Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It Wasn't Me!


At last! When my daughter's friend, Analisse, announced that her book, It Wasn't Me!, was published this May, I knew I wanted to get a copy to review on my blog. While I don't review many children's books here, I do present a select few. I've been following the publication of this book on Analisse's blog, Publishing 101, for several months.

Scotty is a mouse with a past. But what does his future hold? Can he change his wayward ways?

Written by Analisse Reyes when she was twelve years old, the words in this picture book rhyme and tell the tale of a mouse named Scotty, who won't admit that he steals and lies and cheats. Colorful, skillful multi-media illustrations by Lauren Filzenger are perfectly suited for the prose. I've never seen mice drawn quite like this before--they're adorable and full of expression--and on the whole the illustrations are lovely. I think young children will get a kick out of Scotty, who is more than a bit naughty, and they'll adore Scotty's mom, who wears pearls. This book is a real charmer!

Analisse has a bright future as an author, and Lauren shows great talent for such a young artist. This book is geared for children between the ages of two and seven, although older kids and adults should also enjoy it. Like me, my daughter loved It Wasn't Me!, and I look forward to sharing this book with my young nephews soon.

Special thanks to the Reyes family for giving me a copy of this book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Really Random Tuesday #27: Armchair BEA and Eton Mess

Welcome to another edition of Really Random Tuesday. This week, I don't have any giveaway winners to announce, but as usual, I have some giveaways on the right side of my blog, so be sure to take a look at them.

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In terms of book news, the buzz is about the BEA. I know many book bloggers are attending the BookExpo America (BEA) in NYC this week, May 23 - May 27. But others, like myself, are not able to travel to NYC for this event. For us, there's an Armchair BEA, hosted by Tif, Chris, Michelle, Chrisbookarama, The1stdaughter, Emily, Florina, and Pam, a virtual convention for book bloggers with discussions, numerous giveaways, memes, and more! I registered with Armchair BEA today. (The adorable buttons shown here were designed by Sarah from Puss Reboots and Emily from Emily's Reading Room, left to right, respectively. I'd really like to learn to design buttons like these, and create one for Really Random Tuesday.) If Armchair BEA sounds like fun to you, stop by and sign up.


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Please visit Vivienne's blog, Serendipity, for another Really Random Tuesday post. In her post, she mentioned diving into a bowl of Eton Mess at a recent book club meeting. Not knowing what Eton Mess was, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and found the following photo and description:

Yum!

Eton mess is an English dessert, a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue, and cream, which is served at Eton College's annual cricket game against Winchester College students. According to Wikipedia, the word mess may refer to the haphazard appearance of the dessert, or may be used in the sense of "a quantity of food", or "a mixture of ingredients cooked or eaten together". I think mess is part of the name because the dish looks a bit messy, although a mess hall is simply a building or room used for serving and eating meals (which is probably messy, though!). Anyway, there are several recipes for this dessert online, including one by Nigella Lawson, if you are interested in making it. (I'm not sure if I'm interested in making it, but I am interested in eating it.)

Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.

For another Really Random post, also visit Veens' blog, Giving Reading a Chance.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Montezuma Intrigue

Sometimes when you read a series of books the quality of them seems to diminish as you read further into the series. The first book mesmerizes you, but subsequent books are just not as good. The characters become, well, boring and predictable and even annoying after a while, you don't really care about their antics anymore, and may even decide to quit while you're ahead--and stop reading. It's a bit sad. But Linda Weaver Clarke has done it again. I am charmed by her new book, Montezuma Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans, which will be officially released on June 1, 2011, and is part of a larger series which includes Anasazi Intrigue (2010), Mayan Intrigue (2010), and Desert Intrigue (coming soon).

"Machiavelli chuckled under his breath. They were adorable girls, but they weren't saying a word about where they were going. He needed to know their plans. He needed to get his hands on the map." ~Montezuma Intrigue, Linda Weaver Clarke

In the latest book by Linda Weaver Clarke, Montezuma Intrigue, the mysteries continue as this author entrances us with life-like characters and electrifying adventures. The search for Montezuma's treasure is both exciting and memorable. This time, the story took me on a rugged, outdoor adventure with the Evans family in search of Montezuma's treasure, through canyons and ravines and caves, aided by an antique parchment map found in an old wooden chest in the attic. There are also a few romances, and some surprises as well, which kept my reading pleasurable and lively.

This story focuses mostly on the daughters of John and Julia Evans, 19-year-old twins Sharlene and Faith, and 21-year-old April. I think Linda Weaver Clarke's experience raising her own six daughters (truly an amazing feat in this day and age!) has been very beneficial to her in creating strong and lovely female characters who are a pleasure to read about. Additionally, I enjoyed the adventure and suspense in her latest novel, which kept me reading well into the night. The author's writing flows smoothly, and is natural-sounding rather than hoighty-toighty. I also relished the story-telling which takes place inside of this story, which further emphasizes the importance of telling our stories (and hopefully also recording them), keeping them alive for future generations (isn't that why we write?).

In celebration of her new book, the author is graciously hosting a special book giveaway from May 23 - May 31, so be sure to stop by Linda Weaver Clarke's blog for details and to enter.

Special thanks to Linda Weaver Clarke for sending me her book to review. Your comments are appreciated.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Lake: Thinking Ahead to the Japanese Literature Challenge

Hosted by Dolce Bellezza, the Japanese Literature Challenge is one of the first reading challenges I ever did, as well as one of my favorites. Goodbye Tsugumi and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto were my first tastes of Japanese literature. I'm looking forward to participating in the challenge again this year, and I plan on reviewing another book by this talented author, The Lake, which has been recently translated into English by Michael Emmerich. Published in Japan in 2005, The Lake has received many terrific reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, and I think it would make a perfect choice for Bellezza's Japanese Literature Challenge 5.


The 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 triggered one of the worst natural disasters of our time. Melville House will donate a portion of the proceeds from The Lake to Japan disaster relief, in a program called Banana for Japan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Really Random Tuesday #26: Tips on How to Win a Book, and the Winner of "The Mom Book"

If I can do it, so can you! In yesterday's post I mentioned all the books--and a pair of earrings--that I've won online recently. I didn't mean to brag about my winnings, and I hope I wasn't too obnoxious. I was actually trying to encourage other people to try to win books online. It's fun to win something, and books are no exception to the rule. There are always numerous book giveaways online (including many that I post in my sidebar), and it really isn't terribly difficult to win a book. It's even easier if you have a blog, or an account on Facebook or Twitter. To maximize your chances of winning, there are a few simple "tricks" you should know about. (Experienced book bloggers may want to skip the next paragraph.)

Many book bloggers host book giveaways. There are also sites dedicated solely to book giveaways, such as one of my favorites, West of Mars - Win a Book!. Once you've found the giveaways that interest you, pay close attention to the rules. Often you will get extra chances at winning a particular book by posting about a giveaway on--you guessed it--your own blog, Facebook, or Twitter account. Helping to spread the word on a social network will often give you an extra shot at winning, which is only fair as you will also increase the competition for the book. If you become a Follower of a blog, you may also earn an extra chance. Be sure to mention the fact that you're already a Follower if the post asks you to do so (a bit of diligence pays off here). If the post has any sort of bonus question you may opt to answer that for an additional chance as well. Each book giveaway is different, so be sure to read carefully and follow the rules.

Please congratulate Laura from Laura's Reviews, the winner of Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, edited by Dave Isay. Although she was chosen randomly, Laura earned extra chances in this giveaway because she mentioned that she's a Follower, and answered the bonus question. I think Laura will really enjoy this book. I know I did.







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Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.

For other recent Really Random Tuesday posts, please visit Naida's blog, the bookworm, Avis' blog, she reads and reads, and Vivienne's blog, Serendipity.







Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcomed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mailbox Monday: Feeling Fortunate

You win some, you lose some. Lately, it's been "you win some" for me with regard to books, and it's hard to keep track of them all (this blog helps). I've been feeling very fortunate, book-wise.



I won the book The Paris Wife by Paula McClain on one of Laurel-Rain's blogs, Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow. I also found out that I won two other books, Star Gazing by Linda Gillard on Carol's blog, Dizzy C's Little Book Blog, and a "mystery" novel by Georgette Heyer on Laura's Reviews; these wins are quite recent and I haven't received the books yet.



On Natalie's blog, Pioneer Writer, I won the gorgeous turquoise tiger eye earrings more easily seen in the close-up picture above (photo from Natalie's blog) than in my first photo. Natalie made these earrings! They are quite stunning. She's very talented and has her own Etsy shop. I also "won" two books from authors, Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda, and Perfectly Untraditional, the first novel by writer Sweta Srivastava Vikram. Last but certainly not least, I received A Game of Character by Craig Robinson (Michelle Obama' s older brother!) from TLC for a June book tour. I didn't win this book, although it kind of feels like I did.

Catch some of this book luck and enter my giveaway for Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, edited by Dave Isay, if you haven't already done so (I will announce the winner tomorrow in a Really Random Tuesday post), or enter one of the other giveaways posted on the right side of my blog.

During the month of May, MariReads is hosting Mailbox Monday, a meme created by Marcia from The Printed Page (now called A girl and her books). What new books have you recently added to your shelves?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A New-to-Me Meme: Cover Art Weekend Blog Hop


"You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but they are sure fun to look at."
~Yvonne, Socrates' Book Review Blog
Cover Art Weekend Blog Hop is hosted by Yvonne from Socrates' Book Review Blog, and gives book bloggers a chance to display a book cover--or several. I realized that I had roses that were similar to the one on the cover of The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, a book I read and reviewed a few months ago, so I added them to this shot, along with a bit of mail. To join the fun, visit Yvonne's book blog.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Favorite Meme: The Book Blogger Hop

Hosted by Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books, this brilliant BOOK PARTY lasts from May 13 until May 16. The Book Blogger Hop is one of my favorite memes because it's such a fun way for book bloggers to socialize, connect with other book lovers, and discover new book blogs. If you'd like me to hop by your blog, please leave a comment.

Each week, Jennifer poses a different question for book bloggers. (Last week I went a bit crazy with the question, even though I didn't officially participate in the Hop. Please forgive me, Jennifer!) This week, she asks: Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year?

I wish I could, but I am going to neither. I will miss all the books, all the book people, all the fun. I do visit NYC regularly because I have family there, but I will not be going this month. However, I look forward to reading posts about the BEA and the BBC.

As many of you know, yesterday Blogger was not working properly for part of the day. Today Blogger is back to normal, although all the comments on my last post have disappeared.

Update, May 24: The comments which were lost have reappeared!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Two Wives and Three Husbands

"Loud activists may command the news, but it is the everyday gay people living openly who bring about real change and acceptance."
~
My Two Wives and Three Husbands,
S. Stanley Gordon


Many present-day memoirs are dark and difficult to get through. They may be interesting, but let's face it, all that honesty can become rather dismal and depressing. I know that life is not always rosy, but I battle daily to retain a degree of optimism in my thinking and outlook, and I sometimes grow weary from reading about relentless misery and pain.



Although My Two Wives and Three Husbands by S. Stanley Gordon is candid, it is--whew!--also upbeat and positive. Published in 2011, the author wrote his book as he was approaching his eighty-eighth birthday. In this memoir, the author tells his life story, with more than a touch of humor and an infinitude of zest. The book chronicles the events in his life, including his career in optometry and as a theatrical producer in NY and London, and his marriages to two women and three men.

From a young age, even perhaps before he knew he was gay, the author thought that same sex marriage should be permissible. He openly discusses his feelings as a boy who realized that he was attracted to boys, and describes how he went from leading a double life to being honest about his sexual identity. Although the author struggled at times with his sexuality during a period when there was much less acceptance of gay people, ultimately the book conveys the author's great energy, happiness, and joie de vivre, as well as his strong belief in love and marriage. In fact, this book is primarily a story about love, both platonic and romantic. Despite the difficulties he encountered--and maybe to some extent because of them--the author seems truly grateful and content with his life. S. Stanley Gordon's zest for life is genuine and charming, and I read My Two Wives and Three Husbands in just a few sittings.


I've wanted to participate in Amanda's GLBT reading challenge since I first read about it, but it required a larger commitment than what I had time to read--until now. Thankfully, you're no longer required to read a certain number of books, and can join the challenge at any point during the year; it's become a reader-friendly challenge. The GLBT reading challenge was created by Amanda from The Zen Leaf in 2009, but is currently hosted by Christina from Reading Thru The Night, and co-hosted by Natazzz from For the roses. Next, I hope to read Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin for this challenge.

Special thanks to S. Stanley Gordon and Bostick Communications for sending me this book to review.

(For some reason, the comments to this post were lost while Blogger was not working. This is upsetting, and I hope they will be restored.)

Update, May 24: Yay! The lost comments have been restored.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mom ~ A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps: Review and Giveaway

Why hadn't I heard about this before?

Are you familiar with StoryCorps? Prior to reading the introduction to Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, edited by Dave Isay, published in 2010, I was completely unaware of StoryCorps. Even though I listen to NPR on a fairly regular basis, I didn't recall listening to any StoryCorps interviews on the air.

Launched in 2003 in Grand Central Terminal in NYC, the basic idea of StoryCorps is that pairs of people interview each other and have their stories recorded. Since its inception, StoryCorps has recorded many thousands of interviews with people at recording booths throughout the United States. Participants receive a DVD of the interview, while another copy goes to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In this manner, Americans across the country tell their stories in interviews that have been recorded for present and future generations--and given some permanence.

When I picked up this book of interviews and started reading it, I discovered two things. The first thing was that I have another book in my bookcase by StoryCorps, Listening Is an Act of Love, waiting to be read (which I would've neglected for a lot longer, most likely, had it not been for "the Mom book").

The second surprise was my unexpected emotional reaction to the interviews and stories in this book. I was extremely affected by them, and many of them brought me to tears. Each interview is unique, and the relationships in this book are varied, which make the book textured and original. The book features interviews such as:

A mother talks to her son
A son interviews his mother
A sister talks to her sister about their mother
A sister talks to her brother about their mother
A daughter interviews her father about his mother
A woman talks to her same sex partner about her mother

I didn't list names here, but the names of the participants--real people--are given in this book. Different people tell different stories. The interviews feel like heart-to-heart talks, and the book goes beyond stereotypes and features Americans from all walks of life, creating a truer, broader picture of motherhood and related relationships. Personally, as a mother I cannot stand being stereotyped, and some of the appeal of this book to me is precisely because it presents a myriad of mothers and relationships.

The focus is on the numerous, dynamic roles of mothers, on capturing some (no longer) fleeting moments, of sharing memories and feelings and stories of "ordinary" American people. Each interview is dated, and includes the city where the interview took place. Interviews are short, just a few pages, and feature a small photo of the participants at the conclusion.

To say that I enjoyed reading Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps would be an understatement. I loved this book, marvel at the concept of StoryCorps, and plan on reading my other StoryCorps book soon.

With Mother's Day quickly approaching, Penguin, the publisher, is graciously offering a giveaway for Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps (U.S./Canada only), in celebration of this holiday!

  • To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • For yet another chance, answer this bonus question: If you were to do a StoryCorps interview with someone (not necessarily a mother), who would you choose? Or would you want to be the one interviewed?

Enter by 5PM PDT on Monday, May 16. One winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, May 17. Good luck!



Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me this book. For more reviews of it please visit the other stops on TLC's Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps book tour.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Children's Books Needed

















Donate a box of books for children, and the postage will be free!

I don't post press releases or that sort of thing, but I received some news worth publicizing this morning from Mitchell Silverman, co-founder and CEO of The Giving Effect, a NYC startup that represents 1,300 charities nationwide. Operation Kid Equip (OKE) will host its first mail-in book drive for at-risk children in Detroit, in partnership with The Giving Effect. As unbelievable as it may sound, many of these children do not have a single book in their homes--and books in the home are integral to literacy and future success. So please, take a look in your overstuffed bookcases or elsewhere and see what you can contribute; you'll make a true difference in the life of a child. Between now and May 14, when you donate new or gently used children's books to OKE, the postage will be free. For complete details and to donate books, please visit The Giving Effect. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Really Random Tuesday #25: Short and Sweet

Is it possible?



This week marks my three-year blogiversary.  In May of 2008, I started Suko's Notebook.  During my first year of blogging, I got little traffic and few comments (blogging is not for the thin-skinned), but I didn't give up. No one knew about my blog, except for a few family members and friends, but I kept on reading and posting.  I had a lot to learn--and still do.  Gradually, I "met" book bloggers from all over the world.  Eventually, I started to hear from authors, agents, and publishers, and had the opportunity to review books and interview authors.

My book blog is constantly changing and evolving, and I hope that it will continue to grow and improve and be a site that's worth visiting. I appreciate all of my readers, and thank you for reading!

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Une vidéo livre douce (a sweet book video):



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I often mention giveaway winners in my Really Random Tuesday posts. In fact, that's one of the reasons I created this meme, in order to have a "place" to announce them. The winner of the $25 Amazon gift card is Carrie from In the Hammock Book Reviews. Congratulations, Carrie!

If you didn't win this time, don't be too upset, because I have many other giveaways listed on the right side of my blog. Click on the covers of the books that interest you for details and to enter the giveaways.

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Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of. If you're inspired by this idea, feel free to copy the button and use it on your own blog. Please leave a link in the comments if you’re participating and I'll add it to this post.

For another Really Random Tuesday post, please visit Yvonne's blog, Socrates' Book Review Blog.

Thanks for reading!


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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.