Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Really Random Tuesday #42: A Winner and a Wonderful Interview

(Photo courtesy of my daughter Angela)

Mugsy and I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and wish you a very happy New Year! Twenty twelve has a nice ring to it!

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Please congratulate Yvonne from Socrates' Book Review Blog and the Socrates' Cozy Café (the very title makes me wish I were curled up with a cozy mystery). Yvonne is the lucky winner of The CHICK-tionary by Anna Lefler. If you didn't win this time, please take a look at the other book giveaways listed on the right side of my blog.







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No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to make a dent in my to-be-read pile. But I was reassured a bit to learn that a very prolific author has a pile of to-be-read books on her own night table! Her novels center around the lives of women, feature magical realism and myth, and are read by millions worldwide. Please visit Lost in Fiction for a short but wonderful interview with Chilean author Isabel Allende by Lucy Hannau.






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Appearing on random Tuesdays, 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 Vivienne's blog, Serendipity Reviews.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Soul Clothes, and Some Thoughts on Poetry

In the past, I've felt intimidated by poetry. In school, we briefly studied some of the work of Robert Frost, along with other poets, and I always thought that poetry, that understanding and writing it, were just beyond my grasp. For me, poetry was accompanied by a sense of mysticism, reflected in these lines by Robert Frost:


"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep"






It was no wonder that I'd picture the poet (or poetess, such as Emily Dickinson) dressed in black or grey from head to toe, wearing a somber expression, trudging through the woods reciting lines, seeing deeply and uncannily into nature and human nature.

Over the past few years I've changed my mind, at least a bit. As I've read more poetry (such as the prolific work of Sweta Srivastava Vikram, and Fiona Place, who incorporated pithy poems into her novel, Cardboard, adding another dimension to it), it's become more accessible to me. I also realized that my deep enjoyment of music, specifically song lyrics, which are a form of poetry, set to music, already assured me that I could appreciate and fathom the less literal beauty of poetry. In fact, I would welcome it wholeheartedly! There are numerous similarities between poems and lyrics--repetitions and refrains, using words for their sounds, using words to convey feelings rather than exact meanings. And when you think about it, we go through much of the day speaking in short phrases--some of them might sound more than a bit silly--and poetry echoes this natural, relaxed speech pattern and the beauty of language, which is often like song.
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"You wear my purple turtleneck sweater
made of wool
looped with love, laughter, and laziness"
~Soul Clothes, Regina D. Jemison

Published in 2011, Soul Clothes by Regina D. Jemison is a bold and down-to-earth collection of poetry. The author is also a lawyer, which means she must be adept at precise writing, along with poetic writing. Her evocative poems run the gamut from the act of writing to love to breast cancer and AIDS, and express a strong sense of self, of sorrow as well as joy, and are a true celebration of words, and of life.

"I'm writin' my prayers
on stone tablets
legal pads
and blue skies, writin' the blues
away, writin' "
~Writin' My Blues Away, Regina D. Jemison

I read this thin book over the course of a few days, savoring the inventive and absorbing use of language. I knew while reading this work that I did not have to understand every detail in a hyper-literal way, but that poetry is an art form open to the interpretation of the reader, which enhanced my enjoyment of the book. I unequivocally recommend this heartfelt book of poems, even to those who believe that poetry is beyond their comprehension.

Special thanks to Victor from Modern History Press for sending me a complimentary copy of Soul Clothes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The CHICK-tionary: Review and Giveaway

Can we increase our intelligence as we get older?

I enjoy reading the dictionary to learn new words or to study words I already know. On Wednesdays I often stop by BermudaOnion's Weblog to peruse her Wondrous Words Wednesday meme. Call me a geek or a nerd (or a logophile), but I love words, and routinely add new ones to my vocabulary list.

Published in 2011, The CHICK-tionary: From A-Line to Z-Snap, the Words Every Woman Should Know by Anna Lefler is a tongue-in-cheek collection of more than 450 words (and some phrases) in alphabetical order (like a regular dictionary). There were many terms in it that I'd never heard before, such as cankles, denim rage, Fauxga, and scrimmage marriage (popular in the state I live in, CA). I do feel smarter now, or at least more well-informed. I laughed out loud numerous times at some of the outrageous definitions. Anna Lefler skillfully uses exaggeration to make her book as humorous as possible (which helps to soften the sting of what she's describing).


The CHICK-tionary, noun
Droll and amusing source book for women of a certain age

Whether you're an alpha girl, bag hag, cougar, puma, or just a regular gal, contending with Aunt Flo, a baby bump, flapjacks, or just a below-average mood, this book will lift your spirits. It deserves a special place on the shelf near other reference books, or next to your chick lit.

Good news! The publisher, Adams Media, is offering a copy of The Chicktionary as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this 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.

Enter by 5PM PST on Monday, December 26. One lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, December 27. Good luck!


Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me this book. For more reviews, please visit the other stops on TLC's The Chicktionary book blog tour. To visit Anna Lefler's blog, stop by Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Lines 2011

Meme is meme is meme. While most memes are weekly, this special meme is done only once a year.


Can it be that 2011 is almost over? Cliché or not--tempus fugit--and I'm grateful to have recorded at least some of my reading life in this blog. About two years ago, I discovered a fun meme, created by Melanie from The Indextrious Reader, on Kate's Book Blog. In Melanie's words, the idea is "to take the first line of each month's first post over the past year and see what it tells you about your blogging year." While I wasn't certain that I'd repeat this meme, I always keep in mind what I learned in elementary school: "begin with a bang!" I decided to do this meme, for the third year in a row, skipping over quotes from books (and other sources), to form a collage of my blog this past year. To read more of any post, click on the month of the post.



January
Oprah is sagacious.

February
P ie c e s

March
Please be seated because what I'm about to reveal may shock you.

April
Usually I am not at a loss for words, but I'm not sure what to say about this book, Dancing with Gravity by Anene Tressler, published in 2010.

May
Is it possible?

June
Having read some poetry penned by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, Because All is Not Lost and Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors (during which I experienced a breakthrough and started to finally understand contemporary poetry better, and even attempted to write some of my own), I was excited to have the opportunity to be among the first to read Perfectly Untraditional, the debut novel by this author, published in 2011 in New Delhi, India.

July
Having very recently read The Wooden Tongue Speaks ~ Romanians: Contradictions & Realities by writer and publisher Bogdan Tiganov, I'm honored to have had the opportunity to interview the outspoken author of this original, often arresting work.

August
Should I change the name of this blog from Suko's Notebook to The Really Random Tuesday Blog?

September
Prehistoric fiction was new to me until fairly recently, and now it has me completely captivated.

October
I am such a slouch.

November
Lady Luck has chosen a winner!

December
Move over, Dr. Laura!


My blog truly is an eclectic mix! If you'd also like to create a collage that represents your blogging year, please feel free to do this meme. As always, your comments are welcomed.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Don'ts for Wives

Move over, Dr. Laura! I discovered this little gem of a book on Petty's blog, Pen and Paper, in September. Enchanted by her review of it, I immediately ordered Don'ts for Wives from Amazon, received and read it, and have kept it on my nightstand ever since, reading a couple of pages often before bed to refresh my memory. Written by Blanche Ebbutt and first published in 1913, it's a charming book to read and contemplate. In the preface of the book, the author states that it takes a "perfect artist" to remain married (that could explain the high divorce rate), and then gives us her best tips for a solid marriage in the body of the book. Each statement in the book begins with the word "Don't". While some of it is antiquated (it was written nearly 100 years ago, in the days before women had much equality, during an era when wealthier people had servants), it's also fun to read, and full of sage advice, such as:

"Don't nag your husband. If he won't carry out your wishes for love of you, he certainly won't because you nag him."

How true! Throughout my marriage, I've always tried to avoid nagging my husband. If I tell him something once, I try not to mention it again, unless I absolutely must, because I know he hates to be nagged or "pushed". (For example, if his mother or another family member calls, I will ask him to return the call, but I'll only say it one time.)

Don'ts for Wives would be the perfect gift book for married women or for women who are about to tie the knot. The author also wrote a companion book, Don'ts for Husbands.

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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.