged marriage to an Armenian grocer, Toros, in Watertown, MA. Her mother-in-law is mean and domineering, but Zabelle learns to stand her ground. She has three children, Moses, Jack, and Joy, who face cultural conflicts as second-generation Armenians growing up in America. This book paints an intimate portrait of Zabelle and her family, and is both touching and comical, like all good drama.

Even if you are not Armenian but odar you will enjoy this very entertaining book. It's written with passion and captures your attention, completely, regardless of your nationality.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Books and Obama

In college if not before, President-elect Barack Obama discovered that words have the incredible power to transform lives. Equally eloquent as a speaker and as an author, Obama, who reads Baldwin, Lessing, Lincoln, Melville, Morrison, Shakespeare, and numerous others, has been shaped by his reading, much like the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. In Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, he acknowledges the importance of books in his life as a source of insight, information, and inspiration. On the eve of the inauguration, here's the original article from the NY Times.


Books by Barack Obama:
  1. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995, 2004)
  2. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2006)
  3. Celebrating Change: Key Speeches of President-Elect Barack Obama, October 2002-November 2008 (2008) (also by Hillary Clinton and John McCain)
  4. Change: Barack Obama's Plan to Repair the U.S. Economy (2008)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tina Turner was my First Customer

Some of you may already know that I'm an Amazon marketplace seller. I sell used books--and a few new ones--on Amazon through my seller account. I'm not making a ton of money but I enjoy it. I started doing this because I 'd often look on Amazon when a book interested me to see if I could get it for less from one of their used book sellers (who also sell new books and books in excellent but "used" condition). During a conversation with my sister, Amy, we talked about books and she mentioned that she was selling books and a few CDs on Amazon, and told me it was easy to set up an account. I decided to give it a try. Ten minutes later I became a bookseller! It has been a real joy to sell books online. Amazon has a terrific system and after over a year as a seller, I haven't had any problems (knock on wood, even though I'm not superstitious). I love packaging up the books neatly and sending them all over the country. When I received notice of my first sale by email, I was excited. The first book I sold went to a customer named Tina Turner. I don't think she was the famous singer, but who knows? Probably not, though. Some people share names with celebrities. I actually know a Janet Jackson and a Ricki Martin who live nearby. I'm not kidding. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Laughter is the Best Medicine

















Last month, writer Kim Smith presented me with an Honest Scrap Award. I then gave out a few of these awards to some terrifically honest bloggers I know, Christie, Heidi, Mee, and Myrthe.  Now I'd like to pass along two more of these awards, one to Nora Ephron and one to Jenny McCarthy, who've each written a book which brims with honesty.  These women are both also very funny--thank goodness!  I've just read I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman, by writer/director Nora Ephron, and Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth, by comedienne Jenny McCarthy. Both authors get down to the nitty gritty about their subjects, aging and pregnancy, respectively, and both approach their topics with a great deal of (necessary) humor.  Without humor, these books would cast readers into deep, abysmal depressions.   Perhaps I should also give one of these awards to Marjane Satrapi for Embroideries, an outrageous graphic novel, which depicts, in cartoon form, the secrets women have about sex, men, and life.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Squidoo

I'm doomed. Really doomed. I feel as if I'll never have time to read now.   I've just discovered Squidoo, and now spend even more time playing online.  I didn't know much about Squidoo until a couple of my posts were linked to on Squidoo pages (also called lenses).   Intrigued, I decided to make a page titled, Blogging Secrets.  In May of 2008 I started Suko's Notebook, and have since learned a lot about blogging firsthand.  On my Squidoo lens I share some of the tricks of the trade with other bloggers. Squidoo is really fun, but it's also another way to spend time, away from books.   Anyway, I'm behind in my reading, so please bear with me.  A new book review or book-related post should be posted within a few days!

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Some of the books reviewed here have been provided
to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents,
in exchange for my honest reviews.