My Friend Amy ~ The Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week

Kool-Aid Mom's Award

My Friend Amy

Amy at My Friend Amy is this week’s Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week for stepping out of her comfort zone and saying what needed to be said, regardless of whether it offended readers.  It wasn’t something she wanted to do, offend people, but she felt she needed to say what was on her mind because it was the right thing to do.

Before I had read this post, I hadn’t known anything of the whitewashing of covers.   Amy’s post also made me aware of other bloggers out there that I hadn’t read like Susan of Color Online and Ari of Reading In Color, who led me to several other wonderful new blogs, as well.  My Google Reader has nearly doubled in subscriptions, and I’m better for the diversity it has brought.  Her post has also made me think about how I, a white person, have been fairly cacooned to a lot of the issues people of color face.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means for Maggie, especially, being half-Vietnamese in a community where there are few Asians.  There have been candid conversations with her recently in which she’s expressed how she sometimes wishes she was all of one or the other instead of biracial.  Recently, her classroom finally received a second Asian, but to her dismay, the new person is a boy.  Besides the fact he is a BOY, and icky by gender (she’s in 5th grade, lol), she’s not terribly fond of him as a person (he says “Man!” a lot, and is disgusting and ill-mannered, according to her) and she says he looks like her daddy.  I’ve not seen the boy yet, but since he’s on the basketball team and she’s a cheerleader, I will see him at their first home game.  One of the things that distresses her most about Day Day is that all of their classmates are trying to push them together as boyfriend and girlfriend, just because he’s Asian.  Honestly, I think she’d like him as a friend, she does shows occasional admiration for him and, apparently, he has the redeeming quality of standing up for others from stories she’s told.

All of that paragraph was to say that Amy’s post On Being Offended has made me think a lot about how can I help Mags navigate through growing up and try to be supportive and understanding.  I can understand to an extent what it’s like for her, but I can never fully understand.  I see her beauty, grace and athleticism, and intelligence and listen to her talk about being an 10-year-old girl, and I am perplexed by the mystery of it all.  I was an overweight, social misfit, and never understood the social play that went on between my peers until I was in my mid-twenties.  Add to that the fact that when people look at her, they see a person of color and have reactions to that, either involuntary or conscious.

Most who meet Mags for the first time think she’s Hispanic, partly because there is a lot more Latinos than Asians, but also because most of her close friends are Spanish.  She is already beginning to feel the pains of racism as one of her classmates is known to “hate Mexicans”, and another accuses Maggie of being racist because she’s interested in Asian things.  And I’m beginning to see it having an effect on her this year as she’s starting to become a bit more shy and reserved, and less of the outgoing little girl who knew, at 18-months-old, how to get strangers to help her do and get the things she wanted.  I don’t know what to do to help her, other than love her and encourage her and to remind her who she really is.  AND I know this will only get harder for her as she gets older.

Well, this post is NOT where I wanted it all to go, but it kept winding back that way all the same, and perhaps that is part of what Amy’s post has done.  Her post, along with Lenore’s International Book Bloggers Mentor Program and Dawn’s Kiva posts, has made me think and think a lot about my place among so many both in the blogosphere and in the world. They impressed me enough that I wanted to tell others how much so by started the Flavor of the Week.

And now I’m out of Flavors that I had in the can, so I want y’all to let me know who has inspired you to think?  What Blogger is your Flavor of the Week?  What posts have made you reach outside of yourself and do something community-wise? 

Don’t forget to check out On Being Offended at My Friend Amy, it’s an excellent post :-)

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan

Title:  Of Bees and Mist

Author:  Erick Setiawan

Paperback:  405 (Advaced Reader’s Edition)

Published:  August 2009

ISBN:  9781615233502

Acquired:  Received from Barnes & Noble’s First Look online book club

Challenges:  ARC Reading Challenge 2010, New Author Challenge 2010

“If you have something to say, then say it,” said Meridia.  “I know you’ve been talking to Mama behind my back.”

A smile slow and calculating parted the girl’s lips.  The liveliness in her eyes extended to her mouth, which now took on a delight almost to fiendish for her thirteen years.

“You’re wearing… the necklace Mama gave you.  You wear it three, four times a week.”… Malin’s laugh leapt up with contempt.  “You’re just like the rest of them.  So easily fooled.  When I first met you, I thought you had it in you to stick it to her….  Can’t you see how cheap that necklace is?  I wouldn’t be surprised if she fished it out of  a garbage bin.  And yet you wear it like it’s the most precious thing you own.”

“I wear it because I like it.  Mama was generous enough to give it to me.”

“Have you listened to yourself lately?  Every other sentence you say is ‘ Mama this and Mama that.’  It makes me sick to hear you go on!  Well, she’s not your mother and she never will be.  Why do you bend to her every wish?  Why does everyone?  If you only knew the things she says behind your back.”

 -Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan, pages 128-129

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan is descibed on the back of the book as an adult fable, and I had to Google “fable” to understand how they could call it this, as my previous understanding of the term was “a short story told for the purpose to entertain an audience while teaching them a life lesson.”  You know, “Moral of the story is…”  But Of Bees and Mist is not a short story, and I’m not exactly sure if it’s got a moral. 

According to Google, there are two specific definitions of “fable” that can apply to this book:

A fable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, that features animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized.

A story about mythical or supernatural beings or events.

In Of Bees and Mist, Setiawan tells the story of two families of strong matriarchs who are brought together by the marriage of Daniel and Meridia.  Eva, Daniel’s mother, is a larger-than-life personality with poise and charm and sweeps everyone up into the palm of her hand by her charisma.  Once in her grasp, however, she expects them to do her bidding and never argue or suffer the consequences.  She takes particular aim at her own husband, Elias, as well as her youngest daughter, Permony, of whom she has always seen as competition for her husband’s affection.  She continually nags, berates and cajoles them for differing reasons and effects.  With Elias, she peppers him with swarming bees at all hours, particularly at night when he’s trying to rest (she naps during the day so she can keep at him) until he breaks from exhaustion and flies off the handle.  As to Permony, Eva treats her as the whipping girl and gets out her frustration and irritation on the young girl.  When Meridia comes along and takes up Permony’s cause, expresses her own opinion and shows herself to be both beautiful and intelligent, Eva can’t stand it.  She levels her sights to destroy her new daughter-in-law.

The second mother in the equation is Ravenna, who has gained a reputation in their small town as not being quite right in the head.  A great deal of the time, Ravenna lives in her own world, mumbling her own private language to herself while constantly cooking for no one in particular.  She lives her life behind a veil of forgetfulness, hiding from a past no one will talk about.  However, occasionally she finds her way to the surface, and is a force to be reckoned with.  Her essence and spirit has lasting power and Meridia is able to sustain herself in between Ravenna’s moments of sanity.  Whereas Eva has a vile and evil presence that drives people to bitterness and contention, Ravenna has a soothing and calming effect, bringing peace with her and driving out Eva’s bees.  It is between these two women that the battle of Good versus Evil seems to play out.

Along with the bees that pour from Eva’s lips to attack those at whom she directs them, there are other supernatural elements.  There are the three different mists that are characters in their own right in the book.  The white mist that encases the house that Meridia grew up in which keeps it the temperature and hearts within the home cold.  The yellow mist that comes in the evenings to take Gabriel, Meridia’s father, away to his mistress’s house and the blue mist that brings him back in the mornings.  There is a ghost that inhabits the mirrors, as well as fireflies that visit, protect and guide Meridia, and roses and marigolds that seem to war for dominance over Eva’s lawn.  AND, there is Hannah, Meridia’s best friend from childhood, who returns for visits with her as an adult when times are hard for her.  No one ever sees Hannah, but I don’t think she’s Meridia’s imaginary friend.

The worst evil Eva commits is to make a deal with a man whom she knows is wicked to marry her daughter in order to profit monetarily from the match.  Worse yet, when her daughter confesses to discovering the man to be part beast (a pig-man), and to raping young girls in their basement, Eva sends her back to him.  Telling her daughter she doesn’t want a scandal surrounding her name.  For Eva, saving face and her pride are her most precious treasures.

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Honestly, Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan is a complex story with many facets.  One of the things I found most amazing was that Setiawan hung so many guns on every room of a mansion in this book, and fired them all.  There are no strings left untied, everything was used.  Another thing I was impressed by reading Of Bees and Mist is the difference in storytelling between Western and Eastern cultural style.  This book really showed off the Oriental thought process of fluidity, connectivity and moments of experience, whereas in the Occidental custom, storytelling and philosophy is linear and cause-and-effect.  Because of this, Of Bees and Mist doesn’t follow the “this-then that-then that happened” but was more like friezes in the lives of the characters within, with the balance of their lives being weighed out in the end.

I may re-read this book later… I haven’t decided.  There were just so many aspects of the story that I think I’d could still get more out of it.  Overall, Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan is a fantastic story that sweeps the reader along.  I was surprised how much time and pages went by as I read.  Though I’m not exactly sure why I’m not giving this a 5 out of 5, it’s still a great book, and so I’m giving it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Finn Garner

Title:  Politically Correct Holiday Stories For an Enlightened Yuletide Season

AuthorJames Finn Garner

Hardcover:  99 pages

Published: 1995

ISBN:  0028604202

Twas the night before solstice and all through the co-op
Not a creature was messing the calm status quo up.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Dreaming of lentils and warm whole-grain breads.

We’d welcomed the winter that day after school
By dancing and drumming and burning the Yule,

A more meaningful gesture to honor the planet
Than buying more trinkets for Mom and Aunt Janet,

Or choosing a tree just to murder and stump it
And dress it all up like a seasonal strumpet.

My lifemate and I, having turned down the heat,
Slipped under the covers for a well-deserved sleep,

When from out on the lawn there came such a roar
I fell from my futon and rolled to the floor.

I crawled to the window and pulled back the latch,
And muttered, “Aw, where is the Neighborhood Watch?”

I saw there below through the murk of the night
A sleigh and eight reindeer of nonstandard height.

At the reins of the sleigh sat a mean-hearted knave
Who treated each deer like his persunal slave

I’d seen him before in some ads for car loans,
Plus fast food and soft drinks and cellular phones.

He must have cashed in from his mercantile chores,
Since self-satisfaction just oozed from his pores.

-“Twas the Night Before Solstice”, Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Finn Garner, pages 1-2

I first came across James Finn Garner’s schtick of running long-standing and beloved stories of western culture through the PC sanitizer in high school when I read his Politically Correct Bedtime Stories.  What made that first book so funny was that it was original and pointed out the ridiculousness of the then small voice of the PC police.  Oh, if only we knew then how that voice would grow and become the bully it is today!

In this holiday version of the original book, Garner revisits our favorite Christmas stories, some with more success than others.  The first is a modernized and sanitized version of Clement Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, and the best offering in the whole book.  The narrator of the story (a man or woman, we never really know.. though, it sounds like a shrill hippy-feminazi) argues with the Santa about everything from Christmas trees to Barbie dolls and toy guns.  Ultimately, Santa capitulates and exits, leaving this admonishment:

“I pity the kids who grow up around here,
Who’re never permitted to be of good cheer,

“Who aren’t allowed leisure for leisure’s own sake,
But must fret every minute -it makes my heart break!”

-pages 8-9

And in place of the traditional “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” this Santa calls out as he flies off, “Happy Christmas to all, but get over yourselves!”

This particular section of the book is, in my opinion, the only part of the book worth reading.  It’s clever and pulls into focus exactly what is at stake with the PC craziness and who suffers the most.  Children are more and more being forced to worry about what they say and how it might be received.  They are forced at ever earlier ages to consider how their words and actions might be taken out of context.  From the kindergartener who was expelled for sexual harassment because he kissed his classmate on the cheek, to Maggie’s own classmates (fifth graders) calling her a racist because she likes asian things (HELLO? she’s asian!) or labeling another classmate as a racist because someone said she is one.  It’s become the new bad-name to call each other whether it is true or not, and whether they even understand what it means.  It’s the “Your mother wears army boots!” of the next generation.

Other stories included in this book:

Frosty the Persun of Snow – Frosty, a gender non-specific persun of snow, organizes a march to D.C. with the goal of making congress enact changes to end global warning.  Unfortunately, an army of snowmen showing up on Capitol Hill tends to draw the media’s attention, and where the media goes, so do those pesky hot lights.

The Nutcracker – Clara organizes committees to talk to the mice and get them to come to an agreement instead of fighting, then refuses the Nutcracker’s invitation to visit his kingdom, calling it a tactic to portray womyn as “docile, helpless and easily manipulated with identities and backgrounds of lesser importance” than that of males, and that they perpetuate their abduction fantasy.  Yeah… political correctness and communism just sucks the fun out of our holiday stories.

Rudolph the Nasally Empowered Reindeer – Basically, Rudolph is a bitter, angry loner who takes the opportunity of Santa’s need for his glowing nose to rape the jolly old elf into concessions that ultimately leave his fellow reindeer unhappy and then he leaves them to organize his Laplander cousins.

A Christmas Carol – All I can say about this one is that Dickens’ original story of keeping the spirit of the season in your heart all year round has been redone, revisited, and remixed so many times that, unless you can really knock it out of the park, another version of it just becomes white noise.  Garner’s attempt is mediocre at best, and portrays Cratchit as a impotent subversive, Fred as a milksop without any sense of self, and Tiny Tim… oh, excuse me, Diminutive Timón as an opportunist. 

Overall, Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Finn Garner was just meh.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Here’s a clip of my favorite PC Christmas Story :-)

TSS ~ Meme Meme Meme Sunday

The Sunday Salon.com

I’ve been bookmarking and meaning to do several one-time memes, but I’ve been lazy and kept putting them off. Inspired by the Bloggiesta that I didn’t sign up for, but seem to be doing anyway… unofficially… I figured this Sunday Salon post would be a good time to do it :-)

First off, I grabbed this one from Page247‘s Sunday Salon over a month ago:

Diversity in Reading Meme

1. Name the last book by a female author that you’ve read.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, but I’m currently reading Water for Elephantsby Sara Gruen (and loving it ;-) )

2. Name the last book by an African or African-American author that you’ve read.

I can’t remember, actually… The last one I remember was Sacred Cows and Other Edibles by Nikki Giovanni, but I’m sure I’ve read something since then *hangs head in shame* Must remedy this….

3. Name one from a Latino/a author.

One that I read?  or just a title out of the blue?  This is harder than I thought… it looked so fun on Page247’s site.  Love in the Time of Choleraby Gabriel García Márquez.  It’s on Mt. TBR… somewhere….

4. How about one from an Asian country or Asian-American?

Finally!  an easy one!  The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and an excellent book, I might add ;-)

5. What about a GLBT writer?

I don’t know the author’s sex life unless they say it in bold print at the beginning.  It doesn’t matter to me, as long as the writing’s good and the story pulls me in… the rest is their business.  Jordan, the main character in the modern part of The 19th Wife is gay, does that count?

6. Why not name an Israeli/Arab/Turk/Persian writer, if you’re feeling lucky?

Yeah, I got this easy…. lol.  A book I’d love to get to on Mt TBR:  The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be Godby Israeli author Etgar Keret.  One of the short stories in this book was made into the movie Wristcutters:  A Love Story

7. Any other “marginalized” authors you’ve read lately?

I guess I should be more politically minded or something.  Marginalized?  IDK…  Um, I’m reading The Last Lectureright now… it’s author, Randy Pausch died of cancer before it was published.  Is he marginalized now?  He can’t vote, and if he were to speak through Melinda Gordon or Allison DuBois, I don’t think anyone would listen.

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Okay, this looked like too much fun to pass up.  I’m ripping it off Sink or Swim, who did it as part of Ten on Tuesday meme.  Okay, so I’m a couple days late on it…

Ten Things You’d Bring on a Deserted Island

  1. The entire inventory of Mt. TBR… That’ll keep me busy for a good five years at least, and if I don’t like a book, it can be re-appropriated for other purposes:  Firewood, note paper (remember The Book Thief?), TP, etc.
  2. TWO lifetime supplies of Charmin 2-ply quilted with aloe and floral scent.  Hey, I might as well splurge on something!
  3. Charlie Hobbit of Driveshaft, wait… he died.  Mr Eko, then … crap, he’s dead, too… John Locke… he died, but came back… No, wait… he’s possessed by an evil spirit or some such…  Aw, heck… Gimme the Professor, then.  Is he dead, yet? 
  4. The Magic Conch Shell :-) 
  5. A volleyball and some red paint.. So I can make my own friend :-)
  6. A team of sexy masseurs :-D
  7. Ioan Gruffudd Ioan... *sigh**drool* And Hugh Jackman sexy man-candy…  and would it be greedy of me to want Gerard Butler I'm seeing a pattern here..., too…  *long, cleansing breaths…. I think I need to lay down*  Oh heck, since I’m being greedy… Gimme James Callis James Callis is hot!, too… he was who I pictured as Max in The Book Thief.
  8. Ty Pennington, he can build me an awesome island home :-)
  9. A laptop with solar charger so I can blog about it all.
  10. A helicopter so I can leave whenever I want.

The Magic Conch Shell Rap

Okay, after number 7 on what I’d bring to the island, I now have to go to confession…  I’ve got some thoughts of a sinful nature :-D  no, no smilies… that’s bad!

So what would you bring to the desert island?

Free Books and an Award, WINNING ROCKS!

You are a winner!!!!

 

Who doesn’t want to hear those four words?  I’ve been hearing them a lot in the last couple weeks and I’ve gotten behind a bit on sharing it, not to mention I have the Great Goblins! Giveaway winner to announce!

First, I’ve got a funny story to tell…  It would seem that it has been decided by the book gods that I MUST read The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson, because I’ve won it three times now in three different blog giveaways of it (I only accepted the first one and asked the other two to draw another name so someone else could enjoy it :-) )  Thank you Joystory, Fresh Ink Books, and Gramma’s Reads for  hosting these giveaways :-)

The latest book giveaway that I won was for Shanghai Girls by Lisa See from Devourer of Books.  I have both Peony In Love and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, but haven’t gotten to them as yet, and I think I’m waiting to just have a big Asian book read-a-thon or something… lol.  Thanks Jen!

One book that I was uber-geeked out about since I first saw it’s banner in Shelf Awareness, then saw the website and trailer for it, is BoneMan’s Daughter by Ted Dekker.  So I was doing the happy dance when The Literate Housewife announced she was hosting a giveaway for the book.  When I saw my name as one of the winners, I actually screamed with joy… Missy, my little rat terrier, came running to see if her mommy was okay, even.  Thank you, Jennifer! :-D

AND I’d like to say THANKS! to texasheartland of Texas Banter Book Reviews for giving me this lovely award:

The Literary Blogger Award

Here are the details of this award:

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Okay…. comfy and warm inside?  Well… I’d say winning books there makes me feel warm and comfy inside, so all the afore mention bloggers are 5 of my nominees, and for the other 4 of the “up to nine” I’m going to stretch a little :-)

  • Lost In Books – great blog and great Twit :-D (which is not an insult, ;-) )
  • Must Read Faster – relatively new blogger, just a month since she popped her blog’s cherry :-)  She is learning fast, reading fast, and tweeting fast :-)
  • Wrighty Reads – a LibraryThing friend, fellow Zombie Chicken blogger, and, most importantly, fellow left-hander!  YaY! for LEFTIES!
  • Books and Movies –  Carrie’s Blogroll is a directory of the best blogs in the blogosphere :-)  (and yes, Mt. TBR is on it ;-) )

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And now for the Great Goblin! Giveaway winner…

I cannot tell y’all how much fun, absolute and plain FUN, I had reading Goblins!  And I was happy that there were so many entries to win it… if only I had a copy for everyone who entered!  But, alas… I only have one to give away.  And the winner of that copy is….

Carrie K.

 

There are two more book giveaways coming soon, one for The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy and one for The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, so keep an eye out for those announcements!

Thanks to everyone who visits Mt. TBR, to my fellow LTers, BookMoochers, PBS’ers and Tweeps.  Y’all make reading and blogging so much fun!

MWAH!! Thank ya!

MWAH!! Big Kisses of THANKS!

 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Title:  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Author:  Jamie Ford

Hardbound:  290 pages

Date Published:  January 27, 2009

Publisher:  Ballantine Books (div of Random House)

ISBN:  9780345505330

At the next mess hall, lunch had finished.  Mrs. Beatty had him wash and wipe down trays while she coordinated with the kitchen manager on needed supplies and menu planning.  “Just hang out if you get done early,” she said.  “Don’t go wandering off unless you want to stay here for the rest of the war,”  Henry suspected that she wasn’t joking and nodded politely, finishing his work.

By all accounts, the mess hall was off-limits to the Japanese when it wasn’t mealtime.  Most were restricted to their chicken shacks, although he did see people occasionally slogging through the mud to and from the latrine.

When he was done, Henry sat on the back step and watched smoke billowing from the stovepipes fitted into the roofs of the makeshift homes – the collective smoky mist filled the wet, gray sky above the camp.  The smell of burning wood lingered in the air.

She’s here.  Somewhere.  Among how many people?  A thousand?  Five thousand?  Henry didn’t know.  He wanted to shout her name, or run door to door, but the guards in the towers didn’t look like they took their jobs lightly.  They stood watch for the protection of the internees – so he’d been told.  But if that were so, why were their guns pointed inside the camp?

It didn’t matter.  Henry felt better knowing he’d made it this far.  There were still a chance he’d find her.  Among the sad, shocked faces, maybe he’d find her smile again.  But it was getting dark.  Maybe it was too late.

-Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, page 157

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is a heart-touching tale of Henry Lee; the son of a prominent, traditional Chinese community leader who’s left his heart in the homeland; called “white devil” by his peers as he goes off to an all-white school on “scholarship” (translation – he does all the janitor work for the privilege of attending the school) where he’s bullied, heckled and harrassed on a constant basis as the only Asian student, that is, until Keiko, a Japanese-American girl, begins to “scholarship” with him; he is also father of Marty, with whom he struggles to communicate or even have much of a relationship after the death of Henry’s wife, Ethel, Marty’s mother.  As the story moves back and forth in time between 1986 to 1942, the reader is able to watch the unfolding of the young, innocent love Henry discovers he has for Keiko, a love that is forbidden, and could even get him disowned, by his traditionalist father, who sees Keiko as just a relative of those people invading and destroying his home.

Their love is undeterred by the war, even when all people of Japanese decent are rounded up and sent away to live in relocation centers (concentration camps) for the remainder of the war.  Henry promises he’ll wait for her, even until she’s an old woman… he promises to bring her  a cane if it takes that long.  However, being children, things are not always so easy or so lasting as young Henry finds out.

The discover of personal belongings left behind by residents of Nihonmachi (Japantown) in the basement of the Panama Hotel offers Henry the opportunity to open up and share with his son, and to heal the rift that had started between Henry and his own father, who made him the man and father he became, despite his desire to be different.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a quiet book, but deeply moving.  It explores racial issues of the 1940s, both those between Caucasians and Asians and blacks, but also between Chinese-Americans and Japanese-Americans, and between Issei (first generation Japanese immigrants) and Nissei (second generation Japanese-Americans).  The book addresses how traditional culture has had to give way to contemporary culture.  It also touches on the culture of jazz, and offers music as a unifying agent… something that all cultures can share and appreciate.

One of the things that I enjoyed about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is that it inspires the reader to exploring history further, beyond the covers of the book.  It offers a vignette of American history and life, but it doesn’t preach or teach.  Ford could have very easily turned Hotel into a soap box and spoken out  against the unconstitutional suspension of the civil rights of American citizens by removing them from their homes, robbing them of their property and detaining them without just cause simply because of their genetic heritage.  This would have been a valid argument to have made, but Ford leaves the moral interpretation to the reader.  He could have turned it into a history lesson, but, instead, provides enough information for the reader to do his or her own homework.  Which I did.

And, I apparently found the same documentaries as Ford.  I recommend the following for better understanding of this book:

  • Time of Fear- a PBS documentary about the experiences of both the Japanese-Americans sent to relocation camps in Arkansas and their Caucasian and Black Arkansan neighbors.
  • Unfinished Business – The Japanese-American Internment Cases – while the civil rights movement didn’t really get going until the 60s, not every Japanese-American went along with the government’s unlawful treatment of it’s own citizens.  This documentary shows some of those attempts of civil disobedience.
  • Nanking- Performed by stars such as Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemmingway, Jürgen Prochnow, Stephen Dorff, and Rosalind Chao, among others, this documentary dramatically tells the story of the Japanese Army’s invasion and occupation of Nanking, China.

All three of the videos will help you get a better understanding of the background of the book, but especially Nanking.  It will make all the difference in understanding where Henry’s dad is coming from and help you not to see him as a mean, bigoted, old man.

Well researched, but never feeling “studied,” Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford will allow you to step into the life and culture of another, and to see the world from a different angle, while still provide you with the entrancing escape for which most of us disappear between the covers of a book.  I give Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet 4 egg rolls and a fortune cookie(which, I guess, is 4 1/2 stars out of 5… lol)

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The following video is Jamie Ford talking about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and what sparked his desire to tell the story.

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Don’t forget, I’m giving away my copy of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet! Leaving a comment here on the review post is your official entry, but check out The Giveaway Announcement for details on how to get bonus entries and when the contest ends!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Giveaway

I’m currently about halfway through Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and it’s both sad and grieving, but also full of hope, acceptance and personal growth.  I will be posting the review of this book on May 11th, as part of the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour.

The author’s name, Jamie Ford, is deceptive.  “Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated in 1865 from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco, where he adopted the Western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations” :-)  He is also of Southern gentility, giving him a multicultural worldview.  AND… he’s quite a cutie, I might add ;-)

More about Jamie (Ja Mei to his Yin-Yin):

Career-wise, Jamie went to art school in Seattle to become an illustrator, and ended up an art director/copywriter. He’s won an embarrassingly large amount of meaningless awards including 400+ Addys, 7 Best-of-Shows, and his work has appeared in Adweek, Advertising Age, Graphis and Communication Arts. He also had a commercial appear on an episode of The U.K.’s Funniest Commercials inspired by an embarrassing incident with a bidet that he’d rather not go into right now.

On the writerly side, he won the 2006 Clarity of Night Short Fiction Contest, was First Runner-Up in the 2006 Midnight Road Reader’s Choice Awards and was a Top-25 finalist in Glimmer Train’s Fall 2006 Short Story Award For New Writers. He’s been published in The PicolataReview, and his fiction is online at Flashing in the Gutters and Fictional Musings. He’s also an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp.

On the personal side, he’s the proud father of two boys and two girls. Yep, it’s chaos, . but the good kind of chaos.
For more information about the author or his work, please visit http://www.jamieford.com/
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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a heartwarming story about fathers and sons, first loves, fate, and the resilient human heart. Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, the times and places are brought to life.  In the following video, Jamie Ford gives you the “behind-the-scenes” story of his debut novel.
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I’m really loving this book, and I want to share it and pass it on to someone who is going to enjoy it, too. Instead of posting it on BookMooch or PaperBackSwap,  I’m going to give away my copy here on my blog :-) 
So here’s the way this giveaway is going to work:
For your official entry you’ll need to leave a comment on my book review  to let me know you would like to be entered for a chance to win.
BUT….
You can also earn extra entries by:
  1. Post this giveaway on your blog and leave me a comment here with the link for 5 bonus entries.
  2. If you don’t have a blog, email at least 5 people about the giveaway with the link to this post, and include my email address, ibetnoonehasthisdamnid@yahoo.com in the BCC (blind copy) bar for 3 bonus entries.
  3. Follow me on Twitter, and tweet about this giveaway for 2 bonus entries. (be sure to include @thekoolaidmom in your tweet, that way I’ll catch your tweet and give you credit)
  4. Leave a comment here for 1 bonus entry, and 10 bonus entries for answering this question,

 “What tangible thing (a toy, record, woobie, etc) from your childhood you wish you had back the most?  What does this item mean to you?”

If you do all the above, you’ll earn 21 bonus entries!  Don’t forget, though, you have to leave a comment on the review, otherwise… ya get nada!

And now, for the boring details:

  1. Contest is open to anyone, anywhere, so long as you have a place to receive mail.  I can’t ship the book to “The VAN down by the river,” you need an actual, deliverable address… Which means, this is open to international readers, as well :-D
  2. Contest ends at 11:59 pm, Saturday May 16th, 2009.
  3. All entries will be listed randomly and numbered, then the winning number will be chosen using Research Randomizer.  If you’d like a copy of the list of entries, email me and I’ll be happy to send it :-)
  4. The Winner will be announced in my May 17th Sunday Salon post, and will have 48 hours to email me their address or be disqualified and a replacement winner will be chosen.

Okay, so get busy posting and tweeting and emailing, and whatnot!

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