Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Gunners of Shenyang

I had no clue.  Although I'd read the synopsis, this book was not at all what I'd expected it to be.  In fact, I was completely surprised by the contents of The Gunners of Shenyang, a memoir by Yu Jihui, published in 2013.

The Gunners of Shenyang presents a vivid portrait of China through the eyes of the author as a college student, during Mao's Great Leap Forward (1958–1962).  During this period, hunger was a serious problem for the much of the nation, because Mao's regime brought severe changes in farming which prohibited farm ownership and created famine in China, which led to millions of deaths.  A very sparse diet, consisting mainly of bean-curd dregs and "Small Millstones" left everyone hungry and dreaming of food, and caused substantial--and often embarrassing--gastric issues.  This debilitating hunger and desire for food are omnipresent in the book, and shape the lives of Yu and others at Shenyang University.

The characters in The Gunners of Shenyang have marvelous, evocative nicknames, such as Soapy (the protagonist, named after an American actor), Donkey, Bread, Red Rooster, White Swan, Plump Doll, Hot Pepper, and of course, Big Zhang.  These characters are not your average, everyday "gunners".  Consequently, this is a memoir that I'll definitely remember.  Although it's funny much of the time, it also has a clear and somber message.   It depicts the struggle for survival during a very difficult period in China, a time when 36 million people starved to death (according to Wikipedia).  Powerful, personal, and political--all at once--Yu Jihui blazingly brings to life his difficult past as a university student in China.  The Gunners of Shenyang is an absorbing, one-of-a-kind memoir that took me on a historical and emotional journey. 

Special thanks to Cherry from Signal 8 Press in Hong King for sending me a copy of this book.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Really Random Tuesday #70: Supernatural Fog, and Summer Herbs

While I don't judge books by their covers, the outside cover of a book is often what compels me to pick it up in the first place.  I love the cover of this soon-to-be-released book by Louisa Klein.  It's the kind of cover that draws my attention.  It's creepy and artistic and mysterious, all at once.  Created by Regina Wamba, who also made the cover for Supernatural Freak, the first book in this series, Supernatural Fog is an action-packed, humorous urban fantasy that features heroine Robyn Wise.  For more details about the book, please visit Lost in Fiction.



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This summer, the herbs in the garden are flourishing. I have ample amounts of oregano and rosemary, and my sage and spearmint plants are starting to grow larger.  I also have a small lavender plant which I snip pieces from for that unmistakenly fresh fragrance, to have at my bedside.  I ordered the oval herb markers for my garden from Raincreek Pottery on eBay. 


"There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance..."
~William Shakespeare


A lovely book about herbs

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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 matters you can think of.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, then add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page

Your comments are welcomed!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Really Random Tuesday: City Lights

This was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, City Lights is a fantastic independent bookstore and publisher in San Francisco.  On a recent trip to the city, I was thrilled to visit this world-famous literary landmark, and enjoyed capturing some of the enchanting, bohemian ambiance of the place "on film".



Reading man

Browsing daughter


I ventured upstairs to the poetry room

I left my heart...
 


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As promised, I have a book winner to announce today.  Please help me to congratulate the lucky winner of The Rebels Of Cordovia by Linda Weaver Clarke, Pat from Posting For Now.  Many congratulations to you, Pat!  I think you'll enjoy reading this book.

If you didn't win this book giveaway, cheer up!  Please take a look at the other book giveaways listed on the right side of my blog.  You might win a book or two.




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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 matters you can think of.  I often announce my book giveaway winners in these posts.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, then add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Really Random Tuesday #68: Book Winner, Baguettes, and Butterflies


Et la gagnante est... 

Karenk is the winner of an ebook edition of The Summer of France by Paulita KincerFélicitations!  Please help me to congratulate the randomly chosen winner of this novel.  Descriptions in the book brought to mind the wonderful aroma and taste of freshly baked French bread.  While some baguettes take longer than 7 hours to make, I found an "easy" French bread recipe on Carpé Season, to try baking à la maison

If you didn't win this book, don't despair!  For other giveaways and reviews of French-themed books, please visit France Book Tours.  And scroll down to take a look at the terrific book giveaways listed here, on the right side of my blog.

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Inspired by Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, and my sister-in-law's family's monarch farm, I planted six milkweed plants to attract monarch butterflies.  I shared this experience on Facebook, but since I reviewed the book last month during the TLC tour, and mentioned my desire to find milkweed plants, I decided to include it here as well.  I was thrilled when monarchs discovered the milkweed almost immediately, and overjoyed that the plants have developed numerous seed pods, which form if the flower blossoms are pollinated.  The third photo shows an open seed pod; these seeds will fly away to create new milkweed plants for the monarchs. (Click on photos to make them larger.)




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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 matters you can think of.  I often announce my book giveaway winners in these posts.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, then add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page

Happy Tuesday!  Your comments are welcomed, as always. 
(Photo of baguettes courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Rebels of Cordovia: Review and Giveaway

"The little country of Cordovia was in the hands of a tyrant who cared very little about the people."
~The Rebels of Cordovia (prologue), Linda Weaver Clarke

Inspired by the adventures of Robin Hood but set in the 1700s, The Rebels Of Cordovia by Linda Weaver Clarke is new fiction by this prolific author.  Published in 2013, it's a story about the struggle of young people--rebels--against the tyranny and oppression of the despotic King Rupert.  The book centers around two attractive main characters, Robin Marie, the leader of Robin's Rebels, and Daniel, the leader of the Freemen.  Both Robin and Daniel want to help the people of Cordovia.  Although they lead different rebel groups, they share many of the same beliefs, and value essential freedoms.

Author Linda Weaver Clarke told me that her sense of patriotism and deep love for America also inspired her to write The Rebels of Cordovia. The patriots who fought for our freedom influenced the author to create the rebels in this story.  In this book, Robin is a strong female protagonist, a dark-haired beauty and rebel leader whose father, Andrew, secretly taught her to defend herself while she was growing up, telling her that she would someday fight for the rights of others.  From her father, Robin has learned how to be a skillful archer, how to fight with a sword, and to how ride bareback.  Daniel, a handsome, green-eyed rouge, leads his group with skill and aplomb.  Both leaders are compelled to fight for important rights such as freedom of speech and equality.  Daniel realizes that if their groups unite, they will become stronger, but he needs to convince Robin. 

Once I started reading The Rebels of Cordovia, I greatly looked forward to my time with this book, because the author is a truly terrific storyteller.  She brings the characters to life through their mannerisms and conversations with each other.  Linda Weaver Clarke writes with passion and grace, and the love story in this book is simply wonderful.  In fact, this aspect of the story was the strongest draw for me. (Is it just me, or are love stories set in the past more romantic than those set in the present day?)  I thought that Robin and Daniel sounded perfect for each other, and I enjoyed the steady development of their relationship.  Suitable for young adults and adults, this charming book was a pleasure to read, and I relished it.  The Rebels of Cordovia is another wonderful book by Linda Weaver Clarke! 

Fabulous news!  The author is generously offering a giveaway for The Rebels of Cordovia to one randomly chosen reader.  This book giveaway is international (U.S., print or ebook; other countries, ebook edition).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For an extra chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. 

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, July 15.  One winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Tuesday, July 16.  Good luck!

Special thanks to Linda Weaver Clarke for sending me her new book and for offering this giveaway.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mailbox Monday: Just One Book


Just one book, that's all it took, yeah 
Just one book. . .
(My apologies to The Hollies)

Just one book arrived, just in the nick of time, earlier today.  I won this book, The Love Wars by L. Alison Heller, on Darlene's blog, Peeking Between the Pages.


Created by Marcia from To Be Continued, Mailbox Monday is a meme that encourages us to showcase our new books.  For the month of July, Mailbox Monday will be hosted by Tasha from Book Obsessed.  What new books arrived in your mailbox, or by other means?

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